Friday, April 23, 2010


Watch the great Dean Cornwell collect the information he will need for a painting.

Cornwell has drawn thousands of hands in thousands of pictures, yet look how hard he still works to get the facts right:

The information in this drawing is different from the type of information that could be collected by a camera. Here is where Cornwell starts to select and digest certain facts to assimiliate them in his own personal style. Here is where he finds the contours of his future design. Here is where he establishes priorities.

Fritz Eichenberg once said, "what makes an artist create in his own particular style is an indefinable gift, almost a state of grace."

Maybe so, but I especially like preliminary sketches where you can see honest artists put that "state of grace" to practical use constructing a picture the way a carpenter might use tools to build a house. I love the candor and unpretentiousness of working drawings. Here is a nice selection by some extremely talented artists:

Frank Frazetta tries out two different positions for the leg of this rider. Yet, his attention always seems to stray back to the same thing...

In the final version of this image, Bernie Fuchs' lines will seem very spontaneus and natural. But here you see him explore, at a slower pace, how the width and variety of lines might work out.

Here, William A. Smith was not content with the break in the crease on that pants leg, so he went back and did it again. Below, we see him going back with white paint to reshape the lights and shadows in a dynamic fight scene.

This is a preliminary study by Oberhardt for an ad for Fatima cigarettes. Despite the briskness of the drawing, he manages to capture a surprising amount of the subtlety of the form. But he is clearly not collecting information the way Cornwell was (note the difference in the treatment of the hand). Instead, Oberhardt's primary interest is in the overall shape of the lights and darks.

Like many artists, Oberhardt apparently continued to work on images in the back of his mind even while he was reading the newspaper.

This concept sketch by Rockwell may be tiny, but he meticulously plans all of the ingredients of a Post cover, including his signature and the trademark Post bars.

I love the vigor of this sketch of Katie Couric by Thomas Fluharty. It may seem as if he drew it at 90 miles an hour, but look at how he slammed on the brakes to capture the information he wanted about those teeth.

Another terrific example from Fluharty, cut and pasted with no pretensions. Look at the bold use of that soft charcoal to take chances with the shape of Obama's cheeks or ears. Yet, observe how he came back with a computer to test color and add such insightful expression to those eyes.

There are many interesting stopping points on the road to a completed picture. In recent posts, we have spent a lot of time discussing critics, curators and gallery owners who project their fanciful notions of what the artist had in mind. As far as I am concerned, the most reliable way to discern the inner thoughts of an artist is to spend some time with the working drawings that led up to the final product.


trixiefishstabber said...

Amazing illustrations and talent. Nice post, thank you

Anonymous said...

great post!

Joel said...

inspiring post

Rob Howard said...

Now you're talkin'. Most of those are quite special, especially Cornwell and Fluharty. Those guys can walk the walk. I see that you're still pounding the drum for Oberhardt. It reminds me of a disc jockey at one of ther local classical music stations. Scarcely a day went by without him feeding the listeners to Carl Neilsen Indistinguishable Symphony. Eventually the station shipped him off to Vermont.

Let that be a warning to you. Keep shilling for Oberhardt and it's Vermont for you.

kev ferrara said...

Yeah, all sweetness this time.

That first William A. Smith piece is solid as iron. Love it.

And Fluharty's work is pure heart.

That study of the boy with the pitcher by Cornwell is a wonder of nature.

Cornwell became almost surgical in his drawing after about 1923 or 24. I have some jpegs somewhere of drawings he did earlier that were less precise, more flowing and searching.

When Cornwell was under Dunn's tutelage, doing comprehensive drawings was seen as a mistake as it took all the life and spontaneity out of the final. Dunn recommended taking "notes" instead, and leaving all the fire for the final work.

Cornwell, soon after leaving Dunn's nest, put the lie to that idea with some of the most beautiful painted and composed paintings done in the 20th century, IMHO.

Then, it seems to me, he turned around and proved Dunn right, and killed his painterly spontaneity with too much clinical drawing as he became lost in the dogmas of mural painting form. In many ways, Cornwell's drawings became better than his pictures after 1931 or so. He seemed to become almost a scientist of a draughtsman, but a cartoonist of a painter. His war loan images are a notable exception, I think.
(Can you imagine Peter Max and Andy Warhol doing War Loan Posters?)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Regarding the Cornwell/Oberhardt comparison, I tend to wonder if the need influenced the collection of information. The Cornwell seems very sculptural in it's modeling, and while it is my favorite, I think the face does not look particularly convincing. It has more of the feel of a character in a story. For the cigarette ad, Oberhardt did a better job of creating a real life believable person (a target demographic perhaps), and I would think that would be naturally what the situation called for.

MORAN said...

The Rockwell seems almost too controlled today, while that Fluharty seems so fresh. He's really good, I'm surprised I don't know more about his work.

The first Smith is powerful and solid, not so sure about the second. And gotta love Frazetta.

Rob Howard said...

>>> Fluharty seems so fresh. He's really good, I'm surprised I don't know more about his work. <<<

He has a website, but you have to wade through a lot of recently acquired religious zeal to get to anything useful. He does not believe that worship is a private matter and it becomes like someone tugging on your sleeve.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Cornwell's drawings became better than his pictures after 1931 or so. He seemed to become almost a scientist of a draughtsman,<<<

There's a big difference between drawing for easel paintings and drawing for murals.

As for absorbing Dunn's lessons, it was said that he wasn't done with Dunn until he was Dunn.

Joss said...

One of my favorite Mondrians is a kind of working drawing but also an end in itself. To me it easily outshines the "more relevant" "masterpieces" for which he is valued by the critics and no doubt himself. "Great art in humble places" indeed.
Thanks for more excellent pictures I've never seen.
I hope you don't have to interuppt your flow of blogs from the Vermont Gulag.

अर्जुन said...

Preliminaries often have desirable qualities that never make it to the masterpiece.

If not for Cornwell's sculptural art-deco drawings and murals he would be like; Tepper, Schaeffer, Tomaso, Dunn, fine yet something less.

Antonio said...

>Frank Frazetta tries out two different >positions for the leg of this rider. Yet, >his attention always seems to stray back >to the same thing...

the "same thing" is very well settled on both drawings, but I think he was mainly concerned not with the options on leg position (hardly sketched at all), but with the subtle but all-important rotation of the torso, which exposes all those back muscles and clavicle on the drawing on the right side, and makes the shadow pattern a lot more interesting.

>He does not believe that worship is a >private matter and it becomes like >someone tugging on your sleeve.

It is so over the top I actually thought he was some rabid anti-christian caricaturing the clichés of true believers. I thought he was over the top with the whole thing, and misrepresenting his targets (come on, man, those christians are not that crazy). Only after noticing it went on constantly did I start to believe he actually might mean it. The end result is far more efficient a critique against that type of christian nonsense than any earnest attack could ever be. Great artist, though, no matter what he may write or think (and a part of me still believes he is kidding...well, "I want to believe"...).

Anonymous said...

Great, Great, post!
..all that "wordy" stuff was crossing my eyes...
can you direct me to the finished works?
Derrick H.

Rem said...

Working drawings are interesting and informative material
is frequent drawings is even better finished work
Thanks for the interesting material

David Apatoff said...

trixiefishstabber, sharpyoungbull and Joel-- Many thanks!

Kev Ferrara-- yes, Cornwell went through some pretty distinctive phases. Different people I know seem to favor different phases.

etc. etc.-- that stylized face by Cornwell is a good example of the transformation that Kev was describing. Cornwell went from a more realistic, gritty style to a style that almost looked like clean, molded plastic-- more consistent with the art deco era. You see it in this drawing but you could especially see it in the thick, rounded way the paint was applied, like butter.

Kim Smith said...

I still so often prefer the energetic working drawing to the finished! All good choices, David...

David Apatoff said...

Rob and Antonio-- "[Fluharty] does not believe that worship is a >private matter and it becomes like >someone tugging on your sleeve."

It's obvious that Fluharty would rather talk to the world about the spirit that moves him than provide details that many of us would like to hear about the pictures on his web site. For me, the relevant question (at least for those of us looking at Fluharty as an artist) is whether his religious beliefs impede his artwork in any way. I think the obvious answer is "no." In fact, while some devout artists such as Harry Anderson seem to stay within a safe range, Fluharty applies a wonderfully wicked imagination and a positively devastating line to achieve some of the best, most vicious caricatures I have ever seen. What inspires his great gift? I am not in a position to know whether Samson got his strength from his hair, or Fra Angelico painted better angels because of his religious inspiration, or if Louis Armstrong's talent was enhanced by reefer, or if John Lennon could have written "I am the walrus" without LSD. I am just the beneficiary of the end result, and I like it.

Lesley Vamos said...

Wow - some gorgeous illo's there - I really love little sketch of the three people sitting together - its so well balanced.. I'll have to find more of his stuff for sure ^_^

Antonio said...


don't get me wrong, everyone can go as nuts as he wants, each in his own way (I have my own strain, I am sure), and though I may comment upon it I have nothing against it, as long as you don't start blowing up stuff or opressing people, but Fluharty is the builing up, not the blowing up kind, which puts him right along those other religion-enhanced, or drug-enhanced, or sex-enhanced nutjobs we all admire in art history.

As I said before, it doesn't take away from his artistry at all.

Which does not mean I cannot offhandedly comment, in a totally unrelated fashion to my opinion of his art, that he sure can be weird constantly going off like that, and that he makes for a great caricature of the born again cliché.

that being said, I'd rather meet him anyday in all nutty religious regalia rather than some boring, rational, sagacious guy that cannot draw half as well. Hey, someone like Koons! (couldn't resist) :D

StimmeDesHerzens said...

Re: Frazetta's attention & 'subtle but all-important rotation of the torso, which exposes all those back muscles and clavicle ...'

hmmm so I get it now, that was what D was thinking about?!!

re; Fluharty's sketch of O, do you think this was a working piece and not the finished product?
another interesting illustration of the pres. They love his big ears, now his mouth is pursed, sort of looks like a monkey.

Marc Kingsland said...

