Friday, March 30, 2012

X-Rays Confirm New Van Gogh - Happy Birthday Vincent

Happy Birthday Vincent Van Gogh! The Impressionist master was born 159 years ago today in 1853 and what a better present than to give the world another Van Gogh painting.

Researchers in the Netherlands recently confirmed that a painting long to be thought to be done by an anonymous artist is a genuine Van Gogh.

Authenticity was disputed because of a number of uncharacteristic qualities including the large scale of the piece and the busyness of the brush work. Deep x-ray technology has revealed that the large floral painting was painted over a depiction of two wrestlers. Experts suspect Vincent painted the underlying work during his time of study at the Antwerp Academy. Letters to Vincent's brother Theo confirmed that he did indeed make paintings of wrestlers during period in question and that the exuberance of the subsequent painting could have been an attempt to completely cover the previous painting.

Read a more in depth account of the discovery and authentication in the Times News here
Read about where Vincent spent the last 3 months created and an incredible 77 works at Artwife Needs a Life
See the Van Gogh painting I copied here

Thursday, March 29, 2012

New Paintings At Williams Fine Art

View North of Heber- 6" x 8" Oil

I finished up a couple of small paintings that are now on display at Williams Fine Art. 

East of Midway- 6" x 8" Oil

This weekend is the Annual 30% Off sale at Williams so if you are thinking about getting some new art, head on down and pick up some good deals. Several of my paintings will be on discount during the even. The sale goes until 8:00 pm Today and Tomorrow and until 3:00 p.m. on Saturday.

County Line- 6" x 8" Oil

Williams Fine Art is located at 200 East South Temple, Suite 100

At Bird-In-Hand- 12" x 12" Oil

An a side note, I just got word that my painting At Bird-In-Hand, shown above, sold this morning. I am pretty excited about that!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Education of an Artist - Part 2

Apples - for my first college drawing course-1985.

  Q: What separates a good artist from a truly successful, great artist?
I think it has to be a combination of dedicated hard work, truthful expression and luck. Sometimes it's not enough to be talented or to work hard, you have to be in the right place at the right time in order to take advantage of opportunity. I think in some regards you need to be lucky, but you can make your own luck by working hard and being in a place where you can embrace possibilities when they are presented. Nobody is a success without hard work though.
Q: What resources have helped you to become a professional artist?  How important are mentors, critique groups, art groups, additional workshops or training, to becoming successful?
Have a strong network of professional friends- people who can help you, motivate you when you are struggling and celebrate with you when you have success. You can't create in a vacuum and having like minded friends is a great resource. Getting a graduate degree allowed me to meet a number of artists who I respect and are now among my best friends. I try to attend at least one workshop a year with an artist that I respect and want to learn from. I also like to get out and paint with other artists as often as possible. Any time you can be around really great artists, you learn and are pushed to improve.  All these things keep the creative juices going.
Q: How important are learning the business aspects of art, such as  marketing, negotiations, contracts, taxes, etc.?  Where did you learn  the business side to art? Do you do this yourself, or do you hire someone to do these things for you?
It is critical to know how to run a business because, like it or not, artists are in business to make money. If you don't make a living, you are just a hobbyist. If you don't want to do certain aspects of business for yourself, then pay someone to do it for you, but know every facet of the business regardless of whether or not you do them yourself. I had a business class in my undergrad studies but learned more by doing than I did in class. As good as they are, classes are just theory until you do it.  I don't have an agent at the moment so I do most aspects of the business myself but pay others to do accounting and taxes and some promotional aspects like web and graphic design.
 Q: What are the best ways for an artist to market themselves and get their name out there?
So many ways, so many price ranges. The common denominator is that it takes money to make money. Be willing to invest in yourself and get your work out there. Websites and blogs are a given and a good place to start. Postcards and ad pages still work to grab attention. Pick the top 100 clients you would like to work for and court them with great images every 2-3 months. It only takes a few really great clients to launch a career.
Q: What advice would you give to students and future artists on what they need to do to become a successful artist?
Draw, paint, repeat. Do it every day and don't stop. Artists that survive and thrive are the ones that never, ever give up.
Q: What advice would you give to art educators on how to help prepare students to become successful professional artists?
Teach them how to draw, how to think and help them learn how to be authentic. If they can pull artistic expression from their soul, they will find a unique voice that will set them apart from the artistic masses. A strong work ethic and solid craftsmanship is a must also.
Q:  There are a large number of students graduating with art degrees with only a small percentage able to successfully transition from being a student to making it as a full time professional artist Many continue to create art part time while working another job unrelated to the arts. Only a few actually succeed at making a career out of it. Why do you think so few artists are making that transition?
As I mentioned in a few of the earlier questions, There are multiple factors including luck, talent (or lack thereof ) and motivation that may contribute. One thing is certain though,  artists who HAVE to make art are far outnumbered by those those who merely like to make art or who find it interesting but have no real passion for it. A career in art is wrought with stress and sacrifice and I think few really have the stomach to do it full time or long term. The uncertainty of finances I think is a huge factor. That and the fact that many artists simply do not know how to sell their art or can't sell enough of their art to be viable. There are many factors, but I think those are the critical ones.
 Q:  Do you feel that art programs are doing enough to prepare students to enter the workforce  If not, what should be added to the curriculum to better prepare students to make a living as a professional artist?  What areas do you think should be improved in art education?
I Think most schools are trying to do a good job, but the intangibles of  being a successful artist probably can't be taught effectively on a mass scale. It is just very hard to teach things like passion, curiosity,  tenacity and hard work in an institutional setting. Some things just have to be learned by doing.

