Artist’s Corner: Meet author, illustrator, and quirky painter Greg Stones

Artist’s Corner: Meet author, illustrator, and quirky painter Greg Stones

Greg Stones is a Glocester-based author, painter, and illustrator. His latest illustrated humor book “99 Stormtroopers” is in stores now.

GLOCESTER – Glocester born and bred author Greg Stones speaks with uncommon frankness about himself. The biography on his website sums up his sardonic humor best: “a) I’m not that smart, and b) I have no commercially viable skills whatsoever. Except for painting. So here I am.”

Stones has eight published books under his belt, 40 art festivals booked each year, and fans who tell him they grew up reading his quirky illustrated books.

“It makes me feel just a tiny bit famous,” he concedes.

His propensity for art began at a young age, when he doodled on construction paper and hastily stapled the pages to fashion a homemade picture book.

“I’ve always been interested in making books,” Stones says.

He spent hours poring over copies of Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield, which served as inspiration to him.

“I loved to escape into these worlds,” Stones says.

He was able to bone up on his technical skills while attending Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, where he majored in studio art, learned to paint photo-realistically, and worked as the college paper’s cartoonist.

When he graduated college in 1996, his artistic debut was at the Scituate Art Festival. He paid $200 for a booth at the festival and broke even. At the time, he was creating photo-realistic watercolor paintings, a nod to the “serious” art he felt the public wanted.

“I wasn’t being true to myself about it,” Stones said.

His artistic breakthrough, so to speak, occurred when he began exploring the horror genre. As a child, Stones was forbidden from all things gruesome and gory, but as an adult he devoured “Night of the Living Dead” and the 1979 horror fantasy “The Brood.”

He began adding UFOs, aliens, zombies, and other oddities to his paintings.

“It turns out people do like funny watercolors,” Stones said.

And so, Stones has let his imagination “run wild.”

In 2012 he partnered with Chronicle Books to publish a compilation of 56 water color illustrations titled “Zombies Hate Stuff” and has been producing his zany illustrated books at a breakneck pace ever since.

“Penguins Hate Stuff” came in 2013, “Zombies Have Issues” in 2014, “Sock Monkeys Have Issues” and “Ninjas Have Issues” in 2015, “Garden Gnomes Have Issues” in 2016.

This year Stones branched out of his comfort zone with two new projects.

For the first time, Stones is illustrating another author’s words with “The Backup Bunny,” a NorthSouth Book written by Abigail Rayner and illustrated by Stones, in bookstores next March 15.

And then there’s the illustrated humor book “99 Stormtroopers,” inspired by the Star Wars franchise. To get each detail just right, Stones had to work with editors at LucasFilm, the production company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas.

“It was a strangely exciting and stressful project to work,” Stones said.

To recharge himself as an artist, Stones is planning on taking a step back from the quick pace he’s kept for the past few years.

“I would like to step back and maybe return to my photo-realistic looks,” Stones said.

But fans and local art aficionados hoping to snatch one of his signature penguin paintings can still find a Greg Stones booth at this year’s Scituate Art Festival in October.

“It’s just like a homecoming every year,” Stones says.