There's something about Fuch's drawing that has the nature of traceing from some type of optical projection.
His line doesn't seem to me to be fully describing the forms. but more noting the edges of them, or even just the changes between tonal blocks.
Not saying he needed or used a device for this effect. But I do think it's revealing on how he focused on his subject.

Jelter said...

This post was amazing!

meyerprints said...

David Apatoff said...

Joss, I surely agree with you about Mondrian. His hallmark geometric works were intellectually stimulating but once the newness of the idea subsides, they can't seem to compare with those lovely flowers he did; I assume you have seen his delicate blue watercolors of the same subject? I like them even more than the drawing.

अर्जुन-- I've seen some Dunns that I think stand up to anything Cornwell has done, but I agree with you about the other illustrators. (Isn't there some song about this on youtube?)

Anonymous, the "finished works" by the older artists here are spread to the four winds now. (I don't think the Post ever used this Rockwell sketch in this form). But you can find the finished works by Fluharty on his web site.

David Apatoff said...

Kim and Philip-- thanks so much for writing. I'm glad you see what I see in these drawings.

MORAN-- I agree with you re Fluharty.

Lesley Vlamos-- thanks. You're right, even at this early conceptual stage Rockwell thinks in complete paragraphs. The skect is very tidy and balanced.

David Apatoff said...

Leibesreime wrote "hmmm so I get it now, that was what D was thinking about?!!"

Of course. What else could it be? (I'm glad you understand the way men think so well).

Marc Kingsland-- You are right, I think that's how the drawing was first mapped out. The final drawings look as natural and instinctive as a spasm, but it is interesting to see he initially thought it out at a more methodical pace.

Jelter-- many thanx!

Gary Locke said...

i've been saying for years, that if Tom were in his prime in the 70's -80's, HE would be the one everyone immitated and went to the Illustrators Workshops to be close to. As a long time friend of his, i have recieved faxes of his sketches and jpegs for some 15 years now i guess. i do not throw these away! He is a gifted freak of nature with a pencil in his hand! And as for his blog God talk.... he means it from his heart.
Thank you avid for including him in this fine post.

अर्जुन said...

That is my point, each of them at their best reached the same high, but there is a reason people care more when it is Signed D.C.

David Apatoff said...

Gary, it seems to me that some caricaturists are elevated and made more important by their forum (such as David Levine and Al Hirschfeld) while other caricaturists end up lending prestige to their forum (such as Mort Drucker or Tom Fluharty).

Don't get me wrong, I think Levine and Hirschfeld are both talented (especially Levine) but if you only draw one portrait a week, and the portrait is of someone like Wittgenstein or Charles de Gaulle, and your picture is appearing in a publication read by all the intelligentsia and the aristocracy of the country, you are far more likely to be presumed a "fine" artist than if you are drawing 20 portraits in a week of people like Bea Arthur (in the case of Drucker) or painting full scenes with backgrounds on short order to satisfy the specs of an art director (in the case of Fluharty). I think Levine and Hirschfeld have acquired the prestige of the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books, and that has colored the way people view their line on paper. Their lines get the benefit of the doubt.

Both Fluharty and Drucker have worked for MAD magazine, which ain't exactly the New Yorker, and their humor is therefore a little broader. But just as Shakespeare found a way to entertain the common man while reaching the heights, I think Drucker and Fluharty are not hindered by the fact that they are better than their material. With only a few noteworthy exceptions, I prefer their work to the work of Levine or Hirschfeld.

I think they (Drucker and Fluharty) are way underrated today but eventually I suspect there will be a catching up.

kev ferrara said...

At the Museum of Radio and Television in Manhattan there are dozens of original Hirschfelds... perfectly uniquely him, perfect caricatures each one (Jackie Gleason, The Beatles, etc.), all perfectly crafted. (I don't even remember seeing white paint on any of them.)

In fact, they are such perfectly abstracted versions of their subjects that they feel almost mathematical.

But without a doubt, Hirschfeld's refining process actually did produce refinement, rather than simply awkward stylization. There is something sleek and sophisticated about his works. Yet they are entertaining and true.

His work was like a top hat and tails tap dance routine done in line. Thus his work and Manhattan society were and are a perfect match.

Drucker is from the opposite side of the tracks. Everything Drucker draws looks like its taking place in Animal House, where every day is a party, every room is a mess, and everybody has a funny nose.

Drucker's people, (which is to say him), are not the folks who get to hobnob with the high end of the class system. "Important" people don't hang out with anything-for-a-joke riff raff with lumpy clothes.

So it isn't just venue that causes "the people who need to be impressed" to snoot up their noses at Drucker.

We also should note that Levine's politics were dead on point for the Review of Books. And therein may be the reason that Fluharty, who is Levine's match in my estimation, won't make the grade with the same flock.


David Apatoff said...

Kev-- very nice.

Rob Howard said...

Very accurate observations, Kev.

chris bennett said...

I thought that Bernie Fuchs was by Charles Reid at first!

Those Fluhartys are a joy to look at – conjuring up the forms within the paper by stirring it up like swishing a stick in a bucket of water. Cornwell also churns his forms from the paper but in a much more deliberate fashion commensurate with the purpose they were intended for - The shapes and marks working together to buckle the paper into monumental structures as if the paper is being thought of as viscous wet plaster.

It’s interesting to contrast the Cornwell with the Frazetta – Cornwell and Fluharty think of the paper, in their different ways, as a sort of luminous block that is persuaded into the forms that we see by the mark gestures seemingly ‘contained’ within it. Frazetta, I feel, thinks of them as sitting on the surface and never really biting into the luminous white of the paper as metaphorical three dimensional substance. Notice how, for instance, those shapes on the girl’s back, although firm, do not really describe anything because they don’t imaginatively engage with the white paper as space – we don’t get the yin/yang thing of mark and surface that we do in Fluharty and Cornwell.

Many thanks for posting these David, and also for sharing your interesting and informative thoughts too!

Rob Howard said...

It's interesting how various artists do sketches and studies. Most of the featured artists got the information they needed with pencil sketches. Some, like Lyendecker, think in terms of shape and texture in paint. I am more like the latter in that regard, in that I really require paint to work out ideas that will later be used in an illustration.

I just posted a small study at that shows what I felt was important to solve in a study...which BTW was not used in the final illustration.

Tom said...

Hey Rob I have a question if you don't mind. How would a artist like Cornwell or some Renaissance artist get his sketches to mural size? It is very hard making large drawings. Would they simply scale up a small drawing? Renaissance figures can be larger then life size but most of the drawing I have seen are quite small unless it was a carton.

Great pictures as always David

अर्जुन said...


re:Cornwell~ D.C. Four Stories High

I don't know D.C.'s make & model, here are 2 examples;

Leitz Epidiascope model Vh

Ross Epidiascope

Tom said...

Thanks अर्जुन, that was great.

Antonio Araujo said...

how, for instance, those shapes >on the girl’s back, although >firm, do not really describe >anything because they don’t >imaginatively engage with the >white paper as space – we don’t >get the yin/yang thing of mark >and surface that we do in >Fluharty and Cornwell.

I have really no idea about what that means ("the yin yang thing" present in Fluharty and Cornwell) nor do I think it can be argued objectively beyond personal perception (either yours or mine), so I won't dispute it. But what I can certainly assure you is that those shapes on the girl's back certainly describe something very clear and three-dimensional, "paper engaging" or not, at least in my own brain and eye, and that too, since it only depends on my own perception, is beyond dispute. I can see her in space, feel her back, and man, it feels good :)

Antonio Araujo said...

>Hey Rob I have a question if you >don't mind. How would a artist >like Cornwell or some Renaissance >artist get his sketches to mural >size?

I guess they'd just grid it up?

Make a grid, of squares and their diagonals, and place the intersects from the smaller sketches, then go from there. I think it was a common method, but I'd love to hear of better alternatives.

Rob: Can't see that study you mentioned. Are you sure you upped it?

Rob Howard said...

Tom said...>>>How would a artist like Cornwell or some Renaissance artist get his sketches to mural size? Would they simply scale up a small drawing? … most of the drawing I have seen are quite small unless it was a carton.<<<

I hesitate to answer correctly because the truth is so destructive of the illusions and delusions we hold of the artists of that period, but I am firmly in Hockney's camp on this one. For some, that is as horrid as saying that Pollock may have been onto something important.
I agree with Hockney's well-researched assertions because, unlike his detractors, I have actually used the optical devices he speaks of. The sudden change in going from the flat figures and one-point perspective of the Quattrocento masters was almost overnight. Was it something in the water? Did the planet shift? Fables have been constructed by the purposely blind, throwing out any evidence that would be counter to the myths they have created for their heroes (to them, all of "The Old Masters (R)" lived at roughly the same).
There is ample evidence that sophisticated optical devices were widely used. Concave mirrors were easily made and, if you have a concave shaving mirror, you can darken a room and place the mirror on an open window sill and project whatever is before it onto the wall (some adjustments in distance-to-easel and distance-to-subject must be made) The results are always startling to the True Believer.
Caravaggio had a number of those mirrors in his studio. There was also the camera oscura, not oBscura. Camera oscura means dark room, not an obscure and out-of-focus room.
Perhaps the most widely used optical device was the camera lucida, referring to the fact that it could be used in a room with the lights on...or windows open. Later versions (such as I have in my collection) are elegantly made mirrored prisms on an adjustable stalk. It take a bit of mastering, but the camera lucida allows you to have the model in front of you as you look down at the paper and see both the subject and your pencil in the same plane.
The only downside with the camera lucida is it produces small images. Ingres drawings are quite small, as were most of the Renaissance, Rococo and Baroque drawings. They were simply gridded-up to enlarge them and make the cartoon for murals (cartoon refers to the heavy paper that was "pounced" with small holes for repeated transfer of a drawing in murals (they routinely had to scrape out passages when something went wrong...hence the need to be able to exactly reproduce the drawing).
Basically, it was the technology of the available lenses that drove the art.
A posthumous inventory of Vermeer's studio had two desktop camera oscuras and a number of lenses. This, to the uninitiated and uninformed, is called cheating and the Old Masters took a blood oath to never cheat, didn't they? It’s right there in the Olympic Art Rulebook, after all, art has rules, just like football and tiddly-winks.
Well not quite.
Back in the bad old days…the REALLY bad old days, there was no welfare state. So if you could not compete with the other people in your field, you starved…literally. Nothing to eat for weeks. No place to stay. You went from artist to indigent. Then, like so many other street people, you died. Facing that, do you think that you might just “cheat” to stay ahead of the competition?
Judging from the very sudden change from flat and one-point perspective to more naturalistic work, it appears that everyone opted for them just as everyone today opts for electric lights. Those same purists would never consider using wood-powered computers to run their businesses. Yet they advocate a course of action that never existed. This is not to say that those old mastery guys could not draw and draw well. These tools were an aid to producing more and better work and they also influenced how people saw…just as photography and movies influence the way we see.
There is no effective counter to Hockney’s argument.

