Sunday, August 19, 2012

This is a search unfinished.

In long-ago days of my youth, my quest for the sources of great tales lead me to read a lot of Celtic mythology—something I still seek out. I had an old reprinted copy of Celtic Myth and Legend Poetry and Romance, by Charles Squire originally from 1905. My copy then was an English reprint, but Dover publishes it as well, but I'll have to check to see if they printed it with the illustrations or not. I'll get back with that info shortly. There were a few plates among the stories—and the stories themselves—that gave me exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. The art I liked the best within that volume was by an illustrator I had not heard of before, but have kept in the back of my mind, well, for a long time.

Ernest Wallcousins (1883-1976) was a British illustrator, who spent some part of his career working with a studio known as Carlton Illustrators, in London.  Despite scouring my usual sources, and then some, I can find very little info on this artist. Kind of surprising considering he was alive just a generation ago.... But I don't find that a reason to not share some of his work, maybe some of you will find it as inspiring as I have. And if anybody out there has any info on him, PLEASE get back to me about it.

Top to bottom. Three plates from Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, by Donald A. Mackenzie. Same series as the Celtic myth book previously mentioned. The color plates in here are great, all of them from the volume can be seen here.

Two from Pioneers in Canada, by Henry Johnston. I was expecting Henry Hudson and the like... what I got was a lot of outdoor/wildlife images, something else that appeals to me quite a bit. I may post the rest of these as a follow-up in a few months.

A Cover from Bibby's Annual, 1921. Wallcousins seems to have owned this task for quite a few years, producing covers that have a real poster-like quality. Not unlike the image from the myths above—he may have had a thing for chariots.

Two of the "monochrome" plates from Celtic Myth and Legend Poetry and Romance, that put me on his trail in the first place. I've been looking for years, but I've never been able to track down any full color printings of these pieces. They may have been published earlier in color, or, maybe they were only printed this way. (The Dover edition features a Wallcousins image I tinted for our cover.) Maybe you can tell me.

We are almost at a century mark for followers. When we hit it, I'll take time to send out a few of my Dover books (YOUR CHOICE!) to 5 interested persons. If you're interested, message me as much. I've signed on as a follower to my own blog(?), so this communication can happen, so make me glad I did....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fine Lines and Solid Blacks, Vol. V

It has come to my attention that sometimes in discussing the more interesting facets of an illustrator, some of the "basics" can be overlooked. Take Harry Clarke (1890-1931) for example. Harry Clarke is one of my favorites of the period. Over the past few years there has been a VIEW post on some really hard-to-find Clarke works, and he was mentioned again in reference to a collected work, more recently. To not offer a look at why I think he's worth some more study, is just, well, wrong. So let's fix that.

In the small amount of time that Clarke had to share his genius with the world, he managed to explore a few creative avenues. Stained glass design may be what he applied most of his time and talent to, and in his native Ireland there still exist many examples of his fine glass work. I found Harry Clarke while in my teens, during an after-Christmas book sale, when a reprint of Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination came into my possession. Like many designer/illustrators of the Golden Age, Clarke had the opportunity to do a number of gift books, his were from 1915-1925. The Poe volume is his best known, and easiest to obtain a reprint of. (It was one of the first selected for the Calla reprint program, as well) Clarke's others are not as easy to find, though a reprint of his Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault will be available this Fall. Another of Clarke's prizes is his Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen. All of the works shown here come from that volume. I'm looking at Clarke in a Fine Lines and Solid Blacks segment because I think his ink work is exceptional in his use of pattern and understanding of value—value here meaning the transition(s) between blacks, grays, and whites, and how their relative placement on the picture plane affects the composition. A viewer can observe these images at a glance, or choose to dig deeper and deeper into them, where a single plate can tell its own story. Clarke's color illustration doesn't present with the same intensity through simplicity—black and white—and loses something in the printing, according to some who have seen his originals.

There has been a kind of scholarly-reawakening in regards to Clarke in the last five years, but it does look to his glass work primarily.

You can keep up with that here
and as mentioned in that earlier VIEW blog, here's the link to Jim Vadeboncouer's page on Clarke.

Back shortly. Jeff