Saturday, March 30, 2013

Storm Over Kolob- Bridging the Gap

Storm Over Kolob- 30" x 40" ; oil on canvas by Greg Newbold
One of the risks you run as an artist is knowing when to call something done. I have been painting hard on this first large canvas for about a week now and I think it is about finished. At the same time, when working on a picture like this, I find that the gap between my artistic intent and what actually made it to canvas is larger than what I wanted. I know that at some point, I just have to quit and call it done, but I am still making mental gyrations to figure out if there is something I could have done differently or that I could still do to close the gap between my vision and reality. I guess in many ways, this is a good thing. At least I know I fell a bit short. Too often when I teach, I see students that not only don't realize what is wrong with a piece, but they don't even see the gap. They don't see the problems or what would make it better. Over time, some figure it out but some never do. The rest of us keep striving to close the gap, to make what we envision in our minds become real on the canvas. Have any of you felt this same way? What do you do to bridge the gap? 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Storm Over Kolob - Progress

Storm Over Kolob - Work In Progress; Oil by Greg Newbold; 30" x 40"
I now have the entire canvas blocked in. Even though the entire canvas is covered, some areas feel much closer to finish than others so I still have a lot of work to do. Now comes the process of laying in a second pass or "skin" as some artists call it. I will concentrate on adjusting values where needed by pushing things darker or bringing up the highlights. I will also focus on adjusting hue and saturation. In areas where colors are a bit intense, I will neutralize things. I also want to make sure the temperature shift from the warm sunset light to the cool shadows is consistent. Right now I think some areas are still a bit too warm or too cool. Concentrating on having a nice consistent surface with texture where it should be and interesting brushstrokes will also be in the working mix. Should be fun finishing this up.

Previous progress on Storm Over Kolob

Monday, March 25, 2013

Storm Over Kolob - Study

Storm Over Kolob- Study; 8" x 10" - oil by Greg Newbold
I am undertaking what is to this point the largest oil painting I have ever done. I set a few goals this year for my art and one was to finally begin to do "epic" size work. For me that meant anything bigger than 32" on a side.  The subject for this first large painting is that moment of fading light and cloud I witnessed at Kolob Canyon on a 30" x 40" canvas. The inspiration for this painting was a study started on site as the last painting in my southern Utah painting trip with Richard Hull last fall. We had about 35-45 minutes to paint and the lighting conditions were shifting so much that I really didn't get much more than a rough block-in. I did like the basic structure of the scene including the storm clouds. I was struck also by the way shadows crept quickly up the vista and completely obscured the light in a matter of about five minutes at the end of the day. I was scrambling to  capture something in the fading light but then resolved to do the scene justice later.

Well later is right now. Along with my photographs, I used my on site study as the under painting for a more resolved piece. Some plein air purists will cringe at this but I figure that I really didn't capture anything more worthwhile than some color notes and basic structure, so I had no qualms painting right over it. If you follow my blog, you'll note that most of my plein air studies are polished up in the studio anyway. After the study was more or less resolved, I transferred the painting design to the canvas using a grid system. My canvas was a pre-stretched number that I thought would save me some time preparing. As I applied several coats of gesso, since I really dislike the mechanical weave of factory canvas, I noticed that the tightness of the canvas was not to my liking either. I removed the staples from two sides and pulled another quarter inch of slack out of the fabric. I didn't save any time and now I think I may have to start stretching my own canvases in order to get what I like.

Storm Over Kolob-Work In Progress; 30" x 40" oil on canvas
With the drawing laid in. I gave two light coats of a reddish brown acrylic to stain the surface and seal in the drawing. I used a damp sponge rather than a brush. Acrylic allows me to get painting almost immediately since the gesso coats seal the surface and the tint coats are really thin. This progress shot is about halfway through the block in phase. After the canvas is all blocked in, I will make another pass over the entire piece and then I will probably have one last session to bring up any highlights that need to be pushed or glaze back any shadows that want to go deeper. for me, a canvas this large feels like a lot to chew on, but I am having fun and it seems like it is coming together well. I am glad I took the time to do a good small study though. I have about a week to get this thing singing- wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Running With Geronimo Finished

Yesterday, I posted the drawing for this one and here's the finished piece. Painted all digitally in Photoshop. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Running With Geronimo - Final Drawing

As promised this is the drawing for the opening spread for the Boys' Life historical fiction story I am illustrating. It accompanies the piece in my previous post. I am still finishing it up, so rather than show it in progress, I will just let this one tease you a little bit. In the story, the cavalry posse searching for Geronimo and his small band of rebels comes to the farm of the young main character and asks him if he has seen anything. The young man plays dumb even though he is harboring his Native American friend, one of Geronimo's braves, in the barn. It is both fun and challenging to create these sorts of historically based pieces. The research involved is sometimes the hardest part. I will post the final piece when I finish it up  in the next day or two.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Geronimo Final Rendering

