Monday, October 20, 2014


first... a little about WHY Lynn Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas are hurling space unicorns everywhere....

" As one bright woman in the letter column opined, even mythical creatures in space need to hang out with other friends on occasion to swap and discuss great stories. Uncanny readers began referring to themselves as members of the Space Unicorn Rangers Corps, reflecting the inclusivity and originality of perspectives inherent in its readership." ~read more

Here's the table of contents for issue 1, and now.... COVER REVEAL!
full cover art

WOMEN DESTROY FANTASY! a roundtable discussion.

Julie Bell, Irene Gallo, Rebecca Guay, Lauren Panepinto, Zoe Robinson, Julie Bell, Elizabeth Leggett
It was my extreme honor to gather a few of the most amazing brains in SF/F illustrating, and ask them a few questions about being a women in the field today.  I give you the Women In Fantasy Roundtable discussion with Julie Bell, Irene Gallo, Rebecca Guay, Lauren Panepinto, Zoe Robinson, Julie Bell, and Elizabeth Leggett.  A powerful line of of highly influential art directors and award winning artists. 

"There’s been a lot of talk about gender parity in the SF illustrating field, about how few women, percentage-wise, are working as illustrators—especially since at least half of art students are female. Did your gender ever come into play in your careers? What are your thoughts about what causes this attrition?

Panepinto: These are definitely conversations Irene and I have had before, trying to think of all the female names, who’s working and who’s not, and it seems like there are so many female students that are into it right now, but then where are the working artists?

Robinson: I think it’s just recently that it hasn’t been just the hardheaded girls toughing it out. It’s been very recently that generally, girls are aware that this is something that they’re invited and allowed to do.

Panepinto: I think that it also comes out of the YA fiction. Harry Potter’s got such strong characters—Hermione’s such a great female character—and The Hunger Games.

Dillon: I’ve done most of my work online, working by myself at home, so it’s difficult to gauge sometimes if gender has come into play in terms of my career path. Early on, it felt pretty isolating not seeing many other women in the big art forums at the time, but there have been more and more women becoming more visible in the field over the years...." ~read more
art work by Rebecca Guay, Julie Dillon, Elizabeth Leggett, and Julie Bell

Pretty Little Dead Girls

a darkly bit of lovely that Mercedes M. Yardley got me tangled in.  Here's the cover art for her new novel, Pretty Little Dead Things:

Fireside year three!

(belated news now. Just catching up here, don't mind me.)
Issue 16 of Fireside Magazine is alive!!  Go check out the amazing. Here's my contribution:

illustration for "She Wolf and Cub" written by Lilith Saintcrow

illustration for "Testimony", written by Jennifer Mason-Black

Thursday, August 7, 2014

illustration for Undermarket Data, written by An Owomoyela

"The white flag, stained grey from rain and city grime, called him halfway up a block of flats to a job. People like him didn’t have territories, but this—inconvenient from the streets and rooftops both—was as close as it came to his: the space where it was easier for those who preferred to move in three dimensions than two." ~Undermarket Data, written by An Owomoyela

© galen dara 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

in good company (a few upcoming projects)

Two things:

1) The kickstarter for Uncanny Magazine just went live with announcments about who some of the cover artists will be:

2) I'll be joining a great lineup to do some internal art for Shadows Over Main Street, a forthcoming Lovecraftian anthology:


Monday, July 28, 2014

all the moving parts and LonCon prep

Kali willing, this is what my space in the LonCon3 art show will look like in about three weeks:

(Many thank to Lee Moyer and Julie Dillon for letting me pick their brilliant brains as I planned it out.)

A variety of fine art prints and stretched canvases (my first time trying the latter):

prepping for hanging.
packaged for shipping
With the arrival of new business cards, postcards and a stack of posters for the printshop and artist in residence table, most of the moving parts for this little venture have fallen into place. I may yet have a chance to catch up on some sleep before I get on the plane.

But first, I need to finish a few illustrations. Here's a glimpse:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Nightmare Magazine artist spotlight

Remember how I did the cover art for month's Nightmare magazine? Well here's the issue's artist spotlight in which Wendy N. Wagner asks me all the best questions.

