It has always been a deep-seated desire of mine to one day have a Whelan painting on one of my works. Without this man’s skill and vision, I might never have discovered the fantasy genre, and I might not be writing novels today.
I’ve been lucky to have some…incredible artists paint covers for my books. But I’ve rarely felt as much excitement, wonder, and awe as I did when I got to open an email and see the cover for The Way of Kings.
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When visiting the Glass Onion Graphics booth at SFF conventions, a highlight is the opportunity to see Michael Whelan’s paintings in person.
Of course his art looks fantastic on dust jackets in the bookstore—and even reproduced on our website—but there is no substituting the wow factor of staring at his original paintings up close.
And then there’s the opportunity to speak with the artist himself. When Michael isn’t busy participating in panel discussions, he can usually be found at our booth.
Michael Whelan is Artist Guest of Honor next month at JordanCon. It is especially geared toward the Atlanta area and the South in general, but fans are coming from all over the world for a chance to meet Michael, author Seanan McGuire (of bestseller FEED fame) and A MEMORY OF LIGHT’S Brandon Sanderson and Harriet McDougal.
JordanCon is a fantasy literature convention founded in honor of the late Robert Jordan, author of the blockbuster series The Wheel of Time. This year JordanCon is joined by the regional SF convention DeepSouthCon, so events will include four tracks of simultaneous programming, an Art Show, a Dealers Hall, a masquerade contest and a ghost walk.
My approach to A MEMORY OF LIGHT was dictated by unfamiliarity with the series. Not having read The Wheel of Time books, I focused on the scene provided and the characters therein while also keeping in mind that this book was the culmination of many years of reading for devoted fans.
It seemed best to start with the focus of the painting: Rand himself.
My initial sketches explored the pose he might adopt as he entered the dark confines of the cave. I attached light sticks to a wooden bokken and descended a flight of stairs with the lights off, trying to get a feel for how he would be holding the sword to light his way into darkness. (Since early in my career, I’ve found a kinesthetic sense of the figure’s pose is helpful before attempting to recreate it in it’s variations.)
I was honored to paint the cover image for the final book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, but it was a daunting prospect given the massive backstory of 14 books written over a span of 20+ years.
Each volume, illustrated by the late Darrell K. Sweet, had a similar look and feel. I decided the last cover should retain a sense of continuation while bringing the epic to a close.