Istvan Banyai

Istvan Banyai
Istvan Banyai is an illustrator and animator originally from Hungary and now living in the U.S.

His extensive client list includes The New Yorker, The New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic Monthly, Vanity Fair, Playboy, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, Time, Fortune, Sony Records, Capitol Records Viking Books/Penguin Books, NBC, Random House and many others.

His quirky, off-kilter drawings, drawn in a cartoon-like minimalist style, poke at the edges of social trends, behavior, pop culture and art.

On his site you can find a selection of his drawings as well as a few short animations, many with accompanying drawings from their frames.

I particularly enjoy his takes on a number of well-known artists (above, bottom three), which you can find as prints in his site’s “For Sale” section.

You will find a better selection of his work, with larger images in an easier to browse arrangement, on the DebutArt site.

Banyai is also the author of several books including Zoom.

The Norman Rockwell Museum will host an exhibition of Banyai’s work: Istvan Banyai: Stranger in a Strange Land from March 9 through May 5, 2013.

[Via Spectrum Fantastic Art on Twitter]

Sam Burley

Sam Burley
Sam Burley is an illustrator who was formerly an matte painter; beyond that, his website offers little information.

His work shows his matt painting history, with beautifully realized landscapes and environments, but he also populates them with dynamic and wonderfully rendered creatures.

Fortunately, Burley provides good size images on his site, as his work shows to best advantage when you can appreciate his application of texture and the sweeping scale of many of his compositions.

He uses a controlled limited palette within each composition, using color contrasts for drama as well as compositional movement.

You can also find a gallery of his work on deviantART and another on, which is where I encountered his work.

If you dig back a bit through his blog, you will find works in progress and posts about his working process.

Tom Betts

Tom Betts
Utah based painter Tom Betts sees the world in a teacup, or at least finds fascination with light playing across the forms of teacups in various situations — in water, on tables, whole and broken. He also finds meaning and emotional resonance in the compositions he creates with teacups, seeing them as metaphors for aspects of life and the human condition.

In the most recent series of paintings on his website, his fascination with teacups carries over into arrangements in which teacups on tables, along with jars containing what appears to be preserved fruit or vegetables, are lit by strings of miniature lights. Light from the tiny bulbs reflects an refracts its way around and through the objects, including the translucent sides of the cups, and casts delicate, intricate shadows against walls and table tops.

Betts works from life, drawings and photographs of his subjects, using a controlled palette of nine or ten colors. He studied painting and drawing at the University of Utah and now teaches there.

If you go back further into his body of work (via the horizontal scrollbar at the bottom of his home page) you will find other subjects, including precursors to the current series as well as figurative work and nighttime cityscapes.

You can find additional work on the sites of galleries in which his work is represented (listed below), and an article discussing his work and process on Artists Network.

[Note: some images are NSFW.]

Eye Candy for Today: Campin’s St. John the Baptist and Heinrich von Werl

Saint John the Baptist and the Franciscan Heinrich von Werl, Robert Campin
Saint John the Baptist and the Franciscan Heinrich von Werl, Robert Campin.

Commissioned by a contemporary 15th century Franciscan to portray himself praying in the company of Saint John, this is, like Jan van Eyck’s Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his Wife, another marvel of detail and glazing.

It was in paintings like this that the early Flemish masters had a field day with the amazing capabilities of the relatively new medium of oil painting.

Also, like Van Eyck’s image, Campin is playing with our point of view, by showing other figures standing in our (and the painter’s) place in the reflection in the convex mirror.

The original is in the Prado, Madrid. Click the magnifier to go to the zoomable image. If you right-click (Windows) or Control-Click (Mac) on the zoomable image, you can choose to view the entire image.

Jake Parker (update)

Jake Parker
Jake Parker (no relation to your correspondent) is an illustrator, comics artist and visual development artist based in Utah.

His visual development credits include work on Rio, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Horton Hears a Who and Titan A.E.

He is familiar to many as the author and artist of the Missile Mouse all ages comics. He work has also been featured in collections like Flight Comics and Nuthin’ But Mech.

Parker has a nicely adaptive range of style approaches — simple when appropriate, more rendered when needed —s that suit his various projects well. On his website you can find a portfolio of his work in character design, comics, children’s picture books and visual development.

His blog includes informal sketches, preliminary versions and works in progress as well as finished pieces not in the portfolio. You can also find additional images and original art in his Store.

Durer’s Melencolia I

Melelcolia I, Albrecht Durer
Meloncolia I, Albrecht Dürer.

One of the most iconic engravings by one of art’s great printmakers, Melelcolia (an archaic spelling of melancholia) is filled with symbols of alchemy and carpentry (architecture), along with various measuring tools, an hourglass, a polyhedron and a “magic square” — the rows of which add up to 34 in all directions.

The middle two numbers in the bottom row of the magic square are the date of the engraving, 1514. It has been pointed out that 34 is a number in the Fibonacci sequence (associated with the “golden section”).

The title’s “I”, as announced in the banner-like wings of a bat/rat/snake thing as it flies out of a burst of light under the arch of a rainbow, indicates that this may have been intended as the first of a series of representations of the “four temperaments”: melencolic, phlegmatic, choleric and sanguine.

If you dig, you will find many interpretations and discussions of this work, filled as it is with symbols and enigmas perhaps known only to Durer himself — like the vague skull or phantom face many see in the leading face of the polyhedron.

This example of the engraving, in its second state, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the “Fullscreen” link below the image and then the zoom controls or download arrow. Spend some time with it; if nothing else it is beautifully drawn and rendered.

One of many possible interpretations suggests that the apparently brooding figure, accompanied by a cherub-like genius (in the ancient meaning of an attending spirit), might be a symbol of the artist.

Is there a relationship between the artist and the melancholic? Does art spring from a troubled mind? Must you “pay the dues to sing the blues”, as the song suggests? Maybe this is Durer’s meditation on those questions.

I think it’s interesting, however, to note that the face of the main figure, on close inspection, looks more pensive than what we usually think of as melancholy.