Thursday, January 31, 2013

Near Grafton Finished

Near Grafton- 8" x 10" oil by Greg Newbold
I just finished up another of the paintings I began on location in and around Zion National Park. This one, painted on the road to Grafton (the ghost town used in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) shows a morning view toward Zion. Though I risk losing a bit of the spontaneity of brushwork when I go back into pieces after the fact, I think the trade off in clarity is usually worth it. I like this one better now that I have worked it a little more. i focused primarily on atmospheric value adjustments, edges and added a bit of missing detail. Some folks can capture all that in the field, but I am not there yet. See the field process in a previous post here. This piece will be sent to my gallery Williams Fine Art as soon as it is dry.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Terabytes T-Shirt Design

L to R- Mascot Dave, Will, Sterling, Britton
The Terabytes have made it to State! Will, my 9th grade son will compete with his robotics team tomorrow in the state final of  the First Lego League. He and two of his friends formed their own team this year after last year's disappointing results. Each team competes in three separate areas including a special project, Robot building and design and Core values (First Lego League defines these goals). They also compete in a head to head robot task competition. I volunteered to coach the team which came along with other duties such as chief graphic designer and blog coordinator.

My team shirt design- Photoshop
Here is the shirt design I did based on my son's sketch. Our team won the qualifier three weeks ago and moved on to the State meet. If they win here, they will move on to Nationals. If you are interested in this great program, take a look at the Terabyes blog here, or the FLL national site for more info.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Tallest Illustrations

I am just finishing up one of the tallest illustrations I have ever done. The above artwork is for he Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge. This piece will be reproduced as a growth chart poster and will measure 18" x 72". Aside from a number of pieces of mine that have been blown up for billboards, buses and banners, this is one of the few pieces I have done with the express purpose of being printed LARGE. This meant I had to consider the smaller details like the cars and people on the bridge below when rendering things.

I created a similar poster a few years back for this same client who also oversees the giant redwood forest at Muir Woods which incidentally, was the very first illustration I ever painted in Photoshop. So, this was not altogether new territory for me but it has still been a bit of a challenge. I wanted it to be crisp and accurate to the architecture without it feeling to graphic and posterized or looking too much like a photo.  I hope I have struck the right balance.

I took a few artistic liberties including making the bridge structure slightly taller to fit the  format, removing some of the extraneous ladders, leaving off all the thousands of rivets that polka dot the bridge surface and most importantly, giving the bridge a fresh flawless paint job (which I understand it could use in a few places. And yes, those are some huge pelicans. I am still awaiting word on whether my painting matches the distinctive "Golden Gate Red" of the bridge closely enough. If not, a few digital adjustments will probably do the trick. Times like that make me grateful for Photoshop.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wendell Berry Sketch

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. 
— Wendell Berry
Wendell Berry is considered by many to be one of America's greatest living poets. I was approached a few weeks back to create artwork for an interesting project that sets Berry's poems to music in a double CD package. The challenge was to come up with a scene that combines the best of portrait and regionalist landscape and throw in a couple of nuggets for Berry fans. The painting will be used on two different discs as well as a biographical and lyric booklet, so I needed to come up with a composition that allows for three separate crops. The plan also includes making collector prints of the painting as well which I am painting in oil. I will post more as the project moves along.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ron Spears Paints Zion National Park

Regulars here probably saw the posts I did about my two trips to paint in Zion National Park last year. Well on the first trip I had the privilege of painting with my good friend Ron Spears who was spending time as the park's artist in residence. He is an amazing artist and teacher at Southern Utah University.

Ron did some incredible paintings in those two weeks as well as the ensuing months and it has been documented in a nice short film. If you love painting outdoors, or simply love visiting places like Zion, have a look at this 8 minute film.

Here are a couple of my posts from that painting trip to Zion National Park:

Painting in Zion Part 1
Painting in Zion Part 2
Painting the Virgin River-Zion Part 1
Painting the Virgin River-Zion Part 2

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lessons from the Klimt Puzzle.

Every Christmas we pull out a card table and build a puzzle or two as a family. This year one of the puzzles was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Scott Gustafson.

It was a beautiful thousand piece puzzle that took a few days but we were all bummed when there was a piece missing. I guess it really was a 999 piecer. To ease my disappointment, I cracked open the 250 piece puzzle of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss" that I got in my stocking. I began later in the evening with no intention of completing the puzzle in one sitting, but everyone was heading to bed and it was quiet. I decided to push through. As I sorted the pieces and began to assemble it, I noticed a few things about the composition and hierarchy Klimt used which made "The Kiss" such a successful painting.

I began by gathering the dark pieces that made up the man's head of hair, the darkest area in the painting. It was also easy to sort out most of the pieces that made up the heads and arms and those were assembled next. After that I continued on to the profusion of pink and red flowers at the bottom of the painting. The distinct patterns of the fabrics were next with the brown tones of the background were left for the end. I searched for the edges that defined the silhouette of the figures and assembled them and picked out the geometric shapes and swirls.

What I realized was that I had assembled the puzzle in the order of visual hierarchy that I think Klimt intended. Klimt wanted the viewer to look at the heads first so he placed the most value contrast there. Also, the relative smoothness and lack of texture in the flesh tones contrast starkly with the busyness of the surrounding patterns. They act as areas of rest in the composition and therefore draw attention. It was a simple revelation but if I had not assembled the puzzle in one shot, I doubt I would have thought through why Klimt's painting is so appealing. So there you go. I guess art lessons are everywhere is you are looking for them.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Angel- Digital 9"x9"

I wish everyone a New Year filled with beauty, wonder, happiness and love. Take time to smell the flowers amidst all of the busy things that need to be accomplished. Here is the final version (pending client approval) of the angel sketch I posted a couple of weeks ago. Let me know what you think!