Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Quasiwatercolor!

After a year of almost continuous professional work, as both an artist and screenwriter, it's nice to have a few days to just kick back and do some artwork for myself. Today I broke out the watercolors and dove into yet another Lon Chaney Sr. piece. As I've said before, watercolor is probably the most challenging of mediums, as there is little room for error. But today I was relaxed, and the colors flowed peacefully. I know that after the New Year I'll be back in full work mode, so I really appreciated the opportunity to just do what I love to do.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Keep Watching The Skies!

Bill Warren's newly revised, 2009 edition of his highly respected guide to 1950's sci-fi movies has a new face and some nifty Sketchy Things within!

Tor Johnson and Bela Lugosi plan a

Now available from McFarland is Bill's third redux of KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES, and it is seven pounds of sci-fi geek heaven. Filled with in-depth analysis' of hundreds of fantastic films, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Thankfully, Bill asked me to contribute some sublimely ridiculous sketches to this terrific volume, and even allowed me to pick the films I wanted to illustrate. The results are some of my favorite Sketchy Things caricatures ever.

Michael Gough contemplates the

KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES! is available through Barnes and Noble, Overstock.com and many other book outlets. It also has a Rondo-worthy dust jacket cover by my friend, the super-talented Kerry Gammill. See how many of the cover beasties you can recognize!

Kudos to Bill for a fantastic and necessary reference for all students of classic sci-fi and horror films. Klaatu Barrada Nikto!

The Almost Last Painting Of The Decade

As the decade draws (yes, pun intended) to a close, I want to thank all my friends and fans for continuing to support my work. Without you folks, all this artwork would be for my eyes only, and that would be not nearly as fun.

I still have a few days before the ball drops (uncomfortable expression, isn't it?), so I may have time to finish one more oil painting...but in the meantime, here's one that I finished yesterday. I wanted to capture that moment, just after Mary Philbin snatches Lon Chaney's mask from his twisted face, and he turns and glares at her in accusational rage. The shot in the film is slightly out of focus, which somehow makes it more nightmarish.

The "soft focus" effect here is easily accomplished. While the oils are still wet on the canvas, I take a fan brush and very lightly drag the brush over the paint. I dry-wipe the brush clean after each stroke. I work in one diagonal direction, and then the other. The key is not to put any pressure on the brush as it sweeps over the paint, just let gravity do it's thing. The result is an eerie, soft glow, which is a pretty cool effect.

I use this technique on almost all my oil paintings, usually after the tones have been laid down. It helps me see that the general shapes of the tones are correct. In most paintings, however, I continue to refine after that. This PHANTOM OF THE OPERA didn't need much else, except a little tweaking in the eyes.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me, 2009!

So amidst all of the craziness this last three months hath wraught, I happened to hit the half-century mark. I turned 50 years old in October, which is still hard for me to believe. But my friends did their best to make my transition to a pentagenarian a smooth and painless one.

Below are a few of the treasured gifts I received from my rather notable friends.

From Bernie Wrightson and his lovely wife, Liz - an original birthday sketch:

From LOST SKELETON director Larry Blamire - my LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN character gets his own vintage comic book! Or at least the cover...

From my other pal, David J. Schow - the limited edition hardcover of REYNOLD BROWN, by Daniel Zimmer and David J. Hornung, which showcases the artistry of the man who created all of the cool sci-fi posters of the 1950's.

Great gifts from great friends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Interview

Shout Factory's recent release of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 Volume XV features a rather special extra...an interview with me and my co-star Thor on our feelings about our cult classic ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE, which is one of the episodes included in this set.

ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE has been regarded as one of the very best episodes of this terrific series, and I was more than happy to share my recollections of the experience, and my insight as to why our bad movie works so well in the MST3K format. All the reviews of this new collection have been glowing, so join the Satellite Of Love and pick up your copy before Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank find a way to sabotage its wonder...

"Who put the 12-year-old in charge of the investigation?"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Unmasking Dr. Phibes Part 2

Okay, so now it's time to let the lights shine. I squint at the reference photos to determine where the light areas really stand out. Squinting makes it easier to recognize the tones as either light, middle or dark. Using an electric eraser, I begin by blocking out the areas that are going to be lighter. You'll notice that these are mostly small areas. In the following step, these will be softened to create a real sense of depth.

Now a kneaded eraser is used to gently soften the edges of the highlights, and lighten up larger areas. This often requires a good amount of push-and-pull, but the end result creates the illusion of depth that is vital to a pencil or charcoal sketch such as this...

Finally, some last minutes rendering of the darkest darks...and a fair amount of erasing to clean up the areas surrounding the character(s), and the sketch is complete. Oh, except for the signature, of course...

