I’ve been a fan of Roger Dean since I was a child. As a matter of fact I can recall two art books in our house growing up. Norman Rockwell (Which may have been in every house.) and my copy of Roger Dean’s ‘Views’- a Christmas gift that literally kept on giving, all these years, cause I still have it.

This is before internet folks. I had no little screens to distract me, and was obsessed with making art. ‘Views’ was on a night stand next to my bed for years.

Now as a grown up artist, I will have the pleasure of exhibiting on the 2024 ‘Cruise to the Edge’ with Wentworth Gallery. CTTE is an all Progressive Rock music cruise. And if you know anything about Prog music, you know the album covers are pretty epic!

As I contemplate the body of work I will be showing on the boat, I naturally think about those great Prog album covers from my youth.  In fact originally this post was going to be my 10 favorite Prog rock album covers, but I quickly realized Roger Dean would be occupying most of that list.

So here we go:

10. I love the juxtaposition of the photo of Steve Howe playing his guitar mixed with the painted organic structure. I just wanted to walk in that room as a kid. Two years after this we would get Pete’s Dragon on the big screen, a movie flipping it the other way with an animated dragon in a real environment. It was a wild time.


9. This one is in there for the freak factor. It is not just the art, is the whole fricking thing. Weird cloud shapes containing words and art, and the calligraphic “Harry the earwig Was a very strange insect. He carried a sword and rode on the back of a caterpillar. He was a pillar of strength.” Does it get any more 70’s?


8. The Budgie covers were all great. But this one is epic. From the mountainous vista, to the mind trip of a dude with a robot looking body and a budgie head trying to tame a budgie with a robot looking head.

7. Great cover. So ahead of his time. These days on youtube you see all sorts of ‘pour art’ videos with people swirling around fluid acrylics with strings and stuff. Roger was there in the 70’s dude. Check out that water! This one is a treat for a texture junky like me.


6.Simple. Direct. Awesome.


5.Man all the Asia covers were great. So iconic. Like you can see someone getting this tattooed on them in a heart beat. But of course being a D&D kid, this one had to make the cut!


4.I use to dream about this cover as a kid. Quiet. Isolated. With a bit of strange. I wondered who that guy was. What he was. How he got there and how long he’d been there.


3.Great pose. And a clean design that lets us fully enjoy the weirdness that is the crazy… I don’t know, mushroom head? My dude was a master of atmospheric perspective.


2.So many of Dean’s covers are environments you want to just walk into and keep walking. They have such a sense of adventure awaiting the viewer. Prog music typically was all about taking you on a journey of discovery. This one has that in spades.


1. As a kid, I just wanted to see this movie, if it was a movie. Dark. Spooky. Action packed. And the band’s name was Paladin! No way a D&D kid could resist this one.


To wrap it up, you know it is interesting to look back at my body of my work, and see how few epic landscapes there are. Especially as inspired as I was by Dean as a youth.

I love being a figurative painter, and that is mostly what I am known for and am hired to do. That is awesome. There have been a couple times where the environment played a bigger roll than the people in my work. And I absolutely loved it. There was less pressure somehow, I guess because I didn’t have to sweat painting a beautiful face, or hands. I literally got to see the whole forest, not just the trees. Here are a few examples, commissioned by Muddy Colors own Lauren Panepinto.

It is a funny story actually, because originally I was hired to do my figure thing on these Django Wexler covers. But after turning in my sketches, marketing decided they wanted epic environments with tiny figures. And even though it wasn’t represented on my portfolio, Lauren said, “You can do environments, right?” She took the risk when she could have gone with a landscape illustrator. And I thank her for it- and also thank Roger Dean! I had not rediscover his art until recently when thinking about the Prog cruise. But you know what, I see his DNA in the cake here. Square up these compositions and throw some wacky 70’s band name on there, and you can press the Vinyl. This series got me fired up, I need to do more before I get on that boat. Maybe I can talk a band into letting me do their album cover!