Monthly Archives: October 2010

PumpkinMixer

PumpkinMixer, mix and match app for iPhone and iPod Touch by Charley Parker
I don’t often talk about my own projects on Lines and Colors, but sometimes they’re enough fun to be worthy of note.

PumpkinMixer is my new app for the iPhone and iPod touch. Like my other apps, DinoMixer and MonsterMixer, it was developed with my friend and colleague Leon Stankowski, who created the coding to fit with my design and illustrations, worked with me on the functionality and coordinated the sound.

Similar to the other “Mixer” apps, PumpkinMixer is based loosely on the old Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse, in which artists would fold over paper and draw three independent parts of a drawing, head, body and legs, without seeing the outcome until all were in place. This concept made its way into popular culture as a children’s game (my friends and I played it in elementary school), and was eventually adapted in publishing as “mix-n-match” children’s picture books (usually spiral-bound, with stiff cardboard pages that are divided in three).

PumpkinMixer, like DinoMixer and MonsterMixer, is an electronic version of this. In the case of PumpkinMixer, you swipe side to side to swap sets of eyes, noses and mouths, with an extra horizontal band at the top to switch between three backgrounds. Swiping on the iPhone screen vertically switches between pumpkins and swaps out the colors of the animated “candle flame” behind the face cut-outs.

In designing the interface and creating the artwork, which was done digitally in Painter and Photoshop in the same way I draw my webcomic, Argon Zark!, I faced the same challenges I outlined in my post about creating the artwork for DinoMixer.

Like many illustration projects, this one, in addition to the design and technical challenges, had a deadline. Since PumpkinMixer just made it through the App Store approval process and became available today, one day before Halloween, you might say we just made it; though we obviously had an earlier release in mind.

On the other hand, you could say we’re just really really early for next Halloween!

 
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Chappatte

Chappatte
Patrick Chappatte is a political cartoonist with an international reach, and a personal history to match. Born in Pakistan, Chappatte was raised in Singapore and later Switzerland. He lived in New York for a time and now lives and works in Geneva.

Chappette’s global view comes across in his cartoons for the International Herald Tribune and other publications.

He is known in particular for his forays into cartoon journalism, in which he visits parts of the world, reporting on the situation there in cartoon or comic strip form. An example is his In the Slums of Nairobi (image above, bottom), which was published in a series on Nairobi in the Global Opinion section of the New York Times website.

Note how the use of cartoon imagery, while it doesn’t lessen the impact of the dire situation, makes for a lower barrier to entry into an uncomfortable subject than stark photographs might have.

You can see some other examples of his work in this direction on graphicjournalism.net.

Chappatte explores this increasing trend toward cartoon journalism, along with the impact, influence and role of cartoons in world events, in a fascinating talk on The Power of Cartoons for the TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) conference (you can also view the video on YouTube). He punctuates his comments with some of his cartoons.

You can see more of them on his website (French version here). When looking through his cartoons by topic (drop down menu at right), be aware that most categories have several pages, accessed from small page numbers under the cartoon thumbnails at lower right.

His work has also been published in a number of books.

Despite the difficulties faced by traditional newspapers, and their resultant decisions to abandon much of their original content, like editorial cartoons (brilliant, of course — when cicrculation is dropping, drop the content people find worthwhile), cartoons will continue to play an important part in political and social discourse.

[Via Digg, via Geeks Are Sexy]

 
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Learning to draw: where to go from here

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, The Art SpiritTim, a Lines and Colors reader, wrote me to say that he had recently become inspired to return to the practice of drawing. He had purchased a copy of Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (see my post here), and was looking for other books and resources to pursue his interest from there, hopefully with a classical or Renaissance method.

Edwards’ book is an excellent place to start for someone who has a new or rekindled interest in drawing. I frequently recommend it as the book concentrates of the fundamental and most difficult problem adults face in learning to draw, and that is learning to see what is actually before them, and not what they think they see.

I feel her book, however, is lacking the other “half” of drawing, the art of it, the finesse and artistic choices that separate “art” from “just drawing” and that separate the masters from the ordinary. Though she has attempted to address this somewhat in recent editions, there are better sources for pursuing the art of drawing.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, certainly not of drawing books, or even of drawing books and resources that answer the particular question at hand, but a few suggestions drawn (if you’ll excuse the expression) from my personal experience.

A book I will recommend, though it is not specifically related to drawing but to art and art study in general, is Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit.

