David Bruce: The Funniest People in Art — Problem-Solving

Problem-Solving

• Ham Fisher created the comic strip Joe Palooka and took some sample panels to McNaught Newspaper Syndicate, which was not interested in the strip but offered him a job selling comic strips to newspapers. Mr. Fisher accepted the job, and he traveled from newspaper to newspaper selling various comic strips to them, including Joe Palooka, which he pretended the syndicate was offering. When he returned to the home office, he had 20 newspapers signed up to carry Joe Palooka and the syndicate decided to carry it.

• When Arthur Yorinks and Richard Egielski decided to collaborate on a children’s picture-book titled Louis the Fish, author Yorinks wrote that Louis was a salmon. However, illustrator Egielski didn’t know how to draw a salmon, so he went to a grocery store, where he found a picture of one on the label of a can of salmon. Since he watched his money carefully in those days, he didn’t buy the can, but instead tore off the label and smuggled it out of the store. Mr. Egielski says, “The salmon on that can is what I used to draw Louis.”

• When Robert McCloskey was creating his picture-book Make Way for Ducklings, he bought and kept six ducklings in his bathtub so he could sketch them. One problem he ran into was that the ducklings were so active that he found it difficult to sketch them, so he needed to find a way to slow them down. Eventually, he discovered the solution to his problem — red wine. The ducklings loved the wine, and it made them so mellow that they moved in slow motion.

• A nobleman once commissioned William Hogarth to paint his portrait, which Mr. Hogarth did, but then the nobleman refused to accept and pay for the painting. Mr. Hogarth wrote the nobleman, saying that unless the portrait was paid for, he would add a tail and other such embellishments to the portrait, then sell it to an exhibitor of wild beasts. The threat worked — Mr. Hogarth received the money the nobleman owed him.

• Comedian Anita Wise was in a store, looking at miniature paintings on very small boxes. She wasn’t interested in buying anything, just looking, but a salesman began talking to her about the miniature paintings, pointing out that the artists had created them by using a single camel hair as a brush. Ms. Wise asked, “Why don’t they just get bigger boxes?”

• One winter, Impressionist painter Claude Monet started painting a tree without leaves. Unfortunately, he had not finished painting the tree when spring arrived and leaves appeared on the tree. In order to finish his painting, he paid the owner of the tree 50 francs to remove all of its leaves. In May, Mr. Monet finished his painting.

• Spanish painter Francisco Goya usually painted in the bright light of the morning, but he sometimes did a few finishing touches at night. Electric lights had not yet been invented, so he painted by candlelight. In fact, while painting at night he often wore a hat that had a rim set with metal brackets to hold candles.

• The show must go on. Painter Georges Rouault was behind schedule in creating the costumes and sets for the premiere of George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son by the Ballets Russes. Members of Ballets Russes locked Mr. Rouault in a room until he had finished the costumes and sets.

• Renaissance painters and sculptors often showed draped clothing in their art. So that a model would not have to pose for hours while the artists worked on the draped clothing, the artists would take cloth, soak it in plaster, pose it and let it harden to serve as their model.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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