Friday, September 20, 2019

Al Parker Book Review

In recent years, the leading midcentury American illustrators, such as Tom Lovell, Coby Whitmore, Harry Anderson, and Albert Dorne are finally being represented with well-illustrated monographs.

Now it's Al Parker's turn. This edition by Auad Publishing showcases the work of one of the chief innovators of American illustration.

Parker pioneered the trend for the designed title spread in the glossy women's magazines.

Rather than compositions that fit neatly in a rectangular shape, these inviting openers combine hand-drawn headlines with an intriguing tagline and an illustration that promises drama.

Parker was always original in his use of posing, his color schemes and his approaches to storytelling.

None other than Norman Rockwell wrote him a fan letter, and said, "While the rest of us are working knee-deep in a groove, (Al Parker is) forever changing and improving."

Most of the book is devoted to visuals, including reproductions of original art, tearsheets, and comparisons between photo reference and final art.

The text includes personal reflections by Parker's son Kit, an article about Parker written by Stephanie Plunkett, thoughts about his artistry by David Apatoff, and a reprint of a 1964 interview.

Al Parker: Illustrator, Innovator is 9 x 12 inches, 208 pages, $44.95

Related books:
Albert Dorne: Master Illustrator
Tom Lovell—Illustrator
Coby Whitmore: Artist and Illustrator
The Art of Harry Anderson
The Art of Jon Whitcomb
Henry Patrick Raleigh: The Confident Illustrator
Auad Publishing
Al Parker at the Rockwell Museum

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Rusiñol's Gardens

A previous post on Santiago Rusiñol (1861 – 1931) showed a woman before and after taking morphine. But Rusiñol was probably best known for his garden paintings.

He was also a poet and playwright, and he was a member of the Symbolist movement.

While studying in Paris, he hung out at the café Els Quatre Gats with Pablo Picasso and other emerging modernists.

His work is realistic, at least on the surface.

He was interested in the spirit and the emotion that lies hidden behind appearances. 

According to Wikipedia, "He went to Mallorca with the painter Joaquin Mir Trinxet, where they met the mystic Belgian painter William Degouve de Nuncques in 1899." 

De Nuncques is supposed to have said, "To make a painting, all you need to do is to take some paints, draw some lines, and fill the rest up with feelings."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Miyazaki: Digging into the Subconscious

Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
Animation director Hayao Miyazaki said: “I try to dig deep into the well of my subconscious."

Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"...At a certain moment in that process, the lid is opened and very different ideas and visions are liberated. With those I can start making a film.”

Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"But maybe it's better that you don't open that lid completely, because if you release your subconscious it becomes really hard to live a social or family life.”

Watercolor concept art by Hayao Miyazaki
"You must see with eyes unclouded by hate. See the good in that which is evil, and the evil in that which is good. Pledge yourself to neither side, but vow instead to preserve the balance that exists between the two.”
Books about Miyazaki's Philosophy and Art:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Humans Team Up with Computers to "Breed" Images

Here's a piece of digital art made by ArtBreeder, a website that generates images by machine learning, and then lets you "crossbreed" them to create new offspring.

Here's how Recomendo describes the process: "Using deep learning (AI) algorithms it generates multiple photo-realistic “children” mutations of one image. You — the gardener — select one mutant you like and then breed further generations from its descendants." 

"You can also crossbreed two different images. Very quickly, you can create infinite numbers of highly detailed album covers, logos, game characters, exotic landscapes."

The software currently doesn't "understand" the meaning of writing, but only the appearance of typographic letterforms, so the system churns out images that resemble evocative album cover designs.  

You can also create landscapes that look almost plausible, or combine dissimilar environments and see what results.

Some images appear to morph organic textures with humanoid forms, like this "feather-boa yeti." You could start with an image like this as reference, and then elaborate it with your own old-school sketch process.

Because the judgment of flesh-and-blood humans assists the computer in shaping the evolution of these images, the process yields different results than a generative adversarial network acting alone.

If you want to play with the software, it's free at ArtBreeder.
Thanks, Dan

Monday, September 16, 2019

The Posters of Ludwig Hohlwein

Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949) produced simple and recognizable poster designs that influenced many graphic artists in his time.

From the perspective of design impact, his work has remarkable graphic power, with organized values and strong silhouettes.

Hohlwein's work was part of a poster tradition known as "Plakatstil" (German for 'poster style') or "Sachplakat."

The posters were characterized by bold, flat colors, and playful lettering, a reaction to the subtlety and complexity of the Art Nouveau style.

Forms are simplified into a finite number of value steps. White shapes spill over into other white shapes, and the modeling of form leaves out any unnecessary detail.

Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, he also produced Nazi posters, so his legacy is associated with that history.

However, during his time, Hohlwein's posters influenced many designers and artists in Germany, including Edmund Edel, Ernst Deutsch-Dryden, Hans Lindenstadt, Julius Klinger, Julius Gipkens, Paul Scheurich, Karl Schulpig and Hans Rudi Erdt, and they were admired by contemporary illustrators in the USA, including Edward Penfield and Coles Phillips.
Ludwig Hohlwein (1874-1949) on Wikipedia
Flickr collection of his posters
Search results on DuckDuckGo
BooksHohlwein Posters in Full Color
Ludwig Hohlwein, 1874-1949: Kunstgewerbe und Reklamekunst (German Edition)