And just because it's fitting, here's a look at my World Horror Con art show spread from earlier this year: tentacles and bones and blood and dark water. Stuff like that:

Sun Tea and The Forever Endeavor. #FiresideFiction

Wrapping up year 2 of Fireside Fiction, I give you the art for this issue. Two pieces.

One for M. Bennardo's magic herbal concoction vision inducing Sun Tea

And one for the final episode of Chuck Wendig's serial, The Forever Endeavor:

Fireside magazine is going on a brief hiatus to finalize and implement plans for year three, so stay tuned: More coming from them in September.

Monday, July 14, 2014

LonCon Schedule

In exactly one month  I'll be setting up my artist table in London at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention.  Here's the basic rundown of my schedule there:

Artist in Residence
Thursday 8/14 from 15:00 - 16:30
I'll be working in my sketchbook and have prints for sale in the artist alley. Come by and say hello! 

Gala Art Show Opening and Book Launch
Thursday 8/14 16:30 - 18:00
The gala opening of the Art Show is sponsored by Titan Books and features the launch of Jim Burns' Hyperluminal as well as a joint signing by all of Titan's attending artists and a chance to meet many of the other artists whose work is on show.
Chris Achilleos , Jim Burns, Chris Foss , Fred Gambino, John Harris , Ian Miller, (and me. etc)

The Future of Professional Artists
Thursday 8/14 19:00 - 20:00
The days of a healthy living from paperback cover commissions are gone. As professional artists sustain their careers by diversifying, selling directly through their websites, and crowdsourcing their personal projects, what does the future hold?
Jane Frank (M) , Galen Dara,  Danny Flynn, Chris Moore, Steve Crisp

Meet the Artists
Friday 8/15 12:00 - 13:30
Visit the Art Show and meet our attending artists - who will be available by their work to talk, explain and answer questions.

Exquisite Corpse
Friday 8/15 13:30 - 15:00
The successor to "Duelling Easels" as our artists draw - and then take over each other's pieces to continue the work! Who knows what they'll end up with....
Galen Dara (M) , Anke Eissmann, Smuzz

Open Sketch Class
Saturday 8/16 15:00 - 17:00
Work alongside our professional artists - or just come to watch, learn and enjoy - in this open sketch class.
Galen Dara (M), Smuzz, Eira Short

A Touch of the Macabre
Sunday 8/17 15:00 - 16:30
Somewhere between fantasy and horror lies the macabre, the eerie, the noir. What is it about certain imagery that tugs at the psyche in such a disturbing way?
Ellen Datlow (M), Les Edwards, Galen Dara , Irene Gallo


Looking forward to all of it! Hope to see you there!

 Okay, back to work and here's a glimpse of what that looks like today:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

OMG a World Fantasy Award Nomination

Last night social media informed me that something was astir... It sounded like this:


Lo, the World Fantasy Awards nominations had been announced and OMG I'M ON THE BALLOT. Along with  OMG AMAZING artists Zelda DevonJulie Dillon, John Picacio, and Charles Vess!

I'm still kind of speechless about it, so here: Since the award is a bust of H. P. Lovecraft, some hopeful tentacles from me:
illustration for A City On It's Tentacles, for Lackington Magazine

And here, a glimpse at the other artists on the ballot; clockwise from the top left: Zelda Devon, Julie Dillon, John Picacio, and Charles Vess:

And now I need to see if  a trip to Washington D. C. is in the works for me.  Hugs and Kisses!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Nightmare Magazine

Remember that painting I did of the Crow Witch? Totally thrilled to announce that Nightmare Magazine asked to use it for the cover of their July issue.

The author of the book that inspired this painting, Wendy N. Wagner, did an interview with me for the magazine, that will be released later this month, I'll link to it when it's live* (It's always a pleasure talking to Wendy)

(btw.. prints of the Crow Witch are available here.)

Speaking of Nightmare, stay tuned: Women Destroy Horror (guest edited by Ellen Datlow) is in production RIGHT NOW.  And I know who the illustrators are gonna be. And they are RAD.

