Monday, February 22, 2010

Over at the Blog Around the Corner

A blog I follow, and I don't follow nearly as many as I should) is Today's Inspiration by Leif Peng. Lief has been posting for years now, a lot of it artwork by major illustrators, but a lot by NOT major Illustrators. Guys you've never heard of. Work that you recognize and go," So that's who that guy was...." All those second string illustrators, who didn't make it onto the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

The woods were chock full of these guys at one time. There were so many of these guys and they were so good.They could all draw and paint like crazy; realistic rendering, beautiful anatomy, bang on lighting, beautifully rendered with the strokes of a quickly moving brush, not the finicky rendering of the so called "beer bottle" illustration so commonly seen in the seventies, but real authority in one lick of the brush.

So, this week, over at TI: First Bob Foster, now David Blossom. Ok, now you're getting into territory that is tinged with one's real formative years. I remember alot of these pieces, but they are tied up with my adolescence,mostly from seeing them on the paperback racks at stores like Towers (anybody remember them?) or the occasional used book store, during those years when one knows they want a career in art and are trying to get a handle on what's out there. And alot of these seemed very.... wierd, yet compelling, along side the Frazettas and Jeff Jones and the MAD magazine artists. The years of discovering artists in the public library, fer gosh sakes-Wyeth and Pyle in those old hardback editions of the Scribner books - peering at those awful half tone colour plates, yet knowing that this was real quality,if you could only see it better... And then there were all these strange sci fi/crime drama/ slightly sexy paperback covers, nay, VERY sexy for a boy living in a time when Playboy was only available at the drugstore and the owner sure didn't let any kids near that part of the magazine rack....

What a world we are living in today, where all of this material is available so easily got at!

Back to TI's posts...Imagine if these guys were your teachers today!
What were the chances of having a teacher like that? I contend that finding men, or women like that for teachers is becoming rarer and rarer... who out there is that good now. No doubt there are some, but it is lost

What I want to know is, how come with all this material being gushed over, we don't have any new artists who are attempting this kind of work? All I see these days are guys drawing big boobed blue alien babes with guns and gorillas, or the same splashy washy digital painting with a lone figure looking out over the post apocalyptic alien landscape, badly done, shallow stuff. There's tons of cheesecake now, but none like McGinnis or Elvgren or Hawley.
What happened?


Pete Emslie said...

As it happens, Leif Peng's "Today's Inspiration" is also one of the blogs I visit daily, Scott. For me it's really a learning experience, as I am not as well versed in some of these commercial illustrators as you are. Because of the dedicated blog work by Leif Peng, Shane Glines, and a few others, I'm finding out about all sorts of glorious artwork from the mid-20th Century that I never knew of before.

I too wish there were some of the old guard still around teaching their methods and passing on the torch to a new generation. Unfortunately, many in today's generation of aspiring illustrators would rather draw and paint digitally than use real gouache or oils, and the results, no matter how impressive, will never match the more inviting quality of real paint applied to a textured surface.

Even sadder is the fact that all of the venues that existed for the illustrators of that bygone era are rapidly disappearing. Newspapers and magazines are getting skinnier or disappearing altogether, and children's book publishers are cutting back drastically on the number of new titles they put out each year. I find it ironic that, while we live in this age of the internet that gives us new access to so many visual treasures of the past, it is this very same internet that is largely responsible for the decimation of printed media and the budgets that once allowed for such wonderful art to be generated in the first place.

Pete Emslie said...

Oh yes, and you'll be happy to know that I am also old enough to remember Towers department stores! Back in Ottawa it was my favourite store as a kid - where I bought all of my Aurora model kits of the Universal Monsters. In fact, all of the box art on those monster model kits was damn good too!

scott Caple said...

Pete - And All that box art was painting in gouache!

Dylan said...

i'd never heard of this "today's inspiration" blog before. awesome! thanks for mentioning it