Showing posts from January, 2013


This post is one in a series on the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle.

Phil Hale is internationally acclaimed for his powerful illustrations.  His dark, brooding covers for the novels of Joseph Conrad brilliantly complemented Conrad's psychologically complex work.

Hale's own character, Johnny Badhair, has also been the subject of a series of vivid paintings:

Hale works large (the above painting is over five feet wide) using the traditional artist materials of oil paint on stretched canvas or linen.

Hale is a prime example of an artist who can move fluidly between the fields of illustration and "fine" art or gallery painting.  In his personal Artist's Statement for the exhibition catalog, Hale writes thoughtfully:
My career in illustration stretched from 1981 to 2000 with a few later forays and lapses.... [T]he more illustration work I did, the more its necessary strictu…

Sinbad, Legend of the Seven Seas

Background scene painting, Photoshop. (2001)


This post is one in a series on the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum,  State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle.

Peter de Seve is internationally renowned for his draftsmanship in illustrations such as this one, for which he won the Hamilton King award from the Society of Illustrators:

More than draftsmanship, de Seve infuses his drawings with personality and heart which have made him a recurring favorite on the cover of the New Yorker.  This poignant cover of little children on the first Halloween following the 9/11 attacks stood out in a field of artistic responses that were mostly political, or cerebral, or anguished. 

For Howard Pyle's generation, painting magazine covers was as prestigious a career as an illustrator might hope for.  But 100 years after Howard Pyle, illustration offers all kinds of new venues for an artist's talent.  A digitally animated feature film requires the collaboration of hundreds of artists, w…
Location study.


This is one of a series of posts on the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum,  State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle.Prior to the 1950s, illustration was dominated by artists who visualized narrative passages from a text, employing fairly realistic styles.  But by the 1950s, that approach was running out of steam.  Traditional illustration was being battered by the rise of photography.  Fiction magazines which had been the prime market for illustration ever since Howard Pyle's day began losing circulation.  Advertising revenues were shifting to television.  In this challenging environment, a new form of illustration emerged.

In 1954, Milton Glaser co-founded the revolutionary Push Pin Studios, a graphic design and illustration firm which had a significant impact on the path of 20th century design.   In this and several other influential positions, Glaser employed graphic symbols and visual metaphors to convey ideas, choosing f…


This post is one in a series on the artists featured in the upcoming exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum, State of the Art: Illustration 100 Years After Howard Pyle.

In the 1950s, illustration began its Great Thaw from the realistic style that had dominated the field since the days of Howard Pyle. At that time, Bernie Fuchs was a precocious young illustrator painting meticulous car ads in a commercial studio in Detroit.

But Fuchs had the seeds of bigger things in him, and by the mid 1960s, he was a leader of the revolution in illustration, experimenting with bold new styles.

His innovations became wildly popular and helped to set the style for the second half of the 20th century.

These and other original works by Fuchs will be on display at the exhibition.
Location study, photoshop, art rage.


By the 1950s, the conditions that led to the "golden age of American illustration" had worn thin.

The invention of halftone engraving and quality color reproduction, the rise of deluxe magazines pumped by advertising dollars and an insatiable reading public all created fertile soil for golden age illustrators such as Howard Pyle, Leyendecker, Parrish, Cornwell, Rockwell and hundreds of others.

But in the 1950s, magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Liberty and Life were dying out. Tastes (and advertising revenues) shifted away from print media.  Gone were the well funded illustration campaigns for Arrow shirt collars and Ford automobiles.

As illustrator Austin Briggs recalled:
It was during the fifties that a healthy revolt against the slick, photograph-oriented illustration then in vogue really began to gather adherents.  This revolution was accelerated by the demise of several national periodicals in a losing competition with television for presentation …


Last year, the Delaware Art Museum put together a major centennial exhibition commemorating the life and work of Howard Pyle, the highly influential father of American Illustration.   Pyle lived in Delaware and following his death in 1911, a group of Pyle students and friends combined with prominent citizens to form the Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts.  Their collection of 100 works by Pyle served as the starting point for the Delaware Art Museum. 

To close out its centennial year, the Museum bravely invited me to serve as guest curator for an exhibition on The State of Illustration 100 years after Pyle. That exhibition will run from February 8 through June 1, 2013.

It would be impossible for any single exhibition to capture the whole noisy riot of styles, techniques and trends that has made up illustration over the past century.    My approach was to showcase the work of what I believe to be eight of the best, most important illustrators representing a cross section of today's…
Charcoal on Rives lightweight paper.

And a reminder, my new 9 weekonline class: Drawing the Portrait in Charcoal begins January 21, you can study with me from anywhere in the world, enrollment is limited, sign up today!


"Photo-illustration" is the modern term for decoupage.  You see photo-illustration everywhere, filling the spaces formerly occupied by illustration or photography:

Don't get me wrong, a person can make many cute and clever images by cutting out somebody else's photographs and gluing them together in interesting new configurations.   Several publications with generally excellent art direction use photo-illustrations frequently:

By starting with pre-fabricated building blocks rather than the basic elements of line and color, we gain speed and economy but we lose some of the potential for charm, grace and creativity. Obviously, this loss matters more to some people than to others.

Here, a Photoshopped cover effectively conveys the childish antics of the US House of Representatives:

 However, it is also devoid of the design or elegance or class that a stronger human aesthetic role might have contributed.

When illustrator Peter de Seve was asked years ago to illustrate the sq…

Keeping the Dream Alive...

The resolution that I have always kept: an extra study a day, every day until the sun goes out.