Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tattoos - Game of Mind

-By Donato

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     21" x 30"  Oil on Panel

This latest private commission was executed for a collector to illustrate a George R.R. Martin short story, The Glass Flower, originally published in 1987.  From the beginning of the concepting I knew I wanted to add tattoos to the human figure, but I was not sure of what theme and style they would take. The tattoos were floating about as forms to break the large mass of the flesh, much like the geometric mechanics and plating disrupt the flow upon the robots form.

The final decision on how to tackle the tattoos came as the painting was basically complete in its lighting/color and rendering. Assessing the relationship and emotional energy now established between the robot and the human, I was not sure if I wanted geometric or abstract shapes to dominate the tattoo structures.

Intuition guided my initial choices of mark and image making.

After letting the painting rest for a few days, I realized the figure was a vessel of life presented in contrast to the mechanics composing the rest of the image.  The representation of animals upon her body allowed her to become a banner carrier of all life, mammals, reptiles, insects, birds and fish, etc. Obviously only a few animals and phylum could be represented, but it was a great impulsive discovery.

As the various animal choices began to be added and arranged dictated by the space and mass of areas on her body, a theme of predator and prey began to evolve.  A secondary concept of ground to sky-dwelling animals allowed for a subtle ascending structure leading from the snake on her ankle to the owl on her back, and onto the celestial elements of the sun and moon on her shoulders, and finally into the planets and stars on her arms.

The initial dread and fear of what these tattoos needed to be gave way to the thrill and challenge of executing this newly realized theme in a harmonious way so the tattoos could sit convincingly upon her flesh.

Needless to say, I was excited with the resolution of the painting and am happy to share the results with you here today.

Thank you Patrick Robinson for providing the commission and opportunity to bring this painting to life!

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     Rough Drawings  8" x 11" each

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     Preliminary Drawing  18" x 24"

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     21" x 30"  Oil on Panel -  Acrylic Wash

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     21" x 30"  Oil on Panel  progress

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     21" x 30"  Oil on Panel  Progress

Game of Mind - The Glass Flower    Donato Giancola     21" x 30"  Oil on Panel  detail


  1. This is savage! Cant believe it is oils. So much problem solving to juggle.

    1. Each problem is like another layer built up from a foundation of strength. The basic composition is resolved in the rough sketches. The details of human anatomy is resolved in the reference gathering with a model. Robot structure is added with a model as an underlayer. Color is resolved after the preliminary drawing is completed. Lastly tattoos are designed after nearly all the other issues are rendered out. Each stage builds upon the previous, adding to the strata of the image's development. It is not necessary to juggle all these issues in constant fluid action, even though the final results suggests that they were...

  2. Beautiful work! Do you scan your finished paintings rather than have them photographed? And if so, to you have to do multiple sections and piece it back together?

  3. Brilliant, Donato!!! Thank you for the progress shots and explanation of your thought process.

  4. Wow! This one really turned out great. I love the way the figures connect, mirror, and complement each other into an S shape. Awesome robot and tattoo design, as well as the rumpled circuit board carpet. The guy that commissioned this should be really pleased.

  5. Turn your back on this blog for two seconds and you miss really amazing things!

  6. I'm not familiar with the story itself but I interpret the painting to suggest a commentary about the relationship humans have with technology at this moment in history. Thought provoking. Thank you for posting Donato.


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