Model Pageantry ll

Roxana Villa.

This post continues my celebration of people that have modeled for me throughout my art career. Click on the images to see them larger.

Roxana Villa for the “Blue Mage”

When I needed reference for specific illustrations, I would ask someone to pose for me. Generally, the search would be for a person who I felt reflected the spirit of the art to be produced , but who I also had easy access to. Hence, many times family, friends, or someone who lived close by usually ended up being the one.

In the following images we see Roxana Villa (my wife), and her daughter, Eve as well as Gwen Cunningham and others who helped with many reference shots for some wonderful projects.

Blue Mage was created for the special edition of, The Art of Greg Spalenka book.

Roxana posed for the “Lotus Faeries” poster (below). Here are two sketches of her.

“Lotus Faeries” poster. Roxana is morphed throughout, and stretched into faerie mode.

Roxana as Susannah for the CU opera poster of this production. “Susannah,” is an adaptation of the biblical story of Susannah and the elders set in the 1950s in rural Tennessee.

Posing for, “I am the Sun” painting.

“I am the Sun,” 47″x54″ acrylic, oil, varnish, gold leaf, silver leaf, on canvas/gator board.


Eve Villa Neuhart, SX70 Polaroid, early 2000’s.

Eve has posed for many illustrations over the years. It is fun seeing her grow up through these photos and artworks.

You can see Eve’s influence in this poster. I made her look a little older from the earlier reference. The pictures are always a starting point for the art and generally change as the image evolves.

As Tanisa in, “The Eyes of the Unicorn” children’s book.

Tanisa slumbers while a magical visitor arrives… “The Eyes of the Unicorn” children’s book, written by Teresa Bateman, published by Holiday House.

Love this photo. This was taken as an inspiration or the Chester College poster.

The final Chester College art has a different feel over the photo reference, it is less earthy, but this is where the illustration evolved to. I see now that it would have been stronger to pull out the stops on the headdress and make it more outrageous.

Another poster for Laguna College of Art and Design. Eve was pushed into a more fantastical image here but you can still feel her presence.


Eve’s friends were also employed as we see here with Hanna Edelson for another Chester College poster, (below).

The final Chester College poster. Anthony Padilla hired me to produce these images for the school. Jeff Burne was the designer on both Chester College and the Laguna College of Art and Design posters. We have worked closely for decades on a myriad of projects with much success.


Gwen Cunningham synchronistically came on the scene when I was looking at models for Roxana Illuminated Perfume. Roxana creates pure botanical perfumes with essential oils, infusions, etc. without any synthetic chemicals. Gwen fit this elegant, wholesome quality perfectly.

Gwen inspired the image created for Roxana Illuminated Perfume’s new edition of Blossom, and then I produce a short video too.

I experimented with cyanotype photographic processes with Gwen as the focus. Expect more of this exploration from me in the near future.

Lastly, there are moments when several friends/models come together and create a synergy. This image for Roxana Illuminated Perfume, includes Eve, Gwen, Kyle and Walker.

*Stay tuned for more posts that honor the people that have modeled for me, inspired me and helped me bring more beauty into the world.

 

 

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Model Pageantry

Polaroid of Victoria Lowe. Circa 1989.

I love people. I love the human figure. The body is a magnificent creation and I enjoy celebrating it in my art. Much of my imagery conceptually begins with the human being. The body is universal, timeless and immediately relatable. Throughout my illustration career I fought to use a nude body whenever possible in my images, because it strips the human down to a symbolic physicality. This way the art can represent everyman, or everywoman.

I have worked with a lot of models. Family, friends, neighbors, professionals, and strangers have graced many of my creations. Many times I became the model, sometimes turning myself into another being, a child or woman perhaps. What is most fascinating to me is watching the person transform into the model, then the model becoming art.

In the 80’s and into the 90’s the SX70 Polaroid was my camera of choice to shoot much of my reference. It was fast, maddening and magical. Sometimes the images would not develop properly and the film was wasted, other times it would create beautiful unearthly photographs, some of which you see here.

I would also cut up the film and collage them together to help me see a composition more clearly, other times I would integrate them into the final art.

On some occasions the models were people who happened to be in the area where I was working, like this fighter (above) who was at the Sugar Ray Leonard gym (Sugar to the right), or a dancer from Paris.

How the photos of Sugar translate into a piece of art (this was for Sports Illustrated).

