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!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


This week's Caws will continue the non-commercial theme....I think a change on the next one. Getting back to family projects....the first scan for our middle daughter, a silk screen label for an organic deer repellent she had conjured up....and it worked! She lived in Colorado at the time and had all kinds of deer and wildlife that made gardening difficult. The usual problems a product....distribution, advertising, and competition that developed a better mouse trap. The winning repellent, I believe, uses an extract of wolf urine....which lasts longer and works better. The 'O-DEER' title and label idea was hers.

Next, a letterhead, a request from a daughter who was a legal secretary for an L.A. law firm at the time. The attorney who headed the firm was Italian and very active in heading up a charitable foundation called the Heritage Center.

Following that, a small self adhesive sticker that was used in my wife's vacation bible class sessions for a couple of summers. The subject, 'one world' studies depicting kids from around the world.

The remaining posts are of paintings done over the years on a variety of subjects. Most are framed and on our walls....never have been able to afford other artist's originals! Prints at times....mostly 'Impressionists'. The first of these, a fairly large acrylic on canvas of California native sycamore trees. Gnarly, twisted trees that grow in riparian areas along the coastal hills and mountains. These, about mid-state, were a familiar sight on our trips south. A western Magpie included, beautifully marked and sporting long tail feathers....a slow flying rural resident.

Then, a painting of a Montana ghost town inspired by a small B&W photo. Added were the old car, desert plants, the warm colors, etc. It was done on gessoed board.

Two watercolors follow, both painted while at the Art Center School in 1947. The class was weekly, an 'all day' outdoor watercolor effort....actual working time about 4 hours. The first was painted from a pedestrian overpass of a large rail yard in the industrial section of Pasadena...

The second near the ocean pier at Venice, California. Our instructor, Ed Reep, a fine watercolorist, would assign the following week's location at each session. It could be anywhere in the large Los Angeles area. When he assigned the night location....we groaned....'You can't paint a watercolor at night!' 'Oh yes you can'....was his reply....'you'll find a way!' At the beach town location, many of us found a way....under a large bar and pool hall marque. To top it off, it was raining! Instead of looking out on the lights and pier, I chose this view across a wet parking lot. It seemed to work out fairly well.

The last, a fishing boat watercolor at the colorful Fisherman's Wharf district on the San Francisco water front....painted in the 50's.

* Charlie Allen's Flickr set.