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.


MORAN said...

Another excellent choice. Each of the styles in your sketchbook series is so different but they are beautiful in their own way. These Fluharty sketches are the bomb.

Anonymous said...

That digital Obama gives me hope for Photoshop. beautiful.


Anonymous said...


Bert said...

In an ideal world these wouldn't even need to go beyond the sketch stage.sc

Anonymous said...

Hi David

Thank you for your blog - I've been enjoying it for a long time.

In fact, your post has reminded me to also thank you (long overdue) for previously highlighting Fluharty and his Dutch Flemish oil painting course. After seeing your recommendation I took the course as a self-study student and really got a lot out of it.

Thank you again.


David Apatoff said...

MORAN-- That's the effect I was hoping for. The sketches over the past few weeks have measured such a wide variety of approaches at such a primal level, I find them a joy to observe.

JSL-- agreed. It's one of the better digital drawings I've seen.

DH-- Yes.

David Apatoff said...

Bert-- Fortunately, the illustrationart blog is an ideal world. Safe and sound in this little bubble, Fluharty's sketches count as final art.

Alex Rooth-- Thanks very much, I'm glad to hear you're a reader. I have some familiarity with Fluharty's oil painting course and I think it is excellent. I gather he now has a drawing class as well.

Untitled said...

This has become a regular and daily must read site. David...these last three or four weeks have been incredible!

Thank you! So many great artists out there whose drawings are so inaccessible!

Bert said...

Someone has probably already said this but it seems to me the sketches say more about the artist than the subject he's sketching.Subsequent layers of paint and dazzling technique seem only to obscure the truth.
...but I'm probably getting a bit too precious here, I need to have a lie down.

David Apatoff said...

Untitled-- Thanks so much, I'm glad you get a kick out of these sketches. I'd like to continue showing these preliminary drawings indefinitely but I think I'll need to rotate on to something different before too long.

Bert-- No need to lie down. I feel the exact same way. These sketches are the best way to map the genome of the artist.

Benjamin Raucher said...

These sketches are truly awesome. Some reach a point of exaggeration so as to capture the epitome of the emotion depicted.


Gary Locke said...

Mr. Fluharty would be, if he/we were in the 1980's, one of the illustrator workshop celebrities, (Fuchs , Peak , English Heindel, Cober, Otnes, FLUHARTY!)....i got to spend the week with him and his lovely lively family last week..so inspiring--and to top it off, we took in the FECHIN gallery show in Minneapolis!!!! fantastic! Thanx David for exposing, and recognizing the greeatness that lies with in his lines.
He did the cover for the weekly standard that is on news stands this week---the Biden sketch was FANTASTIC! he gave it to me. it means even more after tonight's debate performance.

thanx Tom

Gary Locke said...


David Apatoff said...

Benjamin Raucher-- I agree, Mr. Fluharty's sketches are "awesome" indeed.

Gary Locke-- Thanks for writing, I envy your time with Tom. It's good to hear talented artists weighing on on his accomplishments.