Paint ’em like you seem ’em

Have you seen James Gurney’s book, Color and Light? Wow! His gorgeous blending of fact and fantasy inspired me to paint again!

This time, however, I won’t paint bold abstracts or Colorado landscapes. My characters will be my subjects.  I’ve always wanted to paint using that wonderful subtle realism that makes you say, that looks almost real.  Remember the full size issues of Analog? The illustrations were as fantastic as the stories.  Sometimes you see similar art in graphic novels and, occasionally, this type of illustration still appears on book covers.

So, I’m going to give it a try. I want to slide my folks into paint form, but I’ve had a few second thoughts. Once I’ve created this art, I’m not sure I’ll show it to anyone who might read my book. It’s funny how the mind works, but the moment I see a character translated into 2D art my brain will automatically revert to that picture – no matter what. Is it like that for everyone?

My question for is you is,  if you could paint your characters, would you? And, if you could choose any cover art for your book, what would it be? Do you want to solidify your picture of your characters in your readers’ minds, or do you want them to create their own images?

4 thoughts on “Paint ’em like you seem ’em”

  1. What a wonderful thought! And here I am with two years of figure drawing under my belt, and no way would I even try to capture my characters on paper or canvas. I don’t like to paint people I know; I never feel that I get them right. 😉

    But you asked if I could get them right, would I?
    Yes! I think paintings capture only a small sliver of a character’s existence, and represent an impression, but not the entire persona. Characters, same as real people, move and talk and take up space, whereas an image is just that, flat, and pretty, but not the whole person. Pictures on the cover don’t influence my impression of what I read inside all that much. Scarlett O’Hara has been portrayed in all kinds of ways, but the picture I have in my head of her hasn’t changed at all.

    I already know what my ideal cover art should be and it doesn’t have any people in it at all! It’s just the guitar and a daisy and a dog tag. And it’s black with blue lettering. It would be interesting to see what my readers think would be a good cover for my story …
    Fun post. 🙂

  2. I love that you feel inspired to paint your characters!

    I don’t mind when I see characters through the eyes of their creator (author), but I don’t want anyone else to decide what they look like. I want to see them as they appear in my imagination.

    It’s almost always a disappointment to me when they make a movie of a book I like. Example: the movies destroyed all my concepts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

  3. I woud paint my characters in action, seen but not recognized: Hair blown by the wind or the action but almost covering the face, leaving only a curve of cheek or chin, the side of the body with arm and hip or leg exposed by blowing garment. The back of the character in action or combat or friendship. I would depict perhaps sex, size, strength, beauty, fury or whatever, depending on the story, but the actual look of the chracter would better be suggested than clearly defined. That would leave the reader able to fill in with familiar face or desired character, but would give the artist the ability to envision the essense of the chracter. How’s that for an easy assignment?

  4. Nancy, I think I would draw/paint the character and then erase through parts, much of it, so you “see” the character, almost, but have to realize its only a suggestion, not a “picturue” of the character. I think there was a Shakespear statement like “we see through a mirror darkly. I guess what I am saying is “suggest, not define” Mama knows best, right!

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