Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monthly Challenge Winner

Congratulations to Christine of Stories They Tell!

You are the winner for this month's challenge. This entry was randomly chosen from all the qualifying entries this month. Christine has won a set of lampwork beads from Cindy Gimbrone Beads.
Tomorrow we'll announce the April monthly challenge with new sponsors and prizes!

An Art Editor Discusses the Manly Art of Illustration

In the September 1954 issue of American Artist magazine, Norman Kent, art director of True - "The Man's Magazine" - talks about illustration.

"The great majority of contemporary magazine illustration is devoted to fiction and concentrates, for the most part, on the romantic boy and girl theme," writes Kent. "True magazine publishes no fiction, however; its stories are written primarily for a male audience and are illustrated in full color. And because they are true stories they must necessarily be as convincing graphically as photographs. By this I do not mean that our illustrators are asked to imitate photography. Quite the contrary; we demand that the painted illustration be unmistakably graphic, since about half of our pages are normally documented with photographs. But since the readers of this magazine form a highly critical audience, well versed in the arts of hunting, fishing and other manly pursuits, there can be no slighting of important detail; no vague passages to cover uncertainties. For this reason numerous illustrators, highly respected for style and imagination so perfectly related to the mood and mode of today's fiction, are unsuited to the exacting technical authority demanded by True."

Sounds pretty lofty. Clearly, Norman Kent wanted to establish that True represented the high watermark of men's magazines and that only the best illustrators were worthy of delineating the "manly pursuits" chronicled in its pages. I can't speak for the writing, but based on the production values and paper quality of True, the status of the many national brands advertised in the magazine, and the top-notch artists who Kent regularly commissioned, I would have to agree. But sharing that top tier were two competitors: Argosy and Outdoor Life. many of the same artists worked for both of these other magazines illustrating largely the same type of articles.

Kent lists some of those illustrators who "are able to meet this test of accurate reporting while they carry over into the area of their commercial commissions the very qualities that mark them as individual artists" :

Warren Baumgartner, Mario Cooper, Henry C. Pitz, John Gannam, Peter Helck, John Pike, William A. Smith, Fred Ludekens, Robert Fawcett, Stan Galli, Bruce Bomberger, Glen Grohe, Tom Lovell, Bill Reusswigg, C.E. Monroe, Jr., and Harold Von Schmidt ( among several others). There's no denying that these really were the exceptional top rank among illustrators most often called upon to interpret scenes of manly action and adventure in the pages of more mainstream, family oriented publications like the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's.

You're unlikely to have found work by any of these artists in the more down market 'men's sweat' magazines, although they were very similar in content (not to mention intent). Recently we spent a week looking at how the editors of Bluebook felt the need to contemporize the look of that magazine. I believe it was their attempt to keep up with competitors like True and Argosy.

As we saw, there was a lot of terrific artwork being done in Bluebook - but the poorer production quality, cheap newsprint, and lesser status of its artists would have made that task daunting. The lack of decent national brand advertisers in Bluebook tells the tale.

Even further down the ladder were the truly lurid men's magazines. Some even sported really great cover art by well established pro's, like this great piece by Frank Soltesz. But generally the interior art, if any, was second rate.

Here readers were less likely to read about hunting and fishing than to linger over crime scene photos of mob hits and tragic domestic disputes. I doubt you'd ever find any of our top tier illustrators even considering an assignment from these mags.

I've taken the time to go into all this background because, despite what might seem at a glance like a negligible degree of distinction among these publications, there was clear hierarchy in the men's magazine market - both in terms of quality and status.

This week, with the help of Norman Kent, we will take a closer look at the True nature of the best in manly illustration.

* And speaking of the best, you'd best be getting on over to Charlie Allen's blog for this week's CAWS!

Close Shave

Soho, London

Monday, March 30, 2009

Goofy Easter Bunny and Easter Toys

Goofy Easter Bunny and Easter ToysGoofy Easter Bunny and Easter Toys. A window full of Easter Decorations on New York City's upper eastside at 72d and Third avenue. March 24, 2008.
Image License: 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.

Featured Designer of the Week - Round Rabbit

Each Monday we feature the Designer of the Week. One of our editors pick their favorite from the Monthly Challenge entries.
This week Cindy Gimbrone picked Round Rabbit's The Goldfish - Henri Matisse necklace. Cindy noted, "The large ceramic circles create a lovely focal point. The repeated circle shape keeps my eye moving around the piece. The color palette is perfectly pulled from the colors of Matisse's Red Fish. The necklace is a masterpiece!" To see more of Nancy's work visit her blog.
Our theme for the month of March is "The Goldfish" by Henri Matisse. The deadline to enter for the monthly prize is TOMORROW March 31st! Create something that combines the theme with art beads and then send in your submission for the March Challenge.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pencil cup

A blurry view of my colorful pencil cup :)
Happy Sunday!


