Thursday, May 19, 2011


I like the combination of power and sensitivity in this lovely drawing by Kent Williams.

His composition is fearless; look at how boldly he plants that figure in the center of the page, perfectly balanced as if by a Zen master.  No need to hedge his bets with wispy lines implying a background.  His primeval "L" shape is a design so basic and timeless it might as well have been etched into a cave wall.

Yet, the strength of his design doesn't undermine the subtlety of his drawing.

Williams' shading starts our eyes at the model's face, but the shading is soon softened by gouache as we travel down her body.  The shading disappears altogether where her sparsely drawn toes form a  peninsula with his signature.

Williams' sensitive line displays the kind of clarity that only comes with genuine knowledge of the human form.

Artists have been drawing the human form since the world was new.  There is certainly nothing shockingly original about this basic pose.  Isn't it marvelous, then, that variations such as this one  continue to delight, inspire and educate us?


Anonymous said...

Love this guy's work . He began with a smooth early J.Jones approach , painted with Jones , and loosened up towards his signature style .

I don't think at this point he consciously refers to any influence , be it Jones or Schiele . He had a nice article in the Jan. issue of Art Calender where he speaks of how one's own style emerges in time from "sweat equity"

Speaking of Jeffrey Jones , he just passed away - rough past couple of years - Fuchs Wyeth Frazetta .

Al McLuckie

Laurence John said...

i'm a big fan of William's early comic watercolour work such as 'Blood: a Tale', the Hellraiser covers and the Wolverine comic he did with Muth (can't remember the title).
not keen on the recent oil paintings.

MORAN said...

Williams is one of the few artists who is both a convincing fine artist and a convincing comic artist. He is a great talent and this is an especially nice example of his work. Thanks.

kev ferrara said...

I like the bold lines, and the way he captures the texture of the skin and hair. There's always a nice jazz energy to KW's work.

David Apatoff said...

Al McLuckie-- I agree with you that Williams may have started with some well chosen role models but he has formed his own distinctive style, and he did it the right way.

Laurence John-- Williams has a new show of oil painting and drawings at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery in LA. Take a look ( Take a look, I'd be interested in your reaction.

MORAN-- Agreed.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara-- "jazz energy" is a nice way to put it. There is a definite offbeat riff to his work.

Anonymous said...

Williams is the best "fine" artist working in graphic novels today. I'd like to see him do more, although I understand why he prefers to sell oil paintings at ritzy galleries.


Zepol Ilustradora said...

Buenas e interesantes ilustraciones. Saludos

Laurence John said...


Kent's earlier work transports me somewhere else, to a sort of timeless landscape of human emotion. with the recent oil paintings i'm too aware of the model in the studio setting (which he deliberately highlights by dropping in paint-cans and electrical cables and other props) to really be taken somewhere else.

Rob Stolzer said...

David, I love these breakdowns of yours. I do also love Williams' figure drawings. There is a subtle power to them, simmering under the surface. When that line of his is on, it conveys so much information with such relatively few means.

For some reason, this piece reminds me a bit of Lucien Freud's compositions. Something about the imbalance, or potential energy in the drawing.

Unknown said...

The look from the woman in this piece just grabs you and pulls you in. It's like an illustrator's version of a bear trap, but much more enjoyable.
I'm really enjoying your blog!

Myron said...

I love Kent Williams work. Ink, pen, pencil, brush, all of it. One of my personal influences as well.

David Apatoff said...

Anonymous-- I think Williams' work benefits from the fact that he walks both sides of that street.

Zepo Ilustradora-- Gracias!

Laurence John-- I agree that much of Williams' current oil painting seems more concerned with the here and now than with overtly timeless and mythological subjects. Not only does he prominently include the trappings of an art studio but he seems to insert himself into the pictures as well. And I certainly appreciate the timelessness of drawings like the one featured here, Having said that, his oil paintings still manage to "take me somewhere else."

Rob-- Thanks, I agree that Lucien Freud is a good comparison. And I think that Williams' better drawings hold their own quite well in comparison to Freud's.

David Apatoff said...

Suzette-- thanks, I agree about the look that Williams captured and I appreciate your writing in.

Myron-- yes, I think that Williams is one of the more influential artists among the current crop of illustrators.