Basil Gogos

Basil Gogos
Basil Gogos is a master of monsters.

I tend to think of him as a post-pulp pulp artist. He got to paint wonderfully lurid illustrations of famous movie monsters years after the high-period for pulp art had closed.

His delightfully ghastly portraits of Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera, The Metaluna Mutant, The Wolf Man and dozens of other creatures that crawled out of Hollywood’s “B” movie dungeons in the middle of the 20th Century graced the covers of issue after issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Not the least of them was Frankenstein’s monster, who Gogos portrayed numerous times and in a multitude of approaches, from horrific to sympathetic.

Famous Monsters of Filmland was edited by monster expert extraordinaire Forrest J. Ackerman and published by James Warren. Warren also published Creepy and Eerie, black and white comics magazines that featured some of amazing artists like Al Williamson, Wally Wood, Berni Wrightson, Alex Toth and others. Gogos did covers for some of those and a range of other magazines as well.

Gogos studied at The National School of Design, The School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League of New York, where he studied under the renowned illustrator and teacher Frank J. Reilly.

Gogo’s monster images are foot-off-the-brakes, no-color-barred excursions into monsteriffic sensationalism, with wonderful spooky spotlighting, eerie backlighting and great blocks of shadow defining the forms. Glaring colors wash over the looming faces like intense stage lighting, and the characters jump out at you as if screaming “Kid, you better buy this magazine if you want to see more cool stuff like this!”. Wonderful.

Gogos’ creepy creations and eerie evocations of monsters made famous in films have been collected in a new book, Famous Monster Movie Art of Basil Gogos, edited by illustrator Kerry Gammil and J. David Spurlok and with an foreword by Rob Zombie. (Gogos also did some album covers for Rob Zombie, The Misfits and Electric Frankenstein.)

The official Basil Gogos site is pretty minimal and the images are small, there are some larger ones in this page on Gathering Darkness.

Enjoy them…, if you dare!

Addendum, May 19, 2010: Unfortunately, the site is now gone. I don’t know of a replacement.


Frits Thaulow’s Water Mill

Frits Thaulow - Water Mill
When I wrote about Norwegian painter Frits Thaulow back in 2006, I mentioned that he had become one of my favorite painters on the basis of a single, striking painting that is part of the Johnson Collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

That painting is Water Mill, shown above. When I wrote the article I was disappointed to note that I couldn’t find any large reproductions of this particular work on the web, and made a mental note to take a photograph on a future visit to the museum.

Sometimes my mental notes can take a while to rotate forward on the cluttered bulletin board of my overworked brain, but I was at the Philadelphia Museum the other day and happened to take my camera (like many high-end museums, non-flash photography is permitted of works in the museum’s own holdings).

Since then, the museum has posted a larger view of the work on their site, including a Flash feature that allows you to zoom in. I’ve also done something I don’t normally do and posted a larger version of my shot here. I think the colors are slightly truer in my photo, but theirs has better definition. Also mine is slightly cropped due to the fact that I neglected to take lens distortion into account when taking my shot.

I just find this work striking, and visit it almost every time I visit the museum. Thaulow is a painter who walks that line between impressionism and painterly realism that I particularly admire, and his mastery of the surface reflections and translucency of shallow water is uncanny.

For more information and links for Frits Thaulow, see my previous post. The comments section to that post has additional information about Thaulow. Of particular interest are the comments from Vidar Poulsson, the Norwegian art historian who has written the definitive books on Thaulow, including the recent Frits Thaulow. En internasjonal maler (Frits Thaulow, An International Painter). Unfortunately, there is no English translation, and the book is not easy to come by here in the U.S. (You might try Alibris.)

I also found an additional resource from a company that sells painted reproductions of master paintings, but the images they show to choose from are of the originals, including Water Mill.


Kinuko Y. Craft

Kinuko Y. Craft
Kinuko Y. Craft takes inspiration from many strata of the history of art and weaves them together into her own intricate and varied images of fantasy worlds; and isn’t afraid to let the threads keep their connection to the original sources of inspiration.

Looking through a gallery of her work, you’ll find a fascinating display of her interest in the styles and techniques of the Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolists, Da Vinci and other Renaissance painters, Baroque portraits, the Orientalists, 19th Century Academics and some of the great Golden Age illustrators who took inspiration in many of the same sources.

At times she will playfully create a homage to a particular artist or period style, at other times she can fascinatingly intertwine several seemingly disparate sources into an uncanny whole (Henri Roussau and Titian in the same image for example).

