Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The image above is of a study done by Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), an influential painter active in the late 19th Century.
Illustrator and Painter Greg Manchess recently posted this article on the Muddy Colors blog in which he explains how the Duveneck study profoundly inflenced his own painting style.
His post is well worth your attention if you are interested in painting technique.
Monday, February 27, 2012
This post continues an illustrators' parallel to the series on early works by modernist painters.
The subject is Haddon Sundblom, who spent his career in Chicago and was highly influential in his day; many successful illustrators cut their teeth in the field while working at his studio. If you're fortunate enough to have a copy of the first issue of Illustration Magazine or its later reprint, the lead article deals with Sundblom.
In December 2010 Leif Peng had a series of posts on his blog dealing with Sundblom. The lead article, which dealt with his early career, can be found here. Go to the blog's archives for that month to access the related posts.
The source for Sundblom's early work shown in the present post was the Annual of Advertising Art, a yearly awards publication of the Art Directors Club of New York; the organization's present guise is here, and those awards are still being given.
Dates for the illustrations shown below are "circa" the year before the source Annual was printed because that was when the the work was probably published.
For better or worse, these days Sundblom is best known for his Santa illustrations for Coca-Cola.
This image was found on the Web; a black-and-white version was in the Annual of Advertising Art for 1925.
In the mid-1920s Lincoln had many advertisements using the general visual and content themes shown above. One factor that was not consistent was the artist doing the illustrations. Although Sundblom did some of this work, perhaps most were by Fred Cole. It is hard to tell which artist did any given illustration, because the artistic style is similar for the entire ad campaign, something surely imposed by the art director. What's not clear is whether the art director had this appearance in mind from the start or else liked what he saw in the work created by the initial artist and ordered it continued. In any case, that series was very attractive -- more so than Lincoln's cars of the time.
Yes, this was really done by Sundblom (unless the caption was botched in the Annual). The deviation from his usual style might be explained by the art director wanting an appearance in line with the simplified, poster-like modernist look common in fashion illustration in the late 1920s.
The original artwork was in color, but printed in black-and-white in the Annual.
In the late 1920s into 1930 Packard advertisements would have a scene of luxury painted by a well-known illustrator at the top of the page and an image of a car towards the bottom. This Sundblom illustration has been cropped on the right side because the page in the opened Annual curved towards the gutter and distorted the image I photographed; note some reflected light washing out the right section of the remaining image.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Technology advances, but most products aren't cutting-edge due in part to the timing of development cycles. Then there are new products that have obviously retrograde features, a prime example being the Curtiss Condor airliner that first flew early in 1933.
In order to explain the Condor, I cooked up the following photo essay:
The photos above are of the Condor II, of which there were several variations among the 43 that were built (note the difference in the engine cowlings between the plane in the top image and the others). Its first flight was 30 January 1933.
Note that the fuselage is rounded and has a somewhat streamlined appearance in line with early 1930s aircraft, though it isn't of all-metal construction which was becoming universal for larger airplanes. What is strongly retrograde is the fact that it is a biplane with wing struts that add to the wind resistance. The Condor II was a slow aircraft compared to other new transports such as those mentioned below. Its commercial advantage was that its large fuselage could be configured to include sleeping berths, a selling-point for coast-to-coast flights; previously, transcontinental passengers would fly a few daylight legs and switch to passenger trains for overnight legs of the trip. Apparently American Airlines felt that eliminating this transportation mode-switching compensated for the slow speed of the Condor.
This can be considered the first modern airliner. Its first flight was 8 February 1933, a few days after that of the Condor II. Compare it to the Condor.
B-2 Condor Bomber
There were earlier Condors, one being the Army Air Corps B-2 which entered service in 1929. It was a primitive design based on an early-1920s bomber.
The Condor I was known as the Condor CO or Condor 18, the Condor I appellation is retrospective to distinguish it from the later Condor airliner. This transport was based on the B-2, and the six that were built served with Eastern Air Transport 1931-34. It could carry up to 18 passengers, a large number at the time, but this advantage was negated by its other, out-of-date, features.
The DC-1, essentially a prototype of the DC-2 first flew 1 July 1933 and the first flight of the DC-2 was 11 May 1934. The DC-2 soon became the dominant mid-1930s airliner.
