Showing posts from September, 2009


Here's how it goes:

There are details that hum and details that sing. There are details that accumulate like silt when the artist isn't paying enough attention, and smother the picture.

Then there are details where artists with impeccable technique find refuge from larger questions of meaning and purpose.


There are details that are diamantiferous...


all the way down to the subatomic level....

Then there are details so insanely disproportionate that we can only attribute them to the addiction to drawing (an addiction that has so far bested every methadone program offered by art schools).


Of course, we forgive the fanatical details in some Renaissance art; they were created in an era of fresh excitement for empirical facts and the physical world, after artists awakened from a long medieval fixation on the afterlife. Renaissance artists were entitled to their obsessive focus on the natural world, but you'd better have an equally good excuse if you want to get …

Watercolor on Arches paper.


Bernie Fuchs started out in a most unlikely place and time.

Born in a tiny rural town in the heart of the Great Depression, he grew up with no father, no assets or connections, no art training, and no prospects. He was even missing three fingers on his drawing hand (the result of an accident in his youth).

Yet, Fuchs was quickly swept to the top of his profession on a wave of talent and personal quality. The New York Artists Guild named him "Artist of the Year" by the time he was thirty; he became the youngest illustrator ever elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame; and for over forty years, his sleek, sophisticated, beautifully designed work was selected by one jury after another at the Society as among the best of the year. (Try to think of another illustrator who has been as influential to the field in the latter half of the 20th century.) As Walt Reed wrote, Fuchs' pictures "are probably more admired-- and imitated-- than those of any other current il…
Back to the good ol' days for this week's post. These are from The Prince of Egypt.

Color key and background painting.

Final scene as it appears in the film. Copyright DreamWorks Animation.


In one of his most famous sonnets, Shakespeare claims that true love is the permanent thing, the polar star by which we can all guide our ship. Love, he explains, never alters its path no matter what kind of impediment it encounters:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark [ship]....
But here is an opposite view from Yeats. For him, love is crooked and bewildering. And you can forget about that polar star business, love will continue to drive us nuts until those stars have all gone out:

O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
The following episode from the ongoing love/hate saga of Krazy Kat and Ignatz mouse shows Ignatz determined to ove…
Great Blue Heron. Watercolor on Crescent cold press illustration board.


Putting an image on the end of a stick and waving it around adds emphasis that you don't get when the same image is lying flat on paper.

For example, soldiers aren't likely to follow a nice lithograph into battle no matter how tastefully it is framed. They would not die fighting to keep their enemies from taking down their country's oil painting. And while composers have written stirring songs to the "star spangled banner," no one seems to have been similarly moved by a star spangled silk screen print.

I don't know if this is due to the fact that moving images attract more attention than static ones, or that graphic symbols typically serve different functions when they are placed on a flag, or just the excitement of marrying a picture with the wind. But somehow images are a totally different artistic experience when they are placed on a banner in a parade, or a flag leading a charge, or a tapestry wafting in the breeze.

Here are some designs on flags and banners…

Adrienne. Charcoal on Rives paper.