Sunday was a big day for me. Yes, it was the first day of a new year and ‘fresh start’ thoughts were dancing (translation: sounded more like Get with it!). I took on — at least for the day — a sketching challenge from Sketchbook Skool: a drawing a day, prompts supplied for those who are idea challenged (like me). Eager to get some creative energy whirling I grabbed my pen and sketchbook. See the results here.
Feeling satisfied with myself, I sat down to read the New York Times Book Review section. The cover review was on Edward Sorel‘s book Mary Astor’s Purple Diary, The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936, published October 2016. Sorel is an illustrator, caricaturist, cartoonist, graphic designer and author. I happen to have 4 of his New Yorker cover illustrations on my bathroom wall (A friend who has subscribed to the magazine since 1974 shared her box of covers with me!). Click on image for larger view.
It’s no surprise that Sorel illustrated his book and the illustration on the cover of the book review section is what caught my attention first. His unique style tells you in a heartbeat who created the art you are looking at. His voice is clear and easily identifiable. To me it’s as clear as being able to identify a Picasso, van Gogh or Warhol. Here is the art work on front of the book review section:
Notice how the other people in the court room play the role of extra to the featured person. You can see this same style in the 4 New Yorker covers that I have in my bathroom.
I could learn a lot from this man’s work by simply drawing a portion of it. People have been doing this as a learning tool for centuries. Just Google ‘copying the masters’ to see discussions and guidelines. I have Austin Kleon’s bestseller Steal Like an Artist on my bookshelf. Could this also help me to create my own style? I don’t know but I’m in. Pen and sketchbook out, I study his line, proportion, focus of features in caricature.
I chose to focus on Mary Astor.
Sorel’s color palate is a part of his style. I studied his use of color and line style and how it ‘features’ the subject of the art. I was happy with the sketch and decided to go the next step in spite of the poor quality of paper I had sketched on. A study of Sorel’s use of color was just too tempting to pass up. He uses his pen a lot more than I have here. I tend to like a clean style.
So, am I on my way to finding my voice? I don’t know. I do know that I am going to tackle more of Sorel’s work to keep learning and keep my pen moving. Oh, and by the way, Woody Allen’s review of the book was a delightful read in itself.
How are you challenging your creativity in the new year?