Brian Ajhar

Brian Ajhar
Brian Ajhar

Brian Ajhar is a well known illustrator and character designer whose wonderfully loopy people and animals, both real and imagined, have enlivened the pages of countless periodicals, children books and animations over the past forty years.

His style can look so loose and gestural as to appear casually done, but if you stop an look, it’s clear that it is his training and skill and his foundation of solid draftsmanship that allow it to appear that way.

In a similar way, his colors can appear bright, but on inspection are actually often muted, made to appear brighter by careful juxtaposition.

Ajhar works in digital as well as traditional media, the latter including watercolor, acrylic, pencils and inks.

There is a gallery of his work on his website, and another on the cite of his artist’s representatives, RappArt.

Ajhar’s website also includes videos and interviews.


Valentine Cameron Prinsep

Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Valentine Cameron Prinsep
Pre-Raphaelite paintings by Valentine Cameron Prinsep

Though not technically a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (which consisted of only seven artists and writers) Valentine Cameron Prinsep was certainly within the inner levels of their circle.

He was good friends with John Everett Millais and Edward Burne-Jones, worked on a project for the Oxford Union with Dante Gabriel Rosetti, and studied in the atelier of Charles Gleyre, at a time when James McNeill Whistler and Edward Poynter were students there.

Prinsep studied initially with noted Symbolist pinter George Frederic Watts, who was a friend of his father.

In searching for Prinsep’s work on the internet, I’ve found his work to be a bit uneven — likely reflecting different stages of his career — but when he’s at his best, he’s very good indeed.

The best source I’ve found for images of Prince’s paintings is ArtUK. Unfortunately, though the images in their gallery appear to be linked, clicking does not produce access to a larger image (at least in my browser). However, there are download links under the images, and you can also right-click (or Control-click on Mac) and choose “View Image” top open the larger image in another tab.

There is also a good selection of relatively large images on the Art Renewal Center. I’ve linked to a few other sources below.


Happy Leyendecker Baby New Year 2021!

JC Leyendeckers Saturday Evening Post New Years Baby cover for 1921
JC Leyendeckers Saturday Evening Post New Years Baby cover for 1921 (details)

As I’ve done every New Year’s Eve for the past 15 years, I’ll wish all Lines and Colors readers a Happy New Year with another of J.C. Leyendecker’s terrific New Year’s Baby covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

Equipped with a pickaxe and shiny lunchpail, our 1921 Leyendecker baby seems ready to get to work in the new year. Let’s hope that’s the case for the rest of us in 2021.

This is the image on the Saturday Evening Post website. There is a larger one here, from this post on Mr. Magazine.

See my 2006 post for background on the origin of the Leyendecker New Years baby covers for the Saturday Evening Post.

No matter what else happens, I wish you all a new year filled with beautiful, inspiring art!


Fanny Churberg (Update)

Fanny Churberg
Fanny Churberg

19th century Finnish landscape painter Fanny Churberg studied in Helsinki, Düsseldorf, and Paris. She carried from the painters of the Düsseldorf school a love of plain air painting and intently observed landscapes.

I love her brushy, textural paint application, best seen if you zoom in or download the high-resolution images of her paintings.

I first mentioned Fanny Churberg in 2016.


Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom

Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom (Stomer)
Adoration of the Shepherds (details), Matthias Stom (Stomer)

The Adoration of the Shepherds, Matthias Stom (also called Stomer); oil on canvas, I don’t have size information; link is to zoomable image on Google Art Project, high-res downloadable file on Wikimedia Commons; original is in the Palazzo Madama, Turin.

Stom was a 17th century Dutch (or Flemish) painter known for his paintings done in Italy, where he became influenced by the work of Caravaggio and his followers.

He did at least three different versions of this scene. In all of them, the child is the source of light, throwing the other figures into high relief against the dark background with a dramatic chiaroscuro characteristic of Caravaggio.

I like this one in particular, with the interesting and strongly rendered faces of the shepherds, and the beautiful modeling of their hands.


Beleaguered Leyendecker Santa

J.C. Leyendecker Santa Claus Saturday Eevening Post cover
J.C. Leyendecker Santa Claus Saturday Eevening Post cover

Another wonderful Saturday Evening Post Santa Claus cover by the brilliant American illustrator J.C. Leyendecker, who I think played a major role in forming our modern image of the Jolly One.

Here, he is portrayed as not so jolly as he fends off the unwanted attention of the house’s stalwart defender, who apparently doesn’t recognize “Santa” under his costume and strap-on beard as he attempts to put up decorations.

This illustration from Leyendecker, who worked primarily in the early part of the 20th century was reprinted here on a 1993 issue. I don’t know the date of its original publication.

The only large copy of this image I could find was on Pinterest. The Pinterest post is here, the image itself is here.