Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Knightly Inspirations

Ah, the summer months are almost upon us. The challenges of commitment have made some appearance recently, with some lapse in regular posts. I have a full dance card at the moment, with many projects relating to things here. In the last few weeks I sent a collection of Fairy images to press, wrapped up a very interesting set of images on Mermaids, and am about to finish the "polishing" steps of my new book on Willy Pogány. Throw in a few illustration assignments, my full-time job and a four-day fishing trip, ok, I'm busy. I have two big treats for the next two entries, so sit back and get set-

Maybe 20 years ago,Time-Life Books came out with a series on folklore and mythology called "The Enchanted World" This series of large-size hardcovers were richly illustrated, both with classic public-domain imagery, and brand new illustration from some of the big name illustrators of the day. Having just graduated art school, this was great material, and great reference- I signed on to receive all the books as they came out. I found a few inspirations among the artists in those pages, but one that really floored me was William Russell Flint. (1880-1969)

Flint was Scottish by birth, spent most of his life in Britain, and was knighted(!) for his artistic achievements in 1962. As usual, there is a good look at his work in relation to illustration at Jim Vadeboncouer's site at Bud Plant-
There is plenty of info on him scattered about the web, and he still has a healthy and active representation marketing his prints today.

There are a few things about Flint that drew me to his work—First was his design sense. The early picture that I saw in the Time-Life volume was the opening image on the page here, from the "Odyssey". These figures and visual devices are assembled in a way that continuously leads the viewer around the image area. The second thing that almost perplexed me was the use of medium—namely, watercolor. Really? Watercolor? It was these Flint pieces that convinced me that it could be used as a serious medium for illustration, that it could be used with accuracy and control.

Unfortunately for us illustration junkies, Flint's career in illustration was comparably short to his many years of creative output. He started with the Illustrated London News in 1903, and gave us some great plate books for about 25 years, including The Odyssey, Le Morte D'Arthur, The Canturbury Tales, and a number of editions on the works of Gilbert and Sullivan's operas. In the early 1930's, he made the leap that so many attempt, but so few succeed—he became accepted in gallery art; both for his landscapes, and his exquisite figure work. It is primarily this latter work that drives interest in his art today, but his illustration is still held in high esteem, from all quarters.

1 comment:

Brian Bowes said...

Wonderful post, you've renewed my fascination with Sir William Russell Flint! Now, it's off to the library to dig up everything I can!