Jon Foster (update)

Jon Foster
When I point you to web based resources for images from the artists I feature on lines and colors, I don’t emphasize nearly enough how limited those images are when compared to images in print.

I’m second to none in my appreciation for how well images can display on screen. I was one one of the first to create comics specifically to be distributed on the web, so I’m no Luddite, but there are still some things that print simply does better.

The main factor in this is resolution. You get used to looking images on screen and you can easily forget that even modern hi-resolution monitors are still very limited in this regard. The standard for Macs is 72 pixels per inch (96ppi for Windows), somewhat comparable to dots per inch in printing. When you increase your monitor resolution, you might double that or even triple it, but the standard for printing is 300dpi, sometimes higher in fine art books.

Even if your monitor resolution went that high your chances of encountering images of illustrations or other artwork in a large enough file size to display large on your screen at that resolution is slim. So what you’re missing in viewing images on screen, my friends, is detail.

Beyond that there are issues of color fidelity, which varies from monitor to monitor, but detail alone is enough to make all the difference. This is why you will often hear me exhort you to find print versions of the works I point out, and why I’m constantly trying to encourage artists to post images large enough to allow people to get a better feeling for what the original looks like.

This disparity was snapped into clear relief for me when I picked up my copy of r/evolution: The Art of Jon Foster yesterday.

I wrote a brief post about Jon Foster’s remarkable work back in January of 2006. At the time I mentioned that the previous collection of his work, Progressions: The Art of Jon Foster was unfortunately out of print, and a new one was planned but had not even been titled.

Well the new book is here and it is extraordinary, both because Foster’s work is extraordinary, and because editors Cathy Fenner, Arnie Fenner and Irene Gallo have done a superb job of demonstrating just how well print is suited to the vibrant, detailed display of paintings. Cathy Fenner and Arnie Fenner are the editors of the Spectrum collections of fantastic art (the latest edition of which, Spectrum 13, was recently released). Gallo, who also wrote the book’s Afterword, has a post about the book and it’s inception on her blog, The Art Department.

Foster is an illustrator who has done science fiction and fantasy book covers and interior illustration, as well as comic book covers and graphic stories.

Foster works primarily digitally, but often combines digital and traditional techniques. The book describes some of his process. He will often start with traditional pencil sketches, working and reworking ideas until satisfied he has arrived at the best composition, take the final sketch into the computer, paint the image digitally in Painter and Photoshop, and then print it out at a large scale, glue it to hardboard and finish the work with oil paint.

One of the delights of the new book is that you can see the flow and texture of the brushstrokes, both digital and physical, the patterns they make as they both follow and define the forms, in a way that is simply impossible to see in the low resolution images (as nice as they are) available online. Incidentally, Foster has added new images to his site since my last post.

Foster has a bold, painterly style, rich with the textures of brushstrokes and the feeling of a physical surface to the image. He usually employes a dark palette, punctuated with accent colors that seem not so much bright as intense. In fact, intensity is at the core of his art, intensity of color, of drama and of emotion.

Despite the reputation for intensity that film, video and multimedia has given to images onscreen, it is the time honored medium of print that reveals the true intensity of Jon Foster’s fantastic art.


Arkady & Gennady Pugachevsky

Arkady and Gennady PugachevskyEngraving is a painstaking and demanding art form that once was widely practiced but today seldom attracts the attention of young artists. It requires a great deal of patience, planning and physical precision, in addition to artistry, but the results can be wonderful. Sometimes a skill like engraving can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Father and son Arkady and Gennady Pugachevsky are graphic artists and engravers from The Ukraine. Both have distinguished careers and have received recognition in several European countries. They have chosen to display their work on a joint website.

Arkady (image at left, top) creates small bronzes and color engravings. The engravings are often of animals like dogs, birds, bulls, fish or snakes, with the feeling of iconographic artwork that projects solidity and timelessness. He often chooses muted colors, which adds to the feeling of sculptural solidity and weight, but at times fills his engraved images with bright hues.

Gennady (at left, bottom) has more emphasis in his gallery on graphic design, but you will find the links for gallery art and prints toward the bottom. Where his father’s work seems steeped in timelessness, Gannady’s is often concerned with time; watches and timepieces figure prominently in several works.

While you can see the influence of the elder artist’s deep knowledge of engraving techniques, Gennady explores other territory, both in subject and approach. Some of his color engravings have a cubist feeling, others are more straightforward, all have a subtle sense of color and the wonderful qualities of those finely incised engraved lines.

Both Arkady and Gennady do wonderful bookplate illustrations, another area where attention is not often focused these days, but where you can often find small delights if you take the time to look.

Link via BibliOdyssey.


Jeff Hua

Jeff Hua is a concept artist for Electronic Arts in Los Angeles, and has worked games like GoldenEye: Rogue Agent and is currently working on an unannounced PlayStation 3 title.

I don’t know of a repository for his finished concept illustrations, but his blog features his sketches, “doodles”, speed paintings, life drawings and some older finished work.

Hua works dgitally and you can occasionally find him posting images that are the result of testing newly created virtual brushes.

