Art 1- Edward Gorey – due 9/9


1. Listen to the curator of “Elegant Enigmas” talk about Edward Gorey.

2. His work was used in an introduction to Mystery, a PBS series. Watch his visual story-telling techniques.

3. Comment on the 3 most interesting things about Gorey and how you think those things influenced his art.

4. Also comment on your favorite visual frame (drawing and composition) in the Mystery animation and explain why you find it most fascinating.

5. In your sketchbook, do a one hour drawing inspired by Gorey.  Have fun with it! Keep track of the time intervals on the back.


34 responses »

  1. Gorey is an artist who isn’t appreciated the same way Van Gogh and Picasso are. however, those that know of him are able to recognize the genius of his works. His pieces are drawn with lines, adding a dark and surreal feel to the shaded figures and landscapes. The drawings are made with the original intentions of being used in a story book, having the correct dimensions and corresponding stories. The tales he spins with the usage of the sketches are usually quite odd, borderline nonsensical, which add a whimsical theme to the otherwise haunting illustrations.

    My favorite scene in the Mystery intro was the shot of the woman drinking wine beside the gravestone. She seems so calm, even though she is wearing funeral attire (black clothes, a black veil), so she is obviously in mourning. Perhaps she was responsible for the buried person’s death? The mystery of her expression and story fascinate me more that the other glimpses of characters.

  2. I like that his art is so dark, the way he does shading and the style of his figures.
    The most interesting frame is the one where the police are chasing someone.
    – Grey

  3. Gorey’s art is so simple but yet has details only magnifying glasses can show. This showed that intricate art can be made by only simple lines. Broadening what the horizons of the line. He can create art accessible to all age groups. This gave a larger audience to his work and art in general. I found it interesting that he could be so important in so many different mediums of art (literature, drawing, and theatre). A man of that talent could create a large following, making art forms more popular. My favorite image from “Mystery” was the red bird crow thingy went into the air and faded into oblivion. It was a nice use of depth.

  4. In my opinion the most interesting visual frame is the one where the lady in black is by the grave, i think that her vail and the way she is standing make her seem very elegant, and the composition of the piece is balanced and visually pleasing

  5. thing I found interesting:
    1. in mystery the only color was from the flash lights beam
    2. all of the art was made up of lines
    3. I liked in the beginning mystery the silhouette of the men with umbrellas

  6. 3 most interesting things about Gorey:
    -use of lines in shading
    -style for drawing people
    -surreal drawings

    My favorite frame in the Mystery animation was when the bird flew from the vase. The bird stood out, because it had the slightest amount of color amongst a gray background. The vase was also very detailed in shading.

  7. I think it is important to know that Gorey was a more of a unknown character who had a mysterious personality and his personality was translated into his art.

    1) His mysterious personality could be seen in his distinct and intricate line work.
    2) His dark yet humorous style made him popular because it appealed to both adults and children.
    3) It was interesting that he only worked with the exact same scale as the book would appear.

    My favorite frame from the Mystery animation is :08 because it shows the dragon/bird creature rising into the air and as it rises the clouds around it slowly become darker through heavier shading.

  8. It’s interesting that Gorey writes such dark children stories, that he uses so many lines in his pictures, and that his pictures can be abstract, but immersive at the same time.

    I like the images with the people following the person pushing the wheel chair because it reminds me of monty python.

  9. One thing I think is interesting about Gorey is that he draws such violent illustrations for children’s books. I think his may be because he recognizes that, although we often overlook it, many children can appreciate dark humor and find it very entertaining. Another thing that I think is interesting is that he always works I the same scale that the image will appear in the book. I think that this is likely responsible for the good light and dark ratios in his drawings as if he were to have drawn them in a larger scale they might have seemed unbalanced once shrunken down. A third interesting thing would be that he is considered unknowable. I think this is reflected in the fact that many of his drawings have a lot of dark space and mystery.
    One frame from the mystery video that I liked was the one with the maid dusting a tombstone. I like how it asked so many questions; is this in someone’s yard? Are there more of them? How old I’d it, and why does it get such special treatment?

  10. I think it’s really cool how he uses shadows to define figures and sometimes kind of reverse shades areas to make them light in a dark area. It also interesting how he can use simple cross hatching to make things look so 3D. These things make his art look somewhat creepy and old but also like its comming out at you.

    My favorite image is when the dinosaur bird thing goes into the sky because it is drawn so simply but looks so detailed and the sky looks really cool.

  11. This is Sam Hughes. I think its interesting that Gorey was able to appeal to both adult and children’s sensibilities. The reasons why he might have placed such value on darkness and creepy art is also interesting. Something else that caught my eye about him was his ability to turn his art directly into stories. My favorite visual frame was the man disappearing into the lake – where did that come from?

  12. I think the fact that when Gorey drew for children he didn’t dumb it down and make it less dark was very interesting. He didn’t try to protect them from having to face and learn about death, instead, he prepared them. I thought his drawing style was interesting, made of lines, very dark and with an air of mystery. I think it is cool that he always drew in the same size that the illustrations were going to be in the book.
    I liked the image of the woman standing in front of the grave drinking something blood red. She’s obviously in mourning because of her clothes, but she didn’t look or feel sad, she looked like she didn’t care. The blood red drink was also slightly ominous and added to the eeriness of the image.

  13. It’s cool how Gorey draws in the same size as he presents his work. I think its interesting that his image to the public is so like his art in that he’s a sort of unknown character (oops! I wrote that before I read the other comments. Sorry Square, didn’t mean to copy.) . He has a way of turning everything dark and forbidding. The way he portrays people’s faces reminds me of Tim Burton. I like the clouds in the Mystery video. They perfectly mirror the darkness of the film and his use of lines accents the strangeness of the scene.

  14. I like Gorey’s contrast of the light and dark. It really accentuates the picture, drawing your attention to that particular part so that you may take notice of it. Since its so dark, it creates an eerie and mysterious atmosphere. This is best shown by when the women is in front of the grave with her black shadowy vail behind her. I believe he gets this affect through his many different lines. Sometimes the lines are just put parallel to each other and the closer they are the darker it gets. He also has the cross over each other to also show the different in light and dark. However because of his many techniques if I was a child reading his book I would be very scared.

    My favorite frame was the one with the four men standing together with their umbrellas. I like how dark the picture is. And for a moment it seems that they are all one and then you see their legs as the walk away. He uses little broken up lines to demonstrate the rain, creating an another eerie effect.

  15. The target demographic for Gorey’s books and illustrations isn’t limited to children, he aims to entertain all ages. This helps his art by making him include double, meanings and dark themes that appeal more to adults. The way he draws (to scale) also affects his art in that he can’t draw a massive illustration and shrink it down, so the detail isn’t good, but the flaws in the lines add expression to his art rather than detracting from it (it almost looks more realistic in that flaws are a key part of reality and without them it would look too surreal). Everything in his is completely shaded (to some degree at least) and this results in two things, all his drawings look very full or deep, and it adds a lot of darkness to all of his figures. Each one is heavily shaded, so the default space is grey or black, not white which gives everything a very dark tone.

    I really liked the scene in the Mystery Intro with the well dressed people at a party right next to a man sliding into a pond (it is implied that he is dead). The appeal to me of the scene is that it is mocking society and our tendency to be intentionally blind when we don’t want ot be bothered to interfere with a problem (like a man drowning in a pond).

  16. 1. three things i found interesting about Gorey were one, He was classified in a unique group of artists with shel Silverstein which was exciting because he is one of the few artist that i know and have enjoyed since childhood. I also found Gorey’s use of dark humor and cryptic nature interesting and intriguing. Lastly the way he used such dramatic contrasts between his blacks and whites helped to convey his personal style.These things influenced Gorey as an artist because he did not allow barriors, boxes, labels, or rules to dictate his artwork.

