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Rob Wood - Artist Spotlight

Best known for his five book covers composed for Stephen King, Rob Wood has an extensive background in painting and drawing. His projects include numerous murals for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the National Museum of the American Indian and many illustrations for the National Geographic Society.

 

Flying Low, 1999 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Flying Low, 1999 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Wood has earned awards for excellence from Communication Arts Magazine, the New York Art Directors Club, the American Illustration Annual, the Art Directors Club of Washington, DC (gold and silver medals), Spectrum’s Best in Contemporary Art, inclusion in the National Geographic book on the best diagrams, Best in Show and gold medals from the Illustrators Club of Washington, Maryland and Virginia. In 2001 he received an Award of Honor from East Tennessee State University in recognition of individual accomplishment as an illustrator.

Besides Stephen King, Rob continues to create illustrations for many of the top best-selling authors. He also teaches painting at St. John’s College in Annapolis. OurContent Partner Liaison Francesca Gallo spoke with him to learn more about his work and inspirations.   

 

View all work in the archive by Rob Wood. 

 

How would you define your work in three words?

Realistic, composed and atmospheric.

 

Farmhouse in August, 2001 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Farmhouse in August, 2001 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Where do you find the most inspiration for your work?

In nature, I love landscapes and find inspiration from the way light hits an object or a tree or the interesting shapes found in a scene, such as hills, rivers and valleys.

 

Waiting for the Moon (acrylic on board), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Waiting for the Moon (acrylic on board), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Take us through your working process. Do you have a different approach to each medium (illustration, drawing, painting)?

For my own work, I shoot a lot of photos and occasionally decide that one would make a nice painting. I use that as a starting point and many times change the composition. For illustration, I usually do a great deal of research on the subject matter and make sure I understand the client’s needs before I begin a sketch.

 

Summer Hideaway, 2001 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Summer Hideaway, 2001 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it, and why was it so memorable?

My third-grade teacher, Mrs King, asked each of her students to go to the blackboard and draw a bird. I drew a hummingbird and everyone seemed to like it. I’m not sure at that point that I knew I could even draw.

 

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, 2009 (Acrylic on board), Rob Wood, (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, 2009 (Acrylic on board), Rob Wood, (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Can you describe for us the process and ideas behind one of your favorite or most recent pieces of work and expand upon it?

I like the way Frosty Morning came out. My wife and I were visiting some friends in middle Tennessee several years ago. We took a walk on the farm where they were living on a frosty morning in late December. I took some slides of our hike and came across this recently when I was scanning old slides. I decided it would make a nice Christmas card. I think I captured the feel of the frost pretty well in the watercolor. As far as the process goes, I don’t spend a lot of time on the sketch because I make decisions about how much detail I want to show while painting. I’m never really sure how a piece will turn out. This one was a nice surprise.

 

Frosty Morning, 2020 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Frosty Morning, 2020 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

How does your personal work differ from the illustrations you create for Wood Ronsaville Harlin, Inc.?

The work I do for Wood Ronsaville Harlin is all assignments. The subject matter has been decided but, whenever possible, I hope to show the results in a different, original way. When I do my own work, I get to decide what I want to paint. As I said, I mostly work from photos I have taken but occasionally I will do a plein air painting. I recently saw a show of John Singer Sargent’s work. I discovered that in his landscapes, he too worked from photos he took while travelling. There were several included in the exhibit.

 

Waiting for Snow, 2017 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Waiting for Snow, 2017 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

What is a project you particularly liked working on, and why? 

The murals for the WWII Museum in New Orleans. It was such a challenge. These murals acted as backdrops for the re-creation where the major battles were fought, such as the Ardennes Forest, the South Pacific, the Hedgerows and the North African Desert. Some of the murals were 60’w x 18’h. I worked in a 3D program and Photoshop. I had never done anything this large. Although the final result was digital, I was very proud of the way they came out. 

 

 

 

Crumley's Pond, 2014 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood, (b.1946) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Crumley's Pond, 2014 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood, (b.1946) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

 

How has the industry of illustration and commissions changed over the last 15 years? 

Budgets have gotten tighter and have not gone up at all. They are pretty much the same as they were fifteen or even twenty years ago. Illustration is moving into the digital realm. I used to paint everything in acrylic and watercolor. More recently, I have been doing more and more of my work digitally. I work in 3D programs and Photoshop. Illustrators are doing amazing things in Photoshop. Because with all of the digital brushes that are available, you can make a piece look like an oil painting. You honestly can’t tell the difference. In many cases, this is the best way to work because clients usually make changes to the work. Sometimes major ones that require me to start over. If done digitally then it’s not a major catastrophe. The only drawback is the final piece, which I may want to sell, is a print. The original is on my computer.

 

Late Summer Sail, 2011 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Late Summer Sail, 2011 (w/c on paper), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

In addition to being an artist, you are also a teacher and advisor. What do you like most about teaching and what advice would you give to young artists and illustrators?

Because of COVID, the school where I was teaching still has not resumed their painting classes. However, I find that the students are inspiring. I will give an assignment and be surprised by their original solutions and ways to interpret an idea that I hadn’t thought of. 

My whole early life I wanted to be an artist. There is a lot of competition but keep trying and don’t give up. In some cases, I was in the right place at the right time, but with hard work you can make it happen

 

Monsson, 1999 (acrylic on board), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images
Monsson, 1999 (acrylic on board), Rob Wood (b.1946) / Private Collection / © Rob Wood. All Rights Reserved 2022 / Bridgeman Images

 

Finally, if you could invite six guests to dinner, who would they be?

John Singer Sargent, Andrew Wyeth, Winslow Homer, my fourth-grade teacher Mrs Adams (because she recognized my talent and inspired me to become an artist), John Williams (he paints a scene with his music), Steven Spielberg (I love the composition and the lighting of his films, which are like pieces of art).
 

View all work in the archive by Rob Wood. 

 

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