Charles Homualk: Sketch Book

Renowned postcard illustrator Charles Homualk donated more than 8,000 sketches to the Musée de la Carte Postale (the Postcard Museum)

By Le Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk (1945-12-16) by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

His Life

La cathédrale du Quai Baes by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk was born in Nantes (France) on November 20, 1909, and died in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins on March 24, 1996.

Nu de femme by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

He was trained at the École des Beaux-arts (School of Fine Arts) in Nantes, winning a number of awards: an honorary award, an award for artistic drawing, another for artistic composition, and one for model making.

PONT-L'ABBE (Finistère) PONT-L'ABBE (Finistère) by HOMUALK CharlesLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Although Homualk was trained in many artistic disciplines, he was particularly well known among postcard enthusiasts for the many postcards he illustrated from 1933 to 1970 for the publisher Artaud de Nantes. He was a very prolific artist and is known to have produced no fewer than 266 postcards depicting the region of Brittany (Bretagne) alone.

Intérieur du Bas-Léon by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Not a single detail escaped Charles Homualk’s inquisitive eye. Indeed, some of his sketches resemble ethnographic studies in their artistic approach. From dancers’ movements to the embroidery shown on costumes and the detailing of furniture, he would make notes on everything he saw in order to reproduce it as faithfully as possible in his postcards.

L'Ile Molène by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

His Travels

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Upon leaving the School of Fine Arts in 1933, Charles Homualk was hired as a freelancer by the publisher Artaud de Nantes.
His job was to create illustrated postcards. To accomplish this, he visited no fewer than 241 towns and locations in France, including 103 in Brittany.

Auguste by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Seeing a place in person is the way to ensure an unfiltered look at the authentic folklore that remains there. Charles Homualk met a lot of people in these places, and sometimes we can even find the names and addresses of the people he met in his notes. Talking was a way for the artist to form bonds with these men and women and, as a result, to sketch their daily lives in a more natural way.

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He would only create the final postcard after he had returned to his studio. He used his sketches to compose the illustrated postcard using watercolor. He then sent the finished watercolor to the publisher, where they photographed it and printed thousands of copies.

La ridée by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

The rush to capture the moment often meant he did not have time to use color or to draw a scene in its entirety. That is why in some of his sketches, he also used writing. This allowed him to quickly note down the colors of a landscape, to specify the arrangement of embroidery on a garment, or to explain the context in which the sketch was made.

Portrait (1935-04) by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk was particularly fond of portraiture. Over the course of his many encounters, he would ask people to sit for him, drawing men, women, children, and the elderly who possessed particular features the artist wished to immortalize on paper.
He created accomplished portraits, from which his subjects’ presence and personality clearly emanated.

Portrait by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Costumes

Couple by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk paid special attention to costumes and hairstyles. He understood very well that these were an essential part of a region’s identity.

Costume traditionnel by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

As part of this process, he would often detail the different pieces of clothing that went together to form an outfit. Color, an essential component of any outfit, rarely made an appearance in Charles Homualk’s sketches, but he replaced this element with annotations. For some sketches, he would even take a small piece of hemming in order to reproduce the pattern and its colors as faithfully as possible.

Charrue by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Technical Sketches

Rouet by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk was not only interested in people and costumes. He also paid a lot of attention to everyday objects and traditional furniture. Items like these act as records of a region’s culture and identity. The technical sketches he made were as much about creating his illustrated postcards as they were about satisfying his own curiosity.

Calan près Plouay by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Scenery

Alignements du Ménec by HOMUALK CharlesLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Charles Homualk did not neglect the matter of scenery, either. He would draw an area’s flora and collect specimens of plants.
He also sketch panoramic scenes in which the landscape became the main subject of his composition.

Soleil couchant by Charles HomualkLe Carton Voyageur - Musée de la carte postale

Beyond Postcards

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Charles Homualk’s prolific output was not limited to postcards. Other collaborations, for example with the pottery manufacturer Henriot, his involvement with the Seiz Breur movement, his natural curiosity and his training allowed him to produce many other works, like studies of nudes, ceramics, and paintings. He was also put in charge of decorating the folklore hall in the Breton Pavilion at the Exposition des Arts et Techniques in 1937.
He was therefore a constantly evolving artist who did not stop at expressing himself through the medium of postcards.

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