In 1958, a staff artist worked patiently in a back room at the famed Cooper Studio in New York, retouching the Pepsi Cola logo on a stack of illustrations. He came to an illustration by a new, unknown artist and stopped dead in his tracks.

Illustrator Murray Tinkelman, who also worked at Coopers, remembers receiving the call: "Hey Murray, come take a look at this." Tinkelman went over to see the new picture. "It was gorgeous" he recalls. The two decided to call in the superstars of Cooper Studios, Joe Bowler and Coby Whitmore. Bowler and Whitmore arrived together to inspect the new painting. Whitmore was "speechless." Bowler said, "I don't know who the hell did this, but the business is never going to be the same."

Bowler was right.

Young Bernie Fuchs arrived in New York and quickly set the field on fire. By the time he was 30, the Artists Guild of New York had voted him "Artist of the Year"-- an unprecedented achievement. His dynamic illustrations for magazines such as McCalls made him famous and attracted dozens of imitators.

So Fuchs was feeling pretty cocky by the time Sports Illustrated called him in the early 1960s to ask him to illustrate an article. Fuchs met with the legendary art director of Sports Illustrated, Richard Gangel. A tough minded visionary, Gangel gave Fuchs an assignment, but as Fuchs was leaving, added-- "Oh-- and I don't want that shit you do for McCalls."

Fuchs could have walked off in a huff. It would have been easy for him to continue working for other clients in the successful style he had already developed. Instead, he rose to Gangel's challenge and became even bolder and more innovative:

Image courtesy of Illustration House gallery

For a later issue of Sports Illustrated, Fuchs turned a portrait of the rather dumpy looking Branch Rickey into poetry.

Fuchs left behind all the imitators who continued to exploit the formula for Fuchs' earlier approach, and instead moved forward to grapple with new challenges. As illustration styles came and went, Fuchs' work was selected each and every year for more than 40 years by different juries from the Society of Illustrators as among the very best work produced that year. No other illustrator can claim such a record.

I am convinced that in order to accomplish what Fuchs has, you need both of the qualities demonstrated in the two stories above. You have to begin with great talent, sure, but perhaps even more important, you have to be prepared to take your initial success and re-invest it in new challenges. There is no guarantee that such a gamble will pay off, but if you are really, really good, that's what artistic success is for.

A Change is Coming to the Desperate ABS Neighborhood!

The Desperate ABS Neighborhood has run it's course, there's been one too scandal and neighbors have moved out. It's time the Desperate ABS Editor re-invented herself and the ABS Neighborhood. This is the last week of Desperate ABS Neighborhood - it's been a long time coming. Next Sunday, a new look will debut. Come and check it out. Until then, let's take a last look at the Desperate ABS Neighborhood....

About.com Jewelry Making
Jewelry and taxes, ick! But maybe these tips will help you navigate through this beader's nightmare.

Art Bead Scene
Needing more inspiration for this month's challenge? Here are a few ideas for you!

Art Jewelry Magazine
The Bead&Button Show is featured in USA Today!

Carmi's Art/Life World
Carmi experiments with UV resin!

Earthenwood Studio Chronicles
Melanie finds inspiration, right at her front door!

Jennifer Jangles Blog
Jennifer invites you to attend her Creative Celebration.

Jewelry & Beading
Thanks to some inspiration from beadmaker Melanie Brooks, Cyndi has an article in Belle Armoire Jewelry!

Katie's Beading Blog
Check Out Katie's Fabulous Beaded Fruit!

Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done!
Jean designs a colorful parrot necklace with a treasure of an equisite, hand painted Russian art bead

Strands of Beads
Melissa discusses the usefulness of the preliminary sketch in her design process

The Writing and Art of Andrew Thornton
Inspired by Spring, Andre compiles a shopping guide for egg-themed beads and components.

Have you heard any good dirt in the beading world? We'd love for you to share!

Gossiped...errr...reported by Cindy Gimbrone, The Desperate ABS Editor.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Easter Bunnies Stuffed Animals

Easter Bunnies Stuffed AnimalsEaster Bunnies Stuffed Animals. A group of Easter bunnies decorates a store window at east 72d street and third avenue, New York City. March 23, 2008.
The Easter Bunny brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. He will either put the baskets in a designated place or hide them somewhere in the house for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

Image License: 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.

Color coded

Here's something fun to do this weekend:
Organize your books by color,
Everyone is doing it.
Hope you are having a happy,
colorful weekend!

Studio Inspiration

Welcome to Studio Saturday! Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments!As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.

Last weeks winner is Kim (dogfaeriex5) Congratulations! You have won a memory pendant from Lynn Davis of Expedition D! Send us an e-mail with your address and we will get it right out to you.

