First Im­pres­sions

John be­lieves the best com­pli­ments about art come from those who don’t know they’re giv­ing them…

ImagineFX - - Artist Insight Colour Sketching - John Jude Palencar The art of Amer­i­can artist John Jude Palencar has ap­peared on over 100 book cov­ers. www.john­jude­pa­len­

What do you think people’s first im­pres­sion is of you? Mostly they mis­take my quiet­ness for ar­ro­gance. Once you get to know me, you can’t shut me up. I’m very crit­i­cal of my own work, as much as I am of other artists’ work. That may be why some people think I’m a bas­tard. At my age, it takes a lot to im­press me. I have a good eye for eval­u­at­ing art­work, but I’m most crit­i­cal of my own. When it’s not suc­cess­ful, I’m an­noyed at my­self for days. Even months.

Which artists in­spire you? Who are the artists I can’t stomach? That’s a bet­ter ques­tion. But I don’t think I’ll share my an­swers here. My ear­li­est in­flu­ences were Andrew Wyeth and Sal­vador Dali. My tastes have grown broader with ma­tu­rity. I’m more open­minded now and ap­pre­ci­ate any­thing done well. But if you’re an artis­tic phoney, take a hike.

Do you have a paint­ing rit­ual? Not re­ally. I try to work ev­ery­day in the stu­dio, and pre­fer work­ing at night. I usu­ally get up in the af­ter­noon – un­less I’m pulling an all-nighter – check emails and write a to-do list. I work in the evening, into the wee hours. Rinse and re­peat. Hey, I guess I do have a rit­ual. When did you first re­alise that you wanted to be an artist? Like most artists, I’ve been do­ing it since I was very young. In first grade, I’d watch an artist on TV (search for Jon Gnagy’s Learn to Draw on YouTube) so my par­ents bought me his deluxe art set. I was thrilled and on my way. You grow into it. You are pas­sion­ate. Ob­ses­sive about it. Art was the only thing I did well and had half a chance in.

Who was your first artis­tic crush? Prob­a­bly Jon Gnagy, a TV artist, then my high school art teacher, Fred­er­ick C Graff. Mr Graff is also a prac­tic­ing artist and made a good por­tion of his in­come

That may be why some think I’m a bas­tard. At my age, it takes a lot to im­press me

from his art. He truly saved me from be­ing a ju­ve­nile delin­quent. He was an award-win­ning wa­ter­colourist and I still use many of the tech­niques he taught me. He’s like an older brother and we have been good friends for over 30 years. Do you re­mem­ber the first im­age where you thought you’d nailed it? I think it was a wa­ter­colour land­scape in high school. There have been many paint­ings like that over the years. The key I find to “nail­ing it” is work­ing to­ward the im­age you have in your mind. I’ve never fully cap­tured my in­te­rior vi­sion, but when I’m close the paint­ings have been very suc­cess­ful and well re­ceived. What was the first bit of praise you re­ceived that spurred you on? Win­ning awards is grat­i­fy­ing. That en­cour­ages you. Also, at an ex­hi­bi­tion, hav­ing some­one com­ment­ing pos­i­tively while you’re stand­ing nearby and they don’t know you are the artist. If the dis­cus­sion that you’re eaves­drop­ping on is con­struc­tive then you can learn some­thing about yourself and your art. It could be some­thing you weren’t aware of, and that’s good.

And your first knock-back? At an ex­hi­bi­tion, hav­ing some­one com­ment­ing neg­a­tively while you’re stand­ing nearby and they don’t know you’re the artist. You can learn some­thing from that as well. I al­ways try to eval­u­ate all of these opin­ions by con­sen­sus and source. What was the last thing you painted, and were you happy with it? I can’t say what the last thing was be­cause it hasn’t been pub­lished yet. It was a sur­real piece. It was okay. We tend to work in clichés in this busi­ness. I will re­serve more de­tailed com­ment, that may in­crim­i­nate me, about the cover in ques­tion. Cur­rently I’m work­ing on a per­sonal paint­ing: it’s an as­sem­blage of items, sort of a sur­real, still-life fig­u­ral thing. It’s not com­plete yet, but it’s go­ing well. Also I’m do­ing sketches for some up­com­ing book cov­ers and in­te­ri­ors paint­ings for an au­thor’s col­lected works. All hush-hush, of course.

Roads to mad­ness This paint­ing of John’s was used as the cover for HP Love­craft’s Roads to Mad­ness novel.

Prophet no. 2 John first had his art pub­lished as a 15 year-old, when he won a lo­cal news­pa­per com­pe­ti­tion in Ohio. He’s been free­lance full-time since art school.

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