Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For fifty years, cartoonist Don Trachte made an excellent living doing uninspired, simple minded drawings.

Nothing about these drawings hinted that behind closed doors, Trachte was so talented he could paint a major Rockwell oil painting well enough to fool all the experts:

Similarly, the cartoonist James Swinnerton had a long, successful career making mediocre drawings that revealed no particular artistic ability:

Yet, in his spare time Swinnerton painted powerful, sensitive landscapes:

Rose O'Neill was another artist who made a small fortune with bland, inferior drawings. The public just loved her cute little imps, called Kewpies:

Nobody guessed that behind the scenes, O'Neil drew intense, erotic drawings and wrote steamy poetry. Her real drawings look like the work of Brad Holland, who came along 50 years later.

When a reporter asked O'Neill about the striking contrast between her professional work and her personal drawings, O'Neill refused to comment, saying "these things were made for the maker's own delight."

I'm not suggesting that every one of these private pictures is a work of genius. However, it is interesting to me that so many artists could not find a market for quality art, and survived only after they dumbed down their work.

I would never have guessed from their public work that these artists were capable of creating such pictures. I think their best work, the work they did for their "own delight," deserves some exposure.