Thursday, September 26, 2013

Autumn Dusting - Nearly Finished

Autumn Dusting- oil on canvas 36" x 60" by Greg Newbold
Just about finished with this big Mount Olympus painting. A few more adjustments here and there and I will call it done. This is the largest oil painting I have done to date and I am pretty pleased with it. It's interesting to paint this large and to see what tendencies are accentuated in the process of scaling up from small work. One thing that for sure seems to be coming through is my desire to stylize shapes. I found myself wanting to let the large planes rule and to eliminate non essential detail. For instance, I wanted to let the majesty of the mountain dominate, so I eliminated the entire neighborhood of houses that crouches on the foothills. I felt that the myriad shapes and roof lines were just distracting to the overall statement so, poof, they are gone. It's a better painting as a result. Now to order up a frame.

See the study and block in for this painting here

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why You Should Read "Do The Work" by Steven Pressfield

Ever wonder why so many of our best laid plans fall by the wayside? Do you find yourself second guessing that great idea you had? Worse yet, did you start some grand project only to have it sit idly in the corner of your creative life, mocking you for it's unfinished state? If you answered yes to any, or heaven forbid,  all of the above questions, you are not alone. There are inherent truths that everyone must come to terms with in the pursuit of their creative dreams. 
Steven Pressfield's book Do The Work outlines a simple plan for recognizing these obstacles and funneling them into action. 
The first impediment Pressfield outlines is that in everything we do there are enemies. The most significant of which he defines as "Resistance".
Resistance is Invisible:
Resistance is a repelling force. It's negative. It's aim is to shove us away, distract us and prevent us from doing our work. 
Resistance is Insidious:
Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify, seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is Protean. It will assume any form if that is what it takes to deceive you. 
Resistance is Impersonal:
Resistance is not out to get you personally. It doesn't know who you are and doesn't care...Though it feels malevolent, Resistance in fact operates with the indifference of rain...When we marshal our forces to combat Resistance we must remember this.
Resistance Never Sleeps:
Fear Doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.

I was interested to realize how this insight mirrors my own spiritually held belief that "There must needs be opposition in all things". I don't mean to get preachy, but I like it when I can dovetail what someone else says into my own belief set. For me, it boiled down to the idea that the Devil is a miserable being and wants everyone one earth to be equally miserable. Not recognizing the source of the resistance we feel, which keeps us from accomplishing our ideas and dreams, can be our downfall. If we listen to the buzz of resistance, we play right into Old Scratch's hands.

Another thing I took away from this book is that you should:
 "Start Before You're Ready"
Don't Prepare. Begin.
Remember, our enemy is not a lack of preparation; it's not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.
The enemy is Resistance.
The enemy is our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can't/shouldn't/won't do what we need to do.
Start before you are ready.
How many times do we put off doing the work because we think we need time to adequately prepare? Because we need to "save up some money first" or because we have to "work out some more details". These things, I now realize are part of the litany of excuses we tell ourselves to avoid the act of doing. I am resolving to bypass more of the excuses and jump sooner to the "doing" rather than vacillating in an eternal round of "preparing".  I can fix things on the fly if need be.
Stay Stupid: 
A Child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It's only you and I with our big brains and our tiny hearts who doubt and over think and hesitate. 
Don't think. Act.
We can always revise and revisit once we have acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

Over thinking is a killer. Give yourself enough time and we can all talk ourselves out of just about anything. Take having kids for example. How many people would really jump into making a family if they really knew all the ramifications, struggles, heartaches and headaches that come along with parenthood? A lot fewer. Why do we do it? Love. The joy we have in seeing a person develop from a helpless infant into a functioning, creative, thoughtful and loving adult. It should be no different when we contemplate realizing our creative dreams. If we love what we are doing, what we want to create, all the "Resistance" in the world should not keep us from starting. And once we start, just like the boulder that rolls down the mountainside,  our momentum is very difficult to stop. Once we succeed in seeing a dream project through to the end, we will never again be subject to the demons of "Resistance".

If you have not read "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield, I highly recommend getting a copy. Devour it and then eat it up again. It has shifted my perspective on why creating sometimes feels so hard. Well, hopefully not anymore.

Buy "Do the Work" by Steven Pressfield here

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sledding - Finished

Sledding- digital over graphite by Greg Newbold
Here's the final version of the sketch I posted earlier hereI have posted it here. I had a lot of fun painting this one in Photoshop. When I am painting something a little more stylized, I like to pump up the colors a little bit more than I would on something that needs to look more realistic. Even so, I like the balance of more neutral colors that I used on the old fashioned clothes. It seems I have a comfortable process established now that gives me consistent results. If you want to see a breakdown of the my digital painting method, I posted it earlier here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

New Van Gogh Painting Unveiled

Sunset at Montmajour-  by Vincent Van Gogh- circa 1888
For the first time in decades, a previously unknown work by Vincent Van Gogh has been authenticated. As a painter and fan fan of Vincent's work, I am excited to know that there are yet surprises that the Dutch master can reveal. In  a press conference at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam today, the painting was revealed.

Artwife Needs a Life has done a more extensive post about the work and how it went from authentic, to a fake and back again in the last century. Check out the post here.

I have my very own Van Gogh. Check it out here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sledding Sketch

Winter will be upon us soon enough and I am in no hurry to say goodbye to the pleasant fall weather. That doesn't stop clients from assigning projects that will be published in the upcoming frigid months.  My picture book Winter Lullaby, for example,  was done during the summer months and I even had my kids pose outdoors in the heat of July with basketballs standing in for pumpkins.

In their winter coats no less. In hindsight, that might have been a bad Dad moment. You have to be able to get into the mood of a piece regardless of the time or season.  Anyway, here is the sketch a little spot I am doing for the Friend Magazine. It will print sometime this winter.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blocking In

Study for Autumn Dusting- 16" x 9.5"- Oil on board by Greg Newbold
Yesterday I dug in to a new canvas, yet another view of Mount Olympus, I shot the photo reference that was the inspiration for this view from the roof of my house. I felt like this view needed scale to convey the power and grandeur of the mountain, so, at 3' x 5',  I am once again tackling the largest canvas I have ever attempted. I did a small scale study to figure out the shapes and colors which has already helped immensely.

Even though I am only roughly halfway through this block in stage, I am glad I took the time to do the study. For the block in, I am using the same limited color palette I chose for the small version: Yellow Ochre, Napthol Red, Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and Ivory Black. I wanted to see how tonal I could make this, consistent with the vibe the reference was giving me. I even started the study sans the blue in an attempt at doing landscape with the Zorn palette, but I felt it was just too limiting, so I added the blue. I may yet add a couple more colors as I bring this to finish, but I like the neutral tones and the overall consistency of the colors so far. We shall see. A painting always seems to take on a life of it's own and sometimes you have to follow your gut and listen to what the work tells you. Sometimes the road map only points you in the direction you think you want to go, not that spectacular place that you only get to see if you venture off a little.
Sorry for the inconsistent lighting on the left of the photo. In case you are wondering, the 36" x 60" gallery wrap canvas was prepared with four coats of acrylic gesso that I pounce on with a 2" beat up house painting brush, sanding in between coats, followed by burnt sienna acrylic applied with a kitchen sponge. Preliminary drawing is charcoal which was drawn with the help of 12" grid lines. Not as accurate as a projector, but it lets me get the feel for the scale of the canvas. I will update as the painting progresses.