Fred Fields began oil painting when he was just nine years old. Post-high school he attended Central Academy of Commercial Art in Cincinnati, after which he landed a job with Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago as a storyboard comp artist as well as doing side jobs for the likes of J. Walter Thompson and BBD&O Chicago. A handful of Sword and Sorcery magazine covers came his way and eventually turned into a full time job with the legendary art department at TSR Inc.
Fred worked for seven years as a cover illustrator at TSR Inc. and later with Wizards of the Coast. In 2000 he moved to Arizona and began painting the sons and daughters of the great American West. He has also worked as a concept artist for Dream Forge Entertainment and Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment.
Currently, Fred is a self-employed illustrator, concept artist, storyboard artist, fine art painter and all around slinger of paint. He now resides in his native state of Kentucky with his wife and sons.
Life is good.
What is the most exciting thing you've earned recently?
I've started to incorporate gold and silver leaf in my paintings. Not all the time - I don't want it to become gimmicky. I do, however, like the idea that my originals are best seen in person. I want the original to be special.
How do you battle through rough patches? What drives you forward?
I guess it depends on what the rough patch is and what is causing it. If it's stagnation then I try to do something to refresh. I'll look through some art books, go to a museum or gallery or paint a quickie loose painting of a subject that I don't usually paint. I always try to challenge myself with new things.
What do you wish you had known earlier in your career?
I honestly don't know. People grow up and mature the same as a career does. I'm hard headed and sometimes I have to learn things the hard way. I don't think I would have done anything differently.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Squint when looking at your reference. Whether you are painting from nature, a live model or from a photo. When you squint at your reference, all of the detail goes away. What you are left with is a series of colors, shapes, values and edges.
At this stage in your career, what is your dream project?
I've always thought illustrating a book of American, rural, folk horror stories would be interesting. I heard more than one fairly spooky story growing up.
What's one thing your students will take away from your workshop?
When illustrating, especially if you tend to use photo reference, you often have to take multiple shots from different photo shoots. When you know how to put them together correctly the viewer will find the final painting believable. As painters of imaginative realism, the believability factor is critical. The viewer should be able to lose themselves in your painting without considering whether or not the combination of elements are plausible or not.
I will also be demonstrating my painting technique.
Fred's upcoming workshop, Photo-Referencing the Fantastical will be held May 30 - June 1.
Registration opens January 25th.
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