Samuel Araya – dark and beautiful art

I love Instagram because I found so many amazing artists there. One of those beautiful souls is Samuel Araya, whose art is a big inspiration to me.

Araya has a style I appreciate very much – it is deliciously dark, full of symbolism and occult. Like some nightmares, where everything seems quite normal, but then one weird, out of place thing happens and you get sucked into another unusual reality.

Samuel Araya is an artist living in the poison heart of South America, his work has appeared in a variety of media, from videogames, t-shirts, posters, records, to cards and books, including five editions of the prestigious “Spectrum: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art” annual. Currently also dedicates time to his career as a gallery artist, with an important number of international shows already gracing his curriculum. –

The king in yellow

On his website I learned he illustrated “The king in yellow”. I bet that will be one the most beautiful books ever made.

I also found an interview where he explains his process while working on the illustrations: “The black-and-white paintings were done in order to counterpoint the realistic, detailed yet surreal color works. I prepared a surface with white acrylic paint, and then dropped thin coats of black paint in irregular patterns. I attacked those with various utensils in order to create a rich, interesting surface. Faces and shapes would start to emerge. These became the royal lineage of Carcosa and characters that have only a passing mention in the book. This method of painting resonated again with certain magickal practices, where particular spirits or intelligences appear in the smoke of burning incense and oils—not to mention the process in which the materials for the philosopher’s stone turn from black to white, nigredo to albedo.”


I knew I wanted to have as many different effigies of the King in Yellow character. I didn’t wanted to be just symbolic, but also visceral, much like Giger’s Alien or Beksinski paintings. The more diverse interpretations we have, the more richer an experience gets. This rather positive underlying informed much of the darkest imagery I have produced. Each painting was also the product of many happy accidents. The face you see now, started as a smooth surface, I overlayed the alchemical symbol of Mercury, that also represents the feminine aspects. I was struggling with how to proceed further when I found an engraving and brief explanation of “The Androgyne” in alchemy, it featured a figure with two faces, one of each sex, merged together in a single body, this converged with classical symbology regarding the image of a King. Kings are usually solar deities, associated with the masculine, but The King in Yellow its much alien and stranger in origin, so if you look near the vestiges of the mercury sign in the face, you will notice two faces in profile, facing each other. What its the sex of this? it’s nature? an amalgamation? Something in between, a strange threshold beyond our own understanding? Or maybe just a happy accident with texture? All we know is that it wears no mask. You can pre-order the deluxe, illustrated and annotated edition of “The King in Yellow” via @arc_dream_publishing #art #darkart #Lovecraft #KinginYellow #painting #illustration #samaraya

A post shared by Samuel Araya (@samarayaart) on

Every media is wonderful / what I learned

Digital or traditional, his artwork tells wonderful stories. I hope one day I’ll be able to make something nearly as beautiful.

Reading about Araya’s process, and remembering what Beksinski said about his paintings being unique because of the mistakes he made while painting, made me more comfortable when painting.

I used to get very frustrated with the way I painted: Draw outlines, paint inside the lines, be angry when it doesn’t look like the image in my head. Now the first part of my painting is letting myself explore a shape (most often it’s an ugly potato shape), that takes on another form while painting. It is a very fun process and makes me feel good and liberated. When I’m comfortable with a basic shape, the time comes to put shadows and highlights.

Enough about me, here – enjoy more of Araya,s work:


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