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MacPherson, Earl 

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Earl MacPherson, the creator of the ‘Artist's Sketch Pad’ style of pinup artwork, was born in August, 1910. He was born on his grandparents' farm and his father, who was short of money, apparently paid the country doctor for the delivery with a pig. His father started to teach Earl to draw and in 1916 they moved to California in search of the good life (and an art teacher for Earl).

Earl MacPherson went on to study at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles. Before going on to complete his studies at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts he spent several years painting portraits and acting with a professional stock company in Hawaii. He was offered a good commission almost immediately after leaving his schooling, painting the portrait of then-President Herbet Hoover's grandchildren. By the late 1930's MacPherson was working in Hollywood, painting portraits of the Earl Carroll Girls. This brought him to the attention of the Kings of Pinup, Brown and Bigelow, who moved him to their studio in St. Paul. Since the studio also housed both Earl Moran and Rolf Armstrong, MacPherson felt he was having trouble ‘making the grade’ in such company. However, despite painting the best selling pinup girl for the Shaw-Barton Calendar Company in 1941 (Going Places, 1941, used again by Lucky Strike Cigarettes for their 1942 Calendar ‘Lucky Strike Green Has Gone to War’), MacPherson did not come into his own until 1943 when he created the first ‘Artist's Sketch Pad’. MacPherson apparently got the idea when he noticed Brown & Bigelow employees and clients rifling his wastebasket for unfinished sketches.

MacPherson was lured away from Brown & Bigelow in 1945 by Shaw-Barton, who offered him a bigger paycheque, his name above the title and the opportunity to work where ever he wished. 1946 saw the start of an eleven year run of ‘The MacPherson Sketchbook’ calendar. During this time MacPherson also wrote and illustrated one of the best selling Waiter Foster ‘How to’ art books: ‘Pinup Art: How to Draw and Paint Beautiful Girls’ published 1954.

In 1951 MacPherson developed Polio and his assistant T. N. Thompson took over the Artist's Sketchbook calendars, successfully reproducing MacPhersons style. When the Pin-Up market collapsed in the late 1950's and early 1960's, MacPherson started travelling again, moving to Tahiti in 1960 and then travelling widely in the South Pacific. During this time he developed a reputation as a ‘Western’ artist. Earl MacPherson died in December, 1993.

1 Available Gallery
SketchPad (33 Pictures)
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