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Origins: The Art of John Jude Palencar [Hardcover]

John Palencar
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

25 Jan 2007
John Jude Palencar is a rarity among modern artists, mixing meticulous technique reminiscent of the old masters with a soaring, darkly surreal imagination. There are touches of Bosch and Da Vinci in his visual allegories of netherworld landscapes and doomed characters. His painted book covers and illustrations for works by Stephen King, Lovecraft, Tolkien, and many others have won him wide acclaim, but Palencar is perhaps best known for his covers to the fantasy novels of Christopher Paolini. "Origins" is a sumptuous tribute to his work.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Underwood Books Inc (25 Jan 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599290049
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599290041
  • Product Dimensions: 31.3 x 23.6 x 1.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 256,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful... 16 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's a bit tricky writing a review of an art book, as art is such a matter of personal taste.One thing that is important is the quality of the materials, and this book is of good quality with decent sized reproductions. After that, it's about the art itself. The book is, after all, nearly all pictures.I think John Jude Palancar is a wonderful artist and there's no way I can give this anything other than 5 stars. Have a look at his work on the internet, and, if you like it, get this book - you will love it. If it's not your cup of tea, then steer clear. One minor quibble I have is that the text is mostly a biography of the artist, which is fine, but I would really have liked some information on his painting technique - his pictures have a very 'textural' quality and how he achieves this with acrylics is a miystery. Nevertheless, that's a monor issue. Every single picture here is a wonder, and this is my favourite art book of quite a number that I have.
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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious reproductions of many works by a brilliant artist 1 April 2007
By Mir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Palencar's surrealistic cover art for years without knowing his name. I think the first may have been for Connie Willis (both her collections of short fiction). I remember stopping and studying the cover and thinking, "Wow, this is really, really something." I saw more work, recognizably "that artist's" work, on other covers--Octavia Butler novels, Charles de Lint books. Oh, "The Onion Girl", that's another one that made me pick up the book. He makes you do that-- stop, look. He makes you stare. He does things to your insides with this amazing unreal reality he presents.

Look at the cover of FOUR AND TWENTY BLACKBIRDS? I remember being stopped cold in the bookstore for that one. "What does this mean?" It's eerily beautiful. Startling. It's something special.

And he is that. Really, really something special. There is a moodiness, a sort of solitude and mysticism, that you can feel in the artwork. I've gotten this same feeling enjoying the work of Remedios Varo--though without the consistent weight of Varo's symbolism, I gather-- that dazzling surrealist obsessed with alchemy. Palencar seems to be interested in the isolation of the humans in his worlds of wonder or terror. (The Lovecraft cover art paintings are very difficult to behold. Chilling, nauseating, as they should be.) (Then again, I could be totally wrong. This is, after all, just my impression, and I am neither an artist nor an art historian. I'm merely someone who loves SF novels and enjoys SF art.)

So, after years of enjoying cover art by JJP, I was delighted to discover that this book was out there. I have it, I've perused it, I sigh over it, and it will sit next to my other books on SF art, including my Richard Powers one. I'll be enjoying it for years.

What's inside? Well, open it and get to a fabulous two-page title page spread with a robed angel, all soft pale colors and that gorgeous face. (Palencar does faces with marvelous skill. Beautiful, dreamy, thoughtful, inward-looking, trance-y, aesthetically superb faces. And hands and feet, too. I love studying his painted feet and faces. He makes them beautiful.) ORIGINS: The art of John Jude Palencar. Turn the page for another two-page spread with the copyright info. A brunette woman with an exquisite upper back, bared by the robe that's fallen off her shoulders. Slim-fingered hands reaching out to the left, up to the right, strands meticulously painted at her nape. Again, pale colors, greys and whites,and the browns of the woman. That texture that you associate with Palencar--a graininess, like wood or granite or some other natural object with a FEEL to it. Turn one more page and you get to the painting used in ELDEST by CHristopher Paolini, and it is Paolini who pens the foreword, which he ends with, "Welcome, then, to this collection of one man's visions. You may find them thought provoking, you may find them awe-inspiring, but if nothing else, I hope you find them memorable."

I think they are memorable.

Turn the page again and you find the painting "Angelica", painted for the Sharon Shinn novel of that title. A brunette, eyes closed, face turned up, seemingly in prayer, a subtle moon to the right, unattached wings flying off to the left, and a dawn (or maybe dusk) palette of pale lavenders/grays/charcoal, and the soft and pale wings. Note the fingers and that exquisite bone structure. Opposite this painting is "Burning the Midnight Oil" : A biography of the artist, complete with photos.

After several pages of insight into the life and work of the man, the great stuff parades for you: sketches, fully realized works, titles. Page after page of the subtly painted, gorgeously executed, profoundly pleasurable art. Don't expect commentary. This is the only thing lacking in the book, although some may say it's not needed. Me, I love when works are commented on by the artist. What does it mean to him? Why that object? Why these colors?

