Fantasy sequences can lend themselves to a sense of clutter, of swords clashing over battle cries, of crowds of grumbling monsters, of nefarious creatures scuttling through the woodwork. Tim Durning sometimes portrays that mystical chaos, but he also finds the quieter moments in his fantasy illustrations, moments where the only sound evoked is the wind rustling through tree branches. That sense of silence draws the focus in on the lovely women that so often form the hearts of his pieces.

In addition to his personal work, many of the pieces Durning has posted to his portfolio site and his blog are commissioned illustrations he's done for editorial, comics and book covers. Even when he's working with someone else's materials, he shows a real knack for portraying women with an understated beauty in intriguing and mysterious situations. His original pieces, including the woman crying in the circle of tiny ships and his pagan Halloween illustration, tend to be more complex, but are similarly lovely. He's also done some simpler illustrations of other people's cats, giving them a lightly heraldic feel. For a while, he was offering pet portrait commissions on his Etsy store, and I hope he returns to them. I'd like to figure out my pooch's coat of arms.