Posts Tagged ‘magazine’

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Appreciating Artist Jon Whitcomb

October 9, 2017

Recently I’ve been browsing through online archives of illustration art, and particularly spending time on one of the greats, Jon Whitcomb. Here are a few gems of his that I’ve picked out. Most of the paintings he made in his career were done with the gouache medium, and he was a master.


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Appreciating the artist McClelland Barclay

April 14, 2017

McClelland Barclay was an American illustrator of the early 20th Century, born in St. Louis in 1891. He became well known for his work in magazine fiction, advertisements, and posters.

Chief among the advertising clients was the Body by Fisher division of General Motors that began in the mid 1920’s. He had developed a particular female character in his work up to then, and she fit into this Fisher campaign as a symbol of style and elegance, soon to be known as the “Fisher Body Girl.” The model he used was Nan McClelland, his niece at the time, who later became his wife. He had a habit, in fact, of marrying his models; three different ones.

Barclay enlisted in the Navy in 1939, but still continued doing commercial work during the war. Unfortunately, he lost his life on a mission in 1943.

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John Gannam Illustrations for Pacific Mills

August 8, 2016

For several years during the late 1940’s, the fabric company, Pacific Mills, ran a series of advertisements painted by the artist John Gannam. They are prime examples of great magazine illustration art during this period. Here are a few of them. Life magazines are a good source for these.

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Admiring the art of Mortimer Wilson, Jr.

March 11, 2016

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Several years ago I happened to pick up an old copy of the Saturday Evening Post magazine, and was floored by the artwork of an artist I had never heard of, Mortimer Wilson, Jr.

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Wilson struggled early in his career as a fine artist and illustrator until getting work for the Post in the late 1930’s, following a meeting with Norman Rockwell who recommended him. He soon rose to a level of being among the highest paid illustrators with work appearing in other magazines like Cosmopolitan. Problems with his eyesight caused an early retirement to Arizona. As his sight improved he returned to a career as a gallery artist, painting Western themes and still lifes. He passed away in 1996.

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These scans show some of his work for the Post when he was at the peak of his abilities. The style is reminiscent of other great illustrators such as Dean Cornwell and Andrew Loomis.

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He had a marvelous control of values and form, plus an excellent sense of staging his actors in the scene. It’s a shame he’s not as well known as a few other of his contemporaries, but that was often the fate of many commercial artists of his time.

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His illustration art shows up in auctions rarely, but you can see some of his latter work at the Tubac Center of the Arts in Arizona, or the International Museum of Art in El Paso, TX.

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Illustrations From The Saturday Evening Post

October 25, 2013

“The Saturday Evening Post” magazine is a very good example of the state of American magazine illustration in the 20th century. When most people think of the Post, they probably only go so far as the sentimentality of the Norman Rockwell covers. In fact, their interior stories offered a wide range of themes from romance, to action and adventure. Some well known characters started there, like Earle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, and movies were made from it’s stories, such as “The Sand Pebbles” or “The Guns of Navarone.”

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As with Rockwell, they used many of the top American illustrators, and their art was of the highest caliber; Coby Whitmore, Stan Galli, and Lynn Buckham to name a few.

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I’ve been slowly digging through a massive collection of the magazine, starting in the mid 70’s, and have to gotten to the mid 50’s with a couple more decades to go.

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Sadly the magazine, still in production, is a poor shadow of it’s former self, as far as illustration is concerned. Very little illustration art has been used since the 70’s, and there has been a drop in quality. Their theme now is mostly nostalgia.

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The Artist Frank Godwin Goes Hollywood

August 26, 2013

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Frank Godwin was a fantastic illustration artist across all levels of the profession including books, magazines, posters, and comics. He started his career in the 1910’s, and passed away in 1959 when he was still working on his great comic strip “Rusty Riley.” One particular location that he drew about was Hollywood, something I only recently discovered.

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While scanning online through some old issues of Photoplay magazine, I came across several issues that used his illustrations for fictional stories they ran from around 1926 until at least 1938. All these had the subject and setting of people trying to make it big in films.

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Godwin was a close friend of James Montgomery Flagg, himself a director and actor in the early days of films. He apparently moved around quite a bit, but I don’t see any evidence that he had settled in California at all, so I suppose these were all done at some distance from the locations. However, in one Photoplay article he wrote how he tried his hand at acting, but found he was better suited to acting out on paper, fortunately for us.

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Browsing Online Libraries

August 11, 2013

Lately I’ve been obsessed with browsing online libraries, and discovering some buried treasures of old illustrated books and magazines. For the most part, that has been the result of my just stumbling onto them by accident, so I thought I’d share a recent success story with you so you would have an easier time of it than I did, should you be interested in such things.

The big surprise I discovered recently is the EBSCO system, which is an online service provided to libraries and businesses to access books, journals and periodicals. In order for the general public to gain access, they need to be a member of those institutions, such as a local library that has an eBook service. At that point, all you need is a library card.

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EBSCO has hundreds of different databases and thousands of books and magazines online. The way I stumbled upon all of this was trying to find information about a 1951 Saturday Evening Post story written by Michael Fessier to go with a picture I had by the illustrator Edwin Georgi called “The Prying Professor.” A Google search gave me a link to that actual story, but I could only access it through a library system. On the right side of this link you should see a list of libraries in your area that are part of the EBSCO system. Click on “Read the article” to bring up a screen that allows you to modify that search. You’ll next be asked to enter your library’s online information.

I found it even easier to access this directly through my local library’s website, so I’d recommend first looking on the above link to see if your library is on their system, and then use your library site to get you into the EBSCO databases. You should then get to a screen with the search link below. At first, when I entered “saturday evening post” the result was only a few links that my local library itself had online, but when I selected “Choose Databases” and selected all of them, it blew my mind!

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I got access to ALL Saturday Evening Post magazine scans in their database going back as far as January 1931. Not just the covers, mind you, but every page of the magazine. While the resolution of the scans could be higher, they’re better than I expected. The scan of the 1931 magazine cover (below) is dark, but that might be due to the condition of the magazine itself, or there may be other scans in their system that are better. Some other issues I’ve seen are scanned very clearly, such as the Bill Fleming interior illustration below. The Post didn’t use the best quality of paper stock to begin with, so you can’t blame the scanner. All the files are in PDF format with each individual article listed as an unique PDF file that can be read online or downloaded. I’ll have to play around in their system a bit more to see if I can go back even further to older Post issues, since they started publication in 1897, as well as seeing what other books and magazines they have. Their online PDF viewer is cumbersome to navigate, and manipulating the search results is a bit awkward, but the results are worth the effort. As with most library searches, it helps to know what you’re looking for before you begin.

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These files are locked out of regular search results that you would use otherwise, such as Google, so have at it and enjoy! Get yourself a library card, if you don’t have one already, and start digging. If you’re like me, you’ll wonder where the day went.