The Hyper-Realistic Paintings of John-Mark Gleadow

Hyper-realistic painting of seven book spines by John-Mark Gleadow entitled The Finer Things

True hyper-realistic paintings are both a trick and treat for the eye. When this technique is masterfully achieved, one can feel like they’re looking through glass at a real object for a moment. Learning this art form takes many years of focus, practice, and determination.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the technique behind one of the most fascinating and beautiful artists on display at Marcus Ashley Gallery, John-Mark Gleadow. Gleadow specializes in book spine art that is so rich and vivid that it seems photographic. Indulge in his unbelievable creations and explore the pieces you can envision in your personal collection.

Dissecting Hyper-Realism

Like any art form, one can appreciate hyper-realism even more if they have an understanding of the techniques and skill required behind it. Hyper-realism already looks impressive to the untrained eye, but it’s even more mind-blowing when you’ve attempted to paint anything yourself.

Hyper-realism is not as simple as copying exactly what you see — far from it. To achieve hyper-realism with paint, you must have a remarkably perfect command of color mixing and an understanding of how color interplays with light, both of which are immensely hard to grasp even in computer-generated imagery. Doing it by hand requires patience and many, many years of practice.

Often, paintings that are not hyper-realistic seem a bit too perfect. This makes them beautiful in a way, naturally, but it also gives a sense of fantasy and surreality. To create a hyper-realistic painting, one must embrace imperfections and learn how to imitate the unpredictability and variety of nature.

There is a small difference between photorealism and hyper-realism. Photorealism strives to perfectly emulate a particular photograph, while hyper-realism attempts to go even further beyond by emulating real life as closely as possible. In short, hyper-realism is usually more detailed and gives a sense of “false reality”.

How Gleadow Achieves Hyper-Realism

It is possible, albeit sometimes difficult, to achieve hyper-realism using mediums such as water color, pastels, pencils, acrylic paint, and so on. Gleadow, however, opts for the richest and most classic of all paints: oils. He prefers oils for their malleability and durability, like so many great artists before him. His inspirations include Rene Magritte, Salvador Dali and Vermeer, all of whom had an impressive command over oil painting techniques to manipulate how they portrayed (or did not portray) reality in their respective styles.

You may not notice it at first if you only see his literary artwork online and not in person, but his book spine art is actually larger than life. This is one of the ways Gleadow is able to achieve such precision detail — he enlarges reality in order to have closer control over shading and miniscule lighting effects.

Popular Works By John-Mark Gleadow at Marcus Ashley Gallery

John-Mark Gleadow has produced a large amount of realistic artwork, all of which is as eye-catching as the last. Here’s just a sampling of the Gleadow collection we have on display at our gallery.

Hyper-realistic oil painting of nine travel book spines with a small globe by John-Mark Gleadow entitled Across the Globe
Across the Globe” by John-Mark Gleadow, limited edition giclee on canvas

This remarkable book spine art by Gleadow features both part of the shelf and a miniature globe beside the books, both seamlessly incorporated into the overall realism. The books share a similar color palette and size, adding a satisfying homogeneity that’s pleasantly offset by the beautiful miniature.

Hyper-realistic painting of seven book spines  by John-Mark Gleadow entitled - Could You? Would You?
Could You? Would You?” by John-Mark Gleadow, limited edition giclee on canvas

The mint condition of the six exterior books stands in sharp contrast to the damage and wear shown on the central study bible. Directly to its left stands a hefty title, a story of Warren Buffet’s road to capitalism, and the story of Gandhi stands nearby. The painter’s stance on these topics and the wear of these books is unclear — is the bible worn from use, or mistreatment? It’s up to the viewer to interpret.

Three hyper-realistic book spines with a paintbrush sticking out, entitled Love by John-Mark Gleadow
Love” by John-Mark Gleadow, limited edition giclee on canvas

This painting is a break from Gleadow’s usual row-style literary artwork. Rather than a row of spines, this book spine art piece is a close-up of three intricate, bold book covers. This Gleadow piece is phenomenal for its ability to perfectly replicate classical artwork and simultaneously manage to make it look like it’s being stretched on glossy paper around a book. The mastery over lighting, color, and shading an artist has to have to produce this level of hyper-realistic painting is hard to believe!

Hyper-realistic painting of seven book spines entitled Bibliotheque VI by John-Mark Gleadow
Bibliotheque VI” by John-Mark Gleadow, limited edition giclee on canvas

Each of these book spines contains a topic of great weight and cultural significance. Each topic can also spark instant reactions and emotions from our own personal experiences. These provocative titles are masterfully painted, like all of his works, and the subject matter adds weight and interest to Gleadow’s impeccable hyper-realistic painting formula.

Explore Gleadow’s Book Spine Art at Marcus Ashley Gallery

If you’ve been fascinated by the hyper-realistic book spine art of John-Mark Gleadow, we welcome you to explore the rest of his collection with us. Come visit our expansive gallery in person in beautiful South Lake Tahoe, or explore fine artwork from wherever you are with our online gallery.

Marcus Ashley Gallery has a number of premier gallery services including insured international shipping, custom framing, certificates of replacement value, financing options, and more. We handle every service with professionalism and expertise, and we can answer any of your questions. Enjoy the world of classic and contemporary art and further your art collection with ease.