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Showing posts from August, 2006

STANDARDS

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Recently, a column in Editor & Publisher magazine proclaimed that the comic strip For Better or Worse (above) is "the best comic in the 111-year history of the modern newspaper strip." Labeling the creator an "artistic genius," the column argued that For Better or Worse surpasses strips such as Krazy Kat, Little Nemo, Calvin & Hobbes, Peanuts and Terry and the Pirates.



In the LA Times, art dealer Karen de la Carriere asserted that Kinkade, the painter of unmitigated twaddle, "is a modern day Leonardo da Vinci or Monet. There is no one in our generation who can paint like that."



Not to be outdone, the NY Times Magazine pronounced Art Spiegelman the “Michelangelo" of the comic world.

For many years, I thought the only polite response when critics publicly embarrassed themselves was to look the other way, just as you would for someone whose bodily functions got the best of them during a momentary lull at a party.

But when you have a blog like this, …
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The strangler fig
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Watercolor sketch of Clark Allen
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Butterfly

AHHHHHHH..... NOEL SICKLES

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Alex Toth argued that art should be stripped of all gimmicks and pretension:
Simplicity is a great god. Truth. Throw out all the junk. There's a saying which says: "to add to truth subtracts from it." Make it so simple you can't cheat. No illustrator of the 20th century drew with more honesty and less pretension than the great Noel Sickles. He was a born draughtsman with an almost supernatural drawing ability. He had no use for pretension.

These stunning Civil War drawings were for an obscure article buried in the middle of a magazine from the 1950s. They were published at approximately the same size as you see them here. They have never been republished nor mentioned as significant examples of Sickles' work. But no matter how humble their size or format, their extraordinary beauty and purity are worth close study today.















This is what I mean when I talk about "drawing."

I LOVES POSSUMS TOO

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Why would any artist choose to work in the medium of the comic strip? The pictures are squeezed into tiny boxes where they compete for space with word balloons. The quality of reproduction is usually awful. And for writers, the medium has even less to offer. There is never enough space for words, and the flow of the narrative is chopped into short installments.

For many, these inherent drawbacks prevent comics from ever being a platform for truly excellent art.

But for at least one eccentric group, comics seem to be the best possible medium. Some artists with a strong personality and a talent for both words and images have found that comics allow them the freedom to combine all their strengths and realize their full artistic potential. These include George Herriman (Krazy Kat), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy) and Harold Gray (Little Orphan Annie). These creators could not have achieved the same heights by drawing and writing as two separate disciplines.

Among the greatest to use the special p…
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More drawings of Clark Allen
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A quick sketch of Trace Devai.

WINOLD REISS

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Winold Reiss was a German art student who painted in the Viennese style and came to America to meet American Indians but ended up in Harlem where he gained fame designing nightclubs and drawing portraits of black celebrities of the day. Are you following this so far?



Even if you are familiar with Reiss' work, you probably haven't seen his best efforts because they lie in storage at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and rarely see the light of day. You can find some of his Indian portraits (yes, Reiss eventually made it to Montana) on a web site started by Reiss' family. But the books and magazines Reiss illustrated are out of print and it is difficult to find quality reproductions of his work. Here is a close up:



I think Reiss' Harlem work is strikingly beautiful. On the following portrait, you can tell from Reiss' signature way down in the corner that Reiss intended every single square inch of that white space.





The following pictures are examples of how…

WHERE MEN AND MOUNTAINS MEET

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William Blake, the great English mystic, observed:Great things are done when men and mountains meet;
This is not done by jostling in the street.
That is why I have a special fondness in my heart for artists such as Kaethe Kollwitz (1867-1945) who were driven to grapple with the big subjects-- life and death, injustice, war and peace.



Kollwitz lived through two World Wars in Germany where she worked with her husband in the most impoverished areas of Berlin. Her artwork passionately depicted the plight of the poor and oppressed. As a mother and peace activist, she suffered the twin nightmares of losing her son in World War I and losing her grandson in World War II. Here is her mournful picture of a mother searching for her dead son on a battlefield:



Kollwitz was persecuted by Nazi goons who considered her pictures "degenerate art." Her career was blocked and her home was bombed but she refused to be intimidated into leaving Germany. She also refused to stop working, saying "D…
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Clark Allen, charcoal demonstration. (click to enlarge)These demonstration posts are here as an online resource for my drawing class. For more information go to www.laafigart.com.
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Laura, charcoal demonstration
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