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Jason Palmer's Self-Portrait

Jason Palmer’s Self-Portrait

On Easter weekend, while attending WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel spotlighting one of my favorite artists: Jason Palmer

During this one-hour panel Jason took the stage, sharing his back-story of growing up in California as an only child and revealing that he drew all the time with whatever he could find at hand. But, since that was during the days before the internet, he didn’t know anyone who was an artist, let alone knowing which way to go with his art.

After high school, he did odd jobs – including desk jobs – that eventually lead to him becoming a technical advisor for an electric company. In this job, he spent a lot of time talking to clients on the phone, and he would doodle on the desk pad on his desk throughout many of these conversations.

On one particular day, the President of the company called Jason into his office, asking why he was doodling all over the desk pad – thinking that Jason wasn’t doing the job for which he was hired. Jason explained that he was doing his job but also doodling while explaining out tech-speak to clients. He was instructed to discontinue his doodling and, as you can imagine, not that much later, he decided to give his notice with that employer; setting on the path of actually doing something more with his drawing.

He, in turn, got a job at a Hollywood art store, started taking college classes to hone his skill and, on somewhat of a lark he contacted his favorite artist, asking for advice. Now while in hindsight Jason freely admits this was probably not the best idea, this artist was kind enough to take time out of his own busy schedule to spend the day with Jason.

After getting some very sage advice from this artist, Jason was encouraged to come back “when he was better” and he felt an obligation to do the best he could from there on out; making himself a bit of a perfectionist in the process.

From that point on, he made several more return visit to the artist’s home; always coming away with more good advice. Gradually Jason began to meet other artists and started to create a “family” out of that.

It was 25 years ago that Jason attended his very first Comic Con, meeting many of his heroes – some who were really nice and others (who he of course did not name) that were less than pleasant. As the years past, though, he began to become discouraged. That all changed in 2003 when he meet Yelena (who has been his wife for the past 10 years). It was Yelena who became his strongest supporter, convincing to approach other artists at conventions and helped turn him around. He eventually got a table in artist’s alley and then one day he had a chance meeting with actor Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Castle fame), who saw Jason’s artwork for the show.

As Jason explained it, there was a release party for the Firefly DVD and he did “a little piece for it” that was eventually seen by series creator Joss Whedon, who asked to meet Jason. During that meeting Joss unabashedly told him that Jason’s little piece was “the biggest compliment” he had ever gotten for the show. That quickly led to Jason being asked by Joss to do a full painting and from there he was asked to do more paintings for the show. Not that long later, of course, the rapid Browncoats (the very dedicated fans of Firefly) embrace Jason’s artwork, and his career really started to take off.

As time went on, he started to get more and more commercial work and last year he worked with HBO and Lucas Films on some big projects. But with that bigger and bigger commercial comes the challenge of meeting their requirements and being somewhat stifled by their restrictions. It is Jason’s goal now to do more of what the fans of his work want, what they request when he sees them in person. He does also do commission work, but – obviously – his wait list is quite long, but Jason does his best to complete the commissions as quickly as possible

To see just a small sample of Jason Palmer’s artwork and get more details about his studio, make sure to visit his official website here.

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Do you like Star Wars? How about art? Those two types of interests may not sound like they work well together, but that certainly isn’t the case where the “Art from a Galaxy Far Far Away” exhibit is concerned.

Professional illustrator and painter Randy Martinez and Denise Vasquez will be showing their Star Wars-inspired work at Hold Up Art (located at 358 E. Second Street in Los Angeles) from August 20 through September 15.

Art from a Galaxy Far Far Away (Photo By: Hold Up Art)

The “Art from a Galaxy Far Far Away” is a celebration of the cultural phenomenon that is Star Wars through the showcasing of artwork inspired by the 1977 film, its sequels, prequels and the litany of auxiliary characters created by George Lucas.

“Star Wars became one of my earliest childhood obsessions, and to do a show now celebrating not only the film, but the art behind the scenes as well as the fantastic characters that make up the world of Star Wars, has me reverting to my 10 year old self again!” says Brian Lee, Hold Up Art curator. “The culture and fanaticism of Star Wars had not only permeated every aspect of pop culture today; from music to politics, but has forever left its mark on our expectations of science fiction, cinema and traditional narratives.”

Randy Martinez is one of the most renowned illustrators of his time. His work depicting Lucasfilms’ Star Wars characters launched him to the forefront of the genre, and can be seen in Star Wars Insider, Scholastic Books, Topps Trading Cards, and the Star Wars Celebrations II-V (Europe and Japan). In addition to his work on Star Wars, Randy is one of today’s premiere sketch card artists. He is a fixture for Topps Trading Cards. He began drawing for them in 2004 and garnered numerous accolades on titles such as Lord of the Rings, Heroes, Terminator, and Marvel Comics. Recently, Randy added the credit of author to his resume. He has published two titles with Impact Books, “Creature Features: Learn to Draw Monsters and Aliens” and “Sketch Card Mania”.

