In memory of chucksiebuhr

Dee-Marie - Sr. Staff Writer

On January 29, 2005 Chuck SiebuhrThe King of Fantasy Art — Ventured to another realm,
after losing a year long battle with the most evil of villains — Cancer!

Long Live the King!

Some artists’ works are so amazing that the moment of the first viewing, their images become eternally etched into memory — Chuck Siebuhr was that kind of artist! I vividly remember the first time I laid eyes upon one of his images. As newly appointed Managing Editor of the Renderosity Magazine, I was assigned the task of voting for the magazine’s cover. Chuck’s contest entry of “the lady in the silver mask” was mesmerizing! Especially the eyes, they exuded mystery and magic.

Not only was his image chosen for the magazine’s front cover [Issue 3], it was also the inspiration for Renderosity Magazine’s first writing contest [Issue 4] — based upon his cover image. And, so it began — my three-year journey into a wonderful friendship with one of the most extraordinary artist of our time. In a magazine interview for Issue 5, Chuck allowed me into his world of creativity, his love of art, and his struggles with self-doubt — I am always astonished that the greatest artists are also the most humble.

Over the years, Chuck’s images graced nearly every issue of the Renderosity Magazine and The RIM [The Renderosity Interactive Magazine], and he was honored as one of the first Featured Artists on The RIM. His artwork was also showcased within the pages of Renderosity Digital Art for the 21st Century.

Yet, his biggest accomplishments, and I know one of his greatest joys, was the devoted following of his fellow Renderosity artists. One only has to view Chuck’s Renderosity gallery to get the full extent of the admiration the Renderosity community so appropriately bestowed upon him. Chuck was not only an extraordinary artist, he was also an extra-ordinary “gentle” man. To say he will be missed is a grave understatement. So, with great sadness of our collective artistic souls, we must bid farewell to the King of Fantasy Art – May he rest in peace knowing he shall live eternally through his artwork, and that we forever hold his memory gently within our hearts.

Award Winning Artist – [chucksiebuhr] Chuck Siebuhr

Interviewed by Dee-Marie

In loving tribute to the memory of this amazing artist and “gentle” man we would like to re-present a 2003 interview with Chuck, originally featured in the Renderosity Magazine [Issue 5].

Have you had a lifelong passion for art, or is this a recent undertaking? Lifelong passion. I enjoyed a brief couple of years as an artist in the San Diego art community years ago. Back then I worked in all the traditional media - oils, acrylics, watercolors, pen & ink, and pencil. During that time I received some very favorable reviews, was featured in one man shows, won some awards, and so on. Then, the economy took a downturn and I had a young family at the time, so I took employment in the telecommunications industry and that has been my mainstay ever since. I never lost the love for art, nor gave it up, but what I found the time to create was for my own personal pleasure. Then, a little over a year ago, a friend introduced me to Photoshop. I haven't picked up a brush or pencil since!

Are you a professional artist? Is art a second job? Or is art a mere means to unleash your creativity? At the moment I guess you could say that I am a semi-professional artist. Art is currently my second job but hopefully that will change in the near future. By semi-professional, I mean that I have been awarded several competitive commercial projects in the last year; architectural renderings, logos, photo re-composition, etc. Soon my partner and I will have a web site up offering these services and more. Is art a means to unleash my creativity? Absolutely! Basically all of my spare time is spent experimenting with art.

Do you have any formal computer graphics or art training? I have no formal art training - at all. Everything I have learned has been self-taught, both in conventional art and computer graphics. It seems to take so long doing it that way, using the "trial and error" method, but once you learn it ... you seldom forget it.

Which computer graphic software program do you use most often? Since being introduced to Adobe Photoshop by our art department, I am reputed to be a full-blown Photoshop addict. I have tried other graphics programs that some of my friends have, but quickly retreat to the comfort of Photoshop. It is such an intuitive program for me, but I suppose that makes it similar to choices that traditional artists make when they decide on their particular medium: some work well with oils while others seem to be born to watercolor; some prefer natural bristle brushes while others insist on synthetic bristles. Photoshop is an awesome creation unto itself. It amazes me almost every time I open it up. One of the things that I enjoy the most is that I can create images on the PC that are almost identical to the styles and techniques I used in more traditional works, including the background layers with their textures and often random shapes or forms. When using traditional art techniques, layers would often take days for each glazing to dry so that the next could be applied. Now, with a simple click, the next layer is ready!

