All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Monday, December 30, 2013

Follow me, Bones! I... have... an idea...

Creativity begets creativity. Momentum begets momentum...
I primed two more small 'practice' panels today. 8 thin coats of gesso seems to be the magic number.
I can only wonder what my neighbors must think is going on up here, with the hair dryer going on and off all night. 
Priming more panels!
8 coats of gesso...
So smooth... so white...
 And one of them will turn into...
A start on the 'test...'
Hi, Skulley!
While looking through a bunch of artists' work online, I saw something that... gave... me... an idea.I am still pulling everything together and making a plan. This small panel will be a test to see how well it works.
More to come...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

New blood, good beginnings, and returning to my roots.

Now that I am turning my attention back to making art, I felt a need to 'start something new,' to get some fresh ideas and new blood.
In the interim while I was 'inactive' so to speak, I spent a good amount of effort researching new reference material. I came across a mountain of interesting reference material (thank you, internet.) Some really fascinating stuff that will turn into really cool pieces down the road. More on that at a later date.
At the present, in many ways I am returning to my roots - which, of course, is portraiture and figure.
Four pieces have emerged, three distinctly different visions, three different approaches, and three separate processes.
Each one is distinct, yet what they all have in common is a crystal-clear vision of a simple, direct artistic statement, which is unique for each individual piece.
I am resisting the temptation to barge ahead, and enjoying the process of fully developing the ideas, cultivating a clear vision of where I am going with each step.

First, I have been wanting to do a new humorous celebrity portrait. Slash has a visual presence that is unmistakable. The distinctive angles and shape(s) of his face have a characteristic quality that, the more I researched, the more intriguing they became. And yet, in my research, I found very few caricatures that really seemed to zero in on this, let alone nail it. Most of the renditions I found simply missed the point, and missed the mark, of what I thought was obvious.
(Two of my favorites are the painting by Sebastian Kruger - of course it's brilliant - and an elegantly simple caricature by Tom Richmond, which is basically a black shrubbery with a cigarette, top hat and sunglasses. When you look at either of them , you immediately know it's Slash - no doubt about it. That's my goal for the piece, in addition to having fun.) 
 Seems like a good combination: a challenge, and intrinsically fascinating. So there you go - a perfect candidate for a humorous portrait.
While looking through photos, I was searching for the continuity, what was identifiable and consistent. Looking at hundreds of celebrity photos, and dozens of caricatures, and asking myself what was good in the rare examples - and what was wrong, or lacking, in the multitude of mediocre examples - I was able to find a few common threads that I could build upon.
The sketching for this was fun, and I quickly zeroed in on a concept, design, and point-of-view.
Slash - what a face.
And all that hair...
Plus he wears a top hat that's almost
exactly like the one I had in my
early days of rock & roll.

I have also really wanted to do some portraiture, which is my personal favorite. In my research, two reference photos just jumped out at me, and I listen to my intuition when something really grabs my attention.

When I saw this I thought
what a nice painting it would make.
I have not been able to track down
the name of the photographer...

The minute I saw this stock photo,
I knew what I wanted - I had a
crystal-clear vision of a
super-tight close up.

Finally, (although this was actually the first of the four pieces that I started,) for quite some time I have been harboring the desire to further explore the theme in Lady In White. I came across two reference photos and immediately knew how I wanted to combine them. It was on!
Two reference photos come
together. I even have a title:
The Message.

The common threads in all these pieces are listening to my intuition, cultivating a clear artistic vision for each piece, being patient and starting with a good start.
It's a good start... ;)

It's great to be making art again.
Well, I never really stop making art... something interesting is always percolating in my little ol' brain... That's one of the things about being an artist that's fun. :)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Back to the basics.

When returning to art-making from a period of being 'otherwise occupied,' sometimes it's nice to just get back to the basics. And what could be more basic and ground-level (ha) than priming panels with gesso?
I have been constantly re-tooling my painting process, and the one thing that I am constantly looking for is a painting support that I really love. I keep making improvements and tweaking. This time, I am laying on many thin coats of gesso. 
The priming setup.
Sometimes starting from
the very beginning is fun.
And here they are...
after eight coats of gesso-
two beautifully primed panels.
And what's not to love?
Just look at them...
It took eight coats, but they are evenly covered, with only the slightest hint of a texture to the surface.
We'll see how this goes, but for now I am hopeful.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A good day of art. Progress on The Musketeer...

Today was gonna be all about 'me time' and making art.