Denise Vasquez is an artist working in many mediums: actress, illustrator, author, custom toy designer and award-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist. She current creates custom vinyl toys for Ben Pot Toiz, and has worked with other companies such as DKE Toys, Topps and others. Denise’s vinyl dolls have been collected by Stan Lee and are featured on Conan O’Brien’s “COCO MoCa: Museum of Conan Art”.

Alongside the paintings and reproductions of Randy’s work, Denise will be featuring several original hand-crafted vinyl toys, including the unveiling of her Dia de Los Meurtos take on the Darth Vader helmet. This one of a kind helmet will be up for auction throughout the exhibition. Bids will be accepted online and over the phone. Interested bidders should contact Hold Up Art at (213) 221-4585 for further details.

There will be an opening reception on August 20, 2011 from 7 PM to 11 PM where a musical mash up of Randy and Denise’s favorite music will be featured along with selections from the Star Wars score and even favorite clips from the Star Wars films projected in the gallery

For more information about this and other exhibits, please visit Hold Up Art here.

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Faeline Faery by Misty Benson

Artist Spotlight: This month’s artist’s spotlight is on Misty Benson, who grew up on a dairy farm in Idaho, but at the age of 12 she moved with her family to Washington. She later lived in Colorado and, for a short time, in New York. Her travels have also taken her to Nepal, Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain, England, Wales, China, and South Africa. All roads have led her back to Idaho, though, which is where she resides now. One of her most wonderful memories of childhood is running wild and reading lots of books.

Misty loves all things sweet and spooky, sugar and sour, morbid and adorable; ergo, the name of her website Morbidly Adorable Creations by Misty Benson. Big eyes fit all those favorites and have influenced both her faery and what she calls “skelly” art. She first saw the big eye art of Gig as a child, as her grandmother had one of Gig’s famous “Pity Kitties” pieces on the wall. Besides Gig, a lot of her inspiration comes from big-eyed dolls such as Pullips and Dollfies. In addition, she has a love and respect for all life; including insects, which also inspires her artwork.

As mentioned, she grew up reading the Serendipity books and the ElfQuest novels being her favorites. Her love of faeries was deepened by the magickal world of Brian and Wendy Froud as well as the art style of Junko Mizuno. Her personal experiences and wonderful reading adventures have combined to reflect her art. Frido Kahlo is also a huge influence on the darker side of her art.

While her mom and aunt were the artists in the family when Misty was growing up, she took her first art history course (as well as an anthropology course) in college, ending up with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Studio Arts.

Today, she primarily paints in acrylics and sculpts in paperclay because of their ease and speed. For her Gossamerfaery Attic, she paints and sculpts dreamy, big-eyed faeries and delightful Day of the Dead skeletons. These creations have been featured in paintings, prints, one-of-a-kind sculptures, magnets, stickers and cards. Both her faeries and skellies have been publishes in the books “500 Fairy Motifs”, “Big Eye Art: Resurrected and Transformed” and her solo book “The Morbidly Adorable Skelly”.

Her featured piece is called Faeline Faery, which showcases a glowering girl with her smiley “skelly” cat. This piece is one of her most popular images that depict her favorite things.

If you would like to reach Misty, you can email her gossamerfaery@hotmail.com or visit her website.

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Fly Away by Margaret Organ-Kean

Artist’s Spotlight: Margaret Organ-Kean

When Margaret Organ-Kean was fifteen years old, a family friend sent her mother a postcard with a Kay Nielsen illustration from East of the Sun, West of the Moon on it. It was love at first sight.

Margaret had always drawn and painted – usually horses – but now her most important goal was to evoke a sense of magic on paper. A year later, she won a major prize in a national poster contest and, encouraged by her high school art teacher, soon began to sell her watercolors at local art fairs.

Her B.A. and subsequent work in art history from the University of Washington opened her to more influences, including (but not limited to) early Renaissance art, Nihonga, Greek sculpture, and much more. She developed an interest in how different cultures viewed a painting. For instance, some would see a painting as a window into a scene, while others considered a painting to be an array of symbols composed on a flat plane. Margaret began to consider formal problems in a painting at this time, such as color, pattern, and composition.

After college, she worked at clerical and computer jobs, and during this time, she started going to science fiction conventions and showing her work in the conventions’ art shows. This led to jobs working for magazines, gaming companies, and book publishers.

Lately, she has spent more time on her own work, especially her more whimsical watercolors of steampunk penguins, flying frogs, and slightly twisted nursery rhymes, and has begun developing an interest in Pop Surrealism.

