Those who are not conversant in works of art are often surprised at the high value set by connoisseurs on drawings which appear careless, and in every respect unfinished; but they are truly valuable... they give the idea of a whole.
- Sir Joshua Reynolds
We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.
- Anais Nin


Monday, January 17, 2011

Iassen Ghiuselev

Posted by Charley Parker at 4:00 pm

Iassen Ghiuselev
It’s unfortunate that, in spite of the cross cultural potential of the internet, the exposure to American audiences of illustrators, comics artists and gallery artists from other continents is still limited. I’m certain that if the work of Bulgarian illustrator Iassen Ghiuselev received more exposure here in the U.S., he would be quite popular, or at least have a cult following.

Ghiuselev produces a variety of fascinating, beautifully drawn and painted illustrations for classics like Pinocchio, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Don Quijote, King Authur and Oliver Twist.

His sometimes intricate and richly detailed works range from brightly colored to almost monochromatic. They are filled with lush textural elements and show the influence of Medieval, Renaissance and 19th Century Academic art, as well as the literary Victorian and Edwardian painters like the Pre-Raphaelites.

Through all of his work Ghiuselev puts his own imaginative turn on the subject matter, like his illustrations for Socrates that are rendered within the silhouettes of Greek characters, broken as though cracked artifacts; and his illustrations for Don Quijote that look as though they were prepared to be Renaissance murals.

I’m particularly impressed with his two ambitious takes on illustrating Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Through the Looking Glass in which he has created large scale complex images, resplendent with disorienting projections of curved perspective and Escher-like reconfigurations of architectural space. These are apparently then divided into smaller crops used as illustrations throughout the book (images above, 2nd down and detail, 3rd down).

The illustrations section of his website is divided into book titles. Don’t miss the section for “cards” which features his beautifully realized, clever and sometimes dark interpretations of the Tarot deck (image above, bottom).

In the “other works” section, two of the subsections are empty, but the “drawings” section is well worthwhile.

Unfortunately, the majority of the illustrations on his website are frustratingly small, given that much of the charm in Ghiuselev’s work is in the textures and details. However, in many of the illustration sections, the first image is larger than the others and gives you at least a taste of what the rest of the images must be like.

You can also find books that Ghiuselev has illustrated listed on Amazon and Jacket Flap (click on title, then on cover image for larger version).

Iassen Ghiuselev in Delaware this week.

Iassen Ghiuselev will be visiting Wilmington, Delaware this week, at events sponsored by the Delaware College of Art and Design. He will be at a free wine and cheese reception in the school’s main gallery at 6th and Market Streets in Wilmington tomorrow, Tuesday January 18, 2011 from 5 to 7p.m.

For more information call 302.622.8867 x107 or see the website page for What’s New and click on the heading for “Award-winning Bulgarian Illustrator to visit DCAD”.

Pieces for his illustrations for Pinocchio (image above, top) will be on view as part of an excellent exhibit of several bulgarian illustrators, Storytelling with Quill and Brush, that has been extended to the end of the week for the length of Ghiuselev’s visit.

On Saturday, January 22, Ghiuselev will give a lecture at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, also in Wilmington.

Posted in: Illustration   |   7 Comments »

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Punch & Judy (Scott McKowen & Christina Poddubiuk)

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:28 pm

Punch & Judy (Scott McKowen & Christina Poddubiuk)
When I first featured the work of Scott McKowen back in 2007, I couldn’t find a web presence or much information about him or his wonderful scratchboard illustrations.

Since then he has established a joint website with Christina Poddubiuk, highlighting McKowen’s abilities as an illustrator, art director and graphic designer and Poddubiuk’s skills as a costume and set designer (images above, bottom 3).

Their paths intersect in theatre oriented illustrations by McKowen, as well as costume design by Poddubiuk for some of McKowen’s illustrations, such as the Alice in Wonderland cover shown above, and the illustration of the Queen of Hearts, for which she was also the model.

When I featured McKowen previously I highlighted his striking covers for the Marvel Comics series 1602, which is where I first encountered his work.

You can see more of his book covers and interiors on the Marlena Agency site. You can also search out his book covers on Amazon and view some of them on JacketFlap (click through the titles to the book detail, then click on the cover image for a larger version).

There is little background information on either artist on the Punch & Judy site. There is an interview with McKowen on the Schuler Books Weblog, and another on Lucid Forge.

Though it’s not highlighted on the Punch & Judy site (for reasons that are lost on me), there is a book collection of McKowen’s illustrations, A Fine Line: Scratchboard Illustrations by Scott McKowen from Firefly Books.

