Friday, May 15, 2009

Cover Cafe article!

I've chosen an real classic from my collection of book covers past, in honor of the recent article posted in  This was for the book by Jennifer Blake, called Midnight Waltz that was published in 1984. It's interesting to notice what has changed and what has stayed the same about romance book covers in the intervening years. When I painted this, I was trying to bring back a fine art look to the cover image and I wanted to convey a mood that fit with the intense feeling of romance in the book. Amidst the bubble gum covers at the time, all screaming at the reader with huge, gigantic flowers and saturated colors, I thought this classical approach would really stand out. And it did! I understand this sold very well and was soon to garner a bunch of imitators. I still do these moody covers from time to time, when the subject seems to warrant it, but for the most part, publishers shy away from greys, browns, and dark purples. Yet I think this holds together because of its close color harmonies. It is saved from total gloom by the patch of orange sky, looming over the victorian hotel. There is a feeling danger and urgency, indicated by the blowing dark cloud, whipping palms and crashing waves. 
Another thing that was popular then, but has just begun to come back, is the image wrapping around to the back cover. At the time I did this, most artists treated the back cover differently from the front, often having a vignette showing another scene from the story. I felt it would be much better to sweep right across, continuing the panorama in one image. I'm sure the typesetters hated this, because their blocks of copy were harder to read, but I think the customers liked it. I also had an ulterior motive, with an eye toward the future, to create a painting that would make sense in a frame as a work of art. Some of these painting are in frames in private collections and they do work that way. The rest are in storage bins awaiting the day when they might be rediscovered like Pulp Fiction illustrations were a while back. At one time those cover paintings were hard to even give away, but after a good amount of time had passed  they became campy and interesting again. Their prices at auction have been rising ever since. 
I did many covers for Jennifer Blake books through the 80s and early 90s for Ballantine books. I'll haul one out and post it from time to time. Meanwhile, visit CoverCafe.  

Please leave your comments!