Brief History and Achievements For the last three decades, Michael Whelan has known as one of the pioneers in fantasy and science-fictional art. Over the years he’s created more than 350 book covers, album covers and other illustrations for well known authors and artists like Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Sepultura and Meatloaf, but he is working on his fine art paintings at the moment. He’s won numerous awards like 15 Hugo Awards (it’s like the Oscar of Science Fiction), 3 World Fantasy Awards and the SuperHugo Award for the best artist of the last 50 years. He also became the first living artist to be part of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in Seattle. This unique company of people include people like Steven Spielberg, H.G. Wells, Rod Serling and Ursula K. Le Guin. He’s also been named professional artist of the year in LOCUS Magazine annual poll, 28 times.
Symbols in his work A lot of his paintings are connected through a certain theme or symbol. He uses these symbols in his work to communicate through an idea with the viewer. Two of his more commonly used symbols are the “bubble,” which represents an undying mentality or “soul” of some sort. Another well known symbol of his work is the Dactyloceras ammonite fossil. This symbol represents a loss or extinction.
Techniques and Materials Early Illustrations Personal Artwork Michael Whelan Index Bibliography
Enchantress of World’s End Illustrations Whelan first started illustrating in the early 70’s when he was studying Human Anatomy and art at the San Jose State University in California where he painted signs, worked on a barber’s manual and did medical illustrations for the “Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.” After he graduated, he didn’t quite feel ready to go out there and work as a freelance illustrator so and he attended a course at the Art Centre College of Design, but he dropped out after 9 months when he got a job offer from a publisher in New York and his first commission was for the cover of The Enchantress of World’s End. Back To Index
During his illustration years he’s worked with names like Steven King where he did the first and the last illustrations of The Dark Tower series of books. Another well known author is Anne McCaffrey with the Dragonriders of Pern series. Album cover designs include Arise and Chaos A.D. by Sepultura, Soulfly’s Dark Ages Album, Bat From Hell one and two covers from and Meatloaf Obituary’s Cause of Death which is also the covers to the Lovecraft’s Nightmare books.
Techniques and Materials Acrylic Paints Liquitex, Lukas and Golden are his favourite brands of acrylic paints to use. He doesn’t really use tube paints because he occasionally run the paint through an airbrush because he is not really into creating thick textures due to the fine detail on most of his paintings. When he wants a “wet-in-wet” blend that he usually uses on underpaintings, he uses a satin painting medium. Oil Paints He uses Winsor& Newton Oils and he sometimes mix them with Griffin alkyds so that the paint dries quickly. Liquin is his medium of choice for his paintings but he also uses traditional Damar, turpentine and sand oil mixture and he cleans his brushes and thins his paints with mineral spirits. Brushes Whelan uses a lot of different brushes and other things to create the look he is looking for. Sponges, plastic, cloth and pipe cleaners is jus some of the things he uses to paint. Most of the time he uses synthetic brushes but he would often finish his piece of with a real sable or bristle brush to get a really fine detailed look.
Working Surfaces The surface that he uses the most is D’Arches watercolour paper mounted on 100% rag museum mounting board because it is a nice and sensitive surface to work on. Painting on canvas is usually down to Fredrix Polyflax or Ultrasmooth, otherwise it is done on linen which he never buys online because he says that he wants to feel and see the texture with his own eyes. He sometimes uses a computer to get a basic layout of the painting but he never finishes a project on the computer. Techniques He had to develop his own way of painting with acrylics. Ever since the 80’s, he started mixing paints to get different colours. He keeps these pre-mixtures to save time and he still uses some of the mixed paint from back then, today. He also loves to experiment. He tries to do that as often as possible, like with the Arise album cover where he ran textures from photos through a copier to get a more gritty feel. After that he had a sepia tone print made or the textures and assembled and mounted them on mounting board. At last he touched up on the painting with a brush to get the final painting done.