Wednesday, August 26, 2015


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.

Monday, August 24, 2015


I began this blog back in the days when Fred Flintstone was still blogging for the Slate Rock and Gravel Company.  It began impetuously (I named and designed it in about 20 minutes) with the expectation that it would take only a few months to make some much-needed points about artists I liked (and a few I didn't).  After that I planned to shut the blog down and turn my attention elsewhere.
But I ran into some interesting and opinionated readers along the way, and started learning new things from them.  Before I knew it ten years had slipped by.  All the while, my backlog of topics kept growing.

Some readers have long criticized my format ("Your white letters on a black background give me headaches...") or my lack of an RSS feed ("You're a goddamn dinosaur...") Some helpfully sent me urls for blogs that repeatedly copy my posts, remove my name, and post my work under their own name to sell ads.  In each case, I told myself, "Well, I won't be doing this too much longer anyway...."

But that excuse has become increasingly indefensible so I finally decided to fix a few broken things and apply a new coat of paint.  I didn't intend to experiment with these changes publicly, or for it to take this long, but I'm learning about formatting too.  Hopefully the process will be done in a couple of days and I can return to posting.  Thanks for your patience.