Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Revelation- 19" x 13" Acrylic
From the yet to be published "Scuffy- A Scarecrow's Tale" By Greg Newbold

This is the scene in the Scuffy story where he realizes that he really isn't being attacked by disembodied orange head monsters and ghosts and hatches his plan to thwart the crows. Hope everyone gets their fill of trick-or-Treat candy! and the pumpkin carving goes well- no lost digits. Thanks for supporting my blog adventure, it's been fun for me. Tell all your friends and we'll pass the 100 follower threshold by Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rites of Autumn

Rites of Autumn- Acrylic, 19" x 13" by Greg Newbold

With Fall football in full swing, I though it appropriate to show this piece I did for Boys' Life magazine a while ago. Ironically, the article sat in the archive for quite some time before it found a home in last month's September issue. The story was a bit of a period piece that told the story of two young men and the conflict that arose from the Caucasian boy's school (and hence his football team)deciding to integrate the African American kids in the 1960's. In this scene, the white players confront what they think is an invasion to their team by the young  African American player, while his new found friend decides to side with him. It was a turbulent time and one that seems all to soon forgotten or worse yet unknown by many of today's generation. I admit to not having lived through much of it, but I greatly respect the young people who battled to diminish race discrimination in this country.Many of their stories should be required reading in today's schools.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grasshopper Hunter Almost Finished

Grasshopper Hunter- Digital 11"x 17"

This one is almost finished. I have to get it done and upload tomorrow. Photoshop still getting easier and I think a bit faster, so the learning curve is starting to ease. At 72 dpi, you probably don't get a real sense for the detail or the things that still need to be refined, but I mostly need to work on the grass and an bit on the grasshopper. I like the palette and the silhouette value of the figure and grasshopper against the light sky.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rocky and Bullwinkle Creator Dies

"Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat! Nuthin' up my sleeve...PRESTO!"
Anyone from my generation is sure to remember the phrase and the inevitable result that was always something other than an actual rabbit emerging from the hat. Alexander Anderson Jr., creator of the iconic characters in the cartoon program The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show passed away this week at the age of 90 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease . 
Most people associate  the characters and the show with Jay Ward, the man who popularized them on television, but Anderson actually was the unsung creator of those characters as well as Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right and Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. In 1996 Anderson won an out of court settlement with Jay Ward Productions over the rights to the characters that recognized him as the original creator, though he had left the animation business to pursue a career in advertising before the cartoons became popular on television on the 1950's and 1960's. 
Anderson said the inspiration for the classic character came from a dream he had in which he was playing poker with a moose. The animal kept doing card tricks and the image stuck with him. The name came from a local car dealership Bullwinkel Motors, which he thought was amusing. Anderson chose a flying squirrel for Rocky because he felt the ability to "fly" would lend him superhero qualities. The Rocky and Bullwinkle characters have endured, spawning many incarnations including both cartoon and live action feature film and can still be seen in cable syndication. "When you love your work, it isn't work" wife Patricia quoted him as saying.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Grasshopper Hunter 2

The Challenge- 10" x 8"- digital

This one is finally finished. One more on this project for Boys' Life magazine and then I'll send it out, but I thought I'd post this one. I am continuing to get more comfortable with the digital tools as I go. Still a lot to learn and the time frame is not yet down to the speed that I expect, but I think I am getting there. Here again I scanned in my finished drawing and painted over the top. Some of my friends work straight onto the computer with no preliminary drawing, but I am not there yet. It still doesn't feel natural to just push pixels around on the screen instead of respond to all the tactile stimuli you get with real paint, but it's not as stiff as it used to be. Slow but steady I guess

Monday, October 25, 2010

Alabama Hills

One of the most interesting places we visited on our recent painting trip to Owens Valley, California, was the Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine.Unfortunately the weather was a little sketchy and we opted to draw rather than paint in case the heavens decided to open up rain on us.

The unfortunate side affect was that the skied were overcast and the light relatively flat. I would have loved to have seen these rock formations on a clear day along with what I am sure would have been fantastic shadow patterns. As it was, the rocks were unbelievable. The outcroppings jutted out of the ground everywhere at every angle, some as large as 30-40 feet high. Eons of wind and rain have weathered them into rounded mounds fractured with fissures and cavities.

