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Really Old School

7 Feb

This piece is really old school. It’s circa 1977, pre-art school, done when I was just 17 years old.It’s a copy in chalk pastel of a photograph from a vintage early ’70s edition of the National Geographic Magazine. I was living with my older sister, Sharon, at the time. One day, she brought home a book full of samples of various sizes and types of fancy paper from her office job.

The sample paper was excellent for use with chalk pastels. I think it was actually Nekoosa brand, but it was a lot like the more-familiar Canson paper so beloved of pastel artists, so I’ve described it that way. This piece is in tremendous shape for its age, too. I need to get my husband to frame it under glass as there’s no fixative on the pastel. Needless to say, it’s not for sale.

Blonde Ukrainian Girl. Soft chalk pastel on Canson-like paper. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Another chalk pastel piece, I did at the same time, using the same book of sample paper, is this still life of green beans in a rustic bowl. I like looking at  my old stuff and remembering how tough I was on myself, and how I thought that my work was never good enough. Now I realize that I was being way too harsh–that a lot of my early work was actually pretty darn good.

Cliff House Menu

6 Feb

Another old illustration, this is a menu design for the San Francisco Cliff House, circa early 1980s:

The Cliff House. Ink and gouache on cold press illustration board. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

S. F. Fire Department Museum

6 Feb

Old Fire Truck. Colored ink and charcoal on matte board. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole.

This was drawn/painted on location at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, sometime in the late 1970s. I loved the way the coiled-up old-fashioned fire hose looked when rendered in charcoal.

This is the only drawing/painting I saved from my old Location Drawing class at the Academy of Art University, which was taught by the legendary, long-time Illustration Department head, Barbara Bradley, who unfortunately passed away in 2002.

More Old Stuff

6 Feb

Fruits and Vegetables, book illustration sample, early 1980s. Ink and gouache on cold-press illustration board:

Fruits and Vegetables, ink and gouache on cold press illustration board. Copyright 2013 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

Breath of Life

1 Nov

My 22-year-old niece, Kathleen, is scheduled to receive an award at the Breath of Life fundraising banquet this coming Saturday in San Francisco. Breath of Life is presented annually by the S. F. Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Kathleen is an award-winning playwright and actress, currently studying for her master’s degree on the East Coast. She is a terrific role model for anyone who is struggling to achieve their goals while suffering from a very serious, often terminal, illness.

Last month, Kathleen performed her one-woman play, Daughter of Salton the Great White Way in New York, aka Broadway. (The title of the play is a reference to the fact that one of the major symptoms of cystic fibrosis is salty-tasting skin. There is even an old folk-saying about the short life expectations of “a baby who tastes of salt when kissed,” going all the way back to the Middle Ages in Europe.)

I’m donating my custom-painted pet portrait services to the Silent Auction at Breath of Life. I am showing this portrait of a dog I did in watercolor and colored pencil, which I like to call “Old Yeller,” as a sample of my work:

Custom Poochy Pet Portraits, Animal Portraits: Dog and Cat, Custom Portraits

“Yellow Dog Portrait,” Copyright 2012 by S. K. Cole, all rights reserved.

YIKES! I hope the banquet attendees like it enough to bid a decent amount for my services! This is the first time I’ve ever displayed my work to such a large crowd, excepting the annual Student Show at my alma mater, The Academy of Art University, which was a very long time ago indeed.





Drawing of a Musketeer

8 Oct

Here’s a couple of shots from a drawing of a Musketeer I did in a Clothed Figure Drawing class at the Academy of Art in the summer of 2011, when I returned to my alma mater to take advantage of the free drawing classes they offer to their alumni, for the first time in almost thirty years. My old Clothed Figure Drawing instructor, Bill Sanchez, was still presiding like a lovable tyrant over Bradley Hall, the big, creaky, Edwardian ballroom at the 540 Powell Street building that has been the exclusive domain of the Illustration Department’s drawing classes for ever since anyone can remember.

Sketched in colored pencil and charcoal, my Musketeer drawings turned out rather well IMHO, considering that I hadn’t drawn a figure from life in three decades when I did them.

Clothed Figure drawing classes are different from regular figure drawing classes because the models dress up in costumes from storybooks and act out typical poses for their characters. The elvin keepers of Bradley Hall mysteriously maintain a vast store of props and costumes for their models to dress up in, as cowboys, Revolutionary War soldiers, doctors, Arab sheikhs, Frankensteins, and on and on.

They were great classes for learning all about how different types of fabric drape across the human body, and for how hats fit on human heads, and how boots and shoes fit on human feet. I took three whole units of Clothed Figure, but I did not save a single drawing from those classes–I just didn’t think they were worth carting around to all my various addresses over the years.  Now, I kind of regret that.

Musketeer 2/3 lengthMusketeer Head

Some Old Academy of Art Friends

6 Oct

Chuck Pyle was my “Beginning Head and Hands” teacher at my alma mater, the Academy of Art University (it was just a “College” back when I went there.) Chuck is now the Director of the Illustration Program at A of A. He was a stickler for traditional drawing a la the Golden Age of Illustration (Norman Rockwell, Wyeth the Elder, that other Pyle) and  he was tough as nails. I don’t think I ever pulled more than a “B” in Chuck’s class and that was after really sweating it. I caught up with Chuck last year when I sat in on some “Clothed Figure Drawing” classes that are kindly offered to alumni, free of charge. He was a young instructor of about 25 when I took his class all those years ago, but he looks pretty much the same today as he did then. If you nudge Chuck, you might get him to admit that he might, possibly, be distantly related to that other Pyle, one of the greatest of the late 19th/early 20th Century illustrators.

Francis Livingston was a young instructor at the A. of A. when I was there also, about the same age as Chuck. I never took any of his classes that I can remember, but he subbed several times for a couple of my Illustration teachers. He had loads of talent and his early work was posted all over the A. of A. Illustration Department’s bulletin boards, intimidating the hell out of all of us humble Illustration Dept. students/wanna-bees. He’s now a top-ranked illustrator and fine artist specializing in Old West art scenes.

Randy Berrett was yet another one of the Young Turks of the early 1980s at the A. of A’s Ilustration Department. He was my “Advanced Head and Hands” and “Clothed Figure Drawing III” instructor. Like Chuck, he was a toughie who insisted on Norman Rockwell-levels of draftsmanship. Today, he’s a highly successful background illustrator for Pixar movie studies and has created background scenes for almost all of their famous films.

Heather King was my “Illustration I” and “Illustration II” instructor. She’s now retired from teaching and free-lance illustration, but still sells her fine art online.

Bill Sanchez was my “Clothed Figure Drawing I and II” guru/drawing god. He’s still teaching Clothed Figure at the A. of A., thirty-four years after I took my first class with him in the fall of 1978! I sat in on one of his classes last year, and he’s still yelling the same things at students as he always did: “Wrapping around! Contrasting values! Push the foreshortening!” I never learned to push the foreshortening very well, sad to say. Bill was in his mid-thirties and had a big, poufy shock of red hair when I first took his class; today he’s got the same poufy shock of hair, but now it’s paper-white.