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Drawing on style: A retrospective of fashion as art

The fashion illustrations of Rosemary Burke will be the subject of an exhibit at JRB Art at the Elms throughout February.
by Heather Warlick Modified: January 31, 2013 at 2:36 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013

In a time when some fashion retailers are bypassing flesh and blood models and opting for computerized virtual ones, a local artist is bringing the art of fashion illustration back into the spotlight.

“Fashion as Art,” a fashion retrospective featuring the illustrations of artist Rosemary Burke from her decade-long career as an artist for Balliets, will be on exhibit starting Friday at JRB Art at the Elms.

“There's something about fashion illustration that's kind of ethereal,” Burke said. Unlike photography, which can be stark and austere, Burke said fashion illustrations have a softer quality with more movement.

“Really, fashion is wearable art,” said Joy Reed Belt, owner of JRB Gallery. The gallery will feature wearable art all month. “If you look at the jewelry we wear, it's exquisitely designed and executed just like a painting.”

Fashion illustrations also tended to print better in newspapers.

“The reproduction seemed to work better. Photos didn't seem to reproduce as well as illustration,” said Todd Pendleton, art director at The Oklahoma Publishing Company, which publishes The Oklahoman. As recently as the early '90s, many upscale fashion and home decor advertisers preferred the look of illustrations in newsprint, Pendleton said.

She started working in pencils but they became too time-consuming, Burke said.

“When pencils took too long to get the shading deep enough for good contrast in newspaper and magazine reproduction, I created a ‘dry-brush' technique with Japanese nib & chisel point markers to help with the deadline crunch. Then markers just took over completely.”

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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