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How an Artist Uses Muted Color Palettes To Illustrate a Bleak World

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Penko Gelev is a freelance illustrator and comic artist in Sofia, Bulgaria with a decades long career of prolific and accomplished work. Gelev has worked in tons of industries as an artist in magazines, comics and films along with a series of exhibited works in 2012 as a member of “The Rainbow Project.” The best part of it all is that a great deal of Gelev’s output has been made available on the internet by the man himself. Gelev’s site are a treasure trove of illustrations and full page comics for those of us without access to this international artist. For the more artistic, contemplative side of Penko, look no further than his Villages collection. Here we get the perfect summation of his signature eye. His choice of color palate for one. In a lot of these pieces, Gelev uses a tantalizing blend of muted earthy tones, using a certain blue on a car or green on a motorcycle with just enough saturation to make the entire scene feel filled with color. It’s an odd sensation that gives a simultaneous sense that things are at once bleakly dead and alive with beauty. And that’s kind of how I feel about Gelev’s signature as a whole, bleak beauty. In each of these illustrations he captures a small village scene of life that feels small and large. It captures the beauty of the everyday in an area that feels sparse and secluded in some ways and yet fully lived-in and developed like a city of pleasant homes with only a person or two walking its streets. It’s an interesting contrast, a feeling of push and pull that I find incredibly compelling. Like all of his work, it’s worth a full viewing.


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