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Showing posts from March, 2011

TIME RUNS OUT

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The artist Pavel Korin centered his life around one grand ambition: to paint a masterpiece about the impact of the Russian Revolution.

 Korin worked for 42 years in preparation for his painting, developing sub-themes, experimenting with  various compositions and painting detailed sketches.  He researched the science of art conservation to make sure his masterpiece would last for centuries without restoration.  He ordered an immense canvas specially made and installed it on custom built stretchers.  Then he died before he could apply his first brush stroke.

A tough break, but at least fate was more generous to Korin than it was to poor Masaccio, one of the most promising painters of the Renaissance. Vasari described Masaccio as "the best painter of his generation," but after he began work on his famed frescoes at the Branacci Chapel, Massaccio took a side trip to Rome and died unexpectedly at age 26.  He never had a chance to finish his work, and the laurels went to Mi…
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Photoshop sketch.
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WORDS THAT SHOULDN'T BE ILLUSTRATED

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Illustrations can enhance words, but not everyone is interested in having their words enhanced.  In fact, translating words into pictures sometimes provokes people to violence.  This reaction is a tribute to the power of illustration (although many illustrators, given a choice, might prefer the second prize). 

 Some reasons for hostile reactions to pictures are obvious.  Thomas Nast's political cartoons were more effective than written articles in ending the corrupt regime of William "Boss" Tweed of New York. Tweed is reported to have cursed, "Stop them damn pictures! I don't care what the papers write about me. My constituents can't read, but they can see the pictures."


Later when Tweed was convicted of fraud, he  fled to Spain where the authorities reportedly used one of Nast's cartoons to identify and capture him.

Another reason for objecting to illustrations is that they can seem more vividly offensive than the words they illustrate.  Norman …
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A scene painted for "Sinbad, Legend of the Seas", photoshop, 2002.
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Watercolor on Arches paper, 15"x 20".
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An oil study from way back when (1999 I think).
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ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 35

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This lovely, delicate drawing was the best way that Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) knew to kill his enemies.

After the Nazis invaded his native Poland in 1939, Szyk took refuge in the United States.  There he learned that the Nazis had killed his brother, then turned their loving attention to his mother:
[M]y beloved seventy-year-old mother, Eugenia Szyk, was taken from the ghetto of Lodz to the Nazi furnaces of Maidanek. With her, voluntarily went her faithful servant the good Christian, Josefa, a Polish peasant. Together, hand in hand, they were burned alive.In anguish, Szyk followed the evidence smuggled out of Europe that the Nazis were methodically slaughtering helpless civilian populations:


















A small, balding, bookish man with weak eyes, Szyk was not much of a threat to the Nazis as a soldier. His strongest weapon was his art, and it became his purpose in life to rouse the slumbering west to the genocide taking place in Europe. He worked obsessively, attacking the Nazis with hundreds of…