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Showing posts from February, 2009

WILLIAM AYLWARD (1875-1956)

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William Aylward's name doesn't stand out in the annals of illustration. Yet, if you skim through old pictures in books or magazines, his work stands out from hundreds of other anonymous illustrators because he was such a master of value-- the darkness or lightness of color.



Try it yourself -- if you scroll through a hundred thumbnail images, you are likely to find that the pictures with confident use of value-- more than other artistic qualities, such as accuracy, color, detail, or technique-- are the ones that seem to pop right off the page.


Passing the line to the "Potomac" from the Dock, published in Scribners, May 1907

It is not easy to control the "value structure" of a painting, balancing blacks and whites and grays. This next picture could easily have sunken into a black hole if Aylward had not been such a virtuoso.


Night watch from the Deck, published in Scribners 1907

Very little is remembered about Aylward today. He was a student of the legendary Howar…
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Compressed charcoal on newsprint.
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KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

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Artist Kerry James Marshall is a certified genius. The MacArthur Foundation confirmed it when they awarded him their $500,000 genius award.





But don't take the MacArthur Foundation's word for it. His work was also awarded places of honor in the Whitney Museum biennial, Venice Biennale, and the prestigious German Documenta show. Marshall's paintings sell for $400,000 to prominent museums and collectors.







People of great stature and prominence who pride themselves on their taste have bestowed upon Marshall almost every form of recognition that our society offers. His NY art dealer boasts, "He's kind of recession-proof." No wonder art critic Blake Gopnik writes, "Can an artist get much more successful than Kerry James Marshall?"










Marshall himself is not surprised by all these honors. He says, "Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael.... my objective is to be listed in the history among those artists."



I hope that all of you would-be Michelangelos out ther…
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Office window view from morning until night. Photoshop, 1999.

I've done many of these over the years from different offices at different times. You can see more here and here or by scrolling back to October 2006.
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LOOSE DELIGHTS

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"I am for those who believe in loose delights."
-- Walt WhitmanSome of my very favorite drawings are free and spontaneous. Unfortunately, so are a whole lot of crappy drawings.

Is it possible to distinguish good loose drawing from bad loose drawing? Or from random marks on paper? It seems to me that there is not only a distinction to be made but also a good reason for making it. Loose, spontaneous art can be fun, but Ernest Hemingway correctly spotted the potential danger: "All our words from loose using have lost their edge." When sloppy or careless drawing masquerades as loose drawing, it eventually dilutes the meaning and potency of drawing.

Consider the following examples of artists who engage in the "loose delights" of drawing but who still preserve that edge.

The great George Lichty had a line like an unraveled ball of yarn:



Nevetheless, look at how beautifully that line conveyed a head, or the indentation of a pillow, or the folds in clothing:



You can te…

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO ALL!

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Oil demonstration on masonite.
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.Final painting



Rough and final rough.

This is a scene from The Road to El Dorado. It was an important and complicated scene and I wanted to get it right so I did a rough for the rough. It's painted in acrylic with some photoshop work in the final.
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AUDUBON AND THE VEILED LADY

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John Audubon (1785 - 1851) lived in the wilderness during the early years of the United States. He camped and hunted along the frontier as he studied birds for his illustrated masterpiece, The Birds of America. He kept a remarkable journal of his adventures along the Mississippi and down the Ohio River to western Kentucky.





After a year traveling along the Ohio river, Audubon came to New Orleans in 1821 and paused there to earn money teaching art.





One evening Audubon was approached on the street by a woman wearing a veil that hid her face. He wrote: "[She] addressed me quickly ... 'Pray sir... you are he that draws likenesses in black chalk so remarkably strong?'" When Audubon said yes, she replied that she had a task for him. He began to walk alongside her, but the woman became alarmed, saying "Do not follow me now." She wrote down her address and instructed him to wait 30 minutes before arriving. Audubon wrote:

I arrived and as I walked upstairs I saw her ap…