Artist David Negrón Passes

By: 
Faith Negrón

Conceptual painter, illustrator and storyboard artist David J. Negrón Sr. passed away peacefully on Oct. 12 at the age of 85. Born on Christmas Eve of 1935 in Laredo, Texas, Negrón spent his youth enthralled in art. After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in mathematics, Negrón picked his family up and moved to Long Beach to attend the Art Center College of Design of Los Angeles.

Throughout his studies, Negrón worked for architectural firms painting and illustrating conceptual designs. After being awarded a degree of professional arts with distinction at Art Center, he was quickly signed on with Twentieth Century Fox Film Studios as a storyboard artist and production illustrator.

Negrón’s talent did not go unnoticed with his fantastical production illustrations on Dr. Doolittle (1967) and Hello Dolly (1969), as well as striking storyboard work with Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). While also working with WED Enterprises on Disney amusement park illustrations such as Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, Space Mountain and Epcot; David Negrón created dynamic film posters for Kidnapped (1971), Escape to Witch Mountain (1975), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), King Kong (1978) and Last Action Hero (1993).

His poster work scaled larger and larger to the imaginative concept illustrations including Blade Runner’s cityscapes, Star Trek’s voids of outer space, Jurassic Park’s exciting design, and a notable mural of charging native Americans in Back to the Future III.

Negrón’s eye for detail and golden age artistry highlighted the hearts of films pre-production. Guiding the way for cinematic shots to fulfill and even exceed the producer and director’s visions, Negrón became a favored storyboard artist. David collected the essence of reflective lights in the universe of Star Trek (1979) in which the use of brightly colored pencils on matte black board featured the darkness and deepness of space to its full effect. Storyboards became one of Negrón’s most popular requests, each carefully placed panel and meticulously drawn lines furthered the director’s concepts through Negrón’s sketches.

David’s action-packed panels of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark brought not only life to the script and Spielberg’s imagination, but depicted some of today’s most iconic scenes from the film, including the infamous boulder chase. David contributed storyboards to other noteworthy movies such as Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Ghost and Dante’s Peak. In 1997, David was inducted into the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for his notable contributions to the motion picture industry.

Though having worked with a wide variety of media with his posters, storyboards and concept illustrations, Negrón favored his oil paints. Feeling as if only oils obtained the permanency and breath of scope to encompass his film experience, Negron believed that painting with oils was a satisfactory conclusion to his artwork. David continued to paint and today his works are displayed in Disneyland, Disney World and Disneyland Paris, as well as included in the collections of Steven Spielberg, Fay Dunaway and Bill Gates.

Negrón’s studio in Bellflower, has become a home to hundreds of his paintings, storyboard panels and even the artwork of his own children. After retiring from constant film work, David’s painting subjects rounded to turn-of-century themes, religious depictions and portraits of his own family and grandchildren.

As a Long Beach resident for over 50 years, David J. Negrón, Sr. left a lasting impact on his neighbors. David often displayed his paintings in the front window of his Long Beach home offering comfort and joy to passersby during the holidays. Even as a father and grandfather, David Negrón held the values of family and faith strongly. He dedicated his remaining years to painting leisurely and spending time with his beloved family. He is survived by his 5 children, 18 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren, many of whom have followed in his artistic footsteps.

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