Plates. Art: Nathan Smith

They’re enormous: giant faces that peer at you over the horizon or from under ocean waves. They’re the subject of Nathan Smith’s fantastic series of oil paintings, which call back to the classic covers of sci-fi paperbacks.

Nathan told us that these paintings were inspired by a dream: “As horribly clichéd as it may sound, but certain clichés are not only true, they are magic. In this particular dream I found myself in the natural, albeit underwhelming setting of a rolling hillside of a coast only to look off towards the horizon to see giant humanoid figures resting in the ocean.”


Nathan studied oil painting at Evergreen State College, where he learned from Paul Sparks, where he “developed a more photo-realistic approach to overlapping panels of ‘romance comics’-inspired scenarios,” something he used with his freelance work. It left him wanting more from art, and he realized what “really fired me up and got me excited ...[was] the science fiction section at the local used book store.”

In particular, the old covers to paperbacks from the 1970s and 1980s, and magazine covers from the likes of Omni and Asimovs.

Particular standouts to me include Stanislaw Fernandes (Omni covers, Star Trek novels), John Cayea (House of Zeor, The Stand), Vincent DiFate (Dune covers), and George Underwood (Man Who Fell to Earth film tie-in cover) whose gallery output is even more inspiring to me.

Smith noted that he felt that these faces represent “people near the end of their lives, at the end of their journey on this planet, moments before dropping behind the horizon forever.”

Here’s a selection from the series:

Stampede. Art: Nathan Smith
Sunning. Art: Nathan Smith
Reception. Art: Nathan Smith
Distance. Art: Nathan Smith
Grace. Art: Nathan Smith
Arching. Art: Nathan Smith

You can follow Nathan on Instagram or visit his website for information on the paintings and updates.