*Update: The interview is live now. Wendy asked all the best questions. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


So I recently had the chance to do some work with with Kevin Hearne. He commissioned a painting of one of his most popular characters, Oberone the Wolfhound. Kevin took him on his latest book tour. He still has a few stops to make in July, but if you don't get a chance to catch him and would still like a print of the painting, Here you go :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

voices in my head (or whatever)

Apropos of nothing except that my isolated at-home working process usually requires me to have some sort of white noise on in the back ground so I do not go stark raving mad, I've recently queued up TED talks on my ipod to listen to while I work (in regular rotation with varoius TV shows, news,  a variety of music, podcasts, or audio books,)

These two just have me head over heels so I just had to share.

Sarah Jones holds all the voices in her head


Jamila Lyiscott is articlulate.

love them. both very very much.
Okay, back to work.
(and here's a sneak peak at what that looks like:)

Friday, June 27, 2014

fiery fishies

So, as I'm wont to do,  I went to IMC with several sketches to stare at (and ambitions of finishing all of them).

 I already talked about my week of working on that one in the lower right hand corner.  And the one on top will be a separte post all together.  But I just managed to pull that one in the lower left hand corner through the gap as well. Here it is:*
swimming with fiery fish
(* for some reason, blogger is putting a greenish cast on these images... here is a more accurate reproduction of the art's color.)

Swooning and surrounded by flying red fish. Are the fish being juggled?? Is the figure flying in their slipstream? Dancing with them?  When I took this one to IMC it was with the thought of shoehorning it into the "Dragon Rider" assignment. A bit of an interpretive leap, but I liked the image and wanted to make something of it. Back to calling them fish now, not dragons. But, anyways.

Here, putting this one together, from start to finish, a few in-progress shots:

The first rough sketch was a wild experiment, where I really stretched the human figure, extreme elongated distorted limbs. And rough slashing away with red marks. The fish were almost an after thought in this preliminary sketch. 

Then I began to rein in the figure, getting it a bit more under control, removing the random red slashes and incorporating the fish as the red emblems instead. 

In the middle of the painting process there was a point where I thought about toning down the red and making the fish golden instead. But during IMC Rebecca Guay did a demo painting in which she incorporated red fish in a figure's hair. It was just so perfect and I love red so much, that's where I finally took it. 

The final painting will be used by Rose Lemberg for an upcoming anthology she is editing, An Alphabet of Embers.

Friday, June 20, 2014

awesome IMC insecurity, inspiration and such and such

The other day, Jon Schindehette wrote a post about art envy, insecurity, and comparisons.  An excerpt:

"About half way through the the Drink & Draw I had a really authentic conversation with one of the better artists at the event…and guess what he was worried about - folks looking at his sketches and judging him for it. That suddenly put my entire life in perspective. I realized that it didn’t matter how good I got, how secure I was in the knowledge of my skills - I would always look at artists that I admire and compare myself to them....

There is nothing wrong with wanting to do better things - to be a better person, but it is an issue when we are comparing our insides with someone else’s outsides." ~read more 

 It feels fitting to lead off talking about Illustration Masters Class 2014 with that, because, dammit, feeling insecure about my work that was the story of my life for the whole week. And you know what made it a tad bit more bearable?  Hearing Mike Mignola mention his own insecurities as an artist. So, Yes, thank you to all the incredible artists there at IMC (both faculty and students) for being BRILLIANT and supportive, and also for being vunlerable.

Now here's a few pictures :)

My preliminary sketch; this week I wanted to take something I had worked out digitally, and try my hand at traditional mediums: Here's my preliminary digital sketch (was calling this my attempt at the "fairy warrior" assignment)

So it begins:

day 1 crit session. Iain McCaig, Rebecca Guay, Scott Fischer, Mike Mignola, Greg Manchess, and Irene Gallo

my station, before the paint was poured

Meanwhile... some of who did what where:

Greg Ruth demo's mad sumi ink skills

James Gurney captures Allen Williams in action

Donato Giancola being brilliant

Mike Mignola breaks down storyboarding

Scott Fischer explains his analog photoshop process

Rebecca Guay demo (watercolor and gold leaf ink)

Then, back to what I'm attempting:

wherein I transfer my drawing and begin splashing stuff on it.

After multiple variations and methods and experimentation (and frustrations with trying to revive old paint handling muscle memory) here's what came of it.

