Saturday, June 15, 2013

Simon Watts, ed. The Art of Arthur Watts (2003)

     Simon Watts, ed. The Art of Arthur Watts (2003) When we first went to England, my grand-parents had a pile of old Punch magazines. We children perused them thoroughly, for the pictures of course. Most of them we could not understand, but we did like the drawings. I remember full page cartoons with many wonderful details. Some of these I now know to have been drawn by Arthur Watts. Visiting Lee Valley Tools in Edmonton, I came across a copy of this book, a compilation by Arthur Watts’s son. The drawings charmed me again, and I bought the book, putting it aside as a Christmas present to me, which in due course it became. I’ve spent a couple of delightful hours looking at the pictures again, and reading the brief biography.
     It seems Watts also produced posters for the LMS, so I shall have to look for those. He was a keen sailor, and wrote articles for a yachting magazine, illustrated by himself of course. Simon also reprints a series of six short essays on the art and craft of drawing in back and white, which give some insight into Watts’s philosophy. He emphasises simplification, ironically, really, as he detested modern art, and often made satirical allusions to it in his own work. Yet those allusions were extremely skilful: Watts could have done work in the modern style if he’d wished. A book worth looking at repeatedly. Unfortunately, some of the originals were stolen from Simon Watts home as he was preparing the book, and on the last page he asks for help in recovering them. I don't know oof any success in recovering the drawings. *** (2005)

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