Thursday, January 31, 2008


It seems that no one can talk about the illustrations of Sanford Kossin for more than sixty seconds before bringing up his illustrations of the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

This powerful collection of pictures is mentioned in the very first sentence of Kossin's biography in The Illustrator in America. It is mentioned in the second sentence of his biography on the Graphic Collectibles web site. And this week, it turned up on Leif Peng's excellent blog, Today's Inspiration. Leif posted Kossin's illustrations for a textbook:

and immediately somebody wrote in, recalling Kossin's powerful illustrations in May 1963 of the Bay of Pigs.

Kossin's work appeared in many venues over a long career, from science fiction magazines and text books to MAD magazine and paperbacks. Yet, his stunning pictures for Life Magazine of the tragic Bay of Pigs invasion stood out from all the rest:

Very different from Kossin's typical style, these pictures take their place in a great tradition of powerful war art. Their strength and abstract quality left a deep impression on every artist I know who saw them.

I thought I would post a selection of these illustrations, so you will know what they are talking about when somebody asks, "Did you ever see Kossin's illustrations from that issue of Life....

If you want to see the full set of pictures, you will have to wrestle some old timer for his copy of Life. It will be worth it.

[Note: now you no longer have to wrestle some old timer to see all these images. As a public service Leif Peng is posting them all on his great blog. Check them out!]

Dred Scott

Dred ScottDred Scott, plaintiff in Dred Scott v. Sanford, Supreme Court of the United States.

Painted by Louis Schultze, commissioned by a "group of Negro citizens" and presented to the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, in 1882. Schultze based his work on a daguerreotype by J.H. Fitzgibbon circa 1857 that appeared in Frank Leslie's Weekly, an illustrated literary and news magazine.

This image is a faithful reproduction of a two-dimensional work of art and thus not copyrightable in itself in the U.S. as per Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp; the same is also true in many other countries. The original two-dimensional work shown in this image is free content because: This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

This applies to the United States, where Works published prior to 1978 were copyright protected for a maximum of 75 years.

See Circular 1 "COPYRIGHT BASICS" PDF from the U.S. Copyright Office. Works published before 1923 are now in the public domain and also in countries that figure copyright from the date of death of the artist (post mortem auctoris) in this case 1900, and that most commonly run for a period of 50 to 70 years from that date.

Dred Scott v. Sandford

The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v. Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared that slaves were not citizens of the United States and could not sue in Federal courts. In addition, this decision declared that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories. The Dred Scott decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. Primary Documents in American History

or Republican debate Simi Valley, California 01/30/08 VIDEO and Mardi Gras Masks and In diatom, scientists find genes that may level engineering hurdle or Harriet Tubman

Ornamental Typography

Mauro Poggi 1750 ornamental letter

Mauro Poggi 1750 ornamental letter

Mauro Poggi 1750 ornamental letter

Mauro Poggi 1750 Figural letter

Mauro Poggi - Alfabeto di Lettere Iniziale - titlepage

'Alfabeto di Lettere Iniziali' (c. 1730) from designs by Mauro Poggi.

[The edition above, from the Austrian Musuem of Contemporary Art (link below),
dates from c.1750, and the cover page - sans watermark - comes from here]
"[T]his lovely engraved oblong folio [is] one of the most delightful 18th century alphabets in the high rococo style. Reflecting the style of the early 18th century engraver, Giambattista Betti, the design of each splendid plate features an elegant cursive capital form of one of the two dozen letters of the 18th century alphabet (there were 24 letters, rather than 26, because i and j were the same letter, and because there was no w).

The capitals are elaborated with scrolls and flourishes and then inhabited by satyrs, mermaids, Medusa heads, birds, cats, dogs, snakes, and other creatures. The letters were designed by Poggi, drawn in ink by Andrea Bimbi, and engraved by Lorenzo Lorenzi. Bonacini characterizes it as a precious collection showing a surprising richness of imagination. Given the work’s obvious esthetic achievement and inclusion in the major bibliographies of writing books, one would expect that Poggi would have produced additional works, but this item is the only one he is known to have done."

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782 c

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782 d

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782 b

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782 a

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782

Johann Merken, Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris 1782 e

'Liber Artificiosus Alphabeti Maioris' (1782-1785)
designs by Johann Merken, engraved by Heinrich Coentgen

The first and only edition (published in two parts) of this rarely complete calligraphy book included fifty six engraved plates. Besides the elaborate alphabets there are example writing styles, portraits, silhouettes (Lavater purloined one of the plates - not shown - for his 'Physiognomy'), monograms, calendars, fantasy geometrical and architectural figures, emblems, genealogical tables and ornamental letters. I understand (from wonky translations) that the letterpress text included recipes for making different inks.