The first flight of the DST was 17 December 1935 and it entered service with American Airlines the following summer. Knowing that its Condor IIs were obsolete, American Airlines pressed Douglas to create a sleeper version of the DC-2 to replace the its Condor II sleepers. A non-sleeper version of the DST was the famed DC-3, a few of which are still serving 75 years after its commercial introduction. The visual distinction between the DST and DC-3 is in those small, slit-like windows above the main windows; they were to allow upper-bunk passengers to peek at the outside world.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Impasto is one of those fancy art terms, and it means slapping on the paint really thick. There are several ways this can be done; using a palette knife will do the job, but I think the results are usually pretty ugly -- messy-looking. Almost any kind of large brush will do the job too, but one with a squared-off end easily signals impasto!, impasto!!. And thanks to this brush effect, you don't have to lay on paint so thickly to get an impasto appearance.
Some artists have built reputations around their use of square brushes (though they seldom make an entire painting using such a tool). Over-use of square brushes can yield results just as off-putting as palette knife painting, so moderation is usually a smart strategy.
Let's look at some works by artists who made use of square brushes. Click on images to enlarge.
Flohr is currently active, and giclées of his paintings can be found in many art galleries around the USA. He uses square brushes much of the time, yielding a signature look that probably assisted his career. I find some of his work interesting, but his technique mostly seems to get in the way of what he's trying to depict. Perhaps he's already evolving from so much reliance on square brushes; I hope so, anyway. As for the painting above, I think that there are too many brush strokes of similar width and length; more variety in strokes (not to mention use of brushes with other-shaped tips) would have improved it.
If it weren't for John the Baptist's head on that plate, this would be simply an interesting nude-in-the-woods painting. I like the use of warm and cool colors applied in large patches by square brushes; a little extreme, maybe, but it gives the work its unique character.
During the early years of the 20th century Putz made a number of paintings featuring areas painted using square brushes. The result is a faceted look which, while mannered, intrigues me as an artist (of sorts).
Up to the early 1940s Mead Schaeffer created illustrations using a strong, "painterly" style where brush strokes were often obvious even when seen on printed pages. The illustration above is one of his best, and used square brushwork in certain places such as the lady's gown, but not all over.
Tepper worked in a painterly style around the same time Schaeffer did and also created many fine illustrations. Square brushwork in this example can be seen on parts of the building's wall as well as on some of the rubble.
Manchess is currently active as an illustrator of science fiction and fantasy book covers and he also paints murals and does other commercial illustration. He has a strong, painterly style and isn't afraid to use a square brush in places, as the example above indicates.
Monday, February 20, 2012
This post is part of a sub-series. The main focus of "In the Beginning" is painters whose styles changed dramatically from early in their careers to what they are most famous for. Here, I'm doing the same for illustrators.
The subject is Edwin Georgi (1896-1964) who is probably best known for glamorous ladies painted in a Divisionist manner: much of the surface is comprised of distinct brush strokes. In Georgi's case, these brushstrokes tend to be tiny and his colors intense to the point of being unnatural. The overall effect can be arresting, though from time to time I think he overdid things.
The first image below is an archetypical Georgi that qualifies as overdone in my reckoning. It sets the stage for the other images which I photographed from what was originally titled the Annual of Advertising Art, a collection of awards by the Art Directors Club of New York. (Details have changed, and the current incarnation is noted here.) Dates for the work he was doing in his early 30s are "circa" the year before the publication date of the annual in which his work appeared.
Friday, February 17, 2012
Some illustrators are generalists when it comes to their subject-matter. Others find themselves specializing, either through choice or by force of circumstances. One field that supports some specialists is military-related subjects. Back on 10 August 2009 on the 2Blowhards blog I posted this article on British illustrator Terence Cuneo who focused on railroads and warfare using a painterly style. And on the 3rd of that month I wrote about Frank Wootton who specialized in automobiles and aircraft.
A currently active British illustrator who deals with warfare and related subjects is Howard Gerrard whose style is also painterly, though its appearance differs from the others because they generally painted in oils and Gerrard often seems to work in gouache or a similar medium which produces a flatter effect.
A short session on Google turned up but a tiny amount of information about Gerrard. He has a Web site, but it's "under construction" and we'll just have to wait until the scaffolding has been removed and the Queen cuts the ribbon to inaugurate services.
The Gerrard information that I found is here on the site of Osprey, a publisher that focuses on short, focused, illustrated books about military subjects. Gerrard has illustrated a number of their volumes and is given credit on the covers and title pages.
