Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This is CAWS 75....a good round number on which to end. At the beginning, I had no idea the scans (or I) would last for 75 weeks. The many ads posted in a year and a half are probably 2/3 of the total done in my career. Many have been lost, proofs sent to clients and AD's that were never returned. Many were not worth saving or showing....but, enough have to get an idea how one western illustrator survived, supported a family, enjoyed his work, and enjoyed the many friends, events, and contacts made over the years.

Back to the title, the words are engraved on my memory. I think a quote by the 'White Rabbit' in Lewis Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland'. When our girls were very young, housebound by winter weather, they played 45 RPM children's records on a small record player. There were narrated and sung children's book stories, played over and over....and over! No 'Sesame Street' or digital toys in the early 50's. Books, dolls and doll furniture, toys and games, comprised the indoor entertainment in those days.

Regarding the quote....the CAWS is quite late and long of tooth. Much of it has been work I'd never planned to show. Much of it would bore the socks off a it's high time to say, 'Adios Amigos!' One more thing....and surely the most important. I have been surprised and humbled by the number, the knowledge, and the geographical distribution of viewers over the past year and a half. I'm amazed at their kind, appreciative, and too complimentary comments....something not often received back in the working days! Can't thank you folks's made the weekly blog an adventure and a pleasure. Also super grateful for Leif's never failing weekly efforts putting this thing together. As a card carrying computer klutz, none would have happened without TI, Leif's hard work, historical knowledge and interest in mid-century illustration.

A long, garrulous start, but important to say. Now....we'll get on with the scans. First a gouache portrait of our oldest at age seven....still the 'home cooking' theme. Framed and on our bedroom wall for many years. She is surrounded by renditions of some of the story book illustrations of her time. Clockwise from the upper left, an Ernest Shepherd from the Milne books. A 'Little Black Sambo' illustration follows....politically incorrect these days, author unknown. Next, from 'The Real Mother Goose'....'Barber, barber, shave a pig....' Published in 1916, the great art deco illustrations by Blanche Fisher Wright. Our copy, worn and marked, was one of our favorite children's books. From 'Silver Pennies', another old timer, a poem about fairies. The illustrator, and fine deco drawings, are by Winifred Bromhall. Then, Peter Rabbit and last, 'Jemima Puddleduck with the 'Foxy Gentleman'....both illustrated by Beatrice Potter.

The rest of the scans are from the last business magazine ads that I the early 90's, at age 70, plus or minus. For State Fund, a long and faithful client. This was a series called 'California Natives'....subjects, the California State plant, animal, bird, and various other designated 'natives' of the state. As an old salt by then, the illustrations were intentionally strong on value and color. My attitude was, 'go for broke!' Print media and illustrations were largely gone....why not leave with a statement? State Fund received a lot of letters on these, and ended up making prints to fill requests. First, the California grey whale. It migrates from far north down to Mexico, but is the state marine mammal. Thought about an underwater scene....but wanted to show north coastal California. A breaching grey, with 'sea stacks' jutting from the ocean, to repeat the illustrative theme.

Next, the state bird, the California Quail. A popular, charming, friendly resident....mostly crowded out in suburbia these days by too much development.

This is getting long....anyone awake? Following, is the state animal, the Grizzly Bear. Bays, valleys, streams, and more are named 'Grizzly Island', 'Grizzly Bay', and so on. Today, the nearest Grizzly is found in northern Montana, the Canadian Rockies, or in Alaska. The illustration shows a mother Grizzly and cubs....spring time in the Sierras in the early days.

The California Golden Trout, the state fish, is next....found in streams and small lakes in the very high Sierras.

Finally, the state butterfly, the California Dog Face butterfly, named for the colorful design on the wings. These were done in gouache....a fun series to illustrate....thanks to State Fund, Chet Patterson, near retirement at that time, and to Bruce Hettema at PHCreative in Santa Rosa.

That should do it....and thanks again to all. Mel Blanc was the amazing 'voice' of such famous cartoon characters as 'Bugs Bunny', 'Donald' and 'Daffy Duck', 'Porky Pig', and a host of others. I'll piggyback (pun intended) using the old 'Loony Tunes' sign-off by Porky Pig....'uppitty yuppity yup....that's all folks!'

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set, which contains nearly 700 images, encompassing fifty years of professional and personal work!


Kyle Henry said...

Wonderful, wonderful work. I envy both your ability and the opportunity to work as an illustrator in such an era. Thank you for sharing your thoughts behind your art.

Bruce Hettema said...

As the little boy said to Shoeless Joe "Say it ain't so (Charlie)". It been a pleasure to read your posts, se your amazing illustrations, and I'm honored to have been a small part of your amazing career.

Shane White said...

Wow, what great work to end this blog on!

Your handling of gouache is some of my favorite and set a high standard for me to work toward.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Be well,


Matt said...

It's been incredible getting to know your work and the personal stories behind them. Thanks so much for sharing them with us.

Harry Borgman said...

Hi Charlie,
I really enjoyed your posts, you've done some really great work through the years. I first saw your art in the 1950's when I was an art director working with Jim Hastings on the Chevrolet account at Campbell Ewald and have admired it ever since. If you run across any more art send it along to Leif so he can post it. Keep in touch once in a while.

