Simon Palmer

Simon Palmer, English landscapes in watercolor, gouache and ink
Simon Palmer is an English landscape painter who has a fascinating approach somewhere between naturalistic and quite stylized.

He appears to slightly compress both linear and atmospheric perspective, giving an impression of flatness the belies the textures he gives to his foliage and tree forms.

This is emphasized by his muted palette, primarily consisting of earth colors and low chroma greens. He paints in watercolor with additions of gouache and pen and ink.

His approach seems particularly well suited to his subjects of tree-lined country lanes, estate entrances, and those edges where wooded and developed areas meet.

I can’t find a dedicated web presence for Palmer, but I believe he is officially represented by JHW Fine Art.

There are somewhat larger images on the Portland Gallery website.

There is a collection of his work, The Art of Simon Palmer, that was published in the UK in 2011, but I don’t know how easy is is to order from the U.S.


Eye Candy for Today: Watteau chalk studies

Two Studies of the Head and Shoulders of a Little Girl, Antoine Watteau, trois crayon drawing, black, red and white chalk on buff paper
Two Studies of the Head and Shoulders of a Little Girl, Antoine Watteau

Black, red and white chalk on buff paper, roughy 7 x 10 inches (19 x 25 cm); in the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum. Use the Zoom feature or download link.

Watteau was noted for his “trois crayon” drawings, in which black, red and white chalks are used on toned paper, usually buff or cream, to great effect in quickly rendering figures or faces.

Here, he has succinctly captured the likeness of his subject with gestural lines, a bit of hatching for shading and some quickly noted white highlights. For all of their simplicity, the drawings have a remarkable presence.


Jean-Claude Mézières

Jean-Claude Mezieres, French comics artist, Valerian and Laureline
I haven’t yet seen the new Luc Besson film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, but I have read a number of the French comics (bandes dessinées) on which the movie was based — Valérian and Laureline (alternately, Valerian: Spatio-Temporal Agent), created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières.

Mézières is an influential and highly respected French comics artist, though not well known here in the U.S. except among fans of Franco-Belgian comics.

He has worked on a number of comics and illustration projects over the course of his career, but is best known for his work on Valérian and Laureline, and as a concept designer for films like Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element (including the designs that inspired the flying taxis).

Valérian and Laureline is a long running science fiction comics series that was originally serialized in the French comics magazine Pilote. It has been tremendously influential on both comics and film.

It’s widely recognized to have been a distinct but uncredited influence on George Lucas in his designs and settings for the original Star Wars trilogy. There is an article on Core 77 that points out some of the parallels between scenes from the movies and prior comic panels from Valérian and Laureline. There is another article pointing out what Star Wars took from Valérian and Laureline on Popular Mechanics.

Mézières’s style is more light and cartoony than the styles usually associated with American super-hero and adventure comics, but it gives the stories and the characters a jaunty, breezy character, and works well with Mézières’s wildly imaginative settings.

The French Valérian and Laureline comics albums have been translated into English, and most recently are being collected into a series of volumes with three of the original French albums (what might be called “graphic novels” here) in each volume. There are three collected volumes available as of this writing.

You could start with Valerian: The Complete Collection, Volume 1 (Amazon link), and go from there to Valerian: The Complete Collection, Volume 2, or if you want to get right to the stories on which the film is most directly based (and that are the most overt space opera), start with Valerian: The Complete Collection), Volume 3. Beyond that, there are older printings of individual albums.

There is an official website for Jean-Claude Mézières, but it’s in French and does not feature as many images as one might hope. It is useful, however, for it’s listing of the Valerian albums (titled as Valerian, sptio-temporal agent).

The best resource I can find for Mézières’ art is this article from 2015 on Dark Roasted Blend.

You can also find some originals on Comic Art Fans.

If you try a Google image search for “Valerian”, it will mostly come up with promo pictures for the movie; try searching for “Valerian comics”, “Valerian and Laureline”, “Valerian et Laureline” or ‘Jean-Claude Mézières”.


Eye Candy for Today: John William Hill watercolor landscape

Landscape: View on Catskill Creek, John William Hill, watercolor
Landscape: View on Catskill Creek, John William Hill

Watercolor and gouache; roughly 10 x 15 inches (25 x 38 cm); in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Use the “Download” or “Enlarge” links under the image on their site.

British-American artist John William Hill was noted for his scientific illustrations of birds and other animals, as well as his landscape and still life subjects.

I like the way his rhythmic strokes of color give his depictions of foliage both texture and a sense of movement. He’s also given the rocks a surprising degree of solidity and texture considering their economical notation.

There appears to be a small animal to the left of the figures (images above, third down), but I’m uncertain what it is.


Atey Ghailan

Atey Ghailan, concept art and illustration, Path of Miranda
Atey Ghailan is a concept artist and illustrator living in Lidingö, Sewden and currently working with Riot Games.

The examples of work on his various web presences (also under the handle snatti/snatti89 ) are mostly of personal work, and primarily from a project called “Path of Miranda” which is the story of a young girl and her companions, a corgi and a penguin, investigating the disappearance of some robots.

His images for that project, along with some of his other images, have a pleasing visual character somewhere between digital plein air and Miyazaki-style anime backgrounds. I particularly enjoy his use of dappled sunlight in wooded scenes and patterns of light and shadow in interiors and street scenes.


Eye Candy for Today: Colin Campbell Cooper’s Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station, Colin Campbell Cooper, oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Grand Central Station, Colin Campbell Cooper

In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC. Use the “Download” or “Enlarge” links under the image on their site.

“Painterly” may be too mild a word for the wonderful assortment of scrapings, scumbling, smearing and loaded brush dabbing and scrubbing that make this smoky 1909 cityscape by American painter Colin Campbell Cooper such a visual treat.