There are so many great blogs that just publish great artwork that I never wanted to be one of those...I always wanted to force myself to analyze what makes great artwork so great. But the great response to Searle's "Secret Sketchbook" compels me to add more scans for you to check out. I don't have anything in particular to say about it and I'm pressed for time so....just enjoy. The pages of the book are rather small but I scanned them at a big resolution. Sorry about the gap between the pages but the book has a strange binding and it doesn't quite lay flat. Click them to see them bigger.
Amid pointed out that there's a great tribute to Searle at RonaldSearleTribute. There are lots of great rare Searle pieces there. The blogger responsible, Matt Jones, does some great analysis of Searle's method as well. I only saw a couple of pages from "The Secret Sketchbook" so I don't think these scans of mine are redundant.
Check out the street signs...apparently "Tabu" means about the same in each language. Also one of the night clubs appears to be advertising the fact that they sell Coke. The Coca Cola company must be very proud.
It's amazing how much form and sense of volume Searle gets on the paper even though he is mostly just drawing the outside contours of the figures. He's a master at drawing the outsides of the forms just right so that they really suggest the forms in the right way. That's so hard to do - every line has to be in exactly the right place to feel right. And each interior line is placed carefully so that it suggests form and volume.
That's the fascinating thing about these nude ladies: the spare use of interior lines gives them a lot of blank negative space inside their forms and makes them feel really naked! The empty blank space suggests unclothed flesh better than a lot of interior lines and shading might (One thing that would be interesting to heighten that effect would be to put black tone around the outside of one of the naked forms; then the contrast between outside and inside the form is more defined and also the black exterior would make the white interior look even paler and more fleshy by contrast). Obviously he was sketching fast so he didn't take the time to do a lot of interior lines anyway, but in general Searle does that better than anybody: he draws outside contours that look simple, but the thick and thin of the line and the careful placement of the line describe form beautifully.
He also seems to be conscious of drawing textures. He takes the care to make each texture on the nude girls very carefully - hair, stockings, etc. - so that the busy areas of texture contrast with the open, unclothed areas and emphasize how empty and nude the girl's bodies are.
Also he is masterful about overlapping shapes - there are always forms in front of other forms to show that these are forms stacked up in space, moving away from us.
Oops, my apologies, I guess I did have some things to say about these...more to come.