Friday, May 10, 2013

Change of pace: suburbia

I always loved the early '60s world portrayed in so many H-B cartoons.  You only had to watch them for a short while to understand the studio was based out of Los Angeles and everything had a Southern California look to it.

Having grown up in Southern California it was very easy to relate to the feel of H-B cartoons.  In fact, they provided for me a template on how a modern, suburban landscape should be.  Overall H-B backgrounds were very faithful to how San Diego and Los Angeles actually looked ... back in the day.

Here's a nice example of the back of a house, leading out to the backyard:
Let's ignore the cat in the chef's hat for the time being.  This is a nice background layout from an Augie Doggie cartoon.

H-B background artists would do these paintings quickly.  In one interview Art Lozzi said he'd normally do around 15 in a day.  That is a lot of painting.  I imagine you learn to become very economical and very decisive when doing so much painting.

Notice the perspective drawing, including the back steps, and the design to the windows.  The lawnmower is a nice touch.  The back fence is essentially two perpendicular straight lines to give a little bounce to the perspective angles of the house.  The tree is little more than a lollipop tree.  Also notice the flagstone walkway and the shrubbery next to the house.  Lots of nice, clean, economical elements that hold up well together.

We shall draw and paint such a background, you can count on it!

Here's another example from a Loopy de Loop cartoon:
This is much more modern design.  I love the stone planter with the big frond leaves coming out of it.  The ornate door lamp is nice and economical... just what you need to suggest such a light, no need to elaborate.

Also we get a look at what today we can only think of as an Ikea sofa in the living room.  Early 60s furniture was "space age," spare and modern.  Few lines.  Lots of kidney shapes.  Spare and economical... just like the H-B background art. 

Lots of So. Cal. homes were little more than a stucco box on grass.  You still see a lot of that today in older neighborhoods.  Much cozier, I think, then the stupid McMansions they mass produce these days: stupid big houses with weird, uncomfortable spaces.  Economically inefficient, ridiculously expensive, with big beige underutilized carpeted rooms that make no sense.

Early '60s tract homes were small and cleaned up well.  The backyards were cozy.  A fence, some flagstones, a patio and subtle outdoor lighting, just the place for an evening barbeque with cocktails or, during baseball season, a few beers.  Martin Denny playing softly on the stereo, men wore sport coats, women wore dresses or slacks.  That's how I remember So Cal.

A lot of folks worked in the aerospace factories, as I did myself as a young guy (in the early '70s... but I digress).  These people worked hard and lived relatively well.  Most stayed within their means, I think, although there did used to be lots of talk about trips to Vegas.  But overall life was good.

Well, for nostalgia's sake, here's one more:
This is my study based on a background painting by Scott C. Adams for a Mystery Incorporated (Scooby Doo) episode.  This is supposed to be Sheriff Bronson Stone's house that he shares with his mother.  This house would have been so completely in place in the neighborhoods I grew up in.

Although the original artwork is very recent and painted in Photoshop rather than gouache on thick paper, it continues a H-B theme to base their episodes in So. Cal.  Yeah, yeah, the town is called Crystal Cove and we're not supposed to know where it is... is it California?... is it Florida?... people, Crystal Cove State Park is just below Huntington Beach.  Right next to that is Laguna Beach.  Get it?  Crystal Cove is Laguna Beach.  It looks like Laguna Beach, it feels like Laguna Beach, and it's called Crystal Cove!!

I mean, how obvious!

Well, anyway, let's draw one of these suburban landscapes.

Next time.

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