How do I admire thine artistry? Let me count the ways. No, better not try; I can't count that high.
Just four days ago I received my copy of The Art of Richard Thompson. And I've been high on it ever since. In case you, dear reader, aren't yet familiar with Richard's work, I so very strongly recommend that you do as I did and hop over here: https://squareup.com/market/one-more-page/art-of-richard-thompson and buy yourself a copy. You won't regret it. (And, no, I don't make any commission from the sale - this is just flat out good advice.)
Richard represents, without doubt, the high-water mark of illustration and cartooning. His mastery of brush and pen, ink and paint, is mind-bogglingly overwhelming. It can fairly be said, "Look upon these works and despair." Because the level he sets is so high, the path to despair for the struggling artist is an easy one to tread. How can one compete? The answer is, one can't. But just as Michelangelo's existence didn't preclude that of others, so Richard's brilliance should serve to inspire, to set a mark to aim at, however much one might fall short in the end.
What I've chosen to focus on is a detail from one of Richard's hanged clown pieces. That something could be so grotesque and beautiful at the same time is a marvel. Here it is:
I could talk about the technique, the colors, the composition but ... what I'm going to focus on is the form characterization. You glance at the picture and you immediately see the head of a clown. But look closer. Just how far does this clown depart from reality? Consider the eyes and nose and then ask where the rest of the head "should" be. I've answered that question below:
Based on just those elements, the rest of the head should be moving lower left. Yet it clearly doesn't. Now repeat, focusing on the neck and mouth. What does that bring us?
A side view. Both of my prior examples are OK cartooning. They're also what 90 percent of the cartoonists in the world, myself included, would first do. But Richard sees the world more completely. Both approaches have some merit so why not combine them? Why not indeed. And, as you can see from his original, it raises the image up to another level of absurdity and beauty. Distorted, absurd and yet immediately powerful and compelling.
You know what I'm doing these last few days? Paging through this gem of a book, digesting its ideas, and planting them within myself. I already feel the affects. I don't even remember what I paid for it but whatever it was, it was a bargain. This stuff is priceless.
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