Monday, December 5, 2011

Frazetta: Underpainting


I spoke earlier about Frazetta beginning an oil with a darker umber underpainting. Here is an example. I found this photo of two LORD OF THE RINGS concepts that were never finished. They are smaller 11x14 inch oil studies executed on canvasboard. Interesting, eh?

DocDave

29 comments:

  1. Good gosh, Dave, they could've been masterpieces. They're beautiful even as they are. Oh I wish he could've taken on Lord of the Rings more than he did, with a full set of oils as plates for the trilogy.

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  2. Oh yes, indeed! I had completely forgotten about these pieces. I saw them once and took this quick shot outdoors. I don't know what happened to them.

    I found a few other gems that will appear in future posts. If only Ellie had allowed a comprehensive book to be published. If only Frank had taken an interest. Arnie Fenner and UNDERWOOD BOOKS did a magnificent job with the limited access they were given. It was a giant battle for every addition. If only Ellie had granted full permission and had a VISION. What a loss for the art world and the Frazetta artistic legacy. I hate to even think about it. I know what might have been.

    Thanks Thom!

    DAVE

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  3. Hi Dave

    Thanks for posting these. The one on the right seems so close to being finished.

    Regarding your comment, roughly what percentage of Frazetta's work (excluding comic pages) has never seen publication in book form? Or to put it another way, how much does Icon, Legend and Testament represent of Frazetta's finished drawings and painted work, whether water colour or oil?

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  4. Im currently studying the flemish technique, did frank then proceed with a dead layer or did he go straight to building in colour. May I say Thanks for this insight, they are magnificant and inspiring.

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  5. Dave,

    Those are simply beautiful as is, and it is so reminiscent of his watercolours, that it makes you feel his oil technique grew from the watercolour, the thin washy paint where the underpaint seems to show thru as he built up his image and drew you into focous where he wanted you to be.

    All the best

    Tracy

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  6. Hi Alex:

    I was thinking about that. I would guess that 200-300 pieces will never be seen because they are now in collectors' hands. THat includes sketchbook drawings still unseen. For example, none of the LORD OF RINGS studies have ever been seen or published. I'm working on getting copies. Most collectors are private and do not want to share their collections. They think it will "cheapen" and devalue their originals. What nonsense. Sad, isn't it?

    DAVE

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  7. From this point he would usually go straight into color. Watching him build up a form and introduce all the intricacies of his tints is, quite simply, astounding.

    DAVE

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  8. Yes, indeed! He handled both oil and watercolor the same way. Thin layers of application built up very deliberately. For example, in the light orange moon in the background of THE ENCOUNTER rough, Frank used 10 separate applications of color.

    DAVE

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  9. Hi again Dave

    Thank you for answering my question. That's a really significant amount of artwork that most of us are unlikely to see. It's a real shame and I hope you succeed in getting copies. I would have thought that spreading knowledge of a particular piece of art would increase it's value, not devalue it, but I don't know the minds of collectors. I was so pleased when Icon, Legend and Testament came out as there was all this artwork I had not seen before. Thanks again.

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  10. Yes, the collecting world owes Arnie Fenner a GIANT "thank you" for all his efforts. Without him, we would not have seen half of what is out there in published form. It wasn't a cakewalk dealing with Ellie on all those projects. He has enough stories to fill a book.

    As I said before, someday this will all make one hell of a movie.

    DAVE

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  11. Thanks so much for posting these, Dave! I've driven myself nuts trying to find pictures of his underpaintings before. And, wow- even with what I'd heard about them, it's amazing to see how finished they look, especially the one on the right.

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  12. Dave,thanks for the giving me insight into my process related question. Re the amount of pics never been published - wow, the world deserves to see these! surely if a picture is publised it would naturally make it more sought after? if there are any FF collectors who have these rarities reading this, go on show your Frazetta! hehe;)

    How many FF oils do you estimate are still deemed unfinished or in the umbra-layer state?

    Thanks as always

    Dave Sturridge

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  13. I only know of three. I'll be posting the third one after I transcribe my interview.

    DAVE

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  14. Dave,

    any insight into the images he did just on the plain masonite?

    I also am curios,I know that every painting is different, but in all honesty from your knowledge, was the umber underpainting a constant in his process, or was it a hit or miss thing depending on the image?

    Thanks again Dave

    T

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  15. Frank never relied on just one approach. Everything was intuitive and based on materials at hand and idea in mind. As for masonite, sometimes he would gesso the board, other times he'd just start painting.

    The LOTR sections never got done because Frank didn't want to just duplicate in oil what he had done in ink already. Of course, he violated that principle several times before that, e.g. the Mahar/Virgin drawing.

    DAVE

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  16. thanks dave.

    I just stumbled on your frazetta blog and have been in heaven, happily reading about my art hero - frazetta!

    so glad you published these underpaintings as it gives us a hint of how the master worked. i hope you publish more insights and photos of frazetta's working methods, especially any info you might have on his color sense and palette he might have used.

    one more thing, since i'm a prepress tech and spand much of my time fixing and color-correcting customer's images with photoshop, i took your photo and straightened and color-corrected one of the underpaintings. you can see the result on my blog:

    http://roddyfrey.blogspot.com/2011/12/frazetta-underpaintings.html

    i hope it's all right, i tried to find an email for you to ask permission, and it seems that the only way i can currently contact you is thru the comments page of your blog.

    please let me know if it's ok to use the image, and thanks again for all your insights into frazetta.

