While taking a little rest from writing the demanding Flashback posts, I am going to tell you the story of my Gandalf painting.
After the completion of the frustrating and literarily painful King Arthur book project at the beginning of 1999 (as mentioned in a previous post), I decided to heal my “wounds” through the work on a few pictures that I wanted to do just to please myself. One of these paintings was Gandalf, that would later on become one of the most important paintings I did until now. After the picture was finished I had the feeling of finally crossing the invisible line and stepping onto the next level of my artistic development, and by doing so convincing myself that, after all, I am able to make a good painting.
Gandalf painting was first published in Spectrum 7, page 171 - chapter Unpublished. After that it was used by Verkerke Reproducties and published as a poster. But, the publication of the picture in the Spectrum annual was a turning point. Soon after that, I was approached by a collector, a couple from the US, who were interested in buying the piece. At first I did not want to sell the painting because I liked it and wanted to keep it near me for a little longer. Eventually, and after a good portion of thinking and reflecting, I decided to sell the painting. Everything went smooth and well and soon the new owners received the original painting. They were so happy with it that they invited me and my wife for a visit. We accepted and in August 2001 went to the US, for the first time. Also for the first time in my life I was finally able to see the original paintings of my artistic idols and “teachers”. I saw the originals of Norman Rockwell, Frank Frazetta, Howard Pyle, N.C. Whyet and alike and it was a revelation.
However, the owners of Gandalf painting turned to be extremely kind people and soon we became friends, good friends, friends for Life, I dare say. This friendship enriched our Life in many different ways and we are honestly very grateful for the opportunity given to us, by the mysterious destiny, for getting to know them. We visited many beautiful and inspiring places together and even attended the Millennium Philcon – 59th World Science Fiction Convention , held in Philadelphia, where Gandalf got the Judge's Choice Award.
|Gandalf, oil on Masonite, 50 x 70 cm, 1999|
My wife and I visited our new friends again in 2005, when we attended the firs Spectrum Show at the Society of Illustrators, in New York. The Legend of Steel Bashaw 9 was included in the exhibition.
We saw each other for the third time in 2010, after they convinced me to attend the Illuxcon show. At first I refused because I could not see the point in me shipping many of my paintings over Atlantic Ocean, paying for all the costs, while remembering that my piggy bank was quite meagre at that moment. After all, my work was pretty unknown to the American public, I thought, and that made the prospects for selling a painting quite insignificant. But, when our friends generously offered to cover almost all our costs, and after the organizers of Illuxcon, also generously, offered me their own Spotlight table at the Showcase Event, (all other tables where already sold out), we decided to accept. The Illuxcon 2010 show turned to be my breakthrough on the US fantasy illustration market and one of the most important and elating events of my entire career.
Some of you who attended the Illuxcon show where able to see Gandal painting “in person”, for it was exhibited on our booth.
So, after all, and as far as I am concerned, Gandalf has proven to be a true wizard, and a great one, indeed! He infused not only my and my wife’s life with true magic, but the lives of other people as well, which is a truly wonder-full thing!!