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Learning from the Urban Sketching Masters: Anton Pieck

While at a dinner party over the holidays, the gentleman next to me, who was originally from the Netherlands, told me that the illustrations of Anton Pieck, a Dutch artist (1895-1987), had made a big impression on him as a boy growing up in Holland.

Illustration:  Graphic of "Christmas market" by Anton Pieck (Source: Wikipedia)

Illustration: Graphic of “Christmas market” by Anton Pieck (Source: Wikipedia)

Pieck’s illustrations were in his childhood books, he said, and everyone knew about his work then.  Pieck was an urban sketcher before people used the term, said the dinner guest. When I later looked up the work of Anton Pieck, what I found was something fantastic, inspiring, and somewhat familiar–surely I have seen some of these illustrations before. But what a “Master” to inspire the urban sketchers of today!

There is enormous detail in the work of Anton Pieck, sensitivity, and cheerfulness. In his illustrations, he recreates the feeling of the towns and cities of Holland in the 19th century and still keeps a fairytale atmosphere throughout his work. Pouring through his drawings, you will find whimsical details on both the architecture and in the market baskets people carry with them shopping. No subject escapes his notice, it seems. In the 1950s, after spending much of his professional life so far teaching and illustrating, Pieck was asked to help design a new theme park in the Netherlands called “Efteling.” This became his focus for the next 22 years.  Throughout this time, he was responsible for almost all the fairytale aspects of the park, which is still popular today but I’ve not heard of it before now.

Anton Pieck

Illustration: Tekenaar Anton Pieck 85 jaar; Anton Pieck in zijn werkkamer *18 april 1980 – Source: Wikipedia

There is much to learn from in the work of Anton Pieck, of course, and to immerse oneself in some fairytale worlds is tempting, (especially given the deeply disturbing nature what passes for news in the news these days).

So, while immobilized by some sort of bug going around, I opened my sketchbook to do these practice pieces of excerpts of Pieck’s work.

AP practice sketch 1

Illustration: Practice sketch (in watercolor, bistre and platinum carbon pen and ink, and Micron pen in a Stillman  & Birn “Epsilon” series sketchbook) by Black Elephant Blog author of excerpt of watercolor by Anton Pieck called “Christmas market”

It surely would be like a fairytale to be able to adopt some of his style to sketch the modern  street scenes of today–perhaps a “stretch goal” to work towards in 2016!

AP practice sketch 2

Illustration: Practice sketch by Black Elephant Blog author (using bistre ink and wash, and a limited palette of watercolors) after an excerpt of a painting by Anton Pieck

 

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