Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Salvador Dali Portrait Demo

Salvador Dali demo portrait- Acryla gouache, 8" x 10"

Last week in my Intro to Illustration class, I did a little demo to show the students a little bit of how I paint using the Holbein Acryla gouache paint we have designated for this class. I started with a drawing I made the night before and transferred to my Crescent # 1 extra heavy weight cold press illustration board.

I knew I only had a couple hours max to make something happen, so I painted "without a net" so to speak. I had no clear idea where to go with it until I started, so I laid down a magenta/pink wash and then some darks to establish the basic value pattern.

From there I responded to the painting and made choices based on what was happening. One choice I made early on was to push Dali's skin tones to the green range to contrast the pink sky. This palette choice is quite removed from normal for me and I got pretty excited about it as it was happening. I figured that it fit Dali's personality as a surrealist and I topped it off by giving him red irises. I think I'll finish this off a bit more in the flower area, and call it good. Not too much though, I sort of like the spontaneous feel of the strokes. Sometimes you surprise yourself when given a challenge.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Composition Based On Shapes and Letters

Compositions can be based on many different shapes as demonstrated in Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis. When thinking about possible compositions, it is sometimes helpful to analyze your subject by mentally breaking it down into it's most basic shape and form. Doing so will allow you to create a simplified map for where you want to take your composition.

Creative Illustration is out of print and expensive but a PDF version is posted here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Warm Gesture

Spot illustration for Boys' Life- digital

Here's the finished spot for the Boys' Life project I have been working on. It is the final piece in a historical fiction story about an orphaned boy who arrives at his aunt and uncle's ranch in the high Sierra mountains just in time to rescue them from a Christmas Eve blizzard. The gestures here assure the boy that he is both welcome and loved. Once again, all digital (except for the under drawing). Each successive piece I do digitally brings more confidence and comfort with the process. I hope the results are showing this as well. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

George Bellows' Limited Palette

Stag Night at Sharkey's - George Bellows, 1909

George Bellows (1882-1925) was an American painter associated most closely with "The Eight" and "The Ashcan School". Both groups of painters advocated depicting contemporary American society. He is perhaps best known for his paintings of boxing scenes including "Stag Night at Sharkey's".

In black and white the structure of the painting is maintained powerfully.

I have always been impressed with his effectively designed value patterns as well as his understated but beautiful limited color palettes. The diagram below of some of Bellows' work shows his limited color selections for each piece as well as the value range for each tone.

Click to Enlarge

Bellows demonstrates here that there is no need for outrageous color or even a wide color variety when effective value and color patterns are employed-color becomes secondary to value structure. I think the simple solutions are often the best when it comes to value pattern and color palette choices.

This concept previously on LNA

Thanks to Bill Perkins for sharing this diagram with me (and now you).
Upcoming Bill Perkins workshops

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cover Launch Scratched

Unused cover illustration for "The Barnyard Night Before Christmas

Have you ever had an illustration project scratched before launch? Worse yet, scratched after launch? After you painted it? It has happened to me a few times in the last 17 plus years. The first time it happened, I was really bummed, even angry, as if because someone thought my art was less than usable, this somehow made me a bad artist. A couple more times and I figured out that it's not always  the artist's fault. Most of my rejected pieces have been perfectly good and publishable projects, but for whatever reason (client preference, miscommunication of intention, intuitive feel, etc.) someone in power kills the project. Fortunately, I have never failed to be paid for one of these aborted flights. Sometimes I can see and even agree with the Art Director's rationale as was the case for the cover of my book The Barnyard Night Before Christmas. I was furiously painting along, needing the cover to be finished so that it could go out to marketing and have the promo cover made. I finished and shipped it off to the publisher. Then word came that the focus group made up of the editor, Art Director, designers and whomever else sits in on those things had determined that the image I painted wasn't the right one for the cover.

After some discussion, it was decided that, indeed it might not be and another image was selected. The new image did not quite fit the shape for the cover while allowing for the type, so I had to extend the edges and paint another strip of sky that was inserted using Photoshop for the final crop. 

I am actually very happy that we went with the other cover. It has more mystery to it and invites the reader to open up the book and see what the inside holds.

Barnyard Night Before Christmas previously on LNA

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plein Air at Wheeler Farm

At Wheeler Farm - 9" x 12"; oil by Greg Newbold

Yesterday I went out painting for the afternoon. I have been feeling the need to get out and do some painting just for fun, so I gave myself a break for a few hours in the afternoon and evening. There is a great living history farm near where I live called Wheeler Historic Farm. The place was purchased by Salt Lake county sometime in the 1970's and was restored first as a living history farm and then transitioned into more of a community park with the farm as the centerpiece. They have animals and gardens there and it's a great place to find an outdoor painting motif.

I decided on a view that included the main barn and a few outbuildings with the mountains as the backdrop. I am still getting the hand of painting outdoors but each time I go out, I see progress. Looking at this after the fact, I think I will go back into it later and pump some of the color a bit especially in the shadows, but I like quite a bit of what I captured. I also got to try out my new Open Box M plein air rig (which I love by the way).  I spent about three hours on this 9" x 12" painting.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Christmas Gifts Spread-Finished

Just finished up this one for Boys' Life magazine. Once again, this is painted in Photoshop and I am continuing to enjoy experimentation with brushes and textures to make this match my traditional acrylic style. I posted the final drawing earlier here. Now on to the cover illustration and spot for this same article.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Upcoming Bill Perkins Workshops

Plein Air studies by Bill Perkins

Those of you who follow the blog might recall the "Color Boot Camp" workshop I attended in March with former Disney artist Bill Perkins. We did 16-18 color studies from live models in the three days of this workshop in March and I found it to be a highly informative and valuable experience. I think I learned or solidified  more knowledge of color in those three days than in any other such workshop I have ever attended.

