Friday, February 27, 2009

Clean(er than usual) Studio

Yes, this is cleaner than usual. Just finished the three Magic cards, and while I'm waiting to put varnish on the canvas, I straightened up the place a little. Sending the art out next week, and I'll have a couple weeks to work on new paintings for the portfolio.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Illustration Friday: Instinct

Here is my submission to this week's Illustration Friday topic: Instinct. Was it greed and malice that made the wolf chase Little Red Riding Hood, or was it simply instinct?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Impressive Illustrator

Donato Giancola considers himself to be a fine artist who happens to make a living doing illustration. While many illustrators welcome the way their art is included in a book design, he has a tendency to cringe if the book's title covers some important part of the painting.

His trademark talents include painting metallic, reflective surfaces, and creating massive groups of figures. He must have a loyal group of models, because in one painting he may have 20 individually rendered figures.

Giancola's process allows for this level of detail. Instead of transferring his drawing onto the canvas with a projector, he draws on paper and affixes the paper to the canvas. He paints on the paper, not the canvas. That way, he draws once, not twice.

Friday, February 20, 2009

YYY's new album!

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are coming out with a new album. As always, I'm pretty interested. I'm a sucker for Karen O.'s voice. The new single "Zero" is pretty close to being disco, but man, I like it.

I've also recently discovered Do Make Say Think. They're a indie-rock instrumental band who kind of have a movie-soundtrack take on progressive rock. It's difficult to describe, but their album You, You're a History in Rust has become a favorite on my iPod. I couldn't get through it on the first listen, honestly. But soon, I was singing along with the brass and the strings, as if the sounds were lyrics.

Models Wanted

I've been working on Magic for the past week. The first week in March, I'll start painting portfolio pieces again, so I'll need some models.

Why do all my male figures in my paintings look like me? Well, because I have two reliable male models: me and my dad. Here we are, shooting at some lawmen.

I'm tired of using myself as a model for every job. My female models live in Rochester and in Europe. So, I need some local models that will work for free. All ages, either gender. If you're willing to dress up as a medieval character or a pirate and get some photos taken, let me know.

Right now, I'm specifically looking to do some portfolio pieces for children's book art directors. So kids are a plus right now. Oh, and pets too.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Just set up my gallery at, an online community of (mostly) fantasy artists dedicated to sharing information and advice.

It's got a huge range of talent, from professionals like Tristan Elwell to well ... people of much, much less distinction. I hope, as one in the 'professional' ranks, to post some information about my work.

You can help me out by following the link above and giving my gallery a five-star ranking. It might help increase the web traffic to my site.Link

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Teaching today at Bob Boroski's School of Art, my alma mater, of sorts.

I recently looked through some of my early work from Bob's class, and boy, I don't know where I got the idea I could make a living doing art. Some of my paintings and drawings were really pitiful. Even the drawings that I thought were good at the time now look pretty weak. I'll have to post some, because they really are interesting. The ellipses are all off, the perspective is wrong.

Of course, I think the same thing about my work from college, so I suppose that's a sign of improvement (I hope). Time to go foster some artistic talent ...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentines Day. Why don't you wear a nice tie? Cyberoptix.

Impressive Illustrator

Gregory Manchess is who I want to be when I grow up. Seriously, have you ever seen anything as cool as this painting? It's a rare ability to be able to make a painting as epic as a big-budget movie, but Manchess has it.

in 2005, I interviewed him over the phone as part of an assignment for all RIT Illustration seniors. As I recall, we talked for quite a while, and he didn't shy away from some personal subjects. He told me a little of his personal struggles, and the idea of him creating such grand paintings while truly suffering seemed as heroic as his work.

Two years later, I saw him demonstrate his process at the Society of Illustrators. Basically, he doesn't make mistakes. That's an overstatement, obviously, but most of his brush strokes are put down once. The finished product is created in one go. Look. Plan. Mix Paint. Plan Stroke. Brush to Canvas. Done.

My Method

In order to get the lighting right on creatures that don't actually exist, I find it's easier and faster (for me) to sculpt a model out of clay first. That way, I can light the scene in any number of ways and make it as realistic as possible. I still have to figure out the colors, but at least I have a guide. These Sculpey figures are now standing on a file cabinet in my studio. I'm running out of room for them.

Oh, and the human figures in the above painting are both me. But I won't post the photo reference for that part of the painting, as it's kind of embarrassing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Impressive Illustrator

Nothing motivates me more than knowing how good other illustrators are. Although it can be discouraging, I occasionally browse other artists' sites to see what I have to live up to.

Dan Dos Santos is another CT native, and he's pretty much living the dream; killer work, great success, critical acclaim. In addition to painting about a gazillion book covers, he also continues to illustrate cards for Magic: The Gathering. When I saw him speak at the Society of Illustrators in the fall of '07, he said he had work scheduled six months in advance. How cool would that be? Man, I'm jealous.

In any case, hop on over to his website to see what I'm talking about.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Leo's Song from impactist on Vimeo.

Since I'm not cool enough to find my own cool things, I found this on Enjoy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Portfolio Drop-Off: Scholastic and Tor

Last week, I took my portfolios into the city for the necessary and dreaded "drop-off." It's the illustrator's way of getting your work in front of the right people (hopefully). Most publishers accept work on Monday, and this was the case for my two targets: Scholastic Press and Tor Books.

My first stop was Tor. The website gave the address, but not much more. So I did my best to talk my way past the doorman, who was simultaneously disinterested and difficult to understand. Finally, in a thick African accent, he told me to go to the wrong floor. I got further directions from someone walking around the building.

I was finally on the right floor, facing two double doors that looked like they shouldn't be opened. But I was desperate. I opened the doors and was standing in the middle of the Tor Books office. I stood there stunned for a few moments before asking the only person I saw if: A)I was in the right place and B) were they accepting portfolios.

