Thursday, May 28, 2009

Perspiration: Master Studies

There are many exercises that will help you to improve your skills as an artist. One of the oldest and most time honored is Master Studies. I used to do these very regularly, of course as my knowledge of art has increased so has my desire to do original images. Many of these where very helpful, but reflect the limits to my tastes and education at that phase in my development.

In doing master studies I encourage my students not to just ask themselves what decisions an artist made, but what went into the decisions? What was the artist's goal, and how did they go about meeting it? If you cannot understand why you feel a certain way about a piece of art, and comprehend how an artist draws out that feeling, how can you hope to create a piece of true emotion.

"In suggesting the works of masters, I do not mean that pictures like their pictures should be made, or that motives like their motives should be repeated. But I point rather to the principles of developed judgment, power of essay, power of intense feeling, intense respect.
Rembrandt's beggars are wonders of life. He did not pass them on to us saying simply, 'They are vulgar fellows.'"
Robert Henri

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Inspiration: Gustave Boulanger & Jules-Joseph Lefebvre

19th century Paris was a mecca of sorts for the arts. The flagship of the educational system was École des Beaux-Arts; however it was only open to male students of French citizenry, so several smaller academies were born. Many of these academies were open to all who could afford the tuition, regardless of gender or nationality. One such academy was Académie Julian. In the late 1800's many of the American's that went to study in Paris were attracted to Julian and the dual teachings of Gustave Boulanger and Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. Of these American's, several would eventually return to their native shore and bring schools like the Art Students league in New York to the forefront of traditional art training.

Teaching at
Académie Julian was nearly always done by pairs of teachers, alternating months of critique, these pairings were not always harmonious. This was not the case with Boulanger and Lefebvere however. One American student noted "The training they enforce is liberal; their methods and their manner are never insisted on.... The one insists on finesse of line and of articulation; the other on the energy of expression and individuality of the model; so these two men supplemented each other."

Among their students were George Bridgman, Frank Vincent Dumond, John Henry Twachtman, Edward Tarbell etc.

For more information check out "The Lure of Paris" by H. Barbara Weinberg

Gustav Boulanger "The Slave Market" (1888) "Reception of an Emir" (1871)

Jules-Joseph Lefebvre: "Ophelia" (1890) "The Japonaise" (1882)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Student Spotlight: Daniel Xiao

A onetime student of mine, Daniel Xiao, matriculated to Art Center last year. Although I only taught Daniel for about a year, I am very proud to announce that he has recently been accepted as a summer intern at Pixar. In honor of this I thought it would be fun to do a two part interview with Daniel chronicling his experiences going into his internship, and then again on completion.
Good luck Dan!

Daniel Xiao was born in Stony Brook, New York and grew up in San Diego, California. He studied classical figure drawing at the Watts Atelier of the Arts in Encinitas while finishing up his senior year in high school and was subsequently accepted into the Entertainment Design program at Art Center College of Design. He recently accepted a position at Pixar Animation Studios as a matte painting intern.

1)What initially inspired you to pursue art as a profession?
There were a few things that led up to it. Like a lot of other people, I've been drawing since I was a kid. When it came time to go to high school, I was lucky enough to get to choose between one that had already been established with long history of academics and sports, and one that had just been built that would have a focus on arts and technology and a dedicated extracurricular art program. I chose the artsy school of course, got into the art program, and then slowly started meeting people that were somehow doing this thing for a living, up until being introduced to the Watts Atelier in Encinitas. I visited the atelier and had a long conversation with Jeff Watts about the possibilities of having a career in art. After that I'd say I was pretty much convinced.

2)What is your educational/training background?
I studied figure drawing for one solid year at the Watts Atelier and industrial design for about six months at the Art Center College of Design.

3)What education/experience/attribute do you feel has best prepared/served for getting your internship?
I'd say most of it was luck. I never actually set out to get an internship at any particular company and with Pixar it seems to me that I just happened to have the skill set they were looking for at the time they wanted an intern. I believe what Pixar was looking for at least was a genuine passion for doing what we do. I think a lot of art students take all of the right classes and go through all of the correct motions and never bother to go and find out exactly what it is that really motivates them. Having that passion is in my opinion the key to succeeding at pretty much anything. I've never taken any courses on digital painting or environment design but it doesn't matter because I just like doing it.

4)What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses going into your internship?
Hmm... I'd probably say my observational drawing skills are my strengths and design skills are my weaknesses, this just based on the amount of experience I've had in both areas, respectively.

5)Which skills are you hoping most to improve?
I'd really like to do more life painting if possible and perhaps learn some 3d.

6)What is your dream job/project?
Not sure about the dream job, but if there was any project I wish I could have worked on it's Star Wars Episode III. Despite what anyone thinks about the movie, the art department on that project was simply out of this world... I don't know if there's anyone but Lucas who's going to have the inclination (or money) to assemble a team like that ever again.

7)At this point which artistic achievment are you most proud of?
Getting this internship of course!

8)If you could go back in time 5 years what advice would you give yourself?
Do more traveling and get into photography.

9)Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully I'll be working somewhere in the game/movie industry.

10)What is your favorite cartoon?
Calvin and Hobbes. I know that's not what you meant, but Calvin and Hobbes. I feel like a lot of my childhood was modeled after that comic strip.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Watts Atelier (summer schedule)

For anyone who is interested, and for any out-of-towners check out the one week unlimited trial on page two

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Drawings and Demos (May 09)

25 min +/- portrait demos

5 min quick sketches

25 min +/- figure

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Inside The Artist's Studio part 7

drapery week 2

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hecatomb Step x Step

Here is one of the first commissioned illustrations I ever did. It was for a long since discontinued TCG from Wizards called Hecatomb. The card was called Hush.