Friday, April 29, 2011


Lessons- 11.5" x 14.5" Acrylic/mixed media

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
 -C. S. Lewis

Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You cannot try to do things. You simply must do things.
-Ray Bradbury

Art happens. No hovel is safe from it, no prince can depend on it, the vastest intelligence cannot bring it about.
-James A.M. Whistler

Listen to everyone. Ideas come from everywhere.
-Tom Peters

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Graphic Artist's Guild Lawsuit Dismissed

Anyone who has been following the ongoing nonsense between GAG and the IPA will be interested in this update:

Last week the New York State Supreme Court, New York County, dismissed all claims in a million dollar lawsuit brought by the Graphic Artists Guild (GAG) against the Illustrators' Partnership of America (IPA) and five named individuals.

In the lawsuit, GAG asserted claims for defamation and interference with contractual relations, alleging that IPA had interfered with a "business relationship" GAG had entered into that enabled GAG to collect orphaned reprographic royalties derived from the licensing of illustrators' work. GAG alleged that efforts by IPA to create a collecting society to return lost royalties to artists "interfered" with GAG's "business" of appropriating these orphaned fees.

In her decision, Judge Debra James ruled that statements made by the Illustrators' Partnership and the other defendants were true; that true statements cannot be defamatory; that illustrators have a "common interest" in orphaned income; and that a "common-interest privilege" may arise from both a right and a duty to convey relevant information, however contentious, to others who share that interest or duty. 

Regarding a key statement at issue in the lawsuit: that GAG had taken over one and a half million dollars of illustrators' royalties "surreptitiously," the judge wrote:

"Inasmuch as the statement [by IPA] was true, [GAG]'s claim cannot rest on allegations of a reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. Truthful and accurate statements do not give rise to defamation liability concerns."  (Emphasis added.)

And she noted:

"The plaintiff Guild has conceded that it received foreign reproductive royalties and that it does not distribute any of the money to artists."

Labor Department filings provided as evidence to the court document that between 2000 and 2007, GAG collected at least $1,581,667 in illustrators' reprographic royalties. GAG admitted to having collected similar royalties since 1996. GAG's officers have repeatedly refused to disclose how much money their organization has received to date or how the money has been spent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Penned In

Penned In- by Greg Newbold
24" x 32" - Oil

This is a companion piece to my painting titled "Unburdened". It was part of my MFA thesis project at the University of Hartford Low residency MFA in Illustration. We were asked to come up with a "dream project" and then create it. I had always wanted to make some paintings based on my experiences on the family farm growing up which included the ritual of yearly sheep shearing. In this piece I capture the uncertainty of the animals as they wait for their time to be relieved of their winter burden of wool. I still have a lot of material to draw from in this series (see thumbnail drawings here) and more paintings are planned including one that is already on the board. I hope to get started on it in the next little while as there has already been some interest expressed it..

Monday, April 25, 2011

Christmas Gifts Rough Sketch

concept sketch- Pencil/digital 5.5" x 3.5"

I'm starting on another project for Boys' Life Magazine. This one is a feature fiction story about a young man arriving for Christmas at the home of his Aunt and Uncle in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Rather than being greeted with open arms, he finds neither of them in the cabin and must search the surrounding homestead in a blinding snowstorm to rescue them both. This is for the December issue and I am enjoying the rather extended lead time that I have been given. This should be a fun one- hopefully my concept will be approved and I can proceed with this sketch. If so, the next  step will be gathering effective costume and props and then shooting photos for reference.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Everything Including a Bicycle

Detail from juice label project- unused

A couple of weeks back, I posted some of the labels I did for Mountain Sun Natural Juices.Those pieces actually made it onto the product, but I also did two background labels for proposed product lines that never actually (as far as I know) went into production. This is the piece I did for the proposed "sport drink" line of juices. It was intended to be a natural alternative to Gatorade and would consist of real fruit juices with added electrolytes and vitamins, etc. 

Sport Drink label for Mountain Sun Natural Juices- approx. 17" x  5"- acrylic

They wanted the background illustration to depict all sorts of outdoor athletic activities such as runners, cyclists, etc., in a more urban setting (parks, neighborhoods and such.). The logo and the flavor spot would go dead center as in the other labels, so I curved the path around and placed the other characters and elements so that they would not be obscured by the type (at least I tried- this didn't exactly work with the other labels either). Here's how it turned out, and I did get paid for the piece.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

American Nostalgia Exhibit

Crimson Harvest- by Greg Newbold; 13.5" x 24" Acrylic

I have been invited to participate in an exhibit celebrating the iconic American themes popularized by Norman Rockwell. The show is titled "American Nostalgia: Contemporary Artists and Illustrators Reinterpret the Traditional Themes of Norman Rockwell" and will run from July 7 to September 25th, 2011 at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton California. I am one of the forty contemporary artists that have been asked to contribute a couple of pieces to the show. Anytime my work can be mentioned in the same breath as Norman Rockwell, I am pleased. the Museum describes the show as follows:
More than thirty years after his death, iconic American artist Norman Rockwell’s art is still enormously popular. This invitational group exhibition examines the enduring themes represented in the art of Norman Rockwell–patriotism, family and the American ideal–through the works of 40 contemporary artists and illustrators.
More info at The Muck's  website

