Friday, May 4, 2012

What and How

The following lines were taken from the Introduction to the article about my work that will be published in International Artist within the section called The Art of Illustration. These words reflect my own feelings and thoughts about illustration and fine art. Some of you might disagree, or even dismiss it as unnecessary and pretentious. Anyway, it is our right, perhaps an obligation as well, to refuse things that we cannot identify with. But, before we do so, we should think about it first, because what appears to be unattractive today, might become quite relevant tomorrow.
“When people ask me to characterize myself as an artist, I often say that I am a painter (fine artist) who has been deliberately lost in the World of Fantasy Illustration. The main reason I see myself as such is that the pictorial aspect of painting plays an important role in my work. In the contemporary illustration, fantasy illustration in particular, it is more important what is depicted, than how it is depicted. In other words, a clear, readable and attractive depiction of a theme/subject/story seems to be a primary concern for many illustrators. How that particular subject matter is being translated into the pictorial language, and how much emotional content this language evokes, comes to the second place. Generally speaking Illustration tends to be more descriptive, for descriptiveness  is an organic part of its very nature, whilst Fine Art is more suggestive. This suggestiveness is  an imperative for, as well as the consequence of dealing with the subject matter on a deeper level and in a more personal way. In my illustrations I try to combine these two approaches, first of all through a suggestive alla-prima painting technique, than through my choice not to illustrate the text lines exactly, but rather what is between them, and finally through use of the secondary compositional  forms to emphasize the primary aspects of the composition.
Although I did (and still occasionally do) the Fine Art painting, including Fantastic Realism, still-life, portraiture and landscape painting, my heart is leaning more towards Fantasy Art. The reason is that Fantasy  Art deals with the kind of themes that are closer to me. I guess that, deep inside, I am still a child who finds his refuge from the harsh disillusioned  real world in the world of the fantastic and the imaginative. This might be seen as an escapist behavior. On the other hand, I am very much attracted by the symbols and archetypes, their hidden meaning and message, that are making up much of the world of Mythology and Imagination. These subject matters and themes are more inspiring to me, they are in a way less pretentious and easier to comprehend. More importantly, they hide within themselves a hint of a greater and more universal Truth, instead of the partial or little Truth(s) that is being presented through often socially engaged pictorial and symbolic vocabulary of the main stream Contemporary Art…”

A detail

Impressionistic approach – the depiction of light was more important that the actual shape.

Suggesting the shapes by “putting the right color, on the right place”.

Oil “aquarelle” technique – lots of medium used.

The application of four different painting techniques – Oil “aquarelle”, usual second layer  brushwork, partial glazing, and the final touch done with pallet knife.

An example of the “wrist brushwork technique”.

“ Apple? ”, 65 x 50 cm, 23 1/2 x 19 3/4 inch, oil on Masonite, 2009 / 20012. An illustration from one of my book projects in progress.


  1. Beautiful work Petar! I just can't get over how well the foreground foliage is painted. It really shows your absolute grasp over the medium, and how you see things. Stunning. I am curious tho, it seems you have skipped your underpainting process on this one. Is there a reason why? Are you finding less of a need for it?

  2. I might have paid a little less attention to the underpainting of this piece. I started this painting 3 years ago and, as far as I can remember, I did my underpainting procedure with the figures and the house, but possibly just vaguely suggested the foliage, especially in the background. I guess I wanted the greenery to develop more spontaneously and to profit from the unexpected forms and shapes that usually appear during such a process.
    Thanks, elreyes!

  3. Petar, Sorry for all of the heat you took over on Muddy Colors. I was surprised by how nasty some of the comments were, but don't get upset by it. I think sometimes people feel the need (including myself at times) to criticize in order to make themselves feel smarter or better. When that happens, don't escalate the argument by taking digs at them. Grace is much more attractive than defiance. Your work is so beautiful and refined that it does not merit response to some of the stupid comments. I am sure you will take them all with a grain of salt in the future. Keep up the wonderful work!

  4. Hi Greg,

    It is very kind of you to show me your support in this way. And of course you are right, it is always better to stay calm and centered in this kind of situation. But this time I had to react on all that impolite and disrespectful criticism. I thought to myself- enough is enough!

    Thanks, Greg!

    1. Anytime. I know what it feels like to take what seems like unwarranted criticism- it stinks and you feel like hitting something. But I think its best to not dignify some things with a response. Anyway, maybe someday I will get a chance to meet you and see your paintings in person. Until then, I will keep enjoying what you are posting.

  5. I think this piece is my favourite of all of yours so far. I saw a detail picture of just the foliage a while ago, and just fell in love with how you had painted it and now seeing the whole piece I am even more amazed. It is absolutely gorgeous.

    I was also shocked at the comments on Muddy Colors and I hope they will not discourage you from sharing your beautiful work there in the future. Please know there are also many of us out there who deeply admire your work.

    1. Kiri, thank you for the supportive words! Don’t worry, they will not discourage me from showing and sharing my work and my thoughts with others. This was, apparently, necessary in order to clean up a few things, internally as well as externally.

  6. Wow I wish I had found that discussion earlier. I happen to disagree that simply because someone posts something on a blog that it is open for criticism. I am in total agreement with you Petar that if people want to learn then they can pose their thoughts in the form of a respectful question.

    This happens often on other sites I frequent where people with little or no experience feel emboldened because of the anonymity the internet provides. I never mind a respectful question such as, "why did you make that decision?", but do get somewhat irritated when someone offers an unsolicited, ignorant critique simply because they can.

    I too am a teacher. Maybe it is the discipline and respect required in a classroom. But can you imagine showing your work, or the work of a distinguished visiting artist, to a class only to have someone shout out, "hey the head doesn't look right?" The digital world we live in is both a blessing and a curse. We have wonderful exposure to the world but I'm afraid we are losing that ability to interact successfully and respectfully with each other.

    Have a great time In Kansas City and please take some pictures to share.

    1. Hi Bill,

      I must admit that I felt quite miserable a week ago because of that discussion on MC. But it had a god side as well. I have learned a few important lessons, which I hope I will not forget. …Thanks very much Bill!