Sunday, October 4, 2020

Stevan Dohanos Paints a Post Cover

Stevan Dohanos (1907-1994) shared his process for painting this cover for the Saturday Evening Post.

The image shows a mother and daughter lifting newly hatched chicks into the brooder. How did he come up with the idea, find props and models, and execute the finish?

The following vintage behind-the scenes film (YouTube video) dramatizes the process by re-enacting it in a filmed skit. 

The style of the video is a little corny and artificial by today's standards, but the method Dohanos uses is consistent with the process outlined in the legendary Famous Artists Course binders.  

Thanks to the Norman Rockwell Museum for uploading this video. 
Book about Dohanos: American Realist


Kevin Mizner said...

That was the best thing I've seen in a long time! I smiled all the way through it. Thank you so much for posting this.

AEastman said...

Ha, ha! Ok Margie go and get the cake... lol!! things have changed

James Gurney said...

Kevin, me too. Seems like they hired a movie-style director, only to discover they didn't have professional actors or a solid script.

AEastman, yeah, that struck me as odd, too. Also the visit to the school to pick a kid model. Even for its time that seemed like a weird way to find a model.

Steve Gilzow said...

The Jeep was OK, but the wood-paneled station wagon was terrific!

I was born the year after this little movie was made. It’s interesting to realize how prevalent the “corny and artificial” tone was in many of the short films from that time. Call it what you will — innocence, lack of sophistication, idealizing — but almost everything made for a mass market at that time shares the aesthetics and sensibilities of this film, right down to the 3D letters on a fabric background for the titles. Women in aprons, deferentially serving men who wear brimmed fedoras and smoke pipes and cigarettes...the culture of the time was saturated with these images.

CerverGirl said...

And the baby in the buggy falling asleep on the porch, although sunny, there’s snow on the ground.
Thank you for posting : )

Rainer said...

Thanks for posting this video. What was that tempera paint he mentioned? Gouache or what?

James Gurney said...

Rainer, Yes, for all practical purposes, tempera is like gouache, a cheaper version that usually comes in liquid bottles.

Rainer said...


n/a said...

I found a copy of this magazine so I could scan the cover. While browsing the contents, I found a Norman Rockwell illustration for an ad by Bell Telephone:

Pretty neat!

James Gurney said...

Wow, thanks. That Rockwell painting shows such careful research.