... Rowena Morril on fantasyart, feminism and techniques
: When I was a child, I always loved Fairy Tales from all different countries. I would make up my own and insist on keeping my sister awake at night telling just one more. I think I inherited that creative side from my Mother. Also, we lived in Japan when I was a child. Everything was exotic and fascinating to me.
: When I moved to New York City, I just knew I had to make money. I wasn't aware of the illustration field. But there were not a lot of artists who could do the human figure. I had been doing portraits in Philadelphia, so I found work in illustration immediately. I did meet Boris, because we were working for the same companies. But I don't think you could ever look at one of my paintings and think that Boris had done it.
: I have always worked with oils on gessoed illustration board or masonite, my favorite. It takes longer to work with gessoed masonite, because you have to sand it.
: I use double thick, smooth illustration board, usually Strathmore. Then I tape it on all sides with 1" white tape to quarter inch foam core. That is so the illustration board will not buckle when wet. Then I take Liquitex gesso and dilute it with water until it is the consistency of cream. Using a 3" wide brush, I put three very thin layers of gesso on the board, each layer very quickly, so it will be seamless and smooth. The preceding layer must by completely dry before I apply the next.
The masonite must be untempered. Tempered masonite is waxy and slick. First I sand the masonite with medium grade sandpaper. Then I apply thinned out gesso in six or eight coats, sanding after every three coats. For the final sanding I use fine sandpaper. Finally, I put a very thin coat of gesso to give the surface a little texture.
I like to work on a very smooth surface. If I want some texture I like to paint it in myself.
: I use everything that gets the result I want. I bring things into my studio, like glass, rocks, tree limbs. etc. I also use photography. A model would have to sit in a very uncomfortable position for my poses for thirty hours. It would be impossible. I never slavishly follow a photograph, because there is always some distortion. But I set the lights up, create the costumes and get as close as I can get to what I am after. Then I interprate the image as I want. As far as I am concerned, I use anything that works.
: I have never been a feminist. I love the fact that men and women are different! I was told at the very beginning of my illustration career by an agent that paintings of women sell five to one better than images of men. That certainly got my attention.
Also, that has been my experience over over the years! Men buy paintings of women because they like them. Women buy paintings of women because they identify with them. I certainly have done paintings of men, but they rarely sell. Very interesting!!!
: I just recently read that, when you write, you should write about extreme people, because readers really do not want to read about ordinary folks. In my art, it was intuitive to paint gorgeous, heroic people. If one wants everyday life, just live your own (with the exception of Horst). I think many people want to be taken out of themselves, into a different world, when they read a book or see artwork.
: It is so much fun to make up a fantasy creature!! Dragons, perhaps are the most fun. I always create my dragons in the mode of "all in just fun." I make them grinning and gleeful. I do not like repulsive creatures.
I do a drawing first and then find reference for reptiles , fish, anything I can think of. Then I apply the textures to my drawings.
: When I began doing fantasy paintings in about 1977, everything was a free-for-all. Also, the art was supposed to look very sensuous. As time went by, I was told to cover up everyone more, because children could see the books in the supermarkets.
Then there was much more force from teams of art directors and editors, all of whom wanted a say in the book covers: artwork by committee. Now, most everything is digital. So there have been big changes. Also, with the internet, publishing companies are becoming mostly obsolete. The one constant in the Universe is change.
: Great that there are so many sub-genres. The more, the merrier!! I would embrace the changes and love all the different avenues for expression! Wonderful for creativity. Change is exciting and inspiring!
: Yes, I just have mixed breed cats. I adore them! So soft, silky and comforting as only a cat can be! I have used my kitties a number of times in my paintings, especially Egyptian paintings. Hooray for cats!