Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Week-9-Over the Hump

This week is the over the hump week of the fall semester at school--now it's the quick decent into the holiday season and the final weeks and crits. Honestly, though I am having an OK semester I can't wait for the break as I really want to just paint, and it seems I have been working a lot but not just on my own paintings like over the summer. It's frustrating. I really have senior-itis as a junior really bad, I just want to do my own stuff, not people on boxes. I had a group crit this week and I have to say, it once again reenforced why I don't like group critiques. I really get nothing from them as so many of the students just don't put much in or sometimes seem to just to want to be contrary and have those 'art school" discussion. Blarrrrrt! I don't have time to waste or patience for smugness.

The good thing was taking the workshop with Vincent Desiderio again. I didn't get to paint as much as the last time as I was one of the monitors, but i did take the opportunity to have Vincent give me a grit of my current work in my studio--which was great!

I finished up the drawing I had going in Pat Traub's class of the skull-and-bones still life. I think next time I will work under more of a controlled light situation just because the natural light id just to changeable in class.
I am also half way through my portrait class with Kerry Dunn at Studio Incamminati. I pretty much hate this painting, this week Kerry had us using the full on chromatic palette--blam!!! I just couldn't get the hang of it--everything stats out so saturated it was throwing me off. We have one more week of these one week paintings, then 4 weeks for the last pose. Maybe by then I can get the hang of it....

This is the painting I have going in Bruce's class, another very frustrating situation as the light is so low and very changeable--its so hard to see what's on your canvas in the darkness of Studio 1. I might hit it once more--or not--thank god next week we have a new pose.

Now I have to build a few big canvases to paint on, so that along with a lot of freelance will occupy the better part of the next week, then I hope to be back to putting time at the easel on my own ideas.


Nazario said...

I can't blame your class mates for not being able to provide the critique you're looking for. I know all that vague symbolism and lack of objectivity of those "art school" discussions, as you call them, can be frustrating, for leading you nowhere but you are an artist with lots of years of experience. You began working professionally since way before I was born and I assume your class mates might feel a little intimidated, especially if they know of your accomplishments.

It's true there's always space for improvement, but for less skilled people it may be hard to see if they are used to seeing (or creating) pieces that are not up to level with yours.

With experienced artists it's hard to give useful criticism when one doesn't know what the artists are looking to improve. For example, based on my skills, I can say your anatomy and your lighting are excellent (to use a positive adjective) but that’s based on my experience of what’s right and wrong. On the other hand, several of your paintings are not what I would call fully rendered, but that may not necessarily be your focus. What's the point of being able to produce a painting that looks exactly like a photograph in every way if people can't tell it's a painting?

Right now the most important thing to know is what you’re looking to improve. Is it the realism, the execution, the stylization, the expression, the lighting, the handling of colors, or something else? What do you feel would make your creations more interesting? I think if this is clearer to you and your audience it’s easier to give you a more efficient critique, since the artist you’re really competing with is yourself. I’m pretty sure your many readers would love to help you with this, but since to us your work is so good, we need to know where you want to be better.

Finally (yeah, finally), if you for some reason you feel stuck, why don’t you try going for something else for a while? Different medium, scale, style? How about giving yourself a really big challenge like optical illusions? Something like trompe l’oille, anamorphosis or those paintings with hidden faces. I’m sure you can think of something. Remember to not only look for where you need to improve but also see where you already have. What was the point of Michelangelo being a master if in the end he died bitter and unsatisfied with his own work?

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...


Please take this as constructive criticism. But, as I read your blog and see how busy you are with everything, I think your work on Judge Parker has been suffering. If nothing else, it seems to drift. With good days and not so good days. Sometimes it looks spot on with characters who look good, realistic, with depth and sex appeal. Other times, they appear stiff, with seemingly no attempt to make them appear real. Disneylike or cartoonish, with little sex appeal to them. I realize this is harsh, but I know you have it in you. You have had flashes of showing depth, sex appeal and realism in your now almost eighth month on Judge Parker. But, many times it disappoints. Comparing your style to Eduardo Barreto's is not fair. You each are equally talented. But, Barreto's Judge Parker displayed characters, background and detail that was much more consistent, real and with a lot more sexiness. Barreto brought back the days of Drake/Adams/Starr, where the serial, continuity strip looked damn good. The men were men and the ladies were sexy as heck. Don't get me wrong. I have seen your body of work. It is immense and you have it in you. But, as a long-time reader of Judge Parker, please give the strip it's "justice". I'm rooting and reading everyday with fingers crossed.

Mike Manley said...

SLyon, I think you just compared me to Barretto, sorry you are disappointed, but I guess thats the way it is. Most readers seem to enjoy my work, sure we all have clunky days--thats the biz. I will not agree my work is Disney or cartoonish though. And I like Disney and cartoonish work.

I know some readers will never warm to my version of the strip, and that's fine--hope you keep reading anyway.

Mike Manley said...

Nazario, I'm not looking for a crit, here or in school, but i realize when you put your work out in public you will get many and varied comments. I have very thick skin by this point in my career, if i didn't I'd be a wreck.

I my case I just want to return to doing more of my own paintings and not the school assignments. i find the challenges my teachers set not as interesting or enjoyable as the paintings I want to do. i am not the only guy who feels this way--most of my close friends do as well. I am not adverse to learning from younger artists, I do, several of my friends in the DPC are younger--some much younger and I do learn from then all the time.

I am not bored with painting in oil, or any technique, its more the subject matter.

Next week I will get back to it a bit more, I several new paintings planned. My critics at school give me little things to consider, and i guess at this stage it's the little things that are harder and sometimes just one persons opinion vs another and in art there is no 100% right or wrong now, but your choices. For some any figurative work is dead, others anything non-figurative is dead.

Steve said...


I debated posting anything about your Judge Parker work. Comparison to Barreto? Perhaps, but also Stan Drake, Neal Adams ,Leonard Starr and even Al Williamson and how they drew the story, serial, continuity strip(s) of the past. My point is that at times, your JP work looks just like that, it's outstanding. But there are times where it drifts. Disney/cartoonish may have been a poor choice of words, perhaps I should've said not as detailed, realistic or lacking sexual panache. Look, as a long time reader of Judge Parker, adjusting from Harold LeDoux to Eduardo Barreto was a transition. Barreto tried to imitate/shadow LeDoux. But, that was stifling and then he upped the ante and brought a sex appeal and realism to the strip that hadn't been seen since the 60s and 70s. Especially as it pertains to the females in the strip. You are extremely busy. I am sure that the daily grind of deadlines on a comic strip can make one weary. It's one fan's opinion, I don't know if I am the only one who has this thought? You know what they say about opinions, everyone has one. Best wishes going forward. I will keep reading. :)

Melissa Mead said...

Hi Mike,

Thank you so very much for your enthusiasm for art and the pursuit of ever better expressions.

I always come to your site when my artistic energies are ebbing and I feel I'm not moving. Your frenetic pace humbles me.

Thank you.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

Portrait Painting