Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tom de Freston

Tom de Freston describes himself as a 'contemporary history painter' using inspiration from Milton's Paradise Lost and Shakespeare. He explains how he looks to "explore tragedy" in his paintings, drawing on "desire, eroticism, violence, punishment, gender, heroism, history and belief". His is currently based at Cambridge for various projects.

Jesus Christ: "Nothing Else Martyrs"

Him Who Wanted to Fall

Where The Hell Are We?

Chopping Board


Monday, 28 March 2011

Mervyn Peake : Writer and Illustrator

Mervyn Peake (1911-1968), most famous for his Gormenghast Trilogy, was also a fantastic illustrator. This year is his centenary, celebrated by his son through a series of publications as well as events. All his characters are so clearly defined that they become part of the mental images you have when reading the book.

Irma from the Trilogy
Swelter from the Trilogy
The best thing to come out of this (in my opinion) is his publication of Peake's works with their original sketches and illustrations. I always wonder why it's so 'not done' to have adult fiction with accompanying illustrations. For some reasons it's left solely to children's books, the odd chapter heading and reference books. However, here for once it is being changed.

The new book available for pre-order here

Another addition to my summer reading list will be Peake's Progress also available for pre-order here.
All the illustrations, which have never been published before, will be in the new books! Through the main website and the blog you can see various events, mostly based in London or Chichester, where there is the opportunity to see the originals. I have added a few to my 'Events' tab above!

Life In Death
The Ancient Mariner
Peake also did countless other illustrations: Alice in Wonderland, Nonsense Poetry, some Dickens, war art, etc. I really want to see his war art exhibition at the National Archives this summer when it starts. 

Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland

Websites for further interest:
Official website: http://www.mervynpeake.org/

Just seen ANOTHER book I want!! (I'm not being sponsored I promise!!!)
Looks like I'll be seeing a lot of Mervyn Peake this year...!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Katherine Sandoz: Landscapes

Wow wow wow! I was show her work the other day by a friend and I WANT ONE! Kathering Sandoz is an artist living in Savannah Georgia (USA) and does the most beautiful landscape painting. I'm going to just say it - not the biggest fan of her portraiture - sorry! But that's just me.
keystone drive & cedars 

She also has a blog which details both art and her children in equal measure.

(waterway) trees @ lowtide 
I just love the colours she puts together, along with the opacity of some of the strokes over others.

(waterway) driftwood 

treescapes windsor forest pine

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Altered Books

Okay, this post is really getting on the bandwagon. I went to the art-section of my favourite book-shop the other day and there was a whole shelf dedicated to making books, ideas for altered books etc etc. It does feel like a bit of an obsession amongst the craft-lovers. As I flicked through I thought that some were great -- really interesting and different, but most just hit that note of pretention and that feeling of trying-too-hard.I thought I'd show some of the ones that I really like, and make me want to try it out myself: 

Here I am looking at some artists who I think really do something a bit different and alter their books in a highly original way:

Jacqueline Rush Lee: Lorum Ipsum II
Jaqueline Rush Lee Ex Libris (2000)
Jacqueline Rush Lee: Endoskeleton (2000)
Jacqueline Rush Lee writes in her bio that she is inspired by everyday objects, materials and colours in her surrounding environment - particularly used books. I really like what she does with them. She's not scared to go quite far with her ideas. 

Brian Dettmer (2010)
Brian Dettmer Integrated Electronics (2008)
Brian Dettmer (2009)
Brian Dettmer is an artist from the United States who perform biopsies on books, mostly manuals. 
Jennifer Khoshbin Alice Knows
Jennifer Khoshbin You're a Liar
Jennifer Khoshbin places these in her portfolio under 'Manipulation', I like how she keep the original book and story but makes it into an artwork.

Isaak G. Salazar
Isaak G. Salazar
Isaak G. Salazar
Unfortunately I can't find the website of Salazar. I really like how he folds the pages rather than cutting them away. Slightly cheesy on the wordplay (he does 'Twilight' for Twilight), but beautifully done.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Jeannie Phan: Artist, Website and Blog

I mentioned Jeannie Phan in my post on Zines available here.
She is a Vietnamese-Canadian artist (sorry for getting that wrong first-time!) based in Toronto. Her website is really beautiful and well-thought through - I really recommend having a look. This is her home page which I took a screen-shot of:

She has an online sketchbook, a portfolio of work, a shop where you can buy zines for as little as $2.99 and a blog which details her entire process of what she does. 

It's a virus zine (2010)
I'm actually going to do a blog on art boxes as it is a form they have always held a fascination for me. I was one of those children that loved making pop-up books, secret compartments and anything contained in their own worlds. Phan's clear and original style is clearly imprinted on this one:

Paper Myra (2006)

I love her blog. She shows you techniques on little video clips which are done in a sort of arty-slapdash way which I really like. I think she must be a student as she's trying out all sorts of different techniques, mediums etc but her own personal style really does come through. 