Another example of cutting up the Polaroids. This technique was used to illustrate different articles, two are below on debating the abortion issue, and unnecessary surgeries.

Polaroid of Michelle Barnes who modeled for many of my illustrations in the 80’s, including the “LuLu” opera poster created for the San Francisco Opera below.

Susan Steinberg was a continued source of inspiration in the 80’s. We experimented a lot with the SX70 and she modeled for many of my illustrations.

This Polaroid of Tricia Oricht was used straight up for the CD cover of Bingo Durango.

Here I painted over the Polaroid to more clearly define shapes. Lisa Tate was the model for the classic, “The Visions of Vespertina” image below, early 90’s.

Above is a selection of some favorite Polaroids that were printed in the, “Art of Greg Spalenka” book. Here we see my brother and his wife, as well as lovers and friends. It is a joy to celebrate these moments when the line blurs between the purpose of the model, and the art they become.

*This is the first in a series of posts that honor the people that have modeled for me, inspired me and helped me bring more beauty into the world.

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Old Masters New Visions Austria

In August of 2003, Roxana and I embarked on a journey to a small village in the Austrian Alps called Reichenau for a Visionary Artist workshop. While learning the Mische technique through Philip Rubinov-Jacobson’s, Old Masters New Visions art class we also saw museums in Vienna and visited the grand, Ernst Fuchs Villa.

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Pallas Athena statue in the Athenebrunnen fountain in front of the Parliament building.

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Classical magnificence.

Vienna Opera House

The artful metal facades seen around the city were superb.

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The Kunst Museum held a treasure of Egyptian artifacts. Loved this granite Pharaoh Goddess.

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Enjoyed the design of this effigy and headdress.

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The iconic, Kiss by Klimt at the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.

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Featuring over 40 paintings and approximately 180 works on paper, the Leopold Museum is the largest and most prominent collection with works of Egon Schiele worldwide.

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The Ernst Fuchs Villa (now a museum) was awe inspiring with almost everything in the house designed by the artist, including furniture, lights, and doorknobs. The house was filled with his art.

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One of the seductive marble and goldleaf sculptures of Fuch’s Sphinx.

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Fuchs also designed and built a temple that was surrealistic. It was filled with stained glass, large gold leaf covered bronze sculptures of esoteric imagery. Beautiful and beguiling it feels like you are standing in a psychedelic dream.

Alex Grey is attempting to create a temple called Entheon in a similar spirit. Check it out.

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A Fuchs painting using the classic Mische technique that we learned in the workshop that was taught by Philip Rubinov-Jacobson. Philip was mentored by Fuchs.

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One of Fuchs large graphite drawings in a gallery show at the time. This piece was about 7′ high on paper and framed under glass.

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Michael Fuchs (Ernst Fuchs son) was also teaching at the workshop and this was one of his Mische paintings. One of the unique properties of this painting technique is the stained glass like transparency that can be achieved through numerous glazes.

If you are interested in learning more about this technique check out Philip Rubinov-Jacobson’s wokshops.

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Revisiting the Mische Technique

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In August of 2003, Roxana and I embarked on a journey to a small village in the Austrian Alps called Reichenau for a Visionary Artist workshop. Our mission was to learn a secret and ancient painting technique called Mische that had been resurrected by the contemporary visionary painter Ernst Fuchs.

The process is laborious involving extensive preparation of the board, a detailed egg tempera painting with meticulous layers of oil glazes. The origins of the mixed (mische) media method is attributed to the Flemish brothers Jan and Hubert van Eyck.

1. We prepared our ground by mixing powdered paint with ground is made with linseed oil and damar varnish. 

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2. We prepared the egg medium by adding equal amounts of painting medium (half linseed oil, half damar varnish) to a cracked egg then adding water.

Egg tempera preparation:

Pour a heaping teaspoonful of titanium white powder on a glass surface, then and add enough egg medium until the mixture is a consistency similar to yogurt. Next, grind the mixture until very smooth and even.

With a palette knife scrape the newly prepared egg tempera onto a small piece of damp sponge placed at the bottom of an airtight jar.

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1. Gesso the wood, canvas, or pressed wood masonite, in our case it was wood panel.

2. Permanent ink under drawing

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3. Apply the ‘ground’ also referred to as the imprimatura, this is an warm earth tone, usually a bright, brick red.

