I had the pleasure of visiting the Frank Frazetta Museum in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. After apparently being closed for a while, it reopened early 2014 and I was anxious to check it out. Often hosted by Frank Frazetta Jr, it is the best place to find answers for one of the most influential artists of the late 20th century.
If you are not familiar with the artist, taking a look around his museum will familiarize his work quickly. The Frank Frazetta Museum houses both originals and reproductions of the famed cover and poster illustrator’s work. The small building is arranged chronologically and reveals the progression and technique of his skills.
No doubt the most popular authentic painting at the Frank Frazetta Museum is the Cat Girl painting, consisting of a luscious green jungle with a voluptuous glowing girl in the center of the canvas and with Frazetta’s a favorite animal, a black panther, lying on a think branch above. The painting is one of many that the artist has painted over several times until he was satisfied with its final composition. Close examination reveals this. Also, the painting shows texture and thickness especially when examining the green that covers the overgrown tree trunks.
An avid procrastinator, the artist would often wait until the last minute to do his paintings. The host to the Frank Frazetta Museum revealed that a painting held in an open oven was a method that was sometimes used to aid the oil paintings so that they would dry more quickly. Complete paintings were often done in less than a day.
In the Frank Frazetta Museum, most of the artwork is done in oil paints with occasional pencil drawings on display. However, there are also sporadic watercolor paintings to be viewed as well. Among the artist’s supplies on display are not professional watercolor sets, but the cheap variety made for children. It goes to show that it is not the quality of the materials, but the quality of the artist that makes a great work of art.
The location and address of the Frank Frazetta museum are a bit tricky. Here are some directions: If you go to Google Maps and type in “Uncle Bob’s Storage Stroudsburg, PA”, it will take you to the building across the street from the museum. (104 Joel Street. East Stroudsburg, PA 18301) This is also the address I put into my GPS to bring me to the right area. While heading west up Milford Road, the next left past Uncle Bob’s storage has the private road that leads to the museum.
The ultimate Frank Frazetta resource, which also shows his museum, is in the documentary Painting with Fire. It can be hard to track down, but it is also available on the bonus disk of Fire and Ice. (affiliate link)
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3 thoughts on “Frank Frazetta Museum Reveals His Techniques”
I would like to know the steps Frazetta took to do a painting, from the thumbnail sketch to complete composition.
I don’t know where you can see all his steps, but you can see examples of his sketch drawings in a book called Rough Work. A good book that steps you through the process is Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques by Patrick J Jones. The art style in this book is comparable to Frank Frazetta, and even steps through two Conan paintings that mimic Frazetta paintings.
You can glean his technique by looking at various paintings. Some that he rushed show a mostly burnt umber underpainting that is a foundation of the final painting. Once that is done right, a lot of the guesswork is done and the rest is a kind of coloring in, often leaving a fair amount of the underpainting visible, which is why his work looks alive and spontaneous around the edges with more polish as you reach the point of interest and the details to draw you in. Of course, a lot of the paintings he finished in a day were published, taken home and reworked. So a lot of the final paintings we see today are the final revisions that had a lot more time put into them. The revisions are well documented and easy to find, very helpful to show you his techniques too.
The one that probably best shows his underpainting is the Vikings Warrior Beer ad which is almost completely underpainting with some white added. You can see how loosely he painted some areas, rubbing out with rags and brushes down to the canvas. Shows amazing confidence. That painting is basically unfinished like he got so far and figured, what the heck! this looks good enough. And just left it.