...and the notorious Dr. Phibes rises again, to be matted and framed in the den of a very happy client! Thanks again to Sketchy Things fan John Lee for his wonderful taste in subject matter!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Unmasking Dr. Phibes Part 1

A terrific fan from Kentucky just recently gave me the opportunity to create a truly unique sketch of Vincent Price from one of my favorite films, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. John Lee of Bardstown commissioned a drawing based on his own concept...the hideously scarred Anton Phibes holding up the mask of his own visage. I immediately loved the idea, and began the process of bringing John's concept to visual life. It began, as always, with a rough sketch, to determine the composition of the piece...

Once I was certain that the proportions were correct, I began filling in a middle tone over the entire drawing. This was accomplished with a Mars Lumograph 100 B pencil, the only pencil I would use throughout the entire sketch. The tone is gently feathered in, and then rubbed down with my fingers to acheive a nice soft and even middle tone.

Once that is done, I begin to render in the darker tones, and commit to the holding lines that will define the contours of the character. It is important to keep the entire drawing at the same level of completion. Not to finish one area and then return to the rest. This is a sure fire way to insure that each and every part of your sketch relates to the entire image.

Up next...the application of the lighter tones...

Monday, June 22, 2009

"Little Monster, Big Dreams" Sells At Halloweentown

This past weekend I was part of a terrific group gallery show at Halloweentown in Burbank. The theme was "Every Day Is Halloween," and I was joined by such impressive genre artists as Gris Grimly, Robert Lizzarado, Eric Pigors and many others.

My entry was called "Little Monster, Big Dreams," and was rendered in pencils. It sold early during the opening night party, to a vintage Halloween enthusiast. I was happy to see it go to a good home!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Delbert Winans, 1949 - 2009

I got home from dinner Monday night around 11 pm to find a message on my phone. It was from Scott MacQueen, asking that I call him upon getting the message. He sounded serious, so I called immediately, at which point Scott informed me that our friend Delbert Winans had passed away that afternoon. I gasped, because I had just received an email from Delbert earlier in the day, and had spoken to him on the phone the night before.

I have been working closely with Delbert for the past eight months, on the project Gary mentions above. Now it was called the MONSTER BEASTRO, and we were well along in it's development. It appeared that Delbert was finally going to see his dream come true.

I'm still in a bit of shock. He was so very happy with the artwork I had done, and how the website was coming. Not only that, but a major cable network was interested in filming the creation of the restaurant as a reality series. That he has left us now seems so unfair.

Delbert had a collection of posters and lobbycards that any genre fan would be envious of. Almost all of the ones on display in his office were signed by the original stars. He was so proud of them. He also produced a great number of spectacular sculptures, working with Henry Alvarez and many other talented artists. Many were created for Disney's catalogues.

Delbert was sweet, funny and very passionate about classic movies. He had made plans for us to visit with Ron Borst later this month. He was, indeed, a true Monster Kid.

I didn't know him for very long, but I know I will miss him for much longer.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lon Versus Jack!

While appearing at Eliot Brodsky's terrific MONSTERPALOOZA convention last weekend, I was reminded of one my of my all-time favorite "Sketchy Things" caricatures. Ron Chaney (grandson of Lon Jr.) and his lovely family were there, and my friend Perry Shields performed his one-man show tribute to Jack Pierce, the Universal makeup genius who created the look of the classic monsters. All of this brought to mind the drawing below, which was commisioned several years back by Wonderfest Program Director Dave Conover.

Based on a famous "gag" photo taken on the set of FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN, it jokingly refers to the alleged combative relationship between Lon Jr. and Pierce. It still brings a smile to my face...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Havoc Swims Unpainted

HAVOC SWIMS JADED, by David J. Schow. A collection of short stories. David wanted something Black Lagoon-esque. My task was to create a cover image that evoked the essence of the Gillman's world without infringing on any copyright of trademarked properties.

The atmosphere of the piece was the most important element. We needed the gloomy, murky feel of an underwater lair, with just enough light to showcase the character. I used a combination of Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue and Viridian Green as the main colors, with Burnt Umber and Titanium White to bring out the darks and lights.

Keeping the Creature "soft" was paramount in achieving the ghostly quality of the painting. I kept most of the edges soft, picking only a few "hard" edges to define important areas.

Below is the final painting, which Mr. Schow has hanging in his home.

And here is the actual cover of the book...

Wonderfest 2009 Part 3

More fun than humans should be permitted to have...

...and big thanks to Eileen Colton, Terry Pace and Beau Kaelin for the great pix!

Here are three of my favorite people: Gary Prange, creator and curator of THE OLD DARK CLUBHOUSE, Joe Busam, the Rondo Award-winning producer of MONSTER KID HOME MOVIES, and Linda Wylie, everyone's favorite nurse. Here we drink a toast to good friends.

The Boys Of Wonder (fest) finally receive the long-deserved Rondo Award for Best Convention. John Davis, Dave Hodge, Dave Conover and Donnie Waddell. Congrats, boys!

THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN gang pose for a photo op. Frank, Jennifer, the Poster from the movie, Larry and producer Mike Schlesinger are happy to be anywhere, but especially happy to be in Louisville.

A mischevious prank unfolds during a post-convention dinner. Particpating in the hilarity are Jen, Melinda Angstrom (back turned), Frank, David J. Schow, VIDEO WATCHDOG'S Tim and Donna Lucas, Gary Prange and someone's nose to be named later.

The crowd begins to gather for the exclusive screening of THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN. The room would end up being SRO, and the crowd went nuts for the long-awaited sequel.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wonderfest 2009 Part 2

More candid shots of the frenzied fun that is Wonderfest...

David J. Schow takes in the splendor of THE OLD DARK CLUBHOUSE...

Joe Moe and Anita Pace become part of the FAMOUS MONSTERS SPEAK album cover art. Later that night Anita would be caught in a scandal involving myself...

...the lovely Sara Lattis...

...and the concoction pictured below. Kids, don't try this at home...

Bob Burns placates an alien in need of a root canal. That's WF program director Dave Conover at the podium.

Alexandra and Forrest Pace became best buds with "Animala" herself, Jennifer Blaire.

Still more to come... Thanks to Terry Pace for the usual awesome photos!

The Lost Skeleton Returns Again Poster

Here's a look at the latest super-cool poster for THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN, created by Production Designer Anthony Tremblay, with a hand from uber-artist Cortney Skinner and Larry Blamire. It's downright action-packed!

Channeling Mr. Poe Part 2

Once I was sure the Vincent Price caricature was working to my satisfaction, I began to address the background tones and the "ghost" of the dark poet. With Poe placed in the right spot, what remained was "pushing" and "pulling" the middle tones (the ones that create the most depth in a drawing) to acheive the maximum illusion of dimension.

Oh, and the moustache. Almost forgot the moustache.

Finally, the last details are added, including the very lightest and very darkest tones. This provides the extra "punch" needed to really bring Prince Prospero to life. By the way, the image of Price here is from THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, one of the best of Roger Corman's Poe films. Below is the final piece, ready to be matted and framed for display at the gallery show.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wonderfest 2009

This year's Wonderfest in Louisville, KY was the most fun ever. I was thrilled to be a part of this Rondo Award-winning convention. Here are just a few shots of the mirth and mayhem that ensued.

Larry Blamire, Beau Kaelin, Frank and Jennifer Blaire at the Sunday evening banquet. That's artist William Stout in the background on the left, and writer Terry Pace on the right.

Three great gals and Coffin Joe. The fabulous Nurse Moan-Eek, the exquisite Sara Lattis, the fiery Jovanka Vukovic from RUE MORGUE and the sinister Raymond Castile.

Larry and Frank crack up during the Q&A panel for THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN.

The zany Count Gore De Vol and Frank channel Bela Lugosi for the cameras.

Awesome artist "Belle Dee Bilbrey" stopped in to join the festivities.

More photos coming up soon. Thanks to Beau Kaelin for the great pix!

Channeling Mr. Poe Part 1

After a long absence from blogging (mostly due to a heavy workload and several convention appearances), I am back!

I recently participated in a group gallery show at Halloweentown in Burbank. The theme of this show was Edgar Allan Poe, and since I had already done a Poe portrait, I decided to do something a little different.

Here a step-by-step look at the creation of my pencil piece, a nod to both Mr. Poe and Mr. Price, who starred in many Poe-inspired movies for producer Roger Corman.

Starting with a simple sketch, the task is about building up tones, little by little:

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Limited Edition Prints!

As the Rondo Awards draw closer and Wonderfest looms, I have just made available two new limited edition prints.

The first is The Sketchy Things Monster Party, featuring over 30 caricatures of favorite film fiends, from the tiny (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN) to the gigantic (THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS).

The Sketchy Things Monster Party is 11" x 17" and professionally printed on 100 lb. glossy stock. This is a limited edition of only 100 pieces, each signed and numbered. How many monsters do you recognize? The cost is only $25.00, including U.S. shipping.

The next is a very limited edition of the Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein Castle, the oil painting that I chronicled in this blog several months ago. This print is full color, printed on heavyweight glossy stock and measures 13" x 19" with a clean white border.

The A&C Meet F Castle costs $35.00, U.S. shipping included. This print will be shipped rolled in a mailing tube. I only have 10 of these right now.

To order either of these prints, drop me an e-mail directly at fdietz@sbcglobal.net, and put "Monster Print" in the subject line. I can accept personal checks, money orders and Paypal.

In the meantime, don't forget to vote in this year's Rondo Awards, as time is running out, with the deadline set for March 21st! www.rondoaward.com