Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rooster Revisited

Rooster- 8" x 10" - acrylic on bristol paper

Many years ago as I was just starting my freelance career, I had a client who frequently gave me black and white work to do. They were sort of a monthly local interest magazine without a big budget for either art or printing. It was fun working for them and I had a lot of flexibility because they didn't have a ton of money. I think I was paid $200 per spot, but it was work and I was glad to have it. I was digging around in the studio for a different painting when I stumbled upon this one. I have always wanted to see what it would look like done in color, so now that I have rediscovered it, I may just do that.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Tree" cover

Cover for Hilari Bell novel "Tree"
Art by Greg Newbold - unpublished acrylic on illustration board

This was to be the cover for the third novel in Hilari Bell's "Farsala" trilogy. It of course got axed when editorial decided to change directions. All of the books were retitled and given different covers. I, of course, still prefer mine over what was ultimately used, but it was not my call. I was disappointed, but got paid for all the work. This piece also made it into the Spectrum Annual.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cover for "Wheel"

Cover for "Wheel"  a novel by Hilari Bell
Art by Greg Newbold - unpublished acrylic on illustration board

A few years back I had a chance to do paintings for a trilogy of Fantasy Novels written by Hilari Bell and published by Simon and Schuster. I had previously done the cover for her book "Songs of Power", so I figure they liked it enought to call me again. I did a painting for the first book then titled "Flame" which was published  and also a spine piece that would span all three books. Wanting to keep continuity, the art director commissioned all of the three covers at the same time and I painted them in short succession. They turned out nicely and I was looking forward to having a trilogy of books to my credit when there was a change at the editorial level and my covers were axed. I got the last laugh when the final two covers were accepted into the Spectrum Annual which showcases the best in fantastic illustration each year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Artistic Pedigree Back To Howard Pyle

As I mentioned in a previous post, I can claim my artistic lineage all the way back to Howard Pyle. During my first summer of MFA work at the University of Hartford,  one of our instructors, Alice "Bunny" Carter informed us all that we were now all descendants of Pyle. One of my students recently asked about it, so for all of my students, here is your chain that now links you back to the "Father of American Illustration", Howard Pyle.

Howard Pyle (seen here circa 1898)
Taught Walter Everett (seen below as a young artist)

Who taught Henry Pitz
(below is a charcoal drawing of Pitz by Ben Soloway-1960)

Who taught Al Gold (no picture available)

Who taught Alice "Bunny" Carter
(Artist, Author and Professor at San Jose State University)

Who taught me.

Everyone's pedigree goes further and deeper to other sources through other teachers, but it's fun to look at my connections to this most revered of all illustration teachers.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life Drawing

"Mei" -18" x 24" - Conte crayon on smooth newsprint
Life Drawing by Greg Newbold

I am back teaching figure drawing as well as head painting this summer term at BYU in the illustration department. It's a lot of fun to be able to draw from life every day so I am looking forward to drawing alongside the students. Yesterday we had a terrific Asian model named Mei. She was rock solid holding the poses while simultaneously giving really good lines. She was a lot of fun to draw. We are concentrating on short drawings right now in this class with lots of gestures and poses under an hour. I really want the students to learn to capture the essence of the figure and pose in a short time frame. It's so disappointing when you see a drawing that someone obviously spent a lot of time on but is lifeless or the anatomy is all wrong. The philosophy in this class is to capture the life of the figure rather than laboriously rendering the figure. I spent about thirty five minutes on this drawing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Train Poster

Frontrunner Commemorative Launch Poster
Acrylic on illustration board - 24" x 30"

This piece was a commemorative poster celebrating the launch of a new commuter rail line between Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah. I wanted a heroic feel and the client also requested it have the feel of those nifty old travel posters from the 1920's and 30's. There were only about three hundred posters printed and I signed them all. I got to keep fifty of them and the rest were distributed to dignitaries and the invited guests at the launch party.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chutin the Bull

These two cowboys conversing provided the inspiration.

