Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Master of Architectural Fantasy

Douglas created this superb pen and ink illustration for "The Haunted Doll's House" by M. R. James (Ghosts and Scholars number 16, 1993). The menacing monster in the foreground seizes our attention. Less noticeable are the architectural details in the background, details that hint at the artist's experience with the theater . . . where he designed and created scenery. In this illustration, architectural space is compressed. The flattened layers of space refer to theatrical perspective and theatrical space, where elements are arranged--plane after plane--like layers of theatrical scenery within the depth of a stage. Stylized "space" and unreal architectural elements make the illustrations of Douglas Walters unique and dreamlike.

Monday, December 31, 2007

A Master of Pen and Ink

Even the simplest illustration by Douglas Walters is technically and emotionally complex. Less sophisticated "horror" illustrators rely on trite images of laughing skulls, menacing ghosts, leering Satans, or angry demons. That's why most horror illustrations seem unintelligent and unimportant, like Halloween clip-art. But the monster (above) drawn by Douglas Walters expresses uncertainty and pathos. The posture is an expression of despair; the fingers curl in futility--even the toes of the foot (far left) manage to communicate lost hope. The drama is elegant and unexpected, and has an eerie emotional resonance.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Illustration for "Lost Hearts"

Douglas Walters excels at scratchboard, which is a medium that can defeat artists (like me) who are less gifted. This masterful illustration for "Lost Hearts"--by M. R. James--appeared in Ghosts and Scholars number 19, 1995. The central figure in this particular illustration radiates extreme emotional energy; the emotional radiation is transmitted to the firelight and the smoke and the shadows. The emotive force of this image is the outward expression of the emotional power of the artist. So many images created by Douglas Walters can be likened to seismographic renderings of extreme states of mind. Depictions that are deeply felt affect the viewer in a more intense way than illustrations that are merely "visually pleasing."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Artwork of Douglas Walters

There are exceptions, but illustrations rarely transcend category. An illustration transcends category when it transports us and we experience “aesthetic bliss.” It is with this kind of art that I am chiefly concerned. The artwork of Douglas Walters emanates eerily from the pages of a book like the refractions of a midnight prism. His line drawings are imbued with a macabre exuberance, a mad lyricism, a phantasmal music that the eye seems to hear . . . that linger long after the book is closed. His beautiful nightmarish illustrations have graced the pages of All Hallows, Enigmatic Tales, Ghosts and Scholars, and have appeared in books published by Sarob Press, Ash-Tree Press and Calabash Press. He produces artwork at a magisterial level. In a commercialized market, where the collective work of genre illustrators has merged into one huge and magically unaffecting tapestry, the artistry of Douglas Walters stands out.