Posts Tagged ‘Illustration’

The fantastical world of Benjamin Lacombe

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

L’Herbier des FéesNature stirs the imaginations of writers and artists. Benjamin Lacombe is a young artist from France whose work recalls that of Arthur Rackham and Brian Froud, but also dips into a spooky surrealism that is often unnerving and always compelling.

The images below are from his book L’Herbier des Fées, or The Herbarium of the Fairies, written in collaboration with Sebastien Perez (available in several languages, though not yet in English). It tells the story of a fictional Russian botanist who ventures into a strange forest searching for the secrets of immortality. The book is designed as a collection of his sketches, letters and photos, all meticulously illustrated by Lacombe. The influence of Leonardo Da Vinci is evident, from the brown ink studies to the chiaroscuro and classic poses of the characters. There is also an interactive version of the book, which you can see in the video below.

The pages of this book — and many of Lacombe’s books — overflow with imaginative creatures that often blur the lines between flora and fauna, between living and artificial. Some of the pages include die-cuts and transparent overlays to give added dimension to his mysterious world. His beautiful flowers and fairies often seem like they could devour us, even as we are fascinated by them. It is an amazing and unique vision that explores our fear of the natural world as much as our fascination with it.

L’Herbier des Fées

Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe

L’Herbier des Fées

Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe

L’Herbier des Fées

Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe

L’Herbier des Fées

Artwork © by Benjamin Lacombe

* * *

Here is a video trailer for the book and iPad app:

Here is a video about the making of the interactive book:

Here is another video about the making of the interactive book:

Here is his official blog with even more amazing artwork.

* * *

The Sibley Guide to Trees

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

The Sibley Guide to TreesAutumn is a great time to look at trees, and a new tree guide was published last year by David Allen Sibley, best known for his bird books. The Sibley Guide to Trees is more than just an identification guide, it is a veritable encyclopedia covering over 600 kinds of trees found in North America. Best of all, the book doesn’t use photographs, it uses illustrations, all painted by Sibley himself.

Why take the time to draw each tree and leaf rather than photograph it? As the author explains in the video below, an artist has the ability to create a more representative image by combining many examples, and can show the object in the best light for the viewer to see and understand.  The artist can also emphasize certain details, allowing us to see things in a new way.

Art and science were far more closely aligned years ago, in the days before cameras, when the only way to document the world was to draw it. But the benefits of drawing have not gone away. To draw something is to know it better, and a drawing can often teach us things about the world that a photograph cannot.

Sample page from The Sibley Guide to Trees

Sample page from The Sibley Guide to Trees

The illustrations by David Allen Sibley for his tree guide (as with his bird books) are accurate and precise, yet also have an artistic flair all their own. They capture the essence and texture of the natural world. And he doesn’t just depict trees from a distance, but also shows the individual leaves, the bark, the seeds, the flowers, and whichever details are most pertinent to that tree. And the pages are large enough to let you really see the art. The text perfectly complements and explains the pictures, and both work seamlessly together.

Below are some additional links to learn about the author and his work:

David Allen Sibley official website

The author’s information about trees

An interview with the author about his tree book

Another interview with the author about his books

Finally, here is the author talking about how he created his tree guide, and why he prefers illustrations rather than photographs.

* * *

The Art of Tasha Tudor

Thursday, December 24th, 2009
"Laura in the Snow" by Tasha Tudor

"Laura in the Snow" by Tasha Tudor

Few artists have been more in tune with nature than Tasha Tudor. Not only did she paint the natural world around her, she lived her life as in olden days, growing her own food, raising livestock, and spinning and weaving cloth for her family’s clothing. Her persona and her work now seem so quaint and old fashioned, many people forget what a great artist she was.

This is one of her most famous works, commonly known as “Laura in the Snow.” It’s a beautiful composition that first draws your attention to the girl’s face, then down her arm to the cat, then across the lines of her snowshoes to the other cat, and finally back to her face again. There is also drama in the picture — do the cats belong to the girl? Is she trying to befriend them? And the beautiful spareness of the open snow is a model of restraint. A perfect painting, from someone who has undoubtedly been on snowshoes herself.

Tasha Tudor died last year at the age of 92, and her art will be missed.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Arthur Rackham’s Amazing Trees

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

bw_trees1Many people stop looking at trees after the leaves fall off, but this is when I think trees become the most interesting. And one of the best artists at interpreting trees in all their raw, twisted glory is the great Arthur Rackham (1867-1939). He was famous for illustrating classic fantasy and children’s books such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, and influenced generations of artists who came after him.

His trees are especially unique, and often become characters in the story. The world of humans and nature come together, and it is often hard to distinguish between his whimsical characters and their surrounding landscape. He had a flair for making his trees seem like living creatures, often literally with faces and arms, but also just by their organic and sinewy shape, as they grip the earth with their claw-like roots.

So the next time you go walking in the winter, stop to notice the trees, and you may be pleasantly surprised. I will discuss more of Rackham’s work in future posts, but in the meantime, here are just some of his amazing trees.

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle

Rip Van Winkle

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Grimm's Fairy Tales

Tales From Mother Goose

Tales From Mother Goose

* * * * *

Autumn artwork by Kristina Swarner

Monday, November 16th, 2009

kristina_swarmer_autumnboy

Autumn is fast disappearing, as the few remaining leaves manage to cling to the trees. It is a season of transition, all the more precious because of its fleeting nature. Here are some beautiful fall images by artist Kristina Swarner that perfectly evoke the feeling of autumn, when leaves are turning, seeds are scattering, and birds are flying south.

Kristina is the illustrator of several children’s books, and her lyrical work is very much inspired by nature. You can see more of her work at her website.

kristina_swarmer_vineyard

kristina_swarmer_leafboy

Images © by Kristina Swarner

* * * * * * *