Archive for January, 2013


A Few Illustrations by John La Gatta

January 30, 2013


While digging through some old magazines I came across a series of advertising artwork by John La Gatta that I felt the need to share in appreciation. The drawing above is an early one from 1927 for a beauty soap. Below are three paintings for Tattoo lipstick from 1933, and a soap ad from 1917. I really love his work.

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Interviews of Artist Joe Bowler

January 25, 2013


There is an excellent series of interviews with artist Joe Bowler over at the Today’s Inspiration blog. Leif Peng talks to Joe about his illustration career where he reveals many interesting tidbits of his life and working methods. Highly recommended.


Visited By a Red-Tailed Hawk

January 19, 2013


This morning I happened to notice a visitor in my backyard, a red-tailed hawk. I was alerted to it by the squawking of a blue jay bird in the same tree, darting among the branches, none too happy with its presence. I managed to snap this photo from about 20ft away before he became annoyed and flew off.


New Sketch: Jamie’s Journal

January 16, 2013

This is a recent sketch of my friend Jamie that I made recently while we were walking through the local town of Taylor, Texas. She had stopped to write in her journal as I wandered around taking photos. When I came back I couldn’t resist drawing this one down. I think it might make for a decent painting later.


Pencil on 8.5 x 11″ rag paper.


New Crock Pot for Heating Hide Glue and Gesso

January 12, 2013

Yesterday I got a new crock pot that I bought at a local grocery store with the intention of using it to heat up my rabbit skin glue mixtures for mounting, sizing, and making traditional gesso. The cost was only $10. This electric pot has an aluminum core with a ceramic bowl that fits inside.


I’ve tested it out and it works fine. It has three settings: high, low, and warm. The best temperature to heat rabbit skin glue is around 130 degrees Fahrenheit, so to test it out I put about 1 cup of water inside the ceramic bowl, filled the tin can with water, and then placed it in the bowl. I then placed an immersion thermometer inside the can to see how hot that water would get. At the “high” setting, it took about 40 minutes for the water to get up to 130. I then turned the temperature down to the “warm” setting, and it stayed at 130 for about an hour before it started to drop in temperature. This will give me plenty of time to apply several layers of gesso to a panel. I can monitor the temperature and change the dial settings as needed to keep the glue at the proper temperature.

You can see in the photo that I added a piece of scrap plywood to shield the pot from getting any drips of glue or gesso on it. I cut a whole in the plywood large enough to sit on top of the pot and for the can to slide through. I may paint a few coats of acrylic medium on the plywood to make clean up easier.


Appreciating the Art of Frank Craig

January 8, 2013

Over the previous holiday period, I revisited a couple illustrated books from my collection that have the wonderful artwork of Frank Craig. Consequently, I’ve been spending the recent days scouring the web to track down a few more examples of his work that I thought I would now share.

(c) Cardiff Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Most of what I’ve seen of his work, including the two books I have, are all black and white reproductions. I’ve not found many color examples of his paintings. Being an artist of the early 20th century, the poor quality printing then wouldn’t have done his work much justice, anyway. Fortunately, he was also a practicing “fine” artist as well, so galleries and museums, such as the Tate, carry his work also. I’ve found a few examples of these specific illustrations in their original form. Interestingly, many were painted in monochromatic tones to better suit the black and white publications (as shown in the two examples below;) although, that wasn’t always the case.

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Although, I wouldn’t describe him as a forgotten artist, his name certainly isn’t as well known as many of his peers, despite his considerable talent and widespread appearances in many popular books and magazines at the turn of the 20th century. Sadly, this may be due to his dying at the early age of just 44 when he was in his prime exposure.

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I think you can see here what it is that so excites me when I study his work. The brilliant compositions and characterizations are a joy to examine. Seeing so many of his pieces together, it also strikes as interesting me how he often sets a point of view with a high horizon line where the foreground occupies at least 2/3rds of the image.

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The two books with his illustrations that I own are “Your United States” by Arnold Bennett, and “Athalie” by Robert Chambers. Each of these books have about 30 illustrations all in black and white.

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Painting Finished: Cleaning His Spectacles

January 4, 2013

Well, this painting is not 100% finished, but almost there (99%?) I’ll stop here for now, then come back and polish it up some more later. Click the images to see a larger version.


I was originally planning this to onlybe a small sketch, but as I typically do I decided to push it a bit further. The small size made it tough going. That little round cleaning pad on the bottom left I may decide to change. It doesn’t read too clearly. Anyway, I’m happy with how the hands turned out, if I say so myself.