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Showing posts from July, 2009

Comicon demo

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Here's my charcoal portrait demo for The LA Academy of Figurative Art done at our Comicon booth. I appreciate all of you who came out and were willing to stand and watch amid the throngs of people and sights. It was a good time and I enjoyed meeting you.



Once the demo was over and I could stand back and take a good look at the drawing, I saw several things I needed to touch up. I took the time to do so and I think the "before and after" might be instructive for any burgeoning artists out there. Here's my thinking: a charcoal drawing is nothing more than black dust on paper so you have to fight hard for clarity of form and depth. To that end I added more translucency in the hair for a stronger feeling of toplight, I grouped and simplified the shapes of light and shadow and I used softened or lost edges for greater depth. Oh yes, and the nose was too long. That last 10% can make a world of difference.
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THE PRICE OF MINT CONDITION

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The world is divided into those who seal their comic books in mylar containers and those who do not. This division is more fundamental than politics, race, religion or gender.

At last week's
San Diego Comic-Con, collectors with the foresight to preserve their comics in mint condition reaped huge economic benefits. Comic books that had been hermetically sealed, unread, in climate controlled environments sold for hundreds of times the price of battered, well read comics.

Still, I'm baffled by those who moaned, "if only I had kept my comics in mint condition I could be rich now." I've never seen any comic book, no matter how perfect its condition, sell for enough to buy back those missed hours spent reading comics under a shady tree during our childhood.

In fact, as we become older and richer, and our pleasures become more complex, that youthful form of ecstasy slips further and further away. Its distance in the rear view mirror seems to increase exponentially in prop…

DANGER IN THE PATH

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A mediocre painter who wants to portray danger on the road ahead is likely to spell it out, portraying the ominous cliff and perhaps even highlighting it with some corny lightning bolt.

But talented artists achieve far more powerful results using more indirect and imaginative solutions to the same problem:
In the following illustration, all that Bernie Fuchs requires to create a sense of melancholy is a bend in the road and forlorn colors. Here he depicts the site where a football hero committed suicide by stepping in front of an onrushing truck. Fuchs' approach is subtler than painting a body lying in the road or an ambulance speeding away, but it is far more effective and universal.



Here is how the illustration looked when published as a double page spread in Sports Illustrated (teamwork by Fuchs and famed art director Richard Gangel).



Next, rather than paint the danger (or illuminate it with a lightning bolt), the ingenious Phil Hale understands that it is far more frightening to …

ILLUSTRATORS ARE WAY SMARTER THAN EINSTEIN

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Everyone thinks Albert Einstein was such hot stuff because he shattered Isaac Newton's classical model of the universe in which all matter conforms to quantifiable laws of physics.

In his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) and other works, Newton postulated a universe that operated much like a giant mechanical clock governed by mathematical formulae for time, space, gravity and motion. For centuries Newton's explanation seemed to work just fine.

Then along came Einstein who demonstrated that no matter how accurate Newton's laws appeared on the surface, they failed to account for the behavior of matter at either the subatomic or cosmic ends of the spectrum. His special and general theories of relativity transformed our perception of light, energy, time/space and gravity. Together with Planck, Heisenberg, Bohr and others, Einstein established the foundations of quantum mechanics which opened our eyes to an unpredictable…
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Brandt. Charcoal and nupastel on strathmore charcoal paper.
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SKIN

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Andrew Wyeth

There may be no better test of what's inside an artist than their response to what's on our surface.

The drama of human flesh has inspired a variety of artistic reactions. As John Updike noted, "the menace of and the sadness of naked flesh have impressed artists as much as its grandeur and allure."

At the same time that skin inspires such reactions, it also provides artists with a broad and complex language for expressing feelings, thoughts and desires. Here are just a few samples:

Toulouse Lautrec brilliantly captures the weight of flesh


In this detail from his watercolor of a weary stripper backstage, Burt Silverman distinguishes between the color of flesh that has been exposed to the sun and flesh that has never seen the light of day.


The ultra-cool Bob Peak lowers the temperature of skin to the level of liquid nitrogen


Gustav Klimt excelled at finding mythical eroticism in flesh


Andrew Wyeth puts flesh under his microscope and finds it radiant

Contrast these …
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Black and yellow bird. 15"x 20", Watercolor.
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