In my ongoing media archaeology program, I am now scanning in slides of my very first professional work. I painted this image of "Sharra," the fire goddess of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover, back in the fall of 1980. I did it because I had heard the author read from her upcoming book which featured this goddess, at the World Science Fiction Convention earlier that year. I thought that maybe the author would like it and recommend it for the cover of the book. The picture went to DarkoverCon (the annual Thanksgiving Day weekend convention) with a friend of mine, as that was one of the only two DarkoverCons I didn't attend. Sure enough, Bradley loved it and asked for it as the cover, and so it was. This turned out not to be so good politically for me, as the author usually has no influence over the choice of cover art. The publishers resented that the author had pushed the work of an unknown artist for the cover. But it was my first real commercial cover.
The image was derived from a drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the blue crystal is a Sandwich glass salt cellar which is still in my collection. The goddess is wearing handcuffs and chains because Fire is only good for human beings when it is controlled.
This photo was taken with a flash and so the face and center portion is bleached out. Acrylic on illustration board, 10" x 18".
The book was published in 1981, and the cover looked like this: