Model Pageantry Overview

I have been honored and blessed to create art with loving, talented people in the service of the art spirit. I thank all of the beautiful souls who have helped me bring more beauty and grace to our world. Onward and upward!

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Model Pageantry VIII

Model- Ashley Hackett for, “Chakra Goddess” (detail).

From the moment I met her it was clear Ashley would make a great model. Conceptually, I wanted to explore some eastern indian sculptural qualities I felt she would be perfect for. “Chakra Goddess” manifested from this collaboration. There is a strength and serenity that emerges from this image. It is one of my most popular prints with women.

Model- Ashley Hackett for, “Divine Repose II”

“Divine Repose” was also produced from this photoshoot. I created some variations of this image which was inspired by the model’s relaxed and elegant pose. The violet, pink color washing over the the interior of this sacred space created a nice contrast and reflected Ashley’s fun and beautiful art spirit.

Reference shot for, “Chakra Goddess.” We explored different poses for this image and some of them were beautiful unto themselves.

Model- Melissa Schwarz, reference for, “Living Stone.”

Melissa Schwarz is a new addition to my family of models. Melissa is a very talented actress and enjoys playing different roles in theater, but also in front of the camera. She has transformed herself into the seductress, the classical muse, a forest faerie, and the lover wondering about the future.

The sunlight was just magical on her with this picture.

The seductress in cyanotype form.

A splash of fantasy.

Reference for a series on the windows of love.

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Model Pageantry VII

Model- Isabelle Howell for Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

I designed a photoshoot around Isabelle Howell and Kellie Bryant (both Waldorf Highland Hall graduates) for Mona Wells plant dyed fashions, as well as Roxana Illuminated Perfume. These two young women melded perfectly with a feel of wholesome elegance.

Mona Lewis exploring handwork, plant dye, education and art that feeds the soul.

Isabelle Howell as a classical nature nymph. I was attempting to capture a Pictorialist quality to this series of photos.

Kellie Bryant in a turn of the century Pictorialist image.

There is almost tintype quality to some of these photos. I love the timeless essence that these images evoke.

Nature and romanticism.

The above image was taken for Sofia Bernardez, another Highland Hall high school student and talented fashion designer who was looking for a scholarship to El Istituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona. The model was her friend who’s name escapes me.

Photoshoot for Mala Apothecary. Model- Kamilla Peters. In this instance the focus was on the beautiful, flawless skin to reflect the product line of Mala Apothecary. However, Kamilla’s clear blue eyes pull you back again and again.

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Model Pageantry VI

Blue Savanah, Model Savanah Paige Kerwin, for Roxana Illuminated Perfume

I had one photoshoot with Savanah but the amount of inspiration I have been able to glean from that one session has been amazing. She was a receptionist at my local gym and I asked her if she would be interested in posing for Roxana Illuminated Perfume. She had no modeling experience but it was obvious within a few moments of taking pictures she was a natural.

Most of these are reference shots for Roxana Illuminated Perfume, however I explored different Photoshop and cyanotype processes for some of my personal pieces of art.

Cyanotype influence with drawing elements intertwined.

This photoshoot was held at the Agoura Antique Market. Backgrounds were ready made in some instances or we moved different objects around to create interesting compositions.

Savanah relaxes in the sunset through the magic of Photoshop.

More Cyanotype influence with drawing elements intertwined.

This gives you an example of how Savanah was used in a promotion for, “Impromptu” botanical perfume. See the Lookbook here.

Reference for, “Impromptu.”

Final art for, “Impromptu.”

Savanah is like an exotic landscape, full of intrigue and awe inspiring beauty. I am grateful we had the opportunity to produce some wonderful imagery together,

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Model Pageantry V

v5Queen I,  Model- Sophie Fletcher

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


Sophie Fletcher has a sweet natural demeanor which translates into exotic realism. Elegant and beautiful.









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Model Pageantry IV

Michaelmas Mastery– Showcased in Spectrum 24, The Best of Contemporary Fantastic Art. Model- Stevie Morley

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

Raw reference shot for Michaelmas Mastery.

Stevie Morley is a serious evolutionary biologist, make up artist and costume maker. She is known also as Dirt Faery Morley because of the costumes she designs that can reflect a dark almost troll like nature. When I photograph her as a model for my art projects or for Roxana Illuminated Perfume assignments she brings an elegance to the lens.

Fleurish for Roxana Illuminated Perfume.

Stevie has the spirit of an actress and the sophistication of a Goddess.

There is a beautiful archival print of this image.

Venus, for the Roxana Illuminated Perfume event, Love Yourself

The inspiration for Venus was 1800’s Parisian postcards.

Raw reference shot for Venus
Floral Bliss
Raw reference for Floral Bliss photoshoot
Melifera, for Roxana Illuminated Perfume

The painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau would have loved her as his model too.


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Model Pageantry III

Noir, Model- Jessica Lough

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

“Nefertiti’s Dream” is inspired by the Noir art. Nefertiti means “the beautiful one has come.” Divine consciousness blossoms. 35″x48” inks, acrylic, oil, metallic paint, varnish, canvas on wood.

Jessica Lough is a model who brings a strength to all of her characters. She can be dark and gothic or sensitive and sensual. Being a belly dance and performer she knows how to bring drama and elegance to any concept that needs to be communicated.

Noir Woods, for Roxana Illuminated Perfume

Working with a model is like a dance. It is both of us swirling around ideas when creating an image together. When the energy is right and we fuse our minds and talents. Then we can create a synergy. There is always a confident and playful quality with Jessica which makes our photoshoots delightful, creative collaborations.

To Bee, for Roxana Illuminated Perfume

“Goddess Muscle.” In solidarity with women’s rights and the Women’s Marches around the world. The Goddess is Rising.

Blue Queen, Archival Print

Blue Queen II

Mystic Current, Archival Print

Midsummer’s Night Dream

Photo inspiration for the Queen series

Snow Queen

Snow Queen Redux

Sometimes I create variations on a theme to see if the image wants to transform. I enjoy these explorations. I can’t go wrong with just about anything Jessica is the inspiration for.

Snow Queen Redux II


Sensual Dark Beauty

I know when the photoshoot is finished when I see this face. Ha! Thank you for all the inspiration Jessica!

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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.

Vienna statue 5a

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

Vienna statue 5

Classical magnificence.

Vienna Opera House

The artful metal facades seen around the city were superb.

Kunst Museumegypt

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

Kunst Museum - Egypt

Enjoyed the design of this effigy and headdress.


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


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.


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.

Vienna Fuchs Villa2

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


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.


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.


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.

W-Michael Fuchs Eucharist 2q

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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