She then sent me down the hall (really? just walk right in?) to Irene Gallo's office. The art director of Tor Books, Irene Gallo is a king-maker. She's the best at what she does, and as a result, can get the top-notch talent. Ms. Gallo can make your career if she likes your work.

So as I nervously handed her my portfolio, I was relieved that she didn't find it odd or intrusive for a complete stranger to show up in the office looking for a review. She was very pleasant and welcoming, and invited me to pick up my work later in the day.

That afternoon, I was standing in her office again, looking around at all the original illustrations displayed and stored around the room. It's amazing and intimidating to see an original Greg Manchess just draped over a desk and a Donato Giancola propped up against the wall. Ms. Gallo gave my work an honest look-through. She generally liked some of my pieces, but didn't have any work for me (not that I expected any work; I was just glad to get her opinion). So, that was a success.

Oh, and I also dropped off my work at Scholastic, didn't talk to anyone, and got a rejection letter with the wrong date on it (pictured). It's now hanging on on what I call my 'rejection letter wall,' serving as another piece of inspiration as I work. Speaking of which, back to it ...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Track Town U.S.A

Amazing what you come upon while Googling yourself. Luckily, not all of it is bad. I had my paintings hanging in Eugene, OR last summer at the Maude Kerns Art Center. Little fanfare and no sales. I didn't even go out to see the show. But apparently Chuck Adams from the Eugene Weekly did a review of the show, and I somehow escaped a negative review. *whew*

He writes:

"Just a few blocks from Hayward Field on 15th Avenue, Maude Kerns Art Center would be foolish to not capitalize on the interest of the Olympic Trials attendees. So with a juried exhibit titled “Track Town USA,” MKAC steps up to the plate and offers work in numerous mediums, some of it related to track and field and some not. Mike Leckie’s cast hydrostone bas reliefs of athletes in competition recall the Greek art of the first Olympiad in Athens, but Leckie’s are a sculpt-by-numbers affair, as if crafted by machine.

Kris Ibach’s oil paintings Release and Orbit appear to be the two major works of the exhibit, which is unfortunate because while they are lustrous and sensuous, their basic composition has gone completely haywire. In Release the shot-putter’s arm has been warped and stretched like Silly Putty to give it an inhuman, alien effect. Orbit appears to abandon common-sense anatomy outright, especially in the arms of the hammer thrower. Similarly dissappointing are John Giustina’s photoshopped and blown-up “action shots” on canvas. Another viewer wondered, “Why go the extra yard to make it artsy-fartsy?” I’d also like to know: Why print on canvas if you’re going to paste it onto flimsy foamcore? Canvas is meant to be stretched.

We start moving into some decent work with Carol Arian’s collages. Sacrifice, her collage of a long jumper in mid-air looking like Christ on the cross, posits the justified comparison of sports to religion, with the sacrifice of all the many miles and hours of training (and praying) paying off in gold medals. Just like Jesus. Or something.

Speaking of sports and religion, don’t miss Ryan Pancoast’s three oil paintings in the exhibit, all of which feel like they belong in a church or some other religious setting (making this former-church-turned-gallery the perfect setting). Pancoast’s The Starting Line certainly quotes French Neoclassicism in its mannered, dignified scene of cross-country runners. Poised at the starting line, the runners could easily be the soldiers in Jacques-Louis David’s Oath of the Horatii while the coaches squatting to the side are the unseen generals directing the athlete-soldiers to a considerably less bloody outcome. Pancoast’s The Spit is an oddly affecting portrait in muted yellows and muddy browns of a runner who catches his breath after a race by hawking a loogie. That’s a perfect blend of sports and paint."

I feel like I owe Chuck a word of thanks. Maybe the show wasn't a complete bust after all!

The full article is here.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Flying Things

While I'm working on jobs that actually pay, I won't be able to work on portfolio pieces. Not until March 5th or so. But this is the drawing for one of the next paintings. Click on it for a bigger image.

That's all for now. Back to work.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Buy some art!

Ryan Pancoast Studio Store now open! Some of the cheapest original art available anywhere! Ever thought to yourself, "I'd like to buy some of Ryan's art, but I don't have the cash and I don't want a painting of a dwarven warrior above my couch"?

Well, the solution is here. These color sketches are affordable, smaller, and more abstract than the final artwork, making even sword-and-shield artwork ready to hang in the living room.

Don't delay! Act now! Products flying off the shelves! Not really. But enjoy.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Current Project

... and finally, what am I working on now? I have three more cards to illustrate for Wizards of the Coast's Magic: The Gathering Trading Card game. While I can't discuss anything about the project, my first cards will be published in Summer '09. After this wave is complete, I will have illustrated 8 cards.

Metal Magic and Lore

...and as long as I'm posting, I might as well mention that MML is still going strong. A full catalog of products are now available at Paizo Publishing.

Visit them online at

5th Epoch is planning big things for 2009, including the long-awaited Game Master's Travel Guide. They have commissioned me for a series of illustrations, and by the looks of it, this publication will greatly enhance play and broaden the lore.

The illustrations in the Basic Player's Rulebook can be seen on my website.

Scion: Ragnorak released

This happened a number of weeks ago, but I might as well mention it:
White Wolf Publishing has released the newest book in the Scion series. Ragnorak allows players to explore Norse mythology, but perhaps the White Wolf site explains it better.

I was excited that White Wolf asked me to work on this project, especially since I only showed them a limited b&w portfolio at Gen Con 07. They had to trust that I'd put out some good pieces, and I hope I didn't disappoint.

My commission included depictions of Grendel, Bloody Mary, and Jack Frost, as seen through the modern world lens of Scion.