Monday, February 27, 2023

Albert Dorne Drawings

I wrote about the successful, prolific illustrator Albert Dorne (1906-1965) here, featuring some of the many crowd scenes he depicted.  I got to thinking about Dorne again because a recent issue of Illustration Magazine was devoted to him.

Although I'm not usually enthusuastic about his illustrations, I greatly respect his ability to draw.   This ability is especially impressive because Dorne was self-taught, having to discover many aspects of art on his own.  David Apatoff posted about Dorne's sketchbooks here.   The present post also features some of his drawings.


From an Art Directors Club of New York awards annual.  Dorne's style here is not typical of much of his work because the subjects are modeled, and not drawn in ink with colored ink washes added.  However, note his treatment of faces, hands and fabric folds -- the latter two are not easy for amateurs and many professionals to deal with.  Note the legs of the woman in the background; ankles are simplified, but the shapes are correctly defined by a few simple lines.

A typical Dorne illustration.  Ink lines and some shading as the basis for colored ink washes.  Dorne's characters often had a cartoon-like feeling that went a little too far in my judgment.

Now for some Famous Artists School instruction pages by Dorne.  This one deals with fabrics and folds.  The vignettes are clipped from illustrations he had made.

Here he deals with faces.

And hands -- so difficult to learn to draw for most of us.

Showing how to build faces from simple shapes.

A crowd-scene preliminary drawing.  Or maybe a partially completed illustration where the inking is done, but pencil work needs to be erased and coloring added.

Another example.  The two men at the right are included in the clothing lesson image above.


Paul Sullivan said...

You mentioned you are not usually enthusiastic about Dorne’s color illustrations but greatly respected his drawing ability. I've had that same opinion even though he is one of my favorite of mid-twentieth century illustrators. I started the Famous Artists course when I was 15. The course included a lot of Dorne’s work. I marveled at his drawings and studied them through most of my career. I wish more of his preliminary drawings had been included in the recent book about him and his work. However, preliminary work is hard to hang on to and even more difficult to locate years later.

Dorne was always noted for the amount of animation he was able to capture in his work. Many times this involved a bit of exaggeration. After studying the work produced throughout his career, it is obvious he worked within several different styles based different budget levels and type of advertising. In some cases he worked in a style that was more of a cartoon illustration. This basic style became very popular in the late 30s and through the 40s with a lot of imitators. Personally, I think Dorne was most comfortable in black and white illustration, whether it was line, line and wash or fully modeled tone with limited color.

In the early days of color reproduction, I understand work using intense transparent color was believed to separate and reproduce much better that opaque medium. I believe this is the reason why Dorne and other illustrators of the time worked in colored ink and other transparent medium. And I think this is the reason why Dorne’s work relied so much on intense local color.

When I was 20 years old, I visited the Famous Artist School located in Westport. After being a student for years, I thought it would be good to see what the place looked like. The place was all I imagined it to be and more. To my surprise, Dorne was there in his office and spent most of an afternoon with me.

Donald Pittenger said...

Paul - Very interesting. A high school friend of mine took the Famous Artists course, and seemed to be pretty good due to that. I lost track of him and don't know if he did commercial art professionally.

As for me, I planned to go into Industrial Design, but didn't due to a ridiculously contrived introductory college physics course that I felt I had to drop. Truth is, I never had the skill set or overwhelming desire to be an artist. And the collapse of illustration in the 1960s would have left me high & dry anyway.

But meeting Dorne for hours is truly a huge deal for a developing artist such as you were. Lucky you!