Showing posts from September, 2007
.This is my demo from this weeks class. Posted as a reference for the students but I hope the rest of you like it too.


You can tell a lot about an artist by whether they see forests or trees.

Some view a forest as a lot of individual trees. Others think that increasing the quantity of trees changes the quality of their appearance as well.

It's kind of like boiling water. You increase the temperature of water one degree at a time, until suddenly it changes from a liquid to a gas. Quantitative change turns into a qualitative change.

When artists draw a crowd, some choose to draw a lot of individuals:

Others don't draw every individual--but they like to imply every individual. Here, Frazetta puts a few representative figures out front, then uses stray arms and legs to suggest the balance of the crowd:

Here, Noel Sickles uses highlighting to carve individuals from the dark masses of crowd on either side of this painting. He is such a brilliant draftsman, he did not compromise on the individual characters the way Frazetta did, nor did he overwork the picture the way that maniac in the Renault ad (above…
Susan, watercolor sketch.


Morton Roberts (1927-1964) was a serious painter, a child prodigy who graduated from the fine arts program at Yale University and launched a career as an illustrator for magazines such as Collier's, Redbook and McCall's in the 1950s and early 60s.

A frenzied peasant dance becomes an abstract design
He was one of a small group of gifted illustrators selected to illustrate historical series for Life magazine. While still a young man, he won respect for this series on Russian history:

Lenin greets the troops
Arpi Ermoyan wrote about this painting,
Roberts' composition is so well conceived that although the main character of the story, Lenin, is off to the left side of the picture, the eye is immediately drawn to him by the strategically placed red flag. The horizontal line formed by the tops of the soldiers heads also leads the eye directly to him.This is clearly an artist who knew what he was doing.
Roberts also painted a series for Life on jazz and a series on opera.



When Norman Rockwell launched his illustrious career, his first studio was a small attic room in a brothel. All afternoon a piano played in the parlour downstairs.

Rockwell later recalled, "a rough wooden stairway without railings led up to a trap door in the third floor ceiling." There Rockwell painted in a room so small that whenever one of the prostitutes who lived downstairs wanted to come up to smoke a cigarette and chat, Rockwell had to move his easel so the trap door could open.

The famous painter Rene Magritte lived with his wife for 24 years in a cramped three room apartment in the industrial suburbs of Brussels. The only space for his easel was in their small dining room. There he painted most of his pictures that are now hanging in major museums around the world.

Even the great Michelangelo worked in a small space. For a while, he lived in a tiny room under San Lorenzo, where his charcoal sketches on the walls can be seen to this day. At one point in his career, Mich…

Upcoming classes and workshops


If you're in the LA area and would like to join me for a class or workshop, we have three events coming up.
My next 10 week course is head drawing, starting on Monday, October 22, 7-10 pm.
I'm doing an all day color workshop with lectures, slide shows and painting from a costumed model on Saturday, Oct 27, 10am-6pm.
And Soonest, I'm giving a talk we're calling "From Student to Professional and Beyond" on Monday, Oct 15, 7-9:30 pm. It's for any student or professional artist seeking improvement and will cover the skills, tools, workspace, attitudes and habits of of the successful working artist. I've been working hard on this presentation so I'm gunna go out on a limb and guarantee there'll be at least one thing in it that will make it worth your time and effort. Contact the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art at (877) MY-LAAFA, Hope to see you soon.


Critics argue constantly about whether comic art qualifies as a fine art. Rather than debate which kinds of art win the "Fine Art" trophy, it is more interesting to compare the different strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of art. For example, there are ways in which comics can be the ideal art form, better suited than painting or sculpture to bring out the strengths of an artist. It seems to me that no other art form in history has provided such fertile soil for true eccentrics to develop and display their personalities.

There is only a handful of truly famous eccentrics in art history: William Blake, the 18th century English mystic, recorded his dreams and religious visions in drawings and poems. Blake and his wife used to sit nude in front of guests and recite passages from Paradise Lost.

His distinctive artwork reflected his own odd personality and was not part of any school.

Other famous eccentrics include Richard Dadd, who was mentally ill, and Salvador Dali, who …


You will be tempted to skip over this post because it has the word "moderation" in the title, and instead go looking for some juicy blog about extreme misbehavior.

You should resist that temptation, at least for a few paragraphs.

We tend to bristle at anything smelling like censorship or restraint. Moderation is contrary to the freedom that all artists crave, even when they have no important use for it.

In a recent post I quoted the war cry from the
Futurist Manifesto which ushered in the art of the 20th century:
We must break down the gates of life to test the bolts and the padlocks....Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry...To admire an old picture is to pour our sensibility into a funeral urn instead of casting it forward with violent spurts of creation and action.... We want to demolish museums and libraries [and] fight morality... .20th century art seemed to race through one extreme style after another:



Viewer warning: to illustrate our continuing discussion on censorship, art and pornography, this post contains a few images that are more explicit than usual. None of them qualify as "hard core." All of them are readily available to our children, so I figure you should be capable of dealing for a few minutes with what they are seeing.

A number of you seem to share my view that government censorship of art is unacceptable. At the same time, you also agree there are lots of trashy pictures circulating freely that might mislead or even damage young people in their formative stages.

As one of the commenters on my last post noted,
Young women, being more often than not blissfully unaware of the content of average pornography, are in no position to discover their sexualities with men of their own age who have already been exposed to objectifying depictions of the female body. And young men develop an unhealthy and false i…