Did you ever have a day where you got a lot done, but on projects you never anticipated? Today was like that. Not only did I get all the dishes done and cleaned the oven to make 'cheesy bagels,' rearranged the living room/painting area... I wound up working on a painting that has been hanging on the wall for months.

It started when I woke up. I was excited about having a day off, my holiday to-do list finished, and my bills paid. Nothing to keep me from what I wanted to do... which is art, of course. I did a wise thing and decided not to decide which piece of art I was going to work on until the piece of art made itself known to me. As I was getting my breakfast, I was looking at The MusketeerThe painting has been hanging on the wall, not sure what I wanted to do with the background. I didn't want to just copy what was in the reference photos, especially since the photos I was referring to had many other figures and elements, and I wanted to focus on the single figure. Neither did I want to just put in some generic, flat background.

I knew that if I just let it hang there and the ideas percolated, in time the right idea would present itself to me. And this morning, it did. It started with the general and worked its way to the specific. At first I just had an idea of the overall feel of the space around the figure. Then I had a flash of artistic vision; I could clearly see the relationship of the figure to the background. At this point, I still did not know exactly what the background was going to be, but I had a precise vision of how it would relate to the figure. I let the idea stew while I did a few quick thumbnail sketches to explore the possibilities. Then I set about the research.

Usually, this is where I get sidetracked. But today, I kept looking, kept on track, and kept gathering information. I looked up set design for every Musketeer movie ever made, classic paintings, buildings, and period props, until I had the information that I needed. And there were a couple of set designs that really sparked ideas.

Then came the scary part. After taunting me for months, I had to make marks on the canvas, which had been hanging there unchanged for all that time. I started with colored pencil, and 'found' my way into the design. Pretty soon, it came together and I could see clearly where it was going.
Next came the paint, thin and neutral. I am just laying in the structure. Later I will build up the lights and adjust the color.
And now, I have the figure placed in an environment - but not just any environment, but one that is congruent with the lighting conditions of the figure.
The progress was small but significant. I still have a long way to go, but  now I have a clear vision of where I am going with the painting.
Here is the Step-by-step of today's progress.
Step 1 - draw in the outlines
Step 2 - Light-facing planes
Step 3 - Planes facing
away from the light source
(nasty reflection from
the wet paint.)
Step 4 - Pull it all together
final step for now

Simple Solutions

I LOVE coming up with a simple, inexpensive idea that solves multiple problems at the same time.
Pen-Pal pen holder, $0.99 (minus employee discount.)
Now, I won't misplace my Wacom stylus. Plus, the bright green color makes it easier to find when swapping between laptop and desktop use (see Black is the New Pain In The Ass from my music blog) It is also a visual reminder to put the pen in the holder, and not set it down in some random place. Yet another little plus.
Wacom Bamboo tablet and stylus -
Now with new pen holder!
Yes, that is paint all over the surface of my laptop table. It comes with the territory. ;)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Denver Arts Week, First Friday Art Walk at the Gallery...

Last night Craig Rouse and I 'manned' the gallery (literally – ha!) for the Belmar Block 7 'First Friday Art Walk.'
A photo of Belmar Block 7
from the September Art Walk.
There were more active galleries,
and tons more people this month!

There was a good crowd, lots of people flowing in and out of the galleries, fun conversation, interesting questions and comments, and a little red wine... all in all, a very nice evening.

This month, the art walk coincides with the larger 'Denver Arts Week' celebration. It was a really good night. Block 7 has several new galleries and studios open with active artists, and a wide range of styles, mediums and genres. This really improves the artistic atmosphere for Block 7 - more artists is better! Carrie and Craig are very active with the Belmar area, the local art community and the city of Lakewood. They are working extremely hard to help Lakewood's art and cultural presence in Colorado.
I was delighted to meet the mayor of Lakewood, who stopped into the galleries along Block 7 and talked to the owners, artists and public. During the conversation, he said “The more we can get people using the words 'Lakewood' and 'Art' in the same sentence, the better.” I liked what I was hearing.

The gallery sold some prints, and I connected with a local couple who may be able to set me up with some wood panels to paint on. These panels would otherwise be discarded. This is a win/win for everybody involved. The panels go to good use, become part of something beautiful, rather than filling up the scrap yard.

