Friday, February 21, 2020

John Steel, Model-Box Magician

John Steel (1921-1998) painted covers for plastic model kits made by Revell and Aurora.

He captured the element of fantasy that let builders imagine what the actual vehicle might look like in an action setting.

Steel's work included cars, airplanes, Navy ships, and a few commercial vessels, but the model companies discovered that customers weren't as enthusiastic about commercial ships.

Steel led an adventurous life, serving in three wars, where he was wounded more than once. He also contributed in the field of combat photography and combat sketching.

Along with Jack Leynnwood, who I profiled previously, Steel painted rapidly but accurately in gouache and casein. 

He also was an accomplished hunter, fisherman, and scuba diver, painting many covers to Skin Diver Magazine.
Website: John Steel Obituary
Previously: Jack Leynnwood, Revell's Rembrandt


Susan Krzywicki said...

I remember model kits like this from my childhood - my brother was an avid Navy ship model builder. Thanks for sharing the background.

Rick Majors said...

That tugboat is gorgeous.

On a different note, could you do a feature on painting mist and misty scenes, and for that matter using mist to create mystery.

Unknown said...

Hi James
You mentioned Mr Steel painted rapidly and accurately in gouache and casein. Are you able to explain that using casein as a backdrop for a gouache painting or is there more to it?

Fryewerk said...

Thanks for the writeup on John Steel, James. I've been collecting vintage vehicle illustration for a while and got very lucky to run into someone who bought a pile of box art paintings at a flea market- 25 paintings for 40 dollars total. Looking at a blurry picture of the haul, two stood out that I bought from him and both of those I was able to identify as John Steel works when I got closeup photos. Notably more confident, relaxed and energetic than the others (by Roy Gaedke.) I already have two Leynnwood jet paintings and his are distinctively tighter and less "painterly" but of course all of them make your jaw drop.