Thursday, January 16, 2014


Mort Drucker didn't like the way he drew this knob, so he painted it out and re-drew it.

The knob was located on the back of an electric lamp:

Over a chaotic surgical table:

 In a crowded operating room:

Surrounded by even more bystanders-- from a vampire to a clergyman-- in a splash panel for MAD Magazine:

MAD reproduced Drucker's drawing small enough so that it's doubtful a single reader saw that damn knob.  Yet, Drucker painted it out and did it all over again.

Charles Dickens wrote to his son,   
I should never have made my success in life if I had been shy of taking pains, or if I had not bestowed upon the least thing I have ever undertaken exactly the same attention and care that I have bestowed upon the greatest.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The power to recognize beauty in the backside of a goose should not be taken lightly.

Jack Unruh has that power, and what's more he came by it honestly.  He has probably spent more time hunting and fishing in the wild than any illustrator since Audubon.  As John Cuneo wrote, "Here is a man for whom 'back to the drawing board' usually involves pissing on a campfire."

Unruh's time spent in nature seems to have left him with an intense, granular appreciation for nature's textures and patterns.

I like the way Unruh contrasts extremes.  He'll use a sharp Gilotte pen nib to compose delicate fields of microscopic hatch marks, then reach across to the opposite end of the spectrum for dense black shapes applied with a bold brush:

Unruh makes no attempt to homogenize the two extremes.  Each retains its essential character


By themselves, his small, lacy marks would probably be be too refined for my taste.  Those rough black additions contribute power and structure.

There is nothing rustic about Unruh's work.  When he returns from pissing on campfires, he does highly sophisticated (some might even say urbane), surrealistic or whimsical pictures:



These pictures are nothing like the art of more conventional wildlife illustrators, such as Audubon, Bateman, Meltzoff or Matternes.  Kinda makes you wonder what Unruh thinks about, out there in the wilderness at night.  For clues, his web site is divided into "what is real and what is not."  

Friday, January 03, 2014


G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Art is limitation; the essence of every picture is the frame."  

This is surely true. 

On the other hand, Arthur Koestler reminds us that the real action takes place outside the frame. He urges us to "catch a glimpse of eternity through the window of time." 

This is surely true as well.

As we step into 2014, here is a small bouquet of pictures of feet stepping into the picture from outside the frame:

Richard Thompson

Malcolm McKesson
These feet at the edge of the drawing may be a slightly unorthodox composition but they are a useful and fun way to imply a larger reality beyond the frame.

John Cuneo
Mel Lazarus

 In 2014, may your eye frame the world so that you are able to focus on the the things that are important and worthy of attention, but never forget the larger realities waiting beyond the frame.