Tag: Art

Science Fiction Oil Painting – Sky Burial #1

Howdy Sci FI fans!

This one is for you! I said in an earlier post that I would start painting more genre work, specifically, sf paintings. Well here is the second such painting Desert Storm being the first even though it isn’t apparent. In context with this new painting, it starts to fit.

This is the second in a series of works that may take shape as an illustrated SF novel. That’s a ways off from here but I am painting these with an eye to such an end and certainly with a storyline I’ve had in mind for several years now.

Sky Burial #1. 40 x 15 inches, Oil on Linen.





*Note – I have removed the original images of this painting from this post as they were from my Nikon camera and were not the best reproductions of the actual painting. I had also modified the painting since those original pictures were taken. The image above represents the painting as it actually appears, or as close as possible to it! I will add detail pictures soon.

Studio Lighting for oil painting..

Hi all!

I’ve been asked about the lighting set up in my painting studio, so I thought I would post some pics and a brief description.


My studio is quite small as I’m using the second bedroom in my 2 bedroom apt as my painting studio, the first being used as my digital studio (I sleep in the main room!), so space is limited. The room has built in robes with mirrored doors. This is a bonus as it allows me the ability to not only view my paintings from a longer distance, but also back to front. So what I lack in distance to the painting front on, I gain in reflected distance.



The obvious thing in the photo is my lighting set up. I wanted to be able to paint day or night and not have to worry about exterior light variations. My experience as a studio photographer kicked in and I bought a pair of Manfrotto Auto-poles. They basically telescope up and clamp against the ceiling. This allows me to clamp lights onto them and reduces the footprint at the floor saving more space. I’d have to use stands with legs otherwise and they would get in the way.


The light source is supplied by two compact flouro’s, daylight balanced at 5000 – 5500k. Equivalent power output is supposed to be that of a 120W incandescent bulb. They run cool which means I dont cook in the summer months and they use much less power than a standard tungsten bulb. Total cost of that set up was approx A$500. That was the two poles, three light heads (one is in the cupboard and could be used as a modeling light), the bulbs, two Manfrotto Superclamps (to hold the lights). The light heads were el cheapo units and I have no idea what brand they are! You could probably get all of this cheaper if you bought 2nd hand too.

You could save some money and run one pole across horizontally from wall to wall and suspend the lights too..

Anyway, I hope that was informative..


Digital Domain.. and the great VFX craftsmen..

Howdy All,

Came across a few old photographs of my time at Digital Domain, circa 1996.. In the visual effects world, that’s like dog years, every one of ours is like 160 odd years to us. So 1996 puts these pictures around 150BC in film VFX terms! Which makes these guys… well, its makes them advanced in years!

What they have in mileage does not diminish the spirit, creativity and sense of humor.. (despite Mark’s grave expression in the photo). They also have a credit list under their belts that most fan boys can only dream of!

They were practitioners of a ‘craft’, a way that has sadly been replaced by computer science and the idea that more rendering power will solve the problem. It’s a way of looking at visual problems in a simple practical way and cheating the effect, not simulating the effect. Huge difference here and one that can have huge cost implications. I’m not saying throw away the computers, but how about we start looking at these problems from the perspective of ‘craft’.

As the saying goes, give a man a hammer and every problem looks like a nail. No wonder vfx costs so much today.

The image that ends up on the screen is nothing more than a bunch of 2D shapes, some light, some dark and of varying colours, they are not the ACTUAL thing being depicted. So no matter how much software you throw at a film project, it all boils down to basic composition on a flat 2D surface and of course, story! For this reason I cant wait to see ‘Moon’.

These guys came out of the effects industry where limitation spawned creative visual solutions and in the process, iconic cinema visuals. In this CG age, I feel that the forest is in danger of being lost for the CG trees.. if it hasn’t already.


First old timer.. Ira Gilford. From Detroit if I remember correctly. One of, if not the first guy to design the original HOT WHEELS toy cars! He illustrated a ton of cars for the Fifth Element among other things. I cant quite remember what he was telling Ron here and I don’t really want to speculate either!! You’re a bad bad man Ira!! 😉


“Here.. I’ll draw you a picture of it..” Perhaps Ron’s expression says it all!! Ron Gress, matte painter, mural painter, fine artist in every sense of the word. Worked on Star Trek the Motion Picture and a million things since then. Great guy, great party host and collector of haute couture Hawaiian shirts! If you’re in the US and Reno in particular, go check out his mural at the Reno Hilton (I assume it’s still there.. otherwise see it on his blog)


Ron in his excitement phoning Mark.. “Hey Mark, guess what Ira just told me!”


