Mario Martinez ( MARS-1)

Mario Martinez (aka MARS-1)
Mario Martinez, who also is known by the handle MARS-1, is a painter based in New York who uses exacting representational techniques to paint imaginary objects and spaces.

His compositions are often elaborate arrangements of geometric and pseudo-biological forms, intricately detailed and rendered with a palpable dimensionality. They sometimes encompass fantastical landscapes and suggestions of other worldly realms.

His website gallery doesn’t consistently list sizes, but there are occasionally photographs of the work in gallery settings, or in progress, that let you get an impression of their size, which — as you might expect — is frequently large.

There are also some process videos on his site, as well as on YouTube, that show the scale of the pieces.

Martinez works in traditional media. Though the site also does not consistently list medium, my assumption is that most of his pieces are done in acrylic.

Many of the paintings on his site are available as limited edition giclée prints.

Martinez also creates sculpture and dimensional pieces as well as murals and other projects. He sometimes does paintings in collaboration with other painters, such as this painting, done in collaboration with visionary painter Alex Grey.

Michael Robear

Michael Robear
The watercolors of northeastern Maryland artist Michael Robear would be striking enough in any context — crisply rendered in muted palettes, with intriguing narrative elements bordering on magic realism — but they are particularly arresting in their individualized sculptural frames.

In addition to being a painter, Robear is a sculptural metalworker and also works with wood. His paintings are set in hand-made frames that he creates as an integral part of each work.

Robear teaches watercolor at the Delaware College of Art and Design in Wilmington, where I also teach a class in web animation, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several of his pieces in person. They are attention grabbing and involving in a way that’s difficult to convey in photographs.

When viewing the gallery on his website, be sure to click on the small, poorly marked “enlarge” arrows to the upper right of the main image to engage the full-screen mode with larger images. It’s still difficult to show the nature of the frames in photographs — as it is with most sculpture — but you can at least see them, and his watercolors, better than in the small reproductions in default viewing mode.

There is an article on his metalwork process from 2012 on Delaware Online.

Robear’s work will be on display in Dover, Delaware at the Biggs Museum of American Art in a solo show titled New Discoveries: Michael Robear, that opens this Friday, November 6, and continues until January 10, 2016.

Jim Kay

Jim Kay, illustration, Harry Potter, A Monster Calls
Jim Kay is a British illustrator know for his illustrations for A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and the pop-up book, Bugs with George McGavin, and lately — in particular — for his work on the new Illustrated Editions of the Harry Potter series.

The first in that series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition is due to be released in the U.S. on October 6, but pre-release previews are already bringing Kay well-deserved attention.

His take on the stories is unique and different — no mean feat for a series with a visual look already firmly entrenched in popular culture by the wildly successful movies. His approach, however, has a visual charm and quirky character that make me wish the movies were animated in that style rather than live action.

Kay’s other work is similarly idiosyncratic, with lots of attention to mood and texture.

Unfortunately, his website gallery is a bit more limited than one might like, and his website is hampered by a terrible navigation system — in which everything must be accessed by a drop-down menu hidden under an uninformative “home” link that doesn’t even look like a menu (sigh).

However, once you find your way to them, his site does provide some large images (there is a separate Harry Potter section), as well as a brief description of his process. Kay works in ink (much of it “thrown or blown on”), watercolor, pencil and monoprints, as well as collage and some compositing in Photoshop. He does a lot of preliminary and alternate versions, and says that less than 15% of his working output makes it to the final book.

You can find additional previews of the Harry Potter Illustrations on io9, and Scholastic.

[Via io9]

Richard Schmid: The Landscapes

Richard Schmid: The Landscapes
Richard Schmid is a well known painter, author and teacher, who is highly regarded among other artists and whose signature style is often emulated by his students.

I first mentioned Schmid on Lines and Colors back in 2008. In that article, I focused largely on his demo videos and his excellent instructional book, Alla Prima.

Those who are primarily familiar with Schmid’s work in print from early editions of that book will find The Landscapes — a collection of his paintings published in 2010 — a revelation (and likewise the newer edition of Alla Prima II).

