Thursday, February 25, 2021

Confetti Strokes

Quick concept sketch in oil, tossing strokes around like a handful of confetti.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Gasoline Alley Explores Comic Abstractions

Comic artist Frank King was fascinated by the way comics translate reality into abstract 2D graphic conventions such as word bubbles and panels.

In this Sunday Gasoline Alley page, he had fun with the idea with characters becoming silhouettes. 

Walt and Skeezix become cutout people who eventually contemplate the holes in the paper they were cut out of. 

This page uses a high viewpoint where the background continues from panel to panel as Walt walks across the beach. The panels suggest changes in time as well as space.

In this one, they draw everything with a compass (even the word bubbles).

In a previous post I shared how comic artists satired the strange abstractions of modern painting all the way from the early 1900s to Calvin and Hobbes. In case you missed it, here's another Gasoline Alley page where Walt and Skeezix explore the distorted worlds represented in abstract painting.

In art school, I had a perspective teacher who critiqued our student artwork as if the worlds we portrayed were an objective reality that we had to inhabit. "I wouldn't want to live in that building," he'd say. "The floors aren't level and the walls look like they're going to fall down." 

These Gasoline Alley pages take that premise of living inside your pictures to its logical extreme.

Collector Mel Birnkrant says: "I was slow to appreciate the greatness of Gasoline Alley...It all seemed so polite and sweet, and the level of stylization was not extreme. It was not until I finally examined some of the Gasoline Alley Sunday pages that I tuned in to the understated genius of Frank King. I was amazed to realize that many of these Sunday pages are excursions into surreal fantasy. Such flights of fancy were to be expected in Winsor McCay's Slumberland, but they are stunning when encountered in what purported to be day to day domestic reality."

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dinotopia Exhibitions

Photo by Chip Clark.
The entrance to the Dinotopia exhibition at Smithsonian's natural history museum in 2002, one of about 35 exhibitions of the original artwork in the USA, France, England, and Switzerland over the last 20 years. 
Here are some of them:
MUSEUM SHOW LIST (from recent back to 1992)
Stamford Museum and Nature Center, CT
Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, NY
The New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, NH
The Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT
The Alden Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland, MI
Palazzo Ducale, Lucca Comics & Games, Italy
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE
Festival International de Science-Fiction De Nantes, France
Centre for Life, Newcastle, UK
Maison d’Ailleurs, Yverdon, Switzerland
Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
The Alden Dow Museum of Science and Art, Midland, Michigan.
Oshkosh Public Museum, Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Palais Granvelle, Besançon, France
Maison d’Ailleurs, Yverdon, Switzerland
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
Carnegie Public Museum, Three Rivers, Michigan
Richmond Children’s Museum, Richmond, Virginia
Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Ohio
Tiffany Windows, Tiffany & Co. Jewelers, Fifth Ave, NYC
Buffalo Museum of Science, Royal Tyrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta, New Mexico Museum of Natural History.     

Monday, February 22, 2021

Cover for 'Never the Twain'


'Never the Twain' was a science fiction novel by Kirk Mitchell. I did the cover for Berkley/Ace books.

It tells the story of Howard Hart, who travels back in time to wreck the literary career of Mark Twain and improve the reputation of his ancestor, Bret Harte.

I needed to come up with a way to show the two men, their two worlds, and the device that made it possible to cross over. After reading the manuscript I made a lot of sketches. 

The visual metaphor for time travel had to be an object about the size of a standing man, something that could have existed in the past or the present. 

The grandfather clock seemed like a natural device, but the breakthrough idea was the interlocking double clock face.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Old Tow Truck


This old tow truck is parked in front of Triebel's Garage in Red Hook, sketched in pencil and watercolor.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Art Mission to Mars

To celebrate the successful landing of the 'Perseverence' Mars rover, the California Art Club has arranged a virtual exhibition called 'Mars: An Artistic Mission.'

Artists include Bryan Taylor, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, William Stout, Peter Adams and me.

James Gurney, The Ice Rover, Oil on board, 20" x 14"

In this oil painting, which is for sale, autonomous fusion crawlers inch across the frozen landscape, deploying forward feelers, grinding heads, and communication arrays to transmit their discoveries back to Earth.

More info:
NASA Mars Mission site: Mars rover 'Persistence' 
California Art Club exhibit: 'Mars: An Artistic Mission.'

Thursday, February 18, 2021

H.M. Bateman's "The Man Who..." Illustrations

Henry Mayo Bateman (British 1887-1980) created a popular series of comic illustrations that show a man doing something socially inept and suffering the consequences.

Here's the reaction that happened to "The man who threw a snowball at St. Moritz."

Or to "The man who asked for a second helping at a city company dinner."

Or "The man who lit his cigar before the royal toast."

And finally "The man who stole the prize marrow." (What we in America would call a gourd.)
Henry Mayo Bateman on Wikipedia

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Alpine Scene by E.T. Compton

The Grossglockner, 1880, watercolor, 40 cm (15.7 in) x 60 cm (23.6 in)

"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

—'Fire and Ice' by Robert Frost

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Painting the Campfire

Painting expeditions are close to home these days. This time I just walk to the backyard to capture the warmth of the campfire. 

As William Shakespeare said, "Fire that's closest kept burns most of all."

Smooth the rescue husky chews on a deer's leg bone that he found deeper in the forest. 

Monday, February 15, 2021


A notable feature of the State Capitol in Saint Paul, Minnesota is a gilded statue of a chariot pulled by four horses. 

The four horses represent the classical elements of water, fire, air, and earth. The female figures standing among the horses represent agriculture and industry. 

The male charioteer represents prosperity. Added together, they represent civilization. The 1906 group called "Progress of the State" was sculpted by Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter

This arrangement of sculptural elements goes back to ancient Rome and is known as a quadriga. They usually appear on triumphal arches. In ancient mythology, the chariots of the gods were in the quadriga configuration, with four horses abreast. The sculpted horses on St. Mark's in Venice were from a Byzantine group. 

Quadrigas were raced in the ancient Olympic Games, as demonstrated in the 1959 movie 'Ben Hur.' 

Wikipedia on Progress of the State and Quadriga