20 Feb 2016

Ten Things You May Not Have Known About Me

I WAS HAVING a groupfest dinner at IlluxCon a few months ago, and found myself in a peculiar but recurring situation. One of the fellows at the table only knew I did Magic cards. One kinda knew I had a history in old school tabletop games. None were really familiar with what I have done over the years.

Then just today, I found another slice of my history being described (mostly but not wholly accurately) at Jimmy Maher’s The Digital Antiquarian. It was actually nice to see what he had to say, because I sometimes feel a bit “disappeared” about projects I’ve been involved in, and places I’ve appeared. (So thank you again, Jimmy.)

It seems the universe is telling me to fill out some of my history. This post may not be a formal “Top Ten” list, but since you probably know some things and not others, I expect you’ll stumble on ten new things. Maybe more!

Widget 10

Truth is, trying to explain (much less remember) all the things I’ve done in the last forty-odd years can be weird. First of all, I see all the things I’ve done as related, even if others do not. If you know about artwork in games, how could you not know about the artwork and maps in novels and anthologies? If you know something of my computer game work, why not the tabletop game design work? Mosaics, T-shirts, dog art, essays about gaming in national magazines? Aren’t they all of a kind?

Then it gets more complicated, because I tend to focus on what I’m doing now, or what I am planning to do next, and not looking back at what I’ve finished. (I’ll note that this accrues both benefits and disadvantages. I’m not sure which predominates, so I must say this is just how it is.)

Intellectually, I know people do not (can not) pay attention to All The Things others do. Even the fantastically famous have obscure movies or publications, things only their most ardent or obsessive fans remember. I make no claim to being one of the “fantastically famous” but I figured I’d try to put together a few things about me that you might have overlooked. And I hope you’ll find some entertaining or at least amusing.

For the tl,dr version, look at my somewhat incoherent and incomplete Bibliography here on the site. I’ll be doing formatting fixes and content updates when I can, but right now much of it reads like a disorderly pile of notes. For a more visual array (but even more incomplete at the time of this writing), I’ve started a Pinterest page of “Projects I’ve Worked On.”

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22 Jan 2016

Minor Updates

cards to be signedSTOPPING IN TO let you know I updated a couple of pages in the website.

You can now find updated information about card signings. I remain happy to sign cards but I am making some new requests for how to handle it. I hope this makes things clearer and more consistent across platforms, and brings everyone onto the same page. That’s the intent, anyway.

I also fixed the formatting of my story “Imp Possible Situations” which got messed up when I moved servers a few years ago. Many old posts still have those formatting errors, but if I have to do them all by hand … well, it probably won’t get done. (Website savvy friends are invited to explain how to do this globally, but right now, I’m doing it quotation mark by quotation mark, one at a time.)

Regardless, the story should be more readable now.

Jakrista and the Imp
I’ve been tinkering elsewhere in the site. There are some small details added into the Bibliography (not much; it needs a LOT of work) and in the “About Me” of other sides of me, which was getting a bit long in the tooth.

But hey, so am I. The website, though? That I can renovate! There should be more to come as I can find time.

Last tidbit: if you’re a Pinterest person, I have committed Pinterest. It’s a bit weird in places. Then again, so am I. I’m thinkin’ you already knew that.

ETA 19feb2016: For no apparent reason, WordPress has decided to turn comments off for this post. I don’t know why this should be, but it is Not Working As Intended. I monitor posts but do not turn them off as a matter of habit. If I get this figured out, you’ll see this message go away!

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1 Jan 2016

A New Year Awakens


January 1st is just another day on our Gregorian calendar, the arbitrary mark of a new year, but every culture that marks time … which is to say, pretty much all of them … considers their new year to be a time for reflection on the past and assessment of the future. Doesn’t matter if it’s Rosh Hashanah, Samhain, the inundation flooding of the Nile, or the year of the Monkey that is coming up next. Janus is a universal metaphor.

Here I write at the end of the day on January 1st, thinking of the past and the future. The cusp of the year won’t let me go quite yet, so I’d like to natter at you a little bit. Then, maybe, I’ll get on with the program that is going to be 2016.

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6 Dec 2015

Driven to Distraction

ILLUXCON WAS EVERYTHING I hoped for. I came away inspired in heart and mind, with a renewed determination to be and do the creative work I love. In the process, the show delivered many unanticipated surprises, some good and some not so welcome.

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13 Oct 2015

IlluxCon 8

ILLUXCON IS JUST a week away now. I started a post for the blog long before now, but preparing for the show has captured my every waking moment. What art should I take. Do I need to make new prints; should I even take prints to a top-tier show like this. Would the attendees be interesting in this odd-ball thing I do, or that. So many questions.

