Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Different Quality of Line

Scottish artist Jessie M. King—(1875-1949) created a more emotionally driven image—Unlike most of her contemporaries at the turn of the century, King was interested in portraying a highly stylized figure, and illustration that communicated by its design as well as by its illustrative properties.

King would become quite popular as a book designer and illustrator in her early career, but it was her design sense that sets her apart, making her work readily identifiable. Frail lines, (I read one description as gossamer— which fits nicely) usually flat figure treatments, often set within a framework. The caption or accompanying text was often woven within the construct of the piece. King's form of calligraphy was so distinct that it can be used today, through a font which bears the name of a "center" she formed for women artists, Greengate. (I've actually used it frequently, and only now discovered it to be based on her lettering...)

Brought to my attention recently through the latest Calla Edition releases- the first two here are from that volume, (which is Oscar Wilde's fairy tale collection—A House of Pomegranates, illustrated in 1915) and a few from some others, to show a bit more variety. The black-and-white line piece is from a 1901 book entitled Modern Pen Drawings. It is captioned "Pelleas et Mélisande," and would have been among her earliest published works. The final two pieces are from a portfolio of drawings that King had published in a Christmas issue of The Studio, in 1913—


My class at Montclair U. is moving along nicely... we looked at some of Jessie King's line work this past week.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A New Chapter, and finally—N. C. Wyeth

It's a lot of change this month. My son started college—it's a bit more quiet at home.

Next week, I'm going back to school, in a way somewhat relevant to this blog. After working out the timing with Dover, I'm about to start teaching
The World of Illustration and Animation at Montclair State University, in NJ.
Not too different from the kind of stuff I've been doing here at VIEW, but much deeper and more thorough. I'm working to iron out how this is all going to come together, and I'll try to keep you posted— I imagine that I'll be finding lots of good stuff to share here.


Last post I mentioned the release of my new book on N. C. Wyeth, 1882-1945. The book's title is Great Illustrations by N. C. Wyeth. I've been a fan of Wyeth's work since my teenage years. When he was on top of his game, Wyeth was one of the best painters going. He is considered by many to be the star student to come from Howard Pyle's "Brandywine School." From Needham Mass, Newell Convers Wyeth traveled to Pyle's Wilmington, Del. school with hopes to enroll in the Fall of 1902, and there began one of the most storied careers in the field of illustration. Wyeth's work was hugely influential, not only for its qualities, but also due to its reach. The years he spent doing work for the Scribner's Illustrated Classics created a shelf full of volumes with images that have been burned into our memories, and reprinted for decades.

Great Illustrations by N. C. Wyeth reviews work of his earlier career, before easel painting became a larger part of his output. There are the classic pieces—images from Treasure Island, Robin Hood, and King Arthur— his early western work, and magazine and advertising illustrations that have rarely been reprinted. One of the real finds reprinted in this collection, is a three page article written by Wyeth himself in 1919, on the quest "For Better Illustration." For me, it was great to discover works I was not as familiar with, like these pieces from The Pike County Ballads, 1912, (the steamer and the bar scene) and The Courtship of Miles Standish, 1920. (The last piece, with bright candles and the back-lit figure.)


Congrats and kudos to my friends and colleagues who are currently showing their work as a part of FIT/NYC's first class of MFA illustration grads. If you're in or around NYC, stop by the museum at FIT for a real treat.