Illustrator Mark English Passes Away

Illustrator Mark English Passes Away

Goodbye To An Illustration Original

The sad news reached us this weekend that veteran US illustrator Mark English has passed away. Here’s a few condolences from his fellow artists online…

Here’s Bill Sienkiewicz’s tribute to English:

Mark English has passed away. 

Where to even begin to describe this man’s talent, wit, intelligence and empathy? 
He was an illustration and art legend, winning countless awards from the Society of illustrators and influencing generations of talent. His passing is devastating to those of us who knew him, and a great loss to the art and illustration world. 
From realistic and illustrative beginnings, incorporating gorgeous design and abstract compositional technique, to explorations into texture, shape and color, he never stopped growing.

My deepest condolences to Wendy, to John and his siblings, and to the entire English family. 

On personal note, Mark was a hero of mine, and a huge influence. He, along w Bernie Fuchs and Bob Peak, were the trio of top American illustrators who impacted me at a very specific time in my life, and whom I sought to learn from, not only in terms of picture making and endless creative solutions, but also from their work ethic, professionalism and unending quest to search for- and create- beauty and meaning through pictures. 
Getting to know Mark as a friend and colleague, to watch him work, and hang out with him and his wonderful and talented son John, and the faculty- and the great number of amazing students- of the illustration Academy- all of whom I consider family (George Pratt, Bill, Carman, Jeffrey Alan Love, Gary Kelley, Wesley Burt, Vanessa Del Rey, Chris Payne, Tim Trabon, and so many others-) was a blessing I can’t fully express. My only hope is to pay that blessing forward in the same way in which he honored me and those of us who knew him.

Rest in peace, Mark.

Here’s David Michael Beck’s tribute

OK,…so The great illustrator Mark English passed this weekend. Several years ago He came to Cincinnati to lecture at the Art Museum of Cincinnati. My great old friend C.F. Payne was instrumental in arranging the visit. At the end of the house packed, standing room only lecture, Chris invited me to join he and Mark for dinner. 

The three of us went across the river to Covington and had a fine dinner and conversation, mostly talking about art. As I’m sitting there listening to these two going back and forth, I’m thinking to myself ,…I’m having dinner with two of the most talented, influential artists in all of American illustration.

Well I was so stoked with inspiration after that evening that the next morning I started the work on this illustration that took over 80 hours to complete through that following week. 

The loss of Mark English is huge to the world of illustration and American art in general. The illustration school in Kansas City founded by his son John years ago featured Mark as an instructor, thus having a tremendous impact any student that attended the 5 week workshop. This amazing talent leaves a long and celebrated legacy that will continue to inspire artists for generations to come.

So RIP Mark English,…thank you for all the amazing work and inspiration over the decades.

Here’s artist and illustrator George Pratt’s words on the loss of him:

The artistic community has lost a legend this week. I’ve lost a dear friend. Mark English has left us.

When I was in art school Mark was one of the Illustration gods. I used to just sit and pore over his printed pieces. When the Society of Illustrators put up their annual show I was front and center scoping out Mark’s work, just blown away. Such incredibly powerful work, yet so infinitely subtle.

Then I began to teach at the Illustration Academy and got to meet Mark in person. Such a gentle soul full of humor and sincerity. We immediately fell into telling ribald jokes, cracking each other up. If anyone had said to me back when I was student that I’d get to hang out with Mark English, much less get to teach with him, I would have laughed at them. That’s how improbable something like that would have seemed. Yet, when you got to meet him, you realized that it wasn’t that farfetched at all, because like so many of my heroes of that generation Mark was a quiet man and humble. No swagger. He had nothing to prove. He had already proven it in his work countless times. The amount of work he continued to produce right up until the end is staggering.

Watching Mark work was like watching water being poured out of a glass. He made it look that damn easy. Every. Time. It was magic. Truly. And if you asked him how he did it, most times he’d just shrug and sort of make a face. “I don’t know.” But if you pressed him he could come up with some engaging reasons for the things he was doing. They bordered on the mystical, sort of pulling things out of thin air often enough, but he knew why he was doing it. And most importantly you got that it could be done. He was happy to share the info. And he was happy to tell us stories about the high riding days of Illustration when he was at the top of the heap and enjoying life with Robert Heindel, Bob Peak, Bernie Fuchs, Fred Otnes, and Alan Cober. The pranks they would pull on each other! We got a sort of Illustration Babylon, getting to see into the nooks and crannies of the big game. He talked of Austin Briggs, Norman Rockwell and others. 

Mark could be competitive but in a quiet unassuming way. We were both into chess, yet neither of us had anyone to play with. My chess buddy, Rich Clark and I haven’t played since I left New York in 1998. Mark was in the same boat since Fred Otnes passed away. So I got to take the place of Fred and became Mark’s chess buddy. We were pretty evenly matched and would play for hours sometimes drinking a few beers. Sitting in his studio, surrounded by all this amazing work, he’d kick my ass for a bunch of games and then I’d kick his ass a bunch. Waylon and Willie would be singing in the background and his bulldog Dudley would be at our feet, growling if we shifted a painting aside. If we weren’t in his studio we were in the small alcove at the Illustration Academy going at it over cups of coffee or sodas. It was good that way. And we always left it that we’d get even.

My dad died in 1995. I lost not only my father but one of my best friends. Anyone who’s been there knows how deep that goes and how sharp it cuts. Mark for whatever reason took a shine to me and welcomed me into his family. So did his son, John. There is a particular joy and warmth in my heart that comes from that. Every year I’ve been welcomed into their homes for Father’s Day since I’d have to be away from my kids while at the Academy. And when I looked at Mark I could see a good bit of my father in him, had my father gotten to live that long. It was a great feeling. And Mark would give me that great squeeze that was a lot like my own dad did. I’m thankful for that and so much more.

I’ve been blessed to learn at the feet of many masters. They’ve never disappointed, only nurtured. Mark’s dedication to his craft, and to sharing his gifts with so many fortunate students over the years was amazing. That was a lesson in and of itself. I hope they know how lucky they are. Every year Mark was there diving in, getting in the thick of it, doing demonstration after demonstration. He would be critiquing the students work, or sitting quietly one-on-one with someone imparting his particular brand of wisdom—part master and part Roy Rogers. He gave so much back. He payed so much forward.

When I last saw Mark we had played a long round of chess, several games. I was making up for a severe stomping he’d given me a few days before. In the end we evened it out. Except I still owed him. I’ll always still owe him.

Damn, I miss him. 

My heart goes out to Mark’s family in this difficult time. I love them beyond words.

Here’s David Scroggy formerly of Dark Horse’s tribute to English too

RIP: Mark English
I am saddened to hear that one of the true giants of illustration has left us. 
I was able to spend a weekend with Mr. English once years ago, when he came to San Diego and did a demo for our Illustrators group. I was our program director, so was able to drive him around, which was special- he had a wicked sense of humor, enjoyed smoking as much as I did, and was generally about as down-to-earth as it gets.
But I also got to watch as he did a demonstration painting for our group, in an intimate setting. As his good friend, artist George Pratt describes in his heartfelt and eloquent eulogy, it was “like watching water being poured out of a glass”, as vivid colors leapt vibrantly and effortlessly onto the sheet of paper, as if being conjured up by magic. An abstraction of a house, reduced to its simplest of forms, but “all there”. More than that, really-the work of a master. An unforgettable experience. Condolences to his family, friends and artist peers. 
Photo © Greg Preston
Here is a link to the Mark English web site, with many images:

We here at tripwire send our condolences to English’s family

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