There are things that strike you straight away about Mark’s paintings: the meticulous nature of the work and the way the change in scale from book size to painting alters your perception of the cover. Other things creep up on you more slowly. The care taken in choosing the subject matter and the sense of depth from the use of shadow and many layers of paint. Eventually you realise these are not just paintings of a book and its cover. These are loving portraits of a particular book and its history and as a result they are surprisingly intimate and thought provoking.
As a director of a creative agency, it’s not often that I feel so humbled when encouraged by a mutual friend to share the latest creative output of another. In Mark’s case, I felt privileged to have shared his process and the end results of his incredible paintings.
I’m an instant fan and I cannot remember the last time I felt so close to the subject matter, which in itself is so appealingly refreshing and original, but also combined with the evident technical mastery involved in creating photorealistic oil on canvas paintings, they are wonderfully endearing pieces of timeless art.
Clearly a master of his craft, his 35 years of illustrative expertise has shown us today what he’s capable of and as I lust after his entire collection, the single frustration I have is making a decision as to which one I want!
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” so they say, but in the case of these wonderful paintings, the cover IS the content. Every visible tear, stain and finger mark is immaculately portrayed, leaving the viewer to imagine the history of the book. The superb artistry and skill illustrated by these paintings must surely reflect the artist’s affinity with books, in an age where the digital screen is in danger of denying the young the pleasure of the hand held book. Mark has produced paintings which are a joy to behold and must surely become collector’s items to be cherished both as works of art and historical reference.
Mark Payne is a remarkable artist whose work in time will surely find its place in the most discerning collections. Not only is his technique quite astonishingly developed, with an accuracy of line, shade, texture and colour reproduction that matches the most advanced painters of our time, but his quality of expression is equally enriched and convincing.
There is something genuinely three dimensional about the “portraits”. It no doubt comes from the love of the subjects, and respect for the original artists. How he achieves this remains a mystery for the non technician, but it appears to be something to do with the long term commitment to the execution of this art, which lies in the pains-taking application of many layers of transparent paint to create an “old master” quality and depth for the eye to appreciate.
This expression-originated technique issues in a kind of spiritual dimension to the canvases, where you find yourself looking long and deep into the artwork, as you might into a medieval icon.
There is no doubt to me that this series of book portraits are both beautiful and fascinating. They are not mere replications, but recreations of the books and their presentations which clearly fascinate this painter. I feel confident that my reactions will be widely shared – that these portraits will delight the eyes and maybe even the souls of those who will delightedly gaze upon them for many years to come.