Every year the Philadelphia Sketch Club, historically the oldest club for artists in the country, holds a juried illustration exhibit, Phillustration. I am thrilled that one of mine was awarded second prize in the show this year.
The illustration I painted for Lodging Magazine, Office Churn, was among many other creative and colorful pieces in a show I highly recommend visiting. The exhibit runs thru November 24 and Sketch Club hours are Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun 1 PM – 5 PM and the venerable brick building that houses the Club is at 235 South Camac Street, Philadelphia PA. their website is http://sketchclub.org/ I also congratulate Joe Kulka, whose Smokey Bear art took top honors in the Advertising/ Institutional category. Sketch Club President Rich Harrington, a terrific illustrator in his own right, warmly welcomed the crowded room full of artists and emceed the reception with plenty of good humor.
My New Yorker cartoon was also accepted into the show, and I got to chat with John O’Brien, a creator of many many New Yorker cartoons and covers, at the reception, as well as Eric Fowler, the archivist at the Society of Illustrators in New York. A number of other Bucks County Illustrators Society members were accepted into this show, including Lauren Walsh, Joe DeVito, Joe Kulka, Piya and Christina Wannachaiwong (who also ‘exhibited’ their adorable new baby boy at the show), Mark Schaeffer and Dennis Wise. A few snapshots of our BCIS members’ work from the show:
I’ve always enjoyed the witty hand-drawn observations of cartoonist Michael Maslin, which have been published in the New Yorker since the late 1970s. His deceptively simple drawings often contain macguffins that pair hilariously with his caption writing, which can range from foible-y understated to pratfallen poetry. In July of last year I glimpsed Mr. Maslin in the background, snapping some photos during the opening of the exhibit Funny Ladies at the New Yorker: Cartoonists Then and Now at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Mr. Maslin’s wife is Liza Donnelly, also a prominent and long-time New Yorker cartoonist, who moderated a very funny discussion at the opening, with a panel of current women cartoonists and the magazine’s cartoon editor, Emma Allen.
I looked up Mr. Maslin’s blog, Inkspill, and found it to be a running catalog of all the newly-published books, appearances and special projects of all the New Yorker cartoonists, in NYC and elsewhere. He has effectively aggregated the history of the magazine’s cartoonists with their bios, some dating to the publication’s beginnings in 1925, and regularly writes about the cartoons and illustrations in current issues. It’s a wonderful inside-baseball resource for fans of cartooning in general and the wit of iconic New Yorker cartoons in particular – and so I highly recommend Inkspill!
It’s not too early to think about the holidays – I’m already working on three clients’ holiday cards for their businesses
Because of this, I’ve recently added a Christmas card to my listings on Etsy – one I drew last year for my family, in the classic New Yorker black & white style, not long after my first cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. If you’ve ever seen this iconic tree you never forget its overwhelming presence!
I drew this cartoon in black prisma pencil and painted it in ink washes. (Closeups of the art are on my Etsy page) It shows the legendary tree at Rockefeller Center, which about 100 million people visit each year, teeming with lights but with one small dark area; a small child looking up comments, “They missed a spot.”
Inside the card is the message “May your Christmas be filled with Peace and Joy and a thousand twinkling lights!”
Single cards are available on my Etsy shop HERE and boxes of 8 cards are available on my website store HERE.If you’d like more than 8 cards, or would like to use this card for your company holiday card, email me and we’ll work out the details. And if you live near me in the Central Bucks area and want to avoid postage charges, simply email me what you’d like to order and you can pay when you pick up the cards from me.
I posted about my cartoon being published in the New Yorker Caption Contest last week, and now anyone can vote for the best among the many caption submissions they received. You can click HERE to go to the voting page, and as it scrolls through the captions you can rate each as Not Funny, Somewhat Funny, or Funny. When you have scrolled through enough cations, you click on Done.
I warn you, there are a LOT of submissions, but if you leave the tab open on your screen you can come back to it later and continue rating more captions. Interestingly, I found that many caption writers came up with similar jokes, even similar phrasing. There are others that use rather unique wording or twists, and those seemed to stand out.
I believe voting on this stage closes on Sunday, then this contest moves to the next stage – next week the cartoon will appear with the top three captions underneath, and you can again vote for what you feel is the funniest of the three contenders.
