Art on the cheap

I used to draw a bit when I was in grade school but never pursued it. I took it up again recently because I wanted something "arty" for the house. I could not see paying for some abstract art on St. Laurent street done in a day when I could do as well if not better and way cheaper. I started to look into copying some easy to do existing poster or graphic art. I chose Lichtensteins' "M-Maybe" and Bendas' "Mistinguett".

I use gouache (opaque watercolor) on a specially prepared canvas to get the poster/illustration feel. I like the illustration flat color look - no heavy brush strokes. Acrylic would not look right to me but would be easier to work. You can't make big mistakes with gouache. I do them big (like 4 ft wide) to have a real presence in a room.

Basically, I just project the sample image (from the web is ok) onto the canvas and trace it out with pencil, then start applying paint starting with the light colors and work to darker. You have to work the details up close as the tracing is really only a guide to placement and a shortcut for the composition. It takes me 30 - 40 hours with the prep work and cleaning up lines to get a final tight look.

My version of the show flier/poster by Georges Kugelmann (Benda) originally done in 1913 of the Paris dance hall personality Mistinguett (Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois, born 1875 died 1956). She preceded Josephine Baker which everyone knows about.(© Ed Prest)

Benda is the pseudonym of the painter and graphic artist Georges Kugelmann who resided in Paris and exhibited paintings in various salons between 1907 and 1921. He produced only a handful of posters, with this Mistinguett design being especially memorable as he catches her in this whirling moment. I figure it was originally a photograph as the dress detail is just too realistic.

Here is Mistinguett in 1916 with the poster as the background, silent movie "Fleur de Paris", possibly a promo image. There is not a lot of info on her, I have her memoir book "Mistinguett on Mistinguett" she wrote in the early 1950's.

My version of "M-Maybe" originally by Roy Lichtenstein in 1963. Famous since the time of Warhol, originals sell for millions. Warhol actually was doing something similar but stopped when he saw Lichtensteins' work and started up with his soup cans. (©Ed Prest)

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Yes, I drew all 12,000 (est.) benday dots by hand. It has to be done and it can't be done by spray paint - I tried! Done tight it looks really great. (©Ed Prest)