“.. Stay put.. I’ll grab my duck whistle and be right there!”. Yes folks, Mark ‘senior model builder on Blade Runner’ Stetson! You could die a happy man with that credit alone.. That he made time for everyone, has probably forgotten more than most are still trying to learn, is a hell of a nice guy and complete gentleman, goes without saying and barely describes the man. That goes for all them.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Fifth Element remains the pinnacle and highlight of my professional film career… and it’s because of these guys. Thanks fellas!

Kelly McKernan Artist

Hi all..

After having been through a year of almost no work, no art sales and needing to sell off a bunch of my photographic equipment, I know what it feels like to struggle for money to pay the bills, rent etc. If it wasn’t for the generosity and kindness of my family and friends, things would have been a lot tougher. So when I saw this email from a fellow artist on the Behance Network, I thought I would help out a little and buy one of her prints.

“… I could really use your help! I was recently laid off from my dream job, and was denied unemployment benefits, so I’m trying to scrounge for rent and food until I can get myself another job (no luck so far).”

So check out Kelly’s work and visit her shop, I’m sure a few print sales would go a long way to helping her out.

If artists are to survive, perhaps it’s up to us to support each other. Lots of people comment on artist’s work on blogs/portfolio sites etc, espousing how wonderful their work is and yet never buy anything. I had over 500 people comment on one of my images on Redbubble, and only one person bought a poster (thank you who ever you are btw). A 1 in 500 ratio doesn’t sit right with me if they all claim that image is the most awesome thing they’ve ever seen. You telling me of those remaining 499 people, none of them could afford a post card or small print? It’s time to put our money where our mouth is and support other artists in a practical way… buy their art! So get out there and buy some art, it doesn’t have to be a big purchase, but every little bit helps!

Best of Luck Kelly, I hope your situation improves soon. I just bought this lovely print and when my fortunes improve, I’ll be looking to buy one of your originals!


Kelly’s blog.

Latest Plein Air Paintings..

Howdy all!

Just returned from two wonderful weeks in gorgeous Culburra, NSW, with my partner. The two downsides were an unexpected bout of the flu and very little phone reception. I was hoping to blog using my iPhone but alas it wasn’t meant to be and besides, I had other things to do… like relaxing, painting and shooting!

I would like to have painted more but we also had a fair share of crappy weather, spectacular to watch and great if you’re kicking back with a hot cup of tea, but not so good for painting. I wiped two paintings off my canvas panels because they were crap and should have done it to a third one. One I’m pretty happy with, three others I dont mind, the remaining two are average.

As I am still quite inexperienced as a plein air painter, a lot of it for me is just figuring out the mechanics and practicality of doing it outdoors! What paint do I take, how much, what gear, how do I carry it, how do I cart my wet panels around after I’ve painted etc etc.. So each excursion is a learning process. Maybe next post I’ll go over my gear list and show how I carried it all about.

In the meantime, here are the first couple of paintings. These two were painted a little further south of Culburra, on the rocks around Currarong.

16 x 8″, oil on panel.

Snow Gum painting

Howdy All,

A quick post today as I’m off to Culburra on the south coast of NSW for 2 weeks with my girlfriend. I hope to do a lot of painting but the weather may be against me.. anyway, it will be nice to chill and walk along the beach and get away from it all.

Any entries from here will be via my iPhone.. I may actually blog more you know..

Here is the ‘Snow Gum’ painting work in progress..


Have a good one folks!

Latest landscape painting..

G’day all!

Got an almost finished landscape here for ya’ll to look at. This is a paddock as seen coming into Harrietville. It’s not morning light as I mentioned in the last post, it’s afternoon light!

Here is the Google map. You will notice the house on the far left of the painting is marked on the map as well, so you get an idea of where I was standing. Ain’t technology grand!


That’s it for now.. more to come, matte painting pics and info, some photography and anything else I think might be of interest..