SF / Fantasy

After four years at a design company, I opened the Skullerud Studio in 1982 and took the opportunity to jump into science fiction art.  At the time, illustration and especially sf art, were not well respected in the art world, and unless you were doing book covers frequently it didn’t pay a lot.  All the following pieces were produced over the next decade until the mid nineties.

Stephens and Catherwood Reach the Pinnacles of Laman (gouache)

This fictional landscape shows two small figures, real explorers Frederick Catherwood, an English architect, and John Lloyd Stephens, an American writer.  Both became famous for their explorations of the Yucatan and for revealing the existence of a sophisticated Mayan civilization to the world.  In the upper Right, one of the explorers throws a grappling hook to the ruins atop the rock pinnacle.

Amazing Stories (gouache)

Illustrators were employed by Amazing to illustrate the interior stories and the magazine’s cover.  The most fun was doing a cover because it was not constrained by a storyline - it just had to be provocative enough to make someone pick up the magazine.  This painting was titled, “Jungle Story”.  It shows a native of Borneo on top of an abandoned scout vehicle in a steamy jungle setting.

Amazing Stories (gouache)

Here is another cover painting, this time in digest format, before the magazine title and other text were applied.  Earth astronauts rappel down a mountainside to explore the opening to an interior world.  Two moons show in the distance.  At the time, Amazing was the longest continuously published sf magazine in existence.

Delivery Above Ganymede (gouache)

My interest in sf art coincided with the first good mission photos of non-earth moons in our solar system.  Here is a delivery ship that carries donut shaped containers around its main shaft.  The containers are detached in orbit above Jupiter’s moon.

Jovian Sheriff series (prisma)

A series of five or six sheriffs who work the moons of Jupiter.  The drawings were small, about 9 inches high.

Valley of the Stone Bow (gouache)

This started as a rock musical about a hidden tribe in a mountain valley in the Andes.  It later morphed into a novel and finally into a painting.  During the course of this journey, the 70-member tribe acquired names, social divisions, dress and history.  In the foreground you can see Uliram and his friend Tummish ascending the wall of this pocket valley spanned by a rock bridge.

ESP Survey Wegener In Port For Seafair (gouache)

The Wegener is a geological survey space ship named after the man best remembered for the theory of continental drift, Alfred Lothar Wegener.  Here the ship is seen above Lake Washington’s Mercer Island while the Seafair hydroplane races are taking place at midright.  Seattle is in the background.

R’lyeh Where Cthulhu Lies Dreaming (acrylic)

Two scuba divers explore the sunken island made famous by horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft.  His vivid writing inspired a legion of other writers to perpetuate his fantasy inventions long after he died.  For me as a painter, the challenge here, beyond the design aspect, was to take what I knew about atmospheric color changes and apply it to a liquid medium.

The Numen (acrylic)

The appeal of sf and speculative fiction is to create something really novel.  As artists and writers, we have feet of clay.  No matter how high we jump, we land back on the same planet and in the same animal kingdom that shape everything we invent.  Here is a numen, defined as the spirit of a place.  I wanted to invent a character that was truly Other from an Other place, as different from earthly ordinary as possible.  This is as close as I got.