A month or so ago, I did a bunch of portraits for SooJin Buzelli at Asset International. '40 Under 40' was the cover story - a new generation of hot shot Asset Owners, all of them under forty years old, and more successful than you and I will ever be. When I say "portraits", I'm talking about a kind of 'humorous likeness'. Not a straight portrait, but not a true caricature in the grand Brodner-esqe, Burke-ish, Juhasz-zy sense. More of a gentle tweaking -after all, these folks have done nothing more than successfully accumulate of boatload of assets at a relatively young age. They deserve to be rendered respectively and spared the indignity of broadly distorted features until they get a little older and do something unseemly .
I still have some of the reference and sketches from this assignment, and hoped it might be interesting to somebody if I include a few of them here.
The reference came in e mails and fed exes, 8-12 at a time, compiled by the unnervingly efficient Lynn Connelly at the AI mothership. I worked away from the drawing table at this stage. On a couch with a pad and pencil, just trying to get the quickest impression down on paper without getting tripped up with technique or over scrutinizing. As we all know, likenesses can be evanescent things. Even mild and rudimentary ones like these can slip away if you fuss around too much. From this stage I went to ink on watercolor paper, drawing over them on a lightbox.
I know. Trying to resist any temptation of overt exaggeration does'nt really lend itself to dynamic drawing does it?. The process at this stage is kind of like dancing at a wedding after a couple of drinks - you want to loosen up, but a certain decorum is required.
Also, there is always that sad hope that by leaving these sketches unpolished and artless, one might preserve a bit of flourish for the final rendering. This is probably a bullshit theory, and one might be better off working directly, like David Hughes, Joe Ciardiello or Barry Blitt do. If one had the balls.
Am not sure if it works this way for anybody else, but I find that drawing business folks or other, more publicly obscure professionals, is less stressful than capturing a celebrity likeness, where your take on a famous face is funneled through a collective public critique by folks already familiar with the subject, and who are probably always thinking that my Newt Gingrich looks more like Jonathan Winters, rest his soul.
The reference for these varies from slick, corporate studio shots, to vacation pix and faded photo booth snaps. Females , in pen and ink, can be tough. Am always grateful for accessories on the ladies, and for facial hair, on the men.
Enough of this- thank you for indulging me. I'll show the mag cover, where some poor bastard had to silhouette all of these little heads, and I'll include a couple more finished ones from the sketches shown above.
This Phil Hale painting is one of eight currently hanging in a new exhibit at the Delaware Art Museum. Below is a shot of the Gallery wall and a glimpse of the Mort Drucker originals that hang opposite the Hale work, which is just around the corner from the Peter deSeve stuff and across the room from Sterling Hundley's work.The show is a collaboration between the folks who run the Museum (founded a hundred years ago to preserve the art of the revered local illustrator and wildly influential teacher, Howard Pyle), and the guest curator David Apatoff. Apatoff is an illustrtation historian and biographer (Robert Fawcett, Albert Dorne, an upcoming one on Bernie Fuchs), he also writes about the the subject on his blog, IllustrationArt. He collects, he lectures, he seems to know his shit and Lord knows he has opinions. All the artists and work in the show were chosen by this guy.
The show's official title is: State of the Art, A Hundred Years After Howard Pyle. As I understand it, the unenviable task here was to somehow indentify a legacy or a visual continuim in contemporary illustration that has some kind of connection - an attitude , an energy or some kind of aesthetic debt- to the Master's work and influence. The folks who were chosen come from different but occasional overlapping areas in our field. Along with Hale and Peter deSeve (Illustration & Painting and Character Design respectively), there's Sterling for Magazine and Commercial Illustration, Mr. Drucker for Sequential Art, and the aforementioned Hall of Famer Bernie Fuchs for Advertising and Magazine work. For the Conceptual Design category, there's the work of some guy named Milton Glazer . The Pixar Art Director and Production Designer (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Wall*E) Ralph Eggleston is representing Animation, and some of my stuff is there for Editorial Art .
That catalogue includes intros, an essay, the dreaded artist's statements and a list of the work in the show.
The curators essay is where you can find a better description of the exhibit than the one I offered above, as well as a rationale behind the artistic choices and decisions made for the show. It also throws in a pretty comprehensive history and description of the technological advances in printing and reproduction and the enormous influence they had on our field. Tucked in there as well is a rousing testimonial to the popularity and necessity of illustration in contemporary culture- I felt good about the future for a couple of minutes.
This is proper art-viewing attire. The dress code is strictly enforced by the museum.
In the deSeve and Eggleston sections there are monitors streaming video clips from some of the animated features they have worked on.
The exhibit is up until June 1st, after which, I'm have this thing reassembled in my living room.
And I might snag that Fuchs painting too.
I think I've already shown most of my work in the show here in previous posts. Here's one of them - it's about 3x5", which means it's more than a hundred times smaller than a Hale painting, but it's got a big mat.
Here's Mr. Pyle himself, working at his standing drawing table. The actual table, and this drawing, are
both part of the museum's permanent collection.
This is the cover of a new book of drawings (sketchbook and personal work), that's just come out. The publisher chose the cover image . I don't think it bodes well for a Barnes & Noble display, but I assume that a different demographic is being targeted .
The title of this drawing is "the Art opening".
Another couple of things from the book. Some of the stuff has been posted here on Drawger in some form or another. The title for the drawing below is: "Beatrice Potter has a lucky nephew".
These are a few recent things, a couple of jobs and a couple of sketchbook pages. I've been trying to figure out how to draw interiors, just rooms, and then arrange figures in them and add color without packing the whole thing with too much detail- allow a little air to circulate. It's an ongoing effort to hold back and resist a tendency to overcompensate.
For the Good Dog column for Garden&Gun AD Marshall McKinney. Here I've tried, with mixed results, to incorporate some of the disciplines mentioned above.
A literal, straight-from-the-copy scene seems to require (at least) a heightened sense of the absurd, and maybe that works against the "less is more" aesthetic? Fuck, what do I know.
A sketch for SooJin Buzelli, the most intimidating 85lb AD in the tri- state area. The article is about being unprepared for retirement.
The final probably didn't need the boar in the entrance. I was trying to exaggerate the sense of danger and the guilelessness of the character, but maybe the piece works better with
just that forbidding, dark entry. Hindsight and regret are my loyal companions on this post.
This, for the Culture column at American Prospect. Here my misgivings kicked in before I even started drawing, and I expressed doubts to AD Mary Parsons that maybe I'm not the right guy to illustrate an essay of such somber discourse, (also, pretty woman and bad reference are no picnic.) She assured me that this assignment was more about picturing the principals and to not concern myself too much with tone or editorial content. Speaking of tone, were I an accomplished enough "painter" I would have cloaked the background in that blue-greenish nighttime-goggle tint that illuminated the actual raid on the compound. Hey, what am I, Winslow fucking Homer?