Saturday, April 18, 2015

Great Deals on Educational Videos

One of the things I love best about our chosen career, is that there is no artistic 'finish line'. You can always be better. For me, I try to keep myself inspired by attending conventions and workshops, and by purchasing instructional videos.

As such, there are two really noteworthy deals on Educational Videos I am particularly excited about, and thought our readers would enjoy too.

First, is James Gurney's latest instructional video 'Tyrannosaurs: Behind the Art". This video looks to be a nice companion to his previous download "How I Paint Dinosaurs". The video covers Gurney's process for two different dinosaur paintings, with a particular focus on oil painting technique and supplies.

The 5 minute trailer is alone is so incredibly informative, I can't wait to watch the entire 40 minute download.

The download, which is juts $15, can be downloaded here:

The other fantastic deal I am really excited about is Schoolism's new subscription campaign. As part of a Kickstarter, Schoolism is offering subscriptions to their extensive library of instructional courses, for as little as $10 a month.

I've always been interested in checking out these courses, but time constraints and money have deterred me. But at just $10, I'm likely going to check out a bunch of these!

Most of the courses are composed of 9 lessons, and are instructed by some of the industry's best artists, including: Craig Mullins, Terryl Whitlatch, Bobby Chui, Nathan Fowkes, and many more. You can check out a list of the classes offered in the image below.

You can learn more about the program, and sign up for the courses, here:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Heritage Auctions - Illustration - May 2015

Detail from Jon Whitcomb - Dressing her Holiday Hair
One of my favorite sites to find excellent hi-res images is Heritage Auctions.  Their May 2015 auction has some great lots and sometimes some real gems go for very affordable prices.

The current auction has work ranging from Dean Cornwell, Robert McGinnis and Michael Whelan to some great unattributed gouache paintings for Coca-Cola and some fun cheesy pulp covers.  Some of the images are NSFW but when you create an account you can enable a filter.

The best part though, is the very high resolution and accurate scans that are made of the images.  Here are some highlights from the show.  Be sure to click on them to see them at high res (you might need to right click and open in a new tab/window to see them full size), or head on over the the site and check out all the lots.  There are nearly 500 images!

Dean Cornwell - Sir Walter's Farewell
Cool to zoom in and see the quick sketch lines of this preliminary study

Harold Anderson - A Good Table is an American Tradition
 Harold Anderson, not to be confused with Harry Anderson, is a wonderful artists who has lively and expressive brushwork.  Look how he simplified so much of the information in this painting.

Gil Elvgren - High and Shy - charcoal

Gil Elvgren - High and Shy
 James Avati is an artist whose work I was aware of until I found some on Heritage's site.  The work there seems to be mostly for adventure and pulp novels, but there is a quality in the surface that is very nice.
James Avati - A Swell Looking Girl

James Avati - Rage of the Soul

John Berkey - Up in Space
 Jon Whitcomb could put down gouache with the best of them:

Jon Whitcomb - Dressing her Holiday Hair
 Check out this Leyendecker study!

Leyendecker - Upset Stomach

Michael Whelan - A Spell for Chameleon

Norman Rockwell - Ford Holiday Greeting Card
I don't know Robert MacGuire's work, but it looks like he did a lot of romance covers and he was quite good... even if the titles of the pieces are somewhat unfortunate.

Robert MacGuire - Fatherhood Fever - crop

Robert MacGuire - Fatherhood Fever
 This illustration is unattributed, but it is very beautiful.  If anyone knows who painted it, please let me know!
Unsigned - Red Cross Roll Call
There are a whole series of unattributed gouache paintings from Coke ads that are very well executed.  Also, the woman below looks ALOT like my mom who was a fashion and pageant model.  Interesting.

Another Coke ad.  Oil and Gouache.  I think that woman is mentally bashing this guy over the head with that bowling ball.  The shifty side ways glance is a giveaway.  One a side note, look how small the serving size of the soft drink is!  Considering the ice, that is maybe 4 ounces of soda.  This was before American waistlines blossomed.

Victor Livoti.  Another artist new to me.  Cool efficient style.  Mixed media, some of which looks like gouache again.  Lots of killer gouache work.

Victor Livoti - The Beautiful People

Walter Baumhoffer - Great Son, Cosmopolitan - crop

Walter Baumhoffer - Great Son, Cosmopolitan 
Lastly this great piece by Philip Lyford.  Strong composition and excellent economy of brush work.  The head of the foreground figure is brilliant.  Seriously.

Philip Lyford - Spreading the News
So go on over to Heritage and check out the inventory and maybe even get lucky and win an auction or two!

