Friday, April 11, 2014

Copying at the Met - Workshop Week

Last week, about a dozen advanced students from the core program had the chance to study and copy directly from the paintings and sculptures on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with several of the finest works of art spanning from Antiquity right up to the 19th century Hudson River School.
Niki Covington copying
"Alpheus and Arethusa", Battista Lorenzi
Jessica Artman copying
"The Vine", Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
Patrick Byrnes copying
"Portrait of a Young Man", Bronzino
Anthony Baus copying,
"Saint Nicolas of Tolentino Reviving a Child", Garofalo
Zoe Dufour copying
a marble relief of a horseman
Charlie Mostow copying
a bronze statuette of a youth dancing
Will Jones copying
"Study of Two Heads", Rubens
Sarah Bird copying
"Julius Angerstein", Lawrence
Connor de Jong copying
"The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak", Bierstadt
Abigail Tulis copying
"The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche", Schiavone
Michelle Palatnik copying
"Self-Portrait", Rembrandt
Every day for five days, we arrived at the Met Copyist Department, picked up our respective paintings and easels, and made our way through the halls to whichever masterpiece we had chosen. Painting in a museum like the Met, where the foot traffic is immense (consisting of people from all across the world) is quite an experience in itself. Several of the copyists found themselves within the center of literal mobs of people, while others managed to hide away in the smaller wings. Regardless, the experience was overwhelmingly positive and educational - the opportunity to so closely examine and reconstruct directly from the original paintings opened new levels of understanding into the methods and considerations of each copyist's respective painting.

Connor de Jong after Bierstadt
Anthony Baus after Garofalo
Patrick Byrnes after Bronzino
Will Jones after Rubens
Niki Covington after Battista Lorenzi
Charlie Mostow after unknown Greek
Jessica Artman after Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
Overall it was an excellent experience and many of us are hungry to return and copy again soon!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Conversation with Camie Davis Salaz

"The Athlete" by Camie Davis Salaz
I have been a fan of Camie Davis Salaz for some time. She has quite the reputation around these halls for her skills as a figurative painter and for her unyielding teaching style.  “She pushes you for more,” Will Jones recently explained to me. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action this Summer when she arrives at GCA to teach a portrait workshop. Meanwhile, lets hear more about work... ~ Leeanna Chipana
Leeanna: Throughout history, the general public's knowledge of myth was robust in comparison to today. How do you think the viewer sees or relates to your work in lieu of their varying knowledge of the stories of myth?

Camie: I suppose it is natural for some, to feel Greek Mythology is not applicable to our modern age. The Greek Myths were indeed written for another civilization 3,000 years ago and yet they too wished to understand their world and their place in it, as a civilization and as an individual. One might argue that with all our "advancement" we are still wondering about the questions of Life, Death, Wisdom, Love and Beauty; the very content of Greek Mythology. 
Indeed, what study of Philosophy does not include Plato and Aristotle? What study of Science and Mathematics does not include Euclid? What study of Literature does not include Homer, Hesiod, Ovid..... And what true study of art does not begin in the cast hall, amidst the Greeks? 
Mythology speaks to me, partially because the questions and ideas are written in story form and are written quite Beautifully. Also, I am a sucker for Drama, Life and Death scenarios are my fave....
In regards to "the viewer and their knowledge of myth" it is my responsibility as artist to impart the ideas and/or meanings of the work of art as sincerely and beautifully as possible, whatever the viewer's comprehension of Mythology may be.
Leeanna: Speaking of drama, your figures are often in graceful, twisting or in contorted poses, how do you approach the design of your figures?  Is it from life or imagination?

Drawing for "Orion" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: I begin the pose with the idea of the work of art so I guess the answer is imagination. With Narcissus, I wished to capture both his character's inability to pull away from his self and his terror of drowning, so I tried to imagine what that would feel like and how the physical body would/could express these feelings and thoughts. I then explained my ideas to the legendary John Forkner; life model, athlete and Shakespearian actor, and he really took it home!! 
Because the poses are often difficult, I have to shorten the posing time, sometimes down to three minute poses. However, the benefit of a single artist studio is that my models only have to hold the part of the pose I am working on. I really couldn't do it without such wonderful models who believe in my projects and get into character.