Geronimo's Last Night of Freedom- Greg Newbold; digital
Here is the final rendering for one of my Geronimo pieces. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I wanted to explore the color of night as Frederic Remington did so successfully. It was harder than you might think and I may have overplayed the subtlety of the colors, but think I captured the feel of night pretty well. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Geronimo Finished Drawing

Here is the final drawing for one of the Boys' Life illustrations I am working on. I always take my thumbnail drawings and enlarge them to use as the basis for my final drawing, adding detail and making adjustments as I work. I recently purchased a portable light table that has been very helpful in this process. For years, I created my final drawings on tracing paper right over the top of my enlarged thumbnail drawing. This allows me to retain the shape relationships, proportions and overall arrangement of elements that I carefully established in my concept sketch.

Tracing paper is a terribly non-archival surface and these drawings will probably fall apart in short order. I always figured I had the physical painting though, so I didn't worry about it.  Since I am painting more digitally these days and there is no actual painting, I decided it might be nice to have some sort of artifact from the process other than a pile of pixels on a hard drive. I am now creating more finished full value drawings which I then scan and paint over digitally in Photoshop. I am really enjoying the drawing phase of the process and like having something physical left over as a result. This drawing is on 100 pound smooth finish Bristol which, by using the light box, I can see through well enough to get guidelines from the enlarged thumbnail drawing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Near Grafton - Morning - SOLD!

Near Grafton - Morning 8" x 10" oil by Greg Newbold
Thanks to Williams Fine Art for another sale. This one certainly didn't hang around the gallery for too long. It is interesting to watch and learn as things sell (or don't sell quickly enough). I am trying to decipher what the common denominators are in those quick sales other than good painting. Whatever it is, this one had it. I even had a disappointed collector contact me when he missed out on this one. Hopefully I can make him happy with something else.

See my other available paintings at Williams Fine Art

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Geronimo Rough Sketch

This is the approved concept sketch for a project I am doing for Boys' Life Magazine. The story follows a boy in New Mexico whose best friend belongs to Geronimo's Apache tribe at the time when they were being forced onto the reservation. This scene depicts that final fireside chat before Geronimo surrenders and a separate small band of Indians escapes into the Mexico territory.

I want to create a dramatic lighting scenario as well as an interesting color palette. Frederic Remington did a whole series of these type of night paintings that I love and I hope to capture some of that same drama in this one. I am especially interested in the capturing the balance of the interesting cool greenish grays from the moonlight against the warm oranges that the firelight throws off. We'll see what happens, but I like where it's going so far. Just took photo reference, so now on to final drawings.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cloud Watching

Cloud Watching- Digital, by Greg Newbold
I remember laying on the grass as a child and watching the clouds float by while imagining what creatures those fluffy shapes formed.  My imagination ran wild and I pictured dinosaurs and dragons, fish, birds and all sorts of crazy things. I would suspect most of you have done the same at one time or another. I just finished a little picture for a children's magazine to illustrate this very thing.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Knockout Punch

Knockout Punch- Graphite and digital by Greg Newbold
Here's the final piece in the project for BYU magazine. This one depicts Willard Bean who was an undersized but scrappy boxer in his younger days. His faith as well as his skill in the ring earned him the nickname "The Fightin' Parson" since it was said that he could preach as well as he could fight.  Bean even coached future heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. In later years, he was called by Mormon church leaders to re-establish a church presence in Palmyra, New York where LDS church prophet Joseph Smith grew up. Chilly relations with the locals led Willard to dust off the boxing gloves for an exhibition in which he challenged any takers to a round in the ring. The "whip a Mormon" event broke the ice with locals even though he beat all comers. He was eventually influential in the helping the church acquire several historic properties including the Hill Cumorah.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Amanda Barnes Smith

Amanda Barnes Smith Takes Back Her Horse- by Greg Newbold
Amanda Barnes Smith lost her husband, and second son at the hands of violent mobsters during the Haun's Mill Massacre, one of the most violent acts of persecution in Mormon church history. During the raid, the hip of one of her six year old twin son's was also blown away by a gunshot. In the midst of this crisis, having lost everything and being forced from the state of Missouri by the mob, Smith found the mob leader's home. You see, he had stolen Amanda Smith's horse and she wanted it back. Banging on the door, she resolutely demanded back her property. The mobster told her she must pay for his having fed the animal. She declined, since he had already stolen all she had. "It's my horse. I need it. I'll take it now."  she said and calmly retrieved it from the stable. Smith reportedly used her apron as a lead rope as she took the horse. I imagined the strength and determination of this woman as she faced down the man who had participated in the deaths of her son and husband and tried to portray this feeling in her gesture and in the lighting and color of the piece. Even though night is falling, she is still illuminated from a heavenly source. This is another piece from the BYU Magazine article I am finishing up. This one is graphite and digital, painted in Photoshop.