Monday, 10 June 2013

THE LAST .1 PERCENT

99.9% of our DNA is identical for all human beings.  Yet, there is enough variety left in that remaining 0.1% to make each of us unique.
 
Your individual DNA gives you your distinctive appearance-- your height, nose, skin color, eyes, hair...even your peculiar toes.  It's the only thing that distinguishes you from that goofy looking guy over in the corner.   

Similarly, it's amazing how illustrators working in the same medium and painting the identical subject can end up with such widely divergent results.  Somewhere in that .1% resides an infinite variety of styles.  Here are some examples of how talented illustrators responded differently to the same subject: in this case, a few people in a small boat on the water.

In this first splendid illustration, Tim Bower envisions waves like rows of pyramids...


Contrast Bower's treatment of water with Coby Whitmore's more fluid approach...


 

Then compare both of them with John Gannam's approach in this 1938 illustration.  Gannam uses a dryer brush to make thrusts like a Franz Kline abstract expressionist painting.




N.C. Wyeth (who understood plenty about water) painted the following boat in profile in order to highlight the water splashing off the bow.

 

 Bernie Fuchs (who understood plenty about design) perceived the same water off the bow very differently.



Here is another Fuchs variation on our theme, this time arranged from a great distance:


Another talented illustrator, Robert M. Cunningham, was famous for simplifying his pictures to their essence.  Here he displays his distinctive form of brilliance: 

Note the wisdom in Cunningham's deckled surf

Below, Austin Briggs shows he too can perceive the world in flat shapes and colors, but with a very different, impressionistic result:


It would be easy to continue with another hundred variations of people in a boat. All these artists started out composed 99.9% of the same DNA, yet look at the rich, marvelous variety of their work!

I tell you, it's a glorious damn world.