Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Don Weller's Album Art

Don Weller- cover for Angel Records-circa 1970
A while back I did a pair of posts about the art of my friend Don Weller. This follow up post focuses on the art Don did for album covers in the 1960's and 1970's and mostly in Don's own words (which are more entertaining than mine anyway) taken from his email to me.

"In the late 1960s and 70s I did some album covers. I worked for a man named Bill Pate who was essentially a lettering man but had some music clients, most (of the covers) that I designed for him were photos with type on them. I did a bird painting for Bill Pate for an album whose name was "Little Bird", but I can't remember the artist (a piano player I think.) It was a two color job, green and black as I remember."

"This was probably my first actual illustration on an album cover, about that time I did some others I would rather forget: a Strawberry Alarm Clock album cover and a series of Broadway musicals for Frank Sinatra. I can't remember what they looked like, thank goodness. I think there were four in the series and sold together in a card board box like sleeve. I'm pretty sure they were rather ugly but I saved a nice letter I received from Mister Sinatra thanking me and saying how much he liked them.
During that period I did a lot of music posters for Warner Bros Records. They were for many different artists and some for Dionne Warwick, Seals and Crofts, and Gordon Lightfoot, and were winners in art directors shows, design shows and Illustration shows. And I did many more."
Don Weller-Cover for Angel Records
"The art director at Warner Bros would call and I'd drive over the hill to Burbank, meet and pick up any photos he might have. When I got back to my office in Hollywood, I'd call and explain whatever idea I'd come up with. He'd say "Fine, go ahead." I'd do the finish and take him the art by his deadline, usually a few days but often the very next day. He'd approve it and and the first time the musician would see his (or her) poster would be in the record stores (unlike the album covers that had to please everyone). So the first time Dionne saw her poster it was in the stores. I later heard she hated it."
 "I did my best album covers for Marv Schwartz at Angel Records (the Classical Music Division at Capital Records). He was the art director there, and a fine gentleman with the ability to assign illustrators, approve the result, with no one else in the loop. It was terrific to work for him, unlimited freedom. And he had long deadlines, there were a few artists he liked and used often. If you were one of those, and you were not busy you could call him and he'd find an upcoming album for you to do. There were several of us in this situation and we all tried to do our best for him.
Thanks Don!
My post on Don Weller"s Early Work
My post on Don Weller Current Work

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aunt Mame's Sheep- In Progress

This is a portrait of the sheep that I helped take care of for many years as a younger person. As I outlined in an earlier post, We had a family homestead which my Great Aunt Mame owned and where we had countless parties. On this land, my Aunt kept animals in order to maintain an agricultural zoning.

 I did a previous painting of these sheep in winter time and the owners of that painting, my Aunt and Uncle have now commissioned me to paint one in springtime. Here it is in progress which I figure as somewhere between halfway and two thirds finished. I am liking it so far. I'll post the final version when I the last strokes go on.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nice Trade

Man and Woman Overlooking Their Vine- 7.25" x  7.25" Oil on panel by J. Kirk Richards
Artist friend J. Kirk Richards and wife Amy graciously hosted a little get together of fellow artists last weekend at his home and studio. We spent the afternoon enjoying their hospitality, good food and sharing what we have been working on. There was also an art swap. Since Kirk is best known for his spiritual and Christian themed art, he suggested that the subject for trade might be a portrait of Christ.

Cristo Redentor- 6" x 8" oil and gold leaf by Greg Newbold
I took on the challenge and did this small 6" x 8" rendition of Jesus based on a little sketch I had done a couple of years back. Kirk was excited to make the trade and I ended up with this beautiful little gem from Kirk. He said it had won an award at an art show in Virginia and I'm happy he was willing to part with it.

