Monday, August 15, 2011

Lovell Article

The new issue of Illustration magazine has an extensive feature on the American illustrator Tom Lovell (1909-1996). The article has 67 illustrations, mostly in color.

Lovell’s career spanned six decades, beginning with covers and black and white drybrush drawings for the pulp magazines. He went on to the mainstream “slick” magazines, specializing in historical, adventurous, and romantic subjects.

His dedication to research and accuracy culminated in landmark articles for National Geographic throughout the 1960s, including multi-painting features on the Vikings and the life of Abraham.

I had a chance to meet him and correspond with him, and he was probably the biggest single influence on my early work. A lot of what I learned from him appears in the following links, and in Imaginative Realism.

Illustration Magazine (you can see the whole issue digitally)
Previously on GurneyJourney:
Lovell on Pyle and Dunn
Lovell on Flesh Tones and Design
Lovell's Painting Advice
Lovell's Soldier
Three Value Study


Tom Hart said...

There's so much to admire about these mid-20th century illustrations. They're like a time machine ride in many ways. And artistically there's so much to enjoy and appreciate. When I look at that lower illustration, especially, I can't help but think of all the things it does that a camera just will never do. That's not a put-down of photography; it's just to say that illustration has special strengths which lately (alas) the general public seems to have largely forgotten. I have a feeling that will change, sooner or later. (The great increase in the value of original illustration art suggests that's already happening.)

Carol Scown-Raynal said...

To add to Tom Hart's comment about the role of illustration nowadays versus photography, not only I agree with him. Illustration is not dead. It is to each illustrator in the world to prove it. The main point is to remember that for quite a moment the machine has had its share of making pictures. Even, if illustrators get to use the computer, we must always remember that the human touch, the human knowledge, the human spirit, the humain brain, the humain hand is the key to great illustration. How magic to see a "real" drop of china ink on a piece of paper.Gosh, how I would have liked to live through the illustration golden age, but golden age will be back because that success is in the hands of all worldwide illustrators - and nowhere else. Carol

James Gurney said...

Tom and Carol, both very eloquently said.

I would only add how much I love the wonderful quality that classic painted illustration gave to fiction in print. Both magazine covers and story illustrations were routinely hand-painted. To me that lent a humanistic, imaginative quality that photography is often missing. Nothing wrong with photography, of course, but its vérité quality doesn't connect with the universe of imagination in the same way.

Tom Hart said...

And very eloquently said on YOUR part, James.

Lest my comment sound more pessimistic than I intended, I really think that the pendulum will swing back toward hand-made illustration before long, if it hasn't already begun to do so. The digitized/Photoshopped image is becoming so commonplace that its uniqueness is fading. I think that the public will soon appreciate hand-painted and -drawn images, even if they don't fully understand WHY they appreciate them more.

I'm not in the business enough to comment on how much of a role (blame?) art directors play in the relative rarity of hand-made illustration (outside of childrens books, that is), but I'm sure they have pressures (i.e., bottm-line - $$ considerations) that aren't totally under their control.

Carol Scown-Raynal said...

When digital music started to come out in the beginning of the 90's in France (music on CD's instead on a microgroove record), a friend of a certain age told me "be careful to not to forget to listen to it too perfectly. Perfection doesn't exist". Digital music, digital pictures, digital world has/had gone to such a stage that we were nearly to forget what the direct imprint of a hand can create on the paper. In such a connected world, we were to disconnect ourselves from art itself. But, we are getting to a stage where we are getting mature and starting to understand. I notice the success of travel journals, people love to look at journals of other people/other artists and they organize exhibitions of journal drawings and paintings. Journals have quick drawings and paintings which suits our modern hectic world - they are the pathway to dreamland, they are true, handmade, not machine made. They have at last a spirit. Sketchbook are being re-introduced in schools in France because they are the key to not let the machine take our place. I think the future for illustration seems quite good and can take a full recognize part in the world of pictures, but we've got to continue to prove it, to advertise ourselves everyday more and more. And thanks to this blog and to James Gurney, we're preparing the future.

James Gurney said...

Carol, what a beautiful thing you wrote. A "pathway to dreamland" indeed. I will sketch newly inspired. I still love my computer, but thanks to your words, my sketchbook has a different and deeper allure.