More From Richard Blunt

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More work from UK painter Richard Blunt. See a prior post for additional paintings from this modern realist juxtaposing retro imagery with modern themes while exploring his primary interest: the depiction of dramatic light.

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Richard Blunt

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UK artist Richard Blunt hails from West Midlands, studied 3D design, then found himself homeless during his 20’s, gigging with various bands before rediscovering his visually creative side and taking up painting in earnest. His particular interest: the depiction of dramatic light in realistic images, so it’s no surprise that he’d name artists like Michelangelo Caravaggio (almost synonymous with chiaroscuro to many) as an inspiration. Some will see echoes of Scottish painter Jack Vettriano in Blunt’s work, but then some see Vettriano’s influence every time they see a painting of a vaguely retro fellow in a white shirt, suspenders and a brimmed hat.

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Myself, I’m seeing Hamish Blakely, Rachel Bess and Fabian Perez as just a few of the diverse crop of contemporary painters currently juxtaposing retro iconography taken from Golden Age Hollywood films and even postwar vintage illustration with edgier or ironic modern themes and treatments. The result? Often not unlike Neo-Noir in film and literature.

But as always, I’ll leave all that stuff to the professors and art critics and just enjoy the work. More of Richard Blunt’s paintings follow in a subsequent post.

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The Art Of Sean Phillips

The Art Of Sean Phillips Cover

I assumed Dynamite Entertainment’s 2013 The Art Of Sean Phillips — by the artist himself (along with Eddie Robson) — would be a handsome book, but wasn’t prepared for just how well designed and lavishly illustrated this 300+ page over-size hardcover would be. I ordered it online and was surprised to see it arrive in a package from England, but maybe that’s best for a book on a UK artist.

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Sean Phillips’ gorgeous work has appeared at this site before with images from Criminal, The Fade Out, the artist’s own site and more, so it should be clear that I’m a fan. Phillips has a rare talent for designing, composing and rendering consistently engaging and even visually provocative panels, pages and covers of what might seem like very prosaic scenes and mundane subjects (compared to the flashy distortion of the SF/Fantasy/Horror and superhero comics segments). Mind you, he’s done his share of work in dark fantasy and for the capes-n-tights titles. But it’s his more human scaled and distinctly noir-ish work (much of this done with team-mate scribe Ed Brubaker) that elevate Phillips above so many other Photoshop EFX-obsessed and manga-inspired peers.

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I’d love to offer some page scans from the book for you to browse, but there’s no way I’m going to bust that spine just to cram it into a scanner (my scanner’s bed too small anyway). So, sorry – you’ll have to get your own. If you do, you get to enjoy lushly illustrated pages of Phillips’ childhood drawings and comics, incredibly mature work for the UK ‘Girl Comics’ done when still only in his mid-teens and read all about his early years. Since I’m unwilling to mangle my precious book, the visuals shown here are just culled from found art that’s been lurking in my Sean Phillips archive folder for who knows how long. You’ll be familiar with some, I’m sure. Phillips’ Criterion Collection illustrations are particular favorites of mine — that warm-toned NYC penthouse balcony painting of Susan Harrison from The Sweet Smell of Success right below is so darkly beautiful, it almost makes me teary-eyed. (Art can get me a little choked up sometimes.)

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If you have The Art Of Sean Phillips already, you know what a terrific book it is. If not, consider getting it – you won’t be disappointed in the countless visuals or the accompanying text, with interviews and commentary from Ed Brubaker, Warren Ellis and others. Or, hold and see if an updated edition is ever done. This was produced 6-7 years ago, after all. There’s been a lot of stunning Phillips work out there since. Almost another book’s worth, dontcha think?

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She Could Be “The Stiletto Gumshoe”…

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So well composed and deceptively simple looking, this piece by UK artist Mike Redman is almost as much a graphic design as it is an illustration. I think it always catches my eye because it reminds me so much of my own in-progress work on ‘The Stiletto Gumshoe’, Sharon Gardner (real name Sasha Garodnowicz) described as “more comfy atop a barstool than behind a receptionist’s desk”.

This art pops up frequently at Pinterest, Tumblr and random blogs…it’d be nice if Redman’s name accompanied the image more often…

Raymond Leech

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There seems to be something shared among some UK figurative painters. An affinity for times gone by. The ambience of the taverns and dance halls populated by small time grifters and crooks. Peering into dark bedrooms inhabited by estranged lovers.  Scottish painter Jack Vettriano embraced this somewhat ‘noir-ish’ retro world years ago when he abandoned bright sunlit seashore and resort ballroom scenes.

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UK painter Raymond Leech often dwells in similar milieus, though doing so with an entirely different level of draftsmanship and more visibly soft and ‘painterly’ brushwork.Leech’s bio’s say his affection is for the Cornish Newlyn School of art, like paintings by Stanhope Forbes. And that may be the case with Leech’s charming harborside seascapes. But the darker, brooding paintings shown here probe something quite different, but before drawing too many comparisons between Scottish painter Vettriano and Norfolk bred Leech, keep in mind that it’s unwise to fixate on details like the men’s white shirts and suspenders or even the vaguely 1930’s – 1950’s environments. Shared visual cues in both painters’ work are apparent, but dwelling on them is akin to comparing two artists including red barns in their landscapes or sailing ships in their maritime paintings.

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Leech was born 70 years ago in Great Yarmouth, the eastern most point of England jutting out into the beginnings of the North Sea. As a teen he studied both fine art and graphic design at Great Yarmouth College of Art, and like so many artists, started his career as a designer. But growing skill and increasing success with his paintings eventually directed him to pursue a fine arts career. Not restricted to easel work, Leech works interchangeably in oils, watercolor and pastels.

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So, what do UK painters like Jack Vettriano and Raymond Leech really share? Both depict figures sharing the same spaces though they’re often remote and disconnected. Desire is evident, but unfulfilled, love an illusion in scenes that suggest it’s really just for sale. There’s a faux nostalgia (though not sentiment) for undefined mid-twentieth century cinema-style settings and a generous bit of peekaboo voyeurism. But what they may share the most is the fine arts world’s reaction: Disdain or outright dismissal from critics, for them and for most narrative artists, save for the cynical few tricky enough to cloak their figurative work in some sense of irony.

See the next post for additional pieces by UK artist Raymond Leech.

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Art Of Levi

Avalon Graphic Novel

From Montreal, Quebec concept and matte painting artist Levente Peterffy (formerly from the UK, I think), whose artoflevi.com site is full of stunning work. I’ll share the most ‘noir-ish’ piece from the galleries, a panel from an Avalon graphic novel.

Sinistral’s Femme Fatale

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The UK artist goes by the name ‘Sinistral’, at least at Deviantart. Would love to tell you more, but can’t locate any info, except to say the artist clearly has a way with a femme fatale.

Mitchum By Sean Phillips

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Noir icon Robert Mitchum, by UK artist Sean Phillips. From the Sean Phillips artist blog (theartofseasnphillips.blogspot.com) at Sean Phillips website: seanphillips.co.uk.

 

 

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