Rob Howard said...

>>>Rob: Can't see that study you mentioned. Are you sure you upped it?<<<

I just went to
amd it was there in the Cennini on Painting blogspot. You can also see it at the free section of the Cennini Forum at

Canuck said...

>>>There is no effective counter to Hockney’s argument.<<<

Other than Hockney's own rather flat and lifeless drawing examples using a prism. (But to be fair he and his art world had different priorities during his Art education time...)

kev ferrara said...


Rob seems to have wanted to talk about camera obscura, rather than answer the question. Guess he was bored.

Cornwell projected his sketches using the projector indicated in the article linked by अर्जुन

Cornwell never projected photos unless they were photos of his own compositions composited from his own sketches.

To Rob's redirection of the thread...

Projecting photographs is only cheating if one thinks the point of art is simply for a man, using only his own hand and eye with no other aid, to reproduce on a flat surface the look of nature through one open eye.

Since anybody who knows a thing about drawing, composition or aesthetics knows this isn’t the point of art, calling photo projection cheating is a completely clueless accusation. Its just an effort to make a magic trick go more smoothly. (This might be fine for no-nonsense portrait commissions, however, and could be quite useful, of course.)

Yet, the idea that old master art, or any narrative art, is all about mimetic reproduction is the hidden assertion behind Hockney’s cheap and failed attempt to justify postmodern shallowness and hackery (which is by way of exonerating himself in the process, of course. The mind does play its tricks.)

That Hockney himself could not get close to proving his contention with his own drawing (and he quits halfway through because he finds the process "boring", he says) easily demonstrates, failing all else, that the author is neither a creditable historian, nor scientist, nor draughtsman.

That Hockney didn’t immediately notice that good composition isn’t much like what you see through a lens, demonstrates the paucity of his intellect. (And might also point to a bit of knavery on his part, if we were to give him that much credit.)

Just one example is needed to prove the point: Since the camera obscura cannot capture a rearing horse we’ll just have to assume that Rubens, for one, was every bit the master that legend paints him.

Since no photograph can capture the divine elegance of a Vermeer, we’ll have to assume Vermeer also had something else in mind, other than duplicating what appeared through the lenses found in his lab, (assuming they weren’t used mostly simply as methods to view his own compositions in small as thumbnails, in order to compare them one to one to his own comp sketches.)

That certain news outlets of certain persuasions were immediately taken by Hockney’s sensational thesis, and the implications of it (the same old leftist line: there are no extraordinary men, talent is an illusion and success only comes from cheating.) only shows how far politically correct thinking has degraded the ability of our media “thought leaders” to perceive reality through their ideology-smeared glasses.

If we don’t think for ourselves, there will be no thinking.

Lemmings never step out of line.

chris bennett said...

Antonio Araujo: I think the easiest way of pointing out what I mean by the Frazetta girl's back not describing anything is by trying to imagine making it out of clay. For instance, what would I make of those peculiar protrusions at the top right of her back starting somewhere around shoulder blade? Where exactly is the spine in relation to those lumps in the centre of the back and how does all this relate to the impossible position of her breast? I say impossible, but it is precisely because of the contradicting lumps and bumps having no real relationship to each other that has resulted in it being floated on in the way we have it here.

Cliff Claven (aka Rob Howard) said...

The difference between Cornwell and you, Fat Slob How-turd, is that real artists like Cornwell projected their own drawings, while you project photos, because you can't draw without one.

Not much to do today, eh? Guess that fictional thriving portrait business is a little slow lately.

Have another nice, lonely day.

Marc Kingsland said...

Short answer Tom.
They were probably squared up.

Anonymous said...

Rob Howard said...
"There is no effective counter to Hockney’s argument."

Rob Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

That quote was not from me. I do realize now who you think I am (I am not that person). I did sincerly laugh and clap, though, because I also know (of) Titania! Hilarious!

Rob Howard said...

Kev, what exactly was your point? I stayed on message and answered the question, with the proper historical background. Sorry that it did not fit with the orthodox beliefs you have been fed.. As usual, you went off talking about projecting photos (did they use Polaroids in the Renaissance or was that the Baroque era. Just what the hell are you talking about. Stay on point. Just because Hockney doesn't draw to your standards (actually, he easily equals them) you were so busy penning rebuttals in your head that there was no time for you to read what he wrote. He was demonstrating the devices not his skill. But never having written a book, you wouldn’t understand the idea of the author being subservient to the message. A book is not a portfolio.

Now, being a thoroughly contemporary artists, which is to say woefully untrained, I suspect that you have never seen and used, let alone mastered a prism camera lucida so you once again don't know whereof you speak. Drawings done with them have a very specific quality, as you can see in the way Ingres handles the drapery in his portrait sketches. Without doubt, the camera oscura will forever remain both obscure and “obscura” (try finding that word in Italian dictionaries. Obviously, a name ending in a vowel does not instantly impart a knowledge of the language) to you, as will the numerous other optical devices of the day (let's not forget exactly when it was that Galileo plotted the planets with, what was it again...a piece of sanguine chalk? His thumb? Just what did Galileo use to see the stars?
Even though Vermeer painted van Leuwenhoek twice (the Geographer and the Astronomer) and they were neighbors, there is absolutely no reason to ever think that they would have discussed lenses and projectors…that would have been cheating according to the lesser lights of the Great Art Judges, who don’t make art.

It always amazes me that there is a class, or a level of artist who insists on making thing difficult for themselves in the notion that, if they were given all the tools the masters had at their disposal and if they still come up wanting, they’ll have to blame themselves rather than some magical secret lost to the ages (but which they hope to discover…even if they can’t read Dutch or Italian). It’s the fool who gets into the ring with one hand tied behind their back. They only prove how they can take a punch…but so does a punching bag. I suppose such neuroses have their charms…and to the audience who can witness it from a safe distance, it provides a crude form of amusement…like the artist’s version of those Jackass videos where they give a drunk five bucks to ram his head into a stone wall -- thank God for the Internet! We can witness that behavior far away from the grunting and the smell.

Still, things could be worse. You could be like the poor, delusional and embittered Murdock, emasculated and forced to live off his wife’s income.. Still, there might be hope for you, Kev, unless you only aspire to the well-trod paths at ConceptArt. What you write are rather ordinary and predicatable opinions. Diatribes such as this last one are increasingly typical and provide contrast for those bi-monthly flashes of clarity that burble up from the miasma of prolixity you inflict on your keyboard. Past that, you offer identical opinions one can get from the man on the street, the rube at a county fair or the typical art student hurtling toward a sadly predictable future (or lack thereof).

Sadly, my back is aching and that put me in a foul mood, so you and the Little Dick will have to excuse the lack of my usual forbearance and understand that, while I am presently not disposed to suffer fools gladly, I hope upon feeling better to be more kindly and return to the indulgent and kindly person I am. At least, I am kind to dogs, cats and hamsters.

Rob Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob Howard said...

>>>Not much to do today, eh? Guess that fictional thriving portrait business is a little slow lately.<<<

Damned right, Little Dick. There I was with almost 18 months of bookings and the bottom fell out of the economy. Guess what the first thing to be jetisoned was? Yep, portraits, and many of them forfeited their deposit rather than carry through with the contracts. I finished my last portrait about two months ago. In a way it is a relief because I haven't enjoyed traveling for some time now.

Now, like you, I am doing speculative work rather than commissions and frankly I find it relaxing. For the first time, I am painting the occasional landscape. They're okay but I still prefer painting figures.

Thanks for your concern about my weight. I'm hovering around 230 which, according to my doctor okay for someone my height and build. I know that you'll be upset to learn that my health is excellent, I have lots of energy, still happily married and (this you'll appreciate) my children not only talk to me, they actually love me. I feel genuine sadness when i think about your situation and that you haven't got that in your life...that really is an unusual situation you live in.

Although I no longer operate it, the paint business is going well and we are constructing two video studios (one in Boston, another in Georgia) to make informational videos by a variety of skilled artists showing their techniques.

So that's it, Dickie, my life is annoyingly happy and fulfilling. Anway, keep practising those curses and incantations. Maybe voodoo will work, but so far, all of your petty sniping and other little man stuff has had no effect. Perhaps you should drive up and shoot at me. You know where I live. Be sure to call first.

kev ferrara said...


I'm sorry to hear about your back. I wish you a speedy recovery.

I did misread your reply. My apologies and I retract what I wrote about you not answering the question.

The rest of what I wrote regarding Hockney and his tacit thesis, I stand by.

As far as projecting photos, I own an optical projector and have used it to project and trace photos, drawings, and compositions. Sometimes I will trace certain items in my comic book work directly onto the board, especially machinery, cars, and buildings. (Which reminds me, for anyone interested, I have an 8 page story in the upcoming issue of Creepy (#3) from Dark Horse.)

Joss said...

David, I spent a little time looking at flowers. Was this the blue
Crysantheum to which you refer? Looks promising though not in this poor/tiny file. I don't recall seeing it before. Perhaps I have seen it in the book "100 Mondrian flowers"... I can't get enough of that stuff.

Tom said:
"Fluharty conjures up the forms within the paper by stirring it up like swishing a stick in a bucket of water."

Damn I love your descriptions of Cornwell and Fluharty in their sculpting through the paper.

I want to get to the heart of what you are suggesting lacks in the Frazetta, because while I sense a valid distinction I can't pinpoint it as necessarily a negative. He is not using harsh energetic marks/strokes, but (and this is a big but) it seems to me he is dynamically engaged in the imaginative space, conjuring luscious plastic forms with tonal rendering. The shading is more like caressing, kneading the papers surface, coaxing it into a roundness and soft skin texture which the others lack.
My foundation drawing teacher spat the word rendering like it was a cheap and contemptible trick. I don't accept that.

