Monday, July 27, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Miriam Hopkins, by Enoch Bolles circa 1935. Unpublished as far as I know. As much as I admire Bolles' treatment of her skin, it's the amazing attention to her hair that really jumps out. This example should put to rest the notion that Bolles was merely a 'cartoonist'.
But back to Bolles. Skin-or at least skin color-was something he obsessed over all his life. He did not resort to tube colors or other quick fixes and in fact was continually tinkering with how to get it just right. He was trained in classic methods of painting by Robert Henri and other instructors at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design and was a keen observer of classic artists (one of these days I'll get around to posting his commentary on the techniques he thinks were used to paint the Mona Lisa). To give you an idea of Bolles' passion for getting "picture making" right, I've transcribed portions of two among the dozens of letters he exchanged with his daughter, Liza, who was a talented artist in her own right. Their correspondence involved a discussion of both theory and technique and they also exchanged study paintings. It's worth pointing out that Enoch was writing these letters from a mental hospital where he had spent nearly three decades! If there is any evidence against him "dying a mad-man" as as been claimed, then this is it. His writing reveals him to be engaged both intellectually and culturally. He was widely read and knowledgeable about an amazing range of subjects. But best of all the letters revealed his keen sense of humor and kindliness. The reality having to endure life in a hospital that housed over 7,000 patients did not rob Bolles of his humanity or sap his spirit.
Note: these are exerpts out of much longer letters. You'll notice that Enoch uses a sort of short-hand to describe certain techniques.