Category Archives: Sketching

Howard Brodie

Howard Brodie
Today is Memorial Day here in the U.S. Though primarily associated with a three-day weekend, barbecues and the unofficial start of summer, it is a day designated to honor those Americans who died while in military service. One way to do this, perhaps, is to develop a better understanding of the experiences of soldiers at war.

Howard Brodie was a well known WW II American combat artist, whose drawings of the front line experiences of soldiers in combat earned him the respect of both his fellow soldiers and the journalism community at large. He was considered one of the best war correspondent artists.

During the Second World War, Brodie was a regular contributor to the Army weekly, Yank magazine, and covered both the Pacific and European theaters of war. He did not carry a gun, but worked as a medic when needed. After covering the Battle of the Bulge, he received a Bronze Star for “aiding the wounded and coolness under fire”.

Brodie’s wonderfully loose, gestural drawings, often done with Prismacolor pencils, capture the experience of combat with an immediacy and emphasis not found in photographs.

I’m sometimes stuck by the similarity in style between Brodie and WW II GI cartoonist Bill Mauldin; though which way influence may have passed, I don’t know.

Before the war, Brodie attended the California School of Fine Arts and worked as a time as a sports illustrator for the San Francisco Chronicle. Afterward, he went back to work for the Chronicle, again covering sports; but the magazine eventually sent him to cover the Korean War, and later, the war in Vietnam.

Afterward, Brodie had a long career as a courtroom artist, covering notable trials such as those of Jack Ruby, James Earl Ray, Charles Manson and the Chicago Seven. He also served as a consultant for several hollywood war movies.

Brodie was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2001, and the article by Victor Juhasz marking the occasion is probably the best piece on the artist. Juhasz, to whom Brodie was a friend and mentor, also has a personal remembrance on his blog, accompanied by images of Brodie’s work.

Brodie was featured in the PBS documentary They Drew Fire: Combat Artists of WW II, which I covered here.


Parka Blogs’ art tools and gears

Jorge Royan, Audran Guerard, Shari Blaukopf, Khoo Cheang Jin, Ellis Nadler, Marvin Chew, Marc Holmes
I’ve written before about a blog called The Tools Artists Use, which is based on the excellent concept of asking various illustrators and other artists about their primary working tools.

The Tools Artists Use blog is taking a break, but the most recent post points out that Teoh Yi Chie of Parka Blogs (which I wrote about back in 2008), has recently added to his series of artist interviews a new sub-series tagged art tools and gears, in which the focus is on the artist’s tools. (I think native English speakers would say “art tools and gear“, but we get the idea.)

Thus far the emphasis is on urban sketchers working in ink and watercolor, but there are also illustrators and concept artists featured.

The interviews feature images of the artist’s work, photographs and discussions of their tools — sometimes in considerable detail — and occasionally photographs of the artist working on location. Some of the interviews also include short videos.

I learn more about new tools from these kinds of interviews than I ever do from art supplier catalogs or manufacturer descriptions.

A wonderful idea. I hope to see it continued and expanded (as well as looking forward to the return of The Tools Artists Use).

(Images above, in sets of work example plus tools: Jorge Royan, Audran Guerard, Shari Blaukopf, Khoo Cheang Jin, Ellis Nadler, Marvin Chew, Marc Holmes)


Larry Roibal’s six years of newspaper sketches

Larry Roibal
For the past six years, illustrator Larry Roibal has been sketching on the pages of his morning newspaper — drawing portraits of politicians, world leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other newsworthy individuals directly on sections of newspaper articles about them, and then publishing the sketches to his blog.

Roibal has collected all 1550 of his newspaper sketches to date, and published them in a Zoomable interface.

See my previous posts on Larry Roibal (and here).


Janet Hamlin

Janet Hamlin
Janet Hamlin is an illustrator whose clients include Time Warner, Universal Studios, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, IBM, HarperCollins and Associated Press.

She is also a courtroom sketch artist. The latter role is one of those fascinating areas in which photography has not replaced drawing as a form of reporting, primarily because cameras are not allowed in courtrooms in many instances.

In particular, Hamlin is noted as the only sketch artist present at the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 2008 to the present, including the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

A number of sketches from those sessions and others have been collected in a recently released book, Sketching Guantanamo: Court Sketches of the Military Tribunals, 2006-2013 (Amazon link). There is an illustrated review on the New York Review of Books and additional information on the Fantagraphics site, including an 18 page excerpt as a PDF.

The book not only publishes 150 of her Guantanamo courtroom drawings, but delves into the process and demands of the practice. I find it interesting that the drawings are larger in format than I would have expected.

Hamlin’s website also includes several sections of her book and editorial illustrations in various categories, of which I particularly enjoy her portraits of noted figures — done in a variety of media and stylistic approaches.

She also has a portfolio on Behance, a blog devoted to her illustration work and another that features her sketches from figure drawing sessions.

[Suggestion courtesy of Daniel van Benthuysen]


Urban Sketchers blog turns 5

Urban Sketchers blog: Stephen Gardner, Fred Lynch, Sagar, Murray Dewhurst, Virginia Hein, Matthew Brehm, Enkaterina Khozatskaya, Kumi Matsukawa, Suhita Shirodkar, Simone Ridyard
The Urban Sketchers blog, which I first wrote about in 2008,
just marked its 5th anniversary (the corresponding Flickr group is about a year older).

There are sketches from contributors around the world to this blog, the tagline of which is: “See the world one drawing at a time”.

In addition to pencils, pens, markers and other typical drawing instruments, many of the sketches are done in watercolor, or pen and watercolor.

I particularly enjoy those occasional photos in which the sketch is shown in the context of the subject, not only because it’s interesting to see the scene being interpreted, but because you get a much better sense of the scale of a drawing than you do as an isolated image on a web page.

(Images above: Stephen Gardner, Fred Lynch, Sagar, Murray Dewhurst, Virginia Hein, Matthew Brehm, Enkaterina Khozatskaya, Kumi Matsukawa, Suhita Shirodkar, Simone Ridyard)