Monday, February 23, 2015

Cactus Drawings

I am working on another easy reader book about animal life in the Sonoran desert. I just finished up the drawings so I thought I would show a few.

The book switches from one animal to the next and includes sound words on the right side page to introduce the next animal before you turn the page. The text blocks will go in the large open sky areas on the left hand page.

I enjoy doing these sort of nature themed projects and this one should be a lot of fun to finish up. Now I wait for approvals, hopefully with no revisions. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

The Mystery of Edwin Drood- Digital by Greg Newbold
Can I tell you how much I love doing theater posters? This is one I just finished for Footlight Players in Charleston, SC, and once again I had a blast creating the art. The Mystery of Edwin Drood, is an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens that was turned into a musical play by songwriter and singer Rupert Holmes (he of Escape: The Pina Colada Song fame). Since the novel was unfinished, there have apparently been a number of possible endings proposed by various authors over the years and this play is no different. In fact, the audience gets to vote at intermission on how they want the play to end as well as "whodunit".

Inspiration for the art came from a painting by Caspar David Friedrich of a man standing over a foggy expanse. I liked the mysterious mood of the piece as well as the strong contrasts so I paid homage to it as I created my own mysterious vision for the play.

My son posed in an old overcoat to get needed information for my painting and off I went. I gathered as many photos as I could of the foggy English countryside to get a feel for what things might look like and pulled together ideas and details from many sources to create my reality. Reaction from the client has been very positive and I think that this will add nicely to the marketing of the theater's production. Once again, I took a stab at the lettering treatment and I like how it turned out. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

A House Divided

Here are a couple of illustrations I just finished up for Boys' Life Magazine. They are for an historical fiction piece about a young man that witnesses the surrender of Lee and his troops to the forces of General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. In the first spread, The young man is captured by Union troops when he tries to catch a glimpse of General Grant on the eve of the surrender.

I thought the most dramatic moment of the story was when he is captured and interrogated at bayonet point. Since the moment in question takes place  in the late evening, I wanted to focus on making strong silhouettes of the figures. I proposed two options of this idea to the art director. One had a low angle and the other was slightly from above looking down. After some discussion, I was given the go ahead with the top option.

The second spot illustration depicts the young man as an eavesdropping on the moment when U.S. Grant accepts the Confederate surrender from General Lee. I wanted the composition to reflect that Lee was backed into a corner.

By placing him behind the doorway, cropping him on the left  and placing a picture frame and shadow above him, he is effectively trapped within the composition as he signs the surrender papers. Grant on the other hand is seen full figure and leans forward expectantly but respectfully. Period pieces are always a challenge, mostly on the research and costuming end of things.

I spent some time finding pictures of Lee and Grant and I also found a great Union Soldier costume I was able to rent for a few days for the reference photos on the first spread. I combined details from all of these sources to arrive at the finished piece. Unlimited time and budget would have been nice, but given the deadline and resources, I am pretty pleased with the results. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thrust In Your Sickle

Thrust in Your Sickle- 11" x 17"  digital, by Greg Newbold.
This recent illustration is a reminder to me that you are most likely to get what you work the hardest for. Farm iconography has always been appealing to me. Probably because as a young man growing up, I had many opportunities to work the land. We cared for animals, gardened and hauled hay. There was always some project or another that needed to be done and my Dad taught us all to work hard and do the job right. When time came for harvest, I quickly learned that you reap what you sow. If you didn't weed, water or fertilize well enough throughout the growing season, plants struggled. I am grateful to him for his example and gentle (or not so gentle if we were too grumpy about the task at hand) encouragement. He once said that he never worried about me making my way as an artist because he saw how much I loved art and how hard I worked at it. I am a firm believer that talent only takes you so far and the rest is just plain hard work. Though it is still a challenge, I credit my for Dad for showing me that a job worth doing is worth doing well and right.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

False Alarms

This is an editorial piece I just finished up for Liberty magazine. The article discusses the negative effects of many religious groups' reactions to societal changes such as the breakdown of the family and traditional marriage. How rather than raising the flag among followers, certain actions can raise the ire among portions of the non religious population. It also discussed how some of these groups are being manipulated by those wanting to control the message.

The concept was to show these puppet masters behind the scenes tailoring the message that is being fed to the crowd. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I proposed three different options and we felt that the one incorporation the speaking aspect and the podium worked the best. Thanks to designer Bryan Gray for allowing me to work on this one.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bus Stop Poster

Here is the latest theater poster I have finished for Footlight Players in Charleston, SC, for the romantic comedy Bus Stop.  The play was written in 1955 by William Inge and the film version starring Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray was released in 1956.

The story takes place as a snowstorm strands people at a diner in Kansas City that also serves as a bus stop. The main characters have to spend the night due to the raging weather. Cherie, a sort of hillbilly type attractive young woman is the nightclub singer trying to make her way up and out and Bo is the naive and boorish cowboy who is convinced that Cherie is meant to be his wife even though she has zero interest in him. Romantic relationships ensue between the young would be couple and several of the other supporting cast.

I didn't have access to a stage version, so I found a copy of the film at the library. It apparently takes quite a few liberties with the script, but captures the essence. I decided to focus on the romantic/comedy angle and proposed two options to the theater. One was more romance and the other was more flirty and fun. The theater chose the flirty angle and I jumped in head first.

I knew I wanted a little bit of a retro feel with a nod to the pinup art of artists like Gil Elvgren. I made a more finished drawing and then painted it in Photoshop. The result is what I guess I would call my first pin up girl!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Showers Over Lone Pine

Showers Over Lone Pine - 9" x 12" - Oil by Greg Newbold
Here is another painting that I finished up for my recent show. This one was painted in the Owen's Valley of California while on a trip with painter friends Richard Hull and John Berry.  When we took the trip a few years back, I really didn't feel like I had a grip on outdoor painting at the time. I was a relative newbie to plein air painting and it was my first extended painting trip. Not that I am now some sort of expert, but I feel a certain comfort level now that did not exist at all then. Most of the paintings I did on that trip seemed to be failures in the moment and many sat in a pile of rejects for a long time. One by one, I have pulled them back out and evaluated what was missing or what aspect could be fixed or improved to give the picture a finished feel. I am neither a good enough painter nor a purist enough to consider my field studies finished when they go from the easel to the carry box, hence I am not averse to painting back into them in the studio. For this one, I was startled at how close it was to being decent simply by glazing over the whole thing with some medium. That simple step popped the contrasts and bled life back into the color. It took me a few hours of applying cleaner color and more texture here or a bit of a glaze and scrub there to really bring this one around, but I am happy with the result now. What I have learned from hours in the field is that the essence captured in a plein air study painted from direct observation is much more powerful than anything I can get from a photo. I used the photo reference I took that day to inform me on detail and value much more than I used it for color as the color notes painted from life were much more interesting and felt more honest. I try to tap into my memories of being in the field even when I paint from photos. This one is still available for anyone interested.