Sunday, 9 October 2022

The Art of Surprises - Layering Action

Surprises! Sketchy version.

I like dramatic pictures. I also like setting up more than one layer of action in order to give a picture extra dramatic tension.

In Surprises! the first layer is the two lovers getting interrupted, and surprised, by a large, hulking, and armed figure.

The second layer is the tentacle to the left, sneaking around the body of the armed man, who is in for a surprise of his own.

Surprises! Final version.

With two layers of action, the resolution of the story will depend on the order of events. Will the brutish figure attack the lovers before he is attacked himself?

That is something I leave up to you. I have my own ideas about what will happen of course, but I won't tell. The idea is to make you, and everyone else who views the picture, participate by weaving your own tales about what will happen.

Be seeing you!

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Planket 2022 - On the 3rd of September


Time to exhibit some of my work again. First time since 2019, so I am a bit nervous. I have also realized that my pictures push the boundaries of convention pretty far, which makes me even more nervous.

It is, of course, perfectly okay for art to be scary. Art should make us think and feel. It does not have to make us comfortable.

Now, I'd like to emphasize here that my pictures are perfectly okay, by the standards of the 70's, 80's, and 90's. It's just that we, as a society, have changed, and become a bit narrow minded. What was perfectly normal to have on a pocket book cover in 1980, is considered risqué today.

We will see how it works out. Nervous or not, I'm looking forward to the event. A lot!

Planket is a pretty big event. About a hundred photographers exhibit their work. Each one has got a one meter wide area along a fence at Nya Allén in Gothenburg. I've got nine pictures, printed on canvas, so I can't show them all at once. Instead, I'll switch pictures once or twice an hour.

Genres range from Science-Fiction, to Horror, to folk tale-ish Fantasy, to Lost World/Cavewoman.

If you happen to be in Gothenburg on the 3rd of September, come look me up. The exhibit is on from 12 o'clock, to 6 p.m. The address is Nya Allen 1.

About the picture: The author Lennart Guldbrandsson modeled for Blind Fury. You will get to see the whole picture, and many others, at the exhibition.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Nudity in Art: A Virtue or Vice?

A couple of years ago I came across an article by Brian Yoder with very well thought through observations about nudity in art. If you like to read this blog, you might want to read his article too:

That's it. More posts soon. I've been busy, but I'll try to get back to writing a bit more.

Monday, 7 February 2022

I'm writing a creative photography book!


Drawing photography inspiration from King Kong isn't a new idea. William Mortensen did it in the 1930's. I'm revisiting Skull Island with the help of 3D, and the model Cassandra Mellberg.

I'm writing a photography book! It's about creative photography, and it's shaping up to be different from any other book on photography I've seen.

Most photographers learn exclusively from other photographers. I believe that is a mistake. We should learn from each other, yes, but we also need to open up to learning from other sources: realist and imaginative realism painters, comic book artists, 3D artists, movie makers, and writers.

We need to understand our own history, because photography did not begin with the f/64 group, and there is great value in what was before. We even need to go beyond the arts, and learn from other sources, like neuroscience.

I'm striving to tie many different threads together into a coherent whole, and I'm doing my very best to make it entertaining and fun.

Left page above: I draw a lot of inspiration from comics, so I was more than delighted when Amryl Entertainment gave me permission to use a picture by Budd Root in the book. Budd Root is the author of the comic Cavewoman.

Right page above: I am storyboarding my ideas using 3D software. This allows me to plan my pictures in ways I could not do if I just picked up my camera and shot whatever was in front of my lens. This storyboard, One Afternoon in Pal-Ul-Don, draws inspiration from E.R. Burrough's Tarzan books.

I strive to have something eye-catching, and something useful, on every page spread. From time to time, I will publish a draft page spread, and check the responses to see if I am on the right track.
 various ideas on 
I expect the book project to keep me occupied for about a year. During that time, I also need to do at least a couple of photo sessions, to get material that illustrates various ideas and techniques.

I do hope you will enjoy reading the book as much as I am enjoying writing it!

Sunday, 4 July 2021

Symbolism: Slaying Raptors, Gods, and Our Most Cherished Delusions


Raptor Slayer

You may have noticed that there are a lot of symbols in my pictures. I also tend to stick with certain themes, though I do make the occasional deviation.

Let's have a look at two recent storyboards, and decode some of the symbols in them. We'll start with Raptor Slayer above.

At first glance, what you see is probable something like nude woman stabbing over-sized parrot with teeth. That is certainly one way to look at it, but there is a little bit more to it:

I see a woman mastering her fear, and despite her vulnerability, that's the nudity, fighting very hard to accomplish the almost impossible, i.e. killing a raptor with a bone knife.

I find that never-give-up-even-in-the-face-of-great-difficulty attitude both admirable and attractive, so yes, the nudity makes symbolic double duty.

Of course, as an observer, you will have your own way of interpreting the picture, based on your values, your experience, your knowledge of the Lost World genre of literature, movies, and art, your social context (i.e. the opinions of your friends, and other people who influence you).

Nubian Queen I: The Death of Sobek

The Death of Sobek is about the importance of critically evaluating our own beliefs, and, when those beliefs do not hold up to scrutiny, killing them off and replacing them with something new and better.

