Monday, September 26, 2011
Society of Illustrators, partly because I had just received a copy of Brain Movies that features Iain McCaig's portrait of Harlan Ellison on the cover, partly because I noted the sale at auction recently of what, to me, was a not-terribly-good painting of Robert Silverberg by the late Ed Emshwiller. What makes a successful portrait, particularly when the subject is a writer? The answer that immediately comes to mind is: personality. If the artist is able to capture something of who the writer is, not merely what they look like, and elicit responses from viewers and which prompts conversation...then there's a good chance of creating art, not just a painted version of Glamour Shots. Now, I've never really heard of any controversy surrounding a genre writer's portrait; certainly nothing like the brew-ha surrounding John Singer Sargent's painting of Madame Gautreau aka "Madam X". The flip-side is that I've heard very few people say anything positive about some of the clever f&sf writer portraits that have been done...so I think I'll point out a few. Matt Buck below. Above, Michael Whelan's portrait of Isaac Asimov. Since Asimov devised the Three Laws of Robotics, Isaac's AI companion is appropriate. Above, a pair of scratchboard pieces by Mark Summers: Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe respectively. Above, Rowena Morrill's painting of Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon joked at the time that she had made him look too puny. (I'd run a link to Rowena's website, but it looks like her homepage has been hijacked.) Above, a pair of portraits of Tarzan's dad, Edgar Rice Burroughs; the first is by Reed Crandall, the second by Tom Lovell. Donato's painting of Starship Trooper, Robert A. Heinlein. Above, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt transported J.R.R. Tolkien to Middle-Earth for this painting. Above, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as painted by Anita Kunz. Finally, a pair of portraits of Harlan Ellison; the top a classic Bosch-inspired painting by Leo and Diane Dillon, the bottom is a mixed-media work by Iain McCaig.