While his content generally does strike me as cheap, I revere his work as a poetry of, dynamic, lyrical, languid, tactile, expressive forms. He packs a lot of character into it too caricature though it may be.

Here's my best, though perhaps feeble attempt to provide comparative examples.(minus the caricature)
Rubens Prudhon Piazzetta

Non Sequitor: A misstep in googling Charles Reid

chris bennett said...

Joss: You are attributing this quote -
"Fluharty conjures up the forms within the paper by stirring it up like swishing a stick in a bucket of water…."To Tom by mistake.

The distinction I’m making is not one of energetic marks and ‘caressing’, slower marks, but of a difference in imaginative attitude to the paper or surface they are working on. Hence I introduced Cornwell into the initial argument who achieves this ‘buckling the paper’ with mark making but with a slower more deliberate manipulation. Fluharty and Cornwell are both doing this but by different means.
Comparing the Cornwell to the Frazetta I find that the shapes and marks on the boy’s chest assemble a form that can be ‘read’ continuously from part to part, whereas the Frazetta girl’s back feels to be just a series of shapes that approximate to the ‘look’ of studio drawings from the life.

This is not having a knock at Frazetta whom I admire enormously, it’s just that this drawing flags up that his real strengths as an artist lay elsewhere for me.

Rob Howard said...

>>>As far as projecting photos<<<

We seem to be talking at cross purposes because Tom lumped Cornwell with Renaissance artists. The technology was clearly different. I can see where the mention of Cornwell would throw this off-track.

Just take out the errant insertion of Cornwell's name who, unlike Michelangelo, traveled by airplane, used electricity, smoked tobacco, used the telephone and pursued women. I believe the thrust of the question was about the gridding method and if there were alternatives to it AT THE TIME.

Yes, there were jointed pantographs, but rarely used except for sculpture (I seem to recall someone throwing out a sculpture book as the ultimate rejoinder. Clearly, they do not understand how sculpture is made).

The actual practice of making art is so different from what the movies show the mass audience. What truly amuses me is how many people are agog at what were (not many years ago) basic entry-level skills...being able to accurately draw anything placed before you, to mix color combinations without muddying them, and basic pictorial composition skills. It was assumed that anyone who'd spent a year or two in a decent art school had those skills under their belt. So, yeah, those old masters all drew well. So did their assistants, sign painters, guys who carved figureheads for ships and decorations for buildings. Drawing accurately was a VERY basic skill that all sorts of artists and craftsman had mastered. Yet we are in awe when we see that anyone has mastered what is an arcane skill to the uninitiated.

That's the difference between being on stage and in the audience. Audience opinion has never resulted in producing art...just graffiti and rap...two very limited forms of artistic expression.

Rob Howard said...

>>>I want to get to the heart of what you are suggesting lacks in the Frazetta<<<

I think that Frazetta suffers most from the company he keeps. Go to ConceptArt and other sites where the level of visual taste is that of a 14 year-old boy (muscled guys with swords, monsters, eyeballs, buxom babes, and other unoriginal sci-fi stuff). They grovel at the subject matter of Frazetta's work and fail to see the real artistry involved.

I can't imagine it is a compliment to see your artwork being reinterpreted with an airbrush on the side of a van...unless you really believe in democracy.

The reality is that, aside from well-developed skills, Frazetta had more than a passing understanding of pictorial composition and (what first surprised me) color theory. What is most impressive is that knowledge was always right at his fingertips.

There is a lot more to Frazetta the artist than is apparent to those who think of him as a purveyor of beefcake and tits and ass. I feel that he is underappreciated because of the company that is drawn to his subject matter.

chris bennett said...

I think I agree with Rob about Frazetta and the genre he found himself in. Somehow he manages to say something that transcends the furniture of the genre whilst being right at the heart of its main intent. Jeff Jones took up this baton and flew with it. Had not personal difficulties eventually smothered him I feel that Jones would have done full justice to the great themes that Frazetts's genre has submerged at its centre under the adolescent distractions.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
How Dare the Blob be Exposed! said...


I really don't know what to say in response to your silly invective. But I'll come up with something.

1) I knew that you weren't busy with work. That makes all your remarks about how busy and successful you are a lie. So you admit to being a liar. Nice.

2) You really know nothing about me. I don't live near the New England area, nor do I know where you live. Don't care to either.

3) I don't do speculative work or portraits. Never have. I'm not a painter. Just somebody who used to like Illustration Art before your fat ass waddled in and ruined it.

4) As far as getting some of your constant stream of bullshit tossed back in your face, deal with it. If you can dish it out, you should be able to take it.

5) Unlike you, I'm not poorly endowed. I guess that's another form of projection you are dependent on.

6) You have absolutely no idea how the Old Masters worked. Projection? Really? What was their light source? How did they correct for the distortion of curved surfaces that they put their murals on? Clown. They could draw circles around you and all the other modern illustrators who are completely dependent on photos.

You just assume that the limitations you have, they have, because you grossly overrate your meager skills so that you can think you are on their level. No way in hell that's possible.

And as for "travel", you spend just about every single day in your own home. You have to, because you post here constantly. Nobody on vacation thinks about silly stuff like this day in and day out.

Once again, you are proven to be a liar.

Have another nice, long, lonely day, Mr. Never-Has-Been! We're all eagerly awaiting more of your ill-informed, self-serving BS!

Anonymous said...

Rob Howard said...
"I seem to recall someone throwing out a sculpture book as the ultimate rejoinder. Clearly, they do not understand how sculpture is made"

Rob, with the exception of formal portraiture, the proportions vary from slightly to highly stylized (as is the case with pretty much everything in Italian Baroque art). In case you are going there, I believe it is absurd to think that any type of optical or measuring device was used but then altered for the purpose of stylization; it defeats the purpose. Look at the tyke's face near the center of the picture in Tiepolo's "Venus and Time". One of the greatest compositional geniuses of all time in my opinion, but it is carelessly drawn.

MORAN said...

To "How Dare the Blob be Exposed"

I don't know either one of you and I have no idea what this feud is about but your comment is deeply weird.

norm said...

I'd like to think Jeff (Catherine) Jones was fully successfull in taking the next step in the genre after Frazetta.
It is too bad that things got the better of her in the last ten years or so...but I think there's a significant body of work there that, arguably, surpasses Frazetta (though getting into a "who's better" probably pointless)

chris bennett said...

norm, I agree with you. I personally much prefer Jones's work to Frazetta's. I also think he was a better draughsman - more lyrical and insightful. Jones did produce a mavelous body of work but something in me tells me he had much more to give than the wonderful work that we already have.
Jones's writings are beautiful to read too - it's a great shame that the website blog of his seems to be no longer available.

A Fond Farewell said...


I don't know if I'd say I have a feud with Rob Howard. I simply dislike the way he treats anybody who disagrees with his point of view. If you'd like to know what that is, just wait and see how he responds to people he disagrees with. I think he ruined this blog, and I know for certain he has driven a number of good posters away.

Another thing that's annoying about Rob is that he's constatly touting himself as some kind of great, successful painter. I'm pretty familiar with the current realist scene, and outside of this blog, I've never heard of him. If he were really as busy as he claims to be, he wouldn't have time to snipe and bully people around on blogs all day.

And as it turns out, I was right--he isn't busy at all.

But you're probably right about my response to his obnoxious behavior. It doesn't do much good to return the favor.

So with respect to the other posters (not Rob) I'll desist, even though it's so much fun to hit the pinata.

I'm sorry if I offended any other posters but Rob.


kev ferrara said...

Jones is the better painter, but Frazetta is the better Imagist. Brangwyn is the better decorator, but Cornwell is the better composer. Sargent has more sensitivity, but Sarolla is more lively. Pyle is more believable, but Bocklin is more haunting. Hale strains your sinews, Hammershoi freezes your blood. Dunn is heartfelt, Leyendecker is effortless. Kanevsky is flux. Vermeer is timeless.


norm said...

Look up Jeffrey Catherine Jones on Facebook and add her.
She's very active and aproachable there. There's lots of work being posted and plenty of information.
I was even able to ask her and Michael Gross how Idyl got started.

So...Facebook really is good for something.

Anonymous said...

First an impersonation of Frazetta and then a woman? Fluharty is utterly stable by comparison.

Anonymous said...

In some bizarre parallel universe, Kev and Rob are probably good mates who argue about this stuff on a Friday night over beer and fried dead animal carcasses.

Antonio said...

ok, your comments on the anatomy of the back are very concrete. Regarding those, I do feel able to trace the curve of the spine in there, but I agree that the lump to the upper left of the right shoulderblade suggests a weird pyramid shaped lump and that the girl is a bit of a contortionist - I don't think the stance is impossible but quite unnatural, she is placing the arm forward between the breasts for the sole purpose of pressing the left breast on to our field of vision. (for that, of course, I thank her :)). I still feel, though, that the image, as such, works. Frazetta, I think, has a very good understanding of anatomy, and he uses it liberally to achieve whatever mannerist purpose occurs to him, and he does achieve it - although how tasteful the purpose may be is of course very much open to question.

Rob: you philistine!

>(muscled guys with swords, >monsters, eyeballs, buxom babes, >and other unoriginal sci-fi stuff)

I parsed that sentence as hmmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm buxom babes hmmm hmmm hmm

>as a purveyor of beefcake and >tits and ass.

I can see that as a handcrafted sign on top of a stately old farmhouse, followed by "since 1883". :) Don't you dare diss on such a fine supplier of the hummm...bare...essentials! :)

Sometimes I think you people lack a philosophical understanding of the basic essence of Art! :)

btw, I saw the study you upped, it was indeed there: my bad, need glasses.

Anonymous said...

"I think that Frazetta suffers most from the company he keeps. Go to ConceptArt and other sites where the level of visual taste is that of a 14 year-old boy (muscled guys with swords, monsters, eyeballs, buxom babes, and other unoriginal sci-fi stuff)."