Chutin' the Bull - Acrylic on masonite - 13"x19"
By Greg Newbold

The quieter moments of the rodeo were very interesting to me and I got a few compelling shots of cowboys sitting around during events. These two cowboys sitting on a gate created interesting possibilities for me. One of these photos was the main inspiration for a painting I created following the trip. I made a number of adjustments to the design and coloration that was in the photo including changing the awkward pose of the left cowboy's right arm. The shapes and rhythms of the figures contrasted against the angularity and repetition of the gates really pulled me in. I also had fun creating the "dirt" texture. I have a few more possible pieces in mind based on this experience and I look forward to finding the time to paint them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fort Worth, TX Rodeo

The twisting starts right out of the chute.

About three seconds in, things start to get hairy.

The cowboy takes one on the head.

A rodeo clown draws the bull away from the fallen cowboy.

During an MFA trip to Forth Worth Texas, we had the chance to attend a rodeo and take pictures from close up. I was struck with how enormous and powerful the rodeo stock animals were. We could actually feel the pounding of the hooves and at one point, a bucking bull came so close that I had dirt sprayed on me from the flailing hooves. I was clicking away with my multiple exposure setting and didn't realize how close he was until he was almost on top of me (separated by the gates of course). That got the heart thumping a bit. Here's a sequence of photos leaving a cowboy tossed on his head (he eventually walked away under his own power, but he took a hard fall. It was challenging to get photos amid such quick action, but I got some interesting results.

Friday, June 18, 2010

One Frog

Una Rana - mixed medium - approx. 18" x 12"

I have done a lot of work for educational clients over the years and it can be a challenge to create an interesting illustration that still allows for the type and titles, etc. This one was for a Spanish language reading textbook, a poem about t lazy frog that just lays around imagining animals that it would rather be and picking their shapes out of the clouds. The poem went in the right hand area of the pond and the title in the clouds on the upper left. Nighttime lighting can also pose problems but I think this one gives a nocturnal feel without being colorless.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Unburdened - Oil on canvas - 24" x 32"
by Greg Newbold

Reference photo- one of several that I chose to work from

I rarely if ever work from a single photo
I use information from many pictures and create a composite.

Unburdened final drawing - black prismacolor on paper

After the 51's sketch, I knew that some of this imagery would filter into my MFA thesis project, but I wasn't sure in what form. I reevaluated all my sketches as well as photos and chose a few pictures to work from. I grew up helping take care of the family "farm". My great Aunt Mame lived there until her death at age ninety-nine. She was born and grew up there (along with my grandmother). After her marriage to my Uncle Henry, they bought the place and lived out their lives there. She was widowed in her her seventies and having no kids of her own, it fell to us to take care of things. One activity that I always enjoyed, despite the hard nature of the labor, was taking care of the animals. Each spring the shearer would come and relieve the sheep of their winter coats. I took several rolls of film on two different occasions and this is what I based this painting on, ten or more years after the fact. This ended up being a breakthrough project for me as it was the first major scale oil painting I had attempted. Up to this point, I had spent fifteen years painting in acrylic and it was a big jump for me to pull the oils back out. I am pretty pleased with the results and the subject matter is close to my heart. I am sure this was just the first of many pictures revolving around this sort of subject matter as I reach back to my roots for picture making fodder.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Walter Everett

Everett's brilliant shape design is evident in
this black and white scene of nuns and children.
Look at the great value control he achieves
in this street market beggar painting.
Young Walter Everett in studio

Walter Everett-Canoe Scene typical of work
 he did for magazines like  Ladies Home Journal

Everett-Pan Sketch

Final painting for Pan

My real computer is in the shop today, so as I was poking around on my laptop for things to post, I found the work of Walter Everett (1880-19460. I was reintroduced to his work by an instructor at Hartford, Alice "Bunny" Carter as she was giving us all our "geneaology" back to Howard Pyle (I'll share my direct artistic lineage back to Pyle in another post). Everett was a student of Howard Pyle as well and though relatively forgotten today, enjoyed quite a nice career as both an illustrator and instructor at the School of Industrial Arts in Philadelphia. Everett's later work is characterized by a near posterization of shapes and colors, utilizing mostly value and color to define the form. Most of his work was reproduced in black and white,  but as you can see, he was an excellent colorist as well.
Thanks Bunny for access to these images.