That concludes the interview. I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments, thoughts and ideas on this subject in the comment section below!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Education of an Artist - Part 1

Lincoln- by Greg Newbold circa3rd grade
"I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday"
-Abraham Lincoln
I was recently interviewed by an Art Education graduate student as part of his MFA thesis paper. Below are the questions that he asked of me as well as my thoughts.  It's a bit of a snapshot of what my experience has been as well as my thoughts on the whole process of gaining an artistic education. Part 2 will follow tomorrow.

     Q: What mediums do you use?

I paint in acrylics, mixed media, oils and Photoshop depending on the project. For illustration, I have used mostly acrylic or mixed media in the past, but these days, I do mostly digital illustration using Photoshop. For my gallery work, I use oil paint.

     Q: How long have you been a professional artist?

If you count my first paying jobs in high school, almost thirty years, but as a full time freelance artist, almost twenty.

     Q: What schools did you attend and what training have you
           had to become an artist?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Art from Brigham Young University and I earned my Master of Fine Art from the University of Hartford. Both with an illustration emphasis.
 Q: What did you learn in your training that has been the  most valuable to you as a professional artist?
That hard work will get you much further than talent will.
  Q: In what ways did your art education help you succeed?
In my undergrad studies, I learned the technical skills of picture making and problem solving. In graduate school, I learned more about personal expression and the how important it is to experiment, to create self initiated projects and to follow my heart.
 Q: What areas, do you feel were lacking in your art education?
Not so much for me, but for many art students what is lacking is an emphasis on developing the ability to draw well. Drawing seems to be marginalized in today's art culture, there is somewhat of an attitude that drawing (or at least observational drawing) is not important to art making> I believe strongly that drawing is the basis for all art. Picasso learned how to draw well before he chose to "unlearn" it.
Q: What things did you have to learn on your own, through personal experience, that you did not learn in school?
Though school provided a lot, I learned far more on my own that through any formal education. Of course there are many things about the business of art that I learned at the school of hard knocks. Things like negotiation and learning to pace my projects in order to finish them on time. I learned to always do my best and deliver more than the client expected and to always deliver on time. One especially important thing I think I had to learn how to truly "see", rather than just look. Many students can copy well by looking a photograph, but fail to interpret and truly "see" their subject. Such looking must be coupled with familiarization, absorption, dissection and intimate study of the subject at hand. Individual expression only comes after you learn to see.
 Q: What are the most important skills, attributes, habits, etc. that you think are essential to become a full time professional artist?
 I think that discipline, humility and hard work are golden aspects of artistic success. If you are dependable and do decent work, you will never disappoint a client. They will come back and give you another chance to work with them. When you get another chance to work, you have an opportunity to improve and do better than the last time. If  you are humble you will realize that you can always improve and you will strive to increase your skill and expression with each new piece. If you always give your best effort, no matter the assignment, you will get better. When you get better, you will get more and better work and the circle will continue. It's a magical thing how that happens. The more I learn about making art, the more I realize I don't know. I try to learn new things all the time. I am always trying to make my work better.
Q: Are there habits that you created for yourself on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule that have helped you to become the artist you are today? What are those habits?
I just love to create art, so I work at it a lot. I try to work regular days, but schedules seem to spill into other hours and weekends. As time goes on, I try to keep a more regular schedule though,  it's healthier that way. I religiously take Sundays off. For a long time, I only worked on paying jobs, never making art just for fun or for the exploration. Lately,  I have tried much harder to mix in work that is just for fun or just  to try something new. I think drawing something every day is a good  start.
Q: What are the biggest problems or obstacles that you have encountered as you worked your way from student to professional?  Could any of these problems have been avoided or lessened if you had more knowledge or different instruction at your institution?
I think there is a big gap between expectation and reality. Many students have been coddled and had their ego stroked all their lives. When you hit the real world, nobody cares that you were the best in your school, only whether you can deliver good work and  compete with the aesthetics of other professional artists. The shock of not getting work and the reality that it may take a long time and a lot of sacrifice to make a career in art is a big shock to most students as it was difficult for me. I try to make it pretty clear to students what the realities of an art career are, but it doesn't sink in until reality smacks you square in the face.

