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Showing posts from December, 2009

ON THE DIFFICULTY OF DRAWING WOMEN'S FACES

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One could easily devote a long and joyful lifetime to cataloging the differences between men and women without ever pausing to consider the higher significance of those differences. That is certainly the safest approach.

But as the astute Goethe noted, "Nothing is harder to take than a succession of fair days," and every once in a while (usually at the end of a year in which one hasn't met his full quota of foolhardy behavior) a person will deliberately risk life and limb by exploring the significance of those differences out loud.

It is in that spirit that I set out today to consider why it is more difficult to draw women's faces than men's faces.

Artists quickly learn that men's faces are easier to draw because men have bone structures and muscle groupings that are more pronounced than women's. Male heads are generally more blocky and angular; they tend to have stronger jaws, square chins and prominent brows. These features provide artists with easy opport…

PROJECT DAEDALUS, 1994

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This is a project I did back when I was at Art Center College of Design in the early nineties. After foundational courses in drawing and painting I wanted to focus on entertainment design with an eye toward science fiction. So for my 6th term elective I chose to illustrate "Project Daedalus", a scientifically possible mission to a nearby star as proposed by the British Interplanetary Society. This was before photoshop, maya or terragen. My efforts were more than modest and primitve compared to the extraordinary work being done now but I enjoyed doing it. Here are the bits and pieces of it that I still have.

































Presentation at Art Center College of Design:








The design pages were made in adobe illustrator and the illustrations are in gouache and marker.
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HENRY PATRICK RALEIGH (1880-1944)

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The illustrator Henry Raleigh started and ended life in poverty and despair. But in between, he spent decades painting high society pictures and living the opulent life of one of the best paid illustrators in the country.



Born into a broken and destitute family, Raleigh began working at age 9 to support his mother and sisters. By the age of 12, he quit school altogether and found work on the docks of San Francisco, processing shipments of coffee beans from South America. Here, rough sailors and roustabouts filled his head with colorful and bawdy stories of life in far off places. At age 17, his knack for drawing landed him a job as a newspaper artist for the San Francisco Bulletin where he was assigned to some of the most seamy and gruesome aspects of the city, including executions, fires and fatal accidents. He later recalled learning a lot about human anatomy at the morgue sketching "promising looking corpses."

Raleigh's work soon attracted the attention of art directors…
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Compressed charcoal on Rives lithograph paper.
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ART TO KILL SNAKES WITH

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When Jonathan Williams was asked to define art, he responded, "If you can kill a snake with it, it ain't art."

That definition has served me pretty well in the past. But recently, as conceptual art has become more complex, I have wondered whether Williams' definition requires additional refinement.

In each of the following three examples of conceptual art, an artist takes another artist's work and modifies it:

1. An erased drawing:

Artist Robert Rauschenberg famously took a drawing by DeKooning and erased it as his work of art.
2. A photograph of a photograph:

Artist Sherrie Levine photographed the work of another photographer, Walker Evans, and called her art, "After Walker Evans." According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website, her copies of Evans' photos were "a landmark of postmodernism" as well as "a critique of the commodification of art, and an elegy on the death of modernism. Far from a high-concept cheap shot, Levine'…
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A scene painted for The Road to El Dorado back in '98. Acrylic with a little photoshop work.
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HOT SCANDAL BREWING

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Stanley Meltzoff was a brilliant artist, scholar and author. At the peak of his powers, he painted a masterpiece for the cover of LIFE magazine: the legendary battle of Thermopylae, where a handful of Greek heroes sacrificed themselves to save their homeland.


Detail

After Meltzoff spent weeks perfecting the colors and composition, some moron from the marketing department decided LIFE might sell a few extra copies by slapping a bright yellow banner across the painting promising a "hot scandal."



Henrik Ibsen said, "To live is to war with trolls."

I could offer a thousand other examples of art that has been cropped, altered, vandalized or shrunk to make more room for a client's logo. An illustration passes through many hands before reaching the viewing public; clients, editors, art directors, printers, all serve separate functions but with the unified purpose of squeezing maximum revenue from the art. In fact, many of them got their jobs by recognizing that "hot…
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Charcoal on Canson paper.
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