See more Walter Everett work in another LNA post here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

51st Sketch Goes Color

Photocopied sketches were pasted on a board and painted over - 18" x 5" - acrylic

Each color comp is 3" x 4"

I got a good feel for color options in a short time

I also often do this exploration using Photoshop to
add color to my drawings instead of acrylic.

I then took the final drawing of sketch 51 and created color comps. Here, I admit to having to break some bad habits. For many years I had become lax in my pre-painting color explorations. I would often skip right to paint from the final drawing without adequately working out the color scheme. This could often lead to frustration and less than satisfying results. I recommitted to working out my color palette before going to final paint. Here I used a simple technique of photocopying my sketch several times and pasting them side by side on the board using acrylic matte medium. I then simply painted over them all with an initial wash of acrylic to establish a basic color feel and temperature. I carried three of them further after deciding I preferred a warm palette for this piece. This was as far as I got during our class as we were not required to make a final painting from this study. I did subsequently create a painting based on the thumbnail explorations that was part of my MFA thesis show. I'll show that one later.

Monday, June 14, 2010

51st Thumbnail

 Thumbnail sketch #51 - 2" x 3"

The revised drawing - 4.5" x 6" black prismacolor

After less sleep than I wanted and a mad scramble to get to thumbnail 50, I finally hit on a design I liked for my project. I actually redrew number 50 and made a few adjustments to get to what I thought I wanted. I knew Howard Pyle Pyle was a genius illustrator, but it became clear to me why he was also considered the the greatest illustration teacher ever (Harvey Dunn, N.C. Wyeth, Frank Schoonover, the list goes on and on). If  a single principle of design could have such an impact on me, I can understand why he was so revered and why his students made such rousing success. The next step was to do color comps for a final painting. I'll post those next time.

Friday, June 11, 2010

50 Thumbnails

Sheep Shearing thumbnails
One of six 8 1/2" x 11" pages I filled with drawings

Howard Pyle taught his students that every painting should be preceded by at least fifty thumbnail sketches. His philosophy was that though you may hit on the best design on sketch 23 or 37, or even sketch 2, the real reason to do so many studies is to exhaust all of your options and to make sure that the one you ultimately choose to base the final painting upon is indeed the strongest solution. During my MFA studies, one of our assignments was to utilize this exercise in designing one of our "dream project" paintings. Admittedly, I hardly ever do more than a dozen thumbnail drawings, so this was quite a challenge to come up with fifty distinct designs. Despite drawing and designing for several hours, I was short of fifty when class rolled around the next morning. I sketched away during the beginning of class and hit on a design I liked at number 50. Looking back, I could easily turn several of these thumbnail drawings into paintings, but at the time it was a revelation to understand why Pyle so strongly advocated fifty drawings. Next post: Drawing number 51.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


"Dog-Fish" by Greg Newbold
Acrylic with metal foil - 9" x 9"

Fifi the catfish needed someone to torment, so I decided to give her a friend. I started this guy as a demo for one of the illustration classes I taught last semester, but I recently finished him. I have been using different textures, mediums and brushwork methods a lot more recently. This painting utilizes more drybrush than I have used in the past as well as the crackle medium and foil leaf. I can't decide if he really is a bad dog or if he's just sort of dumb.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tom and Jack

Ballad of the Jealous Lover of Lone Green Valley
by Thomas Hart Benton
Here Jackson Pollock modeled for the harmonica player.

The Pollock we are all familiar with

Benton created abstract works throughout his career
including this one called "Organization" from 1944.