Her featured piece is called Fly Away, which is based on the nursery rhyme “Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home”. Margaret wondered what a Lady Bug would look like and whimsy did the rest. The piece did move quite a distance from the poem, as wings transformed into skirts and the bugs became women. The masks are actually a recurring theme in her work; and in this instance, she wanted people to wonder what was behind the mask that completely hides the Lady Bug’s face.

You can contact at margaret@organ-kean.com or visit her website

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Nevermore (Front) by Raven

Artist’s Spotlight: Robin “Raven” Walker is a fashion artist who started sewing six years ago when friends asked her to do cosplay – which is short for costume play, a type of performance art in which participants don costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea – for their group.

Her first suit turned out so well and she received so much encouragement that she joined them again the following year, upgrading and perfecting the look of the costume for Testament, a character from the popular Playstation game Guilty Gear, which is a sprite-based fighting game.

This led to a friend asking her to make him a yukata, a casual summer kimono, which became two requests, which turned into an online request for another cosplay, which lead to more requests.

While Raven specializes in Japanese clothing, she loves the Victorian era (especially corsets) and also makes original designs that blend different cultures. Cosplay is a great thrill for her, as she is most happy when making someone’s dream come true.

Nevermore (Back) by Raven

She sews because she loves bringing beautiful things to live and making costumes for everyone – no matter their size. Raven states, “Petite is lovely and big is beautiful. No one should tell you what you can and cannot play. It’s all about what makes you feel wonderful and glorious.”

Despite being scared away from sewing in her Junior High Home Economics class because of less than kind teacher, Raven has made sewing her own, as she loves the challenge. In fact, she is now a student at The Art Institute of Hollywood, going for her second BA.

If you would like to see Raven’s portfolio, please visit: Raven’s Website. You can also contact Raven at ravendarkholmse@yahoo.com.

Raven’s featured piece is an original design trench coat called Nevermore, which will be up for sale at Comic Con being held this week in San Diego. This piece was inspired by Assassin’s Creed, Ezio (which is a historical fantasy/science fiction third person action-adventure video game).

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Yavanna

Artist SpotlightDawn Anton is a talented jewelry maker from Ocean Beach, California, who offers three distinctive styles in her collection, but her favorite and most creatively rewarding pieces are fashioned using natural brass filigree, vintage glass, Swarovski crystals, and gemstones.

Her artistic and creative inclinations began in childhood through painting, sketching and writing. Some of her other interests included geology, rocks and minerals, leading to a love of gemstones, and European and American history, which – in a round-about way – lead to a fascination with antique and estate jewelry, as well as a secret tiara fixation.

Thanks to several books she found at the library, her self-taught hobby of beading began around 2002-2003; she then took a wire-wrapping class at a local bead shop and in 2004 she narrowed her interest to making jewelry with sterling silver wire especially after finding a better supply of gemstones. Soon enough, friends and co-workers were requesting custom designs and Dawn was spending countless hours in the happy pursuit of designing and finishing pieces without getting tired.

Her inspiration comes from what she sees and reads and thanks to her love of movies and books, her jewelry is deeply influenced by those interests. One of her favorites is The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the books of J.R.R. Tolkien, including The Silmarillion, which was edited and published posthumously by Tolkien’s son Christopher in 1977. Her fascination with those characters and the important role jewelry and gemstones played in the history of Middle-earth gives valuable inspiration for much of her creations. Dawn’s featured piece is one of her favorite necklaces called Yavanna, which is inspired by a character from The Silmarillion.

You can contact Dawn at info@asilomarworks.com or via convo through her Etsy shop, which can be found at http://asilomarworks.etsy.com.

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One Ring by Elisa Wilfong

Artists Spotlight: Elisa Wilfong specializes in realistic pencil or graphite art as well as multimedia graphic design and comics. She has been drawing since she was a child, developing an appreciation and skill level with pencils and paints over the years. Elisa is primarily a self-taught artist, having taken no formal instruction other than her own exploration in artistic styles and using instruction books. She draws movie scenes as well as memorabilia, fantasy, wildlife and pets. Over the years she has sold her pencil art to individual clients and has started her own pet portrait business. Along the way she has won art contests and shows her art regularly at local fairs and comic book conventions. In addition to the pencil art, she is a self-taught graphic artist working in Photo Shop and Illustrator. She also works part-time as a graphic artist and dabbles in comics. In fact she has her own web-comic called Imp that is updated bi-weekly (on Tuesdays and Thursdays). Her inspiration to be an artist came from observing nature as a young child, following birds and cats in her backyard. This experience infused her desire to become a better artist, to improve her skills and reproduce everything she saw accurately. The artists who inspired her as a child were Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. You can contact Elisa at: ewportfolio@yahoo.com. You can visit her main art site at: www.elisawilfong.com, her pet portrait work at: www.pencilmypet.com or her web-comic at: www.impcomic.com.  Her featured piece is called One Ring.

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