Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Unlike many artists who hedge their bets with numerous fine lines, Sickles often used bold lines and dry brush.  

In the following close ups, look how his highly selective use of broad dabs of ink and watercolor create the impression of a tightly rendered figure, but without the same manual labor.

An artist who employs a thousand lines to make a picture can make a lot of lazy or even wrong choices with impunity.  Sickles' approach requires a more sure artist.

In the next detail, see how Sickles uses a swipe of dry brush where lesser artists might be drawing wood grain and knot holes with a hundred strokes of a crow quill pen:

In this next picture of a cannon fusillade, we see a similar approach

Sickles does his best to eliminate unnecessary details, but he just can't help his obsession with how the engineering of his subject works:


kev ferrara said...

Holy cow, that first western scene is one the best Sickles piece I've ever seen. Incredible clarity and integrity in the drawing, beautiful patterning. Thanks!

Michael L said...

His extraordinary observational skill shows so clearly in the control of every line. He's very present.

comicstripfan said...

“Bud” Sickles, as he was known throughout most of his life, had a longstanding interest in the circus, and some of his drawings reflect, further to Mr. Apatoff’s commentary, a fascination with the elaborate combination of engines and batteries of the light plant that powered the circus. And for comic strip fans, notable is his association with the more famous Milt Caniff. They often assisted each other to meet the unforgiving deadlines cartoonists often had to meet, and not uncommonly Mr. Sickles would contribute e.g. backgrounds, including lush jungles, in Milt Caniff’s Terry and the Pirates.

Richard said...

Sickles often gets distracted with interesting lively treatments of local areas, while neglecting the picture as a gestalt — this is one of the worst examples. A brilliant and masterful foreground, with such a horribly lazy treatment of the buildings, which severely undermines the picture as a whole.

In the west, quality building materials were hard to come by. The buildings were imperfect, asymmetrical, with an intimacy that grew from their closeness to nature, like a gnarled stump in the woods, rounded and softened by the sand, but with cutting shadows from the uninhibited sun.

Instead we have a bright red and unfinished mechanical drawing blaring behind a would-be masterpiece. A small tragedy

kev ferrara said...

Even though this picture is set in the 1860-1885 time period, the lumber was still milled and surely was straight enough. And even then, badly bent beams would have been discarded and the straightest ones used, especially for ritzy establishments. And, with visual distance, minor flaws in building materials vanish. At the setting time of the picture, the building would have been newly erected. And high end buildings were painted to attract attention.

The newness and precision of the buildings against the rough hewn, well-used character, horse, wagon, trough, etc.... seems to be the very idea of the image. Without that clean graphic quality as contrast the picture would look slovenly. Instead, it looks brilliant in pop and pattern, and clear in the statement of its main character by that contrast.

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