Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fine Lines and Solid Blacks, V.I

February, the Heart of the Winter. I like Winter, it gives me plenty of justification to be locked up in the studio. It's been very busy as of late, a big new painting in its final stages, two books about to leave for press, one "in scanning" and one on deck. Of course, there's even more in the wings. So I've been away a bit, but wanted to give you something interesting to look over.

A few posts ago I mentioned the amount of grayscale work published a century ago, and asked about it's worth to the working illustrator today.
OK.—but there was another medium that ruled a century ago, that is damn near dead now. Pen and ink—was not just cheap and easy to reproduce, it was for my money a legitimate art form in its own right. It's a whole different skill set to make an ink piece sing. Great painters are not necessarily great inkers, and vice-versa. What's a pen-and-ink drawing worth to look at today?

Once and a while, I'll post some of these century old ink pieces, Maybe some by the same artist, maybe some by a group almost forgotten today. I'll call this -Fine Lines and Solid Blacks.

This idea was largely born out of a single volume I came across a while back. Modern Pen Drawings: European and American, edited by Charles Holme, from the offices of The Studio, 1901. I love a good ink drawing—A good one will convey the idea of its contents so well that the viewer doesn't see the line.

When I started doing this, ink was still a way marketable to make a drawing, a publishable drawing. My first published piece was an ink drawing, and my first commission was for about 18 ink pieces.... I'd love to see an art director today request that any piece be done in beautiful, high-contrast, ink.

Here's a bunch from when ink it was at it's peak, by some familiar names, and some not-so-
Top to bottom- Dorothy Smythe, Alice B. Woodward, E. W. Charlton, Percy J. Billinghurst, and Patten Wilson, all Brits.

It should be mentioned that JimVadeboncoeur has been gathering this kind of work for a while now, and publishes them occasionally, calling them Black and White Images, (Fifth) Special Collection. (Ok, there are five now) They are treasuries of great, period ink work—in addition to the other collections Jim puts together—Thanks, Jim, keep up the good work.