Tuesday, August 24, 2021

How Phil May Built a Drawing

Victorian caricaturist Phil May (1864-1903) described his method of building a drawing:

"First of all I get the general idea, of which I sketch a rough outline, and from this general idea I never depart. Then I make several studies from the model in the poses which the drawing requires, and redraw my figures from these studies." 

"The next step is to draw the picture completely, carefully putting in every line necessary to fulness of detail: and the last to select the particular lines that are essential to the effect I want to produce, and take the others out."

Sometimes, according to David Cuppleditch, "he transferred his figures from sketchbook to working page with tracing paper. He nearly always worked with a very sharp pencil or crayon edge so as to achieve simple, strong lines."

George Hacklett said, "The one important lesson learned from his Bulletin work was the value of a longer and heavier line, made imperative by the large scale of his cartoons."


Previous post on Phil May  

Wikipedia on Phil May (caricaturist)

Quotes are from the book: Phil May: The Artist and His Wit


Unknown said...

Amazing insight. Your posts are a breath of freshness. The world of art today on internet is dry of passion. Everyone wants to sell something. While you having amazing books to sell still inspiring people with heart and soul. This independent artist from Brazil will be ways thanfull for your efforts. God bless you!!

N C Freeman said...

When challenged on his seemingly sparse line work, May responded, "If I could do my drawings with fewer lines, I'd charge more!"

Rob Stolzer said...

Oh, I do love Phil May's work. I think he was a truly transitional artist from more-is-more to less-is-more. I used to own that Brother Artists original, but still do own two pieces from Gutter-Snipes, including the frontispiece. He was brilliant. Many thanks for the post.