Read part 2 of this interview here     

Friday, March 23, 2012

Swamp Sunset

Swamp Sunset by Greg Newbold- 8" x 16" acrylic

I just got an email today from a mother telling me how much her children loved Spring Song, the book that includes this image. It's really nice to hear from readers and parents of readers since, for me at least, I don't often get that kind of feedback. In part it read:
My children and I enjoyed Spring Song today and I wanted you to know how much we enjoyed your illustrations.  I've seen your work before and should have recognized it...Thank you for sharing such lovely work.
This reaction is one of the main reasons why I enjoy making a book so much. In recent weeks, I have pulled out and revised some manuscripts that I have written and am gearing up to get another book in the pipeline. Finding a publisher is the hard part, so wish me luck.

Moonlight Serenade- 8" x 16" , acrylic

Here's the companion piece to this one. I think I may have posted it before, but couldn't find the link.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Drawing in the Getty

Hey, I have a drawing in the Getty Museum! Well, sort of. During my MFA studies, my friends Ron Spears, Mike Wimmer and I had a chance to spend the afternoon at the Getty.

l-r; Mike Wimmer, Ron Spears and me drawing in the Getty

On a whim we decided to sketch for a while in the sketching gallery that they have set up in one of the galleries where you can draw from a selection of paintings and sculptures on display. We all settled in to draw the dynamic marble sculpture of the discus thrower that was in the center of the gallery. It was a fun experience and if you ever get a chance to do it, I highly recommend it.

Me drawing away at the Getty

After 30 or 40 minutes, we hung our drawings up on the display board and left them there for all to enjoy. Since all drawings that are left become the property of the Getty, I technically have a piece of my art in the Getty collection!

Well I suppose it's possible that it was only briefly in the Getty collection before it made its way to the L.A. Department of Sanitation collection, but who knows? maybe it is still there. One can hope right?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sticking To The Thumbnail Sketch

Thumbnail sketch
One of the things that frustrates my students and consequently me as a teacher is how often a successful thumbnail drawing is abandoned in the sketching process. I will often look at a good thumbnail and then, when I see revised drawings, wonder what happened to the flow, design, rhythm, etc. that I remember from the first sketch  Granted, some changes may be intentional and for the better, but if you lose the essence of the thumbnail- that thing that attracted you to the design and got you excited in the first place- then you are essentially starting over.

I always thumbnail out my idea first, before taking any photos. This allows me to solidify in my mind things like angles,  pose, lighting and basic composition. I then use my sketch to dictate how the photo shoot goes.

I match my models as closely as I can to the thumbnail idea. Sometimes the photo shoot suggests other options, and it's a good idea to take those photos as well, but I rarely go into a photo shoot without solid sketches.

If that happens, then I am letting the camera dictate the design of my piece and not my imagination. I think my imagination is usually superior to the mindlessness of a camera, so I try to not let the camera decide things for me.


