Wednesday, November 30, 2011

David Grove, An Illustrated Life

Gregory Manchess

The book I’ve been waiting to hold in my hand for so many years is finally available.

One of the most admired, respected, and imitated illustrators--though with very few notable results--who’s career has spanned contemporary classic American illustration, up to and competing with the current digital wave, David Grove has written about his quite unique and rather exciting life as an artist, filled to it’s beautifully designed brim with his finest pieces.

In his own words, David describes his early ambitious drive, from penniless apartments in Paris, to the top of the field in the States. This is a fascinating insightful plunge, not only into his particular thoughts about painting, but a viscous visual travel log along the inner workings of a successful illustrator’s life.

Like a character dreamt up by an author working as both travel-writer and espionage agent, David refuses to abide by the image of the typical struggling artist. Along the way we learn about his close friends and associates, his observations, his undying love of music, and an unconventional streak that runs counter to accepting any lifestyle that wasn’t completely unique.

I’ve known David’s work since I was a student, most fortunate to stumble into a five-week illustration course taught by him and offered at the California College of Arts and Crafts. Bright, humorous, and helpful, I’d never met a teacher so willing to share information that actually worked, that I could actually use to improve and understand my own paintings. The way he laid down paint, the way he thought about subjects that interested him, the way he designed the most subtle object in a composition, were the guiding idiosyncrasies that pushed my own efforts to succeed.

This book is a broad spectrum of David’s career, but it’s the killer artwork that pushes you along from page after full-color, exquisite page of near perfect reproductions of his work. (I know--I’ve studied the originals over the years.)

We get to watch him grow, evolve, succeed, and finally describe, in example after example, an eccentric desire to narrate a world in pictures.

The book is available online from Norfolk Press: David Grove, An Illustrated Life.


  1. If its not too expensive I would really like to get my hands on one print. ^^ I would love to hear you sum up a little of what he taught at that class.

  2. Hard to explain an entire class, but the first thing I came away with was how an illustrator falls in love with his subject.

    I watched him explain book cover assignments that sounded difficult, but when he spoke about the many aspects of what to show to involve the viewer, his list of possibilities grew...and I realized that caring for the subject and how it's presented allowed one to sweep around it, to find pov's and interesting aspects that would normally go unnoticed.

    The first important endeavor was composition. Strong composition drives a painting, leads the viewer, and controls what and how the subject is illuminated. This may sound obvious, but so many painters today reject this out-of-hand. That or they're just not very skilled at it.

    The class showed me that painting with all the desire and passion that we reserve for a fine art approach, made the difference between average art and excellent art. No matter the subject, no matter the application.

    Not sure about the prints. I'll have to ask him about that. They would be beautiful, I'm sure.

  3. Grove's "Captain Blood" art made me want to be an illustrator when I was a snotty-nosed teen in the 70's. I tried to follow that dream but got sidetracked into graphic design. These days I'm trying to re-connect with that passion for painting - to that end, I'm ordering my copy right now...

    My book collection of favorite illustrators grows.

    Which leads me to ask: Any Gregory Manchess books out there?

  4. Steve...get thee to an easel (or table, wall...) It's never too late. Good for the soul. It's always a hard dream to follow, but paint for YOU at this stage. I bet your years as a graphic designer has taught you very well. Use it!

    As for a book on my work....I'm hoping to do a small book of all the work I've done for the Louis L'Amour western series, but that will take a while.

    I've finished the ms and working on getting a fully-illustrated book sold, based on the image "Above The Timberline." I will DEFINITELY keep our Muddy Folks posted on that one. Should be really fun.

  5. That sounds great! I hope that comes through!

    And thanks for this post, you sold another copy of that book, I can't wait to get it in.

  6. thanks for posting this, Holidays be damned I'm buying this for myself.

  7. this sounds like the really awesome kind of teacher.

    greg, if at any point, you feel compelled to post something but dont know what - sharing some bits of knowledge from those classes should be a winner any time. :)

    all in all, i really enjoy your posts, by the way. i learn a lot from your thumbnails, preliminaries and comments (seeing alternatives is so much more helpful than merely stating why one chose this or that solution).

    once you start laying down paint, it always becomes a bit surreal, though. having so much control that you can tackle a painting the piecemeal approach without it falling all over the place is just a darn impressive feat.