With the custom frame
I think I got the better end of the deal, but both sides were thrilled with the swap.At out house, we joke that if I wasn't an artist, we wouldn't have any art on the walls, but I'd like to change that. I have a couple of pictures in my collection, but I am looking forward to engineering trades with some of my other artist friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Uncle Sam Van WInkle- Final Sketch

This is the final approved sketch for my project for Liberty magazine. As I mentioned in my thumbnail post earlier, this article is about the faded convictions and slumbering values of Protestant America. I will now be taking this to finish in full color, but I have a few days before it is due, so today I am working on a private oil painting commission.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Cristmas Carol- Final Version

Last post I showed the rough version for my poster of "A Christmas Carol - The Musical" for Pioneer Theatre Company's upcoming season. I needed to add some space at the top to accommodate the title and a little bleed all the way around. I also decided that losing the chain around the brim of the hat made for a simpler statement. Everyone knows what A Christmas Carol is all about anyway, so I let it go. Other than that, it pretty much the way I envisioned it turning out. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Christmas Carol - Sketch

I am working on a poster for Pioneer Theatre Company to promote their production of  A Christmas Carol - The Musical. I was not aware that there was a musical version of the famous Charles Dickens tale so I was immediately intrigued. There is a version of this production on DVD that stars Kelsey Grammer as Scrooge and, Jane Krakowski, Jesse L Martin, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jason Alexander. I was impressed with the lively musical numbers (by Disney's Little Mermaid song smith Alan Menken (music) and lyricist Lynn Ahrens) and it's faithfulness to the story. I submitted several sketch versions to the client and this was the one we agreed on. The challenge was to give a feeling that this is a musical production rather than the normal dramatic version, so I added musical notations to the swirls of snow to achieve this effect.  I'll post the finished version when I wrap it all up.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Painting In Zion - A Spectacular Sight

I spent two days painting in Zion National Park this week with two artist friends. I had not been there for years and had forgotten what a spectacular sight the formations make at all times of day.

We painted hard on both days making three oil studies each day. Some were more successful than others and yet none of them are quite where I would call them finished. We spent around an hour and a half to two hours on each painting.

 I like how the sky and cliff face merge with my painting in this picture
Another (the first attempt of the trip after several months of not painting outdoors) was disappointing and I won't be showing it until it gets a major overhaul. I went for the big shapes and tried to capture the color and value. The details will have to wait as there was just too much to paint in limited time.

These are a couple of the views we painted complete with flaws. The light moved pretty quickly and it was tough to get a statement down before the light had completely changed. I tried to stick with my initial reactions but it is tough to not "chase the light". The second day we painted two views of the Virgin River as it rushed through the canyon. I'll show them in the next post.

Friday, May 11, 2012

From A Tiny Kernel

Red Barn- Acrylic on canvas 9" x 12"
Each spring we grow a garden. It was something I admit not liking all that much as a youth. Mostly because I felt like my dad made us do it. The endless sweaty hours of planting and weeding and watering were torture. When it came time to pick the beans, the rows stretched on forever. Imagine my surprise that when I had my own house, I found myself actually wanting to grow a garden. I turned to my dad, the expert gardener, for advice. Never mind that I had been working the family garden plot for years, this time it was different. I was planting MY garden and I wanted to do it right. The garden plot became a thing of pride that I looked forward to each year. I showed it off to my dad and felt the satisfaction of our hard labor. Not to mention the incomparable freshness and taste of home grown veggies. Dad is gone now and my garden expert is now my older brother. He paid more attention than I did I guess and he helps me a lot. As for the actual gardening, I hear the same grumbles and excuses from my kids that I so willingly piled upon my dad. "It's too hot, it's too hard, I hate gardening!" But the kernel is planted and someday, when they have homes of their own, I just know that I'll get that phone call. The one where the voice on the other end asks "Dad, can you help me plant a garden?"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rip Van Sam - Sketches

I am working on an illustration for Liberty Magazine at the moment about the "slumbering" of Protestant values in America.

 The concept is to have Uncle Sam be asleep like Rip Van Winkle with a bible in hand. Here are the four composition sketches I sent to the art director.

 I like the top one best, and they follow in descending order of preference. Each one works in its own way, and I think I would be satisfied with any one that gets selected, so I'll see what the A.D. says..

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maurice Sendak - 1928-2012

The world lost possibly the most visionary of all picture book artists today with the passing of illustrator and author Maurice Sendak.

