Thursday, April 28, 2016

RINGO'S TEETH AND STAN LEE'S FINGERS

Regular readers know that I'm a big fan of Tom Fluharty's sketches.


In an era when quality drawing is under-appreciated, Fluharty's strong, bold, insightful drawings stand out.

So I was particularly pleased when Fluharty announced the release of his splendid new collection of drawings, The Art of the Sketch.  Looking through Fluharty's book, several lessons stand out.

I love this drawing of Ringo Starr:


It looks like it was drawn quickly, like the crack of a whip.  Yet if you look more closely, you note that he paid attention to-- and drew-- each and every tooth individually. 



You don't notice such details at first because Fluharty has the gift to capture them with a vigorous, energetic scribble rather than the painful cross hatching or stippling that many meticulous draftsmen use to capture details. 

The point is not that Fluharty makes highly detailed drawings-- to the contrary, he often ignores major details.

The point is that Fluharty notices such details; when Fluharty has a pencil in his hand, not one feather falls from a sparrow unnoticed.  And from that wealth of observations, he judiciously selects the details he thinks are important.  In the drawing of Ringo,  that smile is the centerpiece and Fluharty apparently felt that those ungainly teeth were worth the additional effort.  We may not be conscious of them, but such details contribute a lot.

You see similar attention in this more finished drawing of Stan Lee.

 

Look at how much imagination Fluharty has invested in those gnarled old fingers still striking the "spidey" pose: 
 

Or check out the wringing hands in this drawing of Hillary Clinton...



In both cases, you can tell that Fluharty decided that hands would be an important part of the story, and went back to add them to his drawing.

This is a fine collection of working drawings, and one that I enjoyed thoroughly.



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

BATMAN vs. SUPERMAN


158 years ago last week, the first patent was issued for the modern pencil.

This week, HTC Vive released their latest virtual reality technology, which allows an artist to "paint in three dimensions with a bevy of whimsical substances.  Flick a selection tool and you can add twinkling stars, smoke and swirls of blinking neon or frame your creation against a cosmic backdrop."

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on.

One has to wonder what remains for old fashioned drawing in an era where robots can use face recognition software to paint entirely new Rembrandts, complete with Rembrandt's characteristic surface textures.

I received a reassuring answer recently when I went to the new blockbuster movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

The film is based on a clash between Batman and Superman in Frank Miller's smart, imaginative comic book, The Dark Knight Returns.

 

 



Drawn in old fashioned ink, The Dark Knight Returns was a major leap forward in the evolution of comic books.  Beautifully designed...



...and staged with intelligence and conviction, Miller's book was a genuine work of art.

The movie, on the other hand, was a two and a half hour, huge, honking mess. It was state-of-the-art big budget digital story telling: a frenzy of high rez destruction, collisions, nukes, plane crashes, explosions, flames, huge monsters and collapsing buildings, but not a hint of judgment or proportion or artistic restraint.  The pretentious choir-of-angels soundtrack and the self-important posturing ("man vs. god") were particularly irksome in a movie so devoid of an artistic soul.

Henry Adams wasn't a movie critic but he correctly observed, "Man has mounted science and is now run away with."

Despite the film's superior size, speed, decibel level, budget, and the advantages of 30 years of technological enhancements, the hand drawn comic book remains a far more powerful work of art.

Score one for the brain and the pencil.