A Goblin’s Welcome

Just finished a new painting for DragonCon and I wanted to share an animation of how it came to be.

It started as a sketch and I wanted to have a little fun with him. So Right into Corel Painter and a little while later:


Finished Image:

A Goblin’s Welcome, 11×14, Digital

SmArt School

This year I signed up for SmArt School with Todd Lockwood. We have only had two sessions and I have already learned a lot. It seems that my 2D design and composition class I took 15 years ago didn’t really stick with me. Some very basic principles were either forgotten, or missed. 

As I prep for the DragonCon jury, I was looking at my older images and decided to do some small updates to help make them stronger. The most noticeable change was for the Sirin painting. When I had the drawing printed to the panel, it cut off a little too much of my bleed space, so her toes were always too close to the bottom of the canvas. Due to time restraints I didn’t have time to reprint it. But thanks to the digital age, I got to do some nice edits yesterday.

Sirin Alt
Left 2016 version, Right 2017 version


I first opened up the image by an inch all the way around and repainted the atmosphere. I did some touch ups on her, fixing some proportion problems with her arms, added some highlights, and fixed some issues with her head. The main thing, is I heard Todd’s voice “Who is your star?” and I added some light behind her head to give contrast to her dark hair/fair skin combo. I am pretty happy with the outcome.

The Sirin
The Sirin, 16×20 oil and digital.

I am working on a cool new piece in the class as well, exploring my difficult relationship with composition and values in depth ­čÖé

A new way of making art

So a couple years back I figured out a neat way to have a sign company print my sketch straight to primed masonite. This made setting up a painting way easier than projecting my sketch to the board, mounting a sketch, or other tedious methods. This worked extremely well. The printed image, which was meant for store signage was lower resolution, but it was great for an underpainting.  I told others about it, and soon people were sending in art and the company was sending out printed panels all over the US. 

Then I started having doubts. We have all heard horror stories of paintings peeling off of canvases because of bad gesso. So I looked into the media that was being printing on these boards. It was UV reactive and weather sealed. Seemed ok, but of course nothing stated it as archival. Who gets a sign made for their shop and asks if it is archival. We had a couple of signs we made for the Ren Fest and that’s what made me start to worry even more. The first year the signs looked great. I had added some acrylic flourishes to them and coated them with Spar Urethane. The second year they started to look cloudy. I looked up the sign printing information again, and saw that a benefit of the UV treated inks is that it is hard to stain. Nervousness started to sink in.

By the third year both signs were peeling and unrepairable. So I though, what is going to happen to our paintings over the next 10 years? Look at what happened to Davinci’s Last Supper. So I immediately started looking for a more archival way to basically do the same thing. 

The solution

I had started looking at the fine art papers for our Epson printer. I ordered in some of the Epson Watercolor paper, and planned on using it on my next project. At Dragoncon, I spoke with Todd Lockwood, telling him my ideas, and he told me that is how he did the cover for his first book, The Summer Dragon.  In fact he pointed me to this great video of him mounting the paper, which was very helpful.


So I just recently got to try out my new process. I had a small monster who needed some color. So I scanned in the pencil sketch and did a quick digital underpainting. I then printed him out (9×12 as my Epson can do a max of 13×19) and mounted it to a Birchwood panel. A day later after the acrylic medium dried, I was able to knock out some glazes and brought him to life. 

How to finish digital painting oil paints - Make your digital painting an oil painting

Not too shabby huh?

The next project is the cover for Shonn Everett’s book The Crossing, a Dark Return adventure book. It will be a little more involved, so I will be sure to post updates!

Until next time! -Mike

New Art – The First Family of Aradan

The First Family of Aradan
The First Family of Aradan, 22×34, Oil on panel

One of the longest paintings I have ever had on my easel. I have been working on this for over 10 years! I started this so long ago, I was not sure how to paint people with oil paints!

The story behind this is that these is the couple that formed the Aradani Kingdom. Cellendur and Seless left their homelands when their marriage was looked down upon (He was an elf from Alostros and she was a daughter of a Lord of Seahaven). Thier daughter, Alyssa, inherited the throne after them.