Friday, May 21, 2010

Robert Fawcett: " collect these g.d. things?"

Here's something kinda neat: I found this rough sketch on the Heritage Auctions website of a 1956 DPS in Good Housekeeping magazine by Robert Fawcett... and I happen to have the specific issue of GH in which the final illustration appeared.

You know, its kind of gratifying to see that Fawcett wasn't when he did this 'celebrity endorsement' for Flo-master markers. It turns out he really did do his rough sketches in marker!

Many of us are interested in process, especially when we have a chance to peek at how the great illustrators worked. This sketch provides the added bonus of hand written notes from Fawcett. This first one below seemingly a note to GH's art director about what to expect in the finished version of the illustration.

Fawcett wrote, "Interior very warm - nice shadows, lots of kid-clutter around (toys, etc.) The crib prominent. I'll do whole picture in rich 3 colors - add blue as accents on left page (like the spread last year). In the finish all this [illegible] will be much less prominent." Then Fawcett (or the AD) seems to have changed direction. Someone has scribbled out the note and emphatically marked down, "No blue."

And here's the finished printed piece.

Even more interesting is this second note added, it seems, at some later date, initialed "RF" and addressed to "Ed":

"Do you collect these g.d. things? Herewith one from Gd. House."

Yes, thank goodness someone did collect 'these g.d. things' -- otherwise Fawcett's many fans and admirers would not be able, half a century later, to bask in the glow of the master's originals -- as they will this weekend at a show of 25 Robert Fawcett originals opening on Saturday, May 22nd at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, CA.

I wish I could be there!

* My Robert Fawcett Flickr set.

* Many thanks to Heritage Auctions for allowing me to use their scan of the Robert Fawcett marker sketch in this post.


  1. I remember that Flo-master ad when I was in art school. A fellow student idolized Fawcett's work, used his Fawcett book on drawing like a bible, and his technique was so similar to Fawcett's, you could hardly tell the difference. The instructors just gave him free reign and watched with admiration. He seemed more interested in doing drawings from a nude model or clothed figure than doing illustration assignments. He always used a Flo-master pen in all different widths and tip configurations that he cut and altered himself, just like Fawcett. He was one of the best draftsmen I ever saw while attending art school.

    Tom Watson

  2. Gorgeous stuff. I just wish Fawcett had had pigmented markers to work with. The drawing at the top is wonderful, but looks like a ghost of its former self. Of course, Fawcett's primary concern wasn't to create a preliminary drawing for us to drool over decades later. He was trying to get his job done. But in a way, it's odd that a man with as high an opinion of himself as he had would be drawing with vanishing ink ...

  3. Looks (to me) like the illegible word on the note is "construction".

    Thanks for posting these.

  4. You're back! (Yester-day, Blogspot/Blogger was declaring you gone.)

  5. Daniel: I think many of us found the same thing. These pages are such a tremendous resource that I was practically in mourning to find them missing for a few hours.

  6. i know this is off topic..but i just can't help but make sure..thank god it's back..thanks sir!

  7. Thanks to everyone for getting in touch about TI suddenly disappearing. It happened while I was sleeping - it was back when i woke up this morning and checked my email and found all sorts of panicky notes.

    I dunno what happened but I think Blogger had a hiccup. From digging into some forums today I discovered that Blogger runs an automated program over all its blogs to check for spam blogs - and deletes about a thousand blogs a day (yikes!)

    That program apparently registers a lot of false positives so it can mean a legit blog gets suspended until an actual human reinstates it.

    I don't think that happened in our case, but it is pretty scary... so I'm going to back the entire blog up onto my HD tomorrow just to be safe. If 5 years of work actually did just disappear one day, I don't know what I'd do...

    Again, many thanks for all your notes of concern.

    Best - Leif

  8. Thank goodness! I was really scared when it said the blog was gone! Thanks for the great post, it's always a pleasure to see the rough work and process of the masters!

  9. I found a woodcut print at a fixture sale of a jazz club that went out of business a few years ago. The woodcut print is of a river driver. It is signed in pencil and I believe the signature is Robert Fawcett. I have been trying to locate information on it for years. Is anyone interested in taking a look at it to see if they recognize the print or the signature?