Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer School

Above: Skowhegan School of Art students in Maine sketch a nude model in 1948.
From an article in Time magazine.

"Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel."

by Arnie Fenner

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of Summer in the U.S.; graduations have taken place and most schools are out, NY publishing generally ratchets down to a 4-day work week, people start to embark on vacations, and, of course, the geek/pop culture/what-have-you convention season kicks into high gear. There are also a number of educational workshops that take place over the Summer months and extend into the Fall. Some have been booked solid for months already, but others still have a handful of openings.

Whether you're a student, an aspiring artist, or a working pro, the opportunity to improve or modify your skills under the personal guidance of creators who are at the top of their game is, let's face it, pretty damn exciting. Instead of a road trip to see the world's biggest ball of twine or to pay Stan Lee for his autograph for the umpteenth time, maybe one of the workshops listed below would make your Summer (or Fall) unforgettable.

Above: From Legendeer's 2016 Canadian workshop. Photo by Loic Zimmerman. 

Starting today—so, obviously, interested parties will have to be thinking about 2018—is Sterling Hundley's Legendeer workshop, which is something of an "art in the wild" experience that takes place in different scenic locations each year. With a focus on mentoring and skill-building, the 2017 class takes place overlooking Utah's Zion National Park. Instructors joining Hundley include Adam Paquette, Apolla Echino, and Muddy Colors own Vanessa and Ron Lemen. You can learn more about Legendeer here.

Above: Gary Kelley demos at the Illustration Academy. 

Next up is the Illustration Academy's annual Summer Workshop, which is actually sort of the granddaddy of all of today's various offerings. Originally started in the 1970s by Mark English, the workshop is now headed by his son (and fellow illustrator) John. With an intense focus on career-building, for a week—up to a full five week experience—students will learn from a rotating group of commercial art giants including Gary Kelley, C.F. Payne, Karla Ortiz, Jon Foster, Bill Sienkiewicz and a host of others. As the longest-running and largest illustration workshop, spots might still be available for latecomers. The deadline to register is this Wednesday, May 31: you can learn more about the IA (as well as their online programs) here.

Above: Mike Mignola explains everything at the 2016 IMC. Photo by Dave Palumbo. 

The middle of June is the time for Rebecca Guay's IMC (originally known as the Illustration Master Class, but its focus has now expanded to include gallery and Fine Art disciplines) in Amherst, MA. Featuring a week of guest speakers and, of course, drawing and painting, IMC fills up early, but they also offer longer digital mentoring classes with a choice of instructors later in the year via their SmArt School program. Faculty for 2017 includes Julie Bell, Boris Vallejo, Cynthia Sheppard, and fellow Muddies Donato Giancola, Dan dos Santos, Greg Manchess, Lauren Panepinto, and John Jude Palencar. You can learn more about IMC here.

Above: The 2016 Fantastic Workshop Class. 

Looking a bit further down the road into the Fall is the Fantastic Workshop November 15-20 in Nashville, TN. An outgrowth of the popular One Fantastic Week podcasts and focused on the business of being an artist—along with plenty of art instruction, naturally—teachers this year include Allen Williams, Jasmine Becket-Griffith, Sam Flegal, Peter Mohrbacher, Sean Murray, Annie Stegg, and MC's Justin Gerard. If you've watched Annie's and Justin's presentations via Muddy's Patreon program, you know you're in for a treat. Limited to 50 participants, you can learn much more about FW here.

Frankly, it's hard to keep up with everything Bobby Chiu's Schoolism is doing...because they're doing a lot. Both online and with workshops spanning the globe, including ones upcoming in London, Berlin, Portland, and Copenhagen. They even host a month-long bootcamp in Montreal in the Schoolism House. Rather than try to list them all, just go to their website to learn more. Also...enjoy several of their videos below.

Is there a cost attached to these various workshops and educational opportunities? Of course there is. As kind and giving as all of the instructors and organizers are...they have to eat, too. But any form of education is an investment, not only of money but of time and intellect: it has to be the right class or workshop or school for you, one that matches your wallet as well as your outlook and long-term goals. Is a workshop the right choice for everyone? Of course not. People learn and work in different ways and high-energy, fast-paced situations can be rewarding for some and intimidating for others. They aren't exactly everyone's cup of tea. Which means, simply, to do your research: talk to your fellow artists about their experiences, ask the organizers questions, and ultimately make an informed decision based upon what's right for you.

But...nobody can learn (and improve) in a vacuum. Taking part in a live workshop or in online classes or by attending informal life-drawing gatherings (like those the Illustration Academy sponsors regularly in Kansas City) can help artists advance in their craft and ultimately help them achieve their potential. No one knows it all and every opportunity to learn should be—must be—embraced. There will undoubtedly be reports about each of the events mentioned above, here on Muddy Colors or on various other websites. Think about it. It's never too early to plan for the future. It's never too early to plan for your future.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Anne With an 'E'

If any of you have been watching the new show, 'Anne with an 'E', you've probably noticed that the opening credits are directly inspired by the incredible works of Brad Kunkle.