When viewing the website, be sure to open your browser window to maximum, as the images are displayed with a clever script that resizes them to the available window area. Be aware that in each section there are additional images accessed from the numbered links at the top, and don’t miss the sketchbook section.

[Via Drawn!]

Posted in: IllustrationPen & Ink   |   8 Comments »

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Allen Douglas

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:48 am

Allen Douglas
Allen Douglas is a freelance illustrator working in the genres of fantasy, science fiction and fantastic art.

His clients include Penguin Putnam, Tor Books, Berkeley, Random House, HarperCollins, and others. His work has been recognized in competitions and publications including The Society of Illustrators of New York, Step By Step Graphics and the Spectrum collections of contemporary fantastic art. It was in the most recent edition of the latter, Spectrum 17, that I noticed his work.

Douglas has interestingly different, sometimes quirky, takes on his subjects, combined with moody, atmospheric staging of his compositions and an often subtle color palette.

His website features a selection of his work. Be aware of the small arrow at the top of the page of thumbnails to a second page. When viewing the full size images, the click-through progression stops at the end of the images included on the first page.

There is also a gallery of his work on the site.

Posted in: Sc-fi and Fantasy   |   1 Comment »

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

John White Alexander (update)

Posted by Charley Parker at 2:28 pm

John White Alexander
When I first wrote about American painter and illustrator John White Alexander in 2006, not many image resources were available.

Since then, the internet has done that which it does best, grown at an incredible rate, and several additional sources of images for this wonderful painter have appeared, and I’ve collected some of them below; though I’m still frustrated in my inability to find much representative of his illustration work.

As a painter, Alexander was primarily a portraitist, most notably of women, and his portraits ranged from relatively staid to sweepingly dramatic, handled with bravura brushwork and rich colors. Though not as dazzling with a brush as John Singer Sargent or Cecilia Beaux (how many were?), Alexander’s portraits delight with luxuriously rendered fabrics and theatrically lit compositions.

There is a book available, John White Alexander and the Construction of National Identity: Cosmopolitan American Art, 1880-1915 by Sarah J. Moore, but I haven’t personally seen it.

The Library of Congress, for which he did murals titled “The Evolution of the Book” (see images on Wikimedia Commons), has a collection of his papers, the web version of which includes some of his sketchbooks.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The 50 best comic covers of 2010 on Robot 6

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:18 am

The 50 best comic covers of 2010 on Robot 6, .O. Ladronn, Paolo Rivera, Massimo Carnevale, Gabriel  Ba, Rafael Albuquerque, Cliff Chiang, J.H. Williams III, Darwyn Cooke, Dave Johnson, Yuko Shimiz, Sean Phillips
Comic book covers, like the covers of books and magazines, have a singular purpose, to attract your attention, get you to pick up the book and plunk down your hard earned dollars in exchange for the promised wonders within.

Comic book covers are important enough that, though they are sometimes created by the artists who have created the interior art for the story, they are often created by other artists who specialize in creating gripping imagery just for covers.

Comic book covers in particular have come a long way from their roots in the traditions of the lurid pulp magazine covers of the 1930′s and 40′s. Some of that element still remains, of course (and I wouldn’t have it any other way), but the concept of capturing the attention of potential readers has expanded to include the subtle and thought provoking.

The variety of approaches to comics offered today has allowed for a range of cover art that includes some wonderful examples of concept, illustration and design.

Kevin Melrose, writing in the always interesting comics blog Robot 6 (part of the Comic Book Resources site), has given us his selection of The 50 best covers of 2010 (actually, he sneaks in 51).

You may not agree with all of his choices, of course, but what fun is a “best of” list if you agree with everything, and he certainly hits the mark for me in an number of cases.

Melrose gives thoughtful commentary on the covers and on the artists who created them. At the very least, the article serves as a fascinating cross section of some of the most interesting work being done in the field today.

Be sure to click on the images in his column to see the larger versions; for many of them, the appeal is in the details.

Also of interest is Melrose’s list of The best of the best of the year lists.

Images above:

J.O. Ladrönn gives us the feeling of the great pulp heroes in his interpretation of a classic comics detective for Will Eisner’s The Spirit #1.

Paolo Rivera’s striking cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #641 pays homage to the great American illustrator Coles Phillips.

Massimo Carnevale’s cover for Northlanders #35 is both subtle and gripping.

