Looking at a painting by Gregory Manchess is like stepping into another world. Over the course of his forty years as a professional illustrator, the Kentucky-born, New York– and Oregon-based Manchess has created an adventurous and sweepingly immersive body of work, rendering science-fiction and historical subject matter with delicate brushwork, a sharp eye for detail, and a beguiling sense of adventure. Influenced by American oil painters like John Singer Sargent, Norman Rockwell, and Dean Cornwell, his awe-inspiring panoramas have graced gallery walls, postage stamps, and book pages—his illustrated novel Above the Timberline was published in 2017 by Simon & Schuster—as well as several Criterion editions.
Recently, we paid a visit to the easygoing Manchess’s New York studio, and to an exhibition of his Above the Timberline artwork at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for the latest installment in our Studio Visits series. The above video offers a fascinating window into the practice the artist has developed over the years, and an opportunity to see him at painstaking work. Manchess, a film lover himself, also discusses working on his covers for Criterion, including arresting painterly images for our editions of the historical epic A Night to Remember and the western Jubal. As he says here, the latter title posed a particular challenge: nailing Ernest Borgnine’s likeness.