Archive for July, 2010

Here Comes Comic-Con!

Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Disturbance South of Helium

Disturbance South of Helium

Comic-Con International rapidly approaches. I’ll be setting up on Tuesday, relieving myself of the stress of driving down to San Diego and trying to set up on Wednesday before the show opens for the convention’s so-called Preview Night. I say “so-called” because Preview Night used to be for a select few. Now it seems as if all 130,00 attendees are there on Wednesday, so it’s not really a special “preview” — it’s just another (half) day of the con.

I’ll be in my usual spot, booths 4803 and 4805. If you’re looking for me in the Comic-Con listings, don’t look under “S” for Stout; that would be much too logical. Look under “W” for William…

I just picked up William Stout – 50 Convention Sketches #16 from my printer yesterday (talk about cutting it close!). I picked up a slew of new art from my framer as well. I will also be selling canvas prints of the animal picture that was recently step-by-stepped on my website Journal. I know I’ve got a lot of Burroughs collectors, so I drew up and painted some new Barsoomian pieces (one of them appears above) for the show. That art will end up in the female sequel to my Hallucinations fantasy collection: Inspirations.

I look forward to seeing all of my old friends — and meeting & making several new ones as well.

See You There!

Arnold Friberg 1913–2010

Monday, July 5th, 2010

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Arnold Friberg on July 1, 2010 in my birth place of Salt Lake City, Utah at age 96. Friberg was the last living proponent of the classic Norman Rockwell/Harvey Dunn school of illustration.

He is best known for one masterpiece of a painting and three key painting projects.

Perhaps his most famous painting is his masterful portrait of George Washington, The Prayer at Valley Forge.

The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg

The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg

In 1953 Cecil B. DeMille hired Friberg to paint a series of pictures that established the visual tone and grandeur of DeMille’s next epic, The Ten Commandents.

The Parting of the Red Sea by Arnold Friberg

The Parting of the Red Sea by Arnold Friberg

For his extensive work on that film Friberg received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design. Many of his paintings for this film were collected and reproduced in color in two different official program books for the film.

Maintaining the Right by Arnold Friberg

Maintaining the Right by Arnold Friberg

Friberg was also famed for his more than 300 paintings depicting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Tales of the Force by Arnold Friberg

Tales of the Force by Arnold Friberg

His series of Mountie paintings began as a longtime ongoing series of commissions from the Northwest Paper Company. My old studiomate Richard Hescox and I used to write the Northwest Paper Company on a fairly regular basis. They were very gracious in sending us many prints and calendars featuring Friberg’s RCMP paintings.

His fourth major project was his illustration of The Book of Mormon for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Abinadi Delivers His Message to King Noah by Arnold Friberg

Abinadi Delivers His Message to King Noah by Arnold Friberg

I don’t know if this is still true, but for a long time one could write to the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City and receive (for free) a set of Friberg’s illustrations as well as a copy of The Book of Mormon containing those pictures.

Mormon Bids Farewll to a Once Great Nation by Arnold Friberg

Mormon Bids Farewll to a Once Great Nation by Arnold Friberg

Friberg became very successful as an artist. He invested his money wisely and early, buying prime property in Utah and building a beautiful home there.

Success is not without its drawbacks, however. There were several attempts in later years to purchase his home property. It had become extremely valuable as Salt Lake City had grown and prospered. Because Arnold refused, thugs were sent to his home where this gentle, elderly artist was brutally beaten near to death. He reluctantly sold his house.

In later years, as his reputation expanded, Friberg’s commissions grew in importance. He painted the royal portrait of HRH The Prince of Wales:

HRH The Prince of Wales by Arnold Friberg

HRH The Prince of Wales by Arnold Friberg

and the equestrian portrait of Queen Elizabeth II:

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Friberg

I was fortunate in being able to meet Mr. Friberg. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read an advertisement for a Canyon Country (a rural suburb near Los Angeles) gallery. They announced that they were hosting a signing with Arnold Friberg. I gathered up the books I had that were illustrated by Friberg as well as a few of his choice prints and brought them to the gallery to be signed. I also brought samples of my work to give to Arnold.

As soon as Arnold discovered I was a fellow artist, he lit up. Much to the chagrin of the gallery owners, the signing stopped as Arnold began to tell me tales about his life and art in response to the questions I had.

I asked about his Oscar nomination. A huge grin spread across his face. “All that I can remember about the moment of being nominated is that Elizabeth Taylor handed me my nomination and gave me a kiss on the cheek!”