I’ll leave you today with another of my cartoons – again, this one has a caption written by my dear dad, one of the funniest writers I ever knew.
I’m very pleased to say, my second cartoon is being published this week by the New Yorker, for their legendary Caption Contest! At the moment it is online, but my cartoon will be published in the June 10 issue, on the last page inside the magazine. You can see it now right HERE.
Anyone can submit a caption for this contest, so please go ahead and enter! The directions for submitting are linked on the Contest page.
As I wrote when my first cartoon was published, the New Yorker loomed large in my wonderful relationship with my father, who was also a cartoonist, and who always encouraged me in my art. He grew up during the Depression in Allentown, PA, a second-generation American, and saw the New Yorker as the embodiment of the wit, sophistication and insight of the country’s best writers and illustrators. I just know he is doing a little dance up in Heaven now.
I can’t let this post go by without including a cartoon, so here’s one I drew when my Dad was alive, using one of his captions.
I’ve been looking through the illustrations of Arthur Getz, one of my favorite New Yorker cover artists. Getz painted 213 covers for the iconic magazine between 1938 and 1988. In addition to illustration work, he painted cityscapes and landscapes – ‘fine art’ sold through galleries – although he sometimes signed them with his middle name, Kimmig, because at the time a fine artist was not supposed to cross the line into commercial art.
A particular favorite of mine is his cover from 1957:
The moment it captures is utterly American, isn’t it? To the left, the bustling, spangly city with silhouetted crowds in frenetic motion, and in the foreground the relaxed parking attendant, contentedly oblivious to the high life a few blocks behind.
The skill and techniques of this artist make the painting especially appealing to me. The blazing city lights in the distance are warm, but it’s cold moonlight fluorescing down on the garage attendant – that’s the opposite of what you’re taught in painting class! Warm colors are supposed to come forward and cools recede – but Mr. Getz makes this inversion work beautifully. The covers of the magazine our fellow’s reading are slightly brightened with the reflected light bouncing off the pavement – reflected light is a detail that a master’s eye notes, and novices often overlook. The splashes of neon red far off in the city are balanced by that rusty red wall to our protagonist’s left; there’s even the faintest red haze in the air above the cars in the garage, a delicate touch to offset all that chill October air.
And our attendant’s pose, balancing on the chair – another master stroke. Let me explain: when you draw a standing figure and you want it to look steady, not tipping over, you draw it so the supersternal notch – that’s the central notch between your left & right collarbone – is directly over the inner ankle of the leg bearing the weight of the body – this makes the figure looks solid. Well, Mr. Getz has this gent perfectly balanced: if you imagine where his supersternal notch is, and draw a line straight down, it’s directly over the spot where the chair leg bearing the man’s weight touches the pavement. This acrobatic bystander is not going to tip over!
The contrasts in tone all around our nonchalant hero seal the deal for me. After your eyes take in the whole scene, where does your attention go? To the crisp lightning-white page edges of that magazine and that tiny cusp of face and finger illuminated by the October moon. That’s intentional – they are painted with a razor edge and surrounded by blacks and neutral grays to draw your gaze like a pinpoint. The same goes for the swatch of city on the left, the contrast is so high between the yellows and blacks that you can’t not look at them – but even though those marks are skillful, they are vague, to give an impression of buildings and lights. The painting strokes in and around our parked friend’s figure, instead, are descriptive, deliberate and masterful.
There’s sometimes a bit of friction between illustrators and fine artists, over whether illustrations deserve the same esteem that framed paintings are given. If you ask me, this Garage Nocturne by Arthur Getz could hang in a museum next to Hopper’s Nighthawks any day.
“Sir, we’re getting ready to land–I’m going to need you to slide that under your seat.”
I started reading and chuckling at New Yorker cartoons in high school when my dad introduced its unparalleled humor to me. He and I shared many hours discussing our favorite gags and cartoonists, and, while Dad did land a great cartoon one time in The Saturday Evening Post, he never made it into Eustace Tilley’s grand library. He hoped someday I would. Dad passed away 8 years ago but I have the uncanny feeling he’s been pulling some strings.