General: The title of this work is "Oathkeeper" and it was illustrated by artist Kevin Hong working out of New York. The art direction was by Soojin Buzelli, and the work was commissioned for the site Plansponsor on an article about "The time and place for Legal Council." The design is of a regal figure, like a Lord standing above a warrior kneeling in submission for the knighting that's taking place. The strongest element of the design here are the complex balances between the figures and nature and again between the two figures themselves.
The primary element in the background is the tree, winding upwards in a flowing pattern, with lightly defined contours. At the top, the bark reaches into the tree's flat and implied canopy that is created with jagged contours. From the canopy petals are drifting from the left of the image to the right, and down into the grass below. The ground and its elements are emphasized through the perspective, which is at a low angle and facing upwards, so that the blades of grass and flowers spotted among them stand tall in the picture. The backdrop of the design is of pure sky, with a few clouds that are implied with the absence of any contour lines.
There are two primary characters, The most prominent is the Lord who is standing to the left, her head adorned with a jeweled crown and her hair falling into a single braid. There's a short and padded shawl covering her shoulders, and beneath she's wearing something like a decorated dress, or long two layered tunic. On the back of which is the design of something like a peacock. She has a thin sword in her right hand, which looks like it's more for symbolic purposes (like knighting someone) than anything physical. The second figure is of a woman kneeling, with head bowed in a posture appropriate for knighting. She is wearing a suit of armor, which in comparison to the flowing dress of the Lord, is more geometric and rigid. Her armor is segmented and layered in repeated shingles across her upper arms and the battle dress around her waist. In her right hand is a sword plunged into the ground with a blade and hilt more broad than that the one the Lord is holding. In her left hand is a helmet with a blue plume rising out of it. Despite how conservative the warrior aesthetic is, especially in comparison to her Lord, she does have a few sentimental elements in her design. There's a bow tied around her shin, and the plate near her knees is shaped like a heart. And unlike the braided hair of her counterpart, her hair is falling freely.
Generally, the colors across the work are muted and grainy variations of natural hues of blue, green, red and brown, as well as conservative grays, and ornate golds. The canopy of the trees and the petals falling from it are a solid red, while the bark is two tones of brown, one shaded the other lighted. The sky is very softly colored in bright blue near the height of the picture and descends into light reds and pinks as the sky meets the green of the landscape below. The Lorde is the most ornately colored figure in the design. Within her dress, she wears the same blues, greens, and reds that are featured in the background but in her, they're all represented in more vibrant variations, and each is accented with gold. As an interesting inverse the Knights attire also features the same blues, greens and red's that are in the background, but in her design, they are used more conservatively presented, with the gray of her armor dominating her design.
Thematic Significance and Notes:
At one level this illustration can be read as an analogy for the Plansponsor article it was commissioned for. The article is about Sponsors finding the proper attorneys, so you could read the picture as an analogy for the subject of the article, where the Lord represents sponsor, choosing her proper and loyal knight or attorney.
At a deeper level though, the design is an illustration on the complex balances between mirrored figures. The winding tree in the background is a key to understanding the theme, it bisects the two central figures and balances them against each other, similar to how plates on either side of a scale are balanced. Except, unlike a scale where the balance is perfectly even, here the tree suggest the balance is an unorthodox one. In some places, it winds in favor of the Lord and in other places it winds towards the Knight. This idea of complex balances between mirrored elements is repeated again and again throughout the picture, between the two figures but also between the figures and their relationship to the background environment. Each of the figures wears the colors of the background, but one wears them completely while the other uses them only as accents. The Lord is standing at a gently sloping angle in relationship to the ground, while the Knight is kneeling and posed with sharp angles. Even the Knights sword is perfectly perpendicular to the ground, while the Lords is slanted.
But a significant inverse to the theme that's been set up, where the Knight has been portrayed as conservative and angular, and the Lord as flamboyant and gently flowing, is shown in their hair. The hair of the Knight hangs freely while the hair of the Lorde is braided in a tight pattern.
It's a very cool design, that reflects on the infinite ways figures can be posed in unorthodox and yet perfect balances to one another.