Wednesday, June 21, 2017

MORT DRUCKER WEEK!

This week the great Mort Drucker is being inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. There will be a dinner and a reception at the Society in New York on June 22, 2017-- about 25 years late, as far as I'm concerned, but I'm still glad to see the 88 year old artist recognized that way.

At the same time, I'm pleased to announce that the new issue of Illustrators Quarterly, a superb international journal of illustration art, features a cover story (written by yours truly) about Drucker.


It features 32 pages of his marvelous drawings reproduced directly from the original art.








For the article, I was able to interview Drucker in his home and learn about his life and career.

Drucker's wedding picture with his wife Barbara

Drucker worked for his entire career on this same battered portable drawing board. 

It was a real treat for me, and I hope for readers.  This issue is a keeper.  It can be purchased from the publisher in the U.K. or from distributors in the US.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

ONE LOVELY DRAWING, part 53

Illustrator Joe Ciardello is well known for his excellent series of drawings of jazz musicians.   My favorite is this marvelous depiction of James  Oscar Smith, who worked magic on the electric organ.


Ciardiello's picture is an art form somewhere between drawing and music.

Vesalius would not recognize the bones in those hands, but their fluidity perfectly captures Smith's music.

A higher and more insightful level of drawing than mere accuracy.

Similarly, those arms are a graphic equivalent of jazz:



Contrast the light touch of Ciardiello's sprightly linework with the dense black background and you have a powerful composition.  But Ciardiello doesn't end it there.  He energizes the solid black with little jolts of color....


...which, combined with those glowing blue shadows...


... makes the entire picture as electric as Jimmy Smith's organ.

Ciardiello does a lot of literary and cultural figures but he seems to have a special affinity for musicians.  Check out his brilliant drawings of B.B. King and Rahsaan, both of them lovely (but I can't reproduce them here because this series is about one lovely drawing).

Saturday, June 03, 2017

MY FAVORITE LIGHTNING


From the perspective of a cartoonist:

If a lightning bolt's trousers came unbuckled and it slipped on a banana peel, it would look like George Herriman's marvelous, loopy version.  Plus, his black cloud and raindrops put Robert Motherwell to shame. 



From the perspective of a graphic designer:

This brilliant design is not only visually powerful but substantively strong as well: for a column about "judgement day" it effectively conveys the crack of doom.





From the perspective of a conceptual artist:

Saul Steinberg tugs a loose thread on the fabric of reality, and pulls that lightning bolt straight.  



From the perspective of an animator:

The beautiful pastoral sequence in Walt Disney's Fantasia animates the full story of lightning, beginning when Zeus appears in the clouds  during a storm.  The preliminary drawing is above, the final screenshot is below: 



A concept painting shows lightning from the fingertips of Zeus....

...but the final film shows Vulcan hammering out lightning on his celestial anvil for Zeus, with showers of sparks...


...and captures the motion of Zeus hurling his lightning bolts down on targets below.





From the perspective of an earthwork artist:

Spending the night in Walter DeMaria's Lightning Field , a network of gleaming lightning rods in a remote corner of the high desert of western New Mexico is a deeply moving aesthetic experience.

I find each of these versions of lightning brilliant in its own way,  the casual scribble in the Sunday comics as well as the epic metal sculpture luring real lightning down from the sky.   

As the great Walt Whitman said:
I do not call one greater and one smaller,
That which fills its period and place is equal to any.
Like lightning, originality only strikes once.  Or as the slightly less great Willie Tyler said:
The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn't there the second time.