Monday, July 8, 2013

Up Close: Mead Schaeffer (3)

This is part of an occasional series dealing with detail images of paintings featuring the brushwork of the artist. Previous posts can be found via the "Up close" topic label link on the sidebar.

The present post deals with Mead Schaeffer (1898-1980) when he was following the style that gained him success as an illustrator. Additional information on Schaeffer is here. Previous post about Schaeffer in this series are here and here.

Featured here is an illustration for "Hide the Body" by Grace Sartwell Mason in a 1933 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.

The source of the detail images is explained below:

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The Kelly Collection has what is probably the outstanding holding of American illustration art by private individuals (not organizations). I was able to view part of it at The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California towards the end of a January 12 - March 31, 2013 exhibition run. The collection concentrates on illustration art created roughly 1890-1935 and one of its purposes is to further knowledge and appreciation of illustration from that era.

Non-flash photography was allowed, so I took a large number of high-resolution photos of segments of those original works. This was to reference the artists' techniques in a manner not always easy to obtain from printed reproductions. (However, the exhibition catalog does feature a few large-scale detail reproductions.)

I thought that readers of this blog might also be interested in seeing the brushwork of master illustrators up close to increase their understanding of how the artists worked and perhaps to serve as inspiration for their own painting if they too are artists.

Below is an image of the entire illustration coupled with my work. Click on the latter to enlarge.

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This image is from the Kelly Collection website.

Schaeffer often painted freely in his 1920s book illustrations. Here he is tightening up a little, though his brushwork remains strong and his paint thick. Also unlike some of his previous work, he treats his subject's face fairly carefully, blending some of his brush strokes and cutting back his use of impasto.


Albert. S said...

Don, would you happen to know if MS painted Alla Prima? Seems like it, his work looks real fresh and spontaneous. Not to mention he definitely painted with the Howard Pyle principles..of Light/grey/black.

thanks for post.

Donald Pittenger said...

Albert -- According to Fred Taraba in the book "Masters of American Illustration," Schaeffer did a good deal of preparatory work. Then, on the final canvas, he would first draw using charcoal. Then he would add color using watercolors as a final check. Finally, he would go to oil and the brushwork you see in the image.