Marguerite Sauvage

Marguerite Sauvage mines the crisp stylish line and color styles of the mid 20th Century, particularly the 1960’s, refines an hones them with a modern edge, and enlivens them with delicate applications of watercolor (or perhaps digital color meant to emulate watercolor).

Her illustrations have appeared in Elle, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, as well as in books for children’s publishers and in advertising for clients like Apple, Azzaro and Continental Airlines. She has also worked on animation for McDonalds, Paul and Joe, Sawaroski and Galeries Lafayette Service.

Her web site includes galleries of her work in animation, children’s, fashion and lifestyle. (I can’t give you direct links because the designer has chosen to consign the site to a pop-up window.)

Her drawings often display a nicely flowing line style reminiscent of Art Nouveau, which combines with the “60’s modern” charm to make them particularly appealing.

Her work is part of the La Femme group show currently at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California (until June 3, 2008). The Gallery Nucleus site includes available prints of her work.

Note: Some of the images in the sites linked here could be considered mildly NSFW.


The Orphan Works Act of 2008

The Orphan Works Act of 2008
I was hoping to have a thoughtful and well-informed analysis of this situation for this post, but my personal schedule has made that difficult.

I can only say that this is about two pieces of legislation coming up before the House and Senate here in the U.S. that may adversely affect visual artists here (and those abroad who show or sell there work here), in terms of making it much more difficult to protect your work with copyright.

I will point you to more detailed information elsewhere and urge you to at least get an understanding of the issues.

Here is a description from the Illustrators Partnership of how the bills will affect visual artists:

H.R. 5889, The Orphan Works Act of 2008

S. 2913, The Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008

Here are the actual bills if you want to wade through them, H.R.5889 and S.2913, on THOMAS from the Library of Congress.

The Illustrators Partnership has a series of form letters that you can send to your Representative or Senators by simply filling out a form and sending it. The system will even find your legislators by your zip code or address.

The letters themselves can give you some idea of the impact the bills will have on various aspects of the visual arts, as they are presented from the various points of view (illustrators, cartoonists, biomedical and scientific illustrators, photographers, etc.).

I’m not opposed to the original stated intention of the bills, to provide for the use by museums, libraries and other cultural institutions of works for which the copyright is no longer being actively defended; but the bills as they are worded don’t put the necessary definitions in place to restrict the provision to those kind of institutions and non-profit use, and go way beyond that into the creation of a bureaucratic nightmare for visual artists, who will now have to devote unreasonable time and resources to defending their art against opportunists, image thieves and copyright sharks.

The bills as they stand basically undermine many of the copyright protections we now enjoy and blithely take for granted. They need to be changed to protect those of us who don’t have the resources of Warner Brothers or Disney to constantly monitor use of our work with armies of lawyers.

Take a look. Be informed. Take a simple action.

I will only take a few minutes and it could save you hours of grief and countless dollars in the future.


History of the Color Wheel

History of the Color Wheel
It’s been the subject of much discussion, some suggesting that it is misleading enough that it should be rethought entirely, but the color wheel remains the most common and convenient method for visually understanding and comparing the relationships of different hues.

As part of the Gutenberg-e project by the American Historical Association and Columbia University Press, Sarah Lowengard has written a scholarly treatise on The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe, the third chapter of which, Number Order, Form, delves into the history of color wheels and other visual systems of ordering and visualizing the relationships of colors.

The link going around the web currently (I found it on Digg) is to a post on the Color Lovers blog, which has extracted selections from her paper into an article on the History of the Color Wheel.

Color circles have been used to describe associations of colors from medieval times, but the first known example of the representation of hue in the form of a wheel, or circle, commonly suggested as the original color wheel, is traced to Sir Isaac Newton; whose keen mind was for some time focused on the nature of light and color.

Other systematic visual arrangements of colors precede it, like Tobias Mayer’s Trhchromatic Graph [correction – see below], which he first described in 1758 (interpreted by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, image above, top left), but Newton’s circle is recognizable as the predecessor of the one in modern art texts. (For a couple of color wheels that I find particularly useful, see my links to Bruce MacEvoy’s artist pigment color wheels on handprint at the end of this article.)

Newton’s experimentation splitting sunlight with a prism is relatively well-known. (It’s still a fun and instructive practice is you haven’t indulged in it, I got mine from Edmund Scientific.)

Less well known is Newton’s original color circle, or hue circle, which was actually a kind of pie-chart (image above, top right), in which the bands of color he observed were distributed in wedges corresponding to their width in the observed spectrum, and arranged around the circle in the order of their wavelength. Newton emphasized that his circle represented the properties of the color of light (additive color), not artists’ pigments (subtractive color).

It was Newton who accomplished something that I have long been fascinated with, and confused by — the “closing of the circle”.

Physical wavelengths of light, which our eyes and brains interpret as different hues, can be thought of a part of a linear arrangement, segments of the electromagnetic spectrum; a continuous band of wavelengths of energy from the very short (X-rays and Gamma rays), with wavelengths measured in the distances equivalent to atomic nuclei, to the very long (radio waves) with wavelengths measured in distances on a human scale (meters or 10’s of meters).

The spectrum of visible light sits somewhere in between, at wavelengths the size of protozoa (micrometers, or millionths of a meter, also known as microns), ranging from red on the short end at 700nm, to violet on the long end at 400nm.

