Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis

Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis
I’ve written before about my admiration for the classic instructional books by the early to mid 20th century American illustrator Andrew Loomis.

In particular I’ve enthusiastically reviewed two of the superb new editions from Titan Books of his too long out of print classics, Figure Drawing for All it’s Worth and Drawing the Head and Hands (links to my reviews).

My recommendation for the relevance for these volumes from the 1940’s and 1950’s to contemporary artists comes under two principles: “What’s old is new” (or fashionably retro) and “Some things are timeless.”

The latter, of course, is the primary qualification for Loomis’ teachings; they go to the heart of figure drawing, and in his signature work, Creative Illustration, he also goes to the heart of composition, line, tone, narrative imagery and creative idea generation.

The book, published in 1947, was aimed at professional illustrators; and while some of the advice about the nature of the business may be dated, some is not, and the principles of composing and creating illustrations in various media are essential and timeless.

Some may find Loomis’ style “old fashioned” — others, myself included, find it both timeless and wonderfully retro, as fresh as when he was working.

There is plenty of it to be seen in Creative Illustration. Loomis has packed it with instructional drawings, layout diagrams, sketches, process sequences, paintings and illustrations in diverse media. It’s a visual treat as well as a treasure of art instruction.

He even goes into his admiration for the work of the great American illustrator Howard Pyle, including some tone studies he made of Pyle’s works (above, 7th down).

Once again, Titan Books has gone beyond a respectful reproduction and brought us a beautiful edition of this classic work, from the facsimile cream-colored paper to the color reproductions to the crisp black and white and tone illustrations.

The images above are rough scans from an old edition and don’t by any means do the current volume justice. So far I’ve been unable to convince Titan to provide more in the way of previews. In lieu of that, see the reviews that include previews on Parka Blogs (including a video flip-through), Parka Blogs Flickr stream, Boing Boing and Wings Art.

Creative Illustration is a 300 page tome bursting at the seams with essentials of image creation and Andrew Loomis’ beautiful work, sage advice and straightforward instruction.


Painting en Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape, Thomas Kegler

Painting en Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape, Thomas Kegler
Thomas Kegler is a Western New York State painter and senior member of the Hudson River Fellowship who was the subject of a Lines and Colors post in October of this year.

In addition to the instructional materials and short videos on his website, Kegler demonstrates his painting techniques in an “instructional documentary” titled Painting en Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape.

This is an hour long video, professionally produced by Black Horse Videography that follows Kegler through a two day location session in which he paints the aged maple tree in the composition shown above, bottom.

The artist provided me with a review copy.

One of the flaws I frequently find in a number of the painting instruction videos I’ve seen is the tendency to rush, fast forward and compress time too aggressively, as though those with a desire to watch an instructional art video would somehow be bored by watching someone paint.

This is not the case here, and in fact, I was tempted at first to think that the video started too slowly. I soon realized it was in keeping with one of Kegler’s major suggestions to those painting outdoors: to slow down— look, sketch and draw and immerse yourself in nature before rushing to begin painting.

The video follows Kegler’s process from initial thumbnail sketch to prepared drawing to the stages of painting on location, throughout which the artist comments and describes his working methods as well as his philosophical approach to painting technique.

Even though there are aspects of Kegler’s process that I would personally have trouble adopting, such as the use of an armature for composition and a relatively broad palette of colors, I found the entire process informative.

I’m perhaps not the most experienced of plein air painters myself, but I was introduced to several points of technique with which I was previously unfamiliar, such as drawing a preliminary sketch on the canvas by using a rubber tipped shaper tool to pull lines out of a wet imprimatura, (also used to make marks and adjustments within the actual painting at later stages), as well as the approach of making slightly tinted grays by starting with a neutral tube gray and adding touches of color rather than mixing down to a chromatic gray from complementary colors.

Kegler also demonstrates his approach to applying an overall glaze of warm color to a landscape in its later stages using Oleogel medium, pulling the glaze away from selected passages.

The instruction is aimed at experienced painters rather than beginners, and is a good foray into a naturalistic but painterly approach to landscape

Painting en Plein Air: Resolving the Landscape is available from the artist’s website as both a digital download and a physical DVD.

There is a brief trailer on the wesbsite and YouTube, and another, preliminary trailer on Vimeo.

There is also a review on Gurney Journey.


The Story of British Art on The Guardian

The Story of British Art on The Guardian: John Constable, Hans Holbein, William Blake, (unknown), Hans Holbein, Joseph Wright, Lucian Freud
While not exactly fulfilling its title, The Story of British Art is nonetheless an interesting series of articles, accompanied by an image slideshow, on artists from (or related to) British history by Guardian art writer Jonathan Jones.

While I don’t always see eye to eye with Jones, I always find his articles worth reading, and he usually has something interesting to point out about the artists he covers.

The individual articles have larger images, many of which can be enlarged. The slideshow is somewhat the opposite — starting with close-up crops that can be zoomed out to reveal a smaller image of the entire work with a control at the upper left of the image.

(Images above: John Constable, Hans Holbein, William Blake, (unknown), Hans Holbein, Joseph Wright, Lucian Freud)


Nadezhda Illarionova

 Nadezhda Illarionova
I came across the wonderfully “Grimm” illustrations of Russian illustrator and designer Nadezhda Illarionova in a number of blog posts, as well as mentions on magazine sites.

Outside of a Flickr set, I can find little that seems like an official web presence, and almost no background information.

Her work displays a beautiful use of tone, adept application of muted color and absolutely wonderful utilization of texture. She also creates strong compositions in the service of her richly imaginative scenes. I wish I knew more.

[Via Juxtapoz]


Women and cats Flickr set

Women and cats Flickr set by Huismua: Giovanni Boldini, Helene Allingham, Ivan Kramskoi, John Sloan, Marguerite Gérard, Edouard Manet, Phillip William Steer, Max Lieberman, Francesco Bacchiacca, Zinaida Serebriakova, John White Alexander
In the apparent dichotomy of “dog people” and “cat people”, I’m in the latter camp.

Dogs can be nice enough, but they always seem a bit too eager to be what humans want them to be. Cats are to me more fascinating. Having a cat as a pet seems more like sharing your house with a wild animal that has decided you can be of some use to it and deigned to allow you to share its company.

Both, of course, have a long history of domestication, and both have been subjects for artists.

I also very much like women as subjects for art, and women seem particularly likely to be fond of cats.

A Flickr user who goes by the pseudonym “Huismus” has assembled a nicely varied and nicely chosen set of paintings that feature women and cats. (The selections are even more varied than my choices above might indicate.)

The set is also well annotated with the names of the artists and titles of the works. “Huismus” has a number of other Flickr sets devoted to art.

(Images above: Giovanni Boldini, Helene Allingham, Ivan Kramskoi, John Sloan, Marguerite Gérard, Edouard Manet, Phillip William Steer, Max Lieberman, Francesco Bacchiacca, Zinaida Serebriakova, John White Alexander)

[Via Making a Mark]