Ned Dameron is a native of Louisiana, but did most of his work from a studio in Washington, D.C. His mother was an art major in college before assuming the role as homemaker. She recognized his talent as a toddler and encouraged him in his drawings by helping him draw from an object for more accuracy, rather than relying on memory and reductive approximations so familiar in children’s drawings.
An inadvertent influence was gleaned from 1940’s copies of contemporary art magazines; mostly Art Digest. Ned became most fascinated by surrealists of that period who rendered dimensionally realistic surfaces that mimicked the usual black and white photographs commonly seen in periodicals. There was something real, yet imaginary and dreamlike about these black and white reproductions, and to a child, they seemed to portend of strange realities that lay in the world outside his grandmother’s attic apartment.
This was Ned’s early home for four years, and to this day, he still has two sets of bound Art Digests for the years ‘45 and ’46, which his mother had bound. He remembers Kay Sage, Yves Tanguy, Ossorio, and of course Dali.
Ned’s early habit was to draw holding the pencil in his palm but use his free thumb to more accurately control and pivot the pencil’s journey. Other kids thought it was a trick allowing him to draw better than they could. He began holding his pencil more conventionally when he entered architecture school (ironically the drawing courses were “mechanical drawing” and “free-hand drawing”.
While still in high school, Ned apprenticed as a draughtsman for an architect, intending to study architecture in college. He studied architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans for several years, then transferred to Art and majored in sculpture. (Both traditional and contemporary sculpture under Dan Boles & Jules Struppeck and painting under Ida Kohlmeyer.
He worked as design director for a theater in New Orleans, contributed to underground publications there, and eventually worked as design director for an advertising agency in New Orleans. Ned eventually ended up freelancing, illustrating and doing easel painting in his studio.
The surrealist photographer, Clarence John Laughlin became something of a guru to Ned. He had several group shows, notably The World Surrealist Exhibition, Chicago,’76 and a two man show at Will Stone Gallery, San Francisco, ’79.)
When Ned began his studio paintings, he had encouragement from Kurt E. Schon, for whom his mother worked, and eventually ran a gallery for him. Ned sold many fantasy and neo-surreal artists at the gallery. Kurt approved of his pursuit, but stressed study in Europe.
Later as Kurt E. Schon, Ltd., he concentrated on antique 18th & 19th century paintings. Through this connection Ned became aware of work by Daniel Samuels, Harold Hitchcock, Jean Pierre Serrier, and other artists in Europe working in a similar style.
Because of Ned’s fantasy underpinnings, a move to illustrating in the science-fiction, fantasy and sword & sorcery genre, seemed the best way of finding commercial work, as well as becoming part of a larger world of fantasy, the most creative form of realism.
Ned has illustrated works by Jack Vance, Ann McCaffrey, Roger Zelazny, Piers Anthony and the Sword and Sorcery of Robert E. Howard. He did many illustrations for TSR, Dungeons and Dragons, and with horror and its variations so well exemplified by Stephen King. Underwood/Miller and Donald M. Grant are the two publishers beside TSR that he has had the most association with.
Currently, Ned is semi-retired, and back in Louisiana painting in his studio both fantasies of his own invention, and traditionally done portraits. He has also done several sculptures, traditional bronzes and an over-lifesized polychromed resin cast. He still does limited edition book illustrations for specialty presses.
A sampling of Ned’s illustrations
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