Monday, December 30, 2013

Illustration Unit: Maxfield Parrish

The last illustrator of the Golden Age for the unit is Maxfield Parrish, another influential american artist who worked in book illustration and commercial art during the first half of the twentieth century.

He is known for his intense use of colour; neoclassical figures and drapery; big open skies full of stratocumulus clouds; and painstaking three-dimensional realism achieved through extensive glazing with oil paints.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Illustration Unit: N.C. Wyeth

One of the biggest american illustrators is N.C. Wyeth (Newell Convers). He was a gifted artist as a child and went to a few art colleges before joining Howard Pyle's art school when he was twenty years old. Within a few months, he was commissioned to do a cover for the Saturday Evening Post and his career took off from there.

He went on to produce over 3000 illustrations and 112 books in his career. He also started a family of artists, with his son Andrew Wyeth becoming one of the important american fine artists of the second half of the 20th century. Interestingly, his grandson Howard Pyle Wyeth, was the drummer for Bob Dylan for a while.

N.C. Wyeth responded well to Pyle's approach to illustration and his influence can be seen throughout his work. Thematically, he continued in Pyle's tradition of americana and adventure book illustration full of pirates, native americans and Robin Hood. He also worked extensively creating magazine illustrations and advertisements. His images demonstrate an exploration of Pyle's focus on realism and an expressive use of colour within a strong composition.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Illustration Unit: Howard Pyle

The next illustrator to study in this unit is the influential american artist, writer and art teacher Howard Pyle. He started teaching at a young age and many of his students became successful artists including N.C. Wyeth. Pyle and his followers have been termed the "Brandywine School" after the region they lived in.

His work demonstrates realism with a sophisticated use of colour and composition. His images also feature recurring themes of patriotism.

Like Rackham and Pogany, Pyle's focus was on children's stories and adventure books and he has been credited with developing the typical image of the pirate.

One of his well-known works, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood,  he both wrote and illustrated.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Illustration Unit: Aubrey Beardsley

The next illustrator I would cover in the art history part of the unit is the english artist Aubrey Beardsley. His work is a good example of the influence of Japanese woodcuts on European art in general on the art nouveau movement in particular.

After studying Pogany and Rackham, Aubrey Beardsley presents a different approach to illustration. His work is a great example of the power of contrast and the beauty of using shape and line. 

He offers another approach to hand-lettering that students can refer to during the research stage of the Creative Process.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Illustration Unit: Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham is another great illustrator to study from the Golden Age. His work, like Pogany's, focuses on myths, legends and fairy tales.

For the Illustration Unit, I would cover Arthur Rackham (and a few other central artists) in the introductory powerpoint/ slide-show during the first lesson. Then I would refer back to his work throughout the studio project, for inspiration and to help with ideas about technique.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Illustration Unit: Willy Pogany

I started this blog for in-class art projects and lesson plans. Lately it's been all about field trips - and I've covered a few art gallery shows in between. I want to get back to posting about in-class activities and good starting points for projects.

The golden age of illustration would make a great theme for a studio project and a long-term art history section. This high-point of traditional commercial art featured work by english artists including: Aubrey Beardsley and Arthur Rackham and american artists including: Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish.

This post presents a personal favourite Willy Pogany, originally from Hungary, who started his career in England and then moved to the US.

Willy Pogany illustrated many wonderful narrative books covering myths and legends, fairy tales and adventure stories. He works with pen and ink on smooth paper using short expressive line-work and an  art nouveau design approach. His work features beautiful examples of hand-lettering.

A fun studio project: students choose a myth or legend from any culture to research and illustrate one scene from the story. A title or quote must be included in the design using hand-lettering. Students can also choose from folk stories, fairy tales and adventure books. 

Students will complete a Creative Process Booklet to be submitted with the final work that will present the brainstorming, research, experimentation, rough work and reflection.

Lesson One: Intro to the Golden Age of Illustration 
Lesson Two: pen and ink basics 
Lesson Three: pen and ink techniques
Lesson Four: hand-lettering techniques
Lesson Five: The work of Willy Pogany
Lesson Six-Ten: Studio project: The Creative Process
Lesson Eleven: Final Submission - Class Presentation and Group Critique