A few years ago I met Bryan Mark Taylor and he showed me his invented space scenes that he was just starting to create. I was jealous of a couple of things. One was that he had created a great outlet for his imagination to run wild and his considerable skills meant that he was creating some absolutely stunning paintings. Another was how fast he painted. He could finish pieces in just a few hours and they were both painterly and detailed. Go check out his work if you aren’t familiar with it!

Layer on top of that hearing Justin Gerard talk about passion projects at the Fantastic Arts Conference and it made me determined to find a painting outlet for some imaginary landscapes that have been bouncing around in my head. I have a couple of goals with these. One is to use plenty of paint. It’s a funny thing, but I find that when I do my illustration work I have a hard time really using PAINT. I work in thin layers, but I enjoy when I get more painterly, so this is a good opportunity. Another is to really explore the design and colors of the paintings. I decided to do a series fantasy landscapes with castles in them and try to keep them to 3-4 hours.

“Wyeth Castle” 8″x10″ oil on linen panel. My first one was inspired by N.C. Wyeth’s paintings, especially his painting The Giant.

Here is a shot of Wyeth’s painting. I am sure you’re familiar with it, but then who wouldn’t want to see it again?!

I thought I would push the surreal aspect of the clouds a little more in my next painting and this is what I came up with. I start them either as little thumbnails in my sketchbook or I will just start sketching on the panel.

I usually start with a quick oil sketch on the surface with raw sienna or transparent red oxide and then roll right into the painting. Like I said before, I am pushing myself to really use a good amount of paint, look for the big shapes, establish the forms and then work the edges.

The Arrival – 9×12 oil on panel

I liked adding in the little knight in the foreground to help give some scale as well as someone to relate to in the scene. I plan to do more of this moving forward.

Here’s one that I did last week that I call The Spire:

I plan on doing about 20 of them and then having a little online showcase of them all. While I still have deadlines during the lockdown I am finding I need to take a little time each day to explore something lighthearted and for myself to keep my energies up. It’s been a wonderful discovery and one that I plan to keep going with. So, thank you, Bryan and Justin, for inspiring me to branch out and explore something new and something I can develop organically without any pressure of clients, deadlines or the need to monetize. I will be selling them if there ends up being an audience, but if I only ever do them for myself then I will be happy with the outcome!

If you want to follow my progress on these little exploratory paintings you can join me over on Instagram.

Thank you!