Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brian Sanders and women’s magazine illustration in the early to mid-’60s

Guest author Bryn Havord continues his article on English illustrator Brian Sanders.

Women’s magazine illustration was at its height at this time, and most of the magazines were buying a lot of second rights material from the American greats such as Joe Bowler, Coby Whitmore and Joe de Mers. Their work had a considerable influence on the English editors, art editors, and the illustrators themselves.

(Above: The final illustration that Brian produced using ink and gouache.)

By the early to mid-’60s Bernie Fuchs, Mark English, Robert Heindel and Lynn Buckham had started to replaced the earlier American stars, with Bernie Fuchs rapidly becoming the man to watch and emulate. In particular, the art directors and illustrators were fascinated with what they called the “bubble and streak” style; but we had no idea how the Americans achieved it. Brian remembers even using soap mixed with gouache in an attempt to get the paint to bubble.

(Above: In 1960, Brian was trying to imitate techniques he saw used in American magazines, without realizing that acrylic paints had been invented. This piece was drawn in pencil/charcoal on canvas paper, scumbled with coloured inks mixed with soap, and worked over in gouache.)

There was then a eureka moment when we discovered Liquitex acrylic colours and mediums.

(Above: Brian’s first published illustration painted in acrylics. Disappointingly for him, it was accidentally attributed to Wilson McLean, who said he did not mind. They were close friends and neighbours at the time.)

However, they weren’t on sale in the United Kingdom, but it wasn’t long before parcels of Liquitex paint and mediums were winging their way over the Atlantic, sent by friends and relatives.

(Above: An early acrylic double spread for Woman magazine. He tried whenever possible to make the location of compositions as important as the figures.)

Continued tomorrow...


  1. I'm a big fan of illustration! Thanks so much for the informative post!

  2. Where might a person find prints by Brian Sanders?

  3. I LOVE the colors on that last one! So warm and inviting. Inspiring indeed!

  4. Love that railway station! Fascinating re Liquitex.