COLLECTING: anatomy illustration


 aching back, Heal your kidneys, detail, woman with back pain, kidney pain, medicine 1912
Detail, illustration from DeWitt's 200 year calender circa 1912. PSAW ephemera collections

My back went into spasm last week and I spent the most of the week in  pain and immobile.  I'm doing much much better this week. Good enough to be at work part time and figure out which of my many ephemera items would have some nifty bad back illustrations.

 Heal your kidneys, dewitts 1912, kidneys 1912, pills 1912, cleanse poison from your system
Heal Your Kidneys, DeWitts pills 1912. PSAW ephemera collections

It's not my kidneys, or rheumatism, or any other ailment that DeWitt's  pills were supposed to cure. Goodness knows what was in those little pills. It was after the pure food and drug act of 1906, so they probably weren't filled with 90 proof alcohol.

 aching back, Rheumatism 1912, detail, woman with bad back, woman holding her back, medicine 1912
Detail, DeWitts 200 year calender, circa 1912, Rheumatism. PSAW ephemera collections.

I did feel just about like this last week. Ouch ouch ouch.

 Bottle deWitt's kidney and bladder pills bottle

 Rheumatism, 1912, medicine 1912, dewitts pills, woman with bad back, rheumatic pills 1912
Rheumatism, illustration, DeWitt's 200 year calendar circa 1912. PSAW ephemera collections

 Your health is your capitol, dewitt's pills, health 1912, bad back 1912
Your Health Is Your Capital, DeWitt's 200 Year Calender, circa 1912. PSAW ephemera collections

Yep, I agree. Your health is your capital. I'm feeling pretty good now, and mighty glad I can visit my CranioSacral practitioner, chug Advil, and skip the DeWitt's, even though they still make pain pills.

I hope you are feeling good.

Figures from life: Walter Foster and Robert Duflos

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, walter foster, robert duflos, cover 

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 walter foster, Robert Duflos, page 4 

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 duflos, p 6
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.

 Figures From Life, Robert Duflos, Walter Foster p 7
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.

Your comments are always welcome.




The human body cover small
Copyright 1955. The Human Body by Cyril Bibby and Ian. T. Morison, illustrations. Puffin Books.

Closeups of cells and nerves and skeletal structures make up the body of this illustrated human anatomy book for children, although not every one of the fine drawings by Ian T. Morison is at a microscopic level. For your enjoyment I present some of the illustrations full page size, and then at a microscopic level, details of the pages themselves. That is, through the amazing technology of scanner and photo crop tool, we can delve into the smallest detail of the ink color, line and typography of the page itself.

The human body cover009_2
The Human Body. Bibby & Morrison 1955. Puffin Picture Book. Cover detail.

The human body p 4
The Human Body p. 4


The human body detail other ways
Abstracted detail of a cell. The Human Body p. 6


The Human Body, p. 6, detail. This one could easily be a wallpaper design.


The human body p
The Human Body, page 9


The human body p.9011_2
Detail, The Human Body, p. 9

The Human Body, p. 17


The Human Body, detail p. 17

The human body p.17013_2

The Human Body, detail p. 17

Thehumanbodyp21 small
The Human Body p. 21


The human body p.21016_2

The Human Body. Page 21. Detail of blood cell.

For more on the Puffin Picture Books including more images and a wonderful essay see this post on the blog Quad Royal