Thursday, August 14, 2008

Charlie Allen on Robert Fawcett

Today I thought I'd share a few of the many Robert Fawcett scans generously sent to me by our own Charlie Allen, along with Charlie's insightful observations about the artist.

Be sure to visit Charlie Allen's Blog for the latest installment of his CAWS series, updated today. Charlie writes...

"A lot of RF's in my file... still have scads."

"From my limited experience, meeting and talking briefly twice, and hearing a near diatribe before a group of S.F. illustrators (before SF Society of Illustrators was formed), Fawcett was a complicated, almost irascible, man. May have been his genius, a towering ego, or something else.....but for an artist as prolific, as talented, as successful, a legend in his time...he should have been totally happy and positive. I saw the opposite."

"Have thought for a long time about his general 'state of dissatisfaction', and almost hostile attitude that I saw....and, in spite of his great talents. Brilliant people often have unusual personalities....but it just may have been as simple as financial reward. Top lawyers, surgeons, business men, certainly actors, athletes, entertainers, etc. command much higher incomes than the average. This really wasn't the case with illustrators....with a few exceptions."

"Again, enough history. Cheers.... Chas."

Many thanks to Charlie for sharing these scans and his thoughts on the artist- and be sure to check out CAWS # 7 at Charlie Allen's Blog.

* My Robert Fawcett Flickr set.


  1. Thanks for the Fawcett posts. They brings back lots of old magazine memories. I would enjoy seeing some posts on the great western painter and Saturday Evening Post cover artist John Clymer some day.

  2. Anonymous10:12 PM

    Charlie, respect isn't the case in any field of art. It took me years to get over my anger at one comment, "Well, it's not like you're discovering a cure for cancer."

    Or, the more common ignorance displayed at parties, "Oh, you draw. I wish I could get paid to play all day like that..."

    We've all starved at some point. An expert illustrator I admired in the '80's recently came to the house to repair a fuse! I recognized him, and had a wistful chat about the once and future bad ol' days.

    Fawcett was a master at all aspects-- he even overcame his color-blind limits. I'm sorry to hear he never enjoyed his well-deserved status, for all the disrespect.

  3. charlie allen11:08 PM

    ANONYMOUS.....Enjoyed your comment. Forgot to mention Fawcett's color blindness. Probably a reason he started off with value, then added color. He came up with great color combinations, tho, so It never seemed a problem. Actually, I think Fawcett was supremely confident, and liked to play the 'ham', or the 'wronged party'. His talk in front of about 30 artists was bitter, but hilarious. He could be rude, but interesting, and a gifted raconteur. CA

  4. Anonymous11:17 PM

    Oops, I think I edited too heavily in the post above. To clarify:

    I read the series of Fawcett entries as a whole, and was struck by a few lines. Where Charlie wonders about Fawcett, I think I see a cause.

    Word choices like "stubborn" have a cause. If he's such a consistent producer and the envy of his colleagues, where is the need to be stubborn? May I suggest Art Directors who want his style, but not his thinking?

    Emotions behind "contempt for any who consider it a racket" and scorn for "rubber-stamp picturemaking" maybe aren't reserved for his lazy competitors, but may be generated by the the self-serving remarks of ungrateful clients.

    When generous skill meets smug ignorance, it's appalling. A prime portion of a life contributing something we feel is highly valuable-- "just past 50" we do reflect, and reinforce our beliefs. It does cause others to wonder why we are so,um, irascible.

    I am not comparing my talent to Fawcett's, only outcomes. If an Illustrator's Illustrator "can't get no" then I'll be fixing fuses soon myself.

  5. Anonymous11:22 PM

    LOL-- our posts crossed, Charlie.

    Thanks for being generous; I sound irascble.

    BTW, "wronged party" humor rings true by experience, no?

  6. Anonymous11:41 PM


    Have you seen the Clymer collection over at Curtis Publishing?

  7. I've been reading Fawcett's master course for the Famous Artist's school, where he shares his whole philosophy of illustration. He describes himself as "somber, methodical, rebellious, introspective, and occasionally satirical." In his day, when magazines were the mainstream popular form, he said that illustrators have a responsibility, because "we represent the only view of art, of beauty, to millions of people. If we do less than our best, we cheat them."

    I noticed that Dover has his "On the Art of Drawing" in an inexpensive reprint form.