In my opinion, Gerrard is the best of Osprey's team of illustrators, producing informative and visually satisfying images that both complement and supplement the text, diagrams and photographs found in a typical Osprey publication. The Osprey illustrations are based on the requirement that various parts of the images be indexed and explained on a following page. This meant that Garrard probably had to keep more elements in sharp focus than he might have were he able to focus on aesthetic considerations.
Here are some examples of Gerrard's work.
The three images above appear to be from Osprey books dealing with specific operations or campaigns in World War 2. As noted above, much of each illustration is in sharp focus though Gerrard was able to get painterly in a few places.
This does not appear to be from an Osprey book and seems to be painted in oils or acrylics. It reminds me of Frank Wootton's paintings, but with a higher degree of accuracy -- Wootton tended to freehand his subjects rather than construct them using formal, architectural perspective methods.
These two images are details from an illustration in this Osprey book dealing with the famous 18 April 1942 raid led by Jimmy Doolittle against Tokyo and other Japanese cities. As you might recall, B-25 Army medium bombers were launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet in a daring effort that had a great deal of psychological impact for both Americans and Japanese. Historians have argued that the raid spurred the Japanese to attack the island of Midway, a turning-point battle that resulted in the loss of four of their aircraft carriers and many of their best pilots.
These images are scans from the book and don't show the subtleties you would notice when viewing the printed page. There is a good deal of painterly gouache here because the focus is on the B-25 and very little on other elements. I encourage you to examine a copy or even purchase one.
Update: Reader Richard Sullivan commented to inform me that the Stalingrad image is actually by Peter Dennis.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In my previous post I featured a sampling of paintings about the temptation of St. Anthony made from the early 1500s to the mid 1900s. I stressed that most of the artists probably had a fine time dealing with the subject because they could include images of pretty (and usually naked) women packaged with a pious theme of self-denial for the sake of living as Jesus suggested.
It turns out that the subject was so juicy than some artists tackled it more than once. The present post features cases where artists painted two versions of the Temptation.
Poor Cézanne could barely draw, and in my contrarian judgment, didn't paint very well either. In the days before settling in on creating pre-Cubist landscapes he dealt with a variety of themes including St. Anthony.
Dollman (1851-1934) was a British painter and illustrator (Wikipedia link here) I hadn't been aware of until researching for this post. The upper painting's nude woman strikes me as odd; I can't tell if Dollman left her not quite finished or whether the unfinished appearance was purposeful. The 1925-vintage painting has a crisply-rendered nude, but unlike so many other depictions of St. Anthony's temptresses, she is shown as passive rather than sexually aggressive.
Ah, Corinth! I wrote about him here in the early days of this blog. During the first part of his career he tossed a lot of what might as well be called pinups into his paintings. And he certainly did so when it came to St. Anthony.
Monday, February 13, 2012
St. Anthony was a hermit who lived around the year 300, abandoning his money and possessions to take up a life of self-denial for the sake of living as Jesus suggested.
While in the desert he was supposedly afflicted with torments and temptations to abandon his self-imposed lifestyle. Among those temptations were women because, apparently, Anthony had denied himself the pleasures of the flesh along with other features of normal life.
This subject proved to be catnip for many artists because they had the theme of extreme piety with which to wrap images of lovely, usually naked women.
There are lots of paintings dealing with St. Anthony's temptation, so here is but a sampling.
This is a pretty early depiction of St. Anthony being tempted. Note that the temptresses are clothed.
By the time of the great Tiepolo, showing nudity was okay.
Delaroche has the the gals really ganging up on the poor saint.
Rops took the risk of having a lively cross-bound woman as the key temptation with the crucified Christ and the devil on either side of her.
Pascin, on the other hand, made do with a Cecil B. DeMille sort of crowd scene.
Tanning, who died a few weeks ago at age 101, was a borderline surrealist and gave the scene a surrealistic cast.
Dalí, being Dalí, threw in a bunch of personal symbolism. And yes, there's a nude woman someplace.
This obviously staged photo shows Dalí supposedly working on the painting shown above. True, here is a nude blonde model, but her pose is not what's in the painting. In any case, Dalí has already painted the nude, so why is the model still standing around?
The other images are in approximately chronological order, but I saved Morelli's for last because (1) I like it best and (2) I saw it a few years ago in Rome's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna.
In the following post I'll deal with some painters who liked the subject so much that they did two versions of St. Anthony's temptations.
UPDATE: Please note the discussion in Comments regarding the Morelli image which seems to a photographic imitation of the actual painting.