What and How

by Petar Meseldzija

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.
Temporary additions

Without the plant in the foreground
Snow White with a smaller head