Looking at Illustration: Arthur Getz

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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:

Art by Arthur Getz. Prints available through https://condenaststore.com/art/arthur+getz

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.

My Cartoon Published

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UPDATE: My cartoons for the New Yorker can be seen here: https://condenaststore.com/art/pat+achilles

I am thrilled to announce that a cartoon I drew and submitted to the prestigious New Yorker magazine back in March has been published in this week’s issue, October 1, 2018.

https://www.newyorker.com/cartoon/a21844

“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.

Icon of Poodlehood

I’ve illustrated six children’s books for author Chrysa Smith’s Adventures of the Poodle Posse series, a string of stories that details the wags and whimsy involved in raising a bunch of very personable pooches. While each book focuses on one or two poodles who wander into the saga, the one constant character is Mrs. Flout, the bouncy lady whom the dogs have ‘adopted’ as their mom.

Chrysa visits schools to read her books and promote reading and writing to youngsters, and often for Catholic Schools Week and Read Across America Week she is busy traveling and presenting. She delightedly receives quite a few hand-drawn pictures from the kids of her poodle pals, but this past week’s surprise was unique: one particular teacher dressed up as Mrs. Flout (whose hair is uncannily similar in texture to a poodle’s) and sent Chrysa a photo –

I think when you start having people dress up as the characters in your books, you have really done something special. Congratulations, Chrysa! Mrs. Flout is now an official Icon of Poodlehood.

Chrysa’s books have all received the Mom’s Choice Award, which honors excellence in family-friendly media. If you know some youngsters who love fun stories and especially if they love dogs, please take a look at Chrysa’s selection of fun books on her site HERE.

Slim Harpo

Singer/musician Slim Harpo was a successful blues musician of the late 1950s and 60s, with a laid back singing style and a mastery of the blues harmonica, known in the industry as a “harp.” Evidently his hit song of 1957 “I’m a King Bee” was recently used in the series The Man in the High Castle.

I was thrilled a year ago when the British record label company Not Now Music asked to lease an illustration I’d created previously for the sleeve of a re-release of the music of Slim Harpo. And I just recently found out the label was re-issued this past August, and I’m pleased with the clean, punchy design using my art –

My Scout Cards for all Occasions

Springtime is coming, when a lot of scout activities and events start up, so I’d like to just remind everyone that I have drawn cards to fit many scout occasions. And with the good works they do in our community and the values that scouting teaches our young men, Scouts are an organization to be celebrated.

February is often the Crossing Over ceremony for Cubs to Boy Scouts. For this card I used my a whimsical style to draw a friendly adult eagle, in scout troop leader uniform, waving 3 happy little eagles across a footbridge in the great outdoors, with an appropriately encouraging message inside. Info for purchasing this card is HERE.

I drew these cheery scouts, below, alongside the goals of the Scout Law – to be Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent – to create a notecard that can be used for any occasion. This could be given to celebrate a rank advancement or merit badge, offer words of encouragement or to thank a mentor, scoutmaster or fellow scout. These invitation-size cards make a great gift for a Scout leader too. They are blank inside and come in a box of 8 notecards and envelopes – ordering info is HERE.

My son is an Eagle Scout and he had such a great experience with the Boy Scouts – learning great practical skills and making good friends, while reinforcing the responsibility and morals that we tried to instill as he grew up. I drew the whimsical Eagle Salute Congratulations card below for a friend of my son’s who achieved the rank a few years before him. When my son made Eagle and had his Court of Honor alongside his best friend, I painted the Eagle Scout on a hilltop scene. To see the inside message and ordering info for them, see my Etsy shop HERE and HERE.

And for special mentors in a Scout’s journey, several customers have asked me to produce smaller thank-you notecards for Eagles themselves to send, and I now list them in my Etsy shop too. My Eagle thank-you notecards come 20 to a pack and have my “Eagle Scout on a Hilltop” illustration on the front. To see my Etsy shop for further ordering details, click HERE.

New Year’s Card for a Business

I draw a New Years card every year for Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, and we try to make it relevant to what’s going on in the news, whether economic or otherwise. Well, this year the prevailing feeling was that everyone wanted to be done with the year 2020, so that was the theme of this year’s card.

I thought of a mountain-climbing expedition where the staff members were happy to see 2021 in the distance, because I’d been told they wanted the characters to appear ‘socially distanced.’ That idea was approved, so I started with a pencil sketch –

We talked over a few changes, and I went on to tighten the characters in the sketch –

I had thought perhaps I could show full faces so I left the mouths in for the sketch, but was later asked to draw masks on everyone.