Bill will be returning to Utah in August to instruct two more workshops in the Salt Lake/Provo area (sites yet TBD). The "Color Boot Camp" workshop in the studio will be August 15th through 17th.  The Plein Air Painting workshop will be the 18th through 20th. (See some of Bill's plein air work here) The cost is $300 per workshop but if you want to do both there will be a discount. This price is comparable to or even less than many other similar workshops out there and I think it will be well worth your time and effort to attend. I am looking forward to attending the Plein Air Painting workshop this time around.

There is no online sign up at the moment, but if you are interested, please send me an email message and I will put you in touch with those organizing the workshop.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Windswept Petals

Scattered Sunshine- by Greg Newbold
From the picture book Winter Lullaby by Barbara Seuling

"When the breeze blows the petals off the flowers, where do the bees go?" is the opening line that accompanies this painting from my book Winter Lullaby written by Barbara Seuling. It was painted in acrylic on bristol paper and measures 10" x 20". To date, it is my highest selling book and I am gratified that it is still in print in both hardcover and paperback.I still like it and it rotates to the wall in the living room fairly regularly. I have not sold any of the originals from my picture books. I think  at this point, I'd like to keep them all together for a while.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Remembering Kazu Sano 1952 -2011

Return of the Jedi poster by Kazu Sano

My first exposure to the art of Kazu Sano was sometime in early 1983 when the spectacular movie poster for Return of the Jedi was unveiled. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I spent hours dissecting the details of that picture and admiring the skill of the artist that painted it. I could not decipher the initials "KS" in the lower right corner and it was many years later after I was already a working illustrator myself that  I finally figured out who Kazu Sano was and that he was the one who had created that beautiful poster.

In March of 2009, as part of my MFA studies with the University of Hartford, I got to meet Kazu and hear him speak in San Francisco. He recounted his journey as an artist and the challenges that he would he assign himself to in order to constantly improve his skills.

Before coming to the US from his native Japan in 1978 to study at the Academy of Art University, he painted a self portrait a day for an entire month. At another time when he was feeling a need to improve his color sense, he cut different shapes out of colored mat board and make the "Arrangement of the Day" which he would then base a small painting on.

Portrait of Frank Sinatra for the US Postal Service

Styracosaurus for a National Geographic article

Kazu used his talent and work ethic to propel him to a noteworthy career that included over 450 book covers, numerous movie posters and postage stamps as well many magnificent paintings for National Geographic. His constant experiments with surface and mediums led him to become a master of both acrylic and oil paint.

He told of his constant experimentation and how he finally arrived at his personal process of mounting canvas on Masonite to get the exact surface he loved to paint on. The tactile quality of his original paintings was impressive to behold when he laid out dozens of his works for our class to look at. I left that day feeling privileged to have seen his work and met the man.

Earlier this May I received word that Kazu was not doing well. I immediately wrote a note thanking him for his influence on me as an artist. I was saddened to hear earlier this week that he passed away on May 31 after a long battle with cancer. I hope that my note arrived in time for him to know of my esteem for him and his work. The illustration world has lost a great teacher and true master of the craft. His loss will be felt greatly- rest in peace Kazu. Additionaly, a beautiful tribute by friend  and artist Robert Hunt can be read here.

Kazu Sano website
Article on Kazu written by Paul Zdepski

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quail Nest Hatched

The little nest of quail eggs that we have been watching for the past few weeks has hatched. I unfortunately was not here to capture any photos and the little family of tiny quail babies have wandered away with mom and dad. I hope they will still visit our yard from time to time, but so far, I have not seen them. 

My family said they caught a glimpse of them among the front yard flowers, but then their parents quickly ushered them across the street into the neighbor's yard. I was amazed at how incredibly fragile their eggs are and how each chick pecked a near perfect circle around the end of his capsule to make an escape hatch. If they return, I'll try to get pictures.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Christmas Gifts Spread-Final Drawing

Final approved drawing 

Just got approval for the opening spread of my Boys' Life project. Now on to paint. For this photo shoot I actually rented costuming. This is something that I rarely do because of time and cost constraints, but I may have to reconsider. I think the costuming can make a big difference in the photo shoot, especially in situations like this where there are period details and a certain need for authenticity. I did not want to rent all the pieces of the costume, but the coats, hats and scarves needed to feel right. I'm glad I went to the expense and trouble of finding the right costumes, this just means I need to paint faster in order to stay on some sort of schedule.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Evening Turn

Evening Turn - Acrylic on canvas, 16" x 20"

Shadows fall across the farmer's fields as his evening water turn begins. It will be a long night as he regulates the flow of water to his newly planted crop. This painting was done several years back as a personal piece. I remember taking water turns with my father during my youth. We would take the weir wheel to the canal at the appointed hour and turn our share of water into the ditch. It would then take a little time for the water to go from the headgate to our garden plot. It was sometimes tricky to regulate the flow so that the water didn't flood the crops.The painting was in a few shows off and on and then I'd rehang it in my studio bathroom . Finally last spring I sold it as a result of a joint gallery show I had with my friend David Meikle. Guess it won't be hanging in the bathroom anymore.