Saturday 29 June 2013

Awesomeness of Vess!


OH yeah - it's a laid-back Saturday - overcast and grey...kind of day for drinking tea, watching some youtube, doing the li'l things around the house that there's no time for on a busy day. And now some blog time. It's been a few posts since I talked about my art influences so I thought now'd be a good time. Choosing my next favourite artist's a doddle as I've been re-organising my bookshelves today and ended up spending a good couple of hours looking at some of my graphic novels and art books - just 'cos they're so yummy! My main focus today was a shelf section of illustrated tomes featuring the GORGEOUS work of Charles Vess.

 I first discovered his work a gajillion years ago when I was young enough to have a Saturday job (let's pretend that was only just yesterday!) and my first weeks wages were spent on a big lovely hardback book of fantasy art, including work by other favourites of mine - Bernie Wrighton, Julek Heller, Michael Kaluta AND Charles Vess. I found his illustrations immediately captivating. His work reflects the beauty of classic illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and Hilda Miller whilst remaining completely and identifiably unique in its beauty, imagination and design.

Mr Vess has an exceptional gift and ability to convey spirit and emotion, humour and charm with his sympathetic use of colour and genius for composition. He combines exquisite detail with deceptive simplicity with breathtaking results every time.

Just look at this picture - the first thing that strikes me is the rich, vibrant red of the tree leaves. Then the stark white, almost oceanic curve of the snow against the dark night sky (note his careful choice of warm greys - a cold grey would kill the whole thing stone dead). The image is FULL of motion - the swell of the snow, the energy and power of the stag, the flow of the cape...then notice the flight of crows adding kinetic shadow to the reaching limbs of the tree and the open-mouthed face almost hidden in the tree trunk. Everything about this picture is organic and compelling - it captivates me completely. (See - this is why I lose HOURS when I tidy my bookshelves!)

Vess has also illustrated a lot of superhero comics and books - panel work and sequential pages. I admire his versatility and his ability to capture a moment of energy or emotion. He seems capable of challenging himself whilst holding true to his style and artistic ethic (read his blog ).

I LOVE this ... It reflects elements of the Art Nouveau era or Arts & Crafts ideals. I have a wide appreciation of art styles and movements, but we all have our favourites (don't we?)  and this fits neatly into my love of nature-led design as well as my fascination with myth and magic and the tales that transported me in my childhood to imagined lands of fantastical creatures, enchanted landscapes and beings of light and mystery. It's where my mind still goes to when I sit down to draw or paint. Every time. Even if I wanted to draw corn-flakes. Not that I can think of a moment when I would ever have to or want to draw popular cereals... *ahem*

Hopefully I've inspired you to go look at more of Charles Vess's STUNNING work, and just to make things easy for you, here's a link to his site (just click the pic ) :

There are several books which contain his artwork, I'd recommend

Also 'The Book Of Ballads and Sagas' (Neil Gaiman/Charles Vess) and 'Rose' (Jeff Smith/Charles Vess)....aaaaaaaaaaand pretty much ANYTHING else.

I have SO many artists whose work I'd like to highlight and pay tribute to so you're stuck with more of this kind of thing for quite some time to come, but I hope that SOMEwhere along the line, you'll find SOMEthing you like. So cheerio for now...Be inspired and be happy! Hugs as ever - Shroo :)x


  1. That Spidey pic is awesome! Very very interesting post......keep up the great bloggyness! x

  2. Awesome Spidey indeedydoo! Mr Vess has done LOTS of Spideyness....that'll have you googling..... (ooer). Thank you for the morale-boosting awesomeness of commentage - you, as ever, ROCK! Hugs from Shroo :)x

  3. I find it interesting that Spidey - who happens to be my sister's all time favourite character - was in both posts. This one and the Frankenstein one. Which leads me to the conclusion that she probably knows both these artists and I am going to learn a lot from her when we go to comicon in March (I only agreed to go because I rarely see her and greedily snatched at a sister day!)

    I wish, I so wish I was as eloquent as you when talking about who I like! I know what I like, the styles I like but I am so SO crappy at names and styles/era's. Seriously - I have been looking at memory books lately because I'm getting worse! Safe to say though that Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau as well as the Romantics (Argh, see I'm scrambling for the term again...) Pre-Raphaelite? (I had to google a post I did on my blog!!) Love all that but couldn't name many artists within it.

    I can see the influence here in some of your work - in particular the red tree pic you love so much and the girl on the island. I love these posts of yours :)

  4. Wishlist just got a new edition again ;) :D