Anything painted directly, on the spot, always has a strength, a power, a lively touch that is lost in the studio. Your first impression is the right one. Stick to it and refuse to budge.
- Eugene Boudin
Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.
- Henri Rousseau
 

 

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Franklin Booth

Posted by Charley Parker at 12:14 pm

Franklin Booth
Franklin Booth owed his amazing style of pen and ink drawing to ignorance.

Booth was one of the greatest American illustrators and one of the absolute masters of pen and ink drawing. His style was the result of an isolated childhood on an Indiana farm and an innocent ignorance of the printing technology of his time.

When Booth was growing up, determined to be an artist and create illustrations like the ones he saw in popular magazines of the day like Harper’s and Scribner’s, he began to teach himself to draw in pen and ink by copying the illustrations as he saw them, not realizing that the illustrations were the product of wood engravings, made by specialty engravers by copying the original artists’ works.

Franklin BoothIn the process of unknowingly emulating the engravers’ intricate lines, Booth created a unique style of pen drawing that has since been imitated but never matched.

His drawings are marvels of tone created in line. The textures of the world, faces, clothing, atmospheric effects, sweeping skies, roiling clouds, the vibrance of forests and fields, are created from thousands of precisely placed pen lines, spaced and arranged to blend in the eye into optical tones of grays. Actually, “tones” and “grays” don’t do Booth enough credit, his black and white drawings suggest colors in the the mind, in much the same way as Van Gogh’s wonderfully textured drawings; or like the “colors” of the grays in Chinese ink painting. In fact, one of the books on Booth that I’ll recommend to you is subtitled “Painter with a Pen”.

The extraordinary power and visual force of Booth’s works were a dramatic influence on his contemporary Golden Age illustrators like Howard Pyle, 20th century artists and illustrators like Virgil Finlay, Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta, classic comic strip artists like Hal Foster and Alex Raymond and modern comics artists like Berni Wrightson (whose amazing Frankenstein portfolio was a homage to Booth) and Frank Cho (who will occasionally devote a whole strip to one of his pastiches of Booth’s style) .

I’ve been on the web a long time and I’ve found that if you wait long enough, resources that didn’t exist will eventually be posted. I’m still a little disappointed, though, with the small amount of online resources for brilliant artists like Franklin Booth, particularly considering that his work is in the public domain.

That being said, I have been able to dig up a few web resources for you, and, more importantly, a couple of absolutely terrific print resources. I say more importantly because to really appreciate Booth’s precise lines, magnificent scope and astonishing level of detail, you need to see his drawings in the high-resolution of print rather than the low resolution of screen images.

When I first discovered Booth, I went crazy trying to find his work in print and was sad to discover that the only major book of his work, Franklin Booth: 60 Drawings, and the Nostalgia Press reprint of it from the 70′s as The Art of Franklin Booth, were both out of print and expensive on the rare book market; but you (you luck devils) now have access to two recent, and absolutely great, collections of his drawings.

The first, Franklin Booth: Painter with a Pen from Flesk Publications, is temporarily out of print, but will be reprinted this July. The other is Franklin Booth: American Illustrator, a new release from Auad Publishing, which includes some of Booth’s rarely seen color illustrations.

There are Booth galleries on the Flesk site, and the Auad site, though the images on both are too small to get a real feeling for how amazing his drawings are when seen on the printed page. Both of the books are very reasonably priced and I can’t recommend them highly enough to anyone interested in just how amazing pen and ink illustration can be.

 

18 comments for Franklin Booth »

RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Comment by Polly
    Thursday, April 5, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    Wow. So amazing and beautiful. Thank you for posting about this. :-)

  2. Comment by Paul Groendes
    Thursday, July 19, 2007 @ 9:29 pm

    I was curious about the actual size of his full-page originals, on average. Thank you.