Leeanna: Lastly, your portrait workshop description talks about learning how to create “naturalistic” flesh tones. Bringing about natural looking values to the skin is quite the challenge. Could you tell us a little bit about your process for achieving this?
Detail from "Narcissus" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: Working with color has not been a particular gift of mine, so I have had to resort to my understanding of hierarchy in Nature as my color guide. All color is in a hierarchy in nature; there is only one "highest chroma, only one "Darkest Dark", only one "brightest light" and all other values and hues must follow suit taking their place among the lesser chromas, the mid tones and so on. I have found that the more ordered a painting is, the more naturalistic it feels, so I rely heavily on these principals of hierarchy while teaching color.

Camie Davis is teaching a 3-Day Portrait Drawing and Painting Workshop

June 30th - July 2nd, $425 (Monday through Wednesday) In this workshop students will be working towards the completion of one finished portrait.

Click here to read more about our workshops.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Emilie Lee at Edwards Art Gallery

Contemporary Tradition
2014 Holderness School Alumni Art Exhibition

Emilie Lee

This weekend, art works by WSA graduate, Senior HRF Fellow, and GCA instructor Emilie Lee will be on view  at the Edwards Gallery in Plymouth, N.H.  When Emilie was here as a core student she was also a very active blogger so you may remember her from her pasts posts as well. Either way, if you find yourself in Plymouth be sure to attend her show!

A little more about Emilie Lee: Emilie Lee’s path brought her first to an art school base, followed by years of study in the tradition of nineteenth century European academy drawing, painting and sculpting methods at the Water Street Atelier. As an avid outdoors-person, Emilie’s concentration on landscape forms complements her portrait, figure, and still–life work with an innate love for nature, and its internal beauty. Her work is a reflection of this close, symbiotic relationship.

 “Contemporary Tradition” at the Edwards Art Gallery, Holderness School, Plymouth, NH. April 11 – May 25. M, Tu, Th, F - 9am - 5pm, and W & Sa – 9am - 12pm.

Opening Reception: April 11 at 6:30 – 8:00pm.
Artists” Gallery Talk: April 11, 12:45 – 1:25pm.

Emilie will also give in-class studio demonstrations of  her work on Thursday afternoon, 4/10, and on Saturday morning 4/12. Call below for details.

Franz C. Nicolay
Edwards Art Gallery, Director
603.630.2238 (c)

Click here for more information.

Michelle Palatnik wins Salmagundi Club's Richard C. Pionk Memorial Award

Congratulations to core student Michelle Palatnik who recently won the Richard C. Pionk Memorial Award for $1000 at the 2014 130th Annual Members' Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club for her painting "Coming Home."
Michelle Palatnik with her in process Rembrandt copy she created at the MET during last weeks Workshop Week.
Founded in 1871, the Salmagundi Club is one of the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Past members include William Merrit Chase, Childe Hassam, Howard Pyle, and N.C. Wyeth to name a few.  For more information about the club and membership click here:

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Report on Last Week's Workshop Week

Last week the studios were abuzz with lots of activity, workshops in every room. Regular classes were cancelled for a program of special offerings. This week, class schedules are back to normal and we're counting down the days to summer! Check out these images from the week:
Core students painted portraits with Jacob Collins all week in the South Studio.
Pictured: Devin Cecil-Wishing, Sam Worley, Leeanna Chipana, and Rebecca Gray.
On Wednesday students started working on poster studies with Jacob.
Pictured: Rebecca Gray and Sam Worley.
In the Sculpture Studio, Natural Pigment's George O' Hanlon lectured on
Painting Methods and Materials.
In the North Studio, Ted Minoff and Travis Schlaht taught portrait painting for the TNT Portrait Sketch workshop.
Pictured: Ted Minoff with student.
Students in the TNT Portrait Sketch workshop take a deserved coffee break.
WSA graduate Matt Weigle joins us this week for the TNT Portrait Sketch Workshop.

