Illustrators # 6 (magazine review)

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

Editor Peter Richardson makes a very good point in his editorial that in the old days there was not a necessity to have a university degree to become a professional artist and how employers now use this as the means to whittle down candidates for employment. That is something I tend to agree with. After all, how can artistic talent be quantified other than by product and adhering to professional deadlines? When you see the work in this issue of ‘Illustrators’, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

The first is Walter Wyles (1925-). Much of his work was for the British women’s magazines of the 60s-70s where there was a high demand for paintings to accompany their stories. Some of his early work was very stylised and impressionistic but, turning the pages, he suddenly did some mind-spinning portraiture, no doubt helped by models, that is truly stunning. Wyles also did book covers and even one for John Norman’s ‘Gor’ novels, where an example is given and a rare male only picture. You’ll have to buy the magazine for that one. The pages I’ve chosen is the one that blew me away. From an artistic point of view, Wyles knows how to make the best use of light and shade and setting the mood. A lesson to learn from getting models to pose for you is don’t let them be too passive just so they can relax. Whether you can get them to stay that way for the length of time to draw them is more debatable but as with drawing children, I find they can at least adjust their pose when focusing on that part of the body.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

Political cartoonist Dave Gaskill (1939-) has an interesting history, moving from the UK to South Africa, back again then to Australia and back to the UK as he developed his career in various newspapers. Seeing his caricatures, you should get a better grasp of not only being able to draw famous people well but press home comedy elements at the same time and do it fast to short deadlines. Gaskill has also drawn comicstrip and even a graphic novel, ‘Moll Perkins In America’.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

If you were in the UK in the 60s, there you would have at least seen the covers of the pocket-sized war comic magazines. Graham Coton (1926-2003) did not only those but the occasional comicstrip inside, his editors playing up on his strengths to illustrate aircraft and cars well in motion. The samples shown here point out how good an illustrator he was and in some instances noting that you don’t always have to do speed lines to show something in movement. He’s also another artist who illustrated for ‘Look And Learn’. In many respects, a lot of his paintings are impressionistic and you’re seeing more from a few paintstrokes than you think you are but equally, he could also be realistic.

Thinking about that, I suspect when you know your paintings are going to be shrunk down to A5 covers, you know that detail isn’t needed but more suggestion. If you want a comparison in this digital age, resize of a painting or photo through, say, Paint (other painting software is available but everyone using Windows has a this one) and it will still look like the original size, however, magnifying it shows just how few pixels are being used compared to get the same image. Same technique really.

All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd (c) The Book Palace
All contents copyright The Book Palace Ltd
(c) The Book Palace

More stylised is the work of Laurence Fish (1919-2009) who practically was the industry for travel posters in the UK and advertising as well as a variety of magazine covers in the 50s-60s. Going along with my comments on Graham Coton, you essentially paint what you’re paid to paint and Fish could do both stylised and detailed in equal measure.

Finally, there is a brief look at mid-70s Illustrators Workshop and samples of the six American artists work.

As I’ve pointed out before, there is always something new to learn from looking at the work of the various artists in ‘Illustrators’ and this one is no exception. From Wyles, it’s the clean paintstroke in head studies and with Coton and Fish, to suggest as much as detail. Even if you’re not into actually painting yourself, you’ll love these magazines as a showcase for a variety of talented artists.

GF Willmetts

July 2016

(pub: The Book Palace, 2013. 98 page illustrated squarebound magazine. Price: £15.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-907081-21-7. ISSN: 2052-6520

check out website: www.thebookpalace.com

2 thoughts on “Illustrators # 6 (magazine review)

  • I heartily agree. I doubt that a lot of illustrators who emerged in the 70’s and 80’s had degrees. I know I was actively discouraged from persueing a career in art. Fortunately, thanks to fanzines such as Cerebro and Singing Wire, to name just 2, I had an outlet for my meagre talent. You may remember me from such stories as “The Uncanny X-Ducks”.
    I never had the courage to go pro but I’m pleased to see an occasional name from the past doing well.

    Reply
  • Hello Danny
    You should know better than me forgetting you. 🙂
    You had a better than meagre talent to draw but getting into comicbook art professionally always needed a decent break and a dose of luck.
    I think it was John Bolton who said to me after one of the comic conventions that I should choose between doing art or writing rather than do both. Oddly, in the end, I went to prose.
    Geoff

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.