Late on Sunday, April 7th, the original painting for Ryan Pancoast’s Arlinn, Voice of the Pack was sold for $5,000. This is first traditionally-painted planeswalker to be sold from War of the Spark.

The Facts

Arlinn, Voice of the Pack by Ryan Pancoast, oil on canvas, 24” x 30.” And that’s Howie, Ryan’s little buddy.

Arlinn, Voice of the Pack by Ryan Pancoast is a gorgeous and gargantuan 24” x 30” work of oil on canvas. It was commissioned for Magic’s newest expansion War of the Spark and was the first traditionally painted planeswalker revealed for the new set. As of the writing of this article, it has been the only traditional work of the nineteen planeswalkers previewed. Arlinn is the artist’s second planeswalker after he painted Saheeli, the Gifted for last year’s Commander set, and is one of Pancoast’s largest Magic paintings to date.

The card itself may see some Limited or Standard play, but will find its greatest home in Pancoast’s Vintage Artist Constructed Deck, which already runs a very strong Wolf sub-theme. Paired with his other new card, Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves, the Selesnya Pancoast deck is now a serious contender in the format.

The Hammer

This was the first traditional painting for War of the Spark to hit the block, being officially shown on March 31st on Twitter only hours after the initial reveals of PAX East. The auction began the following morning on the MTG Art Market, with Mike Linnemann taking care of the particulars for the artist as he has done in the past. The auction began immediately with a $4,000 bid via private message, and several bids followed through the next few hours before ending up at $5,000 at day’s end.

Oftentimes, the most action an auction will receive is in the first 24 hours and within the final half an hour. Some people prefer to bid at the beginning, making their interest known either by name or by number, and this sets the tone for the duration of the sale. Many others like to wait until near the end, feeling like it gives them the best chance of success by not showing their hand until the final minutes. Both strategies can be effective, and there is usually no way to tell which would be more successful during any given auction.

This time it was the strong early action that sealed the victory, as the $5,000 bid placed at the end of the first day would be the final winning bid and take home this exceptional work of art. Sometimes it only takes a few swings of the hammer to get the nail all the way in.

The Art

It seems like with every new Pancoast painting and card previewed, the art set the bar one notch higher. At some point you’d think the man would have peaked, but for as long as I’ve been following his art it’s just gotten better and better, and this painting is no different.

At this size, Ryan’s brushstrokes are larger than life, from the cobblestone beneath Arlinn’s feet or the magic emanating from her fingers. The Ravnican skyline is detailed yet doesn’t detract, and the dusky purples and pinks of the horizon are reminiscent of what used to happen to our title character when the sun went down.

This work has been submitted to the art annual Spectrum, and makes a very strong case for its inclusion among the year’s best of the best. Only time will tell, but I have a very strong feeling that we will be seeing more of this painting in the near future, both on and outside of the card.

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