Leslie Ragan
characteristic Ragan evocation of the
Holiday Idyll Diamond Head at the entrance to Honolulu Harbour from HOLIDAY magazine December 1930

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).