Rock's On A Roll With National Gallery

Local artist a big hit at competition


Payson artist Rock Newcomb, who received national attention this year, recently topped off a celebration of his art by winning Region III of the 13th annual national Arts for the Parks award.

The honor included a silver trophy and $2,000.

His acrylic painting, "A Shaft of Light," which depicts prehistoric Anasazi pottery of southwestern Colorado is one of two Newcomb paintings that are touring the U.S. with the National Arts for the Parks Gallery exhibit.

The other painting, "Anasazi Legacy," was among the top 100 works of art selected for the gallery.

Two of his other works, "Blinding Dust," and "Ceremonial Place," will be featured at an invitational art show in Tucson, the Oyster Contemporary Western Art Show and Sale Nov. 21 to Jan. 9.

"It's a fun year for us," Newcomb said Wednesday. He and his wife, Cody, who is his business manager and marketing coordinator, were in the middle of packing for another trip. They have 22 shows lined up this year.

When asked how many miles he will be traveling, Newcomb said he couldn't begin to figure it out, but he recently returned from a 4,000-mile trip.

"We're going to Maryland, Charleston, S.C., and Lakeland, Fla.," he said.

In between packing, Newcomb is working on another painting titled "White Tiger."

"He has quite a ways to go," the artist said. "He's for a show in San Dimas, Calif. -- the San Dimas Wildlife Festival Oct. 21 through 25."

Newcomb hasn't always painted full time. He was a high school teacher for many years, teaching in the day and painting every night until 11 p.m.

"I finally quit," he said. "I couldn't take it anymore. I moved here and painted full time."

His works are now in shows and galleries all over the country and he is scheduled for a number of workshops.

Newcomb is now doing transparent and opaque watercolors, acrylic, scratchboard, and some oils. He worked in oils for 25 years before discovering acrylics.

"I was terrified of acrylics," he said. "I painted with them in 1974 -- did two paintings in college.

I didn't have the skill to use them around that time. When I picked them up four, five years ago, it was like I'd died and gone to heaven."

Newcomb has been involved with art since he was 6 years old.

"My grandmother got me drawing," he said. "She was a librarian and I'd go visit her at the library and she'd get me drawing."

Now Newcomb inspires others to draw and paint.

He just finished taping his second episode for the PBS TV program, "Artists Workshop," a series of 13 programs scheduled to air sometime in March.

He is featured in the January/February edition of International Artists Magazine, an Australian publication. "They're going to publish a step-by-step painting of Native American still life," he said.

"I didn't used to paint Southwest stuff before I moved here. My palette has gotten a lot warmer, a lot more reds and oranges and the subject matter has changed."

Although Newcomb has always painted animals, he now has a source close to his home in Payson where he finds white tigers, wolves and other wildlife in a natural setting. He goes to Out of Africa, where he takes "tons and tons" of photographs.

"They have all kinds of carnivores that are pretty much in a natural setting," he said. "I've worked closely with the San Diego Zoo and the facilities at Out of Africa are as good or better than the zoo."

Out of Africa is just north of Fountain Hills off Highway 87. "It's just in our backyard," Newcomb said.

As he talked, he painted. The trees behind the white tiger began to take shape, and he searched the photograph taped above the painting for details.

"I like to be structurally right on," he said.

Newcomb's attention to detail pays off. His paintings sell for from between $400 and $18,000.

"I miss my students once in a while," he said, "but I feel real fortunate to be doing what I'm doing."

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