Friday, September 28, 2012


These unpublished student sketches by Robert Fawcett show that, even as a teenager, he was a precocious talent:

Ten minute sketch
Ten minute sketch

All his life, Fawcett continued to sketch from the model.  Based on what he had learned at the Slade School,  Fawcett believed his weekly drawing sessions would keep his eyes fresh. 

Fawcett's mature sketches show how his powers grew over the years:



Fawcett believed that his weekly life drawing sessions paid off when it came time to make preparatory sketches for illustrations.  It gave him the confidence to work from his imagination in situations where many of his peers would be dependent on reference photos.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Tom Fluharty is probably best known for his magazine covers using the classical oil painting techniques of the Flemish masters, but his preparatory pencil sketches-- slashing, vigorous drawings-- are a whole different kind of excellent:

Detail of McCain sketch

Fluharty wrote, "How Beauty is found in a graphite line or ink scratch is beyond me, but one thing I know is when I behold a sketch, beautifully executed, it's a beautiful thing."

Fluharty is a master of facial expressions.  Devoutly religious and traditional in his methods, he nevertheless manages to create some of the most hilariously wicked portraits I have ever seen.

In the margins of his sketches, we can see Fluharty exploring facial expressions and gestures in tiny thumbnails.

Even these small doodles (two inches tall) convey knowledge and strength.

More recently, Fluharty has branched into digital media where somehow he still manages to capture those imaginative facial expressions:

I was afraid that when he began working digitally it would rob his dynamic sketches of some of their vitality.  But his drawing skills are so strong, he has adapted to digital media beautifully:

Fluharty recently began illustrating his line of children's books under the sobriquet T. Lively.  His web site contains a collection of great pictures:

Oil study for children's book illustration

Like Fluharty's other work, these books will be worth watching.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


 OK, technically these sketches are not from Will Eisner's "sketchbook," they are preliminary drawings he did to guide his ghost artist, Lou Fine, in creating the finished art for The Spririt comic strip.

 I find it interesting that no matter how brusque and hurried these layouts are,  and no matter how many thousands of panels he had already drawn, Eisner was still motivated to play outside the panel borders with little doodles and sketches:

These preliminary sketches showed the essentials of what Eisner thought needed to be in his strip.

All of the trademark closeups and angle shots can be found in Eisner's road map.

Eisner leaves several notes for his ghost artist in the margins

I am not the world's biggest admirer of the draftsmanship in Eisner's finished strips but I am a true fan of the imagination, heart and humor in Eisner's work. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


Albert Dorne was one of the most remarkable characters in the history of illustration.  The upcoming book,  Albert Dorne, Master Illustrator (out in November from the fine folks at Auad Publishing) describes how Dorne used his drawing ability to climb from the depths of poverty and illness to international renown as an artist, business leader, educator and philanthropist.


  From the introduction to the new book:   
Starting with nothing but a talent for drawing, Dorne became (in the words of advertising titan Fairfax Cone) “the highest paid, most successful commercial artist of his time.”  From that position,  he used his drawing skills as a platform for building a multinational corporation that trained tens of thousands of students around the world in the creative fields of art, writing and photography.  Now a wealthy man, he went on to use drawing to help the disabled, became nationally respected for his charitable work and was appointed by the President of the United States to The President’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped.  Dorne consorted with glamorous movie stars and government leaders, amassed a major art collection and was sought after as a lecturer around the country. 

Many thanks to the Famous Artists School, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Walt Reed and everyone else who helped us to assemble Dorne's unpublished drawings and sketches for this book.

Dorne was able to take his drawings from rough thumbnail sketches to remarkably engineered, complex final drawings with lightning speed.

After a while, Dorne made so much money as the president of a multinational corporation that he could no longer afford to take the time to sit at a drawing board and draw pictures.  Nevertheless, you can still find some of his "unpublished drawings" in his corporate correspondence, as in this affectionate letter to Norman Rockwell:

Thursday, September 20, 2012


(Caution: The following post contains content for mature viewers)

John Cuneo's personal drawings in his sketchbooks are very different from the sketches of the other artists I have covered over the past two weeks.  For me, Cuneo's sketches represent the best of his work-- they are more intelligent, more trenchant, more disturbing, and definitely more oblique than his finished work which is regularly showcased in magazines such as The New Yorker, Esquire, Rolling Stone and Town & Country.

The smartest magazine will be the one that gives Cuneo a full page to free associate each month: 

In my view, the strange brew of anthropomorphic animals in this sketch rivals the best work of Heinrich Kley.


Fabulous snake (and the crocodile ain't bad either)

A large rodent comes to the door, while Cuneo tries to work out whether that is a waitress or an actress holding that tray.

Preliminary sketch for an Esquire cartoon on aged sperm donors

The final two sketches today are ones that were previously posted on Cuneo's web site.  I am pretending they qualify as "unpublished" because they are such superb examples of the dry wit in Cuneo's sketchbooks.


Paul Klee wrote that "drawing is taking a line for a walk."  In his sketchbooks, Cuneo takes his line on a stroll through some mighty peculiar neighborhoods-- places where many fear to tread-- but the result is some of Cuneo's best work.