A Different Side of Michael Jackson’s Artistry: His Drawings and Illustrations

Michael Jackson Seven

To say how Michael Jackson is a bona fide pop superstar because he gave a distinct voice to timeless songs and performances is a huge understatement. Not many people – including lifelong fans – know about the King of Pop and his different side, a part of his life that truly reflects his artistry beyond the concert stages and album covers. He is a great influencer, indeed; but The Baltimore Sun even went as far as claiming he’s changed the world.

Besides leaving behind a body of work that has benefited everyone from the Motown and RnB artists of old to modern day music superstars, his impact extends even to the far reaches of pop culture. In fact, his likeness was used in console games such as Moonwalker and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, as well as the online slot game, Michael Jackson: King of Pop. However, behind all these accolades in the music industry and influence in pop culture, Michael Jackson’s artistry also emanates from the pages of his drawings.

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Jackson’s life has been well documented. For some, it’s a celebration of a once-in-a-generation performer and artist extraordinaire; but for others, it’s the reflection of everything that's wrong with the entertainment industry. A brief history lesson reveals how he was pushed into the spotlight at such a young age, growing up quite literally under people’s watchful eyes. His fans also witnessed his metamorphosis into a totally different person. There are many clues and conspiracy theories about the troubles of his personal life, which are reflected on through his previously never-before-seen artworks.

Early this year, a Florida-based television personality put Michael Jackson’s drawings up for sale. Joseph McBratney has collected, throughout the years, more than 100 drawings of the late pop sensation. According to McBratney, there have been many inquiries about these said drawings, mostly from art connoisseurs. Being also a psychic and drug counselor, he decided to sell the artworks as a way to raise funds for a local rehabilitation center. The collection features illustrations of the likes of Princess Diana, the Beatles, and many other famous personalities. Additionally, to a certain extent, Jackson’s doodles can be compared to that of Kim Noble’s, another talented artist with multiple personality disorder. These pieces have been authenticated and valued north of $100 million.

Michael Jackson 2

Joseph McBratney, like many others who know Michael Jackson, didn’t realize that Michael Jackson was that kind of an artist until randomly searching on eBay and coming across one of the illustrations. After building his drawing collection, McBratney also contacted the private company that now owns Neverland to talk about a possible art exhibit. At the end of the day, for Joseph McBratney, this is one excellent way to continue his mission to help the youth overcome addiction, and somewhat relive Michael Jackson’s legacy through the Joe Brat Foundation.

--Guest Post written by Michelle Philips.

Aside from being a devoted solo backpacker and a local band road manager, Michelle Philips is a lifelong fan of the arts. She always allots ample time every trip to immerse with locals, seeing it as a chance to get a firsthand knowledge of their culture. A few of Mich’s plans are to go travel back to the Philippines and meet comic book artist Leinil Yu.

 Photos: Joseph McBratney c/o The Telegraph

I'm On Instagram!

And as always, I'm about 10 years late to the game haha. But if you're interested to see what I'm up to in real life when I'm not on my computer working, my profile name is murr_art (you can be taken directly there via the social button at the bottom of this website)! I'll be posting photos and videos of on-location sketches, inspiration, and just general things that interest me.

My Instagram Profile

Star Wars Celebration Print Preview

A small preview of the limited edition art I created for this year's Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim was released on the Celebration website, and I figured I'd share a little bit larger version here (click the image for a full view).

I've always been a fan of the Star Wars art that depicts moments that you knew had to exist, but just weren't "captured" by film. This piece represents one of those moments for me, and has been in my head ever since the 5th grade when I first saw The Phantom Menace. Tusken Raiders never seem to realize when they've bitten off more than they can chew.

This piece will be offered to Celebration attendees as a limited edition print in April! I haven't quite nailed down how large the print run will be, but probably either 200 or 250 signed and numbered. Stay tuned for more details!

The Image in this post is TM & © 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All rights reserved. Used under authorization.

New Prints For Sale

I've updated my INPRNT store with two new prints! First up is "Mountains of Madness," the box cover art from Fantasy Flight Games' "Eldritch Horror" game expansion of the same name. And for all the blonde kids out there who owned the original Nintendo system, I've uploaded an alternate "blonde" version of my popular "Play Me Those Old Cartridge Blues" print. Check them out here!

