This took place back in May -- which I realize is, like, the Jurassic age in blog years -- but it was a good day and worth remarking...
The incomparable Jon Foster teaches at RISD. Last year he invited Greg Manchess, Dan Dos Santos, and I to give a lecture and demo to his class. A blast was had by all. So much so that when Jon invited Rebecca Guay and Scott Fischer to do the lecture/demo thing this year, the rest of us insisted on crashing the party.
Both Rebecca and Scott gave a slide lecture tracing their careers thus far, then they did a simultaneous painting demo. Rebecca bravely came in with a blank board and let the students dictate what the image would be. Since Scott has a fluid digital/traditional working method, he incorporated a digital underpainting as part of his lecture and then continued the painting in oils at the demo.
Some points made:
- They discussed the idea of exploration in their sketches -- being free and loose enough to allow randomness and accident bring life into the work. Stumbling onto new ideas and then learning how to exploit those ideas in more purposeful ways.
- Using reference but trying to interpret it and rely on muscle memory of past drawing to ensure that the reference doesn’t stiffen up the painting. This, of course, assumes lots and lots of past drawing. As Rebecca said, "Inspiration is hard work."
- They both stressed the importance of preparation and drawing. You can’t make a good painting from a bad drawing. (I hear this over and over again from artists. Students, you really can’t escape this one.)
- They talked about hitting breakthroughs in their work and then slowly digesting that information months latter. (I hope the students took this in. One fatal flaw of many would-be illustrators is that they are unable to look at their own work critically. Even if they do not understand what their latest piece is doing, they need to keep reassessing their work to gain enough perspective to learn both the good and the bad aspects of it.)
- They advised students to take ownership of each job, especially in their early years. Working beyond the minimum of the job requirement as a means to hone skills and to attract new work. It is too easy to get caught in the trap of churning out many low paying jobs. Slowing down and creating better works is a means of investing in your future.