Leon Redbone Dwg. & Further Evidence of Sketchbookery

Leon Redbone at the Iridium 5/14.   I had great seats to hear Leon’s accomplished guitar playing and his anachronistic  hijinks.  Unfortunately he fled the scence before I could get him to autograph my sketch of him in my book.  Jumping out the back window to avoid a disgruntled husband no doubt…

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below are some recent  pages ….

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an unknown lady sings the blues and two  portraits of Blind Lemon Jefferson.

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Sketchbook Osama

Anyone commuting or…okay awake the week of May 2, 2011 could not help but be bombarded by Osama Bin Laden’s face staring out at them from every newspaper, magazine and screen.  I was drawing his portrait in my sketchbook unconciously….

Who…Who…Who?

My daughter and I have started reading the “Guardians of Ga’Hooleseries written by Kathryn Lasky. You might remember there was an animated movie based on the 15 book series that came out in 2010.  Without going into a review of either we’re having a lot of fun reading them and I have taken to drawing some of the owls from the book in my sketchbook.

Jatt & Jutt are a particularly nasty  pair of birds that figure into the story early on. I did a quick sketch for my daughter:

I liked the simplicity of the sketch and their expressions, but of course could not leave well enough alone.  On another page of my moleskin I painted a more fussy version.  I’m not sure if it’s “better” yet but the story doesn’t end there…

I walk down broadway in NYC most mornings and pass the usual  visual excess, posters, advertisements, etc. The next day after I did the 2nd version of Jatt & Jutt I was walking along my usual route when I was confronted by this…

hmmmm….look familiar?  My god, am I that susceptable on an unconcious level to things I see during the day ? How frightening and wonderful!  A concept hitting me square between the eyes.

and Kourtney is even wearing feathers…

Sketchbookery with a Little Photoshop-bation

Something I did in my sketchbook…that lead to something else…

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Drawing on the Western Front

I just finished re-reading All Quiet on the Western Front,  Erich Maria Remarque’s brutally sensitive and  honest account of the Great War.  Remarque, was an 18-year-old German soldier on the Western Front in 1917, he was wounded in the leg , arm and neck.  Using his personal experiences in the war, the story is written from the perspective of a young  german enlisted man  Paul Bäumer and his former classmates now his comrades in arms.

(Above Left) 1917 propaganda poster for the sixth war bond “Helft uns seigen- zeichnet die Kriegsanleihe!”  (Help us win- buy war bonds!) which used  German artist Fritz Erler’s portrait of a soldier.  (Right) Cover for Little Brown and Co. 1929 first English edition of All Quiet on the Western Front.  signed Hensk/Henck? in the top right and inspired by Erler’s portrait.

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Fritz Erler,  whose drawing seems to have provided the idea  and figure for  the cover of Little Brown’s English edition, was a founding member of the influential Art Nouveau magazine Jugend (Youth) which lent it’s name to the  term “jugendstil” (“Youth Style”). He was an official military  painter for the German supreme army command. Compare his young soldier to Otto Dix‘s 1924 etching “ Wounded Soldier – Autumn 1916″ from his suite of etchings ” Der Krieg” (the War).

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33 years after the first publication,  Classics’s Illustrated tackled All Quiet on the Western Front  in graphic novel form.

(above) Classics Illustrated #95, May 1952  All Quiet on the Western Front,  cover and spread pages 22-23

(above) a panel from p.32.

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Illustrated by Maurice del Bourgo, and adapted by comic book and screenwriter Kenneth W. Fitch. Del Bourgo and Fitch did their best  condensing the book down into a 44  page comic book format.  The pages are dark, high contrast with a running narration.  There isn’t a lot of actual dialogue, at points a page goes by  with maybe one dialogue balloon.   Del Bourgo was an American comic artist during the 1940’s, ’50’s. He  worked for DC and Marvel as well as  illustrating a few Classics Illustrated for the Gilberton company : William Tell #101, Call of the Wild #91, The Red Badge of Courage # 98,  among others.

As noted in the back of the book the Classics Illustrated All Quiet was published during the Korean war. All Quiet along with EC comics war tales  would both be sited in Seduction of the Innocent as a cause of  juvenile delinquency. It would not be reprinted again until 1964 during the Viet Nam war.

Well just a little tidbit of info and trivia  before posting more recent Great War drawing from my sketchbook:

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More Great War Sketches

Additional sketches from my sketch book. Some of them are 2nd states.

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(Above) is a 2nd version of the sketch on the right hand page

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The Great War

About a month ago I came upon a reference to the First World War in something that I was reading and googled to find out some further info.  I think I have a fair knowledge of American history and knew some very basic facts about the war but I have to confess to being fairly ignorant about America’s role  and the conditions with which it was fought. I knew much more by far  about the Civil War and World War Two than “The Great War” which I suspect puts me in line with most Americans. The next week I stopped by the Strand bookstore and found this same thing echoed in the amount of shelf space afforded to each war.  A book case for the Civil War, a case for WWII and sandwiched in between were a few shelves for WWI.

It’s often a small piece of information that opens a door to a subject. For the past month I’ve been reading what I can  to fill my gap in knowledge and started 2 sketchbooks of drawings in preparation for….a narrative? A folio of drawings?  I’m not exactly sure  yet. 

  The war started in 1914 and ended in 1918. America entered the war relatively late in the conflict, declaring war on the central powers in April 1917 and sending troops over by the summer of 1918.  The United States mobilized  4 million men in that short amount of time and had a casualty list of  320, 000 men (116, 000 killed, 204,000 wounded) for the war  which is a gruesome statistic. Other allied powers say France had a 73 percent casualty rate.   A frightening loss of life. 

The Great War was considered the beginning of modern warfare, (or mass carnage if you like) and is probably associated with the unique feature of the use of poison gas and  trench warfare. Stalemates between sides where each is entrenched  and not able to advance. When an advance was attempted with infantry  “going over the top” of the trench it was usually accompanied by a huge loss of life due to progress in modern technology ie: 
artillery, machine guns, grenades.

Animals where used extensively during the war.  Horses were used in calvary units and along with Donkeys and dogs (the Belgian army)  to transport equipment . The Germans  also used dogs to carry messages and both sides used carrier pigeons for messages.  Animals are always the forgotten casualties of war.  I can imagine a landscape littered with horse corpses.

While  researching I’m struck by  the photos of these apocalyptic landscapes. bare splintered trees, mud everywhere because the ground is so torn  up by shelling that nothing can grow to hold water run off.

And trench life.  Long periods of time were spent by soldiers in the trenches.  and the existence  was hell. enduring constant lice, shelling, anxiety laced boredom, gas attacks, any number of things pertaining to the dark side of the human condition. More than anything else the absurdity of war is represented by the trenches.  Large loss of human life and no ground gained , nothing accomplished.

It seems that there are a lot of stories here to tell.

 

(More to come)