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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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.

Fashion Drawing of a Friend

My friend Lynne Anne Donchez, who is a master hair and makeup stylist, also has a terrific sense of fashion. She was dressed up for a special occasion last week and I had to capture her with this fashion drawing.

This is a combination of digital drawing and traditional methods – I drew her in pencil, transferred that to my computer, colorized the large shapes in the computer, printed it out and then drew texture & finishing touches on the print.

Sketch for the Doylestown Historical Society

The Doylestown Historical Society helps to preserve many aspects of my hometown’s past, with speakers, tours and printed publications, and a very important part of that mission involves researching the historically significant buildings in this town and nearby communities.

I was asked to develop a sketch of one building in the borough, which today houses a law firm and is a lovely two-and-a-half story Second Empire structure, pictured below.

However, this is not what it looked like in 1834 when it was first constructed. The original house, built for Dr. Hugh Meredith, was described as “a large two-story brick house on Court Street fronting the public square. A wood frame office was attached to the west side of the house” which was used for his medical office. The house had a stone foundation.

After the Civil War, the house was enlarged along with stucco over the brick and a new Mansard roof was installed by workmen for attorney George Lear. At the time it was described as the handsomest residence in the borough.

Kurt Spence, a contractor with a love of old buildings, gave me instructions on what the house probably looked like in its first iteration. He suggested three windows on the second floor instead of the current five; two windows on the ground floor, the doorway on the right, and brick walls. I started with this rough pencil sketch.

Once Kurt saw this he could recommend changes based on his knowledge of construction. He said the two dormers in the roof would have been located in the spaces between the three windows; a double doorway for the main entrance would have been more likely, and a stone foundation would have shown below the bricks, about level with the door stoop. The windows would have had working shutters, and the panes would have been six over six at that time, because large panes of glass were not readily available. He recommended a chimney at the gable end between the two structures, so fireplaces could have heated those central rooms. And he suggested a wrought iron fence enclosing the yard.

My finished sketch, says Kurt, is a pretty good representation of what the house would have looked like for Dr. Meredith in the early 19th century. And I’m pleased to know more about the history of my town!

My Eagle Scout Greeting Cards

Once a year I remind my friends that I have created two illustrations that are quite popular as greeting cards for new Eagle Scouts. My son is an Eagle 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, that I am happy to share in celebrating these young men.

I drew the whimsical Eagle Salute Congratulations card first, 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.

The journey to Eagle is guided by Scoutmasters, parents, friends and others who inspire and encourage the Scout to accomplish the challenges needed to achieve Eagle rank. When a Scout makes his Eagle rank and is celebrated with a Court of Honor, there are always some exceptional people to be thanked. For these 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.

All of my cards are printed in full color on sturdy glossy card stock – the Congratulations cards are greeting-card-size, and the thank you notecards are smaller, invitation-size. Envelopes are included with each order, and the cards take standard first-class postage. The cardstock is made from partially recycled paper and my cards are printed in the USA – in fact, they are printed in my hometown! My thank-you notecards are blank inside so a message can be written by the sender.

I receive many kind comments from purchasers of my cards, who especially like the artwork, sincere message and quick delivery, all recorded on my Etsy page. I’ll mention, if you are in my area of central Bucks County, PA, if you email me on my Contact page you can pick up your cards, saving you some postage.

For special orders of quantity, size or message on these cards please send your questions by clicking HERE to go to my Contact page.

Sketches from 'The Wind in the Willows'

I’m reading the classic children’s story by Kenneth Grahame The Wind in the Willows, and feel compelled to sketch the book’s abundantly delightful characters. Here’s pencil sketches of Rat busily composing his poetry, and Badger leading Mole and Rat through his warren, after their near-disaster in the late night snowstorm.

More sketches to come from the thoroughly charming world of Mr. Grahame.

Cartoons for Two Business Greeting Cards

Every year I draw a black/white New Yorker-style cartoon for ProActive Performance and for Lennon’s Small Jobs, both located here in PA, for their holiday greetings to their clients.

Jim Shute of ProActive Performance sends his cards to clients for the Thanksgiving holiday – he feels it’s a perfectly appropriate time to send his thanks to customers for their support all year, and also he knows this way his card will arrive on his clients’ desks well before the Christmas card rush and stand out a bit. Jim always gives me some themes and buzzwords that are current in his business, and together we create a concept & caption. This year’s gag involved an economic term set to the scene of the first Thanksgiving:

I do a New Year’s postcard for Mary Lennon of Lennon’s Small Jobs, and have drawn penguin gags for her company for a number of years. The gag always refers to one of the many common tasks she is called to do in her home maintenance business.

It’s a nice way to remind her customers that is is open for business, and the postcard format makes it easy for her clients to tape it to the refrigerator so her phone number is always handy. And black/white postcards are relatively inexpensive to print, so it makes an affordable and effective promotional item.

Two New Year's Business Greeting Cards

I illustrated New Year’s cards for two businesses to mail to their clients, and both asked for caricatures of their staff in the artwork. These businesses feel it is a nice way for their customers to put a face to the voice they hear on the phone when they call; and since the cards are drawn, they are a bit more fun and even whimsical than a photo would be. (I’ve also gotten comments that my drawings make people look younger than they are in real life, which everybody likes!)

The first was for LifeTime Asset Management in Raleigh, NC. They wanted their staff toasting the New Year at a party, so i first pencilled in a rough composition of the 9 figures raiding glasses.

I tightened that up and drew specific faces in, and the company logo on the balloons, for a better rough.

I printed off a copy of that & colored it in roughly for the color comp, which I sent them for approval.

Once I got the ok I traced the drawing onto illustration board and started painting it in – I snapped this photo below while I was still laying in the basic colors.

And here is the completed art, with celebratory confetti added in, which appeared on the front of their card.

The second New Years card was for Kohlhepp Investment Advisors here in PA. They are a family-run business and everyone has a great sense of humor – if you look at past Kohlhepp cards on my blog you’ll see they’ve had me draw the team in many funny, unique situations. This year did not disappoint – with the bullish economy they decided on the great concept of the whole team running with the bulls! I sent them two very rough sketches, asking if the two women in the firm want to be right in there with the bulls or not – they answered of course they do!

I tightened up the drawing –

and did a rough color sketch

They requested Ed Sr. to have a more active pose on the bull, so I changed that, then drew it on illustration board in prisma pencil, painted in acrylic washes, and added some dust clouds in chalk, for the finished art.

'Tech Gals' Mugs

My ‘Tech Gals’ illustration is now available on mugs – a cute gift for any modern woman who’s always busy but never far from her technology!

The photos below show how the art wraps around the entire mug. The title shown on the mug has been changed to ‘Tech Gals.’ Please email me on my Contact page for pricing and personalization.