Kinuko Craft (illustrator and commentary), Kinuko Craft: Drawings
& Paintings
(Imaginosis, 2007)

The Web site for this talented illustrator says of this impressive 'exhibition catalog' that:

Kinuko Craft: Drawings & Paintings collects for the first time an extraordinary selection from the artist’s thirty-six year career as she portrays mythic heroes and heroines, fairy princesses, historic figures, gods and goddesses and enchanted landscapes with profound insight into the true nature of the fantastic. These are works of remarkable beauty and power, glowing with jewel-like luminosity, a testament to the artist’s exceptional skill and craftsmanship, that are sure to appeal to lovers of fantasy of all ages.

Though accurate, it barely begins to tell the tale of just how good Craft is and how well this book represents her work.

Kudos on that account to the publisher, Imaginosis who say the firm was ' [c]reated by Robert Gould in 1999, Imaginosis is a transmedia arts company that works with visual artists and writers to strategically create, develop, produce, distribute and manage intellectual properties for a variety of media that maintain the integrity, quality, imagination and philosophy of the creator's original vision.' If this work is any indication, they are indeed a truly great company!

I've said it before but it bears repeating here. . . . Eye candy is good and I always enjoy it -- particularly really great eye candy. Eye candy is anything that's most remarkable for its visual appeal. The term is often interpreted as derogatory, implying that the object relies solely upon its visual appeal for any value it may have, but I prefer to think of eye candy as a positive attribute when it comes to the matter of artwork intended to enhance one's appreciation of a book In the case of Kinuko Craft, she is the reason that I own a full set of the Patricia McKillip hardcover work in the Ace Books editions that have wrap-around cover illustrations by her. These small works look like a book designer of the fey persuasion decided to create an entire series of books that pleased both mind and the eye. Am I perhaps overstating the case just a bit? Not at all. Just look at the cover of Winter Rose with its lovely female and owl on her shoulder -- both look realistic and as if they stepped out of fairy tale! Or perhaps you'd prefer a look at the rather cool dragon which graces the cover of the Harrowing the Dragon collection? Now go look at the full for Od Magic which you can see on Craft's official site here. Now imagine an entire series of wrap-around cover illustrations gracing, and I do mean gracing, the covers of some of the finest fiction you'll ever read!

(The latest McKillip novel on Ace, Solstice Wood, does not have artwork by Craft -- it really is an odd artistic change from the work by Craft as Gary Blythe has an entirely different style. No idea why this decision was made, nor do I know if it means Craft will not being doing future McKillip works published by Ace. I hope she will indeed be doing more of McKillip's works!)

Not a terribly big book, unlike say the two volumes I have on Maurice Sendak or the dozens of volumes devoted to Maxfield Parrish, which I have collected over many decades, it measures a very petite 9 x 11 in its hardcover format with eight full color pages. Ahhhh, think of the marvels in those slender McKillip works that I just mentioned -- here too lies many a wonder! Just open it to any page, say the double page spread on 26 and 27 of 'Ombria in Shadow', which became the cover art for the McKillip novel of the same name. On the cover there is (naturally) text and other needed design elements overlaying the glorious artwork. Here you get the full impact of both the female character and teh amazing surroundings! Lovely!!! Likewise the posters she did for the Dallas Opera are exemplary for their depiction of Das Rheingold, Die Walkure , Siegfried, and Gotterdamerung are properly Teutonic in their execution.

Certainly anyone interested in top-notch fantasy illustration should have a copy of this work. Oh, I forgot to mention that McKillip provides a brief introduction that I wish had been longer! All in all, an excellent addition has been made to my library!

[Cat Eldridge]