As for drawing instruction in a classical or Renaissance method, there isn’t a great deal in the way of drawing texts from the Renaissance; techniques were passed down from master to apprentice, rarely committed to writing. Modern representational drawing texts concentrate on Academic teachings, which are derived from principles developed in the Renaissance and subsequent years up to the late 19th Century.

 

The dedicated path:

Classic drawing textbooks (not necessary “Classical”) These two volumes have been standards in art schools in the U.S. for decades. Look for them used online, in used bookstores or on eBay; they’re overpriced and current printings are apparently of poor quality.

A Guide to Drawing, Art of Responsive DrawingA Guide to Drawing, Daniel M. Mendelowitz

Art of Responsive Drawing, Nathan Goldstein

 

The study of drawing:

The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study, The Practice And Science Of DrawingThe Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study, Kimon Nicolaides

If you’re really committed, Kimon Nicolaides has the game plan, but it’s a demanding course of study.

The Practice And Science Of Drawing, Harold Speed

A valuable text, with insights and practical information. There is a full version on Project Gutenberg, though the reproductions leave something to be desired. [Addendum: There is a better Facsimile Edition on the Internet Archive. See my more recent post on The Practice And Science Of Drawing.]

 

Other titles:

Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome: Drawing Course, Drawing Lessons from the Great MastersCharles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome: Drawing Course, Gerald M. Ackerman

A 19th Century Academic approach, form a student of master Jean-Léon Gerome

Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters, Robert Beverly Hale

I had the good fortune to have Robert Beverly Hale as my artistic anatomy instructor when I was a student at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. His teachings have been codified in a series of books, illustrated with selections of old master drawings.

 

The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Tradition, Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio PracticeThe Artist’s Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Perspective on the Classical Tradition, Anthony Ryder

See my post on Tony Ryder, and here

Classical Drawing Atelier: A Contemporary Guide to Traditional Studio Practice, Juliette Aristides

A modern take on Academic techniques

 

The gentle path

Keys to Drawing, Keys to Drawing with ImaginationKeys to Drawing, Bert Dodson

Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Your Creativity, Bert Dodson

Dodson eases you into some of the same techniques and concerns covered by Mendelowitz and Goldstein, with a friendlier approach and less of a brusque college textbook manner. See my review of Keys to Drawing with Imagination

 

Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life, The Human FigureBridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life, George Bridgman

The Human Figure, John H. Vanderpoel

Put solidity and an understanding of form into your figure drawing with Bridgeman and Vanderpoel.

 

Study master drawings

Look for used books of collections of master drawings, study them and copy from the masters (as they did from previous masters) to understand what they have done with line, tone, space and form.

Dover Books has many titles with master drawings that are inexpensive new. Though the reproduction is not superb, they are still very good for study and enjoyment.

150 Masterpieces of Drawing, Drawing ideas of the masters150 Masterpieces of Drawing by Anthony Toney

Look for other inexpensive collections like Drawing ideas of the masters: Improve your drawings by studying the masters by Frederick Malins

 

Libraries

Look to your local library for everything mentioned here and more. If you live near a state university, you may find their library open to residents, including borrowing privileges.

Online:

Line by Line is an introductory drawing course running in weekly installments on the New York Times (see my post here). There are many other online resources that should be the subject of a separate post.

Studying the real thing: master drawings

Seeing old master, Baroque and 19th Century drawing in person is a treat, inspiring and very instructive. Drawings reveal their subtleties in person even more than paintings. They can’t be kept on display because of light damage, so you have to look for shows.

On the East Coast of the U.S. The Met in NY and the National Gallery in D.C rotate out selections from their collections of works on paper in small dedicated galleries. Look for other major museums to have similar small spaces devoted to works on paper. The Morgan Library in NY often has great drawing shows.

Studying the real thing: life drawing

This is a directory of life drawing (figure model) open sessions, workshops and other easily accessible classes: Figure Drawing Open Studios, Workshops, and Continuing Education Classes, see my post on the Directory of Figure Drawing Sessions.

Fake it from home: life drawing

Pose Maniacs, Virtual Pose and Figure Drawing training Tool let you practice life drawing from home, the former with computer generated figures, the latter two with photographs.

The most important things

The most important thing: keep drawing. If it’s not a dedicated course of study, make it a hobby, a habit, a coffee break, a meditation. A quick sketch once a day is better than an elaborate plan of study that you can’t maintain.

Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation by Frederick Franck

This is an essay on drawing, and the special kind of seeing associated with drawing (that I think is at the core of the techniques in Drawing on the Right side of the Brain and other texts) as a form of meditation.