    2. My favorite frame in the animation was the grave stone cracking. Although it was small i enjoyed the symbolism of it crumbling in time and how the stated the mystery at the top.

  17. Three interesting things
    1the way use lines to create shadow
    2use line to make sky and grass
    3dark style
    My favorite frame in the Mystery is at beginning of the video the bird fly from Mobile Corporation to sky.

  18. 3 most interesting things about Gorey:
    1) His use of lines with dark and light
    2) How his shapes of objects were made with all lines
    3) His mystery with his drawings

    My favorite visual frame in the Mystery animation was in the beginning when the bird was coming out of the chimney and flew up into the sky, how in the background the clouds started out more white than shaded with lines and by the end the clouds were mostly shaded black and the bird kind of blended in with them.

  19. Gorey seemed to be someone who looked at the larger picture, this can be seen in his often universal and contrasting themes. He also seemed to have a rather negative view of life as many of his paintings are very dark. Gorey also always seemed to be trying to get a message across to the viewer, because of this the focal points of his drawing are much lighter than their surroundings.
    My favorite frame from the mystery was the huge mansion with presumably only one person in it because it goes to show that money may not always bring happiness.

  20. most interesting things about Gorey:
    1) his art appeals to both kids and adults because kids like the picture and adults understand the second meaning.
    2) I think its apt that the speaker grouped him with maurice sendak and Shell Silverstine (not a comparison i would have made at first but i agree with after hearing it)
    3) He participated in literature and theater (you can see the influence in his treatment of light and shadow and words)

    I like the scene that appears in Mastery about 41 seconds in because of his use of white space to show water.

  21. I thought it was interesting that he used negative space to draw attention to certain areas, like in the ‘A is for Amy who fell down the stairs’ drawing. I liked how he used parallel lines and sometimes cross hatching, instead of shading, to make up the dark areas. He also used these lines to show movement in a tangible way.

  22. i like how he uses black and white, i think that it really creates an almost Gothic theme to his pictures.
    1. i like how he used shading
    2. i like how he draws people
    3. how he used lines to create grass

  23. I like how all of Gorey’s pieces are a bit unrealistic (using very bleak colors, depicting things in only two dimensions, etc), which makes them feel almost unreal. I also like how the lines are so obviously etched, which gives the sense that the viewer is looking more directly into Gorey’s mind. Also, I like how, in general, all of his depictions are very dark, which gives a sense of horror, without really being scary; just morbid.

    I particularly enjoyed the frame at around 0:39, when there’s the gathering of people, all dressed in black. It is right after the scene of the woman in white on the roof, and right before the man gets shot and falls into the lake. I like this frame because it has a classy, nonchalant feel to it, and it is sandwiched between two scenes of unhappiness/death. That contrast only contributes more to the casual atmosphere.

  24. I think that it is interesting that Gory’s art is dark yet is made for children’s books. I also think that the way he uses lines and the dark mysterious feel of his drawings is interesting. My favorite frame in Mystery was the man sliding into the pond with only his feet showing.

  25. Most interesting things about Gorey-
    1. How his art is made in the actual size as it would be in the books
    2. His unique style, it reminds me of a dark version of Madeline
    3. The appeal to both adults and children, despite the violence.

    My favorite frame is the feet falling into the lake/creek because it’s so expressive. It’s really dark without being overly so. You don’t really notice that it’s a person who just drowned at first and that mental double take you have to do is really interesting.