Johann Losenawer 1739 f

Johann Losenawer 1739 e

Johann Losenawer 1739 c

Johann Losenawer 1739 b

Johann Losenawer 1739 a

Johann Losenawer 1739

The only information I can find about the above plates is that they come from a book entitled 'Vorschrift Deutsch-Lateinisch und Franczösischer Schriften Geschrieben' by Johann Jacob Losenawer (Losenawern or Losenauer), published in Stuttgart in 1719 (the above calligraphic flourishes are from a 1739 edition).

Hans Sebald Beham 1554 (Putte mit Spruchband mit Alphabet)

Alphabetic ribbon vignette with putto by the prolific
German printmaker/artist, Hans Sebald Beham, 1564.

Francesco Giovanni Cresci - Il Perfetto Scrittore - 1570 b

Francesco Giovanni Cresci - Il Perfetto Scrittore - 1570 a

Francesco Giovanni Cresci - Il Perfetto Scrittore - 1570

The Vatican scriptor, Gianfrancesco Cresci of Milan, heralded the onset of the Baroque by categorically rejecting what he considered were the useless adornments to some of the alphabets produced in the 1540s by the Master calligrapher, Giambattista Palatino*. Palatino responded by adopting letterforms similar to Cresci's (whose first work was published in 1560) only to be accused by Cresci of lacking the necessary skills to produce the set himself, instead hiring an engraver for the work. It was quite the calligraphy/typography scandal of the 16th century. [I believe the modern scholarly consensus, from manuscript comparisons, vindicates Palatino]

The above images are from one of the classic books on letterforms: Cresci's 'Il Perfetto Scrittore', published in 1570. One of the alphabets was the inspiration for the typeface, 'Cresci', designed in 1996.

In passing, I came across the following..

Bertozzi Antonello 1604

Ornamental calligraphy from a suite of prints by Antonello Bertozzi, 1604. I didn't discover any information about the artist, but he did produce a fabulous book on lace patterns, displaying similar styles to the embellishments above, available at - I may have to revisit that one in the future.

Unless otherwise noted, all the above images come from the fantastic Ornamental Prints Online site - a collaborative database between The Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin, The Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague and The Austrian Museum of Contemporary Arts (MAK).

Although there is extensive information in english (top right), the above images (all extensively background cleaned) were generated by searching on 'alphabet' from the search box (top left) at the German interface (>200 results across the institutions). For some reason the same search using the English interface only gives results from one of the museums. In fact, all of the above images are from MAK. The Prague images were prohibitively watermarked in the larger versions and the Berlin images are either digitally watermarked, degrading their quality in the larger jpegs, or are just poor quality files. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful resource site in which to browse.

Thanks very much to Tia for writing to tell of her recent visit to the exhibition in Vienna: 'From Grotesquerie to the Grotesque', which led to the database.

Some of my favourite entries at the now retired Giornale Nuovo were on unusual alphabets/letterforms. See: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven (did I miss any?)

A Textbook Example: Leonard Weisgard

As a child, Leonard Weisgard found the artwork in his schoolbooks to be dreary, monotonous, and devoid of colour. Weisgard determined at that young age to one day correct this visual afront.

Imagine that!

But that's exactly what young Leonard Weisgard did.

"He went on to study art at the Pratt Institute and the New School for Social Research, where he was influenced by primitive cave paintings, Gothic and Renaissance art and avant-garde French illustrators of children’s books of the 1920s." This from the artist's biography at Leonard

Yes, unlike so many other mid-20th century illustrators, Leonard Weisgard actually has a beautifully comprehensive website. From my reading, it looks to be the loving tribute of Weisgard's children, Abby, Christina and Ethan.

There, along with photos and a thorough biography, you'll find a nice little gallery of Weisgard's illustrations - both storybook and 'commercial art'.

Weisgard illustrated over 200 children's books during his long career, and a well organized bibliography provides an exhaustive list of them (for those collectors who are seeking out rareties).

Curiously, I did not find the volume from which these images were scanned listed in that bibliography. These are from Volume 1 of the Macmillan Science - Life textbook series... and the bibliography seems to suggest that Weisgard illustrated Volumes 16 and 78.

Maybe I'll email the Weisgard children and see if I've uncovered a new addition for their list. If I receive a reply, I'll post it here for the many Leonard Weisgard fans I know are out there.

My Leonard Weisgard Flickr set.

*And this is a good time to remind everyone to take a look at The Retro Kid group on Flickr. There you'll find thousands of delightful mid-20th century kid-focused illustrations. But you must join the group (its free) for all the images to become visible. Its a weird Flickr rule too complicated to explain here. Sorry.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Modbook Mac Tablet

"Andreas Haas, CEO of Axiotron, tells InformationWeek how the company turns the dowdy MacBook into its sexy Modbook Mac tablet, and why its not afraid of competition from a rumored Apple-made Mac tablet.