Star Wars Celebration 2015 Art Show

I am over the moon to announce that I have been selected as one of 40 artists to contribute to and attend the Star Wars Celebration Art Show in Anaheim, California next April! If you're not familiar with Star Wars Celebration, here's a description from the official page:

Celebration - Lucasfilm’s love letter to fans - is four fun-filled days of costumes, exhibits, a vibrant, interactive show floor, screenings, exclusive merchandise, celebrity guests, panels, autograph sessions, fan-inspired activities, and other surprises celebrating all things Star Wars! Star Wars Celebrations deliver a landmark experience where memories are made, families brought together, old friends reunited, and new friendships formed — all in the setting of the ever-evolving Star Wars universe.
— http://www.starwarscelebration.com/Show-Info/Fan-FAQ/

Long story short, it's a pretty big deal for Star Wars fans.

The Art Show is a showcase of limited edition art prints, created specifically for the convention by a jury-selected group of artists. To be considered for the show, artists must have already had experience creating work for Lucasfilm or a Lucasfilm licensee. After the initial screening of work samples, artists were then asked to submit an original concept for the show. Concepts were judged by a handful of some of the top talent currently working at Lucasfilm and Disney, and from a massive pool of submissions, 40 concepts were chosen to be completed for the show.

And one of those 40 was mine! It's really hard to believe that my work will be showcased with the likes of other amazing Star Wars artists like Adam Hughes, Alex Ross, and Tsuneo Sanda. Unfortunately, I can't show any work in progress or say what my concept is, but I hope fans will find as much enjoyment in it as I do in creating it!

For more information about Star Wars Celebration and the Art Show, check out the official website.

See you in Anaheim!

I Now Pronounce You Website and Blog!

Integrating my blog into my portfolio website is something I've always wanted to do, but didn't really have the tools necessary to make it worthwhile. But now that I've migrated everything over to Squarespace 7, I'm thrilled to announce the marriage of blog and website - together at last!

Here is where I'll be leaving updates about upcoming events, process articles, interviews, and everything else you've come to expect from my old Blogger blog! Please excuse the lack of finesse you're likely to find with posts prior to this one. Sometimes things imported nicely from Blogger, but most of the time it didn't. And I just don't have the time to go back through and tweak all of them back to 2009.

Anyway, thanks for your interest and support, and I look forward to sharing more in the coming days!

Where Isss It?!

I've got to say, I'm pretty excited for the new Hobbit teaser to come out today! I just saw this piece of mine was spoiled over on the Fantasy Flight Games website, so in the spirit of my hobbity mood, I figured I'd share it along with some of the preliminary and process work that went into it.

"Where Isss It?!"
This creepy creepy painting is a companion piece to my other Gollum painting (released earlier this year) for a new "Nightmare" deck expansion of FFG's Lord of the Rings card game. The goal: make Gollum look as terrifying as possible. He knows you (Bilbo) have stolen his ring and he is NOT pleased. I was actually really inspired by the terrifying androgynous old man thing at the end of the movie "Quarantine". Sure, he's fun to play riddle games with, but infect him with a zombie virus (or in this case, steal his precious) and he's likely to come at you with a hammer and lots of loose skin flapping in the wind.

As with all my paintings, I start with very very small thumbnail sketches to help me figure out the overall composition in miniature form. I decided to develop the top left and bottom middle from this page into rough sketches to show to the client.



They preferred the composition and feel of the top left sketch, with Gollum climbing out of his boat, getting ready to throttle his unwitting riddle buddy.

Since this painting would be just one of a total of three Gollum pieces (all being worked on at the same time), I decided that I needed a good "hero maquette" of his head so that he would look like the same character in any pose and under any lighting conditions. I've been experimenting a lot with Pixilogic's Sculptris program lately and decided this would be a good opportunity to put some 3D sculpting to use. I digitally sculpted this Gollum head in Sculptris and then lit and rendered the model in Blender. The advantage of doing a digital model for me is that I can play around with all kinds of lighting schemes and colors that I wouldn't be able to with a clay model in real life. And things can be edited on the fly much faster than with a physical model.



After gathering all my photo reference material, I set out to do the final painting! Here's a sort of step by step below.