It is no wonder that Hollywood has filmed more than 300 feature films, TV episodes and commercials among these incredible rocks formations (including Iron Man, Gladiator and the classic monster spoof Tremors). I was mesmerized. Here are a couple of the photos I took along with the sketch I made. I'd love to go back someday and really paint them. Until then I will have to be satisfied with my photos and painting from memory.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Midnight Voyage

Midnight Voyage - Acrylic, 9" x 12"

It's always a kick to add magical elements to my illustrations when I get a chance. This one was a cover for a Reading textbook. The only art direction I had was to include a boat and to make it a bit mysterious. I thought the sparkly flying fish racing alongside added that bit of magic the piece needed. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

California Plein Air Painting 3

East of Independence - Oil, 6" x 8"

We lost the brilliant sunshine of California on day three of painting, which posed a challenge. We decided to head up to the desert flat on the east bench above Independence, California, a little slip of nothing town you'd miss in the middle of the night. The overcast skies flattened out most of the terrain and I was forced to reevaluate possible subject matter. For this painting I focused on the horizontal banding in the landscape and the several layers of atmospheric separation as the landscape receded. The sky was changing pretty quickly and I eventually had to just pick a cloud formation and focus on the painting rather than what was happening in the landscape front of me. I faced the same thing earlier with Cowhorn Valley Ridge, so I just ran with whatever light and arrangement I though was most interesting. These paintings also forced me to paint quickly and make committed decisions. I think the most time I spent on any of these paintings was a little over two hours. I like the confidence of stroke and color that I found while painting outdoors.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

California Plein Air Painting 2

Rabbit Brush - Oil, 8" x 8"

Midway through the trip I made a little painting that I felt most closely approaches the kind of finish I like to get in the studio with my oil work. We stopped around noon to pick a new site and meet up with one of John Berry's painting friends Glen Dean (also a very talented guy- check out his work here). I was immediately attracted to the yellow color of the flowering sage plants affectionately known as "rabbit brush" I liked the compact shape and the intense chroma of the flowers.

I blocked in the shapes using a reddish mixture and got to working on the background. I typically work to establish the areas in the distance first and  progress forward in the picture plane. this seems to allow me to capture the atmosphere more accurately and judge values better. As I neared the stopping point, I realized that my value contrasts were not what I had hoped and I was forced to analyze things to come up with a solution.

Nearly done- just lacking highlights and finishing touches

I fell back on the old principle that there are two ways to create of value contrast. First is to increase contrast by changing the value of the object or second to change the value of what surrounds that object. I made the call to lighten up the background surrounding the brush rather than push it darker. I had to judiciously edit out growth around my subject in order to achieve the effect I wanted. So after a bit of adjustment, and critical assessment, I was pretty happy with the piece. I think the surface quality of the paint and strokes worked out quite well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

California Plein Air Painting

Hills west of Bishop- Oil, 8" x 6"

I just returned from a five day painting trip to the Owens Valley in east central California. My painting buddies were college mentor and now colleague Richard Hull and fellow undergraduate classmate John Berry. I had never been to this particular area at all let alone to paint and we were all astounded at the scenery and the possible painting opportunities. I'll be spending a few days posting tidbits from the trip.

Today's post will focus on capturing fleeting light. Plein air painting is all about getting something down on canvas quickly in conditions that can change from one moment to the next. Light that looked so compelling when you start a picture can be completely different just a few minutes later and can be lost altogether as soon as the sun drops behind the ridge line.

painting so close to the Sierra Nevada range, we lost light in a matter of minutes during late afternoon. The same thing happened in the morning as the long shadows flattened out a couple hours after sunrise. I was the least experienced outdoor painter in the group, so I focused on establishing the shapes and patterns of the light quickly and using my visual memory to fill in the gaps when the light changed.

Cowhorn Valley Ridge- Oil, 8" x 10"

I snapped photos at the moments I found most interesting and I look forward to combining the impressions I captured in the paintings with the added information in the photos to create larger paintings in studio. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Squirrel Suicides

Every once in a while something happens that is just weird. Must be a sign of the end of the world when soft furry woodland creatures off themselves in your own home. The first occasion of earthly departure caught me totally off guard.  I opened the door to my studio bathroom and nearly had an aneurysm to find Rocky floating face down in the commode. It's not every day you find wild animals inside your home, and my mind ran rampant imagining the scenarios. Was it a dare? Some twisted squirrel hazing ritual? Just do a 100 meter breaststroke in the can and you're in the gang. Or maybe a Hey, Bullwinkle, watch me pull a rabbit out of... well, you know. Needless to say, the ratlike feeling of his stiff corpse was a little disturbing as I fished it out of the drink, rigor mortis and all. I though that was the end of it until a couple weeks later. I went into the studio and found several things knocked over. I thought it a bit strange, but the kicker was when I found my soap dispenser and one of my 1960's vintage Hire's Root Beer bottles tipped over in the sink (glad it didn't shatter). I started looking around and discovered a trail of tiny cadmium red footprints leading from my palette over to the window. Rocky II was hanging dead in the shredded blinds. He apparently went all wood chipper in an attempt to get out and then noosed himself, poor cadmium smeared face and all. I think maybe it was another truth or dare stunt gone wrong. The squirrel gangs need to rethink their induction strategies. Either that or he simply went psycho after ingesting too much toxic heavy metal.They have those warnings on the paint tubes for a reason you know. Had I though about it at the time, I would have made a video of the carnage. Imagine the hits on Youtube. Alas, you will have to be satisfied with my rendition of Rocky I taking a  nap face down in the pot. Still have no idea how they got inside. See, I told you rodent demise stories were awesome!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boys' Life Spot Finish

Yesterday I finished one of the pieces for Boys' Life magazine that I have been working on. I had to put it aside for a while as I worked on some other stuff but I am now back on them. There are two other pieces for this project, a fictional account of the Native American chief Crazy Horse called "The Boy Who Hunted Grrasshoppers". The story tels the tale of how as a young boy, he learned to shoot the bow and arrow so well that he could hit grasshoppers out of the air. This one was done digitally as well. Please leave a comment as to how close you feel it looks to my painted style.There is also a poll going at top right of this page.

