MORE PHOTOS HERE
We decided to take advantage of having so many artists in town for the Spectrum reception by hosting the sixth installment of the Society of Illustrators painting demo series, Art Out Loud. We had James Gurney, Sam Weber, Donato Giancola, Greg Manchess, and Charles Vess painting simultaneously while spectators milled about, watched, and asked as many questions as they could think of.
It's an extraordinarily generous thing for the participating artists to do -- not only did they volunteer their weekend away, but painting in unfamiliar surroundings with a hundred brand new best friends watching cannot be easy. Art is not typically a spectator sport and artists are usually left to face "ugly stages" and failed experiments on their own. On top of that, add the fact that many of the people in the audience were equally accomplished illustrators themselves. And yet all five of these guys did a tremendous job.
The doors opened at 1:00 and the crowd broke into groups around each easel. After a quick introduction the artists started to address the group around them and encourage questions. Some viewers parked next to one artist for most of the four hours, absorbing everything they could, others took a more ala carte approach and skipped around, taking little bits of inspiration from all of them.
Greg Manchess worked on a continuation of his "arctic explorer" images. He also brought a stack of completed paintings for people to look at.
James Gurney had Walt and Roger Reed come in to sit for him while he painted their portraits and interviewed them. While he worked, he let people thumb through his sketch books -- every page is a watercolor masterpiece tracing his travels through Malta and France. He also had an early copy of his upcoming "how to" book, Imaginatve Realism. It looks so good, even I feel like I need a copy and I don't paint.
Donato gave me a great surprise. Back in June I put on a full suit of armor during a painting class. (Wouldn't you?) After it created a stir, Donato ran out and set up lights to take photos. He mentioned he wanted to do a Joan of Arc painting but I never thought he'd actually get around to doing so...until he showed up to Art Out Loud with a four foot long panel with Me-As-Joan drawn on it. I was humbled and tickled, to say the least.
Charles Vess continued a large scale Lady of the Lake painting that he began at the Illustration Master Class. He also had previews of his upcoming art book, Drawing Down the Moon, and his next children's book with Neil Gaiman, Instructions. (Me wants!)
Sam Weber started with an abstract mono-print and delicately turned it into a haunting portrait. It was interesting to see his board covered in reference shots, but used more for inspiration than literal translation. Eric Fortune watched him for quiet a while, they both have a similar style of slowly laying layer upon layer of near-impossibly thin pigment. At one point, I overheard Eric and Sam agree that the best part of painting is "the last 20 hours."
It was an inspiring day. If the demos weren't enough for anyone, then having people in the audience like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, John Cuneo, Terese Neilsen, Eric Fortune, Bruce Jensen, Daren Bader, and Craig Elliot should have kept anyone busy.
Once again, thanks to Greg, James, Donato, Sam, and Charles. And a huge thanks to the Society staff. They spoiled us and the audience endlessly -- from quiche in the morning, to gourmet lunch sandwiches, fresh fruit, and home baked cookies. It was an afternoon that couldn't be beat.