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Once Upon a Truck- Finale

Down at Aunt Mame's -Detail

The truck here was painted about 1.25" long (I know, insane)

Here's the 1952 Ford truck as I painted it in "Down at Aunt Mame's" This is a detail of the entire painting, which I'll show another time. In my mind's eye, I picture the truck in a more idealized state and painted it that way . Also note the yellow Dodge pickup we used on the farm. Sort of wish we still had that one too. It had a lot more guts than the Ford.

The finished truck rolled off Chad Bangerter's trailer at the Autorama last month. It won the award for best restored truck and it's easy to see why.

Enjoy the pictures and thanks for indulging me in this little series.I hope it was interesting for at least a few. Back to more art related posts again next week.

1952 Ford restoration previously on Life Needs Art:
Once Upon a Truck
Once Upon a Truck- Part 2
Once Upon a Truck- Part 3

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's About the Journey

It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters in the end.
- Ursula K. Le Guin -

This painting signifies in many ways the beginning of my journey as an illustrator and for several years defined what I wanted to achieve. When I painted it, I had been out of school for a couple of years and was fighting the mighty struggle to establish myself in the marketplace and get decent work. I did this painting as the cover for a book called "Bowman's Line", a murder mystery set in the desert southwest published by St. Martin's Press. It is significant for me because it marked the first time I had a painting accepted in a major illustration competition when it got into the Communication Arts Illustration Annual. At the time I thought that this achievement would somehow propel me to the notoriety I equated with success. I continued to rabidly enter competitions in search of this artistic Holy Grail. I've gotten in a lot of shows, won many awards and lost a lot more, but I never felt satisfied. Of course it is always nice to be recognized for what we do and if such recognition leads to more and better work, then this is great. What I could not get my brain around at the time was that no matter how many awards and accolades one earns with your art, they don't really contribute to a sense of worth. Meaning that your value as an artist, or as a person, has to come from within. When you depend on the outside world for validation, it is a hollow satisfaction. It took me a long time to just be OK with doing my best, to be satisfied with learning and creating art just for art's sake. If awards fell my way, all the better. My journey has been much more satisfying since I have let go of (for the most part) the burning desire to be recognized  from outside sources. I still enter competitions and I still want to win, but it does not define me and it does not make my work any less good when I don't.  I think that has been the biggest difference. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Once Upon a Truck- Part 3

After our "52 Ford was carefully disassembled, the work of restoration began in earnest. Each part was evaluated and the few parts that could not be salvaged such as the chrome door handles and hood lettering were ordered from reproduction manufacturers.

he vast majority if the parts were sandblasted to remove the old paint and then repaired, reshaped and prepped for painting. Even the smallest parts and what might be considered insignificant details were attended to. Down to repainting the red needles on the dashboard dials and copying over the factory grease pencil markings on the engine compartment firewall.

Photo of the original factory markings on the firewall

Same markings carefully replicated on the restored firewall

The truck begins to come back together

Restorer Chad Bangerter said one of the most challenging efforts on the bodywork was reshaping the curve of the cab roof that had been flattened a bit from countless hay bales being stacked on it. If I had ever imagined we would want to keep this truck growing up, we might have been more careful.

Photos in this post are by Chad Bangerter- CB Rodz

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Once Upon a Truck- Part 2

Our 1952 Ford Flatbed pickup underwent what you call a total tear down, meaning every component was disassembled, stripped, repaired and repainted, or if necessary, replaced before re-assembly. Most of the truck was salvageable and in pretty good condition given it had spent the better part of thirty years in an open air garage.

Fenders, hood and other parts await restoration

This restoration was as comprehensive as you could have hope for and was masterfully performed by Chad Bangerter. He owns and operates CB Rodz out of Sunset Utah.

His restoration and customization work won a number of awards at car shows across the country and he spared no effort in putting our '52 back in better than factory condition. This series of photos shows the tear down phase of the project. Next post I will show how the parts started to come back together. Photos are courtesy of Chad Bangerter.

As you can see, the truck started out in pretty rough shape. You'll be amazed at the transformation.

Check out more of Chad's excellent work here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Once Upon a Truck

Once upon a time, there was a truck. A 1952 Ford flatbed pickup. For years it rolled happily around a farm in Utah helping haul stuff. Mostly bales of hay, tree limbs, picnic tables, and the occasional farm animal. It lived a useful life for a long time but was never considered a treasure.