...He says as he directs us to look at his lame study of a dragon head.

(Guess we should throw out all those Greek Myths.)

Better to do REALLY original work, like painting two versions of your wife sitting around in a puffy shirt.

Look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Vaillant's Pathological Defense Mechanisms (You've got a full house!).

Rob Howard said...

Whoops! Clumsy me, I seemed to have bumped into another sacred cow and enraged the little critters that surround it.

The reality is that all of the work on ConceptArt is derivative and jejune. Many of the artistes have wondrous skills at rendering but there comes a time when you have to ask yourself is a demonstration of flawless skill is what art is about. I equate those skills with typists who can produce perfect dictation and never make a mistake.

In that wise, I am reminded of Capote's bon mot concerning Jacqueline Sussan..."that's typing, not writing."

The problem seems to be in finding an audience with the taste to identify what's tasteless.

For those who flunked Remedial Reading, I will reiterate..."The reality is that, aside from well-developed skills, Frazetta had more than a passing understanding of pictorial composition and (what first surprised me) color theory. What is most impressive is that knowledge was always right at his fingertips.

There is a lot more to Frazetta the artist than is apparent to those who think of him as a purveyor of beefcake and tits and ass. I feel that he is under-appreciated because of the company that is drawn to his subject matter."

Don’t worry, it's okay to run a finger under the lines in the above sentences and move your lips if you must. But this time, read the whole thing.

A fond adieu to A Fond Farewell. I might be alone in missing all that you've brought to the discussions. Somewhere in recent years there developed a group of artistic troglodytes who actively resist any implication that there might...just might, be worthwhile artistic expression outside their very, very narrow understanding. These are usually stolid burghers who will dutifully study new software or features on their cell phones but, no study when it comes to Art. They believe that whatever they've picked up by age 14 should remain unchanged and inviolate (like their choice of music which has remained entrenched in the same place since puberty). Hence their well-tended herd of sacred cows and the foam-flecked rage at anyone who has the temerity to even imply that their taste may not yet be fully formed. Then they hurl invective with the vigor or a major league pitcher….not the accuracy, mind you…just the brute energy.

Rob Howard said...

>>> I'm pretty familiar with the current realist scene, and outside of this blog, I've never heard of him. <<<

Gosh, Fondue, I've never heard of you either. You can search the Watson-Goptill, Random House, Little-Brown, Lothrop Lee and Shepard, McGraw-Hill and even Yugakusha lists for books I have either written or illustrated. The hundreds of paperback covers for publishers like Dell, Ballantine, Avon, etc are like everyone else's work...largely unsigned.

What egotistical little men like you fail to realize is that the main body of the illustration world have always been guys like me...solid, skilled and dependable who seldom sign a piece (until recently, that was actively discouraged). The percentage of those headliners such as the ones David shows, are the true exceptions...probably one percent of the total number of those of us who had chosen this field with the gratitude for being allowed to make a living (and often quite a good one) with a brush in our hand. Can you say the same? Have you ever had anything so important to you that you would risk almost anything for it? I rather doubt that many of the readers here have ever taken the leap into a risky field, armed only with their skills. I suspect that most of you are solid office workers who have long ago put your dreams in the closet rather than risk the comforts you cherish.

Thus, Fondue, I cannot say that any association with you has risked adding anything to my life, simply because you belong to the endless stream of carping and snide individuals who do not perform but sit passively, hoping that a miracle will happen. Like most of the readers, you do not know the difference between illustration and fine art and keep confusing the two. That’s like comparing rap to symphony…idiotic but you persist because you do not have enough background in art to know the difference. Frankly, I find the fact that Art is so low on your list that you won’t study it to be vaguely insulting. So excuse me if the insults are mirrored back.

Even small miracles require risk and effort so forgive me if I don't respect you for your passivity...let alone your inability to do proper research.

I looked up your name, that of Anonymous, etc. and the other luminaries here and, guess what, not one of you were mentioned anywhere on the Internet...complete nonentities!

Rob Howard said...

>>>Rob: you philistine!<<<

Thank you Antonio. That's the nicest thing anyone in the forum has said to me.

Kim Smith said...

David, your posts could become an invaluable book on "seeing"! I'd love to have a compilation that I could peruse in book form. I'm sure this has been suggested...And it's always fascinating to see what people comment about Dad's drawings.

etc. etc. said...


Tom said...


You have no illustration career
You have no portrait career
Your Ceninni Forum is dead on the vine
Your Art Product business is similarly headed downhill

And now you getting into the video business, selling other artists, because you can't sell yourself anymore.

Your great art career is DOA. And I didn't have to make any calls to find that out. It all came out of your own mouth.

I never claimed to be an art professional, and I don't want to be, because I know now how rigged, corrupt, and pointless it all is.

You can have your intelligence buddies look into my line of work. I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing real work that benefits the general public. I also like not being stuck in a world of liars and egotists, like yourself.

Moving as I did, I got back in touch with lots of family (many brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, extended family) and old friends that I never got the chance to see for a long time. What a great blessing, rather than a curse! You really have no idea what you are talking about. Rest assured that whatever horrible "situation" you think I'm in, it can all be changed around pretty quickly. After all, I'm so much younger than you. There's time aplenty.

But you confirmed so much about the whole realist art world that I thought was true, because I got under your skin. You and David Apatoff running a tout/intelligence gathering site! And also what people you work for.

And all because you can't stand to have anybody disagree with you or cut you down to size.

So as I watch you crash and burn into the sunset, performing pathetic Step-and Fechit work for the most worthless and corrupt people imaginable, I can only smile and thank God that I'm not in your shoes, and that I never made the moral compromises that you and others have to be doomed to that fate.

So bye, bye, bye. And to you to, Apatoff. At least your civility hid your ulterior purposes, unlike your obnoxious friend. You should have whipped him into line a long time ago.

Canuck said...

Whoa, someone's off their meds...

Adjunct said...

A few people are off their meds!

David Apatoff said...

Tom said: "And to you to, Apatoff. At least your civility hid your ulterior purposes."

I am flattered that someone around here thinks I have either the time or the mental complexity to harbor "ulterior purposes." I always figured I was disappointingly straightforward. Tonight when I get home I am going to inform my wife that I am capable of multiple layers (although I can anticipate the skeptical stare I will receive in response).

While I have never met or spoken with Rob Howard, one can't help but be impressed that some readers assign him a higher priority than any artist I can feature here. I post my favorite pictures by Rembrandt or Michelangelo or Cornwell or Pyle but I still can't distract some people from focusing on Rob. He seems to have a gravitational pull greater than the planet Jupiter. I'm not sure what I can do to keep people focused on the art, but ultimately people are free to pursue whatever interests them most.

David Apatoff said...

Etc. etc.-- thanks for a hilarious perspective-restoring comment about Jones and Fluharty. Those who voice uneasiness about Fluharty's obvious passion seem to have no problem coping with Jones' eccentricities. Personally, I think they are both wonderful.

Kev, Norm, and others who have taken up the Frazetta / Jones discussion: someday we should devote a whole post to the comarison. You have offered some interesting views on the differences and I know people talk about this topic a lot. Certainly Jones is more of a poet and an intellectual than Frazetta. Whether he is a better painter....? One thing that interests me is the range in quality of their work. You can tell when Frazetta does an inferior piece because he is rushed or his heart isn't in it, but after age 21 it's hard to find work by Frazetta that is affirmatively bad, where it seems that he just doesn't know how to draw. On the other hand, I have found some truly bad stuff by Jones alongside the inspired work--and I just don't know how to account for the disparity.

Anonymous said...

"Certainly Jones is more of a poet and an intellectual than Frazetta. Whether he is a better painter....?"

I interpret this as "Jones is more Liberal" (capital L).

अर्जुन said...

""I am flattered that someone around here thinks I have either the time or the mental complexity to harbor "ulterior purposes."""

I was hip to you from the get go. (you bastard!)

""one can't help but be impressed that some readers assign him a higher priority than any artist I can feature here""

Robz spits and they licks it~ Put down those Glocks!

David Apatoff said...

Anonymous wrote: << "I interpret this as "Jones is more Liberal" (capital L). >>

That's certainly not what I intended. Jones wrote a lot of her own material and is very much a "word" person, which Frazetta is clearly not. Jones' work is highly lyrical, symbolic and idea-oriented, which Frazetta's is not. Jones seems delicate and troubled (consider her breakdown) while Frazetta seems well fortified against any form of self-doubt. None of this means that Jones is a better artist, but for me it certainly means she is more of an intellectual and a poet.

Anonymous said...

etc. etc. said...

Touché! It's "drouqnug" spelled backwards; you got me there, for sure.

kev ferrara said...

David, let's not get confused.

Introspection and dreaminess is no measure of intellectualism, nor necessarily of strong poetry.

Which is to say that great poems are not necessarily feminine nor delicate. Take the Tennyson example...

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

David Apatoff said...

Kev said-- "Introspection and dreaminess is no measure of intellectualism, nor necessarily of strong poetry"

Well, there are plenty of navel-gazers out there who write rancid poetry, no question about it. But ever since Plato wrote that the unexamined life is not worth living, it is hard for me to think of a great poet or intellectual devoid of introspection. (I trust you aren't offering Tennyson as an example?) I am open to names if somebody wants to suggest one.

I stand by my point, "Jones wrote a lot of her own material and is very much a "word" person, which Frazetta is clearly not. Jones' work is highly lyrical, symbolic and idea-oriented, which Frazetta's is not. Jones seems delicate and troubled (consider her breakdown) while Frazetta seems well fortified against any form of self-doubt." If someone wants to offer me some thoughtful prose or lyrical poetry penned by Frazetta (and I don't include bragging about how far he can throw a baseball) I would love to see it.

As for "dreaminess" and "feminine," those are your words, not mine.

kev ferrara said...

Lyrical is generally a synonym for dreamy-sad and soft focused, isn't it?

Your definition of a poem seems to be that it is notably lyrical and notably symbolical. That is, you think poetry arises from a certain tone of voice and will have noticable tropes.

This is why I recalled the Tennyson, as that particular work is not "lyrical" in the dreamy sad sense, nor notably symbolical, in the "a rose means love, thorns and all" sense. Yet it has a massive emotional impact. (for me anyway.)

