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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Artist of the Month- January/February- Alex McLeod

Because it is now February and we missed January's artist of the month due to Photo L.A. madness, I wanted to change gears and bring something really different under our spotlight to start off the new year. This artist is doing something so unique and fascinating, I find it hard to put into words how it makes me feel. This artist belongs in their own category of art-making; he is BOLDLY defining art and that is why I present to you, Alex McLeod.

Alex McLeod
When I first saw these images, I envisioned the artist meticulously creating miniatures and then placing each detail by hand into a 3D landscape and then photographing the finished product under the appropriate lighting. All of this is true, but what makes this exceptionally intriguing is that it is all done within the computer. There is no photography involved. These are fully digitally rendered images that McLeod is creating.

Immediately, my mind begins to journey through the landscapes and drink them up. They are so lush, elaborate, and inviting. Something I noticed shortly after is that there aren't characters in these images. This lack of people or animals becomes eerie, a feeling which is enhanced by the fact that these are such joyful and fantastical environments. So where are all the people?

Alex McLeod

This question allows me to begin to picture the kind of wacky characters that would exist in these environments and the kind of stories they would tell. They have a similar effect of matte paintings, that were once used in film making to provide an environment that, pre-3D rendering technology, would have been very difficult to build by hand. Now, they are done digitally and generally used for the same purpose, or for pre-visualization in movies, video games, etc.

Digital matte painting
I also begin to think of the I Spy books I read as a kid. Within the books, each page opened up to a new landscape, filled to the brim with objects you were meant to search for and identify. Again, when these books were first made, they weren't using 3D modeling software. They were building miniature sets, the way I originally thought McLeod was creating his images. 

Walter Wick creating a miniature set for an I Spy book.

This is so impressive to me because beyond the fact that McLeod is imagining up these whimsical, colorful spaces that I have never seen the likes of, he is rendering them in such a way that allows us to believe that these "sets" physically exist behind a camera somewhere.

Alex McLeod

In McLeod's art, all is not really what it appears to be. His technique is complicated, I'm sure, and something that no other artist will likely be able to imitate. In a way, Darryll has a similar approach to his art. He's making images that one may look at and try to identify the technique. In the end, what he's doing is a lot more complicated than meets the eye. I think Alex McLeod is able to say the same thing. In this way, he's blazing a trail and defining his own brand of art.

To see more of Alex's work, please visit his website here.