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THIS MONTH: THE CULT OF KUCHTA


t seems like Chris Kuchta is hell-bent on paying homage to just about every moment of the genre. Universal clas- sics, Italian splatter, Spanish undead, Hammer, vintage ’80s horror – he’s


been steadily painting his way through the horrorverse, creating bold and colourful ren- ditions of his favourite movie monsters. “My painting process is a hybrid Dutch-


Flemish technique,” Kuchta explains of his style. “I start by gathering reference material, then a composition is drawn up. Then a de- tailed under-painting is layered down, and colour is painted overtop. The magic of the technique relies on your ability to draw, and understand value.” Kuchta’s vibrant Creature from the Black


Lagoon portrait and Funhouse paintings are rendered with large brush strokes and his knack for composition shines through in de- tails in his Salem’s Lot and Big Trouble in Lit- tle China-inspired pieces. Known for taking cues from classical painters, his list of artistic heroes is understandably vast. “Oh boy, this one


could take a while,” he says when asked about the painters he looks to for inspiration “My old master influences are Durer, Rembrandt, Goya, Bosch and Velasquez. These guys never get old, and you could learn a life- time’s worth of art just through them.” When it comes to illustration, he credits


the work of turn-of-the-century artists such as Haddon Sundblom, Franklin Booth and Howard Pyle, but also draws from Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos and James Gurney; concept artists Dave Rapoza, Andrew “An- droid” Jones and Feng Zhu; and comic book guys like Jack Kirby, Bernie Wrightson and Alex Ross. Despite all these notable names, it was ac-


tually Kuchta’s grandmother who first intro- duced him to the world of horror at an


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impressionable age, when she would buy him crates full of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy and Eerie maga- zines. That early love led him to study at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. It was there that he developed an appreciation for classical fine artists, but as he explains, “Like a moth to the flame, I eventually gravitated back to the reason I started to do any of this: horror. Recently I have gone back to looking at comics and sequential art again but anything I do will show my horror roots, for sure.” In an effort to pass along the love of


horror-themed art, Kuchta also heads up an art course at the The Kuchta Academy of Fine Art and Illustration in Lafayette, Indiana. Creatures are, of course, high on the curriculum. “I try to bring a good foundation to all


the kinds of work my students want to ac- complish, but their teaching starts with the fundamen- tals,” he says. “As far as hor- ror following me into the classroom goes. They see me paint every painting, and accomplish every drawing. That’s how I teach them that it works. By ex- ample.” Kuchta is obviously a


monster man of diverse tastes and talents, so it’s


not all that surprising that he’s got


a bunch of non-canvas-based projects on the go as well. He’s illustrating a graphic novel called Escalation, which features pulp superheroes and Lovcraftian crea- tures, and he’s stitching together a self- published art book titled In Vivid Red: Horror Art by Chris Kuchta, which will be available through his website later this month. (The foreword is written by famed Evil Dead FX artist Tom Sullivan and Rue Morgue’s own Lyle Blackburn.) “The focus of the book is really an ex- position of the paintings that I have done


over the last five years,” Kuchta says. “Some of the artwork in it shows my work in other mediums as well, such as digital painting. I really wanted to compile all of the horror art pieces under one hood, and this is the result.” Visit horrorartist.com for more of Chris Kuchta’s unearthly de-


lights.


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