Howard Lyon

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spectrum: Art Director Programming

-By Lauren Panepinto

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you've heard reference to the Spectrum Fantastic Art Live convention every year in Kansas City. It's one of my favorite cons of the year, and I really applaud Arnie & Cathy Fenner for making it such a great experience. Every year they put a great deal of thought into growing the con and making it more rewarding for the attending artists, and I'm excited to talk about the part of the show I've been helping to develop.

Last year, Marc Scheff & I debuted our Drawn + Drafted Bootcamps on Social Media and Self-Promo, on Portfolios & Websites, and on Contracts and Money. We were thrilled that they were so popular, and we were asked to expand the program into more bootcamps and workshops this year. Well, in typical Lauren & Marc fashion, we got very excited and—egged on by the fabulous Shena Wolf—ended up developing an entire track of educational programming and revamping the Portfolio Review Process. What can I say, we're glutton for punishment.

Portfolio Reviews: For many students and artists young in their career, portfolio reviews are a critical part of moving their career forward. Spectrum has always been fabulous at reaching out to industry professionals, and this year is no different: there will be 17 official portfolio reviewers seeing portfolios on saturday and sunday. Then there are countless more pros wandering around the con and very happy to give new artists advice. We're also upgrading the portfolio review experience for both reviewers and reviewees. Signups will go live on APRIL 22nd!

Official Reviews: This year we’re piloting a system more customized than first-come first-served. We’re going to be doing Portfolio Requests rather than Signups. You will register for your top 3 signups, just like every year, but you will be asked to provide more information at the time of signup. Our Art Director advisors (aka me and Marc) will be going through all the signups and making sure the artists and art directors match as productively as possible. After signups your portfolio review schedule will be confirmed. There may be changes to your Art Director picks, but we will only make changes where we feel you would be more suited to review with another Art Director. Our goal is to match your career goals and your current skill level with the best reviewer tailored to you.

Art Director’s Lounge: There will be an easily-accessible special area set up on the convention floor that will be set aside for Art Directors and Artists giving casual portfolio reviews. This will allow artists to more easily approach and review with people they may not be able to get official slots for.

Educational Programming: On both the main stage, and in the portfolio review room, we've packed in a great schedule of workshops, bootcamps, and talks. The full schedule with times will go live on the Spectrum website soon, but here's some highlights:

Art Directors as Gatekeepers
—Irene Gallo [M], Lauren Panepinto, Jon Schindehette, Zoë Robinson, Andy Christensen,
Kate Irwin, Richard Whitters, Jeremy Canford
—What makes Art Directors qualified to pick and choose talent? What are A.D.s looking for?
Who died and made them boss, anyway? Come listen to a panel of the best A.D.s in the biz talk
about how they see their role in the business of art.

Books vs. Games vs. Film vs. Everything Else
—Lauren Panepinto [M], Irene Gallo, Zoë Robinson, Kate Irwin, Jeremy Canford,
Dan Dos Santos, Karla Ortiz
—Everyone wants a well-rounded career, but different media have very different needs. Learn
the differences between publishing, gaming (digital and physical), film, etc. and how to
prioritize your portfolio for the jobs you want most.

Portfolio Review Bootcamp + Critiques (Lauren Panepinto & Marc Scheff)
—Marc & Lauren of Drawn + Drafted will take portfolios from the audience and “test-drive”
them, giving tips on how to put your best work forward, and how to be confident in
presenting yourself and your work well under pressure.

Social Media Bootcamp: Beyond Facebook (Jon Schindehette & Marc Scheff)
—Facebook is necessary these days, but there are so many other platforms and ways
to share your art. Jon Schindehette of Thinkgeek and ArtOrder & Marc Scheff
of Drawn + Drafted will help you choose what will work best for you.

Collaboration & Community Workshop (Jon Schindehette & The Denver Illustration Salon)
—Do you know how to play well with others? Crave some collaboration? Join master
community builder Jon Schindehette of Thinkgeek and Art Order with members of the Denver
Illustration Salon in this workshop that will show you how to get creative people
to work and play together.

Women in Art Biz Bootcamp (Lauren Panepinto, Irene Gallo, & Zoë Robinson)
—Women are working toward equal representation in today’s art world, but the balance
can’t be restored unless we openly discuss the unique challenges facing women in our industry.
Join three woman art directors in an open discussion of how sexism impacts business, how we
can push through obstacles, and how we can stop holding ourselves back.
NOTE: Men are very welcome to observe this workshop, but the moderators will be keeping the
focus on women’s issues and women’s voices.

