Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Manual Typewriter

My son Frank has a collection of manual typewriters. I painted a portrait of one of them, an Olympia SG-1, the industry standard for office typewriters in the 1950s.  

As I painted, I had the following thought:

Here is the sound of that very saying being typed on an Olympia SM-9, a portable version of the SG-1. You can hear the warning bell at the end of each line reminding me to return the carriage.

Watch a trailer for "The Typewriter in the 21st Century"

And here are links to my new video on watercolor painting:

"Watercolor in the Wild" HD download: (Credit Card) 
"Watercolor in the Wild" HD download: (Paypal)
"Watercolor in the Wild" DVD: (NTSC, Region 1) 


TR said...

That is so cool. I remember my father having a typewriter when I was little. There was never any ink (is that what it's called?) to type but it was always fun to hear the sounds. I personally like the mistakes of watercolor (most of the time). I also agree that when there are not corrections possible then it forces you to either be precise or accept what you've done. The later part doesn't work well for a type writer but that's what white out is for...

Allen Garns said...

Great observation. Nothing focuses the mind like working in a non correctible medium.

Dan said...

Those old typewriters used an inked ribbon. The original cloth ribbons were simply soaked in ink, and if I recall correctly, they could be used until the type got too light, at which time you'd need to replace them. Electronic typewriters from the late '70s onward used a film ribbon that could only be used once, typically in a ribbon cartridge. They had a ball for the font, which could be switched out to change fonts.

In those days my mom was a secretary who did a lot of "production typing" (typing of scientific papers, proposals, and research reports for publication). I believe she was the first person in Alaska to be trained by IBM to operate the DisplayWriter, an early dedicated word processing system.

This typewriter is a couple generations earlier. It reminds me of the one that is stolen in the Truffaut film "The 400 Blows."

Bonus: It's green. :)

I love pen and ink for the same reason. You have to just go for it. I think it's the perfect beginner's medium, because I concentrate on observing proportions and angles, learn to make descriptive lines, and greatly simplify values, all while just capturing the marks with no erasing. When I make a sketch of something "serious" or reasonably complicated, I often do a light pencil under-sketch, typically with no erasing, to block in the basic proportions and composition. But it's most exhilarating to just pick up a pen with nice black ink and start making marks.

Allen Garns said...

Ha! and I missed the audio first time around. Very Fun! Whoever was typing was slow but steady and consistint. Just like Ms. McConnell taught in 7th grade.

Tom Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Hart said...

I love this homage to the typewriter, being old enough to remember when that was the only way to produce type for school - or whatever. I feel intimately involved with the old IBM Selectric too (as mentioned by Dan). My Dad ran a business school and my first real job was as Saturday custodian, dusting under over and around rows and rows of those Mad Men vintage babies

Tom Hart said...

...And another thing...Way to frequently I obsess (make that stall) over finding a "good" subject to paint. This post is a reminder (as was the cream pitcher) that fine subjects are all around. I often remember Sargent's admonition to plop the easel down, presumably randomly, and to paint what's in front of you. If only I would put that into practice more often!

Dan said...

The Guardian article is very interesting. Almost as interesting as the idea of using typewriters is the extreme strength of some of the averse reactions.

"Sahra Wagenknecht, Die Linke party's deputy chair, described the suggestion as grotesque."

I can think of a lot of adjectives that someone might use to criticize the idea, but "grotesque" took me by surprise. When national security is involved (or even when dealing with sensitive corporate information), forbidding electronic communication is commonplace. A few years ago I worked at a large technology company that required its most sensitive documents to be kept only in paper form in locked cabinets. In a world that involves physically isolated electronic devices protected by Faraday cages, with secret key codes stored away in physical vaults and whatnot, why should mechanical typewriters seem like such an odd idea, I wonder.

TommyD said...

Nice illustration and a nice post Jim. I still have a Royal that my parents used for correspondence and remember that bell.

Gavin said...

Hi James, on the subject of typewriters/art, thought you might be interested in this link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svzPm8lT36o#t=137

Billy M said...

I typed the drafts my Master's thesis on a Royal portable, and of my PhD thesis on an IBM Selectric. The great thing about the Selectric was it fitted IBM continuous tractor feed computer printer paper [naturally], so you could just keep typing, and if you set the page margins to letter size it left plenty of blank space for the advisor's comments. Which was often needed.