[N.B. -- I'm not through messing around with the html to fix this blog, but I'm too impatient to hold off with new posts any longer. My mama didn't raise me to be no software engineer. The end is in sight, but in the meantime, here's a new post.]
This is a loose preliminary sketch by Bernie Fuchs for a coffee ad in the 1960s.
Some people will be quick to note Fuchs employed photo reference in this picture:
But that's not the part that interests me. I like the way his sketch reveals Fuchs probing for the design elements in his subjects. His handling of the elbow (below) displays knowledge of both the anatomy beneath the cloth and the design above the cloth. The mere facts of the cloth itself-- the part captured by a camera-- is the thinnest layer in the process.
Again and again, this sketch shows Fuchs testing and probing for designs, and assessing how far he can stray from a realistic representation:
And while the people on the sofa are tightly rendered, look at how unbelievably loose Fuchs was with other elements such as the sofa arm, or the cups and saucers. Even in this preliminary sketch, his priorities were firmly established.
It's obvious from this drawing that Fuchs valued uncontrolled, loose line and white space. He wisely gave them prime real estate, and they do much to shape the character of the total drawing.
Today the use of photo reference, enhanced with Photoshop and other imaging tools, has run amok. And on the other side of the spectrum, there remain purists who look down on any type of photo reference. I think both sides focus too much on that thin layer of facts captured by the camera. One reason I admire Fuchs is that he understood the structure beneath and the designs above a photograph. You can see them in the rawest form in this sketch.