Walter Foster ran his How To Draw empire from his home in California in the 1950's. I came across a stash of his older books at a yard sale several years ago and was impressed not only by the clarity of the instructions but also by the beauty of the illustrations. This book is Figures From Life, with art by Robert Duflos.
Figures From Life, Robert Duflos and Walter Foster
Duflos was an early to mid 20th Century French decorative painter, whose pastel nudes command modest prices at auction these days. He is probably most famous for his work with the Walter Foster Series.
It's not high art, but that's what always intrigues me - work that straddles the barriers of high and low. As always, it's the distance of time that allows us to view things that were once quotidian, low art, populist art, in a new light. That's why I -and I'm not alone - have been obsessed with Paint By Number paintings.
Figures From Life, p.4 Walter Foster, Robert Denos
I mean, Foster just breaks it down for you. Draw this kind of line, use this kind of brush. The thing is, the illustrations with the instructions are far more interesting and, to me, visually pleasing, than the plain originals.
Figures From Life, Walter Foster, Robert Denos p. 6
Text on this page: "The more you know about drawing the easier these step sketches will be for ou, as well as the finished picture. You can do it in Oils, Water Colors or Pastels, whichever you have on hand or just sketch in with pencil for practice. The side view like this is good to start on. You can make the figure more slender or lengthen the legs if you want. The original to most of Mr. Duflos' paintings which are in Oils are twice the size you see them here. Study carefully and take your time."
With four illustrations breaking it down for you, this page has visual punch.
Robert Denos painting from Figures From Life. Page 7
Whereas this painting is a bit, well, dull. I mean, this guy was living in France at the same time as Picasso and Matisse. There's nothing at all exciting about the color, the composition, the point of view. This was not a problem at all for publisher Walter Foster, in fact it probably helped. How you gonna break down a Matisse? I've tried and it's a lot harder that it looks. That's what's so wonderful about Matisse. Looks simple but the experience, vision and practice that went into that beautiful line is something hard to do. Here's what Foster said in his introduction:
"No one starts out in art much ahead of the next fellow and you will get ahead much faster if you do not try to rest on the fact that your folks thing you are a Michelangelo of the 20th Century. Just be yourself and get pleasure out of your drawing and painting. Join an art class, evening or day, or start one. The meeting of kindred souls is very good, yes, a wonderful tonic"
I love that. A tonic. Indeed.
"As you can see by by Robert Duflos' painting, not all Frenchmen in Paris have gone so-called Modern. I wanted Robert to do this entire book and to have the directions in French and English, but the language barrier seemed to have stopped that idea, even between the two of us, so another beautiful dream became a cropper so you will find many of my drawings also in this book."
Figures From Life, Robert Duflos and Walter Foster p.26
This is my favorite picture in the book. It's so unclear if the brushes are part of the picture: is an invisible hand painting the actual model, since they are represented in the same medium...or are we supposed to pull ourselves out of that imaginary plane and recognize that we, the viewer or student, is the one holding the brush against a drawing of the model. It's a drawing of a drawing with drawings of the studio equipment drawn onto it. Divine.
You can find vintage Walter Foster books on eBay or Ruby Lane at reasonable prices. Or, if you are lucky, you might run across some at a yard sale.
I was showing a customer the two Rea Irvin magazine covers that I have in the shop and it dawned on me that you might be interested in seeing them too. Irvin was an American artist and art director, best know as the first art director of The New Yorker. He also worked as an illustrator at the original Life magazine (not the later version).
Rea Irvin, Life, August 10, 1922. The Japanese American Number
Rea Irvin, The New Yorker, Oct 15, 1938.
The cover is too big for my scanner so a bit got cut off. Hope you enjoyed these.
Update: Thanks to Pollux for sending a link to Emily Gordon's article about Rea Irvin. Emdashes,- The New Yorker Between The Lines is Emily's blog where Pollux is a writer and cartoonist. The blog is a great read and a must for all things New Yorker.
Here are some more Ginny Joyner images for your viewing pleasure. These prints are available here at Pine Street Works, and are soon to be seen on Flashbag handmade handbags and accessories, made in Vermont.
Copyright Ginny Joyner, Chapeau De Femme. Used by permission.http://clip2net.com/clip/m9323/1226013359-clip-12kb.png
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Luna Moth. Used by permission.
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Spode Two Plate. Used by permission.
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Better Late Than Never. Used by permission
Copyright Ginny Joyner. Eyeglasss. Used by permission.
Today we welcome a new artist to the walls of Pine Street Art Works - Ginny Joyner. Ginny is a Vermont artist, well known and loved, both here and farther afield. She graduated from the Rhode Island School Of Design in 1986 with a degree in illustration, and her work has appeared in many publications and for clients as varied as Harper Collins, The Baltimore Sun, and Eating Well Magazine.
I've loved Ginny's work for years, but while I was focusing on bringing my customers one -of- a- kind art I couldn't figure out how to incorporate her into the fold. But now that I've decided to bring artist made limited editions to my collections, Ginny fits in perfectly. I'm telling you, it's not easy to find such gorgeous work locally, and I'm so glad that Ginny agreed to let me carry her work. I'm sure you will love her paintings of pastry, teacups, garden vegetables, ruby slippers, porcelain figures, butterflies, cows, ladies shoes, fruits and teapots as much as I do.
This is just a small sample of her work, which is prodigious and varied, and always exquisite. I will post more images as she sends them to me.
Ginny Joyner, Garden Boots. Used by permission.
Ginny Joyner - Pastry/croissant. Used by permission.
Ginny Joyner - Pastry. Used by permission
Ginny Joyner, Radis. Used by permission.
Ginny Joyner, Chelsea Rabbit. Used by permission
Ginny Joyner, Ruby Slippers. Used by permission.
Ginny does her own printing so she can keep the quality high and the prices low. These prints cost $40 for 8 1/2 x 11 or $70 for 13 x 18. That isn't always the size of the actual image, but the paper it's printed on. Cellophane wrapped and ready for giving, these make a great holiday or housewarming gift.
As always, I can ship anywhere. Just email me. liza (at)pinestreetartworks.com. You can pay over the phone with a credit card, easy as pie- or tart au cerise.
I've been featuring art about Obama for a while, but here's a twist. A drawing by Obama. Or as I'd call him, Obama Picasso.
Drawing by Barack Obama.
Portraits of Senator Chuck Shumer, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Dianne Feinstein and Edward Kennedy. The drawing is owned by Wayne Berzon, who bought it at a charity auction last May to benefit Neurofibramatosis Inc. He paid $2, 075.
Maybe if the administration needs to raise some more funds, Obama Picasso could be talked into doing some more sketches.With the market so hot right now for Obama Art and Obamabelia, he could make quite a pretty penny.