LANCASTER – Mitchell Davidson Bentley of Harrisburg will present his colorful, digitally created work in the next art show, "Other Worlds/Future Worlds," Jan. 9-Feb. 23, at the Lancaster Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania's Community College. The theme of his work is science fiction-based fantasy and astronomical visions.
The show is open to the public 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays in the Art Space in the East Building of the campus, 1641 Old Philadelphia Pike. A reception for the artist will be held there 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Bentley has spent the last 20 years moving physically from place to place and artistically from traditional oils to cyber compositions. Trained in the traditional medium of oil by his mother and inspired by his grandfather’s love of science fiction, Bentley began his career as a full-time science fiction artist in 1989 from his home in Tulsa, Okla.
While actively involved in the science fiction art world, Bentley also moved from Tulsa to Austin, Texas to Central Pennsylvania where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State University. Over the same period of time, he shifted from the more traditional oil painting to airbrushed acrylics and since 2004 has been working exclusively in electronic media.
He uses a variety of software and digital manipulation techniques to create his images which are a mix of alien landscapes, astronomical work and science fiction illustration.
“People have a lot of misconception about digital art,” said Bentley. “They think, ‘Oh, the computer did that.’ And that’s just not true. When I use the term ‘generated landscape’ most people don’t know what that means. It’s much more than just pushing a button on the computer. What I want to do especially in a show at a college is to educate people.”
Bentley’s favorite software is ArtMatic Voyager, which ultimately generates the landscape. “But I have to tell it what to generate,” he said. “I make decisions all the way along. I approach it with content in mind, but then I have to tell the software what to do, then take it into Photoshop and run photographic filters to help punch up the landscape.”
He explains the process as basically starting with a digitally created image in software rather than a camera. “Then I run a filter over it to soften the background, give it a vignette, punch the color or for whatever look I’m trying to achieve. I may run a luminance mask or change the contrast or add to it, paint over it, paint in stars or extra clouds, or take it into other programs to add things like buildings or people. All of that will go into Photoshop in different layers, and I’ll do more adjusting and corrections,” he said.
While it was a difficult transition from traditional painting, and Bentley says he can paint much more quickly than doing this kind of work, he made the switch for two reasons. Publishers wanted things such as his illustrations and book covers delivered this way – digitally – but he found along the way that this work utilizes both sides of his brain. “I enjoyed this so much more than just painting or working a job,” he said.
As the creative consultant at Atomic Fly Studios (AFS) in Harrisburg, Bentley produces cover art, marketing materials and websites while he continues to produce quality 2D artwork marketed through the AFS website and at science fiction conventions across the United States.
He has lectured at universities, worked in film, edited publications and served as Artist Guest of Honor at more than a dozen science fiction conventions. He also has earned 35 awards, is a lifetime member of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists and currently serving as its president.
For more information contact Ilene Rosenberg, art history and humanities instructor at the HACC-Lancaster Campus at 717-948-1806 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.