What was your initial reaction upon discovering that you had won first place in Renderosity [Issue 3] Cover Contest? Were you surprised, excited, did you think you would win? At first I thought it was a prank when I got the e-mail. My partner, Steve, is a PC Wizard and we always play jokes on one another. I'm not a PC Wizard and constantly remind him that it is only a "paint-box" for me. I first thought he had faked the message. Then, when I realized that it was real, yes I was surprised and very excited. Did I think I would win? No. There are so many talented artists that I see on the Renderosity site that I hoped I might make the finals but didn't really think I had a chance at winning. By the way, some of those artists have commented on the work and that is really inspiring.

Your cover image was uniquely beautiful. What inspired her creation? Thank you very much. Frankly, I was in a state of disbelief when notified that Masque had been selected. I had created her as yet another experiment. When I started to enter the contest, I almost backed out before hitting the send button, thinking that it just wasn't good enough. As far as the inspiration for her, I have always been something of a romantic, and have always been attracted to a model's know, the old "windows to the soul" saying. But, I didn't want to start repeating things that I had done in the past. Instead, I wanted an otherworldly or futuristic or even medieval feel for the piece.

Can you give our readers a brief description of how you created the cover image? What software programs did you use? Did you start with a photograph, a drawing, or was your base image a Poser figure? What technique did you use to create the silver spider veins upon her mask, her translucent skin? It is all Photoshop and KPT5. After scanning the eyes from a photograph, I used the Levels, Dodge and Burn tools for more contrast and, then created a new layer for the bolder contour shape around the opening for the eyes. Working with KPT5, I fashioned various shapes and patterns on separate layers using KPT5 FraxFlame and FraxPlorer. When the shapes and patterns seemed right, the next step was to selectively use Color Range to select and "cut" portions from each pattern until I had the molded shapes on separate layers. Satisfied with the final shape, I merged those layers, leaving the eyes on a separate layer, and then selected the entire mask. The metallic look was applied to the merged layer using the Layer Styles and Blend modes in Photoshop, along with the Lighting Effects on a blurred Channel. There are many ways to get the chrome or metallic effects, the easiest being third party plug ins which I am slowly collecting, but I think learning first how to do things with Photoshop's native filters is important to actually learning how the program works. The translucent skin was probably the easiest operation. I created a fractal design that I liked with KPT5, placed it over the layer with the eyes and chose Blending Options in the Layer Styles until I found the one that worked best, which I think in this case was "Overlay." Then I simply created a new Layer at the bottom of the stack, filled it with black and it was done.

Not only was your image featured on the magazine cover, it was also chosen to be the inspiration for Renderosity Magazine's first writer's contest. With the entrants putting their feelings about your art into words. What did you think of the winning stories? Were you surprised at how differently people perceived your image? Had you been asked to write a story about your masked lady, how would you have approached the tale? The winning entries were outstanding. For me, it was strange, reading the different versions and how they perceived my image. That was a first. I had to really work hard at narrowing it down to two, and then finally ranking the top five for my vote. Each story was so unique and different from the other. But, that is one of the things I try to accomplish with my art - to make each viewer see something different, based on their interpretation of what they see. Or think that they see. If I had been asked to write a story, I'm afraid I would have failed miserably. My imagination works with visual imagery, and not too well with words. I'm quite certain that my story would not have been competitive with the others submitted.

Many of your images are collages with a strong "graphic's feel," is that your preferred method of approaching a new image? Yes. Very much so! Believe it or not, I used to create these types of images by hand with pencil, inks, oils or acrylics. Friends that remember those days have remarked about how very similar the new images are to the old ones. Personally, I enjoy doing art for art's sake, whether for traditional viewing, posters, or for a client's logo. Simply put, I am addicted to creating art, whether for myself or someone else. The collage is definitely my favorite approach. There are no confining restrictions such as the sky must be blue, the grass must be green, the house must be white. You can let your imagination run wild in a collage. And, I like trying different perspectives and scaling of images for composition.

What advise do you have for other aspiring artists? Advice for aspiring artists? Probably the best advice would be to just never give up, never flatten out when it comes to challenging your creativity. I have seen artists that I call "plateau people." They arrive at a level of work that is acceptable and then just stay there. They don't work at taking it the next level. Personally, when I finish a work I like to compete with myself and try to make the next one even better. Rather than compete with other artists, I prefer to seek inspiration from their work. Then I see if I can make my next image better than the last one I completed. Naturally, it doesn't always work, but it is always a challenge, and challenge is stimulating.

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to share your thoughts with our readers. My thanks to you, Dee-Marie, and all those at Renderosity that gave me this wonderful opportunity to share my work with the art community at large. As I said, it really is an honor, and has been a real shot in the arm for going even further with my work. I may not be a prolific artist, but you can be sure that I will continue to post new images to the Renderosity site as soon as I complete them. Why would I want to go anywhere else?
To view full image, click on thumbnail.

Click here to visit Chuck Siebuhr's entire gallery