Monday, April 5, 2010

Maguire's Photo Shoot

Robert Maguire (1921-2005) was an illustrator of crime noir, pulp, and romance book covers from the 1950s onwards. He studied at the Art Students League under Frank Reilly.

When he painted the paperback cover called 'Willow Pond' in 1979 he hired a model to pose for a series of reference photographs, much like the process used by Norman Rockwell and other illustrators.

Directing the model was a lot like directing an actor, trying to get the right feeling of pensiveness. He started with her right hand by her chin….

….and eventually brought the hand down by the side of the water. When he saw a hand he liked, he marked it on the photo.

No single photo had everything he wanted, so he had to take a little from each one, and he made an effort to simplify accidental wrinkles and unimportant details.

The photo was printed in four different degrees of exposure so that he could study the variation in the extreme darks in the light photo, and the variations in the highlights in the darker photo.
Many thanks to Harrison Chua who sent these to me!
Robert Maguire Cover Art.


goat89 said...

Wow! Beautiful art! Thx for the post!

Gordon Napier said...

Nice example. I wonder why he decided to lighten the hair tone relative to the skin. I would have thought it looks better with the darker accents so as to define and frame the face better.

Annie said...

What an interesting post. I love the way he got the movement, however slight, of the girl in the painting. This is the most difficult part of drawing figures in my opinion.

SARAH said...

So cool! Artists like this inspire me.

i, me said...

theoretically we should be so much more productive because of photoshop we don't have to wait /pay for reprints and different developments, we can play around w/ more variations...- yet i still meet artist/illustrators who don't know how to use photoshop ..

Greg Tatum said...

When I participate on art forums online, it seems to me that there is a lot of negative comments about working from photos. This really does seem to be engaging the creative process, directing the model and creating the mood and idea of what the illustrator wants.

It also seems that Rockwell gets a lot of flack for having been "chained to the photograph".

What are your thoughts on this? Maybe it's just an illustration vs. fine art angle. I just don't think it's always an option to do everything from life.

To me this seems the right way to approach using photographs. Sometimes image searches are just too easy.

My Pen Name said...

It also seems that Rockwell gets a lot of flack for having been "chained to the photograph".
a recent book/article came about about rockwell and photographs - its quite obvious that he didn't slavishly copy from them - in his autobiography he went into the reason for switching to them - time, money, expense, but most of all he used it to expand his creative output
here is the article link

the book is pretty good too.

My Pen Name said...

sorry, i should elaborate on 'expand creative output' - i meant to say he could photograph models doing things that no model could hold in a pose.

I have often wondered how they did it in the 'old days' there is a photo of bougerou painting from a posed model -she is holding a rope to keep her arm up but bouergoue's painting does not look like it - the painting is much more 'dynamic' (her arm is gesturing in the painting) I guess this is where anatomical training came in - figuring out which muscles would be tensed or contracted when an arm, not the rope, was holding up the arm

Fabio said...

Man, but how many artists learned under Frank Reilly?! I read his name everywhere.
He had to be a great master.

Claire Vrabel said...

The leg on the left seems anatomically incorrect to me (to short?)... it could be he has going for foreshortened... but the angle for that seems wrong. Any one else feel that way? Or is it just me? ;)

Love the example though! Thanks again for wonderful breakdown!

James Gurney said...

Great comments, gang.

My Pen: Here's a previous blog post about the book and exhibition by Ron Schick on Rockwell's use of photography

And Greg, here's a blog post I did explaining my thoughts about the benefits and risks of using photo reference.

अर्जुन said...

"Maybe it's just an illustration vs. fine art angle."

Just like Meissonier, Moreau, Gerome, Alma-Tadema, Tissot, Remington, Rockwell, Maguire, Dali & Koons~ Degas negatives.

Greg Tatum said...

Thanks for your response James, it's been one thing I've found myself really struggling with lately. Although I must admit that after doing commercial illustration for a few years now (as opposed to just student work) a lot of the times it's just about getting the final image to look the way I want it to or it needs to be regardless of the exact process. I try to keep up good habits though at least in my own personal work...

bill said...

You sure make my teaching easier. In fact I'm just going to stay home in my studio and tell the guys to go here every day. Easy paycheck.