C.F. Payne – American Illustrator

25 03 2010

Yesterday afternoon C.F. Payne came to the University of Hartford and put on a lecture. Payne is one of the great living American illustrators around. He spoke about how illustration is the second oldest profession… which I guess I never really thought about before, but after they learned how to kill animals and eat them, they told about it on the walls of the caves. Stories told centuries ago are still around and telling the same story, just as it was.

He is a modest man, even though his work has graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Time, People, Sports Illustrated, MAD Magazine (which inspired him as a kid), and Readers Digest, among others. He has illustrated ten children’s books including two written by John Lithgow. His work has been compared to Norman Rockwell, because he has a way of capturing a slice of life with personality.

He is excellent with faces and doing slight exaggerations. He says, “If you do it right, the drawing will look more like the person than they do”. He mentioned that getting a project done on time is the most important thing you can do. You have a deadline and you have to stick to it. This is something that I already knew but I liked how he put it… “One ‘Oh sh*t’ can erase a whole lot of ‘atta boys'”.

One more thing that I’d like to point out about being an illustrator. You can do it forever. It’s a job that you love to do. Get paid for drawing!! Today you will be better than you were yesterday. As an artist you are always improving and changing. The more you draw, the better you become.

Here’s a link to his website so you can see how amazing he is… I’m sure you’ll recognize some of his work! www.cfpayne.com

He did a demo after the lecture showing off his signature “C.F. Payne Technique” Here’s a photo of him, sorry it’s not the best quality, I forgot my camera, and had to use my phone!

The C.F. Payne technique is an involved process that sounds like it takes a longer amount of time than it actually does. First he does a drawing, then acrylic washes which lay in the basic colors. He then does a watercolor wash and pulls out the highlights. When that dries, he does an oil wash and erases out the highlights. After that is complete, Payne will spray the board with fixative and start adding highlights and more color alternatively with acrylic washes and colored pencils until it is complete.

It creates an amazingly quick lay-down of the mid-tones, so that he can get right into the meat of the painting. It was amazing to see him work.

He is an icon of American illustration and it was great to be able to hear about his experiences as an illustrator, and how it made him grow into who he is today.





One response

5 04 2010
Jane Palzere

This is just the kind of work that I love. He is fantastic. His faces — especially the old man in the portraits — and all of the portraits. Thanks for sharing this.

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