Other core students spent Workshop Week copying painting or sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stay tuned for a blog post on their work by Connor deJong.

Photo Credit: Mariana Hernandez-Rivera

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

James Sondow's Evening Sculpture Class

By popular demand in the core student student body, Beaux Arts Atelier instructor James Sondow is now teaching an evening sculpture class. The class just started yesterday, but the students would like to open the class to the general GCA community. There are 3 spots remaining and 7 more class sessions left - so jump on in if you are interested in learning the techniques of Russian sculpture!

Sessions: Every Tuesday/Thursday April 1-24th - 6-9 PM
Cost: $150
Location: GCA Sculpture Studio

Figurative Sculpture: The Russian Method
This course will introduce students to the Russian Academic method of conceptualizing and sculpting the human figure, which relies heavily on construction, composition, and the anatomical underpinnings of idealized classicist form from antiquity. Students will be guided to see the figure through strong clear demarcation of planes that integrate the weight, proportion, gesture, and likeness of the model. This will provide conviction to students’ decisions as they are pushed past simple silhouettes to think three dimensionally and feel how the various anatomical planes flow together and bind a complex set of distinct anatomical structures into the totality that is sculpture.  This approach is part of a living tradition that has passed down through an unbroken chain of generations since the Russian Academy’s inception over 250 years ago.

A native New Yorker, James was first introduced to figurative drawing in his teens at the Art Students' League and Hunter College High School. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1996, James taught art for the next decade at the Rubin Museum, Saint Ann's School, and various public schools while refining his craft, studying life drawing, painting, and sculpture at Pratt, SVA, and the Art Students' League. In 2003, he began his classical training in the Russian academic method at Bridgeview School of FIne Arts in New York City. Two years of intensive summer study at Russia's premier art academy, the Ilya Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, cemented James' affinity for their thorough program and their strict teaching methodology. Relocating to St. Petersburg from 2007 to 2012, James became the first American accepted to the Repin Institute's sculpture department in over 15 years. He has exhibited both drawing and sculpture in New York City and St. Petersburg and received various awards including, most recently, the Gloria Medal at the 2013 National Sculpture Competition held at the New York Academy of Art. 

J  A  M  E  S      S  O  N  D  O  W

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Designing a Thoroughly Modern Atelier: an Evening with Jacob Collins at the Dahesh

Join Jacob Collins – New York City artist, teacher, and founder of the Grand Central Academy – for a provocative, free-wheeling exploration of what led him to found a modern art school patterned after the 19th – century atelier; the challenges of such an endeavor, and the future of classical training for young artists.

In The Atelier 
Jacob Collins
This talk will take place Thursday, April 3rd, at 6:30 PM in the Dahesh Museum, located at 145 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan, NY.  Admission is free, but seating is on a first come, first served basis.

The Dahesh Museum is the only institution in the United States entirely devoted to collecting, interpreting and exhibiting works by Europe's academically trained artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

In Anticipation...

We're very pleased John Morra will be spending time with us this summer. Besides teaching a couple of NYC still life workshops, he's painting landscapes with the Hudson River Fellows in New Hampshire. GCA student Leeanna Chipana caught up with John this week:
 John Morra Mertz Series
I first met John Morra at his solo show in 2012 at the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery. Inspired by artists like Vermeer, Chardin and Corot, John Morra continues the tradition of realist still-life painting with carefully composed and complex arrangements of ordinary objects.

~ Leeanna Chipana

Leeanna: John your still-lifes are lovely. They remind me of 18th century Spanish painters like Luis Melendez. Who do you find most influences your work?

