Monday, September 3, 2007

View from the Ladder

For a change of pace from Dinotopia, here’s a pencil portrait of my friend Bill, a retired tree surgeon.

Spending a lot of time on top of a ladder with a pruning saw has given him an interesting perspective on the world.

He believes the drawings of Pokemon, for example, are masterpieces of simplicity, “like something by Giotto or Botticelli. They’re at that level of quality.”


Anonymous said...

it's interesting to note the pokemon reference. As a primarily cartoon artist, I find one of my primary aims to create an impression with as little as possible. So, in drawing a scene, rather than aiming for near photographic levels of detail, I simplify as much as possible. Two divergent styles- impressionistic and realistic art, yet nevertheless both are extremely difficult to master. I think cartoonists tend to get a bad wrap among the artistic community as their output is usually regarded as simple and childish compared to the supposed 'masters', but in their own way, the art of simplifying, say, a human figure down to a line here and there with a dot for good measure once in a while, while losing none of the posture, expression or movement of a photographic work is truly worthy of admiring and great for learning how to make any form of art more expressive

James Gurney said...

Beautifully put, and so true. The great cartoonists belong in the highest category of art--people like Pat Oliphant, Mort Drucker, Al Hirschfeld, A.B. Frost, Winsor McCay, Hokusai——not to mention all the great ancient masters like Greek vase painters, Egyptian art and the cave guys!

You're completely right that a simple line often conveys more truth and mastery than a realistic rendering, and it's MUCH harder.

Unknown said...

I agree with Thereisnosaurus - cartoonists and comic artists do get a very bad rap. I'm in fine art school at the moment and I made a good friend who specialized in "cartooning" - she made the most gorgeous works that were like a mixture of art nouveau and Japanese manga. Pure, gorgeous lines, totally incredible stuff. She was constantly harrassed about her work by professors; even being accused of being "lazy" and "unable to draw". She felt so hounded and discriminated against that by the end of her second year, she decided to leave. She now works independently and makes a killing at fantasy conventions around the country. Sadly her experience at a fine art school is pretty typical for people who work in that genre, and it makes me so sad. I think there is room for all kinds of art in this world!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but to be totally honest, I believe that pokemon drawing and even manga and anime appear to be dumbing down art form. Yes its simpler and there is something to be said for that, but simpler is not always best. I realize that all of you don't belive that. But if we want to become simpler and simpler then we've reached the point where a man will paint a red dot on a white canvas and art critics will applaud it(although actually the painting had a remarkable resmblance to the Japanese flag). I just don't admire that type of art.

Anonymous said...

napauleon, i think that the goal of simplistic art is to describe something artistically using the bare minimum. capturing the essence of a portrait, for instance, is very difficult in this type of style because you dont have all the extra details to help make it look realistic.

relying on only the barest gestures of the lines is incredibly difficult, which is what makes art such as pokemon so visually pleasing and technically difficult without, as you mentioned, eventually reducing to a single dot on a paper.

(a wonderful example of this can be found right here, by Sir Gurney himself!

Anonymous said...

Very true. We are able to better appreciate the complexity of complex painting when we contrast it with simplistic painting. Yet at the same time, what Mr. Gurney presents in those thumbnail sketches is still realistic in the sense that he draws plausible lines and plausible features. However Pokemon drawing and etc., are not realistic in form. I'm not opposed to imagination(after all look at Dinotopia) but Poke' drawing is not using one's imagination to the fullest extent. It's more of drawing to appease the masses. There is less clarity, less effort, less credibility, less believability, and less art in general.

Please don't think of me as some puritanical, fundametalist, creative-expression basher. I truly do see what others say about Pokemon drawing etc., but I don't identify with it.