This book of fantasy art showcases the work of a husband and wife who met each other at art school in the 1960s. Full of mystical imagery, spirituality and incredibly detailed landscapes, it is often hard to tell who has done what. Before I acquired this book I was already familiar with the name Roger Garland, having seen his work on the covers of a few J.R.R. Tolkien books. The Tolkien images are quite a contrast to those of Alan Lee and John Howe. These are reproduced here, along with so much more.
The paintings in this book, mostly rendered in oils, are richly detailed, showing a strong pre-Raphaelite influence. I liked reading about Linda Garland's experiences at art school, saying how she was scared to admit she liked the pre-Raphaelites for fear of persecution. Art in the 1960s didn't seem to put much emphasis on technique. Even basic skills like figure drawing appeared to have been stamped out in favour of esoteric "happenings".
After art school Linda and Roger both found work teaching art in high school. From the way they describe the job, it sounded like a pretty frustrating time. "Glorified babysitting" was one description used.
However, Roger and Linda both started to get commissions for illustration work, and the rest is history. When reading this book one gets a real sense of how precarious the life of a freelance illustrator can be, especially the financial worries that loom when work dries up, the feelings of guilt about being seen walking a dog in the middle of a working day, and all kinds of other uncertainty.
The paintings themselves are of a very high standard. Many of them are book cover commissions, but there are also designs for board games and playing cards, as well as some private commissions. As mentioned before, one chapter is devoted entirely to Middle-Earth, another chapter is "The Living Zodiac", and there is also a section pertaining to folklore and legend.
Enthusiasts of high fantasy are sure to be spellbound by the works presented here. Overall "Garlands of Fantasy" is a very enjoyable, entertaining book.