More importantly, it is instructive in drawing as a practice, an activity, something you do, rather than something you are trying to accomplish. It’s hard to overstate what a dramatic difference in frame of mind this seemingly small shift can make.

Drawing for Pleasure, Valerie C. Douet

I mention this title, not because the drawings within are treasures of old master accomplishment — they’re not, but because of the attitude and approach expressed by the book and its title.

Unless you mess it up by trying too hard, hanging all kinds of expectations and self-measurement on it or make the gross mistake of comparing your current level of ability with others, drawing is, after all, fun.

So my best word of advice? Draw and have fun drawing. The rest will follow.

 

[Addendum: On rereading this post, I wanted to add one of my favorite quotes.

From Howard Ikemoto:
When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forget?” ]

 
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Irving Ramsay Wiles

Irving Ramsay Wiles
The son of Hudson River School painter Lemuel Maynard Wiles, Irving Ramsay Wiles began study with the great American painter William Merritt Chase at the age of 18. He studied with both Chase and noted painter James Carroll Beckworth at the Art Student’s League in New York, where he would later teach.

Wiles continued to study with Chase independently at his Tenth Street Studio, painting it’s interior (above, third down) as Chase often did (also here). Wiles and Chase were to remain friends throughout their lives.

Wiles also continued his studies in Paris at the Académie Julian and in the atelier of Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran, who is noted as John Singer Sargent’s teacher.

Sargent’s bravura brushwork had a distinct influence on Wiles’ portraiture (and I can’t imagine he was unaware of Cecilia Beaux), while his painterly approach to landscape, interiors and still life owes much to the influence of Chase.

Early in his career, Wiles worked as an illustrator for a number of American magazines. He eventually made a name for himself as a portrait artist. In his later years he allowed himself more time for landscapes and personal subjects.

Wiles is sometimes considered an American Impressionist painter (as is Chase, and sometimes Sargent), though that term is a somewhat vague classification.

There is a selection of his work on the Sotheby’s auction house Sold Lot Archives, some of which have both static and Zoomable versions. The latter allow you to see his brushwork in detail (albeit in a small window).

Similarly the Smithsonian Museum of American Art has several pieces in Zoomable versions, these can be viewed in a full screen window, including the stunning Russian Tea (above, second from the bottom).

A new monograph on Wiles, Irving Ramsay Wiles, N.A., 1861-1948: Portraits and Pictures, 1899-1948 by Geoffrey K. Fleming, is due to be published in January.

 
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Drazen Kozjan

Drazen Kozjan
Drazen Kozjan was born in Croatia and now lives in Canada, where his family moved when he was young. His career has included visual development and storyboarding for a number of features, including The Neverending Story, Rupert the Bear, Franklin The Turtle and George Shrinks.

He is also an editorial illustrator and children’s book illustrator, with credits for several books, including The Biggest Girl In the World by Joanne Stanbridge, Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esm Raji Codell and How to Tame a Bully by Nancy Wilcox-Richards.

Kozjan’s crisp, spare style manages to be evocative without ever being labored. His interior book illustrations are often done with fine line and deft touches of tone. His color illustrations, in contrast, frequently feel like they are line drawings with color fills, but are often accomplished with sharply delineated forms instead of outlines.

He works in pen and ink, marker pens, gouache and watercolor, as well as digital media, specifically Photoshop, in which he colors most of his recent work.

His website has galleries for individual book titles as well as other work.

Kozjan also maintains a blog called Hypnotik Eye, in which he discusses his projects and posts personal sketches and life drawings, along with occasional mentions of other artists from the history of illustration whose work he admires.

You can also see his portrait of Rod Serling on Hey Oscar Wilde, It’s Clobberin’ Time! (see my post on Hey Oscar Wilde, It’s Clobberin’ Time!).

There is a recent interview with Drazen Kozjan on Fuel Your Illustration.

 
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Glenn Jones

Glenn Jones
Glenn Jones, a freelance illustrator and graphic designer based in Auckland, New Zealand, creates deceptively simple images that always have a twist or hook, usually leaving you smiling if not laughing out loud.

After a 15 year design industry career, Jones found that his T-shirt designs for Threadless.com were so successful that he started his own line, GlennzTees.

His website splits into his personal website, the Genns Tees store, and his Behance Portfolio (also here), along with links to his pages on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

You can also find example of his work displayed on Digital Art Empire and Design your way.

 
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