But how, my fevered little brain would like to know, does this linear relationship bend back on itself, like the optical equivalent of a Möebius strip, and connect in a continuous band; and how does it fit into that neat and oh-so-convenient system of primary, secondary and tertiary colors, triads; and in particular, the dramatic, and apparently biologically founded, relationship of color wheel opposites, or complementary colors?

This seems to have something to do with a “gap” in the color wheel, between the physical wavelengths of red and violet, in which the purples fill in with colors that are not discrete frequencies on the spectrum, but combinations of others.

I have to admit that I’m still basically unclear about this, but let’s face it, we always knew purple was weird.

Correction and addendum: Divid Briggs, author of The Dimensions of Color, was kind enough to write a comment and point out that though many systems of color charts precede Newton, Mayer’s was not one of them.

He also appears to have an answer to my question about the “closing of the circle”, which comes from the opponent model of vision. He explains if briefly in his comment on this post, and in more detail on The Dimensions of Color.

It turns out that I’m obliquely familiar with this model of human vision, which is based on two “channels” or scales of color, redness vs greenness and yellowness vs blueness, and a lightness scale or channel, in that this is the color model on which the LAB (CIELAB) color space is modeled.

CIELAB (“LAB color”) is a color space used in Photoshop, and is the fundamental color space on which Photoshop bases its interpretations of other color spaces. If you convert between CMYK and RGB, for example, Photoshop converts to the first color space to LAB and then from LAB to the other. (Here’s Adobe’s Technote.)

The CIELAB color space, based in part on Munsell but founded on the biological way in which the cones in the eye react to color, was codified in 1931 by the Commission Internationale d’Eclairage (International Commission on Illumination) to describe all colors visible to the human eye.

The closed circle of the color wheel is a product of the related opponent model of vision in which the interaction of the redness to greenness and blueness to yellowness scales forms a circle, and the oppositions produce the famous complementary color effects with which artists are so familiar.

So there’s my answer. It’s in the eye of the beholder.



Here’s a little diversion for a Saturday morning.

Fresh on the heels of Free Comic Book Day we have a free comic with prehistoric theme, in either HTML or downloadable PDF from, called Piltdown, from Wide Awake Press.

Naming the book after one of the great scientific hoaxes of the 20th Century gives you an idea of how serious it is. The book is an anthology with short stories by a variety of artists.

This is the second free downloadable comic from WAP, the first being EATS, which can also be viewed in HTML or PDF format, as well as the specialty comic book screen reader format of CBZ.

[Link via Palaeoblog, via The Comics Reporter]


Gnomon Workshop: Live!, June 2008

The Gnomon Workshop, which is the online extension of the Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood, is hosting Gnomon Workshop: Live!, a live weekend workshop at the school on June 14th and 15th, 2008.

These in person workshops, meant to bring together interested participants and leading professionals in the fields of concept art, production design, matte painting and character design for the entertainment industry, are held twice a year.

They include both members of the Gnomon Workshop’s distinguished staff and guest artists, many of whom have been the subject of previous posts here on lines and colors.

The June event promises an extraordinary list of guest artists, including: Erik Tiemens, Ian McCaig, William Stout, Marc Gabbana, Gerge Hull, James Clyne, Wayne Barlowe and TyRuben Ellingson.

The page for the event includes links to the artist’s websites, but, in addition to those and the resources you will find on my previous posts (linked above), there is a page on CGTalk devoted to a list of links for some of these artists.

The event will also feature a “recruiting room”, in which supervisors and art directors from the industry will be looking at portfolios and answering the questions of aspiring concept and production artists.

(Images at left: Clyne, Gabbana, Tiemens, Hull, Stout)


John Cuneo

John Cuneo

John Cuneo’s illustration clients include Esquire, Rolling Stone Mother Jones, Entertainment Weekly, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and quite possibly every other high-end glossy magazine on the planet.

His wonderfully lose, sketch-like pen drawings, enlivened with deft applications of watercolor, are a visual treat.

Cuneo is a wonderful caricaturist, capturing the essence of his subject with a few seemingly casual lines an deceptively simple watercolor washes. His ink lines seem to squiggle and jump across the page, almost as if making an image was a byproduct of their travel.

His watercolor tones similarly have a feeling of light, almost incidental additions to the drawings, but if you slow down and examine them, they are applied with a keen sense of form and contrast.

Like many artists, Cuneo likes to sketch and paint amusing subjects that are not part of any project or assignment, simply for his own enjoyment. Also like many artists, some of these images are off-color, sexually frank and sometimes even disturbing. Artists like to let their demons and muses alike come out and dance on the paper.

Unlike most artists, Cuneo allowed some friends, illustrators Tim Bower and Joe Ciardiello, talk him into showing some of these not-for publication drawings to a publisher, and the result is a delightfully naughty and refreshingly politically incorrect collection called nEuROTIC (more details here).

You can see some of these drawings in the Personal section of his web site, which is prefaced with an “inappropriate for children and may be offensive to some” style advisory.

His site also contains some (not enough!) of his professional illustration work, divided into sections for People and Situations, along with a section of abandoned drawings called RIP.

There is an additional portfolio of his work on illoz.

Note: Some of the images on the sites linked here are NSFW and inappropriate for children.