"Memories of Ibiza" by John Morra

John: Thanks Leeanna! Yes, of course I love Melendez, and also the Spanish painters from the century prior to him. But I would say that the great Chardin is my favorite, if I had to name someone. He is in many ways the beginning of the modern still life, in both spirit and design. He is one of those shining moments in the history of art where a new vision is clearly born, and continues to shine up until now. Someone like Walter Murch was a big influence on me too, as he seems to continue much of the same ideas that were born with Chardin. His vision  does for a carburetor what Chardin’s would do to an old barrel or copper water urn.

"Hobart" by John Morra

Leeanna: Speaking of Chardin, you are offering a new workshop this year. Aside from sampling some delicious French wine and cheese at the end, what insight can you give us into what you hope to explore with your class on Chardin and his style?  

John: The boozing happens at the END of the workshop, so as to not induce post-WWII abstract expressionism. But here is one thing I keep noticing about Chardin over the years — his delight with the shapes in his paintings. It is very interesting to compare his rivals (Oudry, Desportes ) and see that they generally lack Chardin’s obvious delight in the way a painting jigsaws together. Of course we will be going after a whole list of things I love about Chardin, but his shape-loving is unique, especially for his time. 

"Big Underwood" by John Morra

Leeanna: John I am delighted that you will be painting with us during the Hudson River Fellowship this Summer. Can you also tell us a little bit about your landscape painting process and materials?

John: Materials? I like my Ala Prima Pochade box. It has lots of magnets. As for technique, when painting outside I try to shoot first and ask questions later. I think it is wise, when painting directly from the great outdoors, to try to forget what you have admired by Monet, Corot, or Moran. I remember reading somewhere that Sargent would set up his easel and just jump in, and sometimes he would land on target and sometimes he would not. I like that approach — if you have even a hunch about something as a possible picture, then that should be enough to load up your palette and floor it. As for your studio recollections later on , that is a different affair altogether, and at that point your sketches, drawings and imagination all start to combine. But when outdoors, I think a more objective approach is best, which is why it is good to try sight-size sketching when possible.   

John Morra will be teaching two workshops this Summer:

The Spanish Still Life with John Morra
June 9 - 13, $625 ($325 deposit)
10:00am-5:00pm (lunch 1-2pm)
Monday - Friday

Exploring Chardin: The Origins Of The Modern Still-life with John Morra
June 23 - 27, $625 ($325 deposit)
10:00am-5:00pm (lunch 1-2pm)
Monday - Friday

To learn more about our workshops please click here.

To view works from previous workshop participants click here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Interview with Andrew Payne - GCA Core Student

Andrew Payne and I sat down last week and discussed drawing the figure and cast, as well as a few thoughts on Colleen Barry's structure drawing class and the atelier process. Andrew is a second year student in the GCA core program, originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. 
-Connor de Jong

Samir Head by Andrew Payne
Andrew: I have been trying to get some experience and practice with line quality in Colleen’s class. That’s something that Josh [LaRock] has talked to me about before too - using line to describe the form or the structure of what you’re seeing, rather than just having all of the lines be the same. Colleen’s class taught me to use lines to create overlaps and fullnesses, and she would say, “Certain parts of the figure - where it’s not a contour - have a broken line. You don’t want uniform lines everywhere.”

The ability to focus on t
hose things enables you to see so many more things that you haven’t noticed before (at least for me). She gave me events to look for: high points, low points, overlaps, fullnesses - points where the line breaks. 

Some of my favorite drawings are not even fully rendered - just to be able to use all these different tools and ideas to create something that looks like it could move off the page without even being fully rendered is exciting.

Also, Colleen has really helped me with handling distance from the models; sometimes there are 10 or 12 feet between you and the model, and you can't really get away with too much without truly knowing the structure of the figure. At that distance, I can’t even really see the model’s face too well, so this knowledge becomes very important. 
It’s fun.  I can see where people can get really creative - you have to conceptualize this thing. Sometimes I enjoy that even more than when you can see the model very clearly.

