Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bill Cone

After Lunch © Bill Cone
Name: Bill Cone
Bio:  Born and raised in California, Bill Cone studied fine art at San Francisco State, and commercial illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. After working as an illustrator for many years, he began working for Pixar Animation Studios as a set designer on Toy Story, going on to subsequent projects as a Production Designer for A Bugs Life, Toy Story 2, and Cars.
While working on A Bug's Life he began using pastels to do lighting studies. Realizing pastel's inherent benefits of speed and portability, he began doing lighting studies outdoors. Working in natural light began to influence Bill’s perception of light and color relationships. 18 years later he is still pursuing the process of integrating his experiences in nature with film work.  His pastel work for Pixar has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and other venues around the world, as part of the 'Art of Pixar' show.
In 2004, he organized an artist's pack trip into the Sierra Nevada back country, which has become an ongoing source of inspiration in his personal work –“visually, the qualities of light at higher altitudes, the colors of the rocks and how they respond to light, as well as the nature of water in creeks, rivers and lakes are all inspiring. Bill has explored the Rock Creek Basin, the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the Sequoia National Park in his search for painting locations.
Several of his Sierra trips have been covered in Plein Air magazine.
His work has appeared in the Pastel Journal on several occasions, including a feature piece in the August 2013 issue, when he was the cover artist.
A member of the California Art Club, Bill's landscape work has been exhibited in various galleries and venues in California over the last 12 years, including the CAC Gold Medal show. Since 2009, Bill has had 4 solo shows at the Studio Gallery in San Francisco.
Bill currently teaches several workshops a year, one in the Sierra Nevada, and several in the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. Because of his dual career path, Bill began teaching periodic classes about the effects of natural light at work, to get computer artists who were lighting scenes on computers out of their offices to 'light shots' in nature, so to speak.  Bill teaches a 12 week class at the Animation Collaborative. This is not a pastel workshop, it is a class that focusses on developing and orchestrating a light- and color-based plan for film.
Ediza Boulder © Bill Cone
Medium: Pastel
Subjects: Landscape
Style: Representational
Technique: "When I first started seriously trying to do lighting studies with pastels on the movie, A Bug's Life, back in the mid-90's, I tried working on black Canson paper, as my inspiration for this, Ralph Eggleston, the Art Director of Toy Story, had done the same. However, I found in short order that I could not put down enough color to overcome the effects of the black ground, as Ralph could do so beautifully, so I went looking for other, less 'extreme' color choices. I quickly settled on the color  called 'Twilight', as it was a middle value, and the violet grey tone seemed to be harmonious with shadows and atmosphere in natural light, or at least the kind of light I was attempting to portray in my studies…" In terms of working methods, if Bill has the time to spare on location, he begins with several pencil sketches hat reveal a subject’s potential. He recommends preliminary scouting and sketching on the first day so that one can better schedule your remaining time in the field.
"As I became more interested in working out of doors, the pastels came with me on summer vacations to Oregon and Canada, and I incorporated the color Tobacco, a rich, warm brown, in my paper arsenal to allow for the colors of lakes, rivers, and streams I was studying. That is my basic history with the use of those two colored papers over the last 18 years, though I have explored, and used, other colors."
Pond Boulder © Bill Cone
Navigation: This website is a blog. As such, it is an intelligent and literate demonstration of the art of plein air pastels by a master of the medium. The blog attracts many comments and responses and is a pleasure to read.
Gallery: Scroll down the blog
Image View: Images are posted sequentially on the blog and may be downloaded, Dimension is a not always given, but there are enough visual clues to guess the format.
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