I did comics once upon a time. I was a penciller for DC Vertigo. "Animal Man" was my title with a few guest pages in "Doom Patrol". At Marvel I was an inker and finisher for Marvel Comics Presents, Dr. Strange, Savage Sword of Conan, and other pin-ups here and there. I didn't grow up with that goal in mind, but being in New York City, this is what I had the opportunity to do so I did. I learned so much! I worked with many different artists. Some good and some bad but I think I came across some new knowledge from all.
Since then I have become friends with even more comic book artists who inspire me. Of course my good friend Steve Ellis, and Dean Haspiel, and Gregory Benton.
They do more personal comic book work that doesn't always deal with a fight scene. Their themes are more adult oriented and they and the slew of others I don't have the time to write down and link to inspire my desire to tell some stories.
This is my character "Klunk". He's loosely based on me. Very loosely. Because you are here looking at this and because I have a keyboard connected to my computer in front of me I will share his story with you... or at least an explanation of the character. Klunk appears to wear a gas mask. It is a metaphorical device I use so the reader is able to get past what he looks like and go immediately to what he "feels" like. The viewer never sees Klunk's face. This is my personal challenge. How do I get across the full range of emotions and expressions a faced character can do? I like the idea that although the viewer can't see his whole face but a character in the strip might say something like Klunk you have a piece of tentacle stuck between your teeth" implying that they can see his whole face.
So here is a Klunk story he is barely in. And you can interpret it in several ways, which I like.
Reworking a composition I don't like in gouache but I'm using Oxgall medium this time. I never tried it before even though I've known of it for years. It seems pretty cool. A subtle difference from just using water but it is definitely different!
Molly, my GF, had a great 2015 and topped it off with a successful book launch and tour of her book "Drawing Blood" from Harper Collins... no relation. In her mind she thought she was very difficult to live with this last year as she wrote her book and planned all the details around it to be a success. Truth, she wasn't any harder to live with than any other time! Well I wasn't going to argue as she wanted to treat me to a three day get-away to New Orleans... Come to think of it I guess she was a bitch!... and you made a mess in the studio! Is that worth at least a trip to Pittsburgh? HA!
We spent all three days going from food, to coffee shop, to more food, to a hookah lounge, to roaming all over the Bywater, French Quarter, and the Garden District. This was one of the doodles in my sketchpad at a coffee shop. We had the best time and I would even go so far as saying it was perfect. I love that girl!
I played around with it in Photo Shop a bit. I think it'll make a nice painting eventually.
You would have to be in a coma to not be aware it's Christmas time. I grew up with Christmas. The tree, family gets together, gifts, food, football and no school for what used to be a good two weeks. Oh! and the music. The television specials ran nonstop, and by the age of ten I knew every song from every special and almost the dialogue from every scene! My family wasn't super religious but the usual war between commerce and Christmas was already going strong even in the 70's. I was pretty "turned off" to religion and the holidays by the time I was 13 or 14. It didn't happen all at once, it was gradual.
In the early 90's I gave religion another go but my heart, as they say, wasn't in it.
In the present, I'm about where I was by the end of college. The holidays are a period of the year you just tolerate. No anger. I support all the folks that are into it. I'm usually careful to not be too indifferent to the holidays because sometimes being indifferent is even more offensive to people than being straight out against it!
I do like the idea of gift giving. I love to treat my friends and family to dinners, or drinks, or whatever. It's nice to be able to recognize once a year at least that everyone should try and give a gift to people you care about but might not always show it. No harm in that. But I don't expect gifts from people and am genuinely shocked and happy when someone buys me a drink or dinner. It's happened a few times to me this past year and it was really special.
So this is my recognition of the holidays and I look forward to making art in 2016, and communicating with people who write to me and spending my few moments I have alone with my girl being happy.
Not my greatest illustration, but it's one of the few Santa paintings I have made. This was for Muscle and Fitness magazine a few years ago.
I posted this on my Instagram (deadredfred) a few days ago. These fairies are definitely in an ambiguous area for me. I think of "fantasy art" as illustration. The gallery work to me is clearly art made for a gallery although on an abstract level it could be used as a companion to peak interest for a story or book cover etc. Like most gallery art could. Illustrations are clearly for articles. They might use elements written about to construct an image that might represent the ideas conveyed or pull a small part out to make the viewer interested to find out what the artist saw that would make them create that.
These fairy paintings are in the middle of this for me. I'm not creating them for a story but they are a known sort of creature that comes from fantasy art associated with witches, and dragons, and talking bugs, etc. They have this history, like baggage that you have to bring along or at least address. The gallery world doesn't seem to value this very much.
I'm very happy for the new-ish art scene that still doesn't seem to have an agreed upon name. Juxtapose, Pop Surrealism, Outsider Art, Lowbrow... I think it was germinating in the mid 90's. I wish I had been paying attention to it sooner! My first Lowbrow show I was in was around '05. I had a good painting that won "Best of Show" but I really didn't have a plan. My images were hit or miss.
This brings me to these fairy paintings. This is my launchpad for the next exploration.
Definitely letting my current study of James Jean art creep in. I guess I began looking at his work more closely because I was already noticing similar elements between my work and his and several other people. These paintings are pretty small and also for sale for any people interested in transitional paintings.
This one isn't finished yet.
I think I should title these entries after I've written them not before. I assume I am speaking to friends, or at least neutral people I might be a friend with if we were to meet. I'm not the kind of person that goes out in the world looking for potential people to be enemies with. I like to think I give everyone equal opportunity to be friends. There are different layers of friends of course.
I consider this dude who cleans the gym where I work out a friend, but like level one, or 1C. I don't know his name, but only a week after he was working there, he found my locker key on the floor after I had left. Instead of turning it in to lost and found, or going through my locker to take my dirty shorts and some soap, he held on to it until the next day. As soon as I walked in the gym, he stopped me and asked if I lost my key. I said yes and he fished it out of his pocket with a "here you go, I thought it was yours". He just got in to Level 1! I had a spare, so it wouldn't have been a tragedy, but how cool is that?
I was just impressed he had paid attention as to who I was and at which locker all during his first week. The guy at the desk who has seen me a million times, recognizes me, and still seems surprised when I ask for a towel every time.
I have a newsletter you can sign up and "hear" more rantings and opinions and usually see a preview of the art I'll be sharing in the coming week. Ok my friends... Some figure drawings from this past weekend. Newsletter people have already seen a few of these.
Opening at MF Gallery
213 Bond St.
JUNE 15, 6-10pm
Please look over the Prints page and get them all.
Have a good Easter/Passover or month.
Now is a good time to commission a portrait or purchase some physical art for the winter!
If you'd like to commission me for a painting... Portraits with my surreal aesthetic only. The face you have and my paint brushes! Estimated turnaround 3 months. Shorter will cost more. Contact me now.
Last Rites Gallery 325 W. 38th Street, between 8th & 9th Ave, NYC: (212) 529.0666
Welcome to the Fred Harper Fine Art News Section