Thursday, March 16, 2017

Graveyard Scene by Tom Lovell

This 1947 illustration by Tom Lovell for True Magazine was for an article called "Extra Corpse in the Graveyard." It's a good image to study for color and composition.

Color and Value
• You could probably paint this with Venetian red, viridian, and white, maybe with a touch of raw umber and yellow ochre.
• Note the grouping of tones in the white gravestones and the simplicity of the grassy ground texture.
• Tones are also grouped in the dark background trees and in the shadowed foreground grasses.

• Except for the walking figure, all the other key elements are cropped intriguingly: the arm, the gravestone with its fragmentary name, and the white gravestone on the right.
• This design is not an obvious one, and I would guess that Lovell arrived at this composition after doing a lot of tonal thumbnails in pencil.  
• Positioning the hand in the extreme foreground also places viewer in the grave and in the path of discovery. 


Mark Martel said...

Magazines then often printed some pages/illustrations in 2 spot colors (or black and a second color) and I bet this was one of them. And before the zillions of Pantone colors. there was often a pretty limited number of inks, similar to the range of paint pigments. It's really instructive to do studies of these limited palette pieces, even just pinning down the exact pigments is a challenge. The reward is learning how much mileage you can get out of a couple of colors.

Jim, I'd be glad to share a couple examples of this sort of reverse-engineering.

David Apatoff said...

I love that simplified, almost monochromatic figure strolling toward us- his face is nothing more than a shadow but the fog of his breath emerges from that shadow and gets our attention as one of the highest contrast spots in the whole painting. That's real poetry.