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Showing posts from June, 2011
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Acrylic sketch.
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CONFIDENCE

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Artistic confidence is a valuable asset when it is warranted, but a terrible liability when not.

Unfortunately, the nature of confidence is that it blinds us to whether it is warranted or not.

Picasso's huge ego was an asset when it gave him the courage to break with stale traditions.  On the other hand, Julien Schnabel's ego did him no favors when it led him to claim, "I'm the closest thing to Picasso that you'll see in this fucking life." Confidence can be the Jekyll or Hyde of art.

Artist Markus L├╝pertz certainly had the confidence to stand up to his critics. When he erected his latest public artwork -- a creepy, 60 foot sculpture of Hercules with one arm, a big nose, blue hair and a stunted body-- the New York Times reported:
in the past his work has been, to put it kindly, misunderstood. One piece was smeared with paint and covered in feathers. Another was beaten with a hammer. Another was removed altogether after protesters demanded it be taken down. “It d…
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Charcoal on Rives paper.
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THE ERA OF CELEBRITY ILLUSTRATORS

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Once upon a time, the world's largest media companies bragged in full page ads about their upcoming illustrations:


Magazines urged readers to spend more time studying illustrations:


This was all driven by economics, of course.  The general public followed the work of top illustrators and made purchasing decisions based on their art:

Before the invention of movies and computer videos, illustrators were the George Lucas and Steven Spielberg of their day. They created magic images that captured the public imagination and shaped public taste.  They invented cultural icons:


This was the great power of stationary images in an era before people learned that pictures could also be made to move and talk.

Like the Cecile B. DeMille of his day, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) shaped the world's image of epic stories such as the Bible, Paradise Lost and Dante's Divine Comedy.  His books (and his visions) were everywhere.



Celebrity illustrators were were richly paid for their contribution to…
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Rooster, watercolor on Arches paper, 15"x20".
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IS IT OKAY TO LIKE PULP ART?

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Last week the Society of Illustrators opened a wonderful exhibition of pulp magazine covers from the 1930s and 40s.  The show includes nearly 90 paintings of scantily clad damsels in distress, hooded fiends with elaborate torture devices, and futuristic space heroes.  This is probably the most emotionally uncomplicated art you will ever find: big, juicy paintings with the open heart (and emotional maturity) of a 14 year old boy.

Some of the paintings, such as this gem by the great Baron Leydenfrost, are executed with astonishing skill:

But most of these pictures are painted with a technique as vulgar as their content. There was no room for subtle colors and elaborate compositions on a magazine rack crowded with competing pulp magazines.

The girls on these covers always seemed to be in peril, and ripe for rescue by the proper hero.  

Young male readers were tantalized by the prospect of what lay beyond those slightly parted dressing gowns or those strategically torn shirts.  They pored ov…

Sketching from Life 10 week course!

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If you're in the LA area and want to have some fun refining your drawing and painting skills, come join me for my 10 week sketching from life course. It will be held Tuesday nights from 7 to 10 pm starting on July 12th. For this class we'll study the head, figure, drapery, colorful costume, animals and nature as well as a bonus weekend field trip to study landscape painting. I'll demonstrate techniques in charcoal, watercolor and gouache; students will be welcome to use the medium of their choice.

To enroll contact LAAFA.org, phone (877) MY-LAAFA

Hope to see you soon.