Born June 10, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York, Sendak was a sickly child. He spent much of that youth inside drawing and creating. His first published illustrations appeared in 1947 and he continued painting until his death.

Maurice began illustrating books for other authors before breaking out with his own effort with the Caldecott winning "Where The Wild Things Are" in 1963. That classic tale is perhaps the most memorable of his long and storied career and has inspired countless authors and artists to reach for their dreams. I remember being mesmerized by both the the story and pictures.

The simplicity of both the story arc and text are deceptive. The book The Art of Maurice Sendak details the journey that the artist went on in order to create the masterpiece. The seeds for the book were planted as early as 1955 and then underwent drastic changes over dozens of drafts before it crystallized in the form that we know and love today.

Many people were disturbed by the book claiming it was too scary or even that it encouraged defiance of parental authority. In spite of the naysayers, "Wild Things" sold over 700,000 copies in its original hardcover printing. Through 2009, the book has sold over 19,000,000 copies.

Though Sendak went on to write and illustrate over twenty picture books and illustrated over fifty other books, he never quite matched the success that "Where The Wild Things Are" achieved.

This is unfortunate since many of his other books such as "In the Night Kitchen" are every bit as magical and brilliantly crafted.

A posthumous picture book called "My Brother's Book" is scheduled for release next February.

Read an excellent tribute to Sendak in the New York Times here.
Buy Maurice Sendak and the Art of Children's Book Illustration

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Clint Eastwood Demo - Finished

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly- Mixed Media, 10" x 12"
Man, a look like that would make you want to get that wagon hitched and get outta Dodge!. You may remember a mixed media painting demo I did for my class a while back. I  posted the process here on Life Needs Art. Well, I finally finished up the painting of the Man With No Name and here he is. I have also added the final piece to the end of the demo post so you can see the process and the comparison. Take a look right here.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Up Taylor Creek - Kolob

Up Taylor Creek-Kolob, 6" x  8", iol on panel by Greg Newbold.
I just finished this little piece I started on location last fall at Kolob Canyon, Utah. I had some issues resolving the complexity of the middle ground and opted to simplify the planes somewhat. That simplification seemed to solve my concern and I am pretty happy with how it turned out. This one will be going to my gallery Williams Fine Art in the next few days along with the companion piece I showed earlier this week.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Golden Bales

Golden Bales-9" x 12" oil on canvas panel.

This painting is a bit of an experiment for me, so I would love feedback. I have been contemplating for some time trying to merge together the paint and texture aesthetic of my oil paintings with the more designed shapes and more vibrant colors of my illustrations. This particular painting had been bumping around my studio for a couple of years in an unfinished state and I did not know how to finish it. I didn't like the colors- it was a sort of dirty yellow green palette- but I was not sure how to fix it. I was talking with friend and fellow painter Jeff Pugh the other day and he had mentioned how one of his galleries had told him to banish green from his palette for a year. I figured maybe a warmer yellow palette would work for this one. I also had a 9" x 12" frame kicking around so I trimmed the painting down from 9" x 14.5" to fit.The first step was to knock the entire painting down with a burnt sienna glaze. I then repainted the whole piece using the new palette. I emphasized the geometric qualities of the bales and let the big shapes dominate. I think the painting is much better than it was, but I am wondering if I went overboard on the saturation of the colors. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kolob Canyon Finished

Early Light - Kolob, 8" x 10", oil on canvas panel.

I just finished up a couple of paintings I started on location last fall at Kolob Canyon, Utah. Neither of these was where I hoped they would be by the time I lost the lighting pattern altogether, so I figured I would tickle them up in the  studio before sending them off to my gallery. They will both probably be hanging at Williams Fine Art shortly. This one is 8" x 10", oil on Raymar panel. I don't usually use canvas panels, but I was out of 8x10 size and bummed this one off my friend Ron Spears as we painted together. I am usually annoyed by the weave of canvas panels, so I make my own by putting a few coats of gesso on  Masonite, but this weave was a pretty tight linen and worked pretty well. I'll show the other one later.