Assignments that would previously have been completed in paint or ink were now handled in pencil or charcoal by a remarkable group of illustrators who worked with a sensitive, expressive line.
These included the great Carl Erickson (known as "Eric"):
|Note the broad variety of lines in this simple drawing|
|Briggs employs a slender outline for the figure,contrasted with a thick, vigorous crayon for the folds.|
|Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas|
|Peak also did the portrait of James Cagney, above|
...and within a few decades become quite comfortable with pencil's more aggressive applications:
|Graphite and wash|
We like to believe that changes in the arts result from developments in the human mind or spirit. But sometimes changes are prompted by something as simple as a mechanical invention.
For example, the invention of the piano helped inspire the Romantic Era in music. Before the piano, composers wrote for the harpsichord which made clipped, succinct sounds. The piano suddenly gave composers new expressive power; they could create long, sustaining notes, deeper resonance, greater control over subtle nuances and a broader range of sounds. Enthralled by their new capability, composers such as Beethoven and Chopin began writing music that was more lush and emotional.
The improvement in printing gave 20th century illustrators the gift of more expressive power, and in the drawings above we witness their delight over their new gift. For the first time, illustrators could capture delicate gestures and a wider variety of lines. It did not take them long to bring out the full symphony of effects from a pencil.