If you live all day in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or some other visual Mac app, Axiotron has its eye on you. The company makes the long-awaited Modbook Mac tablet, designed for designers, illustrators, and other visually creative professionals.

"It's for people who draw, scribble, and paint," said Axiotron CEO Andreas Haas. We sat down with Haas for a one-on-one interview recently.

The Modbook, priced starting at $2,290, was announced at Macworld 2007, a little more than a year ago, and finally started shipping Dec. 31.

Axiotron built the unit in cooperation with Apple. The Modbook is manufactured by the same companies that make Macs. Axiotron ships the manufacturers the pen displays, the manufacturers rip the displays and keyboards out of standard MacBooks, and then add the Axiotron display. The manufacturers keep the notebook displays and keyboards and use them to repair defective MacBooks -- displays and keyboards are the most common points of failure for notebook computers, Haas said.

Apple is reportedly developing its own tablet computer, but Axiotron isn't afraid of the competition, Haas said. The Apple tablet will basically be a bigger version of the iPhone or iPod Touch -- a consumer device with a 7-inch to 10-inch display, running a cut-down version of Mac OS X with little or no third-party application support, with an interface that's lacking in fine control, in part because it'll be controlled using the user's finger. "Finger painting is fun -- when you're four," Haas said." View Full Review

Bad Road

Tower Hill area, London

Valentine's Day Balloons

Valentine's Day BalloonsValentine's Day Balloons The Paper House 73d and Amsterdam NYC.

I, (sookietex) the creator of this work, hereby release it into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible, I grant any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law
If This image is subject to copyright in your jurisdiction, i (sookietex) the copyright holder have irrevocably released all rights to it, allowing it to be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited in any way by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, with or without attribution of the author, as if in the public domain.

Balloon From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Beginning in the late 1970s, some more expensive (and longer-lasting) foil balloons have been made of thin, unstretchable, less permeable metalized plastic films. These balloons have attractive shiny reflective surfaces and are often printed with color pictures and patterns for gifts and parties. The most important attribute of metalized nylon for balloons is its light weight, increasing buoyancy and its ability to keep the helium gas from escaping for several weeks. However, there has been some environmental concern, since the metalized nylon does not biodegrade or shred as a rubber balloon does, and a helium balloon released into the atmosphere can travel a long way before finally bursting or deflating. Release of these types of balloons into the atmosphere is considered harmful to the environment. This type of balloon can also conduct electricity on its surface and released foil balloons can become entangled in power lines and cause power outages.

Released balloons can land almost anywhere, including on nature preserves or other areas where they pose a serious hazard to animals through ingestion or entanglement. Latex balloons are especially dangerous to sea creatures because latex retains its elasticity for 12 months or more when exposed to sea water rather than air.[5] Because of the harm to wildlife and the effect of litter on the environment, some jurisdictions even legislate to control mass balloon releases. Legislation proposed in Maryland, USA was named after Inky, a pygmy sperm whale who needed 6 operations after swallowing debris, the largest piece of which was a mylar balloon.

Professional balloon party decorators use electronic equipment to enable the exact amount of helium to fill the balloon. For non-floating balloons air inflators are used. Professional quality balloons are used, which differ from most retail packet balloons by being larger in size and made from 100% biodegradable latex.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article, Balloon

Republican debate Simi Valley, California 01/30/08 VIDEO and Mardi Gras Masks and In diatom, scientists find genes that may level engineering hurdle or Harriet Tubman

Ornament Thursday Elaine's Links of Love

On my first day of participating in Ornament Thursday I'd like to share Links of Love with you. This idea has been pacing about in my head for over a year and Ornament Thursday was just the boost I needed to set it free. As you can see the links do not hang perfectly, but as I moved around it didn't matter - only when I stood still and took the picture was it evident.

10 Heart Connectors
1 Diamond Slice bead (or other accent bead)
1 Round Disk bead (used as accent at end of chain - not shown in picture)
44 9mm jump rings
28 6mm jump rings
12 inches chain
1 lobster claw clasp

After attempting several times to write out the pattern in a understandable manner - I gave up and instead give you this chart:

Large circles = 9mm jump rings
Small circles = 6mm jump rings
Triangles = Heart Connectors

After connecting all the jump rings and Heart Connectors in this pattern, add Diamond Slice bead to bottom 9mm jump ring using your favorite wire wrapping technique. Now add 5 inches of chain to the 6mm jump ring on the left of the top row and add 7 inches of chain to the 6mm jump ring on the right of the top row. Finish 5 inch piece of chain with lobster claw. Finish 7 inch piece of chain with Round Disk bead using your favorite wire wrapping technique. When wearing this necklace, the lobster claw can be clipped anywhere along the chain, providing for an adjustable necklace length.

This is another version of Links of Love - using just 6 Heart Connectors and 12mm jump rings in place of the 9mm jump rings.