I had great response to my artwork, and this month the “most correctly identified caricature” award goes to Roy Orbison. 3 people identified him dead-on, and a fourth recognized him, and got as close as “his last name begins with O.” That was close enough in my book.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Post Mile Hi Con Wrap Up

This past weekend at Mile Hi Con 45 was interesting, constructive, and fun. I had a good time with Lisa and Toni, ran into many old friends and companions, and met many new and interesting people.
First of all, Authors Row was a great place to network, meet others in the publishing and self-publishing business, and connect with like-minded individuals.
Second, and most dramatic for me, was the Art Show. I was singularly impressed with the work of Aaron Miller. I had seen his work in books, magazines, and online, and was always impressed. But in person, I was inspired. His paintings are spectacular. It was exhilarating for my creative mind, my heart, and my spirit to see his original works in person.

This was my favorite piece in the show:
Fires In The Desert.
...and I was only looking at a canvas print!
The paintings were equally stunning.
Go to
to see more.

I am reminded what I told Carrie a few months back; I need to get out to galleries, museums, and art shows more often. I am uplifted by the works of my fellow artists; I always come back inspired to reach further in my own endeavors.
This is one of the areas that my own competitive nature is a boon. When I see that others can achieve great things, I feel I must achieve great things myself. Upon seeing the best that others can create, I cannot accept less than the best from myself. This is a good thing, when directed positively. 

I attended Aaron Miller's portrait painting demonstration. It was fun, and it is always educational and informative for me to see how another artist works, to get a glimpse into their thinking processes.
I made a personal goal to get into the art show for next year's Mile Hi Con. And not only to get in, but \to make my presence known and felt, as a powerful artistic force to be reckoned with.A noble - and attainable - goal, but it will take focus and dedication, and "no small amount" ofeffort.

 This is a further development of what I have been discussing with Carrie recently. I have put together a body of work. Now is the time to take that to the next level, in many ways.
First, I need to get into some shows, get my work out in front of as many people as possible.
Second, I need to elevate my artwork to the next level; I must begin to create the artwork that I was born to create. It is time for me to create my life's work, the pieces I will be known for, the artwork I have always yearned to create.
I have known, have felt it in my heart for years and years, that I was born to create great works of Fantasy Art, and more recently that my work in this area would be of a quality and level that would warrant being exhibited in galleries and museums.

So I must get busy. There is much to do.

Carrie has been great. I say I want to do figurative works that venture into the Fantasy Art genre, and she says “Do it!” I say that I want to incorporate figures with animals, and she says “Do it!” I say that I have a series in mind of female figures, clad in period costumes, wandering in the wilderness, floating, and flying, and she says “Do it!” I say that I want to do a series of animal studies that will be incorporated into larger, more complex pieces, and she says “Do it!”
I say that I want to take a step back and redirect my efforts (get more schooling, work on this skill or that skill, etc.) and she says “Don't do it!”
She has good instincts, knows that the best thing for me is to move forward. 

I also made many good contacts at the Con. I met with authors and publishers, and even made some connections for upcoming projects and cover art. This is great! I am moving forward, getting my work, and my skills, in front of people who appreciate it and are excited to work with me.

I also met quite a few good costumers and characters. I took a bunch of photographs, and exchanged contact info. I am getting in touch with good faces and costumes to populate the scenes in my paintings.
This is good news, especially after the recent mishaps with my computer crashing (another one!) and being unable to access the awesome reference photos I had taken with Michael Sheridan.

I am very excited. Good things are on the horizon, and great artwork is in the making....!

Friends in costume
Aaron Miller painting demo

Great costume!
When we met, she said
"You're a brave man, shaking hands
with the Mother Confessor."
True dat. ;)
Great costumes!
Adorable AND scary!

Adorable AND scary!
Adorable AND scary!

What can I say? It's Peter:
Long-time friend.
Good costume.
Adorable AND scary!
(...and he has baklava!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mile Hi Con 2013

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday I will be at MileHiCon to promote the books Fable and Fated by Lisa Fender and Toni Burns.

