Monday, May 4, 2015

On-the-Spot Humorous Illustration


I like trying out new ideas when I'm drawing on location. One approach that I tried many years ago is the on-the-spot character study.

For this one, I was sitting in a barber shop while a customer was getting a haircut. 

I told them what I was doing, and they didn't pay much attention to me after that. I used whatever elements of the scene helped to support the story, such as those odd head forms mounted on the barber chairs. 


The customer didn't have a mop of hair and beard like that. I kind of made that up, and I exaggerated the barber, too. But I used real details from the scene, like the comb in the barber's back pocket.

I drew the picture with a brush and India ink over a pencil underdrawing, about 11 x 14 inches. I was inspired by the caricature illustration of Al Dorne, Norman Rockwell, and Mort Drucker. 

Further reading
I intended this sketch for The Artist's Guide to Sketching, but it never made it into the book. A book that inspired this thinking is Humorous Illustration by Nick Meglin. Also, check out the more recent books: MAD's Greatest Artists: Mort Drucker: Five Decades of His Finest Works and Albert Dorne: Master Illustrator

9 comments:

Ник said...

This looks really great and with that style.. It is sad that it didn't make it to the book. ( off - topic )However, James, which video from your «in the wild» section will be first? Casein or Gouache? Will there be a topic about portraits? And will there be the special weeks, such as watercolour week? Thank you and sorry.

James Gurney said...

HNK, thanks for asking. "Gouache in the Wild" will be next. It's about 85% done, and I'm really excited about it. Right now I've got seven different painting adventures that together will add up to a little over an hour. These are paintings that blog readers haven't seen yet for the most part. I haven't edited the portrait segment yet. And, yes! I plan to do a special week spotlighting each of the segments of the video.

Chris James said...

Didn't know you had such a knack for cartooning. Any other work like this?

Carlos said...

Wow, great work and read my mind. Last week, I was thinking about sketches in a barbershop, hey, it is a great location where you can get a diverse crowd with interesting characters. Monet as a kid would go into barbershop to sketch portraits of people. I am actually a barber myself and I always hoped that someone would come in a create a sketch of me at work.

Ник said...

Oh, and James, did you know that schmincke has the casein colours? Well, they have a binder to produce it.

Ernest Friedman-Hill said...

Sure wish "The Artist's Guide to Sketching" could be reissued!

Leif said...

Thank you for this post. I was drifting away but you pulled me back in.

I have been fascinated with "cartoon plain air sketching" lately -- for me what that really means is, for the most part, taking note of the objects & characters in the scene, but only as verbal concepts and *not* striving to represent the visual shapes I see before me. I then draw a cartoon of the scene based on the mental model inside my head. I find that tremendously liberating. The struggle to catch fleeting poses is diminished. It's not a way to accurately represent what I see, but gives much more practice in mentally absorbing forms and working from sound construction.

Would love to see more posts along these lines.

Leif said...

Hey... I wrote "plein" but it got auto-corrected to "plain". Arg!

Carlos said...

James, I'd love to see this book available for Kindle. Any chance of that happening someday? Cheers.