On Sunday April 14th, the original art for Wardscale Crocodile by Zezhou Chen, the first traditional Magic painting by the artist, was sold for $1,500 on the MTG Art Market.

The Facts

Wardscale Crocodile by Zezhou Chen, oil on canvas, 40cm x 50cm

Wardscale Crocodile by Zezhou Chen is a work of oil on canvas measuring approximately 15.75 inches by 19.75 inches, or 40cm by 50cm. It was created for the upcoming War of the Spark expansion, and is the artist’s first ever traditional painting for Magic. Chen has previously illustrated 37 cards for Magic, but this is the only one created traditionally with paint and canvas. He is planning on more traditional work in the future, and is one of a number of artists who are beginning to make the transition from working digitally to traditionally to capitalize on the growing market for original Magic artwork.

As for the card itself will be a Limited auto-include, staying on curve and being very difficult to get rid of outside an unfavorable 2-for-1 in combat.

The Hammer

The auction was run on the MTG Art Market by Vorthos Mike, and began with a very reasonable $1,000 opening ask, achieved very soon after the auction launched. Bidding moved slowly throughout the week, and it could have been due to a number of things, from collector’s unfamiliarity with the art and artist to the current art market being reasonably saturated with near a half dozen War of the Spark auctions taking place at the same time.

As Mike often does, content was added through the week in collaboration with the artist to try and encourage bidding, and in this case at the same time introduce the artist. A short interview and all matter of process and progress shots were added each day to keep the auction in the know and relevant, and as the week continued, so did bidding.

A few final private bids were received near the end of the auction, and Chen’s first Magic painting sold for a solid $1,500, a great first showing for the artist. Hopefully this auction encourages him to continue to paint more traditional subjects in the future; he is getting some very interesting and exciting commissions, and there is a good chance that those will translate into even more future art market successes

The Art

This is the first traditional painting for Magic from this artist, and it’s a simply a wonderful work. Let the slideshow below roll to see the evolution of this best, from Chen’s early sketches and preliminaries up to the incredible detail that can be seen in the final work:

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The palette of this work, highlighted by Rhystic Studies’ Sam Gaglio in the image below, is sumptuous, cool, and earthy, and its variegation no easy task using a bristled brush instead of a stylus.

This mostly self-taught artist has made the jump from digital to traditional, and the eyes of the world of Magic collectors are now upon him. His work on canvas is fabulous, and we’ll all be waiting for what comes next.

Don’t stop now Zezhou!

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