I believe that a good image is a good poem. There is no good image that is not a good poem. There is no weak image that makes a good poem. (See Pindar.)

Your definition of intellectual seems to be someone who is a "word" person. Since there is enough evidence around that facility with words has no bearing on whether a person is coherent or not, I don't share your definition. (Of course, sometimes it takes a while for incoherence to show itself, as wordsmithery is often used as armor, advertising, and misdirection.)

Some of the most brilliant people I've known were not prone to the lure of talk at all. (The engineers and scientists tended to want to talk about something else, and the lawyers in my family tend to lie in wait for prey.)

And there is a long tradition of masculine artists NOT revealing that they are dealing in poetry. (There's a great Bogdanovich anecdote about just such a revelation he had while interviewing arch masculine John Ford.)

I would certainly say that Jones is more abstracted than Frazetta. More apt to want to talk about metaphysics conversationally, and certainly a writer, which Frazetta is not. And yes, he is more lyrical than Frazetta.

But that doesn't make him a better poet. That just makes him a more obvious poet. Since I consider Frazetta to be the better imagist, and I consider strong imagery the hallmark of strong poetry, I'm sure you've guessed my poetic preference between the two (Love 'em both, however, as artists.)

Last point:
Since I've been told by several illustrators bits of art wisdom given to them by Frazetta which were very profound indeed, I have come to the conclusion that Frazetta, for whatever reason, is reluctant to spoil the magic of his work by talking about what goes on behind the curtain in any mass forum. (I received a bit of his wisdom myself years ago, when Ellie called me after I had left some xeroxes of my early work off with her.) Whether this is a strategy implemented from on high by Ellie, or whether Frazetta decided he wasn't going to give out any more clues to potential rivals, or whether he became sick of talking about art around the time he first shot to fame, I do not know. He clearly spoke to a lot of people about what he was doing prior to 1973 or so.


Anonymous said...

Kev , Al McLuckie . I recall an old interview with Dan Adkins in a bodybuilding mag where he mentioned Frazetta with regards to Frank buying a massive reference file from a deceased illustrator , laughing that people had a misconception about Frank never using reference .

I believe he did more than most , perhaps any illustrator/artist in terms of presenting a figure in a dynamic state with little or often no reference shots . Except for Boris of course . If you would care to swap Frazetta stories sometime , feel free to contact me on my site ,

How I came into possession of the can of cheap turps that damn near killed him is an interesting one .

Anonymous said...


Boris is a nice guy, but is the opposite of Jones and Frazetta as an artist, which he himself admits.

Theodore Roosevelt said...

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

etc, etc said...

Was Cornwell gay? As a gay man myself, I see an approach to the male body that we have seen with artists ranging from Leonardo and Michaelangelo to Tom of Finland.

Am I the only one who sees this?

Smartarse said...

Cornwell was married, had kids and ran around with his hot models which broke up his family.

I guess in po-mo land, that means he was trying to prove something because he secretly knew he was gay.

So, yes, white is black and left is right, if you want it.

David Apatoff said...

Kev Ferrara wrote: "Your definition of intellectual seems to be someone who is a "word" person."

Kev, since I just got through taking a lot of abuse for saying that a charcoal line by Oberhardt was more eloquent than all of the wordy rationalizations of Koons, I suppose I should wait at least a few days before contradicting myself and insisting that words are integral to thought. But I will at least note the irony that the people who are most persuasive that words don't matter (at least, to me) are those deeply eloquent, introspective poets. (I refer you back a few posts to my quote from Whitman, who I think makes your Frazetta point better than Tennyson: "I swear I begin to see little or nothing in audible words,
All merges toward the presentation of the unspoken meanings of the earth,
Toward him who sings the songs of the body and of the truths of the earth." )

As for John Ford, anyone who thinks Ford was not deeply introspective must have stood up and left the theatre before the last 30 seconds of The Man Who Shot Liberty valance or the Searchers-- two agonizing, heart rending pieces of poetry about isolation and alienation.

Finally, if you think Frazetta is like one of those taciturn scientists or engineers, I would gladly accept one of his engineering papers as a substitute for a poem.

David Apatoff said...

Etc. etc.-- I once drafted a blog post comparing Michelangelo's musclebound figures with the work of Tom of Finland. Then I figured "naw.... better not" and threw it over into the pile of "someday" stuff. It is interesting that you made the same connection.

Smartarse is correct, Cornwell was a notorious heterosexual philanderer. After he died, his angry wife went through his studio and wrecked every painting where he had used his mistress as his model.

Laurence John said...

(Which reminds me, for anyone interested, I have an 8 page story in the upcoming issue of Creepy (#3) from Dark Horse.)

Kev, i hadn't seen any of your work until now, and i'm amazed that it is in such a traditional 'Tales from the Crypt' style and genre.

from forming an idea of you here via your musings only i was expecting something entirely different. i was way off.

chris bennett said...


Thanks for that facebook information on Catherine/Jeff Jones. I'm not a member of facebook but I'll have a looksee via my wife who is!

Many thanks again for the info!

kev ferrara said...

David, :)

Frazetta is indeed a scientist of an artist. Every artist is a scientist in some regard, because there is so much technical information to juggle and absorb. The better the artist, I would say, the better the aesthetic scientist. That every artwork is in great measure an argument, relates to the lawyer comment.

I agree about Ford. You can see the poetry in the work, sure, but can you get him to talk about it? That's the comparison I was making with Frazetta.

The more fluent with words one becomes, I think, the more the realization dawns that words are written on the wind and only deeds matter.

As birdsong, however, or as an expression of friendship, or as a way to discuss that which we enjoy, words are wonderful and moral.

Laurence, sorry to disappoint! I guess I come off rather Spock-like when I talk about art. But I'm way more silly and fun loving in life. I'm just fascinated by the logic behind expression and I've become consumed by aesthetics. :)

The story I did, which I also co-wrote, is being used by Dark Horse to promote the book so they've put the whole thing up online to read. It starts here:
Then you can click on the image of the first page and it will bring up the next page. The story is 8 pages.


Laurence John said...

Kev, not disappointed, just surprised. it just proves how wrong an impression you can form of someone from a medium such as this. in case you're wondering i was imagining something which gave much more free reign to your philosophical side, maybe even a bit existential (sort of Dan Clowes but drawn better).

David Apatoff said...

Kim-- thanks for your kind message. I had no idea that "Kim" was Kim Smith, the daughter of illustrator William A. Smith, until you mentioned your Dad's sketches.

Al McLuckie and Anonymous: <<"Except for Boris of course.>>

I assume that was a jest.

Theodore Roosevelt-- you are one of my favorite presidents and I am so glad that you have joined us here. I personally agree that the critics who sit in judgment don't really matter, although you have clearly never litigated a case in federal district court. Try telling the judge that his criticisms don't matter, but first make sure you have enough money to post bail.

Rob Howard said...

>>>I don't know either one of you and I have no idea what this feud is about but your comment is deeply weird.<<<

I echo your observation. I have no idea of what motivates this troll-who-hides-in-shadows or what his brief with me is. He is, as you say, deeply weird.

Rob Howard said...

>>>He seems to have a gravitational pull greater than the planet Jupiter.<<<

From what I just read, that gavitational force is especially strong on those who are, as we used to say, "light in the loafers."

Well, I guess it's back to the old business of narcissim, fakery, lying, cheating, stealing and corrupting the miners of morels.

Rob...the dark planet...bwahahaha!

Rob Howard said...

>>>As far as projecting photos, I own an optical projector and have used it to project and trace photos, drawings, and compositions. Sometimes I will trace certain items in my comic book work directly onto the board, especially machinery, cars, and buildings.<<<

Your comment came to mind this morning, and it sparked a question which goes to a deeper question about the need for morality in art...that is, is art the proper place to use moral yardsticks?

I ask because what you brought up, Kev, was a definite measuring system in the use of that much maligned device, the opaque projector. You mentioned that Dean Cornwell used a lucy (studio term for projectors) to transfer his drawings. You indicated that this was a far more valid or moral approach than projecting a photo.

That had me asking why? If projecting a drawing is morally or artistically superior to projecting a photo, then we have constructed a definite Scale of Goodness. Such a scale will always have more than the two antipodes. So then I ruminated on where I would place different swipes (another studio term for reference material. I make these definitions less for you, Kev, than for those who have never worked in a studio and don't know the jargon).

Are black and white photos more moral than color photos. What about slides, are they more or less cheating? Then we get to charcoal more honest to use than a wash drawing? How about projecting a pen and ink drawing?

Yes, I know that it is absurd but I mention it to bring up the absurdity of the concept of morally superior tools and approaches. That moral superiority has a place in athletic contests, where the playing fields must be level for the match to mean anything. But I question whether those criteria can be rightly applied to the arts.

I was recently going through some drawings and sketches and I have to confess that I could not really tell which were done with a lucy and which were done from a model or a photo not projected. After a while, drawing is drawing and after enough years one's hands and eyes take a definite set. For someone who never strove for a personal style, this is a all looks like I did it.

Just an errant thought over my tea cup. ;-)

Anonymous said...

etc, etc said...
"Was Cornwell gay? As a gay man myself, I see an approach to the male body that we have seen with artists ranging from Leonardo and Michaelangelo to Tom of Finland.

Am I the only one who sees this?"

I think this topic will be covered as an addendum in the forthcoming reprint of "The Gay Illustrator's Bible".

Rob Howard said...

David, Kev, you bring up a point which has to do with cultural metrics when comparing the intellectualism (as if that's a good thing) of words with images. Words are more often thought of as conceptually least that's how it is in ad agencies, which have both artists and writers employed. Generally speaking, the majority of Creative Directors have a background in copy writing. In recent years we have begun to see an increase in Creative Directors coming from the visual side, but wordsmiths are usually thought of as the clever ones whereas artists (especially illustrators) are called "wrists."

