William Andrew Loomis

by Armand Cabrera

William Andrew Loomis was born in 1892 in Syracuse New York. His family moved to Zanesville Ohio and Loomis returned to New York city to go to art school at the age of 19. He studied under George Bridgman and Frank Vincent DuMond at the Art Students League. At the age of 23 he moved back to the Midwest to Chicago to work making streetcar posters for the Street Railways Advertising Company.

In April of 1917 the United States entered World War 1 by declaring war on Germany. Loomis enlisted in the Army and served 20 months with the US Army Engineering Corps, serving ten months in France. In 1919 Loomis married Ethel Olson and the couple had four children together.

After the war Loomis returned to Chicago to work for The Charles Everett Johnson Advertising Art Studio followed by Bertch and Cooper Studio. Eventually Loomis opened his own studio in 1922, working in editorial and advertising for most of the top clients of the time including Kellogg’s, Coca Cola, Lucky Strike, Palmolive Soap, Ladies Home Journal, The Post, Redbook and Life magazine. While on a trip to Hawaii the Loomis passed through Southern California and decided to move there in 1938.

As successful as Loomis was as an illustrator it was his books on illustration and art that he is remembered for today. The six books are Fun With A Pencil 1939, Figure Drawing For All Its Worth 1943, Creative Illustration 1947, Successful Drawing 1951(and its revised edition 3-Dimensional Drawing), Drawing The Head And Hands 1956 and Eye Of The Painter 1961(finished by his wife and published two years after his death in 1959).

Comic book artists, illustrators and anyone interested in a career in art bought his books and kept most of them in print for over fifty years. Literally generations of artists have sought the knowledge he wrote down in these important books and their effect cannot be ignored. For me, when I found out about them in the late seventies these books were the only information on painting and drawing realistically available for serious students. Out of print at that time, these books were like the Holy Grail and before the internet you had to hunt them down in used books stores to find them. I can still tell you where I was when I found each copy I own. Here was real information, not some gimmicky writing on how to paint trees or flowers. These books taught the fundamentals of picture making and were written by a master in his field.

Hopefully Loomis will be given the proper respect for his art and writing at some point and a monograph will be created featuring his beautiful paintings.


The Illustrator in America 1860-2000
Walt Reed
The society of Illustrators 2001

The Eye of the Painter and the Elements of Beauty
Andrew Loomis
Viking Press 1961

William Andrew Loomis A Legacy in Words and Pictures
Jack and Jennifer Harris
Illustration Magazine Issue 20 Fall 2007


Talent is really a capacity for a certain type of learning of knowledge and a consuming interest in the facts that contribute to that knowledge~ Andrew Loomis

Andrew Loomis Quotes on Drawing and Tone

Armand Cabrera

Andrew Loomis wrote his first two books on drawing as opposed to painting. This was no accident as he understood good drawing the necessary foundation for good realist painting. Fun with a Pencil was written for anyone interested in drawing and its light approach to the subject matter doesn’t detract from the great foundational principals laid out in its pages. Figure Drawing For All its Worth focuses on the figure as no other book has since it came out in 1943. It is the bible for comic book artists, animators and illustrators. Anyone interested in painting the figure should own this book its information is as relevant today as it was when first written. The following are excerpts on drawing and tone.

The way you draw characterizes your work. It is one of the chief means of identification, and has positive value for you and for no one else. For this reason, if for no other, it is foolish to allow another artists style of drawing to influence you too much. Drawing continually from photographs can be equally bad. If you draw from life the chances are that your work will contain much more individuality than it ever will if you use readymade drawings or paintings from which proportions can be traced or copied.

When sketching from life the most practical way is to hold the pencil at arm’s length and by sighting locate the middle point of your subject, both up and down and across. Approximate a rectangle the subject will fit into.

When artists begin to compile and set down their combined experience, give freely and humbly what little they can add, as do other sciences, then art may have some chance to re-establish itself in the hearts of everyday people- even against the mechanical perfection of the camera; even in a period of social adjustment and financial depression.

I can think of no field of endeavor so sadly lacking in simple organization of its working principles. Nothing quite so haphazard, hit-or-miss, as the whole field of artistic endeavor.

