Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Famous Illustrators - Dean Cornwell

Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini, has had the luck of being released in a golden era of illustrators and has, therefore, had the honor of being illustrated by some of the most famous pirate illustrator (and not so pirateish illustrators after all) such as NC Wyeth - I already talked about him - and Dean Cornwell.

I found a list in this website here but websites come and go on the web and so I'll paste here some of its content, the ones that interest us more:
Book 1st Us Edition HM Publishing Year Illustrator
Dust Jacket

Captain Blood Yes 1922 N. C. Wyeth N. C. Wyeth
Also Captain Blood/Triangle Bks No 1946 N. C. Wyeth None
Also Captain Blood/Photoplay No N.D. N. C. Wyeth Photo Of J. Walter Kerrigan
Also Captain Blood/Riverside No 1950 Clyde O. Deland Clyde O. Deland
The Sea Hawk No 1923 Harold M. Brett Harold M. Brett
Captain Blood Returns Yes 1931 Dean Cornwell None / End Papers By Cornwell

In the book, The Dean of Illustrators, it is possible to see some of the preparatory drawings for the pirates appearing in Captain Blood. (I own the Cornwell book and it is now hard to find... but I am looking for the illustrated Captain Blood - both Wyeth and Corwell version).

This man was actually more of a mural artist but even though his qualities as an illustrator and painter are undeniable... his sketches and drawing are way beyond beautiful: they are alive.
He stands to pencil and charcoal as Rockwell stands to oil illustration.
In fact, if we go by pencil sketch and studies, Cornwell is my favorite artist of all times.

One thing I like about his artwork is the use of bright colors and the fact that he, sometimes, uses brilliant blue to outline things out and make the colors pop more. I think sunny California does this to you... Wayne Thiebaud is like that too, a colorist, a happy painter... the State calls for color and why should it not? Just look at Carmel-by-the-sea to see what I mean! Or Muir Woods! The light makes everything look bright.

But let's go back to our man, Dean darling!
I don't have many pirate illustrations of his, just the above ones and the Sabatini covers.... but I feel compelled to show you his others stuff, even though it's totally unrelated, so that you can figure out what I mean when I talk about a strong drawer and a pencil genius, not to mention his fantastic compositions.
Looking at his sketches there's a couple of things we need to take into considerations: how he divides everything into shapes and planes (very useful if you need to figure out structure); the continuity of the body under the clothing, absolutely perfect; his treatment of fabric and folds.

He likes to draw sharp features too and is very detailed.

These are some of my favorite drawings... the different materials are shown here with sensible lines. Definitely he does not stick hands to sleeves and shoes to pants. There's a body under these clothes, a body with volume and you can feel it. It has weight.

Look how he applies his fabric studies to the actual drawings. If you can draw fabric like this you are God! :D

Composition and dramatic light are some of his strongest traits.
Obviously he thought about it a lot and truly studied his thumbnails properly, then developed the ones that he felt more functional to the story he had meant to tell with one illustration.

I'll post you some examples... you judge by yourselves.

I am going to finish with my favorite little girl:
Every time we see something striking we think: I wish I could be like him, I'll strive to be like him.

When I saw this little girl's drawing what I thought was: I cannot quit drawing anymore! Till I reach him!

With time... you learn to struggle and accept limit and decide to suffer in order to improve.
I will be Dean Cornwell one day, maybe... and have a drawing that will make someone go: I cannot quit!
Drawing is what keep us happy and unhappy, this is what true love is all about.

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