photo courtesy of Dave Darrow
Fred Fixler founded California Art Institute (CAI) in the early 1980's just north of LA in Calabasas. Prior to that he taught at nearby Brandes Art Institute. He studied with Frank Reilly from 1947-49 at the Art Students League, during this time he was roommates with James Bama. It seems that the bulk of his illustration career was spent doing sports illustrations, and movie poster work. It has also been rumored that he did uncredited "sleaze paperback" illustrations for Brandon House in the sixties. Fixler instructed a generation of Southern California artists, including Morgan Weistling, Greg Pro, Mark Westermoe, Shawn Zents, Glen Orbik and Laurel Blechman.
I will leave you with an anecdote from Morgan Weistling
"The secret to capturing the essence of what you are looking at can be found in your high school yearbook.
Fred Fixler would have us look at our high school yearbooks and find that page that has everyone in our grade standing together in one big group shot.
"Can you find yourself?" he would ask. Yes, we could.
"Can you find your friends?" Yeah.
What's the point? Well, in those photos your head is almost the size of a pea - if not smaller! And yet, without seeing eyelashes, nostrils, pupils in the eyes, or any other details, you recognize people you haven't seen in years! Yet, most of us sit in front of a model drawing the most unimportant details and miss the simple overall shapes that form the essence of who we are observing.
Details are not the answer.
Here are a couple links to some interesting reading courtesy of Norm Nason
Fred Fixler: notes on drawing
Fred Fixler: notes on gouache
photos of life drawings courtesy Glenn Orbik & Laurel Blechman