It was just a work truck. The teenagers that helped haul the hay never took a second thought to throwing hay bales onto the roof of the cab when the height of the stack on the bed reached that level. It was just another place to stack a few more bales. Never mind that it flattened the cab.

Many summer seasons it was only driven a few dozen miles, maybe a hundred. The work became less and the sitting became longer. It got harder to start it again each spring. The grandmother passed away and left it to her son. He always thought of fixing the old truck up but never got around to it.

He left this world too soon and his family thought maybe the time was right to resurrect the old truck. Last summer, the old '52 was loaded on a trailer and it's rebirth began. The restoration, as you will see over the next few posts, is truly an art form. I hope you enjoy seeing the process.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seagulls and Crickets - Finished

Seagulls and Crickets - 8.5" x 11", digital

Here's the finish on the seagull illustration. If you compare it to the previous progress post, you can see how much more work was done on the characters and the foreground. This was a fun one to work on and I'm pretty happy with the results.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dueling Banjo Pig Exhibit

I have work hanging in "Dueling Banjo Pigs: The Exhibit". The Banjo Pig Duel began last year between Provo illustrator Guy Francis and Chicago artist Stacy Curtis. The story goes that Guy bought a banjo and then threw down the gauntlet to Stacy by drawing a banjo plucking pig- a la the movie "Deliverance" and dueling banjo pig mayhem ensued. The plucking pig frenzy spawned a blog where everyone was invited to contribute their own visions of  banjo themed pigs. 

Fence Sittin' and Pickin' - Pencil and digital Approx 8" x 9" 
$125  at Terra Nova Gallery

Here is one of the two pigs I contributed to the show. If you get a chance to drop by the gallery, please do so and don't forget to turn the crank on Guy's handmade banjo pig automaton. Prices are very reasonable as well. I saw the show on Wednesday and came away amused and entertained.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bottled Up

Detail from the Tropical Juice line label

A few years back I did a series of fruit juice labels for Mountain Sun Natural Juices. I created four different background paintings as well as about twenty different flavor spots that were inserts into the logo.Here are a few of the labels as they were printed. Packaging tastes changes about as fast as the tides, so these labels have long since disappeared, but I thought they turned out beautifully.

They were also nice enough to send along a case of assorted flavors of juice with my labels on them. I still have a bottle of the cherry cider (which was probably one of the tastiest) on my studio bookcase. It's far past it's "best if used by" date, but I can't bring myself to crack the top and dump it just yet. I guess if the cap explodes someday, then the decision will be made for me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seagulls- Almost Finished

Seagulls and Crickets- digital

At the risk of posting a finished picture later that does not look too different than this, I am going to show the progress of this piece. The last version I posted did not have any of the foreground laid in and none of the critters had been modeled yet.  I debated whether or not to let the line work show and decided not to, choosing the more fully rendered approach. I am hoping I will finish by the end of the day but we shall see, I still have a lot of cricket and grass detail yet to render. Tomorrow's post will hinge on what the Today's Inspiration theme shakes out to be as that seems to have become my Friday ritual. Regardless, I'll put up the finished version of this when it's done.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Welcome to Spring!

The view from my studio window...THIS MORNING

Just when I was getting used to the idea of warmer weather. Friday was gorgeous, sunny and and seventy degrees. Ditto Saturday morning, then a cold front rolled in and we had six inches of the fresh stuff by sunrise Sunday. Our power got knocked out for a while in the early morning hours but was back on in time for breakfast. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since we always get a rogue snowstorm or two in March or April. Such is springtime here in Utah. I'll just try to enjoy a few more days of snow covered foothills and sparkling peaks. Soon enough I am sure I'll be grumbling about how hot it is when the heat of July sets in. Some days I wish the only thing on the schedule was to go paint outdoors (even in the cold). Days like this would be amazing to try to capture with the fresh snow and sunshine providing remarkable contrasts. But other projects need attention and deadlines loom. Maybe in couple of weeks...

Friday, April 1, 2011


Duet- 9" x 12"- Acrylic on canvas board

Today's theme on Illustration Friday is Duet. Those who follow this blog may have noticed that I usually try to come up with a clever way to shoehorn one of my pieces to fit the theme, but today was a no brainer. I painted a picture a few years back as a demo for an acrylic workshop which I actually titled "Duet". The workshop was hosted by the Utah Watercolor Society and since I work primarily in a water based medium (though not traditional transparent watercolor), I was asked to teach a three day class. I did two demonstrations during the workshop, one of which dealt with creating a landscape in acrylic. I showed some techniques that I use including glazing with mediums, dry brushing, and even using crackle mediums (evident at the lower left corner). I did not complete the painting during the session but finished it later on. There is a long tradition of using musical terminology to title paintings. When it came time to choose a title, "Duet" seemed appropriate given the two hay bales. I sold the painting a few weeks later to a private collector.