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Being An Artist/Illustrator and Halloween

Art n’ words by Rich Terdoslavich (C) 2024

Hey, everyone. Hope you’re well and enjoying the days of spring. Going back to my archives, here was an illustration/backdrop piece I did for a Halloween/Haunted House Event. It was an event that was open to the public, and this piece was used as part of the interior decor for the event held at a site.

I wanted the piece to be a tribute to the great monster classics of the Universal horror films of the the 1930s and the 1940s. The color palette had to be limited, a variety of grey, brown, black, green and white tones. Give it an old, faded sepia tone look to it, atmospheric and expressive.

For about seven years, I painted many murals and backdrop pieces for shows and events. Working at The Gallery, every year, public events would be held and promoting these events were part of the job. One of the ways of promoting these gigs were murals for the public to see. When Halloween events were held at The Gallery, the outdoor windows would be covered in acrylics, portraits of ghouls, vampires and demons. Acrylic on glass, and you had to add so many coats to make it thick, not too streaky, and build on the textures. But before that, there were backdrops and illustrations/paintings that I did, and the one that is shown above this blog, was the first one, of a long line of interior pieces and murals.

Didn’t want to phone it in. I was given an opportunity to produce a piece for an event. Wanted the passion, the thought process, seep into the paint. The horror films of the 1920s, 30s and the 40s, were an inspiration in terms of the mood, tone, lighting, framing and acting that were all integrated in those classics. The layout, the composition of the illustration/backdrop piece, was in my head, but once the work commenced, wanted to push it as far as I could, in terms of not just knocking out a job, but to give it some dimension and depth. The color and the rendering was just as important as the technique, the ability to draw, to perfect the drawing technique. There had to be a gothic feeling being evoked, not slapping colors all around. The faded look that I was trying to capture. I wanted viewers to feel something when they are looking at the piece. I remember even using a toothbrush to create some splattering effects with the paint or try to create minute details on the piece.

I’m proud of the work and yet at the same time, restless and always questioning myself this: should have I taken a little more time to work out the layout, the composition? Does it say anything? What are you communicating? Is it suppose to say or communicate anything, maybe evoke a mood or a feeling? Does it tell a story? Push any boundaries? Did you settle for just painting a few portraits or did you put a lot of thought behind it? What are you expressing?

I think about it a lot. Take a pause, step back and ask myself these questions. I remember preparing this piece, the vision inside my head. I knew that where the work was really going to be emphasized, was the painting of each monster portrait. Each monster portrait was a light pencil layout, and then later, building up the foregrounds and backgrounds with the acrylics. Had photo references, but didn’t have one for Dracula, so had to make something up on the spot. I literally went down to the wire, finishing it up right up till closing time, about ten or eleven hours before showtime.

Maybe one day, I would like to give another go, try something similar to this piece, an array of monsters, just their close ups on an illustration board. I tried it once and I discovered you can’t capture the same feeling you had before when I was painting this piece. Adrenaline kicks in, as you try to beat that deadline and you are trying to dig deep with the paint, the movement and action of brush in hand, and creating those textures. You don’t have that feeling again, when you try it again. Best to move on? Yeh, maybe. Or maybe just too hard on myself. Someone online called this piece-along with another piece I did -as epic. Knocked me out. Maybe sometimes you don’t realize the kind of impact a piece of art has on someone, where you get obsessed with making sure it’s right in terms of design and composition. Rarely, I get this kind of feedback. Don’t go out looking for it, but when you get a nice complement, be humble, and keep going.

Well, guess that’s about it. Rambling a bit, and maybe it’s time to sign off. When you get a chance, if a Karloff or Lugosi movie is on tv, check it out. You can’t beat the classics like Frankenstein or Dracula. Even Nosferatu, a great film by F.W. Murnau. Another version of Nosferatu is coming out soon and hope to check it out.

Guess that’s about it, folks. You okay? Hang tight, stay loose, and stay cool. Drop a line or a comment if you want. Keep watching the movie classics and talk to you soon!



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