  26. I think one of the most interesting elements of Gorey’s art is the way he approaches the concept of death. His alphabet pages (in the first video), instead of serving as teaching tools, twist the the classical association of letters and common objects into a morbid exercise. It is ironic that those pages, usually catered toward a young audience, deal with an idea as intense as mortality. That dark theme carries over to the other areas of his illustration, and I think it fits in nicely with his style. Because his drawings are primarily focused on small details–line work and shading–every dark area is very deliberate. It is clear that the shadows that dominate his work serve a purpose, perhaps to convey a somber mood that draws the viewer in. I also think his preoccupation with violence and death allows him to bridge the gap between children and adults; an older audience can be interested in the overarching themes of violence and death, yet the art is still appealing to kids because of the details and because it usually appears in picture books.
    My favorite frame from the Mystery video is the one where the grave shatters and disappears into the floor. Considering the dark nature of his style, I think the fracture of the headstone is symbolic of the complexity of his themes. I think he is trying to communicate the idea that not everything should be taken at face value; his art explores the truth behind death but tries to go deeper into what mortality means for all of humanity.

  27. I think the fact that Gorey’s art was often (always?) in the context of children’s books makes his art unique. I wonder how the requirement of working within a narrative affected his artistic development?
    Another interesting thing about Gorey’s illustrations is how dark they are, not only in terms of color (black and white, but more black than white) but also in tone and theme. Seems almost incongruent to the subject matter and method of presentation (children’s books).
    Finally, I thought it was interesting how distinct his drawing style is. Most illustrations in children’s books look all the same, but his is totally different–his characters are lanky and morbid-looking.
    I really loved the frame with the reporter–how he licked his finger before writing about the person falling into the pond. It’s almost cliche, but in a good way–like I knew immediately who the dude was.

  28. Gorey’s art, aligned with stories and animations, is presented so casually– as if these settings happen every day and are subconscious to the characters involved in his works, though apparently odd to the viewer. In the Mystery intro, a man is shot and thrown into a lake, and just a few feet away a group of aristocratic people are socializing and drinking.
    Composed mostly in black and white, his art has a medieval gothic and macabre aura to it, though one could relate it to the Addams family in how surreal, ridiculous, and elegant his characters are. All of the people he depicts seem aristocratic, slim, and leisurely.
    Despite having a distinct style, Gorey doesn’t seem to be associated with one artistic movement, nor just with art. His artistic style is reflected in his literature, which also describes personified animals, murders, and people unaware of their surroundings, focusing only on what they are doing in the moment.

    My favorite frame is the elegant woman dressed in funeral attire, casually sipping wine, with her veil/headdress set in a medieval fashion, rectangularly about her head. The headdress has a see-through quality to it, as if it’s made out of chiffon…

  29. Three interesting things about him are that:
    1. Since he was knowledgeable in not only visual art, but literature and performance, his drawings have a theatrical nature to them.
    2. Somehow, he found a way to appeal to both adults and children.
    3. He’s somewhat mysterious, as nobody knows much about him, and this quality shows up in his artwork as well.
    Favorite shot in mystery:
    When the police officers are searching for the murderer. This is interesting because it’s the only time where he uses a color that isn’t black and white.

  30. I really like how whimsical his drawings are. It’s really interesting that his characters have these strong personalities, distinguished by their body type, facial expressions, and attitude. I love how each character has an emotion unique to its attributes.

    One of the other wonderful things about Gorey is his willingness to bend the rules and place objects , people, and animals in places they wouldn’t normally belong. It’s great to see a fish in a snail shell on a couch or a ballerina in the middle of a mountain range. It’s creative, playful, but meaningful at the same time.

  31. I like the way he uses cross-hatching as well as the use of the dark shading and colorless drawings, you can also see the use of dark humor in his drawings.

    An interesting frame to me was where the bat-like creatures came out of the chimney.

  32. I think three most interesting things about his style of work are
    1.)very pale tones and pastels and his use of grey and black and white.
    2.) The way his figures look physically, some of them you can tell their social status or how they live just by looking at them, his drawings say a lot about the characters.
    3.) I find his implied obsession with death to be very interesting and it is definitely very interesting.

    My favorite frame is of the three police officers stalking or doing whatever behind the old ladies.

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