Mark Payne studied technical and scientific illustration for four years. Having graduated, Mark became a member of the Society of Illustrators, Artists and Designers followed by 33 years as a full-time artist and illustrator, producing work for numerous national and international publishers, advertising agencies and galleries.
Mark’s current collection of rare book and magazine art generally begins with a monochrome under-painting, usually in shades of grey or ochre, on a white surface. Once fully dry, it is painted over with successive layers of transparent colour known as ‘glazes’. Each new glaze changes the optical qualities of the layers beneath, resulting in a richness and purity of colour that is otherwise very hard to achieve.
The technique is time-consuming as it’s essential that each glaze is allowed to dry thoroughly before the next is applied. Between glazes, the painting is lightly sanded, giving the finished painting a beautifully smooth, glossy surface. This method of applying colour has some important advantages over the traditional method of mixing colours with an opaque base.
Mark says that, while wanting to honour and pay tribute to the original jacket designers and their unquestionable talents, his paintings are portraits of some very old, well-loved books, the way they are now. Novels, poetry, history and a range of subjects all attract his interest.
The paintings themselves are much larger than life with every tear, crease and blemish, carefully and accurately recorded. Mark Payne aims not just to reproduce the original cover artwork like a poster but to paint the whole book as a real, three-dimensional object with all its imperfections – the evidence of life – so that when mounted and sensitively lit, the illusion is created of a real, giant 3D book. It really is a living thing.