Samir by Andrew Payne
Connor: In a way, we’re looking at the melding of the cast program and the focus on form with conceptual knowledge in the figure - a pretty hefty topic.

One facet of figure drawing that Colleen discusses is playing around with the picture plane. She talks about it almost as if it’s a puzzle, the way the pieces interlock and intersect, the way you push things back and forward - not necessarily in a form sense, but in the visual, compositional sense.

Andrew: Yeah, she talks about the hierarchy, how you can make it whatever you want - it doesn’t have anything to do with form necessarily.

Connor: There’s something nice about that, it feels like there is a sense of control as a piece of designed art, rather than just an undecided depiction. That element of figure drawing is hugely important. How do you design a beautiful figure?

Collin by Andrew Payne
Andrew: It’s hard.  In the Anthony Ryder book - I think he’s talking specifically about rendering form in the figure - and he says that if you try to just copy what you’re seeing, obviously it’s not going to look very good. I think it’s also true that at the beginning stage of a block in, it’s possible to make it look okay by copying; but, if you’re only copying what you’re seeing, it probably won’t look that great. That’s why all the teachers here know anatomy and the structure of the figure.

Colleen talks about how you want to find that rhythm of the figure; where things are pinched and where they are stretched, where there is tension. That’s why it’s important to know where all the muscles connect. A leg can have rhythm by itself, but you want the whole figure to have it, all the parts and individually. For instance, the leg can look stiff unless the high points are placed diagonally from each other in a sort of zig zag [motions leg high points]... and it’s always like that on the model, but unless you know that, you don’t notice it.

Connor: When drawing the figure, you realize pretty quickly - like you said - that you can’t just copy it. Models are people and they move, and they never truly go back to that same position again.

Andrew: And part of that is liberating, after you’ve been in the Cast Hall... It’s a lot different drawing a cast versus the figure - you’re like, “Wow, I don’t have to be “perfect”, because there is no perfect. It becomes more of a creative thing, and I enjoy it a lot more than drawing casts.

I’m still trying to find this balance between drawing and measuring, and drawing optically versus structurally - they’re all different things, but when Colleen demonstrates to me, “I mark the top and the bottom of my drawing at the beginning, and I want my drawing to fit in here,” I think, ”Whoa, I have to fit it exactly within these measurements...” That’s a lot of pressure.

Santiago by Andrew Payne

However, she tells me to use measurement as a safety net; to check things every once in a while - sure, find the half just to have something to base your conception on from the beginning, but I’m surprised by how well she draws without measuring all that much. It can be really stifling to measure all the time, sometimes I feel like it’s kind of a bad habit I got into in the Cast Hall, just measuring every little thing. It’s easy to do because the cast doesn’t move and it’s easier to measure.

Connor: I feel that too - it’s good and bad to measure a lot. It can be good, especially in the Cast Hall, because you develop a sense of measurement for your eye. Every time you measure by hand there is also a mental check by eye first. So you develop a sense for comparing spaces… sometimes, for whatever reason, you can be completely tricked - but if you have been measuring by hand a lot, your ability to gauge distance by eye tends to be very close.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a definite difference. When I first started last year - even when I would try to measure a half - I would be so far off, I would think, “How could I be that far off on a half?” [laughter] It’s definitely interesting, when Michael Klein came in last year, when looking at my cast painting he said, “Maybe I wouldn’t measure so much, I don’t like to measure.” I usually measure a lot at the beginning, as we’re taught, but I love the part where you get to the drawing. When the really rough block in is there and I can just put my knitting needle [measuring tool] away and draw.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

February Works

Check out the works created over this past month and half by our 1st through 4th year core students.

Anthony Baus
Athena Kim

Audrey Rodriguez

Devin Cecil-Wishing

Katie Engberg

Kevin Muller Cisneros

Liz Beard

Louis Carr

Mark Popple

Mary Jane Ward

Michelle Palatnik

Niki Covington

Patrick Byrnes

Rebecca Gray

Kristin Nikitin

Al Costanzo