If you want to see something about the show, this trailer is a few years old but epitomizes what I have to look forward to. To me, IlluxCon is exciting and daunting in equal measure.

There are, of course, all the usual worries about any trip. Airline craziness, hotel reservations, dogsitting arrangements. I’ve fallen out of the habit of attending conventions, so it’s like re-learning to ride a bicycle. On a high wire. In a stiff wind. With monsters waiting on every side.

I call it "High Wire." It's what my life feels like most days.

I make a lot of lists. Things to do: pack up art and get it shipped off; put together a walkabout notebook of representative work. Lists of things not to forget: business cards; things to draw, sketch, and make notes with; a sketchbook or two; my strongest glasses I need when drawing; cables for my hardware; flyers and handouts. Clothes that aren’t an embarrassment but are comfortable to move in, work in, stand in, something nice go out to dinner in.

I fight off what Amanda Palmer calls “the Fraud Police” pretty much daily. (If you don’t want to watch the video, here is the transcript.) Yet I’m truly looking forward to attending. I am excited by what I’m going to learn. I’m eager to see old friends, as well as wondering what cool people I’m going to meet up with, some who are strangers and some of whom I have conversed with via email.

And though it all, I’m hungry… hungry… for the inspiration and revitalization I am sure will result. I’ve been working alone in a vacuum for far too long. I’ve already started tinkering with this website, and will do more — probably a lot more after I return. And I will most certainly be planning new plans, new paintings, new projects. Transformations.

If you come to IlluxCon this year, look for me among the Showcase Artists. No, scratch that. Yes, you WILL find me there Friday and Saturday evening, but mainly you should look for me attending the panels and demos and talking with those whose work I admire beyond all words. I’ll be out finding new work to be awed and inspired by. I am going to go and soak up all the good vibes, the joy and love for the genre, the will and determination and the explosive exhuberance of being a creative person at heart, surrounded by astoundingly creative, accomplished, skilled people and those who love them.

I don't write much by hand, but I intend to take a lot of notes while I'm away.I am grateful to have this opportunity, and I plan to make the most of it.

Also? I’m looking forward to what I’ll have to write about on this blog, afterward.

Consider yourself warned.


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9 Aug 2015

I’m Back

I’M BACK? AT least, I am coming back. Kinda.

For the last of couple years, I have been … let’s just say “preoccupied”  … while working to complete Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls. It only took two and a half years to do it.

Now the game is finished. The pdf has been released at DriveThruRPG, and the dead trees edition is at press. If you want to keep up to date on happenings about dT&T, I recommend the dedicated Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls blog, presently maintained by Steve Crompton. There is also Trollhalla for the hardcore fans.


Deluxe, Tunnels and Trolls, RPGs, artwork, Danforth, painting,


Blogging fell off my agenda, one of many things. And by “blogging” I mean the chatty or philosophical posts, not the ones begging you to please buy mah artz! I’d like to get back to talking with you, whoever you are out there, even if I don’t post like clockwork.

At some point, I may write about what a wild ride this project was. It was epic. We used and over-used the analogy of the Fellowship of the Ring, first in silly jest and later in gritty deathmarch determination. The effort to get the Ring to Mount Doom (getting the book to press) seemed to be all that.

It seems to have been worth it. The Ring has been delivered, I still have all my fingers (not for lack of trying to burn one off early in the project), and the Shire is cleansed. Fans seem happy with the new edition and all is right with the world.

Right? No?

Well, what next? Follow me over the jump and let’s talk about that.

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16 Nov 2014

Pictures Have Stories: Hymn to Tourach

HYMN TO TOURACH was not a title that made an impression on me initially. At the close of a long convention — Origins, I believe — I was saying goodbye to Sandra Everingham who was then Magic’s art director with Wizards of the Coast. Around us, booths were being torn down, curtains between stalls shoved aside as people loaded boxes to ship home, forklifts and pallet loaders rumbling by.

“I’d like to have you do this card,” she said.

The name went in one ear and out the other, half-heard in the din. “What is that supposed to be?” I asked.

“Three or four people working together to cast a spell.”

“All right,” said I. “I can do that.”

I had no inkling the picture would be the most iconic Magic card I would ever paint.

Hymn to Tourach -- Magic card art by Liz Danforth


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19 May 2014

Auction is over!

Color me happy!MY THANKS GO out to everyone who talked to me about the paintings. There was a wee bit of last-minute interest, but the auction is now closed. And no bunnies died, David! 

I recognize that original art is a luxury item. For most people these days, “luxuries” extend little further than eating out at a restaurant, or simply paying bills on time. Decades ago, someone told me “Art is priceless. Any specific piece of artwork is worth exactly what someone will pay for it.” I sincerely appreciate these good men who elected to spend some disposable income on my art.