Good drawing begins with a search for basic forms

No one can successfully draw or paint a head until they can render the surface of a sphere in light.

With the basic forms established, we can then build on the surface forms.

Since only light can define form, we must study carefully what the light does as it travels across the surfaces, noting the areas of light halftone and shadow.

As the form turns away from the light it produces halftone and shadow. The lightness or darkness of the halftone is the result of the angle of the plane in relation to the direction of the light.

Shadows occur only when the light cannot reach the plane.

Value relationships between objects produce design.

It is design and arrangement that make pictures, regardless of subject.

There are four essential properties of tone: Intensity of light in relation to shadow, Relationship of value to all adjacent tones, Identification of the nature and quality of light, Incorporation of the influence of reflected light.

The five ‘P’s of good drawing: proportion, placement, perspective, planes, and pattern

Tone and harmony come first.

The study of still life is one of the best ways of learning to draw.

Do not interpret me as advising you not to draw from life or nature. Nature is a great storehouse of material. By all means draw from that great source. Do not just copy. “Build” with what you observe for yourself to be true. Try to get the individual quality of each thing you draw. It is that quality that makes the artist interesting.

Andrew Loomis Quotes on Color

by Armand Cabrera

Andrew Loomis was a successful illustrator and a teacher at the Chicago Art Institute. He studied at the Art Students League of New York under George Bridgman and Frank Vincent DuMond. He wrote some of the most successful art instruction books ever printed. His six books are a wealth of information for the aspiring artist or illustrator. In print for almost fifty years they were Fun with a Pencil, Figure Drawing for all its worth, Creative Illustration, Successful Drawing, Drawing the Head and Hands and Eye of the Painter. Of the six books he wrote only Creative Illustration and Eye of the Painter deal directly with painting and color. The following quotes are from those two books.

If color is also subject to the natural laws of tone, light and shadow then the only pictorial approach to color which can be of any real value must incorporate these principles.

A color cannot be right until its value is right

No color can be made brighter than its full strength

A color is relative first to the amount of light shining upon it which gives its lightness or darkness

Color is relative to all surrounding color influence

The larger the area the softer the color

All color becomes a source of reflected color when in light and will reflect themselves into lesser light

All color in shadow become recipients of reflected color and will change accordingly

Any two colors will be harmonious when one or both contain some of the other

The local color should never completely lose its identity in the shadow

No color in the shadow can have brighter color intensity than the same color would have in the light.

All colors in their greatest intensity or tints of the pure color should be relegated to the lights and halftones. When reaching the shadows these colors are reduced or grayed, or the color is changed by influence of other color reflecting into the shadow.

The halftones may contain the most brilliant and pure color

Keep your color most intense on the edges of the lighted areas, where it merges into shadow.

We cannot paint nature from a tube or a pot.

The greatest mistake in color, and one that causes lack of unity and harmony, is having too many colors on the palette.


Creative Illustration
Andrew Loomis
Viking Pres 1947

Eye of the Painter
Andrew Loomis
Viking Press 1961

Andrew Loomis Reprints

By Armand Cabrera

I have written about Andrew Loomis before on this blog, you can find those articles in the sidebar under Andrew Loomis. Now Titan Books has reprinted five of the six books written by Loomis while he was still alive. The seventh Eye of the Painter was published posthumously after his death and is more of a philosophical book than a how to book and has not yet been reprinted.



 The books are beautifully reproduced and are quite a bargain at fewer than 30 dollars each. Even though I own a complete set of the original books I bought the reprints to use as working copies and they are exact large format hard cover books and reproduced down to the typos.
The last one, Successful Drawing was revised during Loomis’ lifetime and re-released as Three Dimensional Drawing with an additional 20 pages of information not included in the first book. I had hoped Titan would combine the volumes and release them but they didn’t. Still, Successful Drawingis worth the price for any serious artist.


If you are just starting out these books are invaluable for getting you on the right track. Support the publisher and family by buying these books. While some of the information is dated stylistically, the fundamental ideas are all sound and still relevant to this day.