An Artist’s Journey

I’m trying a different direction with the posts I will be putting here. This and the following posts under this title will share parts of my world. What helped to create the artist in me? Why am I driven to create? What has influenced and inspired me to do these things? What do I like to create?

As an artist, it’s important that my work find you guys and others like you. I want to share the things I imagine with everyone. There are so many people, places and things to show you.

But before that I should do a better job of introducing myself and sharing why this is such an important thing. My name is Richard Thaxton. In my Bio I explain about the reason why I chose the name XT Illos. The oldest being that an “X” was the way most people who couldn’t read or write would mark their signature.

Due to differing processes in training kids to read early on in school, many of my classmates and myself did not learn how to read properly. The new pilot program was not continued when we were transferred back to our original group the next year. This is where my choice to express myself visually took roots and grew. Even though I took an advance placement test in middle school and scored 11th to College level, I struggled with reading a lot all the way through high school. In the first quarter of college I taught myself to read.

I’ve been drawing for a long time. As a kid, I would try to reproduce small images of art that came in catalogs into larger pencil and colored pencil drawings. I got pretty good at catching the details. My favorites were the old tall sailing ships, pirate ships and different animals.

I was and still am a avid cartoon junkie which of course includes anime! Those and the live action dramas would keep me glued to the TV on Saturday mornings or the theater, when we could go. Many films about great works really mesmerized me. Some of my early favorites were Kimba the White Lion, Ultraman, Speed Racer, King Kong, Godzilla, Star Trek, Tarzan, the Seven Voyages of Sinbad, the Land That Time Forgot, Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Wolfman.

There was lots of influences all around. there was lots of primers for the creativity to start flowing in my imagination. One day in high school a friend shared a book with me that really set things into motion. It was by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the John Carter series A Princess of Mars. This story and the artworks by Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta was the final push. I was enchanted and felt driven to learn how to tell stories with my art.

It’s been a long road from then until I could properly relate what I was seeing in my imagination. Lots of frustrating attempts in the beginning. As I would practice and study the things I was attempting to create I began to pick up more details. I took art in middle and high school. I also took classes in college for art both fine and commercial. One day I decided to give story illustration a try but that’s a story next time.

I don’t have any examples of my old work because of them being lost in a storage fire. I will drop in older pencil sketches, design processes and finished art that has not been seen since most of them were published.

“Wack” 16in x 20in Oil on Illo Board 1995

 

Relative Perspective WIP Update 4

Below is the current update on this project. I’ve reworked these mountains 4 different times since first creating them. It’s finally starting to come together. The funny thing is, with all the work going into this part, it will be quite small and part of the background. Still, since the project is to develop my technique and work on details, it will be worth it in the end.

Relative Perspective WIP Mountain Range 04082017.jpg

Illo Journal Project Update #7

Ba’anta is divided basically into these regions:

The Tuac Mountains are to the northwest. Betkur is the river running from north to south through this region. The D’tir River crosses from east to west in the northern section. Lake Nor sits atop Mount Kar and flows down the mountain to the southwest. Lake Kir branches off the Betkur River to the north of the lake and returns south of the lake. The Moru River runs from the Betkur southwest to the Odi Ocean bordering the southern end of the Tuac Range.

Detral is a low valley region east of the Tuac Mountains. There is the small Mek Range in the northwest corner. East of this range is the Bol Forrest that reaches to the Umbur Ocean. The River Trel runs from north to south and divides the continent. To the east is the Great Sudr Lake, which flows west as the Tomal River, south as the Bez River and east as the Vor River.

The Sul’r Island are off the west coast of Ba’anta. Mount Tel sits in the southwest corner of the continent. It’s bordered by the Moru River to the north and the Betkur River to the east. the Tem Plains are to the east of the Betkur and is bordered by the southern River Trel. The Nir Forrest reaches from the River Trel to the Bez River. It is bordered by the Kauld Sea to the south. The Fra Plateau is in the southeast corner of the continent. Lake Eir flows from the top of the plateau southeast as the Ul River and Falls to the Umbur Ocean.

More details to come as we delve into each region.

20160704_165734 a.jpg

Relative Perspective WIP Update 3

Things are working out for the better since I’ve changed my personal perspective on this piece. It’s still very early in the development but there is a noticeable difference in the design of this work. Here is a close up of the work that I’m doing on the mountains. Now that I’m more in tune with work it seems that the realism is coming through.

Relative Perspective WIP Close Up of Mountain Range 03162017.jpg

Relative Perspective WIP Update 2

So I’ve been taking my time to work on the details of this project. It’s the 3rd rework on the mountain range. I’m still working out the shapes of each mountain. On the right is a snow capped finished mountain with the next few having the details of the terrain being worked out. I hope you like the results:

Relative Perspective WIP Mountain Range 02122017.jpg

Relative Perspective WIP Update 1

As I kept looking at the original progress on my work on this piece, I keep hearing the critiques on previous works and realize that I need to show some progress toward improvement. The mountains, trees and grass all look too simple and basically digital. Everything has to much color saturation and is just too bright.

Recently, I’ve been doing some studies of the different elements that are in this work. Working on technique and doing something that has been missing from my work for some time now. Here comes a couple of epiphanies that just came to the surface. First I’m not making the mental and emotional connection to my work. The second one is a big one. I’m racing to finish. I’ll tell you why this is so big in a moment.

What I mean by “Mental and emotional connection to my work” is feeling the parts that I’m developing. I used to imagine, visualize or even sense the things that I’m working on. I could see it as if it were in 3D and fully materialized. Then I would render it from that experience.

“Racing to finish” is so big because I’ve been too caught up in getting the work done. I know what the end result is to be and I am rushing through to get to what I see as the finished piece. I feel this is due to many learned bad habits. Multitasking to the point that nothing ever really gets finished. A lack of proper time to work on these things due to ensuring that I’m taking care of my responsibilities. The biggest realization is that I’m putting unrealistic deadlines on self commissioned work.

While working with tight deadlines keeps the work moving and helps improve turn times on clients’ deadlines, sometimes the work needs the time to let it develop and mature, in a sense. It’s been a long time since I just worked on something just to give it life. I plan to bring that back starting with this piece.

The mountains have been re-blocked in with more emphasis on the levels and terrain giving them a more actual feel. I still have to add snow but I’m feeling it’s off to a better start.

Relative Perspective Color Work WIP Mountain Color Blocking In Rework.jpg

Works In Progress

I thought that I would share an update on “Relative Perspective” with you. I’m working digitally to develop this into a color piece. I’m also working out some points of development in my techniques. I plan to improve on my color intensity, dramatic lighting and rendering skills. Enjoy and feedback is welcome.

Back-Ground Blocking: Sky and Distant Mountain RangeRelative Perspective Color Work WIP 1.jpg

Middle-Ground Blocking: Intermediate Mountain Range

Relative Perspective Color Work WIP 2.jpg

Fore-Ground and More Middle Ground Blocking: Grass and Trees

Relative Perspective Color Work WIP 3.jpg

Fore-Ground Blocking: Mushrooms

Relative Perspective Color Work WIP 4.jpg

Middle-Ground Blocking: BootRelative Perspective Color Work WIP 5.jpg