This goes to what I said about the depth that Frazetta has and how the subject matter (T&A) is what grabs the less sophisticated viewer. The reality is that if one could write an explanation of some of the subtleties Frazetta displays, the reverse would be true and someone could take those words and convert them into the picture. There truly is a vast gulf between all of the arts. A string quartet does not translate into paint, does not translate into a dance, does not translate into a play, does not translate into a poem.
Frazetta is enormously intelligent with pictures. So what if he can't go head-to-head with Christopher Hitchins or Gore Vidal in a tongue fight. Nobody expects those guys to paint a picture yet we all expect painters to be able to write and speak well.

Rob Howard said...

>>>I think this topic will be covered as an addendum in the forthcoming reprint of "The Gay Illustrator's Bible".<<<

You forgot to add your usual fat reference and other err, argumentum ad homo-nem. You folks are so concerned with looks and age.

It appears there's really nothing meaner than an aging queen losing her looks.

Anonymous said...

Nice collection of preliminary drawing. I agree that there is no better way to get inside the mind of an artist.
Does anybody notice how the male figure on the right in Rockwell's piece looks resembles famous Leyendecker's model?
Perhaps somebody mentioned this already (I do not have time to go through all 105 posts)...

kev ferrara said...


I never said tracing photos was morally wrong. It is only morally wrong to lie about it, especially if someone is purchasing the work based on the wholly-by-eye premise.

However, the point I'm usually making on this topic is that if an entire picture is traced, there is a fair chance that the picture will be, for lack of a better term, apoetic.

(unless we are talking about a talent like a Fuchs or Briggs, who set up their own shots which are then used as a springboard for some kind of emotive rendering of the lines and value/color pattern, transforming the image into something visionary.)

Regarding my own work in continuity, what matters is the telling of the forward story more than the poetry of the individual elements. Some objects require expression, while some are just what I call "the static facts."

In the linked story, I needed a car to look like a car, a truck to look like a truck and a ranch to look like a ranch... The important thing about the way these objects looked was that they looked like a car, a truck, and a ranch, and fit the designated area in the composition. I wanted them accurate and neutral. If I drew them either incorrectly or spectacularly, that would add expression and emphasis where none should be. I wanted them static.

After rendering, these elements blended in fine, added a needed touch of mechanistic grit, and helped tell the story. In continuity, the story is the poem.

Laurence John said...

"That had me asking why? If projecting a drawing is morally or artistically superior to projecting a photo, then we have constructed a definite Scale of Goodness."

Rob, projecting your own DRAWN imagery (which you didn't TRACE) is entirely different to projecting a camera-taken photograph and TRACING it. in the first instance you are simply enlarging one of your own DRAWINGS onto a larger surface. in the second you are TRACING a photograph... (i'm using capital letters here to highlight the difference between DRAWING and TRACING, not because i'm shouting).

here is an example of Dave Cooper doing the former...

Anonymous said...

David Apatoff said...
"Etc. etc.-- I once drafted a blog post comparing Michelangelo's musclebound figures with the work of Tom of Finland."

That post was a prank, not by me and I am not gay. Any identity can be temporarily adopted by a blog participant. Looks like there are plenty of Jeff Joneses out there with identity issues...hmmm...I wonder if they make hackish art also?

David Apatoff said...

The real etc. etc. said:"David,
That post was a prank, not by me...."

(Sigh.) Etc. etc., my apologies. Until now, I've had a firm rule that I never delete or censor comments unless they are obvious spam. However, today I am compelled to amend that rule by saying I will also delete counterfeit e-mails at the request of the offended party. People work hard on crafting thoughtful responses here, and they deserve better than to have their reputation diluted by some moron.

Just to show you that I for one wasn't joking, I think one can make an interesting comparison between Michelangelo's overly muscle bound figures (Renoir is reported to have ridiculed them, "The poor things could never get about") and Tom of Finland's men who look like overstuffed sausages. Both are exaggerated in a way that would make them downright nonfunctional in real life, but which obviously appealed to the artist. That filtering lens is of great interest to me.

Rob Howard said...

Who is Tom of Finland?

David, are you saying that participants now have to identify themselves by their real names, like a few of us do? What about those fanciful Blob Howard calumnies? Will you be taking those down, or am I fair game and that is freedom of speech?

Let me pre-object to any of them. They add nothing to a blog that CAN be informative and has a few people who actually know something about the difference...the very big difference between fine art and illustration.

Can I put in my standing objections to the character assasinations and claim everything said is wrong and mean-spirited?

Anonymous said...

I have set the record "straight" and whipped a naughty little boy. One can never go wrong by whipping a naughty little boy; even if he did not do what you whipped him for, you can be sure he has done some other naughty deed. ;)

अर्जुन said...

Robz said ""Who is Tom of Finland?""

C'mon, as if You don't know.

Robz "Hell Bent For Leather" Howard

Joss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joss said...

Rob Asked,"Who is Tom of Finland?"
अर्जुन's link was a little obscure, though not unwelcome, as is his custom. Here's some of his TOF's art
Interesting, but makes me a little queasy.

David, I don't care whether or not you censor, as long as you keep blogging and allowing comments.
I took the phony etc. etc. comment to be suspect due to the fact that is was not in blue, accompanied with his usual official eblogger logo. The only issue I have is that the anonymouses make it more difficult to follow the thread of conversational relevance.

Rob if you are asking for comments to be deleted I would suggest that you do suffer fools, for In making them suffer you bring it back upon yourself in their vengeance. Not to mention David and the rest of us.

seems english said...

Rob, your unending compulsion to put other people down and tout yourself is the problem.

When, in addition, your massive gray walls of text fill up the bulk of the conversation space, the compulsions on display become so JACKHAMMER LOUD that they drown out most any conversation worth having and attract an abundance of negative comment.

Given the blinding obviousness of this situation, when you wonder out loud why oh why you engender negative response, one assumes you are quite mad.

Tom said...

Thanks for the answer Rob and everyone else. Sorry if I cause any confusion, i just wanted to know how artists got their small drawings too mural size.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

On the "Thrust" thread, I thought Rubens was slighted and I became far too abrasive with David and Kev. I apologize to both of them.

However, I have never posted here under another identity to my recollection. David is more than welcome to publicly vet me on this if he has access to the data. If I am wrong I will apologize.

kev ferrara said...

Apology accepted, but not needed. Some of what I said was, in retrospect, just as you said... too negative a stance on such a grand talent.


Rob Howard said...

A little cheese with all of your whines, perhaps?

Anyone here know what illustration is and how it is different from fine arts? Anyone here know that designing an illustration for a page that has a block of type in it, is very different from a Rubens painting?

A bit more whine, m'sieur?

Laurence John said...

anyone here think that tracing is the same thing as drawing ?

hook no bait said...

Toad squats, croaks...

Tom said...

Tracing is tracing drawing is something else. My first how to instructions on drawing was Betty Edwards Drawing on the right side of the mind. I was making a drawing in a restaurant and someone came up looked at my drawing and exclaimed "oh you are tracing what you see." It woke me up to what I was really doing. ‬

Rob Howard said...

I’ve been reading the references to the talented, and deeply disturbed, illustrator Jeffrey Jones who felt compelled to undergo the deceptively named sex change operation. How airily some fall back to the new language of self-delusion…politically correct sensitivity, referring to the renamed and re-plumbed Mr. Jones as Ms. Jones. The PC among us showed off their Orwellian NewSpeak in referring to Jones as “she.”
Gosh, that makes you feel all warm and empathetic inside, doesn’t it. Yes, Jeffrey, we accept whatever you do, no matter how cringe-inducing because we’re truly sensitive human beings. We’re so sensitive that we rename anti-social behaviors to more palatable confections.
When castrations were routine…choristers were castrated in order to prevent coarsening of their voices. Think of the fabled harem guards. Still, those emasculated men were referred to as “he.” A gelding is a “he.” So is a steer, or a wether. Even the dog and cat you’ve had “fixed” is a he. But throw our language out the window and have it modified to fit the sensibilities of the indoctrinated…or as Eric Hoffer called them, “The True Believers.”
Does it strike anyone that referring to the self-inflicted wounds a mentally disturbed person as “decorations,” is a bit of a stretch? By those same delusional PC standards, a person indulging in coprophagy would be “on a special diet.” The Greeks were hopelessly insensitive when they did not come up with some confection about Oedipus choosing to become “otherwise abled.” Yet, in a show of misplaced empathy we hear the acceptance of deranged behavior (this falls under the PC rubric of “personal choice”) and show our deep feel-good-about-myself acceptance by referring to Jones as “she.” Hey, it was just her choice, but she’s the same old artist we always admired.
Talk about a tin ear and not being able to hear what you’re saying. Here’s the reality …Jeffrey Jones was an exceptional talent (noted more in the breach than the actual work) always promising to reach great heights. It now appears it was his inner demons preventing him from the heights that should have been his. He was respected for what he could do, not so much for what he did do. His marvelous stylistic skills hid content that was derivative. Still, those skills were so stunning that we all thought he would soon find his own voice (as far as content was concerned) and become a towering figure in modern illustration. Sadly, that was not to be.
Sadly, promising artist was deeply and profoundly at odds with reality. The decision to be emasculated could not have been lightly taken. To protect themselves from future lawsuits, the surgeons would have to have explained the entire process and it’s lasting effects. This man not only agreed to cut off his male sexual organs but to also cut himself off from normal society. Sure, there would always be those with faked empathy introducing him around as Catherine and calling him “she” (and ignoring the Adam’s Apple) and one wonders what to think of those who willingly partake in delusional behavior. Is it crowd hysteria with a small crowd? Whatever it is, it’s playing into a lie. Jeffrey Jones is not and never will be a woman…a she. Jones is now a eunuch, a castrati – and a tragic waste. Nonetheless, he’s still a “he.”
I cannot imagine that his career will ever flourish as it might have. The reason is simple, and this will flicker through even the most PC indoctrinated mind…what he did to himself is so far beyond the pale that there is no way one could think of him as reliable. This is the big billboard that announces the end of his career as an illustrator. The best he can hope for is to have scraps thrown to him. He has, in effect, reduced himself to a spectacle. What a tragedy. I’m sure that most of us would have husbanded that fine talent with more care than Jones has.
Rather than protest that your delusions are the truth, be truly sensitive and weep for the loss of a special talent to mental illness. What a freaking tragedy!

Anonymous said...