In my own case, paying bills and not having the dogs look woefully at me over their empty dinner bowls makes me much happier. If I still had a cat, I would always be accused of malice should a dinner bowl turn up momentarily empty. Dogs are more understanding but the bleakness of sad puppy-dog eyes can rip out your heart.

In any case, my deep congratulations to the winners! I am always glad to know my work is going to a good home. I know that is certain with these two pieces. Thank you all!

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15 May 2014

Will the Opportunity Pass You By?

I PLANNED TO close the auction of my two paintings a few days ago, but have been persuaded to keep it live a little longer. There was something about “Buy this painting or we’ll kill a bunny.” I’m not sure that “bunny” was actually the word there — the writing on the note was terrible.

Is he threatening or guarding? Hard to tell with these elves...

I chatted about the two paintings in a pair of posts just previous to this one: the Elven Lords painting and Two Seconds Later, the cover art I did for one of T&T’s previous editions. And then I put them up for sale to the highest bidder.

Both paintings have been bid on. Elven Lords has a bid of $1000 and Two Seconds Later has a bid-to-beat of $511.

Trolls always look annoyed. The arrow in his side probably didn't help his attitude.

I admit that I thought each painting would have been competed for a little harder. I liked the first so much that I hung it in my room for many years, not intending to sell it at all. However, from years of selling art at conventions, I learned to make my minimum price something I would be okay with if no one else bid against them. If no one else bids, the current supporters will get these paintings.

I’m okay with that. Are you?

That’s okay; maybe you are. But I don’t offer my larger paintings for sale often. I rarely attend conventions of late, which is where my art was most readily available. If you’ve ever wanted a Danforth to hang in your house, this really is an opportunity to get something good for a very fair price.

And if you’re a supporter of the dT&T Kickstarter, sale of these paintings buys me a little more time to concentrate on that (as opposed to standing on the street corner asking passersby for their spare change to feed the dogs!)

On that topic: we’ve been making good progress on the revisions. I’ve even come up for air long enough to start doodling the early stages of prep to paint the cover. If you’re not an artist yourself, this will probably look like a scribble (at best). Doing even a rough value-sketch like this has proven to be one of the most important things for me in the preparatory stages of a painting. I’ve done several and, so far, this is the one I’m most inclined to pursue further. (The shaded version you saw on the Free RPG Day booklet was Steve Crompton’s idea, because we needed SOMEthing on the booklet. I knew what I had in mind was different all along.)

Consider this a teaser of things yet to come.

Trust me, there's more than meets the eye here.

If you want to bid on either one of the finished paintings — Elven Lords or Two Seconds Later —  send me a private email at etdanforth @ gmail.com (no spaces) with your best offer. I am going to end the auction Sunday night, midnight, MST, without further extensions.

In the Comments section to this post, I will let people know if there have been counteroffers.

You can, of course, still decide to pass. No bunnies will die. Really.


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28 Apr 2014

Pictures Have Stories: Painting “Two Seconds Later”

MONTHS HAVE PASSED since I wrote last in this blog. Today I’m writing two at once, for reasons that will make sense as you read on. This post is a companion piece to Pictures Have Stories: Elven Lords (and I apologize for any repetitiveness you find between the two).

My silence hasn’t been for lack of a desire to talk with you, but from an iron determination to put all my effort into mission-critical work. Right now, that work is to finish my part of the Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls project. Backers privy to the private Kickstarter updates have read about both our progress and pitfalls.

A wizard, a rogue, and one of my favorite characters all rolled into one. Prints available, inquire for details.

Detail of “Frost and Fire” done for The Gathering book

With T&T as my sole focus, I stopped doing any other freelance work. To keep the wolves from my door, I’ve been selling existing art, original paintings and inkwork alike. This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic the Gathering, bringing many collectors and fans to my door.

Moreover, the incredible The Gathering book (also Kickstarted last year) has been released, showing off one of my newest paintings. (I wrote about how excited I was to be starting to work on it in October 2012.) Other collectors have been picking up art done for Middle Earth, the few pieces I did for AD&D, and even some card paintings for Doomtown and L5R.

These two blog posts will talk about some iconic paintings associated with Tunnels & Trolls that I am offering for sale. People seem to enjoy hearing about how “Pictures Have Stories”  so each post will tell you about one of the paintings.

This post will be about the 7th edition cover of Tunnels & Trolls, a painting I call Two Seconds Later. In the other post, I talk about the tale of Elven Lords. Here’s a look at both. (Once both links are live, you can click this picture to go directly to the other post — and from there, you can click it to come here!) There will be larger versions of both paintings to look at more closely, so follow me over the jump.

Full sized paintings for Elven Lords and the cover painted for Tunnels & Trolls (7th edition)

Elven Lords (left) and Two Seconds Later (right)

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