Wylie Beckert

Illustration

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New Work: Time Enough Posted on 03 Mar 2014


Illustration by artist Wylie Beckert: an old woman, her cat, and an urn of ashes are transported through the valley of death on the shell of a giant snail - for the 69 Love Songs challenge at Month of Love.
This piece is my fourth and final for the Month of Love blog.

This week, the challenge was to create an illustration inspired by one of the songs on the Magnetic Fields' "69 Love Songs" album. I chose to (tangentially) illustrate "Time Enough for Rocking When We're Old." The story the title put in my mind was that of an old woman in a travelling rocking chair, taking an urn of ashes (someone else's? her own?) on one final journey. I don't know where the road leads - she has all of the things she'll need along the way, but it seems unlikely that she will return. Inspired in no small part by the strange worlds of Jacek Yerka.


With my last challenge image finished, I finally have the leisure to go back and check out all of the other Month of Love pieces that I'd only gotten a chance to glimpse in passing before. I have too many favorites to post here - it seems like every week was packed with illustrations that were clever, beautiful, or both - but I still wanted to highlight a few of the images that caught my eye (because it can't always be all about Wylie...can it?) Check them out below the jump.

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Month of Love - Fetish Posted on 23 Feb 2014


stygiophilia: arousal to the thought of hellfire and damnation - for Fetish Week at Month of Love.
Here's the latest piece for Month of Love. This week's theme was Fetish; I floundered a bit in trying to come up with a concept that wasn't entirely clichéd, incomprehensible, or pornographic; eventually, with the deadline lumbering past me, I chose to illustrate Stygiophilia ("arousal to the thought of hellfire and damnation.")

Not much to say about this one... I think it's peculiar enough to speak for itself.


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New Work: Tam Lin Posted on 18 Feb 2014


Wylie Beckert illustrates the legend of Tam Lin for the 2014 Month of Love blog's favorite love story challenge
Here's another piece created for the Month of Love blog - the theme for week two was "favorite love story." I don't usually go in for love stories - they tend to have a sameness to them (generally ending in bland wedded bliss - or tragic, if predictable, death - for all parties) that bores me. The legend of Tam Lin (a Scottish ballad, I like this version by Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer) is one of the exceptions that I really like since, unlike your run-of-the-mill love story, it features an uncommonly cocky heroine and a lover transformed into a lion and wolf and bear (oh my).

Sadly, as is the case with so much of my personal work, there is no pretty set of thumbnails to share (although I can't pretend I wasn't tempted to fake a few after the fact). If you're curious what my thumbnail sketches actually look like at the early stages - the "I have no idea what I'm doing and my art license should be revoked" stage - this is it.

thumbnails

They are terrible to behold.


It probably goes without saying that none of these monstrosities particularly captured my sweeping vision for the piece. It was one of those concepts that was either going to look good as a final image, or it wasn't; I eventually gave up in annoyance and started drawing the way you're always told not to - by drawing a face in the middle of the page and building everything out from there. I got lucky and ended up with a piece I actually really liked.

thumbnails

The original pencil drawing. Compare it to the final, and you'll notice that I upcycled background elements from
my Whispers and Full Blooded pencil art out of sheer cussed laziness. Personal work FTW!


More good luck: over the course of this illustration, I stumbled across an awesome reference app for iPad, Skulls by Simon Winchester - which has something I've always wanted - 360° rotatable views of just about every animal skull you can think of and a few more that you can't. It has a few flaws as an art reference - the skulls snap back to their default rotation after a few seconds, for one, and the view rotates only in the horizontal axis - but everything is lit beautifully, and being able to visualize how all the pieces of the skull fit together in three dimensions makes this far and away superior to photo reference.

While I don't plan on packing my portfolio to the gills with animal skulls, I'm looking forward to having this app around for everyday use - I generally start animal drawings by trying to get a hang of the skull's structure, which often makes the difference between a vaguely accurate representation and something that looks like a toilet paper tube taped to the end of a milk carton.

I didn't have the sense of planning to stumble across this app before I drew all the skulls for this piece (naturally), but I know the next time I have to draw a two-headed calf, say, or an armadillo lizard, I'll be SET.

armadillo lizard skull

OMG, there are things out there that look like this on the inside.

Full view in the gallery; more favorite love stories over at the Month of Love blog.


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New Work: Easley's Gryphon Posted on 09 Feb 2014


oil painting by Wylie Beckert - a girl and a golden gryphon.
Here's a quick painting I did for the ArtOrder's Jeff Easley challenge (which you can read about here.)

This piece almost didn't happen - I bookmarked the Jeff Easley challenge when it first came out, and then promptly forgot about it until three days before the deadline, at which point all seemed to be lost - I'm not a particularly fast worker when it comes to personal projects, and I didn't even have a plan in mind. Nonetheless, I absentmindedly clicked over to Jeff's portfolio to take one last shot at getting inspired before admitting defeat. One of his paintings - a girl with a spiderweb tiara in her rockin 80's hair, riding a golden gryphon - caught my eye instantly:

jeff easley's gryphon painting

Without much time to spare, I skipped my usual tedious thumbnail stage and just started sketching on a sheet of gessoed paper. I knew that I wanted to show the character sitting with the wings of the gryphon enfolding her, and the narrative (an artist cutting a gryphon-quill pen!) developed on the fly. Once I had something I liked, I sealed the sketch with Workable Fixatif and applied a second layer of gesso (which knocks back the contrast, but leaves a faintly visible drawing to guide the painting). I first came across this trick on Kim Kincaid's blog, and I absolutely love it - it helps the energy of the sketch carry over to the finished piece and, if you want to preserve the original sketch, it works equally well over a digital print.

oil painting by Wylie Beckert - a girl and a golden gryphon.
Since oil paint dries quickly for no man, I stuck to a monochromatic underpainting, which I then photographed and colored digitally. I'm surprisingly happy with how this piece turned out given the limited time I allowed myself - and it was refreshing to work on a project that was begun and finished in the same two-day span. Using an oil underpainting as the base for digital color turned out to be SO MUCH FASTER than my usual pencil methods. The effort saved by painting directly on top of the sloppy initial sketch (rather than painstakingly tracing and re-rendering it into a tight pencil drawing) makes me want to seriously reconsider my working process.

In other oil painting news, I just finished the larger piece I posted a snapshot of in my 2013 wrap-up; I'll be posting that one as soon as I can get a decent photo of it.

For now, check out a full view of this one in the gallery.


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Month of Love - #nofilter valentine Posted on 07 Feb 2014


Illustration for the 2014 Month of Love blog's nofilter valentine challenge
Here's my first illustration for the Month of Love blog. This week's theme is "#nofilter valentine" - and what could be less filtered than shared life in the domestic sphere?

pencil sketch for the nofilter valentine challenge
This was also an experiment with acrylic inks - which I'd picked up a set of recently, but hadn't yet had a chance to try out. I worked on top of the pencil/white charcoal sketch above, and added some final details over the ink with white charcoal and colored pencil.

Check out the full view over at the gallery. Head over to Month of Love to check out other illustrator's takes on the same theme - there are some really cool pieces getting posted.


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RECENT POSTS

New Work: Time Enough

03 Mar 2014
Month of Love - Fetish

23 Feb 2014
New Work: Tam Lin

18 Feb 2014
New Work: Easley's Gryphon

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Month of Love - #nofilter valentine

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