Building an IP Workshop/Panel
—Jon Schindehette [M], Iain McCaig, Brom, Daren Bader
—Join a panel of IP experts and superstar artist/creators for a panel/workshop
on how to start building your own platform and intellectual property and release
it into the world.

Demystifying the Gallery World (Julie Baroh of Krab Jab Gallery)
—Join Julie Baroh of Krab Jab Gallery in Seattle for a workshop for artists entering the gallery
world, including tips on how to create a show concept, dealing with contractual obligations,
writing a bio, marketing the show and your work, dealing with framing, and everything else
you need to be successful in a gallery setting.

Web Presence Bootcamp + Critiques (Lauren Panepinto & Marc Scheff)
—Marc & Lauren of Drawn + Drafted will give you a crash course in the dos and don’ts
of websites and social media, using examples from the audience.

Selling the Art or Selling the Artist: Branding Workshop (Marc Scheff & Lauren Panepinto)
—Join Marc Scheff & Lauren Panepinto of Drawn + Drafted for a workshop that will teach you
how to sell yourself while keeping your art the star of the show though the power of design
and finding an authentic voice.

Freelancer Fitness Bootcamp (Marc Scheff)
—A freelance career is good for the soul but not necessarily for the body. Learn some ways
you can eat healthier, move more, feel better, and work more productively with Marc Scheff

So if you were on the fence about attending, there's still tickets and time to plan your trip! And if you're already coming, I hope this starts getting you excited. There's more programming and events to be revealed soon, so make sure to keep checking the SFAL website and Facebook page. See you in Kansas City!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10 Things...Painting Priorities

Cover for Milo Talon by Louis L'Amour...using strong diagonals makes compositions strong

Greg Manchess

These aspects of painting may at first seem complicated. They become joyful the more you recognize, learn, and use them.

Of course, painting is a combination of all of these things working at once and not often isolated. Remember that working through a painting demands a balance of these aspects, with some striking louder cords than others in the same piece. This push-pull provides interest to engage the brain.

I’ve lined them up in order of priority, but as you use them, you’ll find that some can overwhelm or even support the others. Each of the points on this list tend to blend with the point before and after it.
No matter where we start in the structure of a painting, whether thinking of color first, or composition, we always circle back through the list to, basically, where we started.

1. Composition
Composition, has the highest priority because this is generally what we recognize, what hits the eye, first. Strong composition can draw attention to the painting before the subject matter. It can create mood and atmosphere simply by the arrangement of elements. A composition that stretches the imagination, pushes us to consider points of view we aren’t familiar with, drives curiosity. And that drives people to remember.

Simple enough, right? But how often do you use composition for the authority it commands?

A unique point of view to drive the composition to fit the cover

2. Value
Controlling light and dark in a painting grabs attention. Even in a subtle lighting situation, how the overall light lays across a composition will control where we look. Called chiaroscuro, it is the play of light on a page. How the artist manipulates the light describes a scene, mood, or idea. Push and pull the light as if you are sculpting it. You control it based on natural light. You should constantly be observing light in the environment, including manmade.

The values look extreme but are controlled by very subtle shifts.... 

The lights of the picture are close in value to one another; same for the shadows across the painting.... 

Detail: The shadow values in the background castle aren't even close to the bold darks of the foreground, which pushes the figure forward....

3. Contrast
Paintings are a play of contrasts between elements if nothing else. How lines vary in thickness, how shapes vary in size, how light varies, how color is counterbalanced, or how edges vary, all create ways our eyes move through a piece. This can be accomplished through extreme comparisons or through very, very subtle passages within the same painting.

Contrast between characters or contrast between costumes, even textures, also creates interest.

Color contrasts between light and shadow, yellow and purple..... 

Soft edges of the Earth contrast the hard edges and color of the astrodiver....

Greys set up a solid footing for the bright splash of reds accenting the drapery...

4. Visual Depth
Paintings can have a range of effects, from flat graphics to trompe l’oeil. Paintings of scenes benefit from a sense of depth. The artist is generally creating an illusion that the painted surface is merely a window into a three dimensional scene. This demands using elements to create that illusion. Elements that stay separate set up the brain to think that they are laid on the surface instead of placed within the picture. This is effective for flattening out the surface, but the failure of depth when needing dimension.

Our eyes see depth in nature by translating individual flat picture signals sent to the brain from each eye and then blended (each eye sees a slightly different angle of the world than the other). Objects repeat and overlap other objects giving the illusion of depth.