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4. Begin painting to hi-lite with the prepared egg tempera.

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5. When the egg tempera is bone dry we begin with the first glaze in yellow, allow to dry for a few days or longer.

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6. A second hi-light phase with tempera is now applied. 

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W-Greg Angels w: glaze

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7. When this layer is bone dry, apply the second blue glaze (Cerulean, ultramarine or cobalt depending on the affect you are after). The process continues…

Based on notes and Brigid Marlins website.

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Winter is Coming

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Winter is Coming, (detail) mixed media. Model- Lara Pydde. Soon to be a new print.

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The Eyes of the Unicorn 10th Anniversary Sale

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Ten years ago my first illustrated children’s picture book, “The Eyes of the Unicorn” was printed. I am celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a one of kind sale.

“The Eyes of the Unicorn,” is an enchanting, magical tale of a girl’s love, a hunt for a unicorn and the transformation of her friends heart. It was written by Teresa Bateman, and published in 2007 by Holiday House in New York. When I was commissioned to create the illustrations the goal was to bring a cinematic flavor to the book which was unique in the children’s market at the time, yet keep a classical foundation. The book found its audience, but it is now out of print.

This sale is an opportunity to own the evolution of the book’s imagery, and more.

You will receive:

– Seventeen (mostly 8.5″x11″) pencil sketches (includes pagination notes)
– Eighteen printed Color Comps (8.5″x11″ rough color representations of the final art, includes alternate cover designs)
– Original printers proofs from China
– One signed book with a drawing
-The last archival, signed, 20″ x 30″ giclee of “Bliss” (Tanisa with the Unicorn lying in her lap, $500 value).
– One of the last remaining “The Eyes of the Unicorn,” limited edition card sets.
– A one on one conversation with me to learn about the makings of the book. We will talk about the ideas behind the images, the process and evolution of the art, challenges working with the publisher, the secret alchemical symbolism that I integrated into the book, and more.

This entire collection is $2000.00. Go HERE to purchase.

Click on the images to see them large-

All in all, this is a comprehensive one of a kind collection of personal sketches, and printed art highlighting the making of this special picture book. If you are a lover of children’s stories, the creative process, and the timeless power of unicorns, you and your kids will enjoy this journey.

This entire collection is $2000.00. Go HERE to purchase.

It will be shipped in two separate packages for its protection. Shipping and insurance will be $50.00.

The Eyes of the Unicorn book reviews:

“This is a beautiful book with wonderful illustrations and an uplifting message. Great for all ages and anyone who loves unicorns.”

“There are many books that do not meet the sense of magic and wonder and heart that this book does, and there are many that miss-the-mark completely on the whole mythos of unicorn-dom. This one doesn’t. It’s a jewel! and has the rich illustrations to match the beautiful, edifying story.”

“Greg Spalenka is an artist whose work transcends the ordinary while breathing life into the universal.
The artist’s skill is equal to his understanding of human emotion, historical tradition and the power of myth.
Exquisitely beautiful.”

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Moving Sale

After living in Woodland Hills for 27 years– I am moving! Just sold the
house and may be heading to Santa Fe, NM. With the intention of making
the load lighter before this new adventure there will be a huge garage sale this weekend.

Saturday and Sunday (July 15 & 16)
8am – 2pm

16771 Addison Street
Encino, CA

Addison Street is between Balboa Blvd. and Petite Ave.,
Just north of Ventura Blvd., south of the 101 FWY.

Items include:
Vintage and contemporary furniture
Original paintings and prints
Musical instruments
Household Items
Kitchen items
and more!

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Vogue Skin

“Vogue Skin” was created for Mala Apothecary. Custom organic, hand crafted skin care and consultancy. Treat your skin as a precious Eden. Model- Kamilla Peters.

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The Gaze

“The Gaze,” charcoal, graphite, oil paint on board. Will be available at Chandeliers and Tulips in Agoura next week.

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La Dame Blanche Chesley Nominee

The La Dame Blanche image that was created for Roxana Illuminated Perfume has been nominated for a Chesley Award for Best Product Illustration. You can view the nominees HERE and vote on the ASFA (Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists) site HERE, but you must be a member to vote.

See the actual banner HERE. 

I am honored to be included with Donato Giancola, Clark Huggins, John Picacio, and Cynthia Sheppard for this award.

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