I did a rough color sketch with colored pencils, and tried making the mountain in the background a volcano – do you see the 2020? – because that idea was considered. But in the end we stuck with just distant mountains in back.

and finally did the finished art in acrylic paint washes, below. Inside the card the message read: “WE MADE IT! Looking forward to a bright new year ahead!” and some kind wishes to their clients. Kohhepp Investment sends several hundred of these cards out to clients and colleagues, and they get some really nice responses indicating that people appreciate them and enjoy the funny antics in which we often portray the staff. They also use it on their Facebook page and other social media – it’s an effective way to personalize a business to their customers.

Thanksgiving E-card Cartoon for a Business

Every year I draw a Thanksgiving-themed cartoon for Pro-Active Performance, a business that helps companies develop and train outstanding sales forces. They’ve picked the season of Thanksgiving over Christmas to send their greetings because it ties in so well with thanking their clients and colleagues for their business in the past year. This year to conserve paper Pro-Active decided to send an e-card instead of printing and mailing a physical card.

I was given some ideas to work with and started with rough pencil sketches –

My client liked sketch 3 the best, showing a turkey on a zoom call with 6 other holiday characters – so I tightened it up –

and painted a color version –

I designed the e-card as if you were seeing the front and inside of the card all together, so the final version was sent out like this –

And because Pro-Active clients in the US and in Canada, we designed a version that used Canada’s maple leaf mascot instead of Uncle Sam – they sent this out just before Canada’s Thanksgiving Day, which was October 12.

Illustrations that Personalize a Business to Clients

Every fall and winter I draw a number of holiday greeting cards – and now e-cards – for businesses who like to show the human face of their company to their customers. Some-times I draw the staff themselves, sometimes I use humor to engage industry trends, but in all cases the card is created to personalize the company’s brand so their clients get to know and like the people behind the logo more.

This year Gina Furia of Furia Rubel Communications, an integrated marketing and public relations company serving many industries, asked me to draw her and her staff of delightful marketing experts in an office scene, which would be used on a card and in an animation. In the scene Gina would be interviewing Father Time while her staff zooms in through a virtual meeting.

I started with a rough pencil sketch of the scene –

After some edits from my client, like adding her husky dog, I tightened it up a little –

and then was able to scan and digitally color the background and each figure, such as those below.

I put it all together, along with Gina’s caption, for the printed card –

and the little trailer cartoon that appears on the back of the card –

and then FRC worked with an animation company to turn it into a video greeting as well! Click he image to watch.

My Drawing in the Cartoon-A-Day New Yorker Desk Calendar

For a year of ups & downs, this was a surprising Up to close the year with: a friend called to tell me he sees my first-ever published New Yorker cartoon is now part of the 2021 New Yorker Day-to-Day desk calendar!

(This isn’t my cartoon above, just a promo shot.)

I ordered a couple thru our delightful local Doylestown Bookshop and I think it’ll be fun to start every calendar day with a chuckle right through the year. My drawing’s chosen day is uncannily close to the birthday of my Dad, who got me started on the whole NYer kick . . . pulling strings again, Dad?

Holiday Cards and Gifts from my Shop

I have some of my cartoon holiday cards and some printed tees for girls available on my Etsy shop – and remember, if you are near the central Bucks County, PA, area and want to avoid the shipping charges Etsy places on packages, email me in case we can arrange for you to pick up your items and avoid the shipping fee!

This holiday I once again have my Rockefeller tree card for sale, done in my classic New Yorker-style ink wash drawing . . .

Click on the photo to go to this card on my Etsy shop!

I’m also re-printing an Elf Card from some time ago, because it seems to fit with 2020 . . .

Click on the photo to go to this card on my Etsy shop!

And I’ve added one more animal musician to my notecard line – a bear playing a French Horn – such beautiful instruments –

Click on the photo to go to this card in my Etsy shop!

I have a number of other cards and notecards in my shop for animal lovers and music lovers and Scout families – please browse through them as you think about holiday gifts for friends, teachers, and business colleagues!

Click the photo to go to my Etsy shop!

Years ago I created cute drawings of angels, dressed in various national costumes, and printed them on long sleeved tee shirts for my girls.

I now have these girls’ tees on my Etsy shop, and they make a lovely Christmas gift for girls interested in their family heritage. I have limited numbers of sizes, with quantities described in detail on the Etsy listing. While the tees are printed in one color, the purchaser may want to use fabric markers to color in the art for a beautiful full-color look – or allow the girls to color them in themselves!

The sample shirts below have been colored with fabric markers, which are not included in the purchase. I have a limited number of colored-in shirts like these, please email me for details.

Thanks for shopping from a small business this holiday season!

My Cartoon in this Week’s New Yorker

It’s always a kick when I see my cartoon in the magazine my Dad & I loved paging through together. This one will be on page 69 of this week’s issue, Nov. 23, 2020.

To see my other cartoons published either in the New Yorker or for their online daily cartoon, go to https://condenaststore.com/art/pat+achilles .