Story Behind the Art
Every now and again I get assigned a Magic card that gives me enough creative freedom that I'm able to embed a lot of "me" into the piece. "Silverskin Armor" is one of those. What makes a piece "me"? I'm not entirely sure, but I am aware of what elements keep seeping out of me whenever they get the opportunity.
Probably my first love is painting beautiful, captivating people. However, I also like the image to feel like there's more going on than just that. Usually, that includes experimenting with variations in textures and color. For me, trying out new techniques is the playful, fun part of art that I still find exciting. There's also something about things that look old and authentic that forever intrigue me. I enjoy layering scientific, arcane and diagramatic elements into a painting. If you're familiar with my work at all, I'm sure you've noticed gold and irridecent mediums are frequently incorporated in the art. To me, it gives the original paintings an opulent, rich feel. Or, I may just be part crow. You know, "shiny" things.
Now that I've shared some of the components that make me "tick" as an artist, as your eyes move through "Silverskin Armor" you will be able to spot how I've integrated those elements into this painting. Below is the original art description I was given to create the art for the card:
Color: None (artifact)
Location: your choice
Action: We see a female blue-aligned human (neurok) in the process of "installing" her magical armor. The armor consists of form-fitting chrome pieces that extend tendrils of metal into her flesh that connect with her bones (bloodlessly).
Focus: the chrome armor with its endoskeletal anchor points
Mood: Let those filthy Phyrexian try to pry *this* off me.
It wasn't especially clear "how" this armor adhears itself to the human, so I was inspired by the specialized cells in various underwater creatures, the critters that sting and paralyze. They contain barbed, threadlike tubes which look wicked when magnified. It seemed like an approach this armor could use to burrow into ones flesh.
This is the sketch I came up with, which was then emailed to the art director for approval. The sketch is 10.75 x 7" graphite on parchment tracing paper.
To complete the original art, I printed the sketch out on Epson Fine Art Velvet paper. I soak that print-out in water (wet stretch process) and mount it on a board. I then start layering in washes of acrylic until all of the white of my paper is covered with a general color direction. The next thing I do is start adjusting the values by adding in darks, sometimes with paint, sometimes glazes of airbrush. I also begin playing with adding textural varieties.
Through experimenting, I've found that after I lay down a watery wash of acrylic color, (dribbles and splatters) if I then spray Crystal Clear into that wet mix, it beads and repels in an interesting way that creates sort of a marbled look that is a fun base to work into. The gold and silver areas include varigated gold/silver leaf as well as embossing powders. I use various pens and ink to draw in the diagramatic areas. To continue rendering the piece, I build up areas with oil and acrylic until I feel like the colors, values, textures, composition and movement of ones eye through the piece works as a whole. Sometimes the "deadline" comes before all of those things are accomplished to my liking, but that is what I strive for.
The original art is painted on Epson Velvet Fine Art paper with acrylic, oil, ink, gold/silver leaf and embossing powders.