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Newsletter May 2022

Gordon Crabb originals

How is it that one man has done all this? Gordon's career has spanned a few decades now, and his originals are in demand. I seem to have a few of them, and he's now interested in releasing more.

He began with historical covers in the UK, and has a particular gift for painting beautiful women. This one is Memorial to a Duchess, from 1974.

And this one is Who is Carrie? The story of the slave girl living in New York City.

This one, Some Things Strange and Sinister, very intense.

When he began producing more for US publishers he became closely associated with Western writers, in particular Louis L'Amour, but also liked subjects in American history. He taught himself to ride a horse - and galloped around a local field on an old Welsh cob so that he could understand how horses work – while his wife photographed him for reference.

This was for Custer's Last Stand.

And Grey Owl.

And there were classic books too.

He'd always been meticulous with photographic reference and in the 1990's he started to make prints from his photography so that he could use them as a basis for paintings in oils. This worked particularly well for fantasy covers, rich in colour and atmosphere.

Gordon is working on abstract paintings now but there's a good amount of his figurative work in his studio which should become available soon. In the mean time, drop me an email if any of the work you see here is of interest.

Details of the first few here.

Another award . . . ?

We are thrilled with today's news. One of a Kind, Neil Packer's masterful book on taxonomy (and so much more) which has already won the Ragazzi Prize for 2021, has been shortlisted for the most prestigious UK prize, the V&A Illustration Award. Hooray for Neil, with his wildly complicated and yet simple masterpiece. More on that here, including reviews from librarians, journalists and fellow illustrators.

And here you can see Neil talking about how this treasure of a book came about.

And now for something completely different . . .

It's no secret that in the UK we have some of the best animation talent in the world – and as it happens, I've been reminded of two films today. Not recent, but too good to miss.

Griff and Scott worked together to make Wish List for Channel 4. I think this film is genius, and their take on the world is three minutes of pure philosophy (and Scott also makes amazing ceramics).

Marc Craste (also known for the illustrations in Varmints, as well as the subsequent short film), made Stuck on a Sunday in association with the Royal Opera House. Who knows when an uninvited beast might turn up just when you thought everything was going OK . . .?

It's extraordinary that fifteen years after its first publication the book of Varmints is still in print, and sales increase every year. If you watch Marc's film of the book, you'll see the apocalypse as it appears to the little guy who's the hero of the film, but it's worth watching the whole thing to see new life returning.

The book was the winner of the Green Earth Book Award and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. The film was shortlisted for both the Oscars and the BAFTA awards. Marc is an extraordinarily talented storyteller and director.

Varmints, the movie

All images copyright © the artists.