Unexamined beliefs, beliefs that are unsubstantiated by evidence, and who do not hold up to even cursory scrutiny, tend to rule our lives.

For example, you might believe that the best way to boost the economy, is cutting taxes for the rich, so they can invest more, and thus create more and better jobs. Well, according to research on tax cuts in 18 OECD countries, that is not how it works. All that happens when you lower taxes for the rich, is that they get richer:

“Our findings on the effects of growth and unemployment provide evidence against supply side theories that suggest lower taxes on the rich will induce labour supply responses from high-income individuals (more hours of work, more effort etc.) that boost economic activity. They are, in fact, more in line with recent empirical research showing that income tax holidays and windfall gains do not lead individuals to significantly alter the amount they work.”
-The Economic Consequences of Major Tax Cuts for the Rich, by David Hope, Julian Limberg

Feel free to disagree, but if you do, bring research that support your views.

The supply side economics scam has kept political parties alive, and sometimes in power, for decades, to the detriment of all of us, except the very rich people who benefit from the tax cuts.

There are plenty of other common beliefs that do not stand up to scrutiny:

For example the idea that a company can maximize its profits by having everyone work as much as possible all the time. This is an idea from Frederick Taylor's Scientific Management. The problem with it, is that if everyone works at full capacity all the time, you get enormous queues of unfinished material, so-called Work In Process (WIP), in your processes. In extreme cases, you get so much WIP, that nothing ever gets finished. This sometimes happens in software development, but it can, and does, happen in other areas too.

There are plenty of ways to reduce, or eliminate, the problem. In management, you can use Lean, Theory of Constraints, agile software development methods, the Deming Knowledge System, IOHAI, and other methods.

Most companies who implement these methods and frameworks do so, not because they understand how they can help alleviate the problems, but because it has become a fad. When you do that, you will almost certainly do things that short-circuit the new way of doing things, so that you go through the motions, but never get the benefits.

For example, agile methods, mentioned above, rely on something called vertical slicing to create work packages that can be implemented with an optimal balance between capacity cost and queueing cost. Over the past 20 years, nearly every company I have seen, has fallen into the trap of doing horizontal slicing, i.e. requirements are functional, rather than representations of something that has economic value on its own.

As a result, lead times can explode. I have seen lead times go up by a factor of 50, and more, because of this. That means you would have to wait for two years to get something that could be built and delivered in two weeks. Thus, you loose the money you could have made by using that functionality for two years.

Another favourite: You want to implement one of the methods mentioned above, and realize you need new processes, so you decide to invest in a tool for creating the new processes. Looking around for a good, safe, alternative, you decide to go with something like IBM Blueworks. Nobody gets blamed for buying from IBM!

What you do not realize, is that all of these new methods and frameworks, separate process material flow from the flow of directives, and that the flow of directives go in the opposite direction from the material flow. The reason for this, is that it is much easier to reduce the amount of WIP, and thus queueing costs, that way.

Blueworks does not allow you to design processes like that. It does not separate material flow from flow of directives. Topping it off, the economic simulation in Blueworks takes only capacity cost into account, which means you are liable to design processes with sky-high queueing costs.

Suddenly, your unexamined beliefs about tax cuts, how to write requirements, or which tool to use, has become your Sobek, your crocodile god demanding human sacrifice.

It's not just about whether you can slay it, you probably do not even know that you should, and you live in a society of Sobek worshipers that will punish you if you try.

I bet you did not think of Nubian Queen I: The Death of Sobek in those terms. Symbolism is tricky, and symbols can be open to an infinite variety of interpretations.

Because of this, the symbolism in a picture is liable to misfire if we do not talk about what it represents. Often, a picture is just a cool image, without deeper connotations, but we won't know that either, unless we talk, or write, about the picture.

So, lets talk about the pictures we see, and the pictures we create. Otherwise, their meaning can all too easily get lost.

Be seeing you!

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Learning from Julie Bell and Jamie Chase


Thanks to Julie Bell and Jamie Chase, both great Fantasy artists, I can show you how to draw inspiration from masters, to improve your own creativity and skill.

Both Julie Bell and Jamie chase publish their art on Facebook. 

Julie Bell: 
Jamie Chase:


Getting Covid-19 in the beginning of April hit me pretty hard. I am recovering though, and I am starting to take interest in things again: Starting a new job on Monday, working on a picture or two, occasionally working on a book, working on getting my photo sessions going again... I am still a bit careful where and when I spend energy though. I expect to recover fully, but it may take quite some time.

The upshot is that I'll probably blog a bit less frequently than usual. In a few months, maybe, I'll pick up speed again.

Fortunately for me, while being sick, and throughout recovery, I've had great support from my family. It has made everything so much easier. Speaking from experience, you really do not want to get Covid-19, and you really, really, do not want to infect relatives and friends, so please be careful out there.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Surrounded! - Further adventures in storyboarding


I have wanted to make a picture with lizard men for several years. The project isn't finished yet, but I have a storyboard. In the video above, I talk a bit about my sources of inspiration for the picture.

Surrounded! - Storyboard version

Here is the storyboard. I'll do a photo session when the pandemic has subsided.