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Celebrating Illustration, Design, Cartoon and Comic Art of the Mid-20th Century

Bernie Fuchs' FAC Lessons, Part 5

Friday, November 27, 2009

Recently TI list member Matt Dicke very kindly sent me a PDF of Bernie Fuch's chapter from the 1967 edition of the Famous Artists Course. How better to learn about Bernie Fuchs' process than to hear it described in his own words?

Those interested in reading the text should click on each image to see a larger version of the scan.







The Famous Artists School continues to this day! Please visit the school's website for details.

The school also hosts a page devoted to guiding faculty member, Bernie Fuchs on their site, which includes a biography of the artist and a gallery of his work.

Many thanks again to Matt Dicke for providing this week's scans.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

*ALSO: Charlie Allen's latest CAWS is finally up. Visit Charlie Allen's Blog for some " home cookin' "

*AND: A new post at Storyboard Central showcases rare advertising marker comps by legendary '50s comic artist Art Saaf!

Bernie Fuchs' FAC Lessons, Part 4

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Recently TI list member Matt Dicke very kindly sent me a PDF of Bernie Fuch's chapter from the 1967 edition of the Famous Artists Course. How better to learn about Bernie Fuchs' process than to hear it described in his own words?

Those interested in reading the text should click on each image to see a larger version of the scan.








The Famous Artists School continues to this day! Please visit the school's website for details.

The school also hosts a page devoted to guiding faculty member, Bernie Fuchs on their site, which includes a biography of the artist and a gallery of his work.

Many thanks again to Matt Dicke for providing this week's scans.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

Bernie Fuchs' FAC Lessons, Part 3

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recently TI list member Matt Dicke very kindly sent me a PDF of Bernie Fuch's chapter from the 1967 edition of the Famous Artists Course. How better to learn about Bernie Fuchs' process than to hear it described in his own words?

Those interested in reading the text should click on each image to see a larger version of the scan.







The Famous Artists School continues to this day! Please visit the school's website for details.

The school also hosts a page devoted to guiding faculty member, Bernie Fuchs on their site, which includes a biography of the artist and a gallery of his work.

Many thanks again to Matt Dicke for providing this week's scans.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

Bernie Fuchs' FAC Lessons, Part 2

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Recently TI list member Matt Dicke very kindly sent me a PDF of Bernie Fuch's chapter from the 1967 edition of the Famous Artists Course. How better to learn about Bernie Fuchs' process than to hear it described in his own words?

Those interested in reading the text should click on each image to see a larger version of the scan.






The Famous Artists School continues to this day! Please visit the school's website for details.

The school also hosts a page devoted to guiding faculty member, Bernie Fuchs on their site, which includes a biography of the artist and a gallery of his work.

Many thanks again to Matt Dicke for providing this week's scans.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

Bernie Fuchs and the Famous Artists Course

Monday, November 23, 2009

In past posts we've looked at some of lessons from the original 1950's Famous Artists Course, but never at the material that was part of the school's 1960's "revamp" - when a second generation of renowned illustrators were called upon to update the look of the course material.


Recently TI list member Matt Dicke very kindly sent me a PDF of Bernie Fuch's chapter from that revamped Famous Artists Course. I thought it might make a good topic for this week's posts. How better to learn about how Bernie Fuchs made pictures that to have him describe the process in his own words?


Those interested in reading the text should click on each image to see a larger version of the scan.




The Famous Artists School continues to this day! Please visit the school's website for details.

The school also hosts a page devoted to guiding faculty member, Bernie Fuchs on their site, which includes a biography of the artist and a gallery of his work.

Many thanks again to Matt Dicke for providing this week's scans.

* My Bernie Fuchs Flickr set.

Anthony Saris: "Perfectionist Experimenter"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Usually I present the work of an illustrator chronologically so that we can see his style mature over the course of his career. This week, just for fun, I reversed the order. On Day I we saw Anthony Saris' work from 1967... On Day 2 from 1963... yesterday we looked at his mid-to-late '50's style, and today, we see some of the earliest Saris work I could find. Below, Saris pieces from 1951 and '52, respectively.


Anthony Saris was born in Joliet, Illinios and moved to New York from Chicago at age 11. He studied illustration at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and graduated in 1947.

You are looking at the kind of work he did about 5 years into his professional career.


This makes his mid-'50s stylistic development seem all the more remarkable. Below, a Saris piece for Collier's from 1954.


Saris did occasionally do his finished drawings in pencil, and this looks like it may have been one of those occasions.

"Sometimes," Saris said in his 1959 American Artist interview," I use colored crayons instead of ink, or any other expedient that may come to mind. I am willing to try anything new."


Below, a 1955 Collier's piece that dramatically shows the artist's work at the point of transition: Saris does part of this piece in his then new straight-to-ink line style, is beginning to experiment with his frisket resist technique and employing a more traditional painting method from his earlier days.


Saris, the "perfectionist experimenter", was described as "technically ... a rapid worker."

But his illustration production was relatively slow. Saris said that he would work on an image for quite some time in his mind before beginning to draw. As well, he said he would pose himself in a mirror or study passers-by. "Snapshots are helpful, principally to show detail," he said, "as well as sketches, and needless to say I have a sizable file of study material such as all illustrators assemble."

"In the case of important figures for an illustration, I prepare a separate and carefully planned drawing, photo or example from which I can make my finished ink drawing without hesitation."