"blood faerie"... finished. Watercolor, pencil, ink, and acrylic paint.

Well, and also, I was able to grab Rebecca Guay, Julie Bell, Irene Gallo, Zoe Robinson, and Lauren Panepinto and host a spontaneous recorded discussion. It was a brilliant brain trust and the conversation was amazing. More coming about that soon. (Hint: WOMEN DESTROY FANTASY. Hell yes.)

Rebecca Guay, Julie Bell, Irene Gallo, Zoe Robinson, Lauren Panepinto, and I. WDF roudntable

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Women Destroy Science Fiction, in my hands.

What was waiting for me when I got back from the Illustration Masters Class:
women destroy!

It's a hefty tome of awesome and you can get it in paperback here, or ebook here.

It happens to include the work of four other artists who it was my delight to work with. Li Grabensetter, Elizabeth Leggett, Christine Mitzuk, and Hillary Pearlman.

Now, an excerpt from my interview with them:
" feels timely, and personally fitting, that this would be the summer Lightspeed dedicates an entire issue to the enormously talented and fantastically imaginative women working in the field of speculative fiction. The opportunity for me to invite other artists to be a part of the project was nothing short of breathtaking. Li Grabensetter with her beautiful handling of inks and watercolors, Elizabeth Leggett with her brilliant digital renderings, Christine Mitzuk’s rich painterly style, and Hillary Pearlman’s fantastical tinkering bring the fiction in this issue depth and texture. It was a pleasure to work with these gifted and passionate artists who are deeply involved in the speculative fiction community. My favorite part of working on this issue was sitting back and watching their amazing art come in. My second favorite part was getting to know these fantastic creators just a little bit better. I hope you enjoy this spotlight on why each of them does what they do. Which, apparently, is to destroy Science Fiction." ~read more 
And here, a sampling of what they did for this issue of Lightspeed:

Li Grabensetter's illustration for Each to Each, written by Seanan McGuire:
Elizabeth Leggett's illustration for Salvage, written by Carrie Vaughn:

Christine Mitzuk's illustration for The Case of the Passionless Bees, written by Rhonda Eikamp :

And Hillary Pearlman's illustration for Walking Awake, by N.K. Jemisin:

It was a pleasure to be involved with this project, many thanks to Christie Yant for her hard work in bringing this epic volume to life.   Stay Tuned, more exciting things coming with Women Destroy Fantasy and Women Destroy Horror.


illustrating Good Ghoul Gone Bad. Plus photo reference

Finally getting my feet back under me after a week in Amherst for the Illustration Masters Class. (More about that later.)  While I was gone, D.B. Starler's piece Good Ghoul Gone Bad went up at Fireside Fiction Co.

Here's my illustration for it:
illustration for Good Ghoul Gone Bad
For his one I grabbed my kid's nerf gun and acted all badass to get some photo reference. Here's what that looks like:
chk chk ~ PEW PEW PEW!
Speaking of photo reference, here's a few that Annalisa Schaeffer took of me for her piece while at the Illustration Masters Class (here's her illustration in progress). I will always jump at the chance to put on leather gauntlets, grab a rapier, and dangle from a banister.

Thank you, D.B. Starler for writing an awesome story in which I got to play with nerf guns and draw tentacles, and thank you Annalisa Schaeffer for letting me get in touch with my inner fairy warrior.

Okay, enough about that. Back to work.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

getting my hands dirty

Because we just got our assignments for the upcoming Illustration Masters Class.  And while I'll bring my laptop and tablet, I'm going to be spending the week getting my hands dirty with actual pigment suspended in liquid-y mediums (both of the aqueous and oil variety).

HOWEVER.... it's just for kicks.  Because seriously.

(no, I won't be mixing my own egg temepra paints)

Here's some sketchbook dabbling with paint, just working through brustrokes and glazes and color chart type stuff,  because it has been a long time. Thank you Bill Carmen and Rebecca Yanovskaya for being my reference imagery and inspiration.

pthalo blue, mars black, and yellow oxide study using Bill Carmen art as reference
cobalt blue and burnt umber study using Rebecca Yanovskaya's art as reference