Compare to the drawing here

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Wet Panel Carrier

My new plein air wet panel box arrived on Saturday. I have a painting trip coming up and I am excited to use it. I looked around everywhere for a good wet box and found this one that is hand crafted by Alla Prima Pochade. Ben Haggett, a painter and superb craftsman living in Montana, makes all of his products to order. He offers several different models of plein air pochade boxes as well as the wet panel carrier that I purchased.

When I opened it up I was immediately impressed with the tight craftsmanship and the well thought out design. It is elegant in it's simplicity and the ingenious design of the removable dividers is impressive. The box will accommodate up to eight 9"x12" or 10"x12" 1/8" thick panels or other combinations of 8"x10" or 6"x8" panels by using the included divider strips.

They are attached using small but powerful magnetic buttons. I was initially a bit skeptical, but the magnetic strips are solidly attached and do not move without deliberate intent. I'm looking forward to filling this box up with wet paintings and will be saving up my money to buy one of Ben's painting boxes with all the bells and whistles. Anyone looking for a great little wet box that I expect will last a lifetime, should check it out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Island Santa

Island Santa - 10" x  8"  Acrylic -by Greg Newbold

The Illustration Friday theme this week is "Transportation". Contrary to popular belief, Santa doesn't always travel by reindeer borne air taxi. When in the islands, he has been known to deliver presents via outrigger canoe. I have been fortunate enough to spend Christmas in Hawaii twice with my family and both times it was absolute heaven. I thought I would miss the trappings of our traditional Christmas celebration back home but I have to say I did not miss it at all. There was something magical about snorkeling on Christmas morning and I found myself supremely relaxed. And you know what? The snow and cold was still there when we got home (ughh). This piece was done as a Christmas card for a client a couple of years back.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finally Finished

It's been a long time getting here, but I finally uploaded the Friend cover tonight, so I promise this is the last post on this particular project. just thought it would be interesting to show the final product. I spent way too long trying to do the type treatment in Illustrator- obviously the learning curve was way too steep for a one day result, so I abandoned that idea and did it in Photoshop. It took a lot of warping and adjusting to get it to fit the space, but I like the result.

I had quite a bit of  fun adding the texture to the surface and making it look more organic. I am actually really pleased with the results and think I may be looking at future projects done digitally ( Nooo! don't go over to the Dark Side!). My biggest hangup with digital has always been that too often it looks digital. I still have a long way to go, but with this result, I finally think I can pull of an all digital execution and have it look close to my painting style, so that is a plus. Hey everyone, what do you think?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Getting Closer

Friend Magazine 40th Anniversary cover- 8.5" x 11", digital

So the Photoshop experiment is going pretty well, though the speed factor has yet to kick in. The learning curve is still steep (now I am trying to figure out the type for the banner in Illustrator-yikes), so I can't say it's faster than paint yet. Everyone swears I will get faster at this, and quickly, so I am trying to gut through it. At the risk of being redundant, here is the latest progress.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friend cover Progress 2

Still working on the Friend cover. I have now blocked in all the basic colors and I'm now refining the characters. I wasn't happy with the oversimplification of the dogs and rabbit when I got to rendering the details, so I took some time to define their personalities a bit. I also opened up the eyes on a few of the characters. I thought they were a bit squinty and past experience with this client led me to believe that this may become an issue. I decided to preemptively change that as well. By tomorrow afternoon I hope to be pretty much done since it's due on Wednesday.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Ghost of the Bayou - Greg Newbold 9" x 24", acrylic

Beneath the surface of the water lies lurking a silent death.... whatever. This painting was done for Utah's Hogle Zoo for their special exhibit Ghost of the Bayou which featured "Antione", a leucistic American alligator. Leucistic is not a true albino condition, thus the electric blue eyes. This painting was accepted into the 50th Annual Society of Illustrators Annual among other awards.

He was found along with his 17 brothers and sisters in a bayou outside of New Orleans in 1987. Born without skin pigment, it was feared that the babies would not survive long in the wild because of an inability to conceal themselves from predators or survive the threat of constant sunburn. They were captured and taken to the New Orleans Zoo to reside.At last report, nine of them are still living today. It was really fun to paint this creature and even more fascinating to see him in real life. One of the great living oddities of nature. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.

Read more about Antione here