(Map of Abarat 2002, Clive Barker)
A much more modern painting, this might be the only book art piece I will show. (No guarantees though.) Born 1957 in Liverpool, England Clive Barker is a well known author, film writer, actor, film producer and artist. Known for adult novels like Weaveworld (1987), The Damnation Game (1985), Imajica (1991) and his Books of Blood 1 – 6, Barker has become one of the leaders authors of dark fantasy and horror fiction. I personally will never read his adult novels, however his children’s book The Thief of Always (1992) and his unfinished Abarat series are some of my personal favorite books. He produced Gods and Monsters, which later won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, won the Davidson/Valentini Award at the 15th GLAAD Media Awards and has his paintings featured throughout the country.
He is a very unique artist and author to say the least. I secretly have a German soul so his darker children stories really appeal to me. As for his art, most of his works are actually featured in the above mentioned Abarat series, which feature hundreds of paintings per book. His style is unique and I would challenge anyone to copy it. It lacks the qualities of Romantic, Baroque and Renaissance artists leaning more towards the Post-Impressionist styles. This style definitely fits the quirky, dark atmosphere of his books as well as its other-worldly magical tone.
Now I chose this painting because I think it represents his talent and colorful art style most effectively. Featured are the twenty-five islands of Abarat, a world the heroine Candy Quakenbush travels to with the help of the thieves Mischief and his brothers. If you are interested in darker children’s stories and fantasy I would definitely look these books up. Word of warning: He releases each book every five to eight years so. . . you will have to wait awhile for the fourth book to come out. (It is best not to think about. Endurance is an admirable quality. Even if I want him to release the book so bad it hurts!!!) I mostly admire this painting because of how well it portrays the world of Abarat and the secret truths that lie beneath its turmoil and wars.
Moving forward now! So, why do I like this painting? Firstly, THE COLORS! They are so magical to me. I read this book for the first time when I was fourteen and the thing that stuck with me years later was how vibrant the colors were throughout all his paintings. This picture particularly stuck with me. The islands became my Narnia and Middle Earth. Just looking at this picture and its alluring shades of blue, gold, red and green brings the intense magical feeling the books provide.
Secondly, I love the balance between the sky and sea. Each island is a different hour of the day and as such the moon and sun stay locked in their separate positions. This painting shows the deep relationship between these two forces well. I remember reading in Egytian mythology that the earth and sky are lovers forever torn apart. The only way that they could think to reach one another was through the lights of the sun and moon, and rain and clouds. In Abarat, this painting shows that the day and night islands are inseparably connected despite their differences.
Lastly, I love the shape and feel of the clouds. They remind me somewhat of old Chinese paintings and the way they curve and swirl in the corners of paintings. Granted, these clouds are less formulaic but I love how they blend into their respective islands and around the sun and moon.
Overall, I think this painting is absolutely magical.