Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Remembering Virginia Irvin and Her Art

Today marks the sixth anniversary of Virginia Irvin’s passing. Molly’s mother, Virginia, was a very talented artist.  She excelled at line drawing in particular.

Molly has featured her artwork on this blog from time to time -- figure drawing and watercolors work that Virginia regarded as her fine art (see the archives for March 10, 2011 and Oct. 9, 2013).

Virginia at the Seattle Times

However, for many years (before Molly was born) Virginia worked in the realm then known as commercial art.  She was at one time or another an illustrator for the Seattle Times, Oregon Journal and San Francisco Examiner. She also freelanced in SF doing illustration, design and advertising art.  For my money she never truly got her due.

Today in honor of her memory I’m focusing on this work.

Virginia had an exquisite line. She often did on-the-spot visual reportage at concerts and events.

This one was for the Portland  Oregon Journal

As was this.

Her knowledge of the fundamentals of drawing and anatomy really come through in the above two illustrations in  her treatment of the horse.

Here are some nice whimsical pieces:

Many of the drawings shown her are sketches or roughs; preliminaries for finished pieces.

 These drawings were done of velum tracing paper.  Probably for an ad, menu or brochure.

Possibly for something like this.

Or this.

It seems Virginia was very productive while living and freelancing in San Francisco.

Here's a sketch similar to the one that ultimately wound up on a Macy's shopping bag:

As I said Virginia worked for the San Francisco Examiner. Here's a cover for the Examiner's Sunday supplement, The Arts (drawn after Molly was born).

Here are a couple of nice spots for a jewelry ad:

I picked this material almost at random from a pile sketches and clippings.
I think this sampling clearly demonstrates Virginia's mastery of figurative drawing and her strong graphic sense.

I'll conclude with a couple of nice sketches. 

One from San Francisco, the other from Marin County.
The two places where she spent the last years of her life.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Molly's Richard Shaw Portrait

Molly has been a busy artist of late. Too busy to blog about it apparently.

I’m impressed with her most recent completed piece-- a portrait of friend-neighbor-artist, Richard Shaw.

Since Richard is also an avid banjo player ,Molly decided to frame the portrait as a banjo--including a neck.

Here’s the early roughed-out canvas 

Fast-forward: almost finished.

Added banjo neck.

(For more on the Shaws check our archives: Feb.16, 2014, April 11, 2012, etc).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

From the Vault: Postage from Outer Space

Like so many of my generation—I’m a space geek.

It comes from the early imprinting-watching Alan Shepard and John Glenn lifting off into space on TV as a child. Real spaces heroes.

(As a kid I wrote a letter to NASA and received a mound of documents about the early plans for the space program with diagrams of space capsules and lunar landers.  I had quite a few books on the future of space travel *and I treasured my photo of the X-15 that I got from a box of cereal).

Over the years, without realizing it I’ve collected—more like acquired—a handful of graphically pleasing postage stamps commemorating the early days of the space exploration--the classic and romantic Mercury, Gemini and Apollo  programs (and let’s not forget the Soviet Union)--I don’t seem to have any post-classic Space Shuttle stamps though they surely must exist.

The month of March has some significant dates in space history-- on March 18, 1965 (50 years ago!) Cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov became the first human to "walk" in space.  (Note: the above stamp commentates American astronaut Ed White's first space walk of June of 1965).

 Here's a cool, but not exactly historically accurate, Soviet stamp:

March 23, 1965 was the first mission of the two-crew American Gemini program. Astronauts Virgil 'Gus' Grissom and John Young flew that one 50 years ago this month.

  Here are few other stamps from the early days of Nasa:

Project Mercury--The USA first space capsule.

Alan Shepard first American Astronaut.

The Apollo moon landing July 1969.


This one features the Lunar Rover first used on Apollo 15 in 1971.

The USA's first space station was Skylab (1973).

The Apollo series ended with the American-Soviet Union cooperative mission--the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project of 1975.

(*See post August 20, 2013 for kids illustrated space exploration books)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Molly's Turn: Grandpa Rea Irvin

My Grandfather Rea Irvin, artist extrodinare:

Rea Irvin
(photo copyright Molly Rea)

With the passing of February, the month of the annual anniversary of the New Yorker magazine, I realized I'd like to do a nod of honor towards my Grandfather Rea (pronounced "Ray") Irvin.  He created the iconic image of Eustace Tilly which has been used in some form since the first cover  of The New Yorker in February of 1925. Rea Irvin was an incredible artist with the ability to create a piece of work in any style he chose. He was the art director for Life Magazine (at the time a humor magazine) until 1924 at which time Harold Ross convinced him to come on board with a crazy idea he had for a sophisticated humor and literary magazine called the New Yorker. If you ever have a chance to take a look at the book The Complete Book of Covers from the New Yorker 1925 - 1989, you may be as awed as I was,  at the amount of work he produced for the New Yorker. Of course he was the acting art editor so he did have a little control over what was used.

The orginal cover, February 21, 1925

Rea Irvin
Harold Ross
Harold Ross came to my grandfather and asked him to come on board a magazine that he was putting together which he wanted to call The New Yorker.
Harold Ross became a close family friend. He was very impotant to my mother Virginia Irvin, his playful nature was something my mother, as a young child, loved. Ross was able to play with Virginia in a way her father was not. According to my mother Ross had a very goofy side to him that he shared with her.

Here are images of Rea Irvin's artwork I was able to cull from the web: