Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Six Greedy Loafers

Albert Dorne,, one of the founders of the Famous Artist’s School correspondence course, shared his thumbnail sketches for a magazine illustration called "Six Greedy Loafers."

The finished picture was used to illustrate a story about an old farmer on his deathbed surrounded by his six lazy sons.

1. In his developmental sketches Dorne first thought of the symbol of vultures sitting around the bed, and wanted to make the sons actually look like vultures with long, scrawny necks and beaky noses. His first sketch tried for that feeling of macabre whimsy.

He says: “As I studied the sketch, it no longer appeared very exciting to me. Despite the outstretched necks, the figures didn’t seem to be doing anything in particular.”

2. Then he thought of the sons as pallbearers alongside a coffin, but he worried that the arrangement put too much emphasis on the foreground, and spaced them out too equally.

3. He had a breakthrough as he decided to put the sons in a group leaning over the bed. They make a dark, angular mass that contrasts with the light, horizontal shape of the old man. He added the cat to frame the scene from the left. The bottle, the bedspread, and the folds of the bed are all related to the compositional movement.

4. In the next version, he got rid of the black cat and brought two of the figures to the left. Covering up the old man’s face adds to the feeling of mystery. But Dorne was now worried about the empty space in the middle and the feeling that the base of the picture was dropping off to the right.

5. In the final arrangement, (which like the others was drawn without reference to models or photography) he tightened up the elements, added the chest of drawers in the background and the rug in the foreground.

Done concludes: “For me, this job teaches an important point. And that point is: Choose an appropriate, effective symbol—here it was the vultures—and stay with it. Regardless of how much you rearrange or discard, never lose sight of the basic feeling or symbol you want to communicate.”
Recent book, well illustrated and written: Albert Dorne: Master Illustrator
The sketches above are from the original Famous Artists Course Lessons 1 - 24, which you can still find on Amazon. The link takes you to a set from 1954, by far the best era of the course binders. One day of art school tuition buys the best art education in print you can get.


grobles63 said...

Wow! I wish they had these sketches in the Dorne book. Still a great book but this is one of my favorite illustrations by him. Thanks for posting this.

Charley Parker said...

Albert Dorne: Master Illustrator can be ordered directly from Auad Publishing. A greater percentage of the profit will go to helping a small dedicated illustration publisher keep making great books:

Ken said...

Do you know how large these sketches are?

Larry Kitchen said...

Great study in composition. Thanks for the post.

Rich said...

Great post once more!

The final result here shows all these age-induced wrinkles, in the clothes; and in those rather youthful faces as well.

"Money talks!"...
and while it talks,
youth vanishes.

Great wrinkled design;-)

K_tigress said...

Yes a great example of coming up the right look. Thanks for sharing.
Sometimes you can come up with the right look just like that and other times you just have to play around with it. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks, James! I hope exposure to the greats of illustration will help artists out there today realize that it's not enough to paint pretty pin-ups. We artists need to up our game and actually tell a story! We can make this another golden age of illustration.

David Still said...

Dorne sure could draw hands. I think a post on different artist's takes on hands, and the character that can be expressed through them, would be very interesting.

Heisler said...

Fascinating. I was able to take this process and relate it back to the building a diorama. It really helps emphasis how important composition is in both 2D and 3D endeavers.