Certainly there are styles and schools that are respectable, but art history does not seem to deal kindly with imitators of highly prolific and individual artists.

kev ferrara said...


If you find something pitiable, why rage at it?

I, for one, look forward to seeing new work by Jones, just like I awaited new work, and then was rewarded by Brian Wilson, and Frank Frazetta, after each had their own life-threatening illnesses to conquer.

Laurence John said...

"oh you are tracing what you see." It woke me up to what I was really doing. ‬

i wouldn't call that tracing, i'd call it copying from life. for tracing the image has to be projected on the art surface by whatever means (anyone remember Grant enlargers ?) and you simply follow the shapes. it makes the possiblity of slippage almost nil. it doesn't exercise any area of the brain that deals with the far harder task of imagining a person or object and rotating it in 3-D space. what do you call 'drawing' Tom ?

Tom said...

I see what you mean by tracing, I just thought it was interesting that the person intuitively understood what information I was conveying, outlining or copying the shapes I was looking at, to me copying and tracing are closely intertwine, because the aesthetic motivation tends to disappear in the process, instead of placing a piece of paper directly over and image I was holding the plane i.e. tracing paper perpendicular to the scene and tracing. Drawing is what one is interested in, what motivates us to pick up a pencil. Not a very good definition but the best I can come with right now. Do you have a definition for drawing?

Tom said...

Yes I think your description of thinking 3d nails it.

Laurence John said...

Tom, i don't have a definition of drawing, i was just thinking about tracing as it was brought up in the discussion about projectors/camera obscuras.

if people think that traced paintings/drawings look the business then that's wonderful.
to me they look flat, facile and lifeless. they show me only that the wrist has managed to follow the shapes on the paper/canvas (a beginner could do the same) and that leaves me only to judge the picture on two levels; how good was the initial photograph* that the
artist conceived to be traced ? and how good is their final rendering of that photograph* ?

when an artist draws from their own imagination they have to dig into an excitement level that the tracer can't imagine. they have to engage all of their ability in visualizing as clearly as possible the image they wish to convey onto paper. the energy and concentration needed to
do this comes across in the final image. the excitement evident in Fluharty's** work wouldn't be there if he had traced the imagery. indeed his work wouldn't even exist if he had to trace it. the distorted re-imagined, heightened reality he creates is only possible when engaging the spacial imagination.

*to anyone who needs to pick up a camera before they can start creating a drawn/painted image, you might want to ask "shouldn't i be a photographer instead ?"

** likewise John Cuneo, Heinrich Kley, Jeff Macnelly... to only scratch the surface.

Anonymous said...

LOL! Rob, that was a pretty severe reaction to Jones' sex change. Relax man, your own balls are okay, no one's going after them. Honest.

Harry Hilders said...

Great post, thanks. Wish I could draw as them, it's so incredibly detailed!

Rob Howard said...

Not railing, actually...just trying to find the cosmic humor in it all


The final word from The Moral Relativism department at Monty Python U.:

New Mother: Is it a boy or a girl?

Obstretrician: I think it's a bit early to start imposing roles on it, don't you?

Rob Howard said...

Laurence, it has been experience that people who cannot draw well, cannot trace well, whereas people who can draw well seem to add their drawing knowledge to the tracing. Look at the way Ingres ahndled the folds of fabric in those drawings that are obviously a result of using a prism camera lucida (anyone who has used one recognises the qualities it imposes). A person without his grace would not be able to add the artist's touch to those mechanical impositions.

Ingres was the son of a drawing master and was deemed a prodigy early on. He had nothing to prove. He used the tools at his disposal and, because of his mastery of the medium, was able to use them as a helpful adjunct.

What tracing shows up are those without solid drawing skills. My version of the old saw is...give a man a crutch and he'll learn how to limp. And so it is with projected or traced images. To have any degree of success one needs to have a VERY solid background in least from life but, better, from imagination. At that point, you will know how to look at a photo and pick out the salient points and foundational elements. Without that knowledge the drawing will only be of the surface.

My approach to drawing is always based in the construction of solids...a bag with one pound of flour and another with five pounds of lead shot look different. If you understand the underlying construction of how to draw, that will be imposed on your observations. This is handy when drawing figures because you can accurately define their weight and the space they occupy.

This is how I view every object before my eyes and also how I try to define it with a pencil. That's foundational and it does not change if i am drawing from life, from imagination or from a projected image. The end result is that the drawings all have a commonly shared quality (can't wait to hear the trolls say what it is).

The weaked the draughtsman, the weaker the tracing. Some people cannot see that, but it's apparent to those who have been at it for a while. Look at Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak and Austin Briggs. They cheated (according to the Amateur's Moral Code of Drawing Rules). Wouldn't you love to be able to produce tracings that are that lively and sensitive? I would.

Laurence John said...

Rob, i take your points, but Fuchs is an exception i think... an excellent eye for composition (let's be honest he probably good have had a career as a photographer if he wanted to) and a brilliant painterly technique. i haven't seen anything he's produced without tracing so i don't know what his basic drawing skills look like, sans tracing. i'd be very interested to see something he drew from imagination only. i'm not a fan of Peak at all, and Briggs i can take or leave. i wouldn't say tracing is 'cheating'... it's just a short-cut to a more realistic image. the final thing being a bit like a photograph with a 'painterly' effect on top.

norm said...

It's not delusional to refer to Jones as a "she". It's just an attempt at being polite. I've switched back and forth refering to her/him. It feels a little weird to say "her" but, it's no skin off my nose and I don't see why I shouldn't try to be considerate.
I'm more likely to say "him" when refering to a time before the operation.
I'm still not so sure his/her promise wasn't realized though, since he was creating solid new work up until his mid fifties...I'm not sure when you expected him to "get his own voice"

john cuneo said...

Maybe there Is a God. So nice to see Mr. Fluharty's work in the company it deserves .

Canuck said...

I've met a computer consultant who did work for the Canadian government. He said that they wanted to use SEVEN different sexual classifications for their records-- heterosexual, homosexual, transgendered, asexual, hermaphordite -- I forgot the rest; it's all too complicated nowadays.

Alexis Barattin said...

i've never heard the term "working drawings" before but it is absolutely perfect. i LOVE drawings, but there's something particularly about the drawing study that draws me in. they're so personal and unpretentious.

Casper said...

"Look at the way Ingres ahndled the folds of fabric in those drawings that are obviously a result of using a prism camera lucida (anyone who has used one recognises the qualities it imposes)."

I've never bought that Ingres used such a device but I've heard the argument before and I know that Ingres was what started David Hockney off on that nitwit theory of his. To those that say that Ingres' folds point to a camera lucida, I ask why do his master copies (such as those featured in Uwe Fleckner's book, for one), made from museum walls even late in his life, exhibit the same treatment of folds/drapery/etc? To explain that, you'd have to say Ingres took a camera lucida to the museum, set it up and with that made these copies of masters... Why? To what end?

I see now, looking up, that there is actual discussion of Hockney's theory.

You, Mr Howard, say: "There is no effective counter to Hockney’s argument."

There most certainly is. Besides agreeing with the points given by Ferrara, particularly in regards to the horse, I'd like to put forth two more very basic and obvious counters, things that should be coming to any halfway sensible mind:

1) If a camera lucida was so crucial, and (as Hockney asserts) responsible for a radical change to realistic images (with its later disuse/drop in the late 1900s or so returning us to the awkward, such as the work of Hockney himself...), how does one explain artists maintaining their usual skill/quality with self-portraits?

2) If such devices are responsible for the "overnight" shift to life-like images, Hockney's great argument, then how does one explain the shift to realistic sculpture that occurred at that same time? If a lucida was what was required for artists to make the leap forward, then what were they using to make the same achievements in sculpture?

To me, Hockney's whole theory, if he had truly tried to settle these questions at the start (instead of choosing an agenda and then trying to make it fit, as even he admits he did), could've ended there, without a single page written...

The people that buy into Hockney and this hole-ridden theory of his are the same simple-minded sorts that get taken in and excited by such as 'The Da Vinci Code' and '1421: The Year China Discovered America.'

kev ferrara said...

Very penetrating insights, Scott, which, taken alone, demolish the sense of Hockney's argument.

Your clarity of mind is much appreciated.


Casper said...

I made a typo above. When I wrote '1900s' I meant '1800s,' I should say. 'Awkward' is also the actual word that Hockney uses. At the end of that century the secret was lost, he says, and only until Hockney's brain ticked over was it discovered again... When the camera lucida somehow magically disappeared out of all studios - which, if we believe Hockney's assertion of their ongoing and constant use through time, would be like the paintbrush suddenly disappearing from the painter's inventory - we returned to 'awkward' images.

I would say my two points are common sense rather than insight. Much or all of Hockney's argument is based on a lack of it and whole table-legs of his theory can be knocked out by simply pointing at things. Hockney's whole book/argument is just plainly nonsensical and, not to insult Howard, I think to buy into it - to read it and say, 'Makes sense...' - you've definitely got to be of a deficient and exceeding unquestioning mind (gullible, one might say) or, and this is what I think many of the followers fall into, wanting to believe so as to have an excuse for your own artistic lacking and/or reliance on tracing/projectors/etc.

How did the Cubism movement start, Howard? Something in the water? Other artists responding to and seeing new possibility in the work of one, learning from it and exploring it in their own work? Did the planet shift? Fables have been constructed by the purposely blind, throwing out any evidence that would be counter to the myths they have created for their heroes but the reality, Howard, is that a traveling salesman was going around at that time selling this glass device that, when held to the eye, produces an image much like those later painted under the banner of 'Cubism.' They had glass at the time, you know, Howard. Even though there's no mention of this distorting piece of glass in the process, well documented as it often was, we know in fact that such glass was able to be made at the same time at these paintings, eh, Howard...

kev ferrara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kev ferrara said...

1. That your points are easily substantiated by the presentation of mere fact does not argue against their origins as insight.

2. Epiphanies about anything are decidedly uncommon.

Anonymous said...

"why do his master copies (such as those featured in Uwe Fleckner's book, for one), made from museum walls even late in his life, exhibit the same treatment of folds/drapery/etc?"

Pics or stfu.

Sahin Derya said...

great stuff, such talent.
dont leave art man.