Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cowboy Culture Paintings

Cowboy Green

Cowboy Red

Cowboy Blue

Pulp Cowboy 1

Pulp Cowboy 2

Here's five painting that I did for my Cowboy Culture show in April. Please forgive me for the crudeness in the execution, I don't really consider myself a painter. When I got the opportunity to have a gallery show, I felt like I had to add some paintings to fill up the wall space. These canvases are actually pretty large, I think the smallest dimension is around 36". It was a great exercise to force me to put out some artwork in a very short amount of time. I did these five, and an additional painting, in three weeks time. These were all done with that cheap craft paint that comes in the cylindrical bottles, that cost about 97 cents a bottle. Believe me, I don't know any better.

The top three paintings, so cleverly titled as "Green," "Red," and "Blue" were meant to be very graphic and contemporary, as if they were silk-screened. I liked the idea of creating a series, and working relatively fast. These are meant to look like "real" working cowboys.

The bottom two paintings, equally cleverly titled, as "Pulp Cowboy 1," and "Pulp Cowboy 2," (maybe I should work harder on those titles!!??), were basically me copying pulp magazine covers from the '40s. I did want to make them more dynamic and artsy by cropping them dynamically. I like that, part of the titles from the magazines, are still in the painting. I always believe that type is really an added design element. These two paintings are a contrast to the other three, in that these are a perceived idea of the old west. The colors aren't flat, they are modeled, to give the illusion of depth. This was a great learning tool for me, to paint by looking at a painting. These paints really don't blend very well, so I had to paint wet. With this kind of water based paint, it usually lends itself to looking very flat as it is applied. It worked well in the top three paintings, but not so great with the bottom two.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the results, but then again, I'm not a painter. I really have a new found respect for those artists that can paint well. I tried something that I had previously been afraid to do, because of the fear of failure, and found out that I not only learned something but enjoyed the process immensely. Giddy-yup! Oh yeah... the paintings are for sale.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scion XA

I've always wanted to take my car and paint it in a unique way. It's such a temptation to look at it as a blank canvas. Why aren't there more interesting paint jobs on cars, why aren't people personalizing them more? Cars and houses and furniture have become so "safe" and bland, what happened to style and creativity? Look in neighborhoods and count how many houses are painted gray, brown, beige, or combinations of those colors. Everything looks the same, doesn't it? It seems nobody is willing to do anything that their neighbor isn't doing. What's the fear? The same applies to colors on cars. Open up a car sales catalog from the '50s and check out the great colors and color combinations. Have you seen any turquoise or salmon or peach colored cars lately? How about two-toned? What is the most popular color of cars these days, silver or blah? Of course, my car is silver, but I wish it wasn't. I took a photo of my car, and applied a color combination and style from a '50s era car, and created my "what if." Maybe someday I'll have the opportunity to paint something fun on my car. But, then again, what would the neighbors think?

Dinosaur Discoveries

Cover to Dinosaur Discoveries

Spread from Dinosaur Discoveries

Cover to New Dinosaur Discoveries A-Z

Spread from New Dinosaur Discoveries A-Z

Spread from New Dinosaur Discoveries A-Z

After completing the William Stout Prehistoric Life Murals book, Bill immediately had ideas to put together another book. He had approximately fifty paintings he had done of newly discovered dinosaurs, and he thought it would make a great follow up book. John Fleskes of Flesk Publications agreed. After a discussion, it was decided to take the information along with the paintings and create two books. One would be aimed at a juvenile audience, and A-Z was added to the title. The book would approximate the size and feel of a Little Golden Book. The design, bright colors, and writing are all more playful. This is a new direction that Flesk Publications has never gone before. It seems to make perfect sense, dinosaurs, education, and entertainment, what a perfect combination to attract the attention of young readers (and their parents).

The second book is aimed more at an adult audience. The approach to this is, to create a timeless look, to base the design on the style of the old Scribner books, to turn it into a contemporary classic. I wanted the cover to feel old, as if this was a lost document from an unidentifiable period of time. This is a book you might find in the basement or attic of your grandparent's home. It's a very formal design, using classic Garamond type fonts.

The design styles of both books go in complete opposite directions, one is formal and rigid, while the other is playful and loose. After it was decided what direction these books would take, Bill also decided he should complete approximately sixty more paintings, to really make these books complete! He actually re-did several earlier images, to relay new information that had been discovered since he had executed his initial designs.

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

Spread for The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

Spread from the deluxe version of The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

Slipcase for the deluxe version of The Rocketeer

Cover for the deluxe version of The Rocketeer

Dust jacket to The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures

It's been a while since I posted, so I thought I should take some time to update things. I've been extremely busy putting all the contents and design work into four new books. Two of them were for Flesk Publications. They are two new dinosaur books based on William Stout's artwork. The titles are, Dinosaur Discoveries and The New Dinosaurs A-Z. For these books, Bill has created well over one hundred new paintings of new species of dinosaurs which have been discovered in the last decade. John Fleskes writes about the process of development of these two books, on the blog portion of the Flesk Publications website.

The other two books were done for IDW publishing. The first is, the complete collection of the Rocketeer stories. These have never before been published as one collection. The Rocketeer was first published in 1982 as a back up feature in Starslayer #2, it became an immediate hit. Taking the time period of 1938, and adding elements of Saturday Matinee Serials, Dave Stevens created adventure stories inspired by the streamline era and the golden age of aviation. The publication of the stories was an adventure in itself, going through four publishers, it took nearly thirteen years to finally complete the story of the Rocketeer. So attractive was this property, that Walt Disney Studios created a film based on the Rocketeer which was released in the summer of 1991.

When designing this book, I wanted to approach it the same way that Dave approached creating his stories. I wanted to incorporate design elements that were reflective of that particular period of time. I love the Deco/Streamline era of design, and I wanted this book to feel as if the stories, characters, set designs, fonts, color palettes, and book design all came from the same source. I certainly wanted to do justice to what Dave had created and I tried my best to channel his thought process. I want the end result to be elegant, sophisticated, and tastefully executed.

The second book I designed was a real "behind the scenes" look into the creation of the Rocketeer. This is a limited edition over-sized slipcased book. Not only does it contain the original story, but also Dave's notes, sketches, layouts, preliminary designs and an explanation of his design process. This book is 274 pages with two gatefolds and plenty of never before seen material. The attempt was to create the definitive Rocketeer art book. I'm very excited at the results.