Once I started pulling out the Friberg rarities for Arnold to sign, the gallery owners’ attitudes changed. It turned out that they were fans, too. They became very excited to see reproductions of works with which they weren’t familiar. In addition to the prints they were selling, original paintings from different aspects of Friberg’s career were on display, including some of his brilliant Ten Commandments work.

I left on a cloud that day. I’ll never forget this fine and gracious gentleman and the kindness he showed me. Here’s to the enduring work and career one of the world’s greatest artists: Arnold Friberg.

William Stout Painting Lesson #14

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010
Menagerie - Finished Art

Menagerie - Finished Art

After I finished painting all of the animals, I retouched and tightened up the chimp’s canvas and easel.

As I do with all of my completed pieces, I took the finished painting to be professionally shot by the fine folks at Art Works. They are also the same people who will be making my prints of this piece for me.

After it was shot I popped the disc into my computer and cleaned up all of the white areas in PhotoShop. Note that the pure white of the blank canvas areas is now whiter than the white fur of the panda and the white feathers of the puffin’s belly.

Now this baby is really done. I can’t wait to see how the prints turn out! I’ll have two different size canvas prints for sale at Comic-Con: 8″ x 10″ and 16″ x 20″.

I hope you liked this demo. I had fun both painting it and writing about it.

William Stout Painting Lesson #13

Friday, July 2nd, 2010
Menagerie – Close to Finish

Menagerie – Close to Finish

OK; we’re headin’ home.

Menagerie – Mammoth Detail

Menagerie – Mammoth Detail

I finally had a chance to correct the mammoth head, redrawing and repainting almost everything but the body of the trunk. His eyes were what bothered me the most. I added some nice aging, grime, scratches and other textures to the mammoth’s tusks and lost that top edge on his right tusk.

Matt expressed concern regarding the difficulty in seeing the giraffe against the T. rex, so I’m going to jump ahead and add another lesson here:

Menagerie – Ready to be Photographed

Menagerie – Ready to be Photographed

I’ve finished the last of the animals.

Menagerie – T. Rex and Giraffe Detail

Menagerie – T. Rex and Giraffe Detail

Instead of using values (darks and lights) to pop the giraffe from the T. rex, I decided to use color (as my old painting teacher and mentor Hal Kramer used to say, “For a change of form look for a change of value, a change of color — a change of some goddam thing!”). I made the shadows on the giraffe’s face a cool blue in contrast to the warm greens and browns of the T. rex. Conversely, I warmed up the giraffe’s mane with some reddish browns to make it stand out against the cool greens of the T. rex neck. The bold pattern of the giraffe’s spots help pop him, too. The giraffe head still doesn’t pop against the T. rex head with a read as clear as that of the rest of the critters. It stands out enough, though, that I’m not bothered enough to alter the giraffe’s relative visibility. Not everything has to read like a billboard; there should be some sense of discovery.

You can see that the T. rex’s facial scales are no longer transparently painted; they are now (for the most part) opaque. This is an important detail: I also made sure to vary the color and values of the scales to make them more realistic and to give them more interest. I worked on those teeth of his, too. I darkened them then gave them crisp highlights (something I learned from Frazetta) to make them more ivory-like. The change of temperature (from the warm greens of the T. rex‘s face to the cool greens of his neck) also makes the T. rex look larger, as the change makes your eyes feel like they’ve been on a journey.

Menagerie – Signature

Menagerie – Signature

The last step at this point in the process is signing the painting. I decided to make my signature fairly low in contrast. I figured there was enough stuff going on in this picture that viewers didn’t need the additional distraction of a bold signature. The “CAC” I include in my signature stands for the California Art Club. The CAC honored me by making me a Signature Member (I’m also on their Advisory Board and am the Managing Editor of their newsletter). Only Signature Members can sign their works with a “CAC” added to their signature.

The California Art Club is the oldest art organization west of the Mississippi. They actively promote representational and traditional (as opposed to abstract and non-traditional) art. I currently have two paintings on display in the CAC’s annual Gold Medal Exhibition at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.

The final lesson is tomorrow: Digital Clean-up!

William Stout Painting Lesson #12

Thursday, July 1st, 2010
Menagerie - Near Completion

Menagerie - Near Completion

We’re heading for home plate here.

Menagerie – Warthog, Dodo, Echidna Detail

Menagerie – Warthog, Dodo, Echidna Detail

The warthog gets his due, as does the echidna.

Menagerie – Chameleon & Camel Detail

Menagerie – Chameleon & Camel Detail

With my affinity for reptiles, I really enjoyed painting the little Jackson’s chameleon. The camel was fun, too, as I first explored camel textures when I painted several prehistoric camels for one of my San Diego Natural History Museum murals.

Three more lessons, I believe…