Less than 10 years into a successful freelance illustration career Anthony Saris began teaching fourth-year illustration courses at his old alma mater, Pratt. No doubt he taught his students what he himself had so rapidly learned from experience: "The changeover from study to production usually provides a severe jolt for the graduate," said Saris, "caused by the sudden and largely unforeseen reversal of direction or goal. In school the laurels are awarded for the accumulation of knowledge, but when one enters the field of industry the emphasis shifts instantly to the use of knowledge. Employers are seldom impressed by our erudition, but they are interested in what we can do with it for them."

"In school we are fired with idealistic zeal, while at the same time we sense that commercialism has a slightly sordid connotation. We are afraid that 'they' will try to make commercial hacks of us. We must be true to our art and keep it pure, but nevertheless we need money."

"After I first established myself as a free-lance illustrator I resolved to devote my weekends to landscape painting, and I followed that resolution for a while. The purpose was to improve my art - as well as to enjoy myself - but principally, I suspect, to salve my artistic conscience, for the term 'commercial' still annoyed me. Then I realized I was foolishly competing with myself. I began to see the only difference between 'fine' and 'commercial' art is in the mind of the artist himself; that he becomes a hack only if he allows others to so convert him."

"If he follows an uncompromising course in art ethics and production his output can be esthetically pure."

* My Anthony Saris Flickr set.

Anthony Saris: "... an open mind and a flexible viewpoint."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In yesterday's post, Anthony Saris described how he would sometimes paint with liquid frisket to create complex white "line art", paint colour over the page and then peel away the frisket to reveal an "unmechanical, fortuitous result." Here is probably the most advanced example of that technique I could find... pretty spectacular, in my opinion! (Click the image to see a much larger version)


As a neophyte illustrator, Saris (who considered himself an artist foremost and loathed the term "commercial art") initially had a wide-ranging portfolio with samples done in may styles and mediums.


He found that his line drawings with colour garnered the most favourable reaction from the art directors he visited. He also sensed that ADs were looking for artists with distinctly individual styles. Saris quickly revamped his portfolio so that it contained only line drawings with one colour added. What a refreshingly pragmatic attitude!


Keeping in mind both the the practical consideration of fulfilling the wishes of his client and his personal desire as an artist to experiment and express himself, Saris would then look for ways to enhance the basic process of line with colour. here, for example, he incorporated an actual section of a police fingerprint document...


... as well as some actual sections of a state map, montaged onto the underlying hand drawn artwork.


The results reflect a thoughtful philosophy of creative process that Saris described thus: "In my work I try not to impose my own convictions or concepts upon the project, but prefer contrarily that the situation be permitted to show the way so that I may follow with an open mind and a flexible viewpoint."


"This is an important point in my philosophy - that the job, and not I, dictate the procedure."


What initially was undertaken out of pragmatism ( Saris saw ink line drawings as his only shot at landing assignments ) became in time a sincere love for a medium. Because Saris applied himself so passionately to developing his specialty, he was kept busy with ink drawings for a huge variety of clients for many years.


Saris cited the work of Ben Shahn, Paul Klee, George Grosz among those he most admired and studied. He said he regretted not discovering the work of Arthur Rackham sooner, but included him and Edwin Austin Abbey and inspirations.


Asked at the time of his America Artist interview (1959) why he thought he was enjoying such success, Saris said the key was the rise of photography in commercial picture-making. Literal realism in painted illustration simply could not compete because it was too closely related to what could be achieved with a photograph. Saris felt the key to his success was to create artwork that was as different from photography as possible "within reason."


"At present," said Saris, "the line-and-color method seems to meet these specifications best."

* My Anthony Saris Flickr set

Anthony Saris Explains His Process

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

From the March 1959 issue of American Artist magazine

"I start each drawing as though it were to be a 'finish'. If it develops unsatisfactorily, I start another. Often I make several starts. I draw quickly and my style is such that this re-doing system is not much more time-consuming than the preliminary pencil sketch method would be."


"My illustrations are all based upon drawings in ink. Some are straight black and whites..."


"... but even those in color are essentially drawings..."


"... over which tints are applied."


"In making illustrations I seldom use a pencil for preliminary guidance, preferring to draw directly with the pen. The drawing is done purely in outline. When that seems satisfactory, I put in the important dramatic, solid black areas and the half-tone values."


"In a colored illustration the pigment is applied over the ink."


"Later, I insert the smaller, incidental blacks. Colored inks are my basic color source."


"Basically, my method is as simple as the preceeding paragraph states, but as each step permits unlimited variation, the procedure can become as elaborate as desired."


"I believe in experimentation, and whenever feasible, I test new methods for novel incidental effects. For example... in adding the color (colored inks) I may employ a brush or an ink roller like those used in block printing."


"It is used, of course, only to cover large, simple areas. The other shapes must be masked out. I use frisket paper for the large expanses and liquid frisket for details."


"Drawing ink, of course, is much thinner than printing ink and of different composition and does not lend itself to flat, even coloring, but as I am always alert for fortunate accidentals, this offers quite an advantage in my eyes."


"I make many experimental variations with frisket in solid masses and in line. Let us imagine the subject is a figure clothed in decorative costume. The elaborate line drawing may be made with frisket on plain white paper. Color as desired is then applied over the drawing, and when the frisket is removed and the white line design is modulated suitably, the result is striking and unusual. True, a similar effect might be achieved by drawing the outline design with white ink..."


"... but to me the unmechanical, fortuitous result of the first method is infinitely to be desired from an artistic point of view."

* My Anthony Saris Flickr set.

* Charlie Allen's latest CAWS - a dozen amazing b/w ink-line drawings from the '50s and '60s - not to be missed!
 

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