Gabriel Bá plays with the magic realist technique of transitioning between two seemingly unrelated scenes as part of the same image in his cover for Daytripper #2.

Rafael Albuquerque’s dramatically cropped image gives graphic power to his cover for Superboy #1.

Cliff Chiang uses strong graphic design, dark but intense colors and subtle textures to give an evocative image of Batman for Detective Comics #864.

J.H. Williams III gives Batwoman #0 a simultaneously modern and early 20th Century feeling, combining the image of the character and city skyline with dramatic Art Deco elements in the graphic design.

Darwyn Cooke’s wonderfully graphic cover illustration for The Outfit harkens to the stylized paperback covers and illustrations of the 1960′s.

Dave Johnson’s cover for Unknown Soldier #22 uses patterns, negative space and subtle color relationships to great advantage, leading your eye down to details like the skull faces in the center of the daisies.

The cover for The Unwritten #13 is awash with Yuko Shimizu‘s imaginative combination of images and graphic elements that play with scale, style and suggestions of motion.

Sean Phillips’ almost monochromatic composition, with its silhouetted background figures, spreads across both the back and front covers of Criminal: The Sinners #4.

[Via MetaFilter]

Posted in: ComicsIllustration   |   4 Comments »

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Charles Kaufman

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:53 am

Charles Kaufman
Charles Kaufman is a painter, cartoonist, illustrator and comics artist. His work has appeared in a long list of publications, from underground comix and CARtoons to the Wall Street Journal-Europe, Focus, Computer Artist, Editor & Publisher, New Media and a host of others, along with a range of commercial clients.

His is the creator of Fred and Frank, a long running comics series published for U.S. military personnel stationed in Europe from 1979-1992.

Kaufman works both in digital media and traditional media like acrylic and pen and ink, applying his off-kilter style to gallery paintings as well as illustrations and cartoons.

His paintings, in acrylic on canvas and sometimes other supports like wood or paper, are often of cubist influenced compositions involving women, or wine, or wine and women, as well as a few other subjects including a selection of stylized landscapes. Kaufman has a description of his painting process here.

Among his choice of unusual supports for paintings are crushed soft drink or beer cans, panted with acrylic. The finished piece is then framed for hanging. His crushed can art is featured on both a website and blog.

Kaufman also creates limited edition 3-D constructions that are probably a little difficult to convey in photographs.

In addition he creates “Fish Art” under the pseudonym of F. Frank.

Some of Kaufman’s work is collected in a book called Detail Views: Paintings within paintings, that is available from Back Wall Art. New collections of his 116 Faces and Crushed Can Art are due soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Oswald Achenbach

Posted by Charley Parker at 11:19 pm

Oswald Achenbach
Oswald Achenbach was a 19th Century German landscape painter who found his greatest inspiration in italy, in particular in the area around the Bay of Naples, with it’s dramatic vistas of Mt. Vesuvius, and Rome and its environs.

He found drama in landscapes and cities of Southern Italy as well as the daily lives the played out against them both.

Achenback was the brother of Andreas Achenback, who was also a noted landscape painter.

Oswald Achenbach studied at the Dusseldorf Art Academy and later returned there to teach. His students included Themistocles von Eckenbrecher.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peter Van Dyck

Posted by Charley Parker at 10:22 pm

Peter Van Dyck
Painter Peter Van Dyck studied at Wesleyan University and at the Florence Academy of Art, and is currently a member of the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

His academic background shows in his dynamically balanced compositions, superbly handled color and refined draftsmanship.

Though his subjects include portraits and still life, he often focuses on interiors, in which the play of light though windows, in mirrors and across geometric arrangements of objects takes a central role.

His application of paint can vary from smooth to brusquely textured surfaces, on which his fascination with reflected and refracted light also comes into play.

His interior paintings can have some of the light infused stillness and rich reflections off dark wooden surfaces found in the interiors of Edmund Tarbell, and of the Dutch masters of interior painting like Vermeer and De Hooch who likely inspired both artists.

Van Dyck sometimes chooses subjects that other artists might see as unlikely to be rewarding, like a house heating system, a garden tractor or electric heaters, and finds in them patterns of color, texture and shape that make them seem as natural for subjects as traditional bowls of fruit or arrangements of pottery.

There are two galleries on his web site, recent work and an archive. You can also find his work represented by The John Pence Gallery, Eleanor Ettinger Gallery (work here), Grenning Gallery and Artists’ House Gallery here in Philadelphia, where he is currently part of a group exhibit that is on view until January 16, 2011.

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