Sports, Art and One of my Favorite Illustrator/Artists, Bernie Fuchs

Bernie Fuchs Illustration for Sports Illustrated

I was sad to hear of Bernie Fuch’s passing in 2009. He was my hero as both illustrator and fine artist. I had the good fortune to have met him at the Illustrator’s Conference at Asilomar in the early 80’s, when he reviewed my student portfolio. Little did I know that Fuchs, Mark English, and other greats of the day were working at the end of the Golden Age of American Illustration. Photography simply took it’s place in print media, at least in the world of mainstream illustration.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, cover illustration by Larry Rivers, 1985

I clipped and saved this Sports Illustrated  cover during my student days. Larry Rivers was best known as a fine artist/painter, but he stepped out to create this portrait of a basketball great. The brushwork amazed me, still does.

Student Illustration, watercolor, by Karen Gillis Taylor, 1985

This was a portfolio painting I made while working for my BFA at Colorado State. The “woosh” of the ball is a little over-the-top, but I did have fun with this technique. First layer: gesso on board, then watercolor applied with both hair brushes and airbrush. The pigment can’t penetrate the base layer, so you can not only lift it off as in traditional WC, but you can smoosh it around with a rag. If creating for fine arts, you have to protect under glass, like any watercolor.

Telluride, Looking East by Bernie Fuchs

I visited Telluride, Colorado about 3-4 years ago, in the summer. I was on a solo road trip, and Telluride was the only famous beautiful place in the state left on my bucket list. One of the art galleries had a showing of some works by Bernie Fuchs, with an especially beautiful painting of the canyon and high peak seen from the end of the town. I felt really fortunate to have seen Bernie’s work on that trip. Little did I know he was soon to pass on. I guess it is a lesson that we should try to cherish those artists we really admire while they are with us, and be thankful that many, like Mr. Fuchs, are “real people” who are so willing to help and offer encouragement to others.

2 Takeaway tips from Bernie at the 80’s conference:

“I just cleaned out my studio after all these years and realized I didn’t need all that stuff.”

“I liked when I realized you can work on raw canvas and just roll it up. It’s much easier to carry around.”

(I can just picture Bernie arriving in NY City with his rolls under his arm to drop off at Sports Illustrated.)


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2 Responses to “Sports, Art and One of my Favorite Illustrator/Artists, Bernie Fuchs”

  1. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    wow, that Telluride picture is amazing! that is so cool you got to hear him talk. What an inspiration!! Once again we hear about clearing out the studio! It may just be the key to launching out into the new!


    • karen Says:

      There were many great illustrators at those conferences, like Bob Peak (did lots of movie posters), Mark English and Robert Heindel. Many of them turned to painting for galleries after the illustration world changed. Yes, I’ve often thought that I could try the same, just let go of all the studio collections I don’t use anymore. It will probably feel great.


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