I've been a fan of Alan Lee since my artistically formative teenage years. I was first introduced to his work in the book 'Faeries', which he co-wrote and illustrated with another favourite artist of mine, Brian Froud.
Since then, I have accumulated a sizable collection of his books, from all of the Tolkien books he has illustrated, to a bunch of covers and other works. I particularly enjoy his work in 'Castles', 'The Moon's Revenge' and this book that I just got my hands on yesterday -
Alan Lee has illustrated a few books which would be considered children's picture books, namely 'The Moon's Revenge' and 'The Mirrorstone', and I had anticipated this one to be of the same ilk (which is by no means a bad thing!). But I was blissfully surprised to see, as the gentleman at one of my favourite bookshops, Charlie Byrne's in Galway, handed me the book (I'd had it on hold), that it is considerably larger than your average picture book. In fact, it is 167 pages long and has over 70 individual illustrations by Mr. Lee, varying from small pencilled pieces all the way up to near-full page watercolours of immense skill and beauty. Here's a sampling of them -
I wish I could use watercolours even half as well as Alan can, and his mastery of lighting is a wonder to behold. But what I like most about Alan Lee's art is his depiction of nature, and in particular, trees. Nobody I have seen can come close to the way he draws trees, full of magic and detail, and, perhaps most of all, atmosphere. He also draws really amazing castles and rock formations.
I still have a few key Alan Lee books to pick up, including 'The Golden Book of the Mysterious' and 'The Mabinogion', which are a little harder to come by these days. At least at an affordable price, that is.
But I'm very happy to finally have 'Merlin Dreams' on my bookshelf, and I can't recommend it enough to other folks looking for more of his work. So, here's the necessary details if you are looking to find it:-
Title: Merlin Dreams
Authors: Peter Dickinson & Alan Lee
You can see more images from the book over here if you you're interested.
In other news, I'm still drawing away too, with lots of Faerie Spreads for you to see. I will also be attempting some more polished work soon, so keep an eye out for what I come up with!