I'm really tempted by all the things she has in her shop, especially one of the zines... 

Mock book cover for Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales

I think your work is wonderful! Keep up the good work Jeannie!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Alice in Wonderland: John Tenniel

I saw a program, The Beauty of Books, on the BBC the other day and it looked at illustration in nineteenth century England. One programme discussed two of my great loves:

  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) 1865
  • Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake (1947-1959)

At this the whole pack rose up...

Both of the authors did original illustrations for the books which are available in the British Library in London. I will do another blog post for Mervyn Peake as there is so much to say: he's such a wonderful writer and illustrator and his son (I believe) is publishing a series of his work with Peake's original illustrations. So another time for that. 

Twinkle twinkle little bat! How I wonder what your at!
Alice in Wonderland
So many illustrators have tackled this children's story: I can't remember the exact number it's one of the most illustrated books. I'm going to have to be absolutely honest and say that I've never seen any that are more than average when compared to JOHN TENNIEL's illustrations for the first edition. The are immediately recognizable.

The cat only grinned when it saw Alice
If you google John Tenniel there are a lot of tattoos on the back shoulder of the above illustration! That's a serious fan base... 
I think he was so effective because not only was he a very capable artist, but he had worked for Punch. For those that don't know, Punch was a British comic publication started in 1841. Tenniel worked for Punch as one of the main political cartoonists. In his illustrations you can see this with the emphasized features and personal jokes. 
They were standing under a tree
For interested collectors the original plates were found and 250 impressions made of each which you can but at the link below. As a collector of illustrations I'm definitely going to mark that down on my "Items of Desire" List. (Yes, I do have one!)

In the programme the presenter speculated how the ape, which can be seen above right, was a personal joke of Tenniel's. A joke surrounding all the discussion about Darwin in the period, alongside the extinction of the Dodo. 

Some links: 

Tenniel prints for sale : http://www.johntenniel.com/

If you know any more links or interesting info about Tenniel I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Zine: What and how to

I made my first 'zine' the other day and thought I should share this relatively new phenomenon with those who have yet to experience the fun.

Officially it is an abbreviation of 'fanzine' and is a self-made, small-scale publication. You could put anything in yours: poetry, cartoon, drawing, short story etc etc. It's very popular (as far as I can gage from online probing) with music, anarchy, political, sexual orientations etc etc

http://www.jeanniephan.com/ (Very cool with photographs of her whole process)
In researching for this post I found out there is a London Zine Symposium 2011. For those interested, it's 12-6pm, Sunday 17th April at The Rag Factory, Heneage Street, London E1 5LJ with free entry. Actually there are loads... just scroll to the bottom of http://www.londonzinesymposium.org.uk/ to see some international ones as well. 
"Same Shit Different Day" Erik Brunetti

A 'Burger Zine' from http://design-fetish.blogspot.com/

Here is the youtube video I used to help make my first with just an A4 piece of paper.

If you have a zine, or follow any great zine-designers please share!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

War Artist: Arabella Dorman

War Art has been of a constant fascination to me since I was a small child. I wanted to be one -- an odd thing to want to be really. One of my favourite galleries is the Imperial War Museum's long term exhibition gallery, which houses some of my most inspirational war artists: the Nash brothers, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland.Whatever else war is -- shocking, destructive, sad -- it makes beautiful and haunting images.

Challengers Crashing Out

Arabella Dorman went out to Iraq in 2009 as a war artist. As the Telegraph article points out, the only other female artist to do this was Linda Kitson, who went to the Falklands war in 1982. In her "Frontlines Statement" Dorman argues for painting war, rather than depending entirely on film and media: 
"A painting on the other hand has the potential to ask more from the viewer. It asks for an emotional engagement, it asks us to move beyond pure documentation and literal description, into a quieter evocation of something more timeless". 

Waiting in a Warrior, Basra Place
Dorman is a bit hit and miss with me. I think some of her work is fantastic. I also find a portion of it terrible. The ones I have used on this blog I really like. However, her concentration on the soldier's experiences of war is really interesting. Especially looking at the "quieter moments" rather than just the "big bangs"


Here is the Telegraph's interview with the artist: 

And another very interesting audio interview with the BBC: here

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Dan Dubowitz

Ever since I was very small I have been intrigued and enthralled by abandoned and decaying properties and places. There is something about the feeling of emptiness, the post apocalyptic sense, the silence of buildings that were human made yet have been abandoned. I don't mean the eighteenth century folly designed to be Romantic and beautiful but something a bit more raw.

(Click on photos to see larger scale)
For me, Dan Dubowitz captures exactly this in his photography. They are wonderful

If you are interested in where each one has been taken then check out his website: Civic Works which is a fantastic picture gallery of his various projects. 

Dan Dubowitz trained as an architect, but has since worked on art projects in Glasgow, Manchester and most recently (I think) in Italy looking a Fascist ruins: 

See what I mean?!

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