Thursday, September 02, 2010

"Obscure, but fine drawings for "pen and ink" fanatics"

I am always grateful for the contributions - both images and words - so generously shared by those who visit this blog and my illustrator archives on Flickr. For example, about nine months ago I posted this image below by Henry C. Pitz. On the image's Flickr page, my friend Norman C. Mallory commented, "Pitz has been important to me since high school. He's underrated ( and forgotten!) these days-- classed with Adolph Dehn and the like ( not that Dehn is entirely without charm... )."


"Pitz's book for Watson-Guptill on pen and ink drawing is a treasure. I was lucky enough to find a hardback in good condition (from about 1949) pretty cheap at a used bookstore-- when there were many good used bookstores around."


A few days later Norman sent me an email:

"Inspired by your recent Pitz postings (I consider Pitz one of my most important "teachers", his books have tutored me since I was 15), I scanned some crisp repros from my pristine hardback edition of PEN, BRUSH AND INK, published in 1949 by Watson-Guptill. I was lucky enough to find a clean copy in a used bookstore a few years ago."

"These are masterful pen-and-ink drawings by relatively unknown artists whose work appeared in THE SATURDAY EVENING POST."

... and soon after the following scans I'm sharing with you today arrived. I've posted these scans extra large so you can click on them and marvel at the details as I did. Norman adds some brief, appreciative remarks:

"The Paul Nonnast and Fred Freeman drawings are, I think, superb. The Justis "worksheet" a treasure, and the Coll-- well, what does one say about the music of Chopin and Beethoven on the same page... ?"


"I love the combination of freedom and control in this drawing, and the sense of the wind's power... "


"The variety of marks Justis uses is apparently inexhaustibly inventive... "


"Not much to say about this beauty-- except the influence of Vierge is strong here. Coll got bolder toward the end of his short life. The Flesk books, with generous sized repros and details, show that clearly."

JC Coll01

"I thought, possibly, that [these images] might find a home among your magnificent archive of postings. I know there must be more "pen and ink" fanatics who would like to see these obscure, but fine drawings."

And I'm sure Norman is correct. With many thanks to him for sharing these beautiful examples of the art of the inked line - as well as his fine commentary!

* NC Mallory on Flickr


  1. The Nonnast drawing is really nice.Harold Von Scmudt did some excellent black and white along with Frederick Chapman.I've never felt that Henry Pitz,despite being a great educator, was a truly top quality line artist.

  2. I keep meaning to do a post on Chapman... just haven't gotten around to it yet - but thanks for the reminder, Remo. I've never seen much by Von Schmidt in the way of ink drawings - just paintings. I'll have to hunt some down.

    Pitz is worth a closer look - although I've tended toward the same opinion as you about him in the past.

    That Collier's piece I posted today: click on it and look at the largest size. There's a lot of very nice, sensitive drawing, esp. in the still life set up at lower right. His approach to ink line is very different than most of these others, but I am growing more appreciative of his work as I study more and more of it.

  3. Apparently the handwriting was on the wall that pen and ink was on its way out, by the time I was in art school in the late 1950s'. Conventional tonal development in pen and ink was basically ignored in my illustration classes in the three different art schools I attended. The emphasis was to "edit out" and "simplify" the line.. to "say more with less".

    I don't remember Paul Nonnast at all during the mid century illustration era, but more recently have come across some of his full color renderings. He was a top notch academic literal illustrator with excellent drawing and painting skills, but after seeing his pen and ink drawing posted here, he obviously could stylize his approach with great success. The composition is quite unique and design oriented, compared to the literal color renderings I have seen of his. Excellent draftsmanship always allows an illustrator to go any direction and technique desired, with effective solid results.

    I always felt Henry Pitz's work was hit and miss.. not one of the top illustrators, but not a bad illustrator. His best illos that I saw, were always a bit short of being really good. But, maybe it depends on ones personal taste.

    Tom Watson

  4. He's a re-discovery... I grew in a house full of old Reader Digest's (40's-70's) and now I realize who was the artists behind those line drawings... Well, the old magazines carried a good fun just for the illustrations.
    Thanks to your blog, I purchased "The Ink Drawing Techniques" old copy... I became addict of Pitz's loose pen style!