My name is Rene Arreola. I am the creator and artist behind Fantasy Art Realm. My introduction to fantasy art came by way of an introduction to color class in college. Before I get into the story, I’ll preface all of this with by stating I’ve been reading and drawing comic book art since I was in the third grade. So going from comic books to fantasy isn’t all that big of a stretch.
I think it was sometime in the mid to late 90s when I left work in the commercial print field (the first time) to attend university. I’ve lived in California all my life and so that meant I gravitated toward a California State University. At that time in my life, I already amassed enough units at the junior college level to transfer to a California State University. So, I went ahead and made the jump. I’m glad I did, because I look back today and can say “I did it”. Or, at least I tried it. About a year later, I dropped out of college. No regrets, I did try it after all. But I didn’t like it. Life goes on!
But, while I was in college, I discovered fantasy art. And believe it or not, in came from a place I least expected it. One of the classes I had to take was an Color Theory Class. In this class, all us students painted swatches of grays, creating a 10-step value chart. After that, we would be tasked with painting a full grayscale painting.
Now, this class was held in what I think was a textiles class. I don’t quite recall, but there as machinery with like string or yarn attached and it all looked quite elaborate to a 2D artist like myself. This class was taught by an instructor who also taught this ‘textiles’ class. I did not see that this teacher ever painted, but no worries. She seemed to know her stuff, which was a lot more than I knew at the time. At any rate, we had a weekend to go out and find an artist we wanted to emulate. She said it could be any painter we wanted. Back in those days, there were still bookstores we like B. Dalton Books and Walden Books. I went to one of those and found a book by this artist named Boris Vallejo, “Fantasy Art Techniques”.
Remember, I was a comic book artist. To clarify that a bit more, here’s what I really mean: I was working on my own comic book sample pages and properties. I submitted artwork to Marvel and DC comics but I was never good enough for any mainstream work. Although I did get called back by a submissions editor at Marvel, and not once, but twice. But that’s a story for another blog post.
At any rate, back to the story at hand. Back to the bookstore with the fantasy art techniques book. For the first time, perhaps because of college-level color theory class, I was instantly drawn to the work by Boris Vallejo. I think it was because his work looked like it could be comic book art, just in a painted style. Vallejo’s beautifully painted, scantily-clad women and his impossibly shiny and buffed, bodybuilder he-mens caught my eye like a modern day comic book. Ahh, this was comic book art come to life!
I purchased the book on the spot. When I got home, I proceeded to paint my very first, fantasy art inspired subject:
This is my very first “fantasy art painting”.
I know, pretty “fantastic”, right? This was also the first time I painted in grayscale using acrylic paints. The assignment was to utilize the 10-step grayscale values we produced earlier in the semester in this painting. It was a challenge. While, I knew this was nothing like what I really wanted to paint, I felt somewhat accomplished as a painter. I felt this was a successful painting because it was nothing at all like anything I expected to paint. And, that interested me.
I painted previously, about 7 years earlier in junior college. But we used watercolor and gouache and never really felt inspired to continue painting beyond that. But there was always comic book art.
Comic book art is still a large part of what I do. You can check out my realm-ethereal.com website to see what I’m currently working on. But as far as fantasy art goes, this is another aspect of art I create that really just makes my heart beat. Painting with color is different than drawing line art and adding color in my comics. Both are enormously fun for me, but each provides its own unique challenges.
For Fantasy Art Realm, I want keep it focused on my painting efforts. I see this website as becoming much more experimental as I move forward with creating more and more fantasy art. Time will tell what that will look like, but I view it as a constant shifting of ideas and purpose. But always with an eye toward creating colorful, exciting and intriguing art.
Thanks for joining me on this journey into this fantasy art realm.