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.

Mascot Sketch

I was asked to do a little cricket character for Maria’s House Montessori school in Doylestown, because in their variety of great learning experiences for children the school is introducing – cricket! (the sport, that is)

I sketched a pencil cricket with some of the appropriate playing gear, bat, helmet, shin guards –

and after tightening up the sketch I added digital color using the school’s logo and colors to tie it all in.

Pen and Ink Drawing of a Modern Home

I’ve been recently posting a series of architecturally historic buildings that I have drawn in pen and ink, but I’ve found modern homes to be great subjects as well. I was commissioned to draw this home in the Doylestown area for use on the family’s Christmas card a few years back.

I love the setting, with the rambling driveway from which you get a long lovely look at the home as you approach, the sleigh decoration on the front lawn, and the symmetry of the building.

I’m open for more commissions such as this, though I do get busy as the holidays approach; so if you are interested I’d appreciate a note sooner rather than later.

To see some of my other house portraits click here, here, here, here or here.

A Turn-of-the-20th-Century Home in Pen and Ink

Here is another of my pen-and-ink drawings of architecturally-notable houses of Doylestown, PA. This house may be termed vernacular Victorian – vernacular architecture is characterized by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. It is a simple and practical style with none of the fancy gingerbread trim of high Victorian buildings.

(c) Pat Achilles

I’m working on drawing another house down the street from this one, and will post it soon. Illustrations like this look lovely when framed and can also be used for personalized stationery and holiday cards for homeowners. If you’d like to inquire on my fees for illustration please drop me a note on my Contact page.

More Pen and Ink Bucks County Houses

In addition to the house drawing I posted a few days ago, I also drew these two lovely homes a number of years back, for the St. Paul’s Church Christmas in Doylestown House Tour. I used pen and ink, which I think gives a timeless quality to a drawing.

The first is a two-story colonial with a charming wrought iron fence and gate and a bracket portico over the front door. It was designed by local builder Jay Maxwell.

The house below, behind a stately crenellated stone fence, was built by Asher Cox in 1828 and is the oldest brick house in Doylestown borough. It was sold in 1831 to cabinet maker Lester Rich for $600!

I’ll post some more ink drawings from my picturesque home town soon.

Animated video for a business

My friend Jake Toyberman is a realtor with extensive banking and investment knowledge – having come from a banking career into real estate – and he posts tips and trends for home buyers, sellers and investors on various social media platforms. I recently worked with Jake’s media advisor, Amy Berridge, to create a fun animated intro for Jake’s short but insightful posts.

To show Jake and Amy what I pictured for the intro, I roughed out pencil sketches of homes, condos and keywords and faded them into a scene using Windows MovieMaker. Click the triangle to play the rough animation.

I drew a caricature of Jake and dropped him into the scene, along with some of his business contact info.

After getting good feedback from Amy and Jake, I added more contact information, and then drew the finished artwork. Jake said he liked the look of the black & white artwork and I agreed, so we kept the intro black/white, and I found some fun music to overlay the video, (music by: http://www.bensound.com) completing the upbeat feel of the intro.

Music: http://www.bensound.com

And just recently Amy assembled the intro and Jake’s latest tips into a new post for his social media promotions.

It was a pleasure to work with Jake & Amy on this, and I recommend them both highly for their expertise!

Pen and Ink of a Grand House

I drew this elegant home in the heart of my hometown, Doylestown, PA, for a Christmas House Tour years ago. I used pen and ink, which I think brings out the textural detail in the bricks and stonework. It was built in 1910 for Doylestown merchant J. K. Musselman.

Little House on the Main Line

I was commissioned to paint a bridal shower gift recently – a portrait of the little brick home that the happy couple will soon be settling down in. It’s located in one of the charming towns on Philadel-phia’s Main Line, the string of villages that grew up around the Philadelphia Railroad line from the center of the city out to its western suburbs in the 19th century.

My client gave me several photos of the house that were very helpful, and also photos of the couple, since we wanted to depict the newlyweds sitting on their porch.

I started with a basic pencil sketch of the house from the front with the couple on their front porch together.

I drew a tighter but simple sketch of the couple, and then we thought to add their dog into the scene, so my client sent me cute pooch photos.

I tightened up the whole drawing to show to my client before I started painting, and with her approval I transferred the drawing to illustration board and began adding color.

The finished painting is below – it looked great in the frame my client picked, and the bride-to-be was thrilled with her very personalized gift!

Free Classical Gala Music from the Lenape Chamber Ensemble

I was pleased to help the wonderful Lenape Chamber ensemble get some of their delightful music recordings into a format suitable for posting on the internet, and now all can enjoy them for free. I created title screens for introducing each recording and combined the audio and video to make a finished video for their website.

I invite you all to enjoy these pieces, recorded last summer as part of the Lenape Chamber Ensemble Summer Gala Series, including works by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven, Haydn, Milhaud, Dvořák, Cherubini, Ravel and Taneyev.

Click HERE to go to their Recordings page and listen to any one of these nine beautiful pieces.