He who knows how to appreciate colour relationships, the influence of one colour on another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinitely diverse imagery.
- Sonia Delaunay
Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
- Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ronald Kurniawan

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:16 am

Ronald Kurniawan
Ronald Kurniawan is a Los Angeles based illustrator who graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

His highly stylized imagery combines animals and natural forms with geometric constructs, typographic elements, mechanical devices, odd characters and cultural ephemera into marvelous, collage-like visual smorgasbords.

His characters careen, gambol and fly through unlikely environments, alternately alive with insane glee or oppressed with the weight of imminent doom. Likewise his palette and textural range varies from grungy to pop-radiant, with lots of lively variations in between.

His clients include The New York Times, Time, Spectral Magazine, Men’s Health, Mother Jones, LA Weekly, INC magazine, Entertainment Weekly, Village Voice, Saatchi NY, McCann Erickson, LACMA, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Mattel Inc., Toyota, Turner Broadcasting System, Disney Consumer and Design Studio Press.

There are several sections of imagery on his site, along with sections of sketches, sculptures and available books of his work.

Kurniawan also does gallery work, and a number of his pieces will be on display as part of the upcoming Line Weight group show at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, CA from November 22 to December 7, 2008. Though many are already sold, there are items of his available in the gallery store.

There are interviews with Kurniawn on Websteem Art & Design and FMCS, and a profile on Illustration Mundo.

(Image above is a poster for the West Hollywood Book Fair, illustration by Ronald Kurniawan, graphic design by Ryan Ward.)

Posted in: Illustration   |   6 Comments »

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Urban Sketchers

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:06 am

Urban Sketchers - Alessandro Andreuccetti, Rob Carey, Gabi Campanario, Lok Janssen, Laura Genz, Matthew Cenich
I just discovered the Urban Sketchers blog a couple of weeks ago, and it immediately became one of my favorites.

I enjoy location sketches done in an urban environment, particularly travel sketches, and the blog has much of that feeling, even though the contributors are often sketching in their home city.

I came across Urban Sketchers by way of Katherine Tyrrell, who is one of the correspondents, and contributes from London (see my post on Katherine Tyrrell).

In addition to Tyrell, contributing artists that I have featured previously on Lines and Colors include Lok Jansen and Laura Frankstone.

Other contributors are from various cities in France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Russia and other locations in Europe; a number of cities in the US, including New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, as well as cities in Canada and other parts of the globe, like Tokyo, Bangkok, Tal-Aviv and Sao Paulo. You can see the contributors listed by location in the side bar.

There is also a Meet the Correspondents page, on which some of the contributors give short profiles of themselves, their subject cities and their sketching practices.

There is a variety of approaches in medium, drawing style and subject matter, though some common themes, like the frequent use of the ubiquitous and oh-so-convenient Moleskine sketchbooks, and a consistently high level of quality.

The blog is an extension of the Urban Sketchers Flickr group started in 2007 by Seattle illustrator/journalist Gabi Campanario.

The subtitle of the blog is “See the world one drawing at a time”, and though the blog has only been up since October, with an “official” launch on November 1st, there is already a world of images posted from the multiple contributors.

Next to traveling and sketching yourself, what better way to see the world than through the eyes and pens of artists?

(Images above, left to right, top to bottom: Alessandro Andreuccetti, Rob Carey, Gabi Campanario, Lok Janssen, Laura Genz, Matthew Cenich)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Petar Meseldžija

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:20 am

Petar Meseldzija
Petar Meseldžija is a Serbian artist who started in comics, publishing a comic called Krampi in the comic magazine Stripoteka and working on a short licensed Tarzan series.

He then went on to study painting at the Art Academy in Novi Sad and began to take on illustration work, eventually abandoning comics for illustration and gallery painting.

Meseldžija works in a fantasy vein; his atmospheric and highly textured visions of other worlds have tactile presence and lively energy.

He frequently seems to control space with areas of the canvas, both objects and negative space, blocked out by dominant areas of color, within which there are more subtle variations.

His online galleries showcase both his illustration and gallery art.

His gallery paintings also often take on a fantasy motif, with touches of beautifully handled classical drapery and dramatic lighting. You will also find more traditional portraits and still life subjects as well as some nicely immediate and painterly landscapes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tilt-Shift Photography

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:18 am

Tilt-Shift Photography -
We have a tendency to think of photography as “realistic” because it often seems to reproduce what we see with reasonable accuracy, but photography and human perception often diverge significantly.

