I am recently new to the whole graphic novel scene and was fortunate enough to begin with this little series called Fables by Bill Willingham. I just finished the first book and I must say, aside from the hilarious barbs and the concept of the series in general, I spent quite a bit of time ogling the drawings.
Specifically, James Jean‘s drawings.
A year ago or so, James Jean came to Manila and gave a talk about the magic he works on paper. I did not go to said event since those were the heydays of my childish stupor, wherein I was wrapped around my petty little world. To put it simply, I had no idea who this guy was, and while we’re on the subject, I don’t actually know many artists at all. It’s the sort of thing that makes me ashamed to even call myself an “artist”, but thanks to the Internet, I can rectify that sooner rather than later.
I know there is an influx of vector artists these days, and though I want to learn how to make vector art, I have never thought of it as the style that would define me. I am more attuned to works that have a traditional approach and base, using more traditional tools like pencils and pens, watercolours or copics. When I use computer programs to colour my works, I like them to look like they could have been done by my own hands; full of purposeful brush strokes, artful paint blots, and seemingly stray pen marks– imperfections that add to the perfection of the big picture.
What drew me to James Jean’s style is that it’s very similar to my own ideal style, except of course his works are what I can only hope to accomplish every time I start a sketch. (For now.) He combines realism and surrealism in a way that affects such wonder to any viewer of his art. Although my concepts are not so dream-like and romantic as his works, there are some elements that I find very attractive to emulate to a certain degree.
There are some pieces which have so much emotion, I can’t help but simply stare at it and try to take it all in: the pain, the sadness. It leaves me with a desire to reach in and tell the characters in the drawings: ‘Everything will be okay.’
His usage of colours evokes a certain hypnotically eerie feel to his works that draw you in, whether it be a single colour in different shades…
…Or one with innumerable shades of colour.
And for someone like myself who loves doing art but has not picked up a pen in ages, having someone like James Jean as a source of inspiration can only be good medicine.