Look for us in the authors' row section.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Progress on FATED cover art

Cover for Fated -
The new book from
Lisa Fender and Toni Burns

The novel 'Fable – Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy' is on the bookshelves at, complete with my cover illustration and interior map. 
Fable - Book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy
Interior map for Fable

I met yesterday with the authors to review progress for the cover of the first Novella of the series: 'FATED – Book 1 of the Djenrye Chronicles.'
We are very excited about the book, and the series. We'll be at MileHiCon October 18 – 20; look for us on Authors' Row. Stop by for a sneek peak at the newest book, to check out 'Fable,' and talk with the authors and myself.
This is a dream come true for me. Growing up, I envisioned myself illustrating the covers of Fantasy novels, like my heroes Frank Frazetta and Michael Whelan. And now I'm actually doing it! Not only that, the authors give me plenty of room for my 'artistic vision.' I also get to have fun with typography, which I always enjoy, especially on a project like this one.
(My thanks to fellow artist and designer Phil Normand for showing me so much about typography, which is becoming something of a lost art. He will forget more than I ever know...)
This cover has presented me with some fun challenges. I am exploring different methods of creating textures in acrylic, with the help of Carrie, my agent and fellow artist, who does exquisite textures in her realistic and abstract paintings. I always enjoy breaking new ground and adding new tools to my kit, so to speak.
I can't show you the cover yet, as we are saving the surprise for the release. However, I can show you a couple of closeups – one of the concept sketch, and one with some of the fun textures and lighting in the final painting. I am attempting to create the look of an old wall – plaster or stucco, something along those lines.
Closeup - cover concept sketch

 For the cover, the authors requested an image of a sabre-toothed tiger used as a sigil. Those of you familiar with my work may recognize the look from my previous painting, 'Tiger Eyes.' I find each animal's face interesting, and there is quite a bit of variation in a single species. In fact, I could paint tigers from the same vantage point and never run out of interesting new insights and discoveries. I find the direct gaze of a giant predator to be exciting to paint. However, I did not want to simply remake the same image. Simply remaking previous pieces holds no interest for me at all. Plus, this is not just a tiger; the sabre-tooth is a separate animal, and I wanted to capture the 'essence' of this, in a more graphical form. I researched large cats and archeological examples of the sabre-tooth and combined them into a sigil. The final painting is very exciting and I can't wait to share the end result.
The book is entering the final editing stages and will be released soon. I'll keep you posted as we progress, and soon there will be another in the series of completed covers!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Thanks to encouragement from my pal Michael Sheridan, I have opened my shop MIKEYZART on ETSY for my artwork.
I'm starting with a couple prints from my catalog, which has exploded in size over the last year!!!
Take a look, and keep coming back... I'll be adding content regularly!
Click the banner below, or the link at the bottom:

A Riot of Red!

One of the pieces I had time to work on over the past few months is The Musketeer
Though it has been several weeks since I worked on the piece, I wanted to share a few fun aspects of this painting and its progress.
I was able to develop several areas that were giving me a hard time, and make a few key decisions about the piece. Unfortunately, I kinda mucked up the hues on the face, but that will not be too difficult to fix. (I shoulda left well enough alone! LOL)
Here is a close-up shot (kinda blurry!) of what I like to call "A Riot of Red"...!

Closeup of The Musketeer "A Riot of Red"
A few years ago, my (then) boss Dino Casterline took the gang to the Orlando Art Museum to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit. I was in awe. I had only seen reproductions of the pieces in print. I had always liked Rockwell's work... but the original paintings were a whole 'nother experience altogether. 
One piece that caught my attention was the painting Checkers showing a group of circus performers backstage.  The reds he created in the fabric of the ringmasters coat really caught me. I thought I knew the color "red", but could not believe how "red" the color red could be! 

At that moment I knew that one day, I would attempt to create reds in a painting that had that "red"-ness. And so here I was, with this beautiful musketeer costume, and the red satin of the cloak staring me in the face. I said to myself "Self... now is the time!" 
And what fun it has been! I have used many different reds, purples and browns, in adjacent swaths of paint and combined in layers. I never fully realized  how many variations of red I could employ in one section of a painting... until now!

This has turned out to be one of those 'long term paintings' that presents many unique challenges and opportunities for learning. I have repainted several areas - some more than once. I enjoy setting it aside and letting it 'percolate' in my brain, then coming back to it a while later. 

I'll be posting more from this painting as it progresses. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

S.P.0.G_Space Pug Zero Gravity

My entry in the 99 Pieces of Art show at Access Gallery:
S.P.0.G. - Space Pug Zero Gravity

The show raises money for VSA.

Thanks to Carrie MaKenna for the text reminding me that the pieces were due... ;)

Online operations resume at chateau MIKEYZART...

Being offline for the last few months has allowed me time - undistracted time - to get a lot done. Thanks to my agent, the gallery, and a few other happy circumstances, the past year has been without a doubt the most productive of my life. But I reached a point where not having unrestricted internet access was preventing me from making forward progress in many areas. And one day, a fellow came a-knocking on the door to tell me about the new fiber-optics installation in our area. It seemed there was a confluence of forces coming together that sounded something like this: "Hey, you! Get your *** back online!"

