Saturday, May 16, 2009


The great Joseph Clement Coll (1881-1921) drew like he was conducting a symphony orchestra.

From the Kelly Collection of American Illustration

Note in the following close up the range of effects Coll employed-- the difference between the fine pen lines and the broad brush strokes; the difference between the accuracy of the eyelashes and the almost abstract wiping of a dry brush on the cloak; and notice how Coll achieved the value he wanted for the background by first painting it with ink, then scratching it with a blade:   

Coll's line was vigorous and varied and confidently rendered.  No simple, monotonous shading here.  Look at how his line curls and twists and plays in ways that would not be visible to the reader of the printed page in Coll's era, but which nevertheless contributes to the overall vitality of the drawing.    

James Montgomery Flagg, another talented pen and ink artist, gave a good description of his superior, Coll:
There is no doubt that he was one of the few masters of pen and ink in the world.... He found romance in a story and doubled it, lavishly, prodigally.  He gave himself in his work instead of selling his signature on half-heated stencils. In short, he was a great artist.