While we’re waiting here for autumn to arrive, there’s still a bit of time to settle into a comfortable chair in the sun for some reading. Might we suggest this latest fabulous issue of LSQ to keep you company?
Before you dig into the issue, however, we’d like to share and interview with the artist who created the beautiful, autumnal-tinted artwork that graces our cover.
Please tell us about the cover image, “Warm Embrace”. Is there a story behind this image? What was your thought process while creating this image?
“Warm Embrace” is one of the few personal pieces I’ve been able to work on in the past few years, in between client work. While creating art for other people, giving life to their ideas is great in its own way and often allows me to explore new ground, painting for myself means I get to put a lot of the things I love into an image. Warmth and love, big yummy abstract brushstrokes, a quiet scene, kindness, colours that aren’t what they seem (the green dress is actually a greyish orange, colours are fun!) and dramatic lighting,… Like a warm cup of tea for the soul 🙂 I needed that at the moment.
And the cool thing about art is that it resonates with other people even if they don’t see the same things in it, so I was actually brewing a big pot of tea for the entire village. For instance I pictured these two women as a couple, but other people told me they read them as a mother and daughter, making them think about the love they feel for their own mothers or daughters, and that’s very valid too.
Take us briefly through your artistic process. How do you create such captivating images?
Usually, my paintings are commissions, painted for books, games,… that require a strict process where I explore different options in sketches, send a few of these sketches to the client, and after listening to their feedback refine one of these sketches into the painting itself. Most paintings on my website harkale.art fall into that category.
But when I create a painting entirely for myself the process is much looser, I start with a vague idea or a source of inspiration (which can be anything, from a specific colour palette, a feeling, a pretty tree I saw while hiking, a character I want to make fanart of,…) and then I go from there. I paint and move things around and erase details, it’s a messy process and certainly isn’t time-efficient, but it feels great!
When did you realize you wanted to focus on fantasy in your art? Did you start out as a fantasy artist, or have you noticed changes over time? Please tell us a bit about your art journey!
I began my art journey by enthusiastically redecorating my bedroom walls (and floor), like most toddlers do when you leave them unattended with a box of crayons for even a few minutes. My two main critics back then weren’t happy about it. Growing up, bandes dessinées (European comic books, in particular Yoko Tsuno and Thorgal, respectively drawn by the badass Roger Leloup and Grzegorz Rosiński) were a huge source of inspiration for me. I was hoping to become a comic artist, but then life (and serious studies) got in the way.
It took me years to realise how much I loved painting, not just drawing. Playing with colours and lights and edges and my beloved brushstrokes. I was already a Very Respectable Adult when I rekindled my love for illustration, and since I’m such a big fantasy and sci-fi nerd my art naturally gravitated towards things that made me happy. And then people hired me to paint more fantasy art, which I’m never going to complain about.
My style evolved over time and it certainly will evolve further in the future, but I suspect I’ll always like fantasy!
Do you have a personal favorite of the projects you’ve worked on? Or one that was memorable due to its challenges? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, “Grave to Cradle”. It was painted for a private client but I had a lot of freedom with that piece, and it ended up also being an homage to someone I was very close to, who passed away. The subject (skeleton contemplating flowers in their hand) isn’t that rare in fantasy art, but it’s the emotions I poured into this piece that makes it so special to me. To me, this piece is about loss and hope, planting the seeds for beautiful things to grow even after you’ve died, no matter how far from perfection you think you are. And finding beauty outside even after the death of someone you were close to turned your world into a grey wasteland.
Of course other people see what resonates best with them in that painting, they’re welcome to. On a more light-hearted note, I’m proud of contrasting high-chroma blue with desaturated greens in the background, it’s so pretty!