Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Step by Step with Bill Smith

From the June 1952 issue of American Artist magazine:

My William A. Smith Flickr set.


  1. Thanks for this, Leif. What gorgeous studies from life. I gather not many illustrators were working from the model instead of photography by the 50s. It sure works for him here.

    Like every great magazine illustration, the scene makes me want to know more about the story.

  2. God, what rock solid drawing! To say nothing of the drama of the piece.

  3. Carl Peters, a well known east coast landscape painter of the past, laid a pile of sketches on the roof of his car. They were sketches for potential paintings, that he had been doing of different scenes on location, over many months. He forgot and drove off, leaving the drawings on the car roof. He was nearly home before he realized his error and went back to look for them.

    He was unable to find a single sketch, and when a friend commented that they were "just sketches"... Peters said "yes, but they are my brains".

    It is the thinking that goes into the sketches that can make or break a finished illustration or painting. Smith's sketches show the amazing draftsmanship and creative thinking that went into his final illustrations. That says volumes about the man and his illustration process.

    This is great stuff Leif has posted.

    Tom Watson

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  5. Wow. I absolutely love the model drawings!!!

    They are so full of energy and life. I prefer them over the finished piece.

    Thanks for showing them Leif!

    Tom Wolfe

  6. Hi Leif, just got out of the hospital and couldn't wait to get back here to see what new treasures you had dug up. Bill Smith's work is stark and
    powerful, and his figures so true to life. I'm truly awed by the man's talent.

  7. I'm posting comments on every page.

    I hope this blog will enable us, Bill Smith's family, to trade information about my father. There are many gaps in even our recollections and tear-sheets!

    Thank you all for the kind and energizing comments!