Tuesday, August 30, 2016

GERMAN-AMERICAN RAILROAD STATIONS


I'm a big fan of the German built - North American railroad stations that were all over the East Coast and Canada about 125 years ago. 

Even small towns had terrific train stations in those days. I guess it was a matter of civic pride. 


 I'm curious to know who designed these. Were they built by German American immigrants or by European Germans who came over for specific projects then went back home again?


Surviving European German rail stations from that period (above)...the small to medium ones... don't look like the American type.

If our stations were designed by European Germans, and the Euro-Germans themselves didn't have them, then the good architects of this movement must have been lured over here by money, creative opportunities or by difficulties at home. There's a story there...I wish I knew what it was.


I'll assume that German immigrants built these beautiful things. I don't think most people realize how creative these people were. Look at the German-style "el" stations in New York City. They're first rate.


 I see a dynamic mixture of styles: Arts and Crafts, Gothic, traditional German, Victorian, and another style which I still don't know the name of, which deliberately exposes the structure of a building. It proudly puts the engineering right out there, where you can see it.


Geez, I think I even see a precursor of Expressionism in there (above)!


The German American railroad style even influenced Frank Lloyd Wright. That's his Nathan Moore House, above. It's like a railroad station you can live in.


It even influenced his famous Robie House (above). It looks like a train station, doesn't it? The roof especially reminds me of something you'd see on railroad loading platforms.

Why is all this important' you ask? Because the German American rail station style is one of the best architectural styles ever invented in the Western World. Maybe the very best. Let that sink in. The very best.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

'JUST FOOLING AROUND




Friday, August 26, 2016

FUNNY FIGURE DRAWING MODELS

I like to think that comedic models will become common in future figure drawing sessions. I further fantasize that the best models...i.e. the funniest ones, the most fun to draw...will become much sought after on the art school circuit. I predict that we'll see a lot of certain types of characters. I'll mention a few of them here. 

Well, there's the Mr. Meek type (above). 

With costume changes the very same model could, in the same session, be a flamboyant dandy...


...a dancer or a singer...


...a snob...

...or a goofball...

...or a villain like Captain Hook.


As with male models you'll want female models who, with a costume change, could play different kinds of roles.  Skinny Olive Oyl-types (above) would be fun to draw and could probably do double duty in the same session.


She could also be a dancer (above)...


 ...or a funny melodramatic actor.


I don't mean to give the impression that one model could handle all the women's parts. For other sessions you'll also need a big-boned model (above).

With a couple of pillows tucked into her clothes she could be a hefty post-middle age woman.


You'll obviously need a sexy bathing suit model (above). This requires someone funny who's voluptuous and curvy, not thin like a super model.


You'll also need a dramatic actress who can parody actresses like Garbo or Bette Davis.

Monday, August 22, 2016

COMEDIC FIGURE DRAWING / TECHNIQUES I'D LIKE TO TRY


For comedy drawing sessions I usually prefer draped models.  Sorry, I don't know who drew this. 


I don't think oddball contortions are the best use for a comedic model.

I prefer funny poses. There's always something about them that you'd never have figured out if you were just winging it. In this case (above), the angle of the feet. I like the clothing wrinkles, too. 


Maybe if someone held her feet up you could get something like this (above).


I like ignorant poses. 


As an experiment I'd like to try poses that are influenced by movies and animated cartoons I've seen. Somewhere out there, there's bound to be comedic male models who can do exaggerated public speaking poses like the ones Daffy Duck's doing here (above and below). 

The padded shoulders and gloves magnify Daffy's gestures so I'd try that on the real life model.


For a text, maybe fragments of one of Billy Sunday's prohibition sermons. Or maybe a poem. What do you think of this Walt Whitman parody (below)? 



AFTER WALT WHITMAN
by Richard Grant White

I happify myself.
I am considerable of a man.  I am some.  You are also some.  We
   are all considerable;  all are some. 
Put all of you and all of me together,  and agitate our particles by
   rubbing us up into eternal mash,  and we should still be some.
No more than some, but no less. 
O ensemble!  O quelque-chose!  O women!


Yes, women!
They look at me and my eyes start out of my head.
Women watch for me;  they do.  Yes, sir!
They rush upon me;  seven women laying hold of one man. 
O turnips!  O cucumber!  O beets, parsnips, carrots, O sass!



Geez, I'd kill to get a female model who could do poses like the one above.  The big butt is no problem. That's just pillows or towels stuffed into stretch pants. The hard thing would be to find a wig like the one above. Maybe a long wet rag might do the trick. Students can always make up the details of the long, funny hair, even if the real model's hair is short.


They can make the hands bigger than life, too.


Here's a pose that would require students to draw with a dark, "Sharpie"-type line...or, even better, a thick-and-thin capable brush pen. Charcoal or some other grey medium would be a great addition.

The idea isn't to copy the Olive Oyl reference slavishly but to make a funny, graphically stark and cartoony caricature of the live model.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

I LOVE L.A.

Gee, I love Los Angeles. I ask myself what person typifies the city. Walt Disney? Charlie Chaplin? Howard Hughes? Raymond Chandler? Ray Bradbury? Architect Cliff May? All those names, surely, and dozens of others, but for me the name that sticks out is simply...Jayne Mansfield.


I don't know what her personal life was like but her public image was one of frivolity and lightness, of driving along Malibu beach with the wind in her face in a brand new convertible. I can't imagine someone like her coming out of a gritty city like Chicago.


Can you get a good, classical education here? No, possibly not, but that's a problem the world over.


For me Los Angeles was a utopian dream the world had. We're a fantasy conjured up between beatings by some prisoner in a dictator's dungeon.


Even now, years after the golden age, there's still electricity in the air.


Even when you're not on the beach, you're on the beach...'know what I mean? There's a delightful lightness here.


The city does have a culture. We're all just too busy to notice it.


Don't worry about it. Just have a hot dog.


Some really dopey ideas originated here, and we'll no doubt pay the price, but history will marvel at what happened here...what all us Okies and misfits managed to pull off in the Southern California desert.

When I'm forced to leave they'll have to pry my fingers off the city limit sign.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

COMIC BOOK DRAWING MISTAKES

I love the drawing mistakes on old comic book covers. Here (above) a tiny car drops off a dead man who, if he were standing upright, would be taller than the door. His girl, who has a gigantic left leg, backs up to a miniature staircase. It's all goofy, but it works...for me, anyway. 


I don't mind mistakes when they're funny.


I guess that's why I like early comics. They're full of mistakes! How do you like the hand in front of the girl's face or the inappropriate (and no doubt unintentional) grab?

The most frequent mistakes had to do with perspective. Lots of early artists had trouble with it.  What do you think of the panel above? The shooters in the foreground appear to be standing on ladders.

I'm glad editors let them get away with it. It meant that artists felt free to try drastic angles. Sure there were artists who didn't make mistakes, but that's because they played safe and avoided shots that were hard to draw. That's cheating the reader.


The best artists eventually figured out perspective but their later work never had the guts of their earlier stuff.  Even famously smooth DC artist Carmine Infantino (that's his work, above) had trouble with perspective when he first started out. I like his early work better. 


Stunning Exorcist-type head turns (on the bald guy, above) were often combined with bad perspective. The guy in blue appears to be standing on a stack of telephone books.

It's my belief that gutsy but primitive art prompted writers to write better stories, but I guess making the argument for that would require a separate post.

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BTW: I've got a lot of work to do around the house so my posts might be a bit irregular for a month or so. I'll get on a normal schedule just as soon as I'm able.