You may have noticed when looking at photographs of small objects, models, dioramas or model train layouts, that there is a limited range of the scene that is in focus. This is due to the limited focal length of camera lenses when focused at short distances.

A fascinating practice that has become popular in the last couple of years is “tilt-shift photography”, the use of techniques involving tilting the lens relative to the plane of the scene, often from a high vantage point, mimicking the way small objects are often photographed from above, and using a large aperture (lens opening), creating a shallow depth of field, to produce photographs of real scenes and objects that look like miniatures.

There is a good selection of this kind of photography in a recent article on Smashing Magazine that serves as a nice introduction to the phenomenon if you haven’t encountered it before; and a resource for further investigation if you have. The article also includes some tilt-shift videos and some links to related resources.

It’s uncanny how strong the effect can be. Even when you know the scenes or objects are real, it’s difficult to shift out of the perception that you’re looking at objects in miniature.

Something to think about the next time you’re tempted to refer to a realist painting as “photographic”.

[Images above: Tiltshiftphotography.net and Tilt-Shift Photography: It’s A Small World After All]

Posted in: Vision and Optics   |   4 Comments »

Friday, November 14, 2008

Phillip K. Dick Book Cover Art Gallery

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:47 am

Phillip K. Dick Book Cover Art Gallery
Though I’ve come across it before, the Phillip K. Dick Book Cover Art Gallery is one of the unusual galleries featured in the Museum of Online Museums I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Phillip K. Dick was a science fiction writer active in the mid Twentieth Century, noted for his eccentric and um… original viewpoint. Though perhaps not the best writer in the sense of well-structured prose, his unique ideas and flights of bizarre imaginings set him apart and made him a favorite of many (myself included).

There have been attempts to translate a number of his books into films, most of them about as successful as returns from the hilarious game he suggested back in 1969 in his novel Galactic Pot-Healer, of translating famous phrases from one language to another and back, say from English to Japanese to English, and letting others try to guess the phrase from its mangled translation.

(The actual ability to do this eventually became practical with the advent of online translation services like Babel Fish and Google Translate, and we used to have fun with it a few years ago, but it’s actually become more difficult lately as the translation programs have gotten much better.)

Blade Runner, adapted from Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, is the best of the movies made from his novels, but is more Ridley Scott’s vision than Phillp Dick’s. I’ve long thought that the best cinematic adaptation of the ideas of Phillip K. Dick (and William Gibson), though not a direct adaptation of a work by either author, was the original Matrix movie (you know, the good one).

As more movie adaptations have been made and interest in Dick has been revived, a number of his books have been reissued (again), and there is now a long list of various versions, editions and translations from the last half century or more.

A large number of these (though certainly not all, yet) have been gathered in a cover gallery on the phillipkdick.com site. Though the list of links is text rather than thumbnails, it’s easy to look through them if you’re using a modern tabbed browser, by Command-clicking (Mac) or Control-clicking (Windows) to open multiple links in additional tabs.

Some of the cover illustrations (particularly on one recent series of reissues) are very good, others are varying degrees of good, mediocre, terrible, worse than bad and just plain bizarre.

It’s fun to look through multiple versions of the same title, both to see the different approaches to science fiction illustration over a 50 year or so span, and also to see the variety in interpretations of the same story by different artists.

Many have nothing whatsoever to do with the story, but look great anyway, like the cover at top, left for The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (one of my favorite Dick novels, a psychedelic black hole of recursive paranoia that leaves you wondering “How did anybody even think of this?). (Side note to fans of David Cronenberg’s films, look for the nod to the influence of Three Stigmata in the form of fast food from Perky Pat’s in one scene of eXistenZ.)

Unfortunately, the Phillip K. Dick Book Cover Art Gallery does not include artist credits for the covers (and I’m not confident enough in my guesses to give credits for the covers I’ve shown here).

I won’t go into Dick’s personal life, which is in some ways even stranger than his novels, but there is a wonderfully bizarre graphic story (i.e. comics) account of The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick by Robert Crumb from Weirdo, readable online.

If you’re new to Phillip K. Dick and curious to read something of his, I recommend Ubik (currently being adapted for film) or Man in the High Castle as places to start.

