10.31.2013

Re-post from my class blog.

I wrote this for my class blog, and while my plan was to keep this particular blog to the selfish topic of MY artwork, I want to post this exception because Ftiz and Van are an inspiration for my illustration, though you probably don't see much literal translation into my work.



I present two advertising illustrations for the 1960 Pontiac convertible. I talked in class about Fitz and Van, an illustrating team at General motors. They did the second piece above- Fitz doing the car, Van doing the scenery and figure work. While collecting some of this old ad art, I accidentally purchased a non-Fitz and Van piece from their era and was very interested to compare the two works because the car and perspective were identical. When I scanned these in and scaled them, the overlay was remarkable, I'm thinking that the same photo reference of the car was used for both, though the lighting comes from a higher angle in the second image. What is interesting is while the first illo is good, how much better the second, Fitz and Van is. This is why the team of Art Fitzpatrick and Van Kaufman was so valuable to General Motors in the 1960's.


I've neglected Van's portion of the piece somewhat, cropping much of his work here. He did the backgrounds and figures in the illos, but it's worth noting the overall feeling of the scene itself, comparing both images. The family in the first image is apparently some mid-western tourists visiting California for the first time. Dad can't figure out his camera, dopey son is helpless to assist and can only gawk. The graceless girl has awkwardly dropped her doll while the mother, shapeless, almost two dimensional with a dowdy dress that just hangs at an uninspired length, stiffly turns to glance back. Child number three, fey and completely ignored, is likely to run alone into the parking lot while each parent thinks the other is watching. There is nary the connection between any of the family or the car. We're not even sure if it IS their car.

Moving on to Van Kaufman's work, someone has made the right call- we have no kids in the image. This, of course, is the two-door convertible, and the market for this particular model is a couple or swinging single. In pure advertising strategy logic, the two couples interacting are appropriate for the car. Now these folks have style, apart from the relaxed, energetic interaction, there's all sorts of style with these folks. While the first guy couldn't figure out his camera, it looks like this guy has a yacht, as implied by the cap and harbor scene. He's the regular captain of a ship! My general feeling is that Van intended the couple outside the car to look longingly, jealously and the driver and his gal and their great car. You get a feeling of consumer want and envy here. The guy in the sportscoat is just dying to ask the yacht captain the secrets of his success. That little tilt of the lady in yellow's head just has the wistful dreaming indication. Maybe it's just my imagination.


The car illustration: Art's work really pops. There's all sorts of things he's doing that the first artist is not. Starting with value range, the important basis of any illustration. Looking at the fronts of both cars with the color stripped away, look at the range of value on the right side, the liveliness of the hood itself and the fluidity of the reflection of the windshield- the work on the right pulling the window frame reflection into a dynamic, elegant point emphasizing the hood spear stamping. Even the reflection of the rear view mirror, probably eliminated by the first artist as a fussy, distracting detail is actually just another level of interest in Art's hood. The headlights are alive on the right, glazed with cataracts on the left. The Fitz and Van car has a bit of the turn of the tire to help the car feel like it is going somewhere, less static. The only thing that seems to be minimized are the wiper blades, which integrate into the cowl better in the second piece, probably not accurate. The focal point of the car is the front near corner, where the sunlight dazzles to pure white of both paint and chrome, and the blue turns nearly black. Contrast and value. Punchy. Attractive

When you get to the color, I did an eyedropper test in Photoshop on both cars and with Art's Pontiac, there is quite a bit of flop from purple to greenish blue. The first piece has one blue that carries through the whole car. Fitz and Van's pieces had an exemplary quality from their earliest collaborations around this time and it is little wonder that they basically owned the Pontiac brand image years after this, right up to the point when illustration ran out of favor and photos became de riguer, unfortunate as the photos were never quite as adept in selling the dream as these paintings were.

John A. Frye 10/31/13 Happy Halloween!

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