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Showing posts from February, 2011
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Photoshop sketch.
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JOE DE MERS' TONSORIAL PARLOR AND ABSTRACT ART GALLERY

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Joe De Mers (1910-1984) illustrated women's magazines in the 1940s and 1950s, a market characterized by simplified pictures of pretty girls against plain backgrounds.





Later generations would look down on what Robert Weaver ridiculed as "candy box" illustration. Jim Silke accurately noted, "that style was derisively called the 'big head school of illustration,' a name derived from the fact that every picture was dominated by a huge close up of a beautiful woman...." Illustrator Al Parker explained the popularity of such illustrations with tasteless audiences:Readers demand pretty people in pretty settings forming a pretty picture. The larger your audience, the more limited its taste. It prefers subject matter to design and girls to men. It wants no message other than girls are cute and men like cute girls.At the same time De Mers was catering to popular taste, genius artists such as De Kooning, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell and Diebenkorn were boldly exp…
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Watercolor study.
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THE BEGGARSTAFF BROTHERS

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In 1894, Scottish artist James Pryde teamed with English artist William Nicholson to create posters under the pseudonym "the Beggarstaff Brothers" (a name they found on a torn sack of grain in an old stable yard).



Pryde and Nicholson brought very different perspectives to their partnership. Pryde was tall and heavy, while Nicholson was short and thin. Pryde grew up in a noisy, eccentric household of "violent views" while Nicholson was raised in a "gentle, well-bred, well-mannered atmosphere." Pryde was outspoken and gregarious, while Nicholson was quiet and detached. Pryde worked very casually while Nicholson was serious and driven. Recalled Pryde, "our opinions on artistic matters differed widely."

If those weren't enough causes for friction, Nicholson fell in love with Pryde's younger sister against her mother's wishes. Colin Campbell's excellent book on the Beggarstaffs reports that "after a courtship conducted largely, …
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We've been doing color roughs in my class.
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HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY TO ALL!

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MARY PERKINS ON STAGE, volume 8

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The newest volume of the Classic Comics Press reprint of Leonard Starr's comic strip, On Stage, has just been released and publisher Charles Pelto was kind enough to invite me to write the introduction. I am a huge fan of the strip, and the period covered by this volume (1966-1967) is one of my favorite periods.
In honor of this 8th volume in the series, my introduction lists the top 8 reasons why On Stage was one of the very greatest story strips of all time. Those reasons are:

1. It was the single most literate and erudite story strip 2. Starr's mastery of light and shadow was on a par with the best comic artists 3. It was the sexiest comic strip (at least, for real adults) 4. Starr's drawings had great structural integrity 5. Its dry wit and humor were unmatched by any other story strip 6. Its pictures were beautifully designed 7. Its relationships were among the richest and most mature in comic strips 8. Starr excelled at complex facial expressions to illustrate comple…

THE LAST COURT PAINTERS

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Illustrator Bernie Fuchs standing behind President Kennedy at the White House

Once upon a time, kings and pharaohs sought the most talented artists in the land to serve as court painters. In an era before photography (and often before literacy) royal patrons of the arts knew they would be remembered by the images of their accomplishments.


Akhenaten's distinctive face was immortalized by his royal artists
Goya, Van Eyck, Rubens, Titian, Velazquez, Holbein and others found steady employment as court painters; they received a regular salary, ate well, and got to live in nicer surroundings than their peers in the art guild. Sometimes they went beyond capturing the face of the king to putting an aesthetic face on the entire kingdom.
But gradually emperors stopped sponsoring artists. The Medici Popes and Dukes who had once taken such pride in being represented by brilliant artists-- Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Fra Angelico-- ended their patronage. Corporations emerged as the new cen…
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His chin really was that big.
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