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Showing posts from September, 2011

Charcoal demo

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My head drawing class starts next week and for those of you further out I have a video demo coming soon. Otherwise here's a step by step charcoal drawing for you to have a look at:





I've darkened the line drawing significantly here so you can see it, the original is very light. There's a little bit of red prismacolor lay in then a Ritmo B charcoal pencil.


Lay in with a compressed charcoal stick.


Half tones blended in. This is all done with my fingers guys, it's not a pretty process but it's the way I like it.



Finishing with compressed charcoal, a Pitt Charcoal pencil for details and a kneaded eraser for highlights.
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THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ART

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Last weekend I gave a lecture at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge Massachusetts.  The following is an excerpt from what future generations shall call my NRM Manifesto (unless the NRM lawyers demand that I remove their name, which is quite possible):  Anyone with the courage to take a fresh look at the role of art in the 20th century might reasonably conclude illustration has played a more significant role than "fine" art.

Yeah, you heard me-- more significant than Picasso, Matisse, Jackson Pollack and the great Jeff Koons combined.

Absurd?  Perhaps.  But let's explore the issue as soberly and conscientiously as we are able, and see where the facts take us.

We should start by agreeing there are many legitimate methods of measuring the importance of art.  For me, the least satisfying method seems to be the most popular: to blindly accept the conventions of our grandparents who instinctively assigned a lower social status to "commercial" illustration.

What mi…
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A background painting for "The Road to El Dorado", 1998. Acrylic on Crescent illustration board, 16"x 18".
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LECTURE ON ILLUSTRATION: SEPTEMBER 24

For those who live near the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the Museum was kind enough to invite me to come present my views on illustration.

The museum is one of the premier resources for promoting "the rich visual legacy of American illustration art," so you can imagine how surprised I was to receive the invitation.

My talk is scheduled for next weekend, on September 24th, from 1:30 to 2:30.  Later in the same day, illustrator David Macaulay (the Museum's 2011 Artist Laureate) will speak about his work.
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Painted for "Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron". Acrylic and digital.
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CHRIS PAYNE

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It is easy to become dazzled by Chris Payne's technique but you should resist the temptation.

Payne's tight, crisp images are certainly eye-catching, and his technical skill stands out among contemporary illustrators.


However, if you get too distracted by the skill you'll miss the larger artistry of these pictures (which is the most important part).

There are plenty of illustrators who do highly detailed, photorealistic work.  Artists such as Rowena, Boris and Elaine Duillo are meticulous technicians, but for me their results are usually leaden and uninspiring (unless you count the inspiration that comes from watching honest manual labor).  Adobe Illustrator is helping a younger generation of obsessive illustrators take pointless detail to a whole other level.

But Payne brings something more to his pictures.  His skill is exercised in the service of a larger artistic vision, which is why his pictures positively glow in comparison.

Note for example his dramatic compositions for…

Portrait drawing 10 week course begins Oct 4

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My 10 week head drawing course is coming up beginning Tuesday night, October 4. Come on down and join us if you can, we'll learn how to construct and compose a portrait from start to finish and have a good time doing it. To enroll contact LAAFA.org, phone (877) MY-LAAFA
The piece shown here is 16"x 22", compressed charcoal and white nupastel on Crescent T-V bristol paper.

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 37

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I love this drawing by Harrison Cady of a small house standing in the way of urban progress:


Cady was famous for simple cartoons of funny animals, but this large, complex drawing is a virtuoso feat of draftsmanship.  Note how Cady maintains total control of the value scale, from those faint buildings in the distance to the dark edges of the building in the foreground.


Cady used tens of thousands of tiny hatched lines to create subtle gradations in value from the top to the bottom of that looming skyscraper:


From one point of view, the hatching on the skyscraper is mindless repetitive work.  But it is also a marvelous tightrope walk.

Pen-and-ink is an unforgiving medium; Cady would be screwed if he progressed too quickly from light to dark, or drew the lines in one area too close together-- or too far apart apart; or if he failed to maintain consistent values from left to right.   He had to keep up a steady rhythm, which is especially difficult with a drawing so large that Cady could not…
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Something I did for one of the Madagascar shows.

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