Entries in illustration (87)

Tuesday
Dec042018

An Edwardian Selfie

Eeep! The last few months of the year have just slipped away so quickly, and once more the only posts on this Sketchbook blog are calendar pictures one after the other. I’ve already blamed my old iMac last time, but it does inevitably get busy at this time of year.

Our Edwardian family here are getting ready for their Christmas selfie, a charming festive scene to end the year on. I love the small details in this painting, like the Dutch tiles on the fireplace, the decorated tree ornaments, and the way the child is playing with this new technology, pretending to take the cat’s photo with a box! And the cat is posing perfectly, of course.

It will soon be time to start the annual hunt for a calendar, but in the meantime, I hope your December is full of pleasant business and fun as you wind up the year.

Saturday
Nov172018

The Windmills of Montmartre

Hello! Belated November greetings, in part due to my poor old iMac dying a wheezing death and my website become partially inaccessible. I’m now up and running with a new iMac and all the latest whizz-bang software, so I am delighted to bring you this charming illustration of two black cats and a windmill.

I love the wobbly, hand-drawn text, the roughly-hewn windmill and muted colour scheme in this screen print. It’s easy to see the inspiration behind the vintage-style illustrations and fonts that are so in vogue today. The nostalgic charm with which they imbue designs is very appealing and uplifting.

I’ve not been to Paris, so it was interesting to read that once there were thirty windmills standing atop the hill of Montmartre – it must have been such a distinctive sight, though now there is only one functioning windmill left.

I hope you are having a happy mid-November!

Monday
Oct082018

Rice Flour

Belated October greetings: hello! This month’s calendar picture features a little girl with her feline companion. Reis-mehl translates from the German to ‘rice flour’, so perhaps she is enjoying a rice pudding? Who can say, but it must be good since she has rosy cheeks. I like her Mary-Janes too.

Here in Melbourne spring-proper has finally burst into bloom, which, since the spring equinox was on 23 September, is not surprising, but it is exciting! Today is forecast to be a particularly glorious 26°C, and lunch al fresco has certainly given me rosy cheeks.

Happy October!

Tuesday
Sep252018

Warhol’s Captivating Sense of Fun

Looking at Cecil Beaton’s illustrations immediately put me in mind of Andy Warhol’s own illustrations, which I have always preferred to his fine art output. In the 1950s and before he became his own brand, Warhol worked in the advertising industry as a very successful artist. He even won several Art Directors Club awards.

Warhol moved to New York in 1949 after studying commercial art at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. And for the next ten years he worked on Madison Avenue, illustrating fashion, in particular shoe advertisements for I. Miller and other advertising clients; LP covers; and several books, such as 25 Cats Named Sam and One Blue Pussy, Love Is A Pink Cake, and Wild Raspberries.

He returned to drawing in the 1970s, continuing to his death in 1987, but probably his most famous are the shoe drawings, which were published on Sundays in the New York Times, with captions written by his mother. (I must say I much prefer Warhol’s shoe illustrations to the work of another famous shoe illustrator, that of Manolo Blahnik.)

There is a lovely, light unselfconsciousness in Warhol’s drawings; in the imprecise linework that charms; in the whimsical creatures that inhabit the drawings – unicorns, yapping lapdogs and well-to-do pussycats wearing pearls. The sense of fun is captivating.

Images found on Pinterest.

Sunday
Sep232018

The Exuberance of Cecil Beaton

First edition of The Blessing, by Nancy Mitford with cover art by Cecil BeatonRecently I started reading Nancy Mitford’s book The Blessing, which, a few chapters in, is proving very entertaining. I first spotted this first edition book on a shelf in an op shop (thrift store), my eye caught by the author’s name as well as the colourful though tattered spine.

I had heard of Nancy Mitford (1904–1973), but I didn’t know much about her life. One of the famous Mitford sisters, she was a novelist, biographer and journalist. The book The Blessing, is considered one of her best, and was dedicated to her very good friend Evelyn Waugh. He told Mitford he found the book, “admirable, deliciously funny, consistent and complete, by far the best of your writings”.

My eye was caught by the illustration; the cover artwork of this first printing in 1951 is by Cecil Beaton and through the rearing horse, and tilting angles evokes a madcap adventure with the heroine’s young child (the ‘blessing’ of the title) at its centre.

Portrait of Coco ChanelCecil Beaton (1904–1980) was a prolifically creative person: ‘a fashion, portrait and war photographer, diarist, painter, interior designer and an Oscar-winning stage and costume designer for films and the theatre’. [Wikipedia] I have always admired Beaton’s dedication to detail in his drawings in particular: what patience he had in faithfully depicting the intricacies of interior décor in his portraits of the wealthy! The wallpaper patterns especially impress me, and it is no wonder after all, for he was also a textile designer, and his fabric designs were used by Balenciaga, Dior and Lanvin. (Read more here.)

Here is a small collection of Beaton’s exuberant illustrations that show a joyful sense of colour and playful riot of pattern and texture.

Images from Pinterest

Portrait of the Duchess of WindsorBeaton's accessories for Vogue magazineVogue cover, June 1935Vogue cover, July 1935Front cover of one of his personal scrapbooks, full of society photographsBack cover of Cecil Beaton's scrapbookWraparound book cover (click image for larger version)