Sometimes there is a fine line, if you’ll excuse the expression, between drawing and painting.
Illustrator Joe Ciardiello manages to walk on both sides of that line at will by developing his color work out of his black and white drawing style.
His black and white drawings have a wonderfully loose and lively line quality, often mixing lightly suggested figures with more fully rendered detail in the areas of focus, usually the faces, in his drawings of well known individuals. Those drawings, themselves, straddle the line between caricatures and portraits, employing varying degrees of exaggeration.
Most interesting is the way he will render portions of a drawing in color. With deft applications of watercolor, at times sketchy and at other times as rendered as a painting, he will bring even more intense focus to the face of an individual or accent other elements in the drawing.
Ciardiello seems to choose a different point in each drawing for the balance between color and black and white elements. The result is a terrific mix that can have the rendered subtlety of a painting and the charming immediacy of a drawing in a single image.
Ciardiello has a new website (designed by Jack Harris, himself a talented illustrator) that makes an effective showcase for his work. There are sections for Illustration and more casual Drawings from sketchbooks, including travel sketches from Venice that I particularly enjoy.
The highlight, though, is the section on images of Musicians, an area in which Ciardiello excels. He is a musician himself, he plays drums with several groups including an all-illustrator band, the Half-Tones, and his images of greats from jazz, blues and rock reflect the touch of someone intimately familiar with these players and their music.
Ciardiello has worked for major publications like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Jazziz, The New Yorker and others. His drawings cover a wide range of subjects from politics to sports to literature, but it is his portraits/caricatures of musicians that are most widely recognized, and they are emphasized in the prints available in the For Sale section of the site.
As you look through his work you’ll be delighted with the playfulness and visual fun of Ciardiello’s unique mixture of lines and colors.