There is a compendium of four of his better known novels, Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s: UBIK, The Man in the High Castle, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

You can very often find Phillip K. Dick novels, frequently with interesting covers, by digging around in second hand book stores; a wonderful way to come across odd treasures.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Museum of Online Museums

Posted by Charley Parker at 5:33 pm

The Museum of Online MuseumsI’ll start out by giving the Major Time Sink Warning.

The Museum of Online Museums is site maintained by Coudal Partners, a design firm based in Chicago.

Basically it’s a list of links to an eclectic collection of online sites, either virtual museums, or online extensions of brick and mortar museums.

It ranges from the National Gallery of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Timeline of Art History, to obscure and wonderfully bizarre collections like The Galleries of Thrift Store Art and the Museum of Vintage Octopus Pulp Covers.

Though there are plenty of art related links, the MoOM is not entirely art oriented, and you’ll find such gems as Very Small Objects, The Museum of Useful Things, The Virtual Typewriter Museum and the Squished Penny Museum.

The majority of the selections are art or design oriented, however; bearing in mind that’s a broad definition that includes things like The Museum of Bad Album Covers, The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, The Magazine Cover Archive, A Few Thousand Science Fiction Magazines, The Comic Book Cover Browser (which I’ve mentioned before), and the Museum of Imagined Contemporary Art.

There are also big items like the National Portrait Gallery (my post here), the Rijkemuseum, The Van Gogh Gallery, Art Treasures from Kyoto and the Russian Museums List.

There is a small, blog-like column on the left called “Now Showing”, in which half a dozen items are featured and described in more detail.

The MoOM is updated quarterly and you can sign up for a mailing list notification.

Remember, I did give you the Major Time Sink Warning.

Posted in: Online Museums   |   3 Comments »

A Vermeer in Rome

Posted by Charley Parker at 9:34 am

Vermeer - Woman With a Pearl Necklace
In a situation similar to the one I described in my recent article on A Vermeer Comes to California, Jonathan Janson, the director of the amazing Essential Vermeer web resource, let us know in a comment on that post that there is currently a Vermeer on view in Rome.

Normally the southernmost location to see a Vermeer in Europe is in Vienna (see the Essential Vermeer map of Vermeer locations in Europe).

From now until February 15, 2009, Vermeer’s Woman With a Pearl Necklace (larger version here), a painting that also bears fascinating similarities with the previously mentioned A Lady Writing, will be on loan from the Staatliche Museen Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Gemäldegalerie in Berllin and on view at the Museo del Corso, along with masterpieces by Rembrandt and other Dutch greats.

Jonathan Janson has articles on the show here and here on his new Vermeer oriented blog Flying Fox. He also has a list of other Vermeers that are traveling this year.

Hi resolution images from the show are available for download here.

It’s remarkable how similar this painting is to A Lady Writing in terms of the composition, the use of the same fur lined jacket, string of pearls and, of course, those famous pearl earrings; and yet how different it is in emotional tone, the far away gaze of the woman, turned away from us here, directly into that airy flood of light, and the seemingly blank wall that frames her.

The wall, where Vermeer so often displays works of art within his own paintings, here serves to display the light itself — flowing in through the delicate latticework of the window like a shimmering ghost, past the hinted sliver of a framed painting and the golden drapery, across the broad tableau of that seemingly empty space, where it reveals the rainbow spectrum within its overall hue, to find and embrace the figure of the woman, warm her robe, sparkle off her pearls like miniature suns and caress and reveal her face and hands with the soft highlights and delicate shadow that Vermeer coaxes out of his brush with uncanny skill.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gris Grimly

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:55 pm

Gus Grimly
Gris Grimly is the author and illustrator of children’s books like Jordan Ray’s Muddy Spud and the Wicked Nursery Rhymes series. He is also the illustrator for numerous other books, including The Dangerous Alphabet with Neil Gaiman.

His web site, Mad Creator Productions, has a showcase of many of them, as well as a portfolio of art that includes both color and black and white illustration and gallery art. (I can’t give you direct links because the site is in Flash.)

He works in ink and watercolor, often using fine lines drawn with technical pens over which he lays washes, splotches and glorious spatters of watercolor. He also appears to use ink spatters, giving his gothic horror themed illustrations a wonderful feeling of looseness and texture.

Grimly also maintains a MySpace page, and there is a gallery of his book covers, along with a short bio, on the Tor.com site.

Posted in: Illustration   |   4 Comments »
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