  8. I remember seeing this guy's work a lot back when I was in art school. I don't think I appreciated it like I would now. The ballziness of those brush strokes blows me away. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Well it is about time, indeed. David is such a phenomenal talent, and a profound influence on so many of my generation of illustrators. Time to snag a copy!

  10. It's literally like my prayers have been answered. When I found out about David I had to find out more about him and his work. His work just captivates me. I am so glad he has a book out now, especially in time for Christmas!

    And Greg, please get a book of your work out there soon too!

  11. Thanks for the link, Greg. Just placed my order.

    You already know how excited I am for "Timberline". I'll be first in line when that one hits the shelves.

  12. I'll never forget the moment I met David grove and saw that captain blood painting in his living room. A wonderful force in illustration and someone who had a profound impact on my artistic career. Thank you for putting together this and the last post on his post Greg. I'm glad he's getting the praise that he so rightfully deserves.

  13. 35$ for the book, 55$ for shipping ;___;

  14. I have a copy in my hands and I have to say that this book is really beautiful.

  15. Note-re Sebastian Wagner's comment above- I ordered a copy of the book, it cost $35 plus 4.95 for shipping- so the total is $39.95 with shipping. I ordered it Dec 2, It was delivered Dec 6.

  16. Hi Sebastian! I'm glad you have a question about price for the shipping and handling of the David Grove books. Following is a clarification and also how you can save $'s on shipping. The price for sending Media Mail to anywhere in the USA is $4.95 and the USPS allows themselves 2 to 9 days to deliver. Priority mail any where in the USA is $12.56 and takes 2 to 3 days. International mail anywhere USPS delivers in the world is $55.50 and delivery is 1 to 3 weeks. You should know however, that we can fit up to 3 David Grove books into the USPS box and ship for the same price, so shipping is 33% less per book if you order 3 books and half as much if you order 2 books when shipping Priority or International. I hope that helps. -Charles Cunningham, Publisher, Norfolk Press

  17. This is so hard for me to admit, but until recently, I lived a life unaware of the existence of David Grove's incredible imagery. This summer Murray Tinkelman introduced me to Mr. Grove's work and Grove rocketed to the top of my list of favorite artists. His mastery of light is breathtaking!

    My book arrived in yesterday's mail and I'm DYING to read it but must finish up end-of-the-semester grading before I can "play".

    You can be assured that I will not allow my students to live my sheltered life. They will be exposed to the influence of Mr. Grove and will be better illustrators for it!

  18. Quite possibly the best artist/illustration monograph out there. Written in David's own words, and the sketches from that time period, gives you a visual to accompany David's stories.
    I've known David for over 15 years, and there are images in this book I have never seen!
    Truly a wonderful book

  19. WOW! What a work! I have just completed reading my copy. I read the chapter on technique first and then back from beginning to end. I am not a "professional" artist, nor ever will be. For me, it is a pleasure, meant to be enjoyed. Like others, I have been a quiet bystander enjoying David's works from some obscure angle or corner of the world getting occasional glimpses and tearing them out and preserving them in folders on my bookshelf. Like the 2002 National Geographic piece, for example. Many artists books have come and gone from my shelves over my lifetime of 62 years, but now, not forgetting people like myself, he saved his absolute best for last in this book, which is a TOTALLY AWESOME LEGACY TO A LIFE WELL LIVED! It is well worth the money no matter what the shipping cost and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you David, for such an inspiration at long last. Well written, better than a mystery novel...the implied written lines are as superbly executed as those in the artwork, no way it could have been done any better. Some day someone will get my copy when they pry it from my cold, dead, fingers. To all who would be hesitant: BUY this book!!! You will not be disappointed. Thanks again David. Thanks for the inspiration. JN

  20. I would've loved to have bought this book, but at $55 postage costs the the UK that is $20 more than the price of the actual book. No chance now.


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