Hua is also a participant in the group speed painting blog Sketch Night. There is a brief interview with him on CGExplorer.


Olga Dugina & Andrej Dugin

Olga Dugina & Andrej Dugin
Olga Dugina and Andrej Dugin paint lavishly detailed, richly textured and enthrallingly odd illustrations for children’s books.

Their intricately detailed paintings can, in turn, carry the feeling of Medieval tempera paintings, the grotesque fantasies of Bosch and Breugel, the carefully arranged tableaus of renaissance tapestries and, in the their collaboration with Madonna (yes, that Madonna) for the fourth in her series of children’s books, a kind of decorative Persian surrealism.

They say in an interview about their work on that book, The Adventures of Abdi, that they work collaboratively out of necessity, can take anywhere from one and a half to four months to complete an image and tackle a project like Abdi by going straight through, first picture to the last, finishing the cover at the end.

I haven’t been able to find much information on them or their working methods, but I suspect they are working in opaque watercolor or tempera.

They are also the authors and illustrators of a retelling of the classic The Brave Little Tailor and The Dragon’s Feathers.

I can’t find an official site for Dugina and Dugin. There is a small selection of their work on and an unofficial archive of the illustrations for The Adventures of Abdi, with nice large images of the paintings.

Link via Monster Brains.

Addendum: Reader Tat has found two additional links to excelent resources for their work, here and here. Tat also added a resource to my current post on Russian illustrator Gennady Spirin, who I suggest may have been a influence on Dugina and Dugin. – Charley, 17 November, 2009


Georges de la Tour

Somewhere between the emotional drama of Caravaggio and the crystalline stillness of Vermeer lie the intimate, candlelit paintings of Georges de la Tour, a French master whose work was all but forgotten between his death in 1652 and its rediscovery in the early 20th Century.

I doubt that la Tour was directly influenced by Vermeer (or vice versa), but there is an assumption that Caravaggio’s revelation of form through the use of intense chiaroscuro was a distinct influence on the French painter, particularly in the sharply defined forms in the candlelight scenes of his later career. la Tour painted religious and genre subjects, scenes of everyday life, in his case largely images of the poor arranged as morality tales for amusement of his well-to-do patrons. He refused to indulge in the condescending caricature of his subjects, as was common at the time, and represents them as directly as a portrait.

The striking characteristic of his later work is the light source, often a single candle or lamp, sometimes with the flame in view but more often with the light source itself hidden by a hand or object in the painting, and the subjects and foreground objects revealed in sharp relief by the simple direct focus of the light.

Focus seems to be the intent of la Tour’s compositions, most of them have nothing of a background other than the suggestion of shadowed walls and areas of darkness. Just as Vermeer revealed his subjects by capturing a golden moment in the sunlight from a single window, so la Tour grasps a moment of time between the flickers of a candle’s flame, producing a similar feeling of contemplative stillness and of something waiting to be revealed by quiet inspection of the scene.



BibliOdysseyWell, it happened again.

I was trying once again to bring you this post and I got lost.

You see, I fell down a rabbit hole, found myself among the very large and the very small, and as everything became curiouser and curiouser, lost myself wandering in wide eyed fascination through a seemingly endless wonderland of the bizarre and beautiful.

Actually, the rabbit hole, into which I have fallen before on occasion, is BibliOdyssey, a fascinating cornucopia of oddities, obscurities, and delightful discoveries from books (you remember books, that other way of organizing and transmitting information…) and the web.

BibliOdyssey is a tour-de-force collection of, among other things, bookplates, illustrations, etchings, engravings, color wheels, cloud diagrams, astronomical charts, monsters, angels, flowers, castles, catastrophies, calliopes, cantelopes, velocipedes, gyrocopters, Renaissance fortifications, pop-up books, Persian calligraphy, Art Nouveau posters, Babylonian towers, Japanese woodblock prints, designs for bizarre inventions, medical diagrams, maps, constructions, instructions, deconstructions, all manner of drawings of the strange and wonderful, curiosities and curios, shoes, ships, sealing wax, cabbages and kings.

peacay (as the author names himself) has an uncanny talent for digging up things, either from books or the Net, that shine out like unexpected and amazing treasures found hidden at the bottom of a forgotten shelf in a labyrinthian antique store (the back door of which possibly opens into another century).

With a little digging, you will find artists old and new, and often undeservedly obscure, leading to that wonderful, “Wow, I didn’t know about this one!” reaction that I try, when I can, to provide here on lines and colors.

There is unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how much time you can afford to spend being fascinated and distracted) no direct way to browse through previous posts by date. There is a link cloud at the bottom of the pages that leads to categories, and peacay has provided a tantalizing row of image links to various and sundry posts on the sidebar.

As if that weren’t enough, the BibliOdyssey sidebar also provides a fascinating array of links to other internet rabbit holes where you can disappear for hours on end.

You’ve been warned.

Addendum: peacay has reminded me that there is, in fact, a collapsible menu of the weekly archive on the sidebar, in the middle of the visual links.