characteristic Ragan evocation
of the Holiday
Idyll Diamond Head at the entrance to Honolulu Harbour from HOLIDAY magazine
Ragan was a speciality illustrator who had a particular niche in the market,
and who stood in it unchanged for most of his career. He painted machines moving
fast through landscapes. He was born in Iowa and went to the Cumming School
of Art in Des Moines and then to the Art Institute in Chicago.
He designed posters an illustrations using opaque watercolours on Upson Board
- wood panel found in timberyards and which has a pebbled surface. The
surface is fixed with denatured alcahol and gum. His design, a combination
of site observation and tracings from photographs is projected upon the
board with a Balopticon ( a sort of sophisticated slide projector). The
panel is then worked up flat on a table to allow the paint to dry without
drips and run. ( see Ernest Watson, Forty Illustrators and How
they Work , Watson Guptill New York 1946, the main source
of reference on mid century commercial illustration in America).