zaterdag 29 augustus 2009

Dean Cornwell Notes

Taken from art and influence blog

(all images Dean Cornwell)

By Armand Cabrera

A student of Harvey Dunn, Dean Cornwell was one of the top illustrators in the Untied States in the 1920's and 1930's. At the height of his career he gave up illustration to become a mural painter, studying in England with Frank Brangwyn. Dean Cornwell espoused many of the philosophies of his two teachers Dunn and Brangwyn and these notes reflect that philosophy.

Don’t imitate the artists you admire. Be inspired by the ideals they put into their work- use their sincerity as an ideal but develop your own individuality.

In good sound painting the important qualities are color, design and surface quality, while in illustration; form particularly, character and spirit are the prime requirements. An illustration must be a picture and not a diagram of the text.

There are no rules for good composition. The subject matter and the spirit or idea should dictate and govern the composition of any particular picture.

Anguish and worry mixed with paint is never good towards a happy end.

A picture had much better be interesting than accurate. It is what you have to say and how you say it that interests anyone.

It is difficult to convince the average student that pictures are not produced with paint. Neither are they made from the wrist.

When you travel, sketch the things that characterize a place, not the things it has in common with other places.

Get the smell of a place and try to paint smells rather than visuals

Don’t paint a picture of a man, paint a man.

A good composition must be a good abstraction

Discipline yourself; the things we do without discipline generally get us into trouble.

Develop a style so far removed from the photographic standpoint the camera can’t supplant you.

In all my references to painting I bar the ultra-modern

I do not believe the government should support any artist because he found picture making more pleasant than pants-pressing!

My second set of Dean Cornwell quotes from Art Student League lectures given in the thirties.

For background material, go to the source, not clippings of another illustrators work. Build you own files with your own sketches

Do what the camera can’t do- the camera can’t add the spiritual; it can’t go beyond the mentality of its models. Test your work ask yourself “Can the camera do what I have done?” If you can make a real picture you won’t have to worry about the camera.

One thing is definite-ART IS IMPORTANT! Man drew pictures before he could read or write and he still looks at pictures. Let us then agree they should be good.

In speaking of art, Frank Brangwyn says the best art is that which serves the best purpose.

From all we can read of the old masters they did not set out to produce art but to do well a given job

No one can ever hope to attain success as an illustrator when this aim is not their sole purpose in life.

Any picture made by a rule is most likely to result in looking like rules and hence will always lack distinction and personality.

The first thing a student seems to think important is that of acquiring a style. It is truth we are striving for and style is a bit of the man himself that stands between the observer and the idea and is always a distraction.

Every thought in the artists mind is always manifest in the result. If you are thinking of how the paint is put on your canvas the result will be this is your message.

To understand art apart from facts one must go to the work of acknowledged masters, while fact may be gained from nature. We must realize that art is interpretation not imitation.

It is the quality of selection in everything at all times that makes for the artist. Whatever you do, do it as well as you can, whenever in doubt, don’t do it.

Art is a language complete and distinct from literature. Anything that can be said in words is not a subject for a painting.

A picture so limited to any one line in the story is not worthy of space.

I have known illustrators to lack imagination to the extent that they allow or depend on the model to give them an interpretation. Very rarely have I ever found a model that can get into a pose in spirit or drawing the way I would like it on canvas. You should know enough about drawing so that your action or posture is definitely established on your canvas before ever calling the model.

I have always started without drawing in the charcoal first but with lots of medium and very large brushes working entirely in tone and mass. In laying in your picture this way after a few hours at a distance of twenty or thirty feet your canvas should look complete and finished. Until this is so it is not a lay-in and until you have a good lay-in no thought should be given to the use of models.

Drawing is an indispensable aid to the illustrator. By this I do not mean academic drawing, this is of practically no value.

A successful picture is a thing conceived as a whole and cannot be attained by the sum of its parts. The sum of the parts is never as great as the whole.

It is impossible for any man to paint and not leave traces of his personality. In the work of big men, despite this, the idea is never obscured by technique or manner of presentation.

One thing I do not believe that any museum curator or board of directors has the right with taxpayer’s money to take it upon him or themselves to select what they think the Public must accept as the best contemporary art.

I do not believe in art criticism or art critics- I do not wish to throw anybody out of a job but they should confine their columns to factual reviews, pointing out what comprises “so and so’s exhibition, the medium used, and where they’re hung, if someone reading the paper decides they would like to see some western pictures, they can see them by attending the show, form their own opinions and buy if they like.

The Romans and Greeks felt it incumbent on themselves to preserve historical events in representation; not only their military victories but the simple facts of their everyday life. From their sculpture, mosaics and frescoes we have today a complete lucid picture of their life 2000 odd years ago. Art should be so truly of this character that if New York were to be buried in cinders tomorrow, those digging their way in 2000 years hence would know all about us.

The Parthenon Frieze is over 300 feet long, depicts a day of the Panathenaca Festival, and represents the men women and children, old and young- in procession to the Acropolis; it is also a very definite decorative part of the architecture of the building.

Withdraw WPA support and most, if left to living on their sale of work, would go back to the trade they followed when someone made the cry of “come on boys, here’s a chance to get a living at the government’s expense”.

Someone painted a President Garfield House with much scroll saw work and a mansard roof-500 followed Someone also painted the 6th avenue El Station at 14th Street, and 500 of these followed, to say nothing of the scenes inside adjacent pants factories.

A group living in the clean air of the Wild West started painting farm life with carefully drawn furrows and geometrically laid out rows of corn shocks and very, very round trees bordering these fields, in the meticulous manner of the 14th century Dutch and Italians. Along with the Midwest Farm School, the 14th Street School specialized in subway elevated stations, pants factories, in a not too meticulous technical manner, due partly perhaps to the fact that crowds of people are harder to paint then round trees and shocks of corn. This excited everyone so the sand and lime industry did a rushing business, every cellar wall serving as a laboratory for fresco experiments. Classes were formed coast to coast.
The Mexican influence was like onions or garlic- it permeated everything. Pictures of pants factories and subway stations began to be filled with people that looked like Mexicans. The art formula now was for and of the people- everyone portrayed must be tired, down trodden, always bending under the burden-taking whip lashes on the back. Someone commented everyone is bending over to pick up a bundle. In other words one of Rivera’s best known frescoes showed sad tired undraped peons all bending down to gather huge bundles of sugar cane while mounted guards rested high powered rifles across their laps. The New York School did 500 pictures of tired underfed workers bending over huge bundles of pants in a sweat shop

Someone thankfully decreed a few years back that we Americans stop going to Brittany to paint the red sails in the Sunlight of the sardine boats. Stop painting devitalized allegorical nudes flying through clouds, scattering roses as the typical subject for all mural painting. In other words, to paint THE AMERICAN SCENE… take our subjects from about us-Grand! Fine! Glorious!

2 opmerkingen:

Artoonator zei

Wat mij betreft past hij in het lijstje 'oude meesters'.

Carl Knox zei

thanks for passing these on... i've had a book on cornwell for a while now that I haven't found the time to pick up... i'll do so this evening thanks to you.