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south dakota, 1938

Of all the picture books on my shelves, this is probably the one I pull out most often, The Champion Pig. It's a collection of photos gathered by Barbara Norfleet from small American photography studios, taken between 1929 up to the '60s. They're full of odd details, with a feeling of strangeness throughout the book; I'm a bit obsessed with it. I found it about eight years ago in Halcyon Books in Greenwich and I think it's out of print now, although I managed to find my sister a used copy online awhile back. I took the book to a cafe this morning and copied one of the photos for my morning warm-up sketch.

It's actually one of the less bizarre photos, but there's something lovely and heartbreaking about this portrait: everything from the safety pin holding up the man's trousers and the half-smoked cigarette in his shirt pocket while he holds an unsmoked stogie in his mouth; I can't tell if the man is the woman's son or husband, but she looks both hard and kind at the same time, almost beautiful in a way. The guy has a real Boo Radley look to him and these are probably his best clothes, which are either too big for him because he's lost weight or they're second-hand. His ears stick out in such a Norman Rockwell kind of way, emphasised by the close sides of his haircut. ...So interesting.

The Bookseller Crow, which hosted part of this weekend's book party, has posted a video on its website. The caption reads:
There were some very cool cats in our shop today: Now that was a lot of fun! What a really great bunch of people! Here are some of them drawing and winding down at the end of a packed day of events at The Crystal Palace Children's Book Festival. Look out in particular towards the end of the film for Viviane Schwarz drawing some lovely cats.

Ooo, Viviane's posted one of the Czech mole movies! We used to watch those on projector at school when I was a wee tot!

And thanks to Joe at Forbidden Planet for posting a link about the festival!

Other news, a family friend in Seward, Alaska writes to say she's very excited to acquire a painting left intentionally behind in a coffee shop by Bret Bataclan, who makes a habit of doing just that. Hurrah!


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 28th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
you're right, the safety pin definitely adds pathos
What an incredible photograph! It's like a Steinbeck novel and a Tom Waits song got together and made a picture baby.

Love the drawing too, super line weights!
Apr. 28th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: you're right, the safety pin definitely adds pathos
Thanks! Yes, there's a real 'Grapes of Wrath' feel there!
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 28th, 2009 04:47 pm (UTC)
Well, there will be stacks of HMM at my flat, at any rate! I love the portraits you've been doing lately, I should give that website a shout tomorrow. I think I've been a bit influenced by what you've been doing there.

Yeah, I know what you mean about wondering what will happen. I know a photographer who's busy spending his older years cataloguing all his photos and making slideshows (no, not you, Dad), but I wonder what will happen to them after he's gone. They take up so much space. Digital storage is so much more compact, but then we take about a zillion more photos, of totally random stuff, and it's just not the same as looking at a yellowed photo. Some of my CDs from ten years ago don't work now (they read as 'corrupted'), and of course, in 30 years no one will even be reading things off of CDs anyway, even if they didn't corrupt. Probably only the printed things will survive, much the same as they did fifty years ago, and relatives will save only the ones with particularly quirky things about them. And yup, people will rifle through them at estate sales and think we have amazing handwriting...
Apr. 28th, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
Hey, it's very hard to find your Cartoonify Me page unless you Google it separately! Why aren't there any links anywhere?
Apr. 28th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
The Champion Pig, I used to have that book. Sadly me and my Stepdad used it for collage. I had the one of tall twins in white suits on my fridge until recently.
Apr. 28th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
That's funny you had it, too! It's such a great book. Every time I look at it, I have a different favourite. My last favourite was the spread where the young man plays piano, looking very cultured and melancholy, on the lefthand page, and on the right, he's standing there grinning goofily next to the big deer he's shot and hung. Oh, and the priest surrounded by about three hundred little girls in white dresses.
Apr. 29th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
a new book for my want list
I love old photos, and I LOVE you drawing!
Apr. 30th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
Re: a new book for my want list
Thanks so much, David! If you can't get hold of the book, my sister might lend you hers if she still has it. I don't think she was quite as taken with it as I was. She just let me see one of her new paintings for her BFA show, it's looking really good.
May. 2nd, 2009 08:36 am (UTC)
Re: a new book for my want list
I hope your sister will keep the book and make paintings based on the photos. I can probably find a copy online.

Glad to hear she's making new paintings!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah McIntyre

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