I've found my new favorite art book. I've been coveting this book for quite awhile now, but didn't want to fork over the $40. Now that I've seen it, I easily would spend $40 on it. Thanks to eBay though, I didn't have to :p Charles Vess has long been one of my favorite modern artist. He competes with Dave McKean, John Jude Palencar, Yoshitaka Amano, Kinuko Y Craft and Yoshitomo Nara for that title. But he's way up there.
What sets Vess apart from all of these other artists is his complete ability to capture fantasy like no other artist. He captures it as if he's visited Faerie himself. As if he's crossed the wall and spent some time there. There's a certain delicateness to his work. The colors, the lines, the tiny details, the emotions that you FEEL when you look at a piece of his art are just magical. There's really no other word for it aside from magical.
I first discovered Charles Vess when he illustrated Neil Gaiman's Stardust. I remember thinking to myself that I was looking at Arthur Rackham illustrations, one of my favorite artists of all time. I couldn't imagine someone having the talent it takes to put so much story into one painting. I want to hug every painting of Vess' that I see. It's one of my goals in life to one day have an original of his. Right now I have a print of Yvaine from Stardust singing with her sisters that I want framed in my house...but it's not an original :p
Anyway, let's get to this book! Drawing Down the Moon is an amazing piece of work! It's a treasure for any fan of Vess! It chronicles his entire career from high school til today featuring work that's never been seen by the public before. It covers everything he's done before and it's presented on beautiful paper, with translucent sheets separating the different sections.
There are sections covering his comic book work, novel work, solo work, independent pieces, pieces he did for posters and local theaters, commissions, sketches, and he ends the book with a gorgeous fairy parade where he takes you through his whole process from original quick sketch to finished painting.
The best part about this is Vess' commentary. He talks extensively about many of the pieces here. The motivations behind them, what was going on in his life when he created them, the memories associated with the pieces, techniques used to create them. I loved hearing him talk about collaborating with some of my other favorite authors like Neil Gaiman, Charles DeLint, Terri Windling, Jane Yolen and Ellen Datlow just to name a few. Just a masterpiece of a book really. I almost want a second copy so I can go to town with an exacto knife and frame some of these pictures!
Here, have a look for yourself at some of his gorgeous work. Click any of these pictures to enlarge them. And if you're an art fan, do yourself a favor and pick this one up!