Tattered and Lost said...

Love your work and feel privileged to have been able to read this. I wish I'd found it sooner, but it's nice knowing there are older posts I've yet to discover. Please don't delete the blog. Let it exist on its own for others to find.

Ray Bonilla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rich said...

California Dreamin' - that was a worthy finale!
Muchos Gracias for the blog.

Roger O'Reilly said...

I guess all good thing must come to an end. It's been a pleasure reading your posts and looking at the wonderful illustrations. If I have half as many works worth showing when I eventually put down my pencils I'll be more than pleased.
Good luck with the future. Keep in touch.

Anonymous said...

thank you very much, charlie!
best wishes from germany,


Michael Dooney said...

Love the gouache paintings as usual, great stuff. I'll add my thanks along with the rest for all of the work and insight that you've shared here. I think that you'd be surprised by just how interested folks are in stuff that you might think would 'bore a centepede'! One of my favorite things about seeing inside a career like yours is the huge diversity of work and themes you illustrated. Today even the top artists seem to just repeat the same themes over and over and I can't imagine too many of them having the chops to handle everything from ducks to cars to girls as smoothly as you set a high standard, thanks!

Charlie Allen said...

Had a hunch more comments would come in on the last blog.....and thanks to one and all. It is to shed a tear! For me at least. Not too many advantages of getting old....but there are a few. In this case, I've pretty much forgotten the pressure, even angst, that went along with a lot of work at the time. A bit like pain....when recovered, pain is forgotten. Used to be a worry wart...not happy with much of the work I did. Now I can sit back and appreciate it a bit more. Again thanks!

Paolo Rivera said...

Thank you so much for sharing your art and thoughts with us. It has been a real pleasure and inspiration to see such versatility throughout your career — medium, subject matter, client, era — you seem to gracefully navigate no matter the challenge.

Take care,


francisvallejo said...

Thanks for sharing Charlie. A whole new era of illustrators have been inspired by your work. All the best and happy holidays.


Ray Bonilla said...

Mr.Allen , its been a huge inspiration to visit your blog daily and view your work . Thank you for sharing it with the rest of the world

Adult Braces said...

Thanks for sharing all of this wonderful art and inspiration Charlie. It will be missed.

Good luck with everything.

Guy Allen

Sidenote: I'm an illustrator, my last name is Allen and I was born in Fresno as well. Are we related?:)

Tanya Lam said...

I'm totally late to the game in discovering this great blog (as noted by my previous post,) but I feel so lucky nonetheless, to be able to look at your fantastic work.

Your gouache pieces are wonderful, and I marvel at how you are able to handle such a (in my opinion,) finicky medium.

Thank you for being so generous and showing us your work, and all the best!

Kyle T. Webster said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this work with all of us.

Philip Whisenhunt said...

Incredible work, truly.

Thank you so much for sharing!! I wish I had found this blog sooner lol, but now I can start going through the archives :)

Thanks again,

Curty Ray said...

Simply... Thank you for sharing your life with us!

lindy said...

I agree with the other commenters, Charlie. It's been so interesting seeing your work. I've looked forward to reading your posts every week. Your stories and art are inspiring! Thank you so much for documenting and sharing.

Bandito said...

Outstanding work from 1 to 75 Mr A, thanks for sharing with us.Happy Christmas,

Ivan said...

I feel honoured to have followed your blog from its inception. Nothing can replace the sense of personal touch with someone worthy of emulation.

I wish you don't go away completely. Keep coming on Leif's blog, and Happy New Year!

Mike said...

I've enjoyed studying and reading about all of your amazing illustrations and fine art over the course of the past year or so. Thank you so much for scanning all those images to share with us. Most of us will never be the illustrator you are, but your work will certainly inspire us none-the-less.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, nice blog of you! I'm from Brazil and discovered your blog through a friends' blog. Congrats!


sharp green pencil said...

wonderful blog I applaud over and over again the drawing skills and fabulous techniques of your generation. I was the one after you when many of these skills were lost.
Thank you so much for sharing all this !

Unknown said...

Great, wonderful, inspiring work. I add my congratulations and praise to everything you shared with us. Your fan from Down Under,

Antonio Lemos
Cover artist for The Phantom

Alpha Shanahan said...

you are amazing! i am inspired. thank you for sharing your work.

Paul Hermes said...

Paul from Melbourne, Australia here.
Your work is AMAZING!!

Do you have an email I can contact you on? Please contact me.



прекрасно и точка))

Roger O'Reilly said...

Just heard the sad news of Charlie's passing
What a loss. Followed Charlie's blog from almost the beginning and loved not just his work but his anecdotes and the obvious warmth that came through in his posts. He certainly had a full life. I remember pangs of jealousy at some of his experiences. He'll be much missed.
Thanks to Leif assisting him on yhe blog and for bringing to us the work and lifestory of one of Illustration's giants.

Socialkik said...

I think most people would do the same when they are headed with the situation.

Michelle said...

Oh, please don't delete this blog. I just discovered it and want to start from the beginning and enjoy every last bit of it.

Thanks so much for sharing your incredible talent with us. I have a small collection of vintage magazines and now I'll looking for your work in them!

Paintings said...

great gallery in your blog!!!

Unknown said...

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