Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Among the myriad changes ('Change is the Constant') since the 1950's when these Chevron billboards were done, none has been as sudden and as environmentally altering as the disappearance of countless billboards and prominent signs in our towns and on the highways.

It happened in the 60's, if memory serves. Streets were cluttered with billboards on the sides of buildings, on top of buildings, behind service stations. Tall signs and logos of all kinds topped restaurants, service stations, and dozens of businesses. All of that changed in a very short space of time.

The nation seemed suddenly aware of visual and esthetic pollution. The rapid ascent of television and finally the computer....and the demise of most magazines (now even newspapers) including much of the print media....has been more culturally transforming, but over a longer period of time.

All, of course, in the times of my working life and career.

This week the CAWS will show Chevron posters from old files and not already posted here on taxi boards. Patterson and Hall photographed all of the outgoing billboards....I suppose knowing that ad proofs would not be available to keep on file and to show clients. These were black and white photos....color prints were not only expensive but not reliable.

Color copiers had not been invented. I have photo copies of most of the posters I illustrated....not all. There are a few more posters for other clients that we'll post later on CAWS.

As said before, here in the west billboards were a desirable job to receive....both the pay and the display value were better than on most ads.

Another advantage, Chevron billboards were replaced at regular intervals...I believe at about one month. At the time, and resisting change, I hoped they would go on 'forever'. Even then, though, we had a sense that billboards were a threatened species!

These posters don't need too much explanation....pretty typical billboard advertising of the day. On most, a rather tight gouache technique in keeping with 1950's illustration styles. The loose techniques of the 60's hadn't arrived.

Modeling for these were a fellow P&H illustrator, a neighbor and young son, a friend in San Francisco, and professional models.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set.

Thursday, April 23, 2009



A post WWl tin-pan alley tune....even older than I ! About 1919 or 1920, I believe. Predictive, however. Agriculture is still the largest economic factor in California....but fewer and fewer farmers and workers participate and manage farming these days. Corporate farming is pretty much in charge....and has a powerful influence in state government on California's always critical water policy and other political decisions.

Farming subjects were fairly regular assignments from a variety of agencies and accounts....Del Monte, US Steel, Kaiser Aluminum, State Fund, Ortho Chemicals, California wineries....those were the main ones I can think of. We'll begin with a couple of pencil comps for McCann Erickson and the Ortho Chemical division of Chevron.

I'm lacking a proof, but the ag plane comp did have a color illustration.

The three in color were for farm magazines....and so typical of ad designs for that purpose. The slanted cropping, the inset of the insect, (I didn't illustrate the bugs!), the whole concept.

The lima bean, green bean ad with the split location background....again not an ad layout you'd see in most publications.

For what it's worth, the tobacco farmer holding a tray of seedlings is a fair facsimile of 'your friendly illustrator' in a tractor hat, at that age. Have never planted tobacco, however!

Following, a couple of charcoal pencil montages for State fund farm ads.

Can't remember whether the finished illustrations were in ink or this form.

Next, three US Steel B&W spots for their series showing uses of steel on farm machines.

Then the Shock Wave Shaker, a two color brochure. I recall driving up to the Sacramento Valley where it was built to take pictures.

Walnuts and almonds are major crops in California....and the trees are shaken for the fall harvest.

Finally, two State Insurance Fund newsprint farm journal ads in B&W.

Charcoal pencil on rough board....no doubt for speed...

...and in the 70's, a technique that fit the subject.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set.

Monday, April 13, 2009


The Gallo Champagne scan shown below was on CAWS near the start, and I think a faded scan is still on the Flickr set. We'll update....but as with most scans, original value and color subtleties are changed. In the early 70's, as I remember, Julius Spector called with a plea....'Cholly, you've got to come over....we have a problem!' For an important (to the Gallo brothers) Champagne poster, he had commissioned a Los Angeles artist whose work he thought resembled Van Gogh. I drove over, and sure enough, the illustration in oils was amateurish....poor figures, values....even the always important wine bottle was badly executed. Julius wanted me to do it over, in a 'Van Gogh' style....deadline one week. I said it would have to be in gouache and handled loosely....my version of impressionism. Back home, I took a poloroid shot of myself for the vintner, gessoed some illustration board, and used the 'palette knife' method described earlier....several sizes of cut illustration board, dipped in gouache, and scraped on.

I met the deadline....Julius Spector was relieved....the Gallo brothers were pleased....and they wanted the next poster depicting their wine chemists done in the same style.

Maybe a good time to describe the Gallo winery. Easy to spot from the air, it looked a bit like a small refinery. Dozens of tall tanks, controlled and insulated to keep wines cool in the 100+ degree summer temperatures. A huge headquarters building, large lawns with flocks of guinea hens, many separate outlying buildings. It included a large, modern lab building, with a staff of chemists researching wine varieties, blends, production, new wines, and other grape products. Gallo provided photo reference for the three wine chemists in scan # 2. I arranged the composition....wine bottles front and center, of course....and placed the figures, portraits actually, behind.

A colorful Carlo Rossi vineyard poster follows.

Then a race car illustration....a section of a large display poster featuring Mario Andretti with an endorsement for Gallo Vermouth wines.

After that, another partial section of a Sangria Wine poster. I liked the simple, bold color and line technique. A litho reproduction, it looked a bit like a silk screen job.

Then, with a tie-in with a TV commercial, the Boone's Farm grandma with her needlepoint creation of the label. Painting the needlepoint was an interesting challenge, as I recall.

The next three scans (there might have been a fourth) were small cocktail table cards designed to stand up.

Featuring various drink concoctions using E&J Brandy.

Not outstanding, but I liked the renditions of the brandy drinks on these.

That's about it for Gallo....I did others, but too boring or banal! Next week, we'll head out to the farm.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set.