One of the problems with being offline for any length of time is getting your system up-to-date when you re-establish internet access. *sheesh!* This has been a grueling process, but I am getting up and running one small step at a time. The first step was to get the proper updates to be able to access - and utilize - my Outlook, Facebook, and Blogger pages. That being accomplished, I can now at least move forward.

I have many new and exciting news items, photos, projects, anecdotes and quips to post to the blog, and I am excited to finally be able to keep up with my friends, family, and peers.

So fear not, weary traveler... good tidings are ahead!

Friday, September 27, 2013


FINALLY, I have internet service at home again!
(It only took CenturyLink about a month to get the service installed, but let's not dwell on that...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

ACK! Grrr..!

Well, this laptop is not cooperating at ALL. It simply refuses to connect to any network at all, it matters not where or when.
I have loads of photos to post, but I guess they will have to wait until I get this 'situation' sorted out.
So much to do... so much to do...

In the meantime, take a look at the dog I posted last week. ;)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mikey's BACK!

Howdy boys and girls! Mikey (that's me) is back!
After a self-imposed Internet sabbatical, I am back – to a self-imposed, limited-internet, diet.
For the near future, I plan only to access the internet on a weekly basis. To quote about a dozen of my favorite action/adventure movies: “Remember – short, controlled bursts.”

The sabbatical has paid off big time. It has allowed me to focus more of my energy where it has been needed. The result has been a year of excitement, adventure and fulfillment.

And what a year it has been! So much has changed, and so much has been accomplished.

I have weathered storms and basked in sunshine. I have steadied some turbulent waters and rode some exciting roller-coaster s! All the while, I have been inspired, productive, and thoroughly enjoying myself.
I have lost 1 band, a longtime friend, and 3 computers; I have been reunited with almost all of my guitars and many of my longtime friends; I have played pirate in the desert and rolled the dice; I have been applauded, condemned, kissed and kicked; I have discovered new friendships; I have found support and inspiration, joy and exasperation; I have achieved many long-term goals and found new directions; I've gone out on a limb and put it all on the line – more than once, and in many ways!

I have done some soul-searching and made some tough choices; I've focused my introspection on becoming more connected with who I am and what makes me happy. I have come into my own as a creative force, and I have found my voice, as an artist and as a musician. And I am confident that where I am in the world and in my life is exactly where I should be.

I have completed some major projects, and entered some interesting competitions. 
And along the way, I have created a solid metric TON of artwork! I am organizing the files to post when I pop in to say hello.

I have created this giant snowball, and I'm ready to ROLL IT!!! :)

Stay tuned for tales and anecdotes, photos, posts, links and more.

Peace and love -


[A dog.]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Progress on FABLE cover

I met with authors Lisa Fender and Toni Burns to go over cover art, title typography and other details for the cover of "Fable - book 1 of the Lorn Prophecy."
I had narrowed the choices of title fonts down from hundreds, and created title treatments for several dozen. I narrowed that down to about 2-3 dozen, with about 4 or 5 top contenders to present to the authors.
I was pleasantly surprised when they picked my favorite for the title type. In fact, their 'top 3' was identical to my 'top 3.'

As a teaser... here's a preview of the top 3:'s the front cover illustration:

...and here's the interior map, before adding text:

my entry in the Spectrum 20 Fantastic Art competition

Here is my entry - the cover illustration for "Fable"...

...and here it is in the competition!!!...

I saw the photo and thought, "wait a minute... is that it?" Sure enough, I zoomed in and THERE IT IS!
Wow, there were a LOT of entries in this year's competition!
I wish the best for all the entrants... Can't wait to see the results, and the annual book... it's bound to be FANTASTIC!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

FABLE cover art FINAL

Here's the final cover painting.
I apologize for taking so long to post this...
The front cover for Fable, the fantasy novel by Lisa Fender is finished!
This has been a labor of love for me. :) 
While working on the cover, I have had appropriate movies/shows playing in the background to set the mood. 
In the course of finishing this painting, I have been through Game Of Thrones Season 1 - no less than seven times! along with LOTR - all three movies - twice! and Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sixth - twice...
(I'm really in my element here!)
Now I'm getting the print ready to submit to the Spectrum 20 (annual competition of Fantastic Art.) :D

Progress on FABLE cover art

Early Stages of development

Beginning work on foreground

The completed cover painting