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  17. Nice job, Roddy! I wish I had taken more shots. Most of the time I had to grab quick shots when I could.

    Glad you are enjoying the site!

    DAVE

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  18. These are really amazing! Did you ever photograph, or even better videotape Frank in the process of painting? Watching him draw in the PAINTING WITH FIRE DVD was an art lesson in itself, but seeing him paint would be amazing. Just seeing these is inspirational. Thank you so much for sharing your insights, memories and these wonderful images!

    Bob

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  19. Bob:

    Frank would NEVER allow himself to be videotaped painting in his prime. I tried many times. I do have some footage of him painting on the REIGN OF WIZARDRY with his left hand.

    There are photo sequences of Frank painting. Russ Cochran did a sequence, but he has never allowed them to be seen....yet.

    DAVE

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  20. I really enjoyed painting with fire, even found the short clip of frank touching up a painting handy because he held the brush in an interesting way for detail work which actually offers quite a bit more precision than the conventional pen hold I normally use.

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  21. There's some great stuff in that documentary. It took a long time to get it done. Ellie had to approve everything.

    EXHAUSTING.

    DAVE

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  22. LOVE THIS SITE.

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  23. Hello Dave,

    I had never seen this blog, tho I was familiar of your friendship with Frank and that awesome caricature
    he did of you.

    As an aspiring artist these images in particular interest me almost as much as his final pieces, I am curious
    tho, these look like they're done with very thinned paint almost like ink (which can be hard to manipulate), a
    stage noticeable in many of his paintings. How would he proceed? I ask because many pieces look like layers of
    thin washes like these with few layers of thicker paint above if need be (The Barbarian looks like a piece that's
    almost only thin washes) however there's sort of a conflict in the sense that Frank supposedly did much of his
    work wet-on-wet and that he was fast, doing many in a sitting or two. Now, I can believe this in the Neanderthal
    painting, but it seems kinda far fetched in other cases because the wet wash underneath is slippery, you can't get
    an extra wash over it and draw it well (much less more wash layers), the paint must be thicker than a wash, or you
    should let the wash underneath dry a bit, then wash over it, but this takes hours. So, if you know, what's up?

    The reason I'm asking is because there's information on how to paint with thicker oil paint everywhere, and tho
    I like it, I'm attracted by thinner washes of paints and the idea of being able to work both as loose or tight as
    I want and as far as possible in one sitting before having to let the wet layers dry (because OK there are limits)
    but not with the grisaille method because it's stiff and takes a million years to do. It's both an aesthetic thing,
    a commercial thing and a question of temperament for me at least. Frank's work, and that of a few other artist I like,
    have sort of a setup that seems to fit what I'd like to have as a main weapon, yet there's nothing on these guys or
    this process in oils, which is very frustrating.

    Also, is there more of Frank's unfinished or preliminary work anywhere? I think there was a book with some in it but
    I've never seen it up close to judge if it'd be useful for me to study (sometimes unfinished or preliminary work
    by masters is more useful to other artists than the finished work).

    -Mike

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  24. Yes, Frank used oil just as if they were watercolor. Very thin washes of oil. It was an amazing thing to see him build up all those layers.

    Thanks.

    Dave

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    1. Hey Dave,

      So he painted on wet, thinned paint and sort of "creeped up" on the whole thing yes? But how did
      he manage to build up the layers without letting anything underneath dry most of the time yet
      maintain control and coverage (I'm supposing the whole hair drier or oven thing comes into play
      here, I've tried it m'self, love it but I need a more powerful drier)?

      As for the book I was asking of, this is it https://www.amazon.com/Rough-Work-Concept-Sketchbook-Drawings/dp/1599290138/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1467627986&sr=1-9&keywords=Frazetta but is
      there another? Do you recommend I order this or do you have something better in mind? Perhaps, if
      you have access to more extensive prelims you could make a book. It's always useful to see such
      stuff and get some insight into a master's thoughts and feelings during a process.

      -Mike

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  25. Rough Work is a nice compilation of roughs and studies. Well worth the price. Hopefully something more comprehensive will be released at some point.

    Dave

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    Replies
    1. THanks for all the info Dave, and the crit of the book.

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  26. Thank you so much for posting this Dave, I fell in love with these unfinished oils several years back when you originally put this up and remember excitedly forwarding the link to my twin, who is an equal Frazetta nut...and now, 5 years later we are the proud owners of the piece on the right! I saw that the Frazetta family had put it up for sale last year and was creating a strategy to get my mitts on it, when it came up for auction recently...

    Once again, thank you for bringing these beauties to these my attention and being directly responsible for my first Frazetta original.

    Ken Brennan.

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  27. Hi Dave,

    Thanks so much for posting these, I fell in love with these pieces when I laid eyes on them all those years ago and am now (the extremely) proud owner of the original oil study on the right. I would never have been aware of these if it wasn't for your good self so you have my heartfelt gratitude....

    Cheers,

    Ken

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