Monday, April 22, 2024


This drawing by James Montgomery Flagg is as confident and brash as Flagg himself.

The drawing is large-- nearly 30 inches (76 cm) and appears to have been drawn mostly from the elbow.

Like Franklin Booth, Flagg created values using numerous parallel lines:


However, unlike Booth, Flagg used bold lines, aggressively combining pen and brush.  Booth carefully planned his drawings, but you can see from Flagg's pencil lines how loose and fluid his preparations were.

This is not digital drawing.  You don't see much like it these days. 



Anonymous said...

You mentioned something about seeing some of Coll's sketches the other day on the Booth post, and I'd asked if it was in reference to the few pieces that have appeared in books so far or some private collection somewhere.

Similarly with this Montgomery Flagg - I've been looking at the ink drawings from these two and a few other artists from back then (as many as I can find online as the few copies of the Coll books left are extortionate).
This one is new to me. A really, really lovely piece of work, thanks !


David Apatoff said...

Bill-- My apologies, I dropped off the radar for a week because I was at a remote film festival, far away from my books, tear sheets and even reliable wifi. I saw your question but didn't trust my memory until I returned home.

Walt Reed's book, The Magic Pen of Joseph Clement Coll includes a few very nice pencil drawings (esp. pages 170 and 174) as well as some ink sketches or "doodles." Years ago Walt also showed me a few others at his gallery, Illustration House. There are a few other pencil sketches in the Fleskes book, Joseph Clement Coll: A Legacy In Line. I suspect the originals are all in private collections by now.

Flagg, like Charles Dana Gibson, didn't always bother to erase all his pencil lines, so that's one good way of getting a sense for what their sketches were like.

kev ferrara said...

Unassailable in its excellence. Painful to anybody who has toiled in the medium.

As Flagg worked from models and reference because he was predominantly figure-based, he was afforded some slack in his preliminary layouts that Booth, who mostly developed his visionary vistas by imagination, could not grant himself. But make no mistake, both knew exactly where they were going before putting pen to paper.

Anonymous said...

Not to compare Alex Raymond to Coll or Flagg , but he did a beautiful sequence in Rip Kirby in high contrast 3 values .

Kev , do you know how Booth did work - models shots or actually from reference or largely imagination ?

Al McLuckie

Anonymous said...

No problem ! - thanks David.
The pencil lines are like ghosts, but anythong more would've inhibited it, and weren't necessary, anyway -
the knowledge and confidence that have to come before the fluency here are astounding.

I've seen a couple of Coll's drawings which were well advanced to set the shapes in the finished work. Absolute favourite artist in ink, can't see enough of his work. Has the Illustration House website been removed ? (the address now diverts to hotel ads)
Wish they'd reprint Walt's Coll book, and anything else they might have.

kev ferrara said...

"Kev , do you know how Booth did work - models shots or actually from reference or largely imagination ?"

Hi Al,

I think the Booth posted last time out by D.A. was one of the few that definitely used a model (the man with his head bowed). But by and large, his work looks mostly self-conjured to me. I'm sure he used reference intermittently. But he wasn't dependent on it.

Skimming through "Painter With A Pen" I can't find much in the way of discussion of his working methods. Maybe somebody else around here knows?

I was surprised to find in that book that Booth studied left the Indianapolis newspaper he worked for in 1904, and moved to New York. Where he studied at the Art Students League and then left for Spain in 1906. Turns out, Howard Pyle lectured weekly at the Art Students League for just that exact small period of time, late 1904 to early 1906. Which would explain a lot.

Anonymous said...

The biography by Howard C. Caldwell in the Auad book, «Franklin Booth: American Illustrator» (which also includes a demonstration by the artist of his "scratchboard" technique), makes mention of Booth inducing "characters" to model for him.

Here are two passages qfrom the essay, quoting Booth - the first focusing on the nuts and bolts of the process & very recognizable to anybody who's ever inked professionally:

"In drawing, I first pencil in my entire conception.[...] This is not complete but rather generalized. Parts of this I then draw more fully and follow immediately with the pen. My drawings are usually somewhat involved and a completed drawing to begin with would become smudged in places in the process of inking other parts. I finish a section at a timeand often this will appear in the midst of white paper and pencilled suggestions".

...and the second passage, also quoting the artist, seems very much to resonate with Ferrara's aesthetics (even though perhaps not upon the first reading):

"In any line drawing the technique becomes a thing of attraction and attention in itself over and beside the primary content of the picture. In any line drawing, technique may be a thing comparable to a beautiful piano accompaniment to a song which itself may be listened to with a full measure of contentment; it is like the play of startling pure color by and through which the painter has projected some noble conception. Technique in a picture may become an entirety as prolific of aesthetic satisfaction as the picture itself, and for this reason it would be well that its developement be not wholly left to mere hapharz tendencies, but by instruction and culture be made a distinctive achievement."

- - -
Postmodern Anonymouse.

Anonymous said...

Erratum. Sentences in first passage should read: "...involved and a completed pencil drawing to begin with..." & "...white paper and other penciled suggestions."

- - -
Postmodern Anonymouse

Gabriel said...

Blogspot ought to have a like button.

Li-An said...

Well, nobody works like this nowadays because you can not find the material they use at this time :-) And the format. There are no scanner you can own to manage such huge size.

I try to "mimic" such work but with little drawings :-)

Jeff P said...

Gosh, I'm so glad you post these …

Yessennia Swift said...

I agree with you!. We can't see like this nowadays.

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