The Landscapes is wonderfully large (11×14″, 28x36cm) and sumptuously produced, with much attention given to the color production in an attempt to do justice to the artist’s work.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the presentation of the book on the Richard Schmid website. There is a preview, accessed from a “Preview this Item” tab under the image of the cover, but (almost as nonsensically as Amazon previews) it includes atypical pages and front matter totally irrelevant to why you might want to purchase the book — which is, of course, for the artist’s beautiful paintings. Some 300 images are included in this volume, a bit more than half of which are full plates of the works.

There are also a few landscape images in the Archive Gallery on the website, a couple of which are included in the book. It’s still not much of a clue as to the real nature of the book.

I’ve taken the liberty of trying to photograph a few, somewhat more representative, examples of images from the book to show you here, but I can’t claim my photographs are accurate reproductions of the color or image quality in the book itself, and of course, they’re still very limited in size.

Suffice it to say, if you like Richard Schmid’s work, but have not seen this book, you are likely to want it if you see it. If you’re not familiar with Schmid’s work, it’s certainly worth investigating.

I find Schmid particularly fascinating for his mastery of edges and values. His work is a textbook lesson in how to control the viewer’s attention — what to include and what to simply suggest. Schmid uses deft control of color, contrast and texture to evoke mood and atmosphere, imbuing his work with a kind of whispered poetry. Elements in his compositions subtly emerge from their settings as if slowly revealed by contemplation.

Those qualities come through in The Landscapes in a way that invites you to linger over every image, and go back through it repeatedly. It’s a beautiful presentation of work by one of our best contemporary landscape painters. I’m remiss in not having reviewed it before now.

I hope to follow up soon with a review of the newly revised edition of Schmid’s classic instructional book, Alla Prima II, which I recommend highly. I can also recommend his instructional videos, notably the series of four seasonal landscapes, among which I think June the best place to start

Note: if you look for Schmid’s books and videos on Amazon or other online sellers, you will find them artificially overpriced and often presented as if out of print. You should purchase them directly from the Richard Schmid website.

beinArt Collective returns

beinArt Collective: Naoto Hattori, Mike Worrall, Peter Gric, Dan May, Dino Valls, Ernst Fuchs, Sandra Yagi, Scott Musgrove, Travis Louie, Greg Simkins, Lucy Hardie, Maura Holden, David M. Bowers, Alex Grey, Jon Beinart

Founded in 2003 by Jon Beinart as the “beinArt Australian Surreal Art Collective” and expanded internationally in 2006 as the “beinArt International Surreal Art Collective”, the beinArt Collective has long been a web destination, publisher and sponsor of group exhibitions for artists working in the areas of strange, surreal, fantastic, psychedelic, visionary and outsider art.

Aficionados of these genres have found the website, and its reserve of artist galleries, missing for a time now, while founder Jon Beinart endeavored to bring the site up to date, reduce the strain of upkeep on the multiple galleries and generally bring the site into line with the modern web, streamlined and functioning more as a lighthouse than a repository.

The good news is that the beinArt Collective site is now back from the shadows; and, given its nature, has of course, brought the shadows back with it.

The new website functions as a blog and a listing of the most prominent artists from the collective’s formerly over-extended list, now linking directly to their own blogs and websites instead of trying to maintain local files.

There is a cornucopia of the weird, wild, wooly and often wonderful to be found among the links and articles — but, as when turning over leaves in a strange forest, I must warn the uninitiated that you never know what you will find lurking on the forest floor. Much of the work here delves deliberately into the disconcerting edges of the strange, and some may find it not to their liking.

Others, however, will delight in the assortment of the imaginative, bizarre and often beautifully realized work that abounds.

[Note: the sites linked, and the beinArt site itself, contain an assortment of work that can be considered NSFW, for a variety of reasons. I will also issue a Timesink Warning.]

(Images above: Naoto Hattori, Mike Worrall, Peter Gric, Dan May, Dino Valls, Ernst Fuchs, Sandra Yagi, Scott Musgrove, Travis Louie, Greg Simkins, Lucy Hardie, Maura Holden, David M. Bowers, Alex Grey, Jon Beinart)

Gilbert Legrand

Gilbert Legrand
French artist Gilbert Legrand takes common objects like household tools, garden implements, plumbing fixtures, paintbrushes and cleaning supplies — adds the occasional bit of extra material, and paints the resulting objects with faces and other characteristics — to produce his delightfully whimsical sculpture/assemblages.

In addition to his sculptures, he has a section in his site (under “réalisations”) in which he arranges objects against various backgrounds to form themed images.

[Via Metafilter]