An easy way to remember how to create depth is to simply think of foreground, middle ground, and background in a picture. The relationship built between them creates depth.

Detail: Underwater depth is created between the diver and the Nautilus, and even between the two divers, using a range of color and values

The foreground is heavy and dark and we look past it to the brighter background and lighter clouds; the scale of the monkeys changes to add to the illusion

5. Chroma
The intensity of a color is generally called, chroma. We label it today as 'saturation' of color because of the influence of PhotoShop and other painting programs. Controlling the brightness of a color in a painting will control the focus and mood. Our eyes tend to go toward the brightest color first, but if the painting is all bright colors, then our eyes will gravitate toward the more greyed versions of colors in the same piece. The contrast between the two ranges is the line of interest our brains search for. Conversely, broad areas of grey color punctuated by one or several bright colors will drive our eye right to those striking colors.

The chroma of the skin here is enhanced in the shadows, not the light that strikes it... 

A spot of warmth against all of those cool colors adds dimension....

In a mostly grey painting, the mask colors grab attention.....

6. Rhythm
A copse of trees, patch of flowers, leaves, birds flying, clouds...repetitive forms gain interest by designing them to flow. In nature, forms repeat, overlap, clump. Why do we consistently try to organize them? This creates pattern, not flow, and pattern stalls rhythm. Allow the forms to move through a composition as if they are dancing rhythmically, leading the eye to move about the frame.

The helmets form a line across the piece, but are not equally spaced, forming a rhythm to look at the soldiers...

The figures interweave to create a falling, floating rhythm.... 

Umbrellas lead the eye into the piece, and toward the theme...

7. Brushwork
Brushwork is calligraphy. Straight and simple. The edges of the brush, how it’s held, how it’s loaded, how it’s applied to the picture determine what kind of interest you bring to the idea. Brushes are not magic participants that suddenly transfer your innermost desires onto the canvas. Learning to move a brush benefits from learning calligraphy. You project your ideas through the brush by telling it exactly how to move, how to bend, how to twist, turn, and apply.

Learning to handle a brush well does not make you look like everyone else. To the contrary, if you think you’ll find your original style by not controlling the brush, you are mistaken. The brush is neutral and will only give you what you tell it to give.

The brushwork for this Fiddy Cent portrait is a mixture of direct, clean strokes, balanced against softer edges and broader strokes... 

The wild brushwork is countered here by not only sharp edges of palette knife, but also the soft rendering of the eyes....

8. Edges
Controlling the edge of elements in the picture, whether in the main subject or in the background will direct the viewer’s eye to grasp or look away from something. Soft edges drift backward into the composition like an out of focus picture. Sharp edges spring forward and command attention. 

Directing these edges like a symphony, where you are the conductor, gives a composition strength, and prods the viewer where to look.

The cloud is intentionally not rendered evenly to allow for the wide range of fuzzy and sharp edges to define the general shape and make it feel accurate.....

Sharp and soft, sharp and soft....

9. Theme
An idea itself does not take precedence over the ability to produce that idea. If an idea, or theme, is worth showing, then it’s worth the hard-won training that is required to manifest that idea into a statement, a story, a point of view. While the theme is important to a picture, it is the balance between the theme and it’s execution that provide strength.

Ideas are everywhere. Ideas are cheap. Ideas are good and bad. Ideas come and go, and come back again. A good idea is great, but has no strength if it can’t be compelling. A mediocre idea can be made remarkable, even luminous, and is much better than a great idea poorly manifested.

A simple theme: Cat Astronauts, must rely on the paint to provide light, value shifts, rendering, get the idea across....


The subtle theme of floating figures relies on the ability to get that across successfully, and also allows the paint to interest the audience...

10. Balance
Elements in a composition must balance and counterbalance so that the overall feeling of the image is purposeful. Certainly a painting can unsettle the mind and stir emotional responses both positive and negative. But to get an idea to be unsettling, one must first understand balance. Otherwise, it is simply guessing.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. In fact, it’s quite fun. Simply, move things around. Place them in a composition to break the space evenly or unevenly. But allow the composition to balance as if being pulled by gravity at the bottom of the picture. Before long you’ll feel how things can be weighted for visual impact. Do this with abandon, because you will find compositions you hadn’t thought would work.

The picture is unevenly composed but the figures balance the whole composition between the foreground hand and the larger foreground figure reaching in..... 

Again, the angle provides an uneven design, countered by size contrasts, movement, value, and color. The entire piece is weighted toward the bottom...even the light has weight here, cascading from above. The figures react against the weight of gravity pulling against the stage floor....