You can see that Intro here:

These similarities are no coincidence. Imaginary Forces, the studio behind the elaborate opening sequences for shows such as Stranger Things and Mad Men, worked directly with Brad Kunkle to help make his paintings come to life on the screen.

Check out this behind the scenes look at the making of the opening sequence right here:

You can see more images, and read more about the whole process over at Buzzfeed:

Friday, May 26, 2017

An Interview with Bryan Mark Taylor

-By Howard Lyon

Bryan Mark Taylor is a name that I have known for some time, but just recently have gotten to know him personally.  He moved this last year from San Fransisco to Alpine, Utah which happens to be about 10 minutes from my place.

I have loved Bryan's landscape and plein air work for some time now.  It strikes a wonderful balance where Taylor has simplified the information but created complex and interesting textures and surfaces.

Bryan grew up in Utah and credits the state's long tradition of outdoor painting as an influence on his career. He attended Brigham Young University, receiving a BFA and then studied at the Academy of Art, San Fransisco earning an MFA.  As he was wrapping up his MFA he began teaching at the school and particpating in various shows and competitions.  Taylor estimates he has been in over a hundred group shows and competitions and 15-16 solo shows.  I mention this because it speaks to his work ethic and dedication to his craft.  I am including several paintings through this post, but also go to his website to see more and find contact information too.

His work has be evolving in the last few years.  After thousands of paintings chasing different kinds light, texture and color, Bryan said that his interest is turning to new ways of applying paint.  

He also see the changes happening in the environment/climate and is motivated to capture the effects as well as some of the places being impacted. He has recently been on a couple painting trips (that make me a bit jealous) to Cuba and China. 

When the opportunity to go to Cuba came up, Bryan wanted to get there before the inevitable flood of American tourists brought money and change.

Bryan's work is a wonderful blend of interpretation and realism.  I can only imagine that it comes from doing so many studies from nature.  Look at the washy brushwork in the foreground shadows in the image above. It is contrasted by the geometric, heavier flat-brush application throughout the painting and the clarity of the rendering of the blue car is in beautiful contrast with the background.

Bryan also went to China. He said that he was able to travel with some other painters from China and visited some smaller villages.  While there he as able to observe the impact of environmental damage and advances in technology and industry to the poorer population.  It brought out some interesting thoughts. There was often a juxtaposition of beauty, tradition and change.  This was especially clear in some of the junk boats he saw.

He said that there are whole populations that live on the boats.  Raising animals on them, fishing from them and depending on the river for much of their living.  They also pollute the river, dumping trash and human waste right into the water.  The government in China is removing many of these people, disrupting a lifestyle that goes back generations and placing them in apartment buildings. Most of those being transplanted don't have skillsets to do something other than live on and from the river. It is challenging situation with complex problems. 

Bryan said that his roots in art also come from sci-fi though and feels that the time is right to come back to what inspired his imagination from childhood.  He is taking his experience and applying to more imaginative work. I couldn't be more excited to see where this takes him. - ArtStation page for Bryan

His concern for the environment influences his sci-fi work too.  The painting below is called Industrial Reef.  It is meant to evoke the Great Barrier Reef.  I can see that, especially in the way the ship seems to be lurking inside the opening in structure, ready to either duck back into the shadows or dart out. There is a sense of decay in the painting but also wonder. I see in these works that the technology we create has the potential to inspire and create wonder but with a cost.

As I asked Bryan to elaborate on what inspires him in his sci-fi work.  He said that one of the things he loves in sci-fi movies are those moments and scenes that inspire a sense of wonder and vastness.  The shots that usually come before the conflict, before everything goes wrong. He always wants those moments to last a bit longer.  You can see that in his work.  They feel cinematic, capturing the a moment filled with tension and possibility.  I love the tilt of the ship in the painting above, conveying motion and action and the perspective of the painting below invites the viewer to lean forward to try and peer deep into the scene.

Bryan will be at Illuxcon this year and I am so excited to welcome him here on Muddy Colors to the world of sci-fi and fantasy art.  His work is complex and exciting. I see influences of John Berkey and Syd Meade but the work is clear and unique.  Given how prolific he is, there will be many more inspiring paintings to come.

I closed my interview with him asking where he wants this new work to go. I think the fun and excitement of not knowing exactly where it might lead is part of the appeal for him.  He did say that he would love to work on Star Wars or Avatar or even do some book cover work. If anyone reading this has a say for any of those things, definitely reach out to him because I want to see where these go!