    Paul

  3. Comment by maria
    Sunday, December 9, 2007 @ 5:27 am

    How amazing!Thank you

  4. Comment by heavy
    Monday, December 1, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

    yeah, hi, i have discovered some vids with frank cho on youtube from his drawing workshop, it s funny and amazing, you can visit also my web and leave me message, but its in czech language, nevermind, i have a section dedicated to comics and im glad for every visitor, you can write in english, thank you for your work here., you must add in dialogue window on youtube this sequentions: drawing a sexy woman cho ….and thats it :)

  5. Comment by Todd
    Wednesday, August 26, 2009 @ 12:13 am

    Thanks for posting this, I LOVE Booth’s work!

  6. Comment by Margaret Dorffer
    Thursday, November 25, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

    I have a picture I believe could be by F. Booth. I would like to identify it. Do you have a sample of his signature?

    Thank you

  7. Comment by guy benoit
    Monday, May 9, 2011 @ 11:11 pm

    I have an original of Franklin BOoth , that i wouldlike to sell. ( tiger hunt) it’s ink on wood . it makes 14 years that i owned the masterpiece. interested into .

    please feel free to phone me at , 1 450 803-8749

    thank you .

  8. Comment by Jaqulin
    Saturday, July 23, 2011 @ 1:15 am

    His drawings are amazing. As an artist,I am inspired and awed. The intricate and unimitatable Carvings are both subtle yet bold. His art is most likely one of the most intricate in the world. Not just because of his beutiful penwork, but because he was almost unknown.

  9. Comment by Jaqulin
    Saturday, July 23, 2011 @ 1:17 am

    Big words, huh?
    (\/)
    (..)
    (“|”)

  10. Comment by hanna
    Sunday, August 7, 2011 @ 4:46 pm

    Franklen Booth is my great great great great grandfather and i just want to say the article is terrific

  11. Comment by yas
    Thursday, October 20, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    Franklen Booth is an inspiring artist
    i am currently studying his work

  12. Comment by laurie jess
    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

    Here it is 2012, & people like me are still reading this article because there is so little information on this great master artist. Thanks for writing this informative piece.

  13. Comment by Charley Parker
    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

    Unfortunately the books I mention, both of which are excellent, are now sold out. If you can find copies used or otherwise they are well worthwhile. Franklin Booth: American Illustrator has more in the way of historical text.

  14. Comment by Grace
    Saturday, February 4, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

    Was just wondering what the titles of the two illustrations on your blog are called?? Or where they come from?

  15. Comment by Tom Rugh, PhD
    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    “The Colors of Black Lines: Franklin Booth’s Life and Art” is a new comprehensive biography of the Hoosier artist, with 200+ illustrations never before re-published. It is now an e-book available at http://www.FranklinBoothBook.com. It includes Booth’s own never-before reported “Among Other Things,” text and sketches for several sections of the Bible which reflect his Quaker-turned-Christian Scientist spiritual outlook. Tom Rugh at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

  16. Comment by lynda
    Friday, August 3, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    His work often gets ignored because his name is hard to find and then read. He did advertising for Estey Organ Company in the 1920s and others but not sure which companies. They were mostly in better magazines like Country Life.

  17. Comment by Jamie
    Thursday, January 3, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

    I have an original Franklin Booth book with sixty reproductions from original drawings. The edition I have is printed on vidalon paper with an extra illuminated page by Mr. Booth, is limited to 210 copies, of which this book I have is #27. It is signed by Booth himself and also has his signature again in the front of the book where he signed and dated and addressed it to my grandparents. At this time I am thinking of selling it. Does anyone have any ideas of where I should look to sell this amazing book. Any ideas would be much appreciated. Thank you!

  18. Comment by Patrick
    Monday, March 31, 2014 @ 11:35 pm

    I have a painting/print by franklin booth I cant find any info on this picture. its in a frame from the 1800′s . I would like to find the value of the piece of art.

Leave a comment

(required)

(required but not published)

 
Display Ads on Lines and Colors (1st tier): $25/week or $75/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.
Display Ads on Lines and Colors (2nd tier): $20/week or $65/month.

Please note that display ads for lines and colors are limited to arts related topics and may not be animated.




Donate Life

The Gift of a Lifetime
Donate Life