Pollock's "Moon Woman Cuts the Circle"- circa 1944 is surprisingly
similar to Benton's above work from the same time.

I have recently been reading a book that details the connection between one of my favorite artists Thomas Hart Benton and his most famous student Jackson Pollock. Jackson Pollock? Are you serious? That was my reaction as well since in all my readings on Benton, I can't recall ever realizing that Pollock was his student. The author of "Tom and Jack - The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock" , Henry Adams lays out a compelling story detailing the development of both artists and how they became connected to and influenced by one another (especially Pollock). Few people know that for a period of several years in the mid to late 1930's Pollock was a student of Benton and for a time lived with, vacationed with and even baby sat the Benton children. The main artistic principles that seem to have influenced both artists are the ideas of a mostly forgotten art style called Synchomism that had a brief life within the abstract expressionist movement in the early twentieth century It's theories were based heavily in color relationships and the idea that true art must be purely non-representational.. The book has been enlightening and has helped me to better understand both Benton the most acclaimed American muralist and Pollock, arguably the most famous American artist in history (or at least the highest priced - a Pollock recently was auctioned for 140 million US$ ) .

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who Moved My Cheese?

Angry Mouse - 3 1/2" x 2"

This little drawing from my sketchbook reminded me of the classic book "Who Moved My Cheese?"  A lot of us are wondering where our cheese went. The book is a good reminder for us all considering the volatile nature of the economy right now. I'm chasing my cheese down, hope everyone else is also.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Banjo Pig 3

Sunset Serenade - 6" x 7" -  pencil with digital elements

I felt a little bad about the demise of my last Banjo Pig, so here is one seen in happier times. I scanned a crackle texture that  I was experimenting with and composited it over my pencil drawing with digital color. See the ongoing Banjo Pig battle at Guy Francis' blog.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Painting Cows

Red and Black - by Greg Newbold
 oil on masonite - 11" x 18 3/4"

Michael Workman painting a small demo

Everyone's cows in a row

I had a chance last spring to study with Michael Workman during a two day workshop at the Bridge Academy. It was a fantastic opportunity to study with a painter whose work I have admired for many years. Michael did demos and talked about his work and philosophy the first day and on the second day, we all painted cows. Michael joked that it was the "cow" workshop, but I enjoyed every minute. It was interesting to see how varied the approaches were given that everyone was painting the same subject. Mine is third from the left and Workman's is third from the right. I learned a ton and was very happy with how the painting turned out. Click here to see Workman's most recent show and what Michael's cow looked like when finished.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Choice Between...

The Choice Between (Good and Evil)
20" x 16" - oil, collage paper and foil leaf on masonite panel

On each of our contact periods, our University of Hartford MFA class had an assignment based on that particular trip. For the NYC assignment we were to create a piece based on a photo shoot done at the home and studio of Ted and Betsy Lewin. The Lewins are both exceptionally talented and successful picture book illustrators and were gracious enough to let 40 people invade their delightful Brooklyn brownstone. My painting resulted from a combination of several photos and the concept of good versus evil. I experimented with a number of techniques including torn and cut paper collage as well as foil leaf. the painting was laid in initially in acrylic and finished off in oil. Ted is in black on the right and friend and fellow MFA talent Chuck Primeau is on the left.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Hambanjo - 5"x6" - felt pen and digital color

So I figured what's the point of pigs and banjos if you can't combine the two. What you get is a deluxe Hambanjo. As for the rest of the pig, go ahead and speculate, but I see that Mr. Wolf can pluck and snack at the same time. Follow the further adventures of the dueling banjo war on Guy Francis's blog  "So, Cat Tacos?"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Banjo Pig Blues

Banjo Pig - 5" x 6" - felt pen, digital color

My buddy and fellow illustrator Guy Francis has thrown down the gauntlet in the Dueling Banjo Pig war, so I thought I might as well pick it up. I have no illusions of winning the war since I am so far behind, but here you go. See the other contenders on Guy's blog.