Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Composing Pictures" by Don Graham, and a Request for Information

I wasn't really going to write about this, because everybody else already has, but Don Graham's seminal book about design, "Composing Pictures" was recently reprinted. This is a big deal because it's been long out of print and the only way to get a copy was to pay a lot of money.

The reason I post about it now is that the price and availability of it keep fluctuating on Last week it was priced around $75 and only available from resellers. I'm sure it will be available steadily from now on, but just in case it's not, right now it's selling for a totally-worth-it $26.37 on amazon. Here's the link.

Who was Donald Graham? Here's what I think I know (and someone correct me if I'm wrong): he was an instructor at the Chouinard Art Institute who was selected by Walt Disney in the 1930s to teach art instruction at the Disney Studios in preparation for making "Snow White". As I understand it, he was instrumental in teaching the animators how to move away from the cartoon conventions that had been the basis of the shorts and start studying and understanding how real humans and animals are constructed in order to handle the complexities of the characters in films like "Snow White" and "Bambi". In the studio documentary, there's scenes of an art teacher instructing the animators, and I'm not sure but it might be Don himself teaching the class.

At there's more information about him.

Quick question for anyone out there that might know: apparently at some point, all the teachers of the Famous Artists Course wrote each wrote books called "How I Make a Picture", describing their process and talking through their philosophies. Norman Rockwell's is the most well-known and available, but it's near impossible to find any information about the other editions. If anyone has any information about any of those other versions (particularly Robert Fawcett and Al Parker) let me know. And if you know someone at the Famous Artists Course, ask them why they won't republish these great books!!!


Daniel Caylor said...

Hey Mark,

The other FAC How I Make a Picture books are extremely rare. I've never seen them for sale online anywhere except Stuart Ng books. Here's the link:

Stuart Ng also has a copy of Composing Pictures for $40. So when the $26 ones run out, that's your next best bet.

Quentin Lebegue said...

Thank you so much for this post because without it I would have missed to order Composing Pictures, which I looked for for weeks !

mark kennedy said...

Hey Dan- you're on top of it as usual when it comes to the FAC. Good tip about Stuart Ng.

Quentin - glad it helped!

Stephen said...

Mark, it's only because I work at a university and can request books from anywhere in the country that I've been able to get my hands on the "How I Make a Picture" books. Otherwise, there'd be no way I'd ever get a chance to read them. They're all unique and literally like sitting down and picking the brains of these artists. I'm currently reading Austin Briggs' book, and man, it's outstanding. I loved Al Parker's book, and have also read Jon Whitcomb's and Robert Fawcett's books. I sure wish they'd republish these babies.