Well, these prompt words for Illustration Friday just don’t get any easier, do they?┬á I mean, really.┬á How on earth do you depict an elusive quality like talent!
The obvious option would be to do a simple piece of art showing one particular talent.┬á One suggestion made to me was to draw someone licking his elbow, because that was clearly a talent.┬á Not wishing to pursue this kindly-meant offering, I sat and thought.┬á And thought.
And finally, the thing that lodged in my head among all the dross, was this:┬á talent is indeed such an elusive quality, and so hard to judge, that the late, great Fred Astaire was almost rejected by RKO studios after his screen test.┬á Rumour has it that on the report from that screen test, someone wrote those famous words: ‘Can’t sing, can’t act – can dance a little’.
In fact, the quote is ‘Can’t sing, can’t act, balding, can dance a little’, which is even worse.
However, Astaire himself apparently denied this, saying that the wording was actually ‘Can’t act, slightly bald, also dances’.┬á However this may be, the fact is that David O Selznick, who had commissioned the test was reported to have said that he was taking him on ‘despite this wretched test’ and his ‘enormous ears and bad chin line’ because of his ‘tremendous charm’.
And as it turned out, he’d really have been a fool not to take him on, wouldn’t he?┬á What a wonderful asset to the studio he was – yes, he had tremendous charm, and enormous
ears talent and he put bums on seats, as they say.┬á He may not have been a truly great actor, but he was no worse than many in full employment by the studios at the time and boy, could that man dance!
For this piece of artwork, I found three photos of Astaire online.┬á After much playing around with them, I ditched my original idea, which was to do a series of three images in a row in ‘squeaker’ pen, because it just didn’t seem to be working.┬á Instead I drew a single ink outline, cartoon style, on Bristol Board, and coloured it with squeakers.┬á Sadly, my black Pantones had bitten the dust after being incarcerated for a couple of decades in the painting box, but the greys worked OK.┬á I couldn’t get a replacement black today so I used an ordinary Sharpie.
I also did the original series idea in simple ink outline, with the quote underneath, and I’m not sure which I prefer.┬á Let me know what you think!
By the way, the typeface I’ve used has a little tiny top hat over the ‘i’, and is called ‘Just Wait And See’.┬á Isn’t that perfect?