Welcome to the studio of Cindy Gimbrone and Studio Saturday!
I ran a blog series this week on inspiration, what inspires me and where I find it. It's been a great week and the frosting on the cake is being back in my studio! With the cold temperatures and lack of insulation/heat in creative space, I've been frozen out for the past 3 months. I'm so happy to be back in my space and be warm!

Everything was in suspended animation for the past three months, sitting there exactly as I left it in December. I missed the studio! I'm so excited to be back, today I'll take you on a tour of the studio workbench.

I start each session by laying out a couple of specific colored glass rods to work with. I chose pajama blue and dark brown based on a color palette derived from Miro's Carnival of Harlequin. I knew I'd need my tweezers and shaping tools. I put them to the right side of the bench, since I'm right handed.

Wanting to keep some Silvered Ivory Bling Links in stock, I laid out a few rods of ivory and I ripped up a sheet of silver leaf to make the links.

I always pull out black, white and clear rods to have handy. Black and white are great base colors and you always need some clear glass for something!

My workbench has sentimental value, it's the first dining room table I ever owned. It was a gift from my father for my very first apartment. The chairs are long gone but I've held onto that table for many years. It's able to perform it's workbench function because it's laminate top is protected by a layer of tin roof sheeting and a layer of flame resistant board. I use a marble tile as a marver and place to put hot glass.

Yesterday, I lit the torch and pulled some glass stringer for the new bead series I'm working on. It was a good way to get back into the swing of things. I also popped in a few test squares for the murrini I just bought.

It feels good to be back in my studio and melting glass. I've missed my own space and my husband has missed the coffee table in the family room that was its replacement!

Today's question is, Have you returned to a creative pursuit after being forced to put it on hold for awhile? Could be because you were sick, were working or like me, frozen out of your studio.

Please share and be entered to win an Silvered Ivory Bling Link! I look forward to reading your comments!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quill and Flourish


Schreibmeisterbuch a

Schreibmeisterbuch b

Schreibmeisterbuch c

penmanship - animal calligraphy

Schreibmeisterbuch e

Schreibmeisterbuch g

Schreibmeisterbuch h

Schreibmeisterbuch i

Schreibmeisterbuch j

ink flourishes

ornate calligraphy

Schreibmeisterbuch n

decorative calligraphy

zoomorphic calligraphy

calligraphy animals

animal pen flourishes

anthropomorphic calligraphy

figurative calligraphy

'Schreibmeisterbuch für Herzog Wolfgang Wilhelm von Pfalz-Neuburg' [Cod. icon 466] by Baldericus van den Horick, 1600s is online at MDZ. (Duke of Pfalz-Neuburg's Master Scribe Book)

Pen and ink on paper with writing in Latin, Spanish, French, Dutch and Italian accompanied of course by figurative calligraphy. The catalogue page [trans.] doesn't give too much by way of background information.

About half or a little more of the manuscript images have been posted above. The majority of these have been lightly spot/stain cleaned.

Previous posts on calligraphy; and in general: IAMPETH.

The Art of Carl Erickson: "Easy or Impossible"

From Ernest W. Watson's Forty Illustrators and How They Work:

"It was Victor Hugo, I believe, who was asked if the writing of epic poetry were not tremendously difficult. His classic reply, "Easy or impossible!", may appropriately be applied to such drawings as come from Erickson's inspired brush. They give the impression of having sprung to life without suffering the usual labor pains."

"But his performance looks too easy; its nonchalance is deceptive. It is not accomplished without a struggle."

"Erickson, indeed, is a hard-working man, a very serious artist who is usually practicing when not actually performing. For every piece of work reproduced in the magazines he has made dozens of studies. In spare moments he is usually busy drawing or painting from the model - he never draws without a model - and his sketchbook goes with him to the restaurant and the theatre."

"Although few are aware of it, he has done a lot of painting in oil, principally portraits."

"All of which is no denial of Victor Hugo's epigram. Erickson's particular genius is pretty much a gift of the gods, even though he has met the gods considerably more than half way."

"Erikson's line drawings are usually rendered in Wolff pencil, charcoal or chinese ink. This latter comes in cakes or sticks which have to be ground in water in a small mortar designed for the purpose. It will yield a jet black or produce any tone of gray, depending upon the saturation of the mixture."

"Erikson's art is primarily an art of line."

"Color may be added, as more often than not it is; but the net result is a colored line drawing. [He] is an impulsive worker. Standing at his board, which is tilted at a slight angle, he attacks the paper with a free arm thrust that reminds one of a fencer wielding his foil. The drawing isn't always good. Indeed the studio floor may be littered with innumerable trials before one is certified by that well-known fixture, "Eric".

"There is no such thing as "fixing-up" an Erickson drawing: if it is not right as it first springs directly from his hand, it must be discarded and a fresh attempt made. The artist would no more think of going back to correct an error than would a musician during a concert performance."

* Many thanks to everyone who assisted with this first foray into fashion illustration - rest assured there will be more to come!

* My Carl Erickson Flickr set.