Tuesday, October 28, 2014
A few thoughts I've been kicking around lately. I know I tend to focus on the lineage from Frazetta through Jeff Jones to Kent Williams, but really this is just a small part of a much bigger lineage, and I'm beginning to see what my place in it might be.
The bigger lineage is really the entire history of realistic illustrative art, especially concerning the heroic tradition. Starting probably in the Renaissance - after all, those artists were mostly illustrating the Bible, mythology and historical tales. It continues in an unbroken chain until the point when the 'Art World' lost its collective mind and degenerated into miasma of ridiculousness - but the lineage didn't end there, it had moved to the world of magazine illustration. From there it continued, jumping when necessary over to pulp and paperback illustration and then to concept art/digital illustration for the internet, video games and etc.
In the work of Frazetta et al you can clearly see influences from many of the predecessors, in particular Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, Mead Shaeffer, and several other of the Bradnywine illustrators - then J Allen St John and many of the pen and ink illustrators from the golden age of magazine illustration through the world of comics.
Recently I was looking at a lot of Golden Age/Brandywine stuff, including Harvey Dunn and Dean Cornwell, but particularly Wyeth and Schaeffer. I think that shows in this piece pretty clearly. This is one way to avoid the pitfall so many Frazetta imitators fell into, who only looked at his work and maybe a few of the other heroic fantasy artists of the 60's/70's who worked similarly. You can definitely see the inbreeding in that kind of work.
As for my own place in this heritage, I'm beginning to see that my figures just aren't going to be as fluid, dynamic or muscular as those of Frazetta or Williams, and that's ok, even though I always imagined them that way. And of course they will change as I learn anatomy and the rest of it better. But I think I see something else in my work, that's hard to define. It seems to be more about character and atmosphere. But I won't try to define it or categorize it now - that would only be self-defeating. It will grow best if left to its own devices with no attempts to analyze it or control it. But I do think it's an important step that I now understand I don't need to be just the way I used to think I would. Let it evolve…