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Showing posts from August, 2009

FINDING PERSONALITY IN A BRICK

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Here is a series of splendid drawings with two things in common:

First, they are all drawings of geometric shapes: buildings comprised of straight lines, flat parallel surfaces and right angles.

Second, despite the fact that each drawing started out as essentially a mechanical drawing, at some key point the artist turned away from the unforgiving laws of perspective, the T square and the triangle, and instead injected the drawing full of character and personality.



The brilliant Bernie Fuchs sketched these buildings in the slums of San Juan. Fuchs seems to have a god-given talent for finding the design in any situation, including this row of squat, ramshackle buildings.



When Rodin drew the massive facade of this building, the shape that interested him the most was not the stone blocks or the massive pillars, but rather the shadow in the doorway. The shadow is insubstantial compared to the weight of the stone structure around it, but it dominates this picture, and enabled Rodin to make a ni…
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Still having a good time with ink. This is done with Higgins water-soluble ink on watercolor paper.
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I'm really enjoying the simplicity of sketching with a Pentel water soluble brush pen and a waterbrush. More at Land sketch.
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ALEXANDER LEYDENFROST (1888-1961)

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Suppose that you were a baron, born of noble blood, but you lost your rank and title after the heir to the throne was murdered. Then let's say your country declared war on its neighbor but lost the war after a long bloody battle and as a result, your country was dissolved and the economy collapsed so you lost your family money. Then to make the story interesting, how about if we say that the communists took over but were kicked out in another war. And let's suppose further that you and your good friends, movie actors Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre, decided to flee the country but before you could leave, you were severely injured in a sword fight over the honor of a woman so that you were unable to get around or perform conventional work when you arrived in your new land.

With that type of background, what kind of job would you possibly be qualified to perform?

Obviously, an illustrator.

Sandor Leidenfrost was a baron in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. His family's title dated bac…
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Something from the archives; this is from a life drawing session back in '98. Acrylic on illustration board.
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...AND IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN, GOD CREATED THE LINE

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Nobody knows for sure why Rembrandt drew this errant line beneath his signature in his famous picture of Adam and Eve:



The line seems so incongruous, some print collectors who preferred "tidy" art trimmed Rembrandt's line off the bottom of their print. Apparently they thought they were doing Rembrandt a favor.

Me, I adore this line. It's the only line in the entire picture not employed in the service of content. Instead, Rembrandt turned it loose in all its abstract glory, as naked as the day God invented lines.

We see it separated from the picture of Eden as the tool Rembrandt uses to perceive the world. It is the means by which he performs miracles. It underscores his signature, but for me it tells us more about Rembrandt's identity than his name does.



Abstract expressionist Barnett Newman was famous for painting wall-sized canvases, blank except for a single bold line. A friend who was trying to educate me about how to understand Newman's work raved, "Whe…
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Watercolor on hot press illustration board.
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ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 27

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If the electricity ever goes out at your house and it's pitch black in the middle of the night but you need to find "one lovely drawing," the safest thing to do is to grope for your Noel Sickles file. The odds are pretty good that anything you touch there will qualify.



Man oh man, that wispy grass is rendered every bit as powerfully as those oxen.

The legend is that Sickles taught cartoonist Milton Caniff how to draw in this high contrast chiaroscuro style. Caniff continued to employ this style effectively for another fifty years on his famous comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. Sickles, on the other hand, quickly abandoned this approach and went on to do other things.


Many years later, Sickles briefly revisited chiaroscuro for this drawing. After all those years, he still remained the master.