Artist Spotlight: Bernie Fuchs (on painting, illustrating, and knowing when to stop)

fuchs  fuchs3

Aren’t these paintings by illustrator Bernard Fuchs amazing?  They feel completely effortless and easy (although, I’m sure they were anything but effortless or easy!)  Notice how many of the paintings/drawings are pretty much monochromatic (blue or yellow).  I love that!

This “effortless” feeling in Bernie’s work requires so much conceptual planning, a trusty relationship with you hands and fingers (no, I’m not trying to make a joke.  It’s harder than you might imagine!) and the oh-so-dificult knowledge of when to stop working.  It’s far, far to easy to over work a piece of artwork.  Often the most beautiful aspect of the piece are the “incomplete” parts.   Bernie allows the under painting to show through, leaves sketched lines, uses big strokes, and chooses not to “refine” 90% of the painting.  I’m so impressed and challenged by his techniques.

Bernie Fuchs lived and worked in a pretty amazing time in America (both in and outside of the “art world”) and has been an influence in illustrations and artists ever since.  He died in 2009.

Check out this beautiful flickr gallery full of Bernie Fuchs’ work, as well as this blog post by David Apatoff.



  • Bernie Fuchs inspired me in the 1970s, his illustrations in Sports Illustrated were gorgeous. We will never see this level of work again because the market for this work has gone along with the real art directors of those days who commissioned and gave the artist freedom to create. Today, it’s gotten mundane and me too and this has to do mostly with the art market.


  • After stumbling onto your post, I’m tucked away at our public library with my Laptop, Photoshop and iPad Pro ready to escape into Bernie’s technique and see what I can absorb through a painting session of my own. Retro allure at its finest. Thank you for the post, Emily.


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