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Showing posts from February, 2008
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I've made an honest effort to read the literary classics. I even made it a third of the way through Ulysses. But the genre I always end up coming back to is science fiction. Especially "hard sf"; science fiction that allows any leap of the authors imagination within the boundaries of plausible science. What great fun to read about distant corners of the universe, the far future or explorations of the here and now that are not just flights of fancy. They could in some way really happen.
Here are some writers who do it particularly well:
Larry Niven (Mote in God's Eye is a must)Greg Bear ( The Forge of God and especially it's sequel Anvil of Stars are excellent)David BrinGregory BenfordDave Wolverton (I can hardly believe that On My Way to Paradise was the first novel he wrote)Orson Scott Card (not necessarily "hard" but you'll never hear me complain)Stanislaw Lem ( you may have read Solaris, but try Fiasco)
John Brunner ( A Maze of Stars takes …

HAROLD GRAY: AN APPRECIATION

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No one bothers to think too much about Little Orphan Annie anymore. Decades ago, Harold Gray's classic comic strip was analyzed, categorized and handed over to the domain of the archivists and historians.

Yet, judged by today's artistic standards, LOA is fresher, more powerful, and visually stronger than many current graphic novels and underground comix. Gray's epic saga of America during the Depression, World War II and the cold war is downright fashionable:

1. Today, slick artistic skill isn't valued as much as a distinctive personal voice. Gray's art was about as distinctive and personal as you can get. He drew human beings that looked like tree trunks (and what's with those eyeballs??) His art appeared freakish compared with other strips of his day, yet today it seems perfectly at home next to the art of R. Crumb or even Gary Larson's Far Side:



2. Today's readers adore Frank Miller's noir style, with his dark view of human nature and his anti-estab…
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We've begun our head painting class. Though we mostly use oils, I'm encouraging students to do much smaller, quicker studies like this one for practice outside of class. Practice, practice. This is watercolor with opaque white. To see the setup and colors I use for these, go to the landscape sketchbook link and scroll down to the very first post. . .

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 17

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I love Alexander Calder's depiction of Charles Lindbergh flying solo over the Atlantic Ocean.



Calder made pictures with wire. His lines hovered in mid-air, set free from paper.

Our last lovely drawing was a major construction project, planned and executed by Orson Lowell with all the craftsmanship of a master bricklayer. For contrast, I thought it would be fun to visit the opposite extreme: Calder's simple, joyful line.

You'll find no dense cross hatching or shading here. No buttons, shoe laces or fingernails. But what Calder loses in detail, he gains in universality. This image is truly Homeric; it could symbolize any human being tempting the gods by braving the unknown.

It is often difficult for artists to remember that there is no connection between seriousness and profundity, just as there is no connection between the number of lines in a drawing and the importance of its message. This lovely little image from Calder is a good reminder.
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.This one brings back good memories of sitting out on the shore sketching birds.
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VALENTINE

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THOMAS FLUHARTY

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One of my favorite contemporary illustrators is Thomas Fluharty, whose excellent work has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, The Weekly Standard, U.S. News & World Report and the Village Voice.

Don't get too distracted by the technical virtuosity of his finished paintings-- that's not the real measure of his talent. To see what Fluharty is made of, look at these wonderful studies:









Fluharty draws with strength and conviction. He injects personality, character and insight into his images. And despite the fact that he is truly a nice guy with a gentle spirit, he creates the most scalding caricatures I've ever seen.

These studies should not be viewed as incomplete fragments. Each is a finished and excellent work on its own. This is true of every really good artist I know: the preliminary sketches or underpaintings may indicate just the beginning of a nose or a hand, but they can still stand alone as well designed, coherent images. Check out the studies of Rembrandt or Jo…

Clark Allen 1925-2008

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Clark Allen passed away last week. He was a delightful man and a favorite subject for local artists, especially me. I started drawing and painting Clark in '92 when I first moved to LA and have been working with him off and on ever since. I have stacks of drawings and paintings of him that I will scan and post here from time to time.

He lived a more colorful life than many of us can hope for, (I thought his stories were tall tales until I visited his home and we looked through his old photo albums) and it was my pleasure to get to know him. He will be missed.
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CULTURE COMES TO COUNCIL BLUFFS, IOWA

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Nearly 100 years ago, a farm boy stole a nude picture from this issue of International Studio Magazine in the public library of Council Bluffs, Iowa.



He left only the foot behind.



Council Bluffs was a small, old fashioned town where farmers stored grain on the way to market. The citizens followed strict social and religious rules. Their librarian must have hoped that a subscription to International Studio would bring the town some much needed culture.



There weren't many places in town where a young man could see what a naked lady looked like. Some farm boys would soon march off to die in World War I without ever experiencing the sight or touch of a female body.



I had to smile when I discovered the missing picture. The boy's heart must have pounded as he tore it out and smuggled it past the stern librarian. When he got home to his tiny unheated bedroom in a sparse Iowa farmhouse, the secret picture must have given him precious clues to a new world.

I love the smell of old magazines.…