I also take lots of detail shots as sometimes the angles and poses in my thumbnail are not comfortable or realistic for my models to capture in real life. I use the detail shots to get the info I need. I then take my thumbnail, lay tracing paper over the top and make my final drawing using details from multiple photos. Failure to use tracing paper in this stage of the process is the downfall of many a good student thumbnail.

I enlarge my thumbnail and use it as the "bones" of my design. I add the details or the "muscles and skin" over the top on the tracing paper. I can still see the original design and thus I can follow it, preserving the space relationships, rhythm and compositions that I carefully created in the thumbnail sketch.

If I had abandoned my thumbnail during the creation of this piece, I would likely not have been as happy with the result as I am. As you can see from the photos, none of them match my drawing exactly. I had to rely on information from all the photos as well as my thumbnail to arrive at the final sketch. There were even modifications in the final painting stage that were made to reflect more accurately the vision I had in the thumbnail stage. Trust your thumbnail. It usually does not lie because, if done well, it contains the bare essence of what you hope to express.

There is a great book by Ron Schick about how Norman Rockwell used reference photos called Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera. It shows how Rockwell's process very closely mirrors what I and countless other artists use to get the information for their paintings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What The Rain Yields

In this story, a heavy rain coaxes an abundance of night crawlers out of the ground and yields a bucketful of potential worm sales for this young lady and her brothers. The only problem was the fact that they choose to take the car without permission to deliver the worms to the bait stand. Needless to say, their parents were both distraught and disappointed when the intrepid night crawler salesmen return home. This account sparked worm hunting memories of my own which I shared in a post yesterday.

Check out the process from thumbnail to finish here:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Catching Night Crawlers

Mmmm, tasty. This little spot will go along with another full page and half page for a magazine story revolving around catching night crawlers. I was excited to take on the project for sentimental reasons. For several summers when I was growing up, my brothers, my father and I would catch night crawlers to tell to fishermen (and to fish with ourselves). On the nights when we would flood irrigate my grandma's yard, the worms would come out in droves to get air and escape the soggy ground. With flashlight in hand, we would sneak up on the stretched out critters and grab them before they could slink back underground, sometimes catching more than one in a single snatch. The contest was always on to see who could capture the most and we kept strict numbers. There were countless nights in which we individually caught ten dozen worms or more. In our back yard we built an underground worm corral. it had a mesh screen bottom so they would not burrow their way out. We filled it with peat moss, kept it damp and fed the worms a little cornmeal from time to time to keep them fat and happy.Our customers loved to buy our chubby night crawlers and we were happy to take their cash. Can't remember how much money we made. I'm sure it wasn't that much, but it was our money and we were proud of it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Star Wars Visionary Ralph McQuarrie Dies

Artist Ralph McQuarrie has passed away at the age of 82. McQuarrie will be remembered by most people for his work on a single project - Star Wars. His visionary concept paintings defined the look, feel and characters of the entire Star Wars universe and inspired countless artists, myself included.

Born in Gary, Indiana, McQuarrie began his career doing technical illustration for Boeing and then transitioned to work designing movie posters. He also created animations for CBS News coverage of the Apollo space missions

It may even be argued that without his genius, George Lucas may never have been able to convince a studio to take a chance on his wild eyed "space opera". Ralph McQuarrie was originally contacted by Lucas in 1975 to do some paintings based on the script that were intended to pitch the film to studios because he felt there would be a better chance executives would open their wallets if they could catch the vision of what the as of yet untitled film was all about.

"I just did my best to depict what I thought the film should look like. I really liked the idea. I didn't think the film would ever get made. My impression was it was too expensive. There wouldn't be enough of an audience. It's just too complicated. But George knew a lot of things I didn't know."

Lucas for his part, credited McQuarrie for creating the visual language of Star Wars. 
 "His genial contribution, in the form of unequalled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'do it like this'." 

McQuarrie went on to create concept designs for the original Battlestar Galactica television series and theatrical blockbusters Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. The Extraterrestrial. In 1985, he won an Academy Award for for visual effects in the film Cocoon.

