Charles Burchfield and Roger Dean

Burchfield and Dean couldn’t be more different as artists, but they each had a very unique way of looking at their worlds (both the real and fictional). Since they were brought up in class, I thought it would be interesting to have a little look at who they were/are and their collections of work.

Charles Burchfield

He was an American artist, born in 1893, and began painting at a very young age. At an early point in his life, he actually work on designing wallpaper (although hopefully not as vibrant as his paintings, otherwise it would induce a lot of headache in the home). His paintings primarily consisted of nature scenes or towns, while he worked exclusively in watercolours.

What I absolutely love about his work are the vibrant colours he used, but also how his scenes come alive with sound or evenĀ touch. So many of his works include brush strokes and aesthetic choices that conjure up what you might hear if you were standing in the middle of the scene, which is not something many artists can actually do. He was well known for giving animals (such as birds, frogs, and cicadas) and parts of his paintings their own distinctive “sound waves” in the form of brush strokes and design. Storms and fields actually feel like they’re striking you with wind or rain. It’s all very powerful stuff.

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This is more the kind of art I’m used to, having done Liberal Arts in college where I studied a lot more artists similar to Burchfield. I appreciate his work and the design choices he made, while being wholly impressed by his life. He still managed to keep himself and his family out of ruins during the Great Depression while his paintings steadily sold; that really just goes to show what a talented artist he was.

Roger Dean

He really is an amazing fantasy artist who has had a long and diverse career, starting from about the mid-60s and stretching into today. He still goes around to speak and show his work, which includes many things from paintings, album covers, even architectural design. He has a certain visual appeal to his paintings, using a lot of bright colours and fluidity to compliment his subject matter.

Overall, aside from his four main collections, he has produced over 100 different album covers for a slew of bands, including Yes and Asia. He has also done the cover artwork for 15 different video games; I immediately recognised him from doing the cover art for Shadow of the Beast, a Commodore 64 game I played way back when.

What I found immediately was the look and feel of his paintings so closely resembled the blockbuster movie Avatar, only to find out that he brought James Cameron to court over that exact thing. He filed a claim to the US District Court in 2013 that Cameron had used 14 of his paintings as inspiration for Avatar without Dean’s consent. The filmmakers ended up admitting they were influences by Dean’s works, but Dean’s case was dismissed in 2014. I think this is a bit of a shame, though, since even I can see the similarities.

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