by Petar Meseldzija

For many years I wanted to do a Conan painting, but
never got the chance to realize this dream. As a young adult I passionately read
the Conan comics, especially those that were done by John Buscema, a master
draftsman. I was also very much impressed by Frazetta’s Conan, but I also regarded a few of the Conan paintings by
Boris Vallejo as one of the best.
A few months ago a private collector asked
me whether I would be willing to do a Conan
painting for his collection. I said YES, of course, and soon after that I did a
little rough sketch of the scene that had to depict a moment from the story of
“The Frost Giant’s Daughter”. Well, as you probably already know, “to depict” a
scene from a story, means in my case “to interpret it”, in one or another way.

I decided to present you with a series of posts about
the development of this commission. I intend to lead you through all the stages
of the process, as the work on the painting progresses. But, I have to ask you
to be a little patient because this project might take some time, for I have to
do three different projects at the same time.

So, let’s get started.

This is the rough sketch of the composition. After I
became sure about the general positioning of the characters, I went in search
of the reference material. The appropriate reference photos and props will
play a very important role in this commission, for one of my main objectives this
time will be the “naturalism”. This task of using the naturalistic approach within
a painting that deals with fantastic, is a tricky thing. Although not the only
way of depicting the world of Fantasy and Mythology, the appropriate
stylization of form and atmosphere seems to be the most often chosen path by
the artists. Anyway, in the coming weeks (if not months), we shall see how far this painting will let me go
in my pursuit of this aim of naturalism. But I have to say that, although an important aspect, the
naturalism is not the final station of my Conan journey. The right atmosphere
of the painting as a whole, is (should be) the ultimate goal.

The study of the Snow Giants done after I made a several
photos of the Vikings from Germany, during a Viking Festival that was held in
Archeon, a fascinating theme park here in the Netherlands.

The final preliminary study of the scene, or better
said the characters, because the background has not yet been defined. In order
to collect the appropriate reference material for the background, I will have
to travel to the North Pole…(just joking, a library around the corner would be
a perfect solution).

The Conan figure was done more or less from memory,
because I had no reference photos. Unfortunately I have some problems with
finding a nicely shaped male model for my Conan. Any volunteers…? I pay 20 Euro
per hour if you are an amateur model, and I pay nothing if you are a friend,
except for the unforgettable cup of Turkish coffee and a glass of Serbian
Sljivovitsa, or a bottle of good Belgian beer (we do this after the photo
session), and a delicious diner.

The same preliminary study with the Conan’s leg
slightly shifted to the right to achieve a better balance of the negative

A detail from the final preliminary drawing.
The final tracing of the drawing. This is going to be
transferred onto the wooden board. The next step is underpainting.

End of part 1