Thanks for sharing Ornament Thursday with me. If you decide to try any of the project be sure to leave a comment with a link. See you next time on Ornament Thursday!

Don't forget to see Melanie's project here on Art Bead Scene today here

And see our whole list of Ornament Thursday links here

Wood slice

I recently bought
a bunch of little 3" wood slices
from a craft supply store & plan to paint
some birdies on them
& sell them at my Etsy shop.
This is the first one I made :)

A Textbook Example: Jack Hearne

As excited as I was to find illustrations by Sandy Kossin and Ward Brackett in the textbook, "Widening Circles", I was even more thrilled to discover a great huge batch of drawings by Jack Hearne.

Long time readers may recall that I had previously posted a week of scans and some accompanying text about Hearne, much of it culled from an interview conducted by Jim Amash with Vic Dowd in Alter Ego magazine. Dowd wondered what might have become of Jack Hearne, an old friend with whom he'd lost touch many years earlier -- but who's work and accomplishments Dowd had always admired.

Well, in the ensuing months since that week of posts, I received an email from Jack Hearne's son, John.

I am always so delighted that, thanks to the internet, this blog has made it possible for all of us to rediscover what might have been lost over time: the artwork of an exciting and inspiring period in illustration-- and the stories of the people who created it. We've had the pleasure of sharing in some great memories thanks to the the artists (or their surviving family members) who have generously shared private details from their careers and lives.

Unfortunately, not every story has a happy ending.... and discovering the details of Jack Hearne's last years from John proved to be bitter sweet. I asked John if he would be willing to allow me to post his email to me in its entirety, and he very graciously agreed. "I appreciate you asking," he wrote back, "and yes, you can post my letter verbatim. It is simply "what happened":

I should tell you that the work you had uncovered has renewed my entire family's love of Jack's work, and brought back some very fond memories for all of us. For that, I'd like to say a heart felt thank you.

Since I was the youngest of four, the closest in age to me being a sister 9 years older, I missed a lot of the history of my Dad's early career.

I can tell you he worked from home for many years towards the end of his career, in a studio he designed and built in our home in Dobbs Ferry, NY. It was originally one of eight bedrooms in the house. He would travel to the city once or twice a week to discuss and review projects with whoever had retained him.

I remember J. Walter Thompson being a main contributor to his portfolio, along with Random House. Another book he illustrated was "Go Bang a Drum" or something close to that, and I believe it was also a Random House publication. Additionally, Jack did a lot of work for Northrop, Grumman, (not sure if they had merged in the 50's) and McDonnel Douglas, hence the aircraft from the first group of pictures. He did a whole bunch of story boards for Chrysler in the 70's and 80's, with the introduction of the "K-Car" also. I actually remember those, and have a few under my bed in an old portfolio.

His professional life took a down turn after the passing of my mother, his second wife, whose maiden name was Esmee Malman. They met in New York, at one of the agencies of the early 60's. They married and lived on Central Park West until I was born, and we all moved to Westchester County when I was about 4 months old. She passed away from a recurrence of cancer in May of 1973. My Dad took that very hard and since the older kids had all moved away by that time, it was he and I in that giant house for many years after that.

After repeated attempts from about 1977, he committed suicide in 1985.

I had moved in with my oldest sister, her husband and daughter in Connecticut in 1981, and Jack had been living in hotels up to that point and had not worked in many years. We couldn't find him on one of my trips home from the Navy, and shortly after my returning to my ship after being "UA" or "unauthorized absent" while trying to find him, we received the news.

As many of those "children of the Depression" had to suffer, he had become an alcoholic after the passing of his wife. Depression followed, exacerbated by alcoholism, etc. I think I mentioned that the end was rather sad and tough to go through in one of my previous correspondences, but as I also mentioned, we as a family have truly enjoyed the interest and joy his work brought people. Healing from what we all went through has been an ongoing process for many years. The stage we've all reached is one of recognition of his talents, a love for the truly loving man he was, and that we all miss him and his love of art. He tried to get his youngest son to enjoy it equally, but I just wouldn't oblige, opting instead for whatever ballgame was in season. We have all noticed a keen sense for art in our children though, which is quite interesting. Must skip a generation, I guess.

Anyway, there's enough for you to chew on, huh?

Honestly Leif, we are all grateful for what you've shared with us. My new wife made a beautiful album of the pictures linked to your blog for me as a Christmas gift, and also found a copy of one of the Three Investigators books and a pristine men's magazine from June 1954 that my Dad had done on-line and those were also Christmas gifts. We've passed it along to Uncles and cousins, and everyone in our family has enjoyed what you've uncovered a great deal. Feel free to share the story, and by all means stay in touch. I'll continue to work with my family to uncover more details for you.

Take care,

My Jack Hearne Flickr set.