Friday, March 01, 2013

The Big Update--MFA Week-San Fran and Spring Break

 As the song goes. "I left my heart in San Francisco...."

Its been a few weeks since I have had a chance to update the blog with traveling and work, classes---you name it. As I sit here writing this update in the studio Spring break has started for me--and boy can I use it!

The last month has been a real mash-up between the strip, traveling to San Francisco and then back to Philly and classes. In San Fran I visited the John Pence Gallery twice and the Disney Family Museum to see the Snow White exhibit and to attend my buddy John Heebink and his lovely wife Bonna's wedding reception. I also got to catch up with some old friends who were also attending the celebration. I love San Francisco! I've been there 4-5 times now and almost moved there back in the 90's. It was a quick trip, only 4 days including the travel so I packed a lot in. I stayed at a great Hotel, the Hotel Carlton down near the Tenderhorn. It was a great little hotel with a new redesign, great freindly staff and located a few blocks away from Union Square.

It was also a few blocks from a great bookstore Kayo Books! man I could have spent days there looking at the great old paperbacks and pulps.

                                    One of the zillions of old great pulps to be found at Kayo.

I have wanted to visit John Pence for a long time, its a great gallery featuring some of the best realist artist working today with both the figure and landscape as well as the still life. It is also one of the few galleries that has a sizable section set aside to display drawings.

 Most galleries I go into don't have any drawing up and certainly not prominently on display. One of my current  favorite artists Jeremy Mann has work on display there. I first became aware of his work a few years back at the USArtist show that was held here in Philly. Principle gallery from Virginia had some of his work on display as well as Lynn Bodge. I've followed Mann's career as he has been becoming an even better painter--working more with figures than just with the landscape. I also saw work by Travis Shclat, Jacob Collins and many others including Peter Van Dyke who teaches at PAFA.

Jacob Collins

                                                                      Robert Liberace

                                                                         Jeremy Man

                                                            Detail of two of Mann's paintings

Along with my buddy Scott Cohn I hit the Disney Family Museum and saw the amazing Snow White show. I had seen many of the drawings before but never in person---just fantastic work.


I find when I see that level of drawing and craftsmanship I feel sad that we had lost so much by everything going 3D. It was remarkable to also see how they were really inventing the modern cartoon with more realistic figures. The craftsmanship alone was astounding when you see the animators clean up drawing and then the cell next to it that had to "keep the drawing"--amazing delicate draughtsmanship!

 I wish every animation student or hell--fine art student could see this work in person. It was also one of the best museums I've been to and maybe the best ever display wise. The layout and presentation of the work, touch screen technology was just so well designed, eye pleasing and enjoyable. APPEAL! That was the key word. Disney was always appealing from design to action, the whole corporate thrust was an appealing product and experience, and while it is common coin to knock things as "Mickey Mouse", being that well done isn't easy by far. I don't know if any other company ever pushed as hard to always grow the art and craft and appeal as Disney. Even today, decades after Waly has passed you can still see that esthetic on display at the museum.

                                                              Mary Blair's tabaret

One of the hundreds of  drawings from the story dept. on display as well a the amazing watercolor backgrounds! It was almost an overload of material to really take in and appreciate and I was awed, something that I am rarely. The amount of talent and craftsmanship and inventiveness was off the charts. I think its so easy to look at something this old and say, "oh, how old fashioned". But this was cutting edge and we are standing on the shoulders of all of these immensely talented men and women today.

One of the old animation desks that was lined up with a lot of great animation drawings! Boy would I love to have one of these!


Two great story drawing from Pinocchio, the top one by the great Gustaf Teggren.

Then it was back to Philly! Man I missed the California climate immediately!

                                                              OPEN STUDIO NIGHT
Right before I left for San Francisco we had the annual school wide Open Studio. The whole school is open to the public to cme in and visit the 10 floors of open artist studios to see what we all have cooking. Last year I was on the 4th floor but now I'm up on the 9th floor. As usual I didn't get to make it around to all floors myself as I was pressing the flesh and yakking about my own stuff--but I did get a chance to run about and snap a few pics before it was all over.

Here is a shot of my studio ready for Open Studio, and below a bunch of pictures of my fellow PAfa students and their studios. Our floor had a theme of the Gnome Prom, and there were all kinds of gnomes , including Noam Chomsky.

The weather was a bad actor this year and so I think some people stayed away, but it was a fun night and I had a great response to my current work.

When I got home the next weekend  DPC all got together for some food and painting at my place. We ate some of my famous curry and Jamie brought an awesome dip. We ate talked, painted, sketched and looked at art. These folks are like family to me and there are few things I enjoy more than hanging out with my pals and painting.

 This is the painting I did during our session of my dining room. I can't stress how important I think it is to have a like-minded group of artists to be there as a support and encouragement. We are at some similar stages and at some different stages in our art careers and I think that also helps the mix.


Back in school with Scott Noel, and Bruce Samuleson I continue to do one session drawing or paintings. Scott really pushes us with these complicated set-ups where Bruce is the opposite, he has us stripped down to just a model on the floor, a blanket and that's it.

Scott always has the books out and a bunch of drawings and paintings of his up to stress the points he talking about. The two drawings below are by him, my favorite is the first one where you can see how he drew the skeleton first and then drew the figure on top.

These are the last two smallish oil paintings from Scott's class by me and a drawing from Bruce's class. The drawing is in prismacolor pencil.
You have to work fast and bold to try and get all of these set-ups in as suddenly the light might change. My only real dissatisfaction is with the Reading and Research Seminar this semester. I really just don't like the class or how its run. I really enjoyed my class last semester, but this is a torture in many ways and I know I am not the only student who feels this way. I don't feel I am getting much out of the class, which is frustrating. But you know you just have to suck it up and keep your head down and concentrate on the good.

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