Aug 5, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #70 - Jean-Baptiste Monge

I've mentioned the name Jean-Baptiste Monge a couple of times on this blog in the past. I even did a quick review of one of his books several years ago. But as I'm looking at artists I like as part of this 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge, and considering he is one of my favourites, it seems only fitting that I turn the spotlight on him again.

I first discovered Mr. Monge's work back in 2010 while looking for Faerie artists on the internet. As I've mentioned before, finding a Faerie artist of the caliber and style that I look for means wading through a whole lot of work I am unattracted to. Realistically, there are only a handful of living Faerie artists that I think fit the bill. Jean-Baptiste Monge is most certainly one of them.

The thing that initially hooked me in about Mr. Monge's work was his gorgeous colour illustrations of diminutive Faerie beings. His skill with the brush is some of the best I have seen in the field. Most 'real' Faerie artists tend to use a more loose stroke with their work. Artists like Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud and Larry MacDougall can be quite sketchy with their colour illustrations, which is entirely relevant and appropriate for the subject-matter, it lends itself to more rough work perfectly.
But Monge works his colour illustrations up to a level of detail and finesse that most Faerie artists don't. I think this is due to personal style in many ways, but I also think it is a result of influence. On his blog, Jean-Baptiste has mentioned his major influence in the American illustrator, Norman Rockwell, on many occasions. I think this influence tells very nicely on several levels in Monge's work. From the way he applies the overall design to a piece, the lighting, even the humourous side to the theme is a knowing wink and a respectful nod to Rockwell.

One of the other things I love about Monge's work is the fact that he is a master of anything he puts in his hand. His colour work, which can vary in feel and application greatly, is the work of not only a great Faerie artist, but an artist full stop. His pencil work, too, is so good that you can almost imagine the Faerie Folk he depicts actually posed for him for a few seconds while he sketched their likeness down. They are lively, whimsical and applied with such a deft touch that each little figure seems to bounce around the page.

I've often said that the mark of a good artist is how they can handle just a pencil and a bit of paper. Another vital element that sets the truly skilled artist apart is their knowledge and manipulation of basic structure. Jean-Baptiste Monge is one of the best at these things. Look at the structure of his figures, even just the simplest sketch; find the basic shapes within them, the curves of the plains of the heads, the perspective on facial features and the comical body structure. To exaggerate these features in this way and not have them look completely unbelievable is such and advanced skill, and something Monge does seemingly effortlessly, that it is the mark of an artist of immense talent and knowledge.

I bought several of Mr. Monge's books back in 2010 and they have come to be treasured possessions of mine. Those books are almost akin to Faerie art bibles for me, much like Brian Froud and Alan Lee's 'Faeries' or Rien Poortvliet's 'Gnomes' books. They are tough enough to find now, but are so absolutely worthwhile whatever the asking price is that I wouldn't hesitate in buying them, whatever the cost.
Just yesterday, I bought my first piece of original Jean-Baptiste Monge art. This fellow here-

He'll definitely be getting professionally framed when he arrives here.

For those interested in looking up Mr. Monge, here's a couple of places to find him:
His Website
His Blog
His Etsy Store
His Facebook Page

100 Heads in 100 Days #70

Sir Longwhisker
Me Fact #70
I get what Michael Palin referred to as 'happy attacks.'  These waves of overwhelming joy that wash over me and fill me with this peace and tranquility that borders on spiritual. It usually happens when I think about my Realms of Faerie, or when I'm out in nature.

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