I was ten years old when Star Wars hit the theaters. My parents thought the film looked silly and didn't want to take me. I made a deal with them to do a certain amount of work around the house in exchange for a trip to the theater. By the time the intro scrolled up and that endless Star Destroyer soared overhead, I had seen a lot of pictures of the film, including Ralph McQuarrie's visionary paintings.

It is a testament to his brilliance that I was initially disappointed that Luke didn't actually get to fight Darth Vader as depicted in the truly dynamic concept painting at the top of this post. 

I loved the film and it has endured for me, but it was the artwork that fueled me, igniting a passion that carries me to this day. My art may not bear much resemblance to anything McQuarrie created, but the idea that you could conjure something so real seemingly from nothing, stuck with me.

This sentiment is echoed on the Art of Ralph McQuarrie main page.
His influence on design will be felt forever. There is no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say...
"that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted."

McQuarrie, was a true legend in the field of film and illustration. We will all miss you and your brilliant vision Ralph.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thank You Dr. Seuss

Pink Dog Fish- 4" x 6" digital by Greg Newbold.

I'm not sure what the intention of putting the bite collar on this poor Dog Fish was since there is no obvious injury and he probably can't bend around far enough to bite himself anyway. But the result was that he pretty much just looks like a dork. A Pink Dork Fish. In case you have not noticed, I have a strange thing for goofy fish. They seem to creep into my drawings and paintings on a regular basis. After some thought, I believe I have deciphered the source- Dr. Seuss who would have turned 108 today.

As a youngster, I would draw pictures all the time and among my favorite books to draw from were Dr. Seuss books, particularly, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish and McElligot's Pool. I remember drawing them for hours on end along with my older brother. He was really pretty good, but put drawing aside when he discovered basketball.

I on the other hand kept doing art and I eventually ended up where I am today. Seuss' work is as relevant and entertaining today as it was when I first copied old and new fish from its pages. I'm not sure if every Theodore Seuss Geisel's 44 titles are still in print, but I suspect they are. So of all the early influences on this budding artist, Dr. Seuss endures in my memory. Thank you Dr Seuss and happy birthday!

Check out entertaining wisdom of Dr. Seuss at Artwife Needs A Life

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Robert Fawcett on Drawing

Defeat and Death on Battan by Robert Fawcett

When asked in a 1960 Famous Artist Magazine interview how important drawing was to the total result of a picture, Robert Fawcett replied with the following quote:
Drawing constitutes the fountainhead and substance of painting and sculpture and architecture...Let him who has attained the possession of this be assured that he possesses a great treasure.
After my last post, I realized there was much more to share from the book Robert Fawcett- The Illustrator's Illustrator (which I highly recommend by the way).  I figured I'd post a little more today. The following is a breakdown of Fawcett's drawing style and mark making along with a few quotes from the above noted interview.

Q:What is the use of a picture anyway?
A: What use is a Beethoven symphony? To feed the spirit, to feed the soul.

Q: Do you believe artists should be trained?
A: They must pursue constant and relentless drawing. Being able to draw only comes about by drawing. Of course training will give the artist hints. But in the last analysis, the artist develops himself.

Q: Must an artist have talent?
A: I do not think that artists are naturally born...Sweat and application will develop the artist. An artist who wants badly enough to do it will do it anyway. It will be impossible to dissuade him. If students want to be spoon fed, this is not likely to be a real desire on their part to be artists, but merely a whim.

Q: What do you hope to communicate to those who see your work?
A: I would like them so see a sense of positive organization in my picture. If you see a picture that is well organized you have no trouble looking at it. This is the logical outcome of drawing. Drawing is seeing. And what we do is create a kind of order in a picture that makes it easy for people to look at.

On the art of seeing:
I'm just a built in eye. I can see with such clarity. But the hand always falters between the eye and the paper. ...You can learn to see by seeing....If I have a trained eye, I will record a more comprehensive picture because I know how to translate what I see. there should be the least amount of interference between the eye, the brain and the hand. When you have exhausted conventional seeing, you can go into more interesting things.

Q: What is the best advice you can give an aspiring illustrator?
A: If you want to be an artist, you will be an artist. If you do not become one, there is nobody to blame but yourself. The techniques can be learned and should be learned thoroughly. Then comes the relentless application of your knowledge.

Many thanks to Manuel Auad of Auad Publishing for his gracious permission to share these pictures and excerpts.