Last Ship Home by Rodney Matthews (book review).

April 28, 2018 | By | Reply More

After seeing some samples of Rodney Matthews’ artwork in Illustrators # 21 a few months back, I looked around to see if I could pull any of his books. From the looks of things, despite all his posters, book and album covers, there aren’t that many. ‘Last Ship Home’ was the second book he did for publisher Paper Tiger back in 1989.

Here, we see a selection of his work, both finished and pencil stage, with text by Nigel Suckling, expressing Matthews’ views an opinions about his work. Matthews comes from Somerset, my home county, before moving to Wales to be near the Snowdonia National Park. Environment is everything after all and I suspect Exmoor would probably have been very bleak in comparison.

Matthews’ work here borders Science Fiction and fantasy and, it has to be said, even then, he limits some of his subjects because of his religious beliefs. I do have to wonder if there are few people around who see the Norse gods as being anything but mythology these days.

I think what surprised me most reading here though was he doesn’t really like using an airbrush and only uses it sparingly. Considering he uses inks a lot of the time, its matt finish could be confused with that. Matthews also works in acrylics, watercolour and gouache and does very tight pencils. There is a predominance for land and cityscapes here far more than with figurework, although when he does do them, it is the colour range that sells them. Considering the clients he worked for and asked to do similar paintings to subjects he’s already covered, it’s inevitable that you do get locked down to particular subjects.

There’s a delicate texture to his work and I think that’s more a result of his initial drawn sketches before painting. His colour range varies from painting to painting, presumably to the needs of those who commission his work The muted tones do give an effect reminiscent of a cloudy day even in modern times. When you consider how much modern art relies on bright colours, it should give current artists some food for thought. For those of you interested in drawing specialised fonts, Matthews has done many and the samples here will at least show you what can be done.

If you haven’t seen any of Matthews’ work before, then it’s worth picking up these early books.

GF Willmetts

April 2018

(pub: Paper Tiger, 1989. Price: just under £ 9.00 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 1-85028-096-7)

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Category: Books, Illustration

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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