Saturday, April 04, 2009


What is it?

A slashing tempest?

A rugged granite cliff?

A rolling river?

The tail plumage from a firebird?

Naw, it's just the way Robert Fawcett draws a face:

This intense little portrait (approximately 4 inches tall) is a virtuoso performance by a master draftsman. Look at the speed and facility with which Fawcett employs a dazzling array of marks on paper to channel the designs of nature. This is what I call drawing!

Fawcett took draftsmanship very seriously and was fiercely proud of his ability. As Roger Reed of Illustration House observed about some of the lines in this drawing, "he must have used a bamboo stick to draw with, like he searched for the most difficult-to-control tool in the box."

Do you prefer your drawings less intense? That's OK. Simplicity is another weapon in Fawcett's arsenal:

I am pleased to be working with Auad Publishing on a book about the life and work of Robert Fawcett. I hope you will keep an eye out for it.


Blogger T.Cypress said...

I love your Fawcett posts. He's been a big influence in my own work. Really looking forward to you book!

4/04/2009 10:04 AM  
Blogger tonci said...

a book! best news of this whole year! excellent posts, too, yes.


4/04/2009 12:03 PM  
Anonymous kev ferrara said...

Fawcett had great energy and integrity and was a consummate composer. I can't wait for the book! He could've drawn with a sponge dipped in molasses and still made great work. The total freedom plus total integrity mix seems to be the holy grail of the last 100 years or so. Only a few artists have ever reached the pinnacle... Fawcett, Fuchs, Fechin, Freud, Frazetta, Cornwell circa 1920-30, Zorn, maybe Edgar Payne, Brangwyn, Walter Biggs, John LeGatta, Degas, Sargent, Sorolla... Not all that many, but "artist's artists" all.


4/04/2009 2:01 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Thanks, T. Cypress and tonci. Always happy to hear from others who appreciate Fawcett's work.

Kev, what a wonderful, juicy list of artists. Spend a few minutes thinking about the extraordinarily human accomplishment represented by those names and it's hard to get too concerned about the economy.

4/04/2009 10:10 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

David, according to Fawcett's own book, that technique is produced with a Flomaster pen...the grand-daddy of today's markers. The felt tips were replaceable and could be allowed to dry somewhat because there was a demand valve that metered the xylene-based ink.

Fawcett would allow the felt tip to dry and then scrub it to produce that gutsy texture. He'd use pens in different states of dryness. Something he said always stuck with me...keep your preliminary sketches almost savage in energy and intensity because they lose enery as they go toward the finish.

4/06/2009 12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's such a pleasure to see great drawing.

Even better, when learning that a common marker becomes something else again in the hands of an artist.

Am I off the mark or is the portrait of Al Dorne?

Best regards,
Glenda Rogers

4/06/2009 1:59 AM  
Blogger Gringo said...

Great post about Fawcett (first time I heard of him to be honest). I'll keep an eye on that book.

4/06/2009 2:04 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob, Fawcett was a sorcerer with those Flomaster pens. Nobody else was able to achieve the results that he did. In fact, Flomaster sent him a lifetime supply for free because he was the best advertising they could possibly hope for. Unfortunately, the marks from that first generation of pens faded with age, so if you want to see those drawings, you have to look in places like Fawcett's book on the Art of Drawing.

My first reaction was the same as yours, that some of these marks must've been made with a Flomaster pen. However, we inspected the original under magnification and the whole thing is in fact good old India ink. How the hell he did it? I guess that's what makes him so great.

I agree with you, that quote about starting out savage is a great quote, and it is a point that is lost on so many artists today who are complacent with a much more shallow form of savagery.

4/06/2009 3:34 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Glenda, you are absolutely right! In fact, Fawcett drew this portrait of Dorne right after his old colleague died, and it was used on the cover of the program at Dorne's memorial service.

Thanks, Gringo-- if you don't know Fawcett's, work he is worth exploring. He was an astonishing draftsman.

4/06/2009 3:42 AM  
Blogger Jeff Jackson said...

Hey David, been poking in now and then but haven't left a comment in some time. As usual, another great post. I am so curious about this book on which you are working. Did I miss a scheduled release date or has that been set yet?
Here's to your continued illustration snobbery.

4/06/2009 1:20 PM  
Blogger harald said...

I bought Fawcett's book on the Art of Drawing several yrs. after it was published, then loaned it and didn't get it back. I found another 1958 book and bought it 2 yrs ago. I will look forward to your book.

4/06/2009 7:12 PM  
Anonymous Jack Ruttan said...

Congrats! Sounds like a great book.

4/06/2009 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Keep an eye out for it?" I can't wait! I love Fawcett! --Bob Cosgrove

4/06/2009 8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i always love the artists list presented...
does anyone know if this artist
bears any relation to bernie fuchs?

looks like he is filling large shoes with digital feet,

4/07/2009 9:04 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>filling large shoes with digital feet<<

What an amusing assessment.

4/07/2009 10:29 AM  
Anonymous chuck pyle said...


4/07/2009 12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Scholl needs to invent digital odor eaters.

4/07/2009 12:51 PM  
Blogger Don Cox said...

I can't wait for the book. (But take your time and get it right!)

That list of artists is good. I think Ronald Searle and John Worsley could be added.

4/10/2009 5:06 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

love your blogspot i do!

4/11/2009 11:08 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

Please check out for details of a Frankenstein art project I am running. I'd love some involvement from you and your readers.

4/11/2009 6:50 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

"A Patchwork of Flesh" is very poetical and if you ever get any artwork to match the title, you'll have an excellent collection. Best of luck.

4/11/2009 7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The written word has more potential than the image. That's why some people who call themselves artists spend much more time spewing verbal abuse than actually painting. You both have my sympathy.

4/12/2009 3:09 AM  
Blogger Beetle said...

Great artists seem to be able to draw with anything and capture the essence. Exquisite forms.

4/12/2009 1:41 PM  
Blogger Francis Vallejo said...

book on Fawcett!!!!!!!! count me in!!

4/12/2009 11:02 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

David, one of the most moving eulogies was given to Fawcett by his friend, Austin Briggs...I seem to recall that it was given at the Society of Illustrators. Perhaps someone made a record of it for inclusion in your book.

4/13/2009 7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A eulogy is nice (I guess) but please leave the sentimental crap to a minimum. More art, less babble!

4/13/2009 2:21 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Even if he did draw with a bamboo stick, it looks bloody effortless.

One of the ways we used to impress our life drawing instructors at collage would be to draw using a palette knife dipped in ink or somesuch. Interesting line work, a cheap trick, but none of it showing the depth of personal knowledge and experience these drawings show.

4/14/2009 4:48 AM  
Blogger Jesse Hamm said...

Fawcett's probably my favorite draftsman. Can't wait to get the new book!

4/15/2009 12:10 AM  
Blogger kenmeyerjr said...

Yup, another great, another great post...I have so much to learn! As for the two you show, I much prefer the first...that era had so many incredible illustrators and Fawcett was at or near the top.

4/15/2009 7:23 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Jeff, thanks-- the book will be out later this year. Watch this space.

Harald, that book is a classic.

Jack, Bob and Chuck, thanks for writing, I have high hopes for it.

D.H., I believe he is no relation.

Don, Searle is a particular favorite of mine.

Thanks, Josh-- I appreciate your writing.

4/16/2009 1:00 AM  

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