Craft is well known as a fantasy oriented illustrator and her clients include National Geographic, Time, Newsweek, Forbes, The New York Times, and Atlantic Monthly in addition to numerous publishers and commercial accounts. She has received multiple Gold and Silver Medals from the Society of Illustrators, and several Chesley Awards.

Craft has transitioned away from the demands of editorial illustration and now concentrates on her own themes, and has a successful line of reproductions and art prints that have a wide following. I believe she also continues to work on a line of children’s books in which classic fairy tales like Cinderella, King Midas and Sleeping Beauty are retold.

Her approach varies from elaborate panoramas on which she has lavished intricate detail, to quiet and emotionally focused images of single subjects, with colors alternately subdued or intense.

The image gallery on her site is unfortunately not as extensive as you might like, but it is still a fascinating stroll through not only her own fertile imagination, but also through her fascinations with great artists of the past.


Sherry De Ghelder

Sherry De Ghelder
Sherry De Ghelder is a painter in the St. Louis area who has taken up the “painting a day” regimen, painting small postcard size paintings of everyday objects such as fruit, vegetables, candy, small toys, and so on.

De Ghelder’s latest series, which I came across by accident while browsing, is something else again.

She decided for the month of January to place her small subjects on her husband’s Marvel Comics super-hero cards when painting them. These cards have black and white images on them, and as a background for her small painted objects, are strikingly graphic.

In the image above, for example, the almost van Gogh-like roughness of the rendering of the toy shoe makes a wonderful contrast with the painted interpretation of the black ink lines on which it sits.

The subject of the black and white cards seems almost irrelevant. De Ghelder usually crops her composition in such a way that the black and white lines of the card image appear more as abstracted graphic elements than recognizable images, and she could probably as easily have made them up herself.

I was just struck by the wonderful juxtaposition of the stark graphic lines and the colorful painted images rendered on top of them.

The result has the power of both the black and white graphic shapes and the painterly realism and color of her subjects, giving the combination a unique feeling that is quite different from either of those approaches alone.

Personally, I think she’s on to something.


Robert Carter

Robert Carter
English born Canadian illustrator Robert Carter’s clients include numerous periodicals and publishers as well as commercial accounts. He has been the recipient of awards from the Society of Illustrators, The Artist’s Magazine and Communication Arts.

His illustration portfolio contains many of his highly textural, strongly designed and fascinatingly realized illustrations. What really sparks my interest, tough, are his portraits. These are strikingly rendered. often with sharply defined textures, both in the backgrounds and in the faces of his subjects.

Carter experiments and plays with color both for its emotional impact and as a design element. His colors and textures are often expressionistic, capturing an impression of the person’s presence, history or temperament as much as their physical likeness.

Sometimes he will turn down his palette to a quiet monochrome, with just accented colors to anchor your eye; at other times he will throw a wide range of color into a single face, as though it were a microcosm of the subject’s world. His portrait faces jump out at you. He puts his faces in your face.

The piece I’ve chosen here is actually one of his more sedate portrait images, but I was just struck by the balance he achieved in the intensity of his colors and the fascinating use of pattern, against which the face exerts an immediate physical presence.


Goro Fujita

Goro Fujita
Goro Fujita was born in Japan, grew up in Germany and studied there at the German Film School, where he concentrated on 3-D character animation. He is now a freelance character animator and visual development artist.

The gallery on his site focuses mainly on his personal work. The section of finished work only contains 15 images. There are also sections for personal 3-D work and a nice sketchbook section with life drawings and quick sketches from life and imagination.

The real treasure on Fujita’s site, however, is the section of speedpaintings, meaning quickly done digital paintings. These are whimsical, imaginative and wonderfully realized in the spare, unfussed-with style inherent in speedpainting. They range across a wide variety of scenes and subjects and are sometimes hilarious (he has this thing for rabbits). In them he plays with color, composition, lighting and visual texture in ways that only free-ranging casual exploration is likely to bring out.

I have no idea how much relation any of them have to his professional work, and some are obviously playful interpretations of existing films, but a number of them are suggestive of intriguing ideas for stories.

There is a section of his short animations and a demo reel, as well as a section for tutorials, that includes tips and tricks for speedpainting, a painting screen capture and a “making of”s article about the most elaborate of the images in the Finished section, which was a Challenge entry for the CGSociety.

Fujita also has a blog, Chapter 56, in which he discusses his animation, paintings and various other topics.

[Link via Fossfor’s Laboratory]