Friday, January 8, 2021

Using a Skeleton Model as Reference


When I painted the skeleton pirate for the cover of On Stranger Tides, the reference setup included a real skull, a costume hat, and a plastic model of a human skeleton.

I tried various color sketches until I arrived at the muted color scheme. I found some photos of sailing ships, treasure chests, and cannons.

In the final painting, the skeleton refuses to die. A cannon shot has broken through the railing at right. His right leg is held together with a strip of cloth, and his missing left leg is replaced with the end of an oar, whittled into a simple hinge for his knee. The original oil painting is about 9 x 15 inches, oil on panel. 

It will be featured June 12 in the upcoming exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum called "Enchanted: A History of Fantasy Illustration." 


On Amazon: plastic model of a human skeleton



Bevan said...

I love the Norman Rockwell Museum, they have such great features and artists. Congrats.

Bevan said...

Wow I just looked at the list of featured artists for that exhibit! What a stellar lineup!!!

Drake Gomez said...

I recognize that skeleton you used, James--It's from the old Invisible Man models. I bought an Invisible Man and Woman on eBay a while back for the same purpose. Unfortunately, the front and back halves of the rib cage were never meant to be glued together, but I finally got the tiny cross section of each rib to stick to its mate, as you apparently did, too. Still, hard to recommend anyone taking this approach unless they just enjoy model building, but the results are pretty nice!.

Michael Patriciaa said...
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Mark Martel said...

With a nod to Howard Pyle of course