 
In order to keep my shadow passages rich and transparent feeling, I initially paint everything in a deep brown tone, after which I'll paint cooler blue in with a layer set to "color" mode in Photoshop, or "colorize" mode in Corel Painter. After all the heavy lifting value planning and temperature relationships have been established, the rest of the process is basically just using opaque color to paint details and model the forms.

Color Charts

Last weekend, I purchased a set of Holbein Acryla Gouache paints in the hopes that I would start doing some color plein air sketches again (I have a watercolor sketchbook that doesn't get nearly enough love). I immediately cracked them open and began painting the first thing I saw out my window that evening. And what I ended up with was........well it was complete garbage. I realized afterward that I hadn't spent enough time actually reacquainting myself with the medium and its properties.

Now a lot of people think of artists as these flighty, feelings-driven people who just have some mystical perception and creativity that other people don't. And while some of that certainly is true, I am the type of artist that needs boundaries and rules. I like to think outside the box, but I have to know all the dimensions of the box before I do it.

I decided I needed to understand the "box" that was my new set of paints before I started painting with them again. So, based on a study model proposed by Richard Schmid's fantastic book, "Alla Prima - Everything I Know About Painting ", and with the spirit of self torture in my heart, I created these color swatch charts.





Basically, the way it works is that you make a complete chart for each tube of paint in your palette, excluding white (in this case I had twelve). Each chart represents one tube color mixed with all of the other tube colors across the horizontal, and then 5 separate tints (mixtures with white) of each going down the vertical.

The goal in doing this is essentially to try and map the entire range (or "gamut") of colors possible with the tubes of paint you're using. Better yet, when you're painting out in the field, it can help you not only figure out what color you need to mix for a particular object, but also the exact tube colors required to mix it!

When working with a limited palette of just a few colors, you can do this same exercise to determine the limitations and color possibilities of that particular palette. It's a very similar (if not basically the same) method shared by James Gurney on his blog, here.   

A Historic Moment

It's a little known historical fact that "George W." (the original) and ol' "B. Franks", as they were called back in the day, took a selfie before signing the Declaration of Independence. Though the photo was never found, based on this artist's sketch it's plainly evident why Washington never smiled for a portrait again.

I hope all the Yanks out there have a happy Independence Day Weekend!

"Let's share this on George III's wall!"




  

SPECIAL EDITION: "The Proposal"

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook may (or may not) have heard that I recently became engaged to my wonderful and talented girlfriend of 5 years, Krysti Kalkman! While this exciting news may not at first seem to be the type of material meant for an art blog, painting played a huge role in the proposal, so I figured this would actually be a perfect place to share how it all went down.

So, sadly, it's been a long time since I've actually painted my girlfriend. In fact, aside from using her for more general reference in my client work, the last time I'd painted (or attempted to paint) her actual likeness was 4 years ago in our senior year of college (shown below).


...........My god. Those are hideous. Oh! I mean uh...not you Krysti! But I am pleased to see that I've come a little ways in my painting (and portrait) abilities!

So, wanting to rectify these previous atrocities against my girlfriend, I decided I'd like to do just a nice, loving portrait of her with the eldest of our flock of budgies, Johnny. Yeah. We're pretty much destined to be weird, old, bird people.

At this point, I was also seriously entertaining ideas of marriage and trying to come up with some grand scheme for how to pop the big question. Hearing all kinds of elaborate and romantic proposal stories through the years certainly puts on a good deal of pressure to the make the moment memorable. But, I realized that the more I tried to force the "magical romance" angle, the more likely I was to end up botching the whole thing because, let's face it, that's just not really me. And then it dawned on me; I may not be some magical knight in shining armor, but dammit, I'm a painter!

From that realization, and the desire to create a portrait of Krysti, the idea came to me to do what I like to think of as an "inverse portrait." Krysti already knew that I wanted to paint her portrait (and posed for some photos), but what she didn't know was that I would put a special little detail into it - specifically, painted onto the ring finger of her left hand. Whereas traditional portraiture strives to create an image that is true to real life, with this painting I would (hopefully) make real life become true to the image.

Once the painting was finished, I framed it in an old antique frame from my grandmother's house, and presented it to Krysti on April 19th, 2014. It didn't take her very long to notice the suspicious jewelry painted onto her portrait and that's when I took out the real ring, got down on one knee, and said, as romantically as I could muster, "Should we do this already?"

........

She said "yes!"

"The Proposal" 12"x16" Oil on Canvas