But sans commentary, you still have paintings that speak well for themselves of wonder and the fictional or theatrical works they relate to.

Palencar just got nominated for a Hugo award for his art. I, for one, hope he wins. These paintings say he's already a winner, just by having this grand talent.

Buy ORIGINS and just abandon yourselves to his art. It's not a bad way to spend a few hours. Not bad at all.
[...]
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should appeal to SF / fantasy art fans 15 Feb 2007
By J. Higgins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The general public is probably most familiar with Palencar's work via the portraits of dragons for the covers of the "Eregon" series of fantasy novels. Those illustrations are included in this book, as well as a number of other works, mainly designed for jackets for books in the SF / fantasy genre.

Palencar's work has a unique character to it, focusing on depicting human forms in contemplative poses against background landscapes often featuring intricately detailed tree branches and shrubbery. His color schemes rarely stray far from sepia tones and some whites and grays. The closest affinity he has to another artist is probably Edward Burne-Jones, the Victorian painter who also used a subdued palette and liked to place human figures against flat, high stylized backgrounds. Like Burne-Jones, Palencar is a skilled draftsman with expertise in rendering the human body, and his art combines realism with symbolism in an engaging manner.

Palencar contributes an interesting introductory essay in which he lays out his attitudes and opinions on contemporary art, the "artist Vs illustrator" debate, the workings of the fantasy book market, and the creative processes behind his images. Physically, 'Origins' is well-produced, with reproductions of very good quality. It should appeal to anyone interested in SF / fantasy illustration.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not just fantasy art 7 Aug 2007
By abesmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a fabulous collection of work, I have never come across this artist before and am thrilled to dicover him. Do not make the mistake of thinking of Mr Palencar as a Fantasy artist, although there are some fantasy elements in some of his work, he is an Aritist period. His work has an exceptionally strong figurative element and calls to mind the work of Odd Nerdrum.

The other great thing about this book, is the inclusion of many of the preliminary drawing the Artist has produced for each of the final works, this is a great aid to anyone who has also embarked apon the path of learning to paint and draw. I have no hesitation in recommending this book
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A LONG OVERDUE COLLECTION 10 Mar 2007
By Tim Janson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
John Jude Palencar's art is beautiful and horrifying. Contradictory descriptions perhaps, but thoroughly fitting. Origins: The Art of John Jude Palencar, is the first collection of the artist's work. Palencar's work has been seen on hundreds of book covers as well as in the pages of magazines such as TIME, National Geographic, and Smithsonian. Even if you didn't know him by name, you've probably seen his work, and been mesmerized, just as I was.

The first Palencar cover I recall seeing was for the cover of the H.P. Lovecraft collection "Dreams of Terror and Death" back in 1995. This cover is included in the book and never has a title had a more fitting cover painting than Palencar's disturbing images of death and madness. He would also provide the covers for other Lovecraft collections: "The Road to Madness", "Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos", and "Shadows over Innsmouth." All of these covers capture the essence of Lovecraft's work superbly. These are some of the most disturbing Lovecraft images ever seen!

What is striking about Palencar's work is the strong feelings of isolation they convey, although not necessarily loneliness. A perfect example is the two-page spread of his painting "The Forest House" for the Marion Zimmer Bradley book of the same name. This painting depicts a Celtic woman, wandering in the moonlight of the foggy moorland with a Stonehenge-like ring of stones in the background.

Palencar has also tried his hand at the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, producing covers for each of the books of the trilogy for the Houghton Mifflin published editions. The most striking is his cover for "The Two Towers" showing one of the hobbits riding on top of Treebeard the Ent. The face of Treebeard was based on a photo of Tolkien himself.

One of the most simple, but effective pieces is Palencar's "Macbeth" depicting a horned, and skull-headed figure wearing a spiked crown with several small men impaled on the spikes. It's a gorgeous piece...

In all, the book features some 200 illustration in the 128 pages. Thank the good people at Underwood books for giving Palencar fans a long-overdue collection of his work.

Reviewed by Tim Janson
5.0 out of 5 stars new jersey art lover 14 Mar 2008
By new jersey art lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is well worth the cover price of $27.00. Nearly every page is filled with large color plates of very high quality. If you want a high quality collection of Palencar's work this book delivers. Many of the color plates also have smaller versions of the pencil study for the work next to them. This is a great book for artists and art lovers. Palencar has extraordinary talent in drawing, painting and composition.Some of the book is devoted to some bazaar and creative fantasy work, but what I like most are his extraordinary figurative paintings. This is one book that can be judged by it's cover. If you like the cover then you'll find much inside to like.
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