Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Color Theory Part 2

Annually, Graydon Parrish teaches color theory for intermediate to advanced painting students. The workshop runs for three weeks. I spoke with Devin Cecil-Wishing, the workshop monitor who is entering his third year as a core student at GCA, about his experience:

"Graydon's class is amazing. He is more logical and systematic about his palette and how he mixes his colors than anyone I've met. He uses the Munsell system to completely explain what light and color do to our eyes in reality. He boils everything down to three major factors. It's all hue, value and chroma and there's nothing else. That's all that color is. That's all that painting is.

On the first Friday of the workshop, we went to the Met to analyze the Master Painters and to objectively evaluate how they were using color.

Back in the studio, Vivian uses the colormunki to scan the local of Greg's hair. We did not test the image on his t-shirt. We did test his arm, though.

This is a trompe l'oeil painting of high chroma paper strips done by a workshop participant. Everybody who takes this workshop for the first time does this exercise. It is meant to show how chroma and value decrease as light decreases.

A color wheel that shows each hue in its highest chroma. This is also an exercise for first time participants. This was my second time taking the workshop, and I worked on a more advanced project.

This is my palette. I have mapped out the various strings for different flesh tones in different ranges. From left to right it moves through value. From top to bottom it moves through chroma. All the colors were mixed to match the chips sitting on the right of the palette.

Graydon helped me to map out all the pigments in my paint file and figure out exactly what they were in terms of hue, value and chroma so that I can use them more effectively. We experimented with the ways that different brands and hues stacked up on the actual color wheel. This was the first time Graydon or I experimented with this in this way. We found this to be very enlightening to see the nuance of how different pigments shift as they move through different values and chromas.

What intrigues me so much about Graydon and his color theory, is the logic behind it and how he mixes so many different strings on his palette, which all result in a perfect representation of reality."

pix also by Devin Cecil-Wishing

Friday, June 24, 2011

Drawing Intensive Week 3 & Color Theory part 1

Intensive student Steven Zapata works on a feature cast

I took the opportunity on this first official Summer Friday to interview a few workshop participants. I spoke with 3 students in the Drawing Intensive about their experiences in their first 3 weeks:

"I came here for the purpose of studying the method and I'm getting exactly what I wanted. This is one of the nicest academic places I've been to, everyone is super nice. The teachers are very good. They all speak the same language but with different accents-meaning they have different ways of seeing things but teach the same methods. So what I came here to learn, I've gotten and it will become more refined with more instruction. I'm very happy to be here."
-Daniel Gamelas from Portugal

"The workshop is really good. It's pretty much what I expected. I don't have much experience painting and I'm continuing with Cast Painting in July. I'm looking forward to relating it to drawing and how different it is. The teachers explain everything. I've learned about how light works, which I haven't received in training elsewhere."
-Nicky Van Son from the Netherlands

"The training is very structured and systematic. It's a scientific method that demystifies the technique in the art of drawing. The instructors tell you this comes first and this comes after. Anyone can learn it but you need to put in the time with the right teachers and that's what they have here." - Pablo Altieri, II from Puerto Rico/NYC

Graydon Parrish's three week Color Theory workshop for Intermediate to Advanced Students finished up today. We'll blog more about it next week but workshop participant Megan Moore came into the office and had this to share...

"There's an inherent isolation that comes with being an artist. That's all I know when I'm at home and to come here and spend every day with people, who share your vocabulary, who are trying to figure out similar issues, and who care about similar issues makes a giant difference. Humans don't tend to thrive in isolation and yet we've chosen an activity in which you need to have such solitude.

Here, people are focused on the craft, which is deeply important to me. Even the teachers feel the isolation when they work and talk about how important it is to come here and connect. I've come to realize how normal it is to feel this way. And then there's the actual information and it's been so important for me to focus on this, for my life. The information from the workshop has been worth the money spent on it. I came here to gain strength in what I've been weak in. There's so much you gain here, and then you get to continue to integrate it after."

More posts to come about Graydon's and other workshops in the recent past. Here's a little info about 2012: Graydon's workshop will be held in July again. We aren't taking sign-ups just yet...

pix by core student Devin Cecil-Wishing

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jacob Collins Featured in New Yorker Magazine

Personal History

Life Studies

What I learned when I learned to draw.

by Adam Gopnik June 27, 2011

[Find a copy of the actual June 27th issue to read the entire 6 page article! A summary from the New Yorker website is printed below.]

ABSTRACT: PERSONAL HISTORY about how the writer learned to draw. When the writer was in the middle of the journey of his life, he decided to learn how to draw. He was at a midweek dinner party and he turned to his neighbor across the table. His name was Jacob Collins, and he explained to the writer that he supervised an “atelier” in midtown, called the Grand Central Academy of Art. The writer asked if he would teach him how to draw, and Collins said yes. The academy was in the same midtown building as the Mechanics Institute Library, and the atelier was a series of rooms that could have been found in Paris at the Académie in 1855. A cluster of students worked on their drawings. The writer held his pencil tight and began. He had a graduate degree in art history, and he liked to draw, though he did it badly. Jacob gave him a plaster cast of an eye and told him to try and copy it. The writer stabbed at the paper, and he was filled with feelings of helplessness and impotence. He bumped into Jacob later at their kids’ school and Jacob invited him over to his studio to watch him draw. It was an old renovated stable, and the writer liked it there. For the next year or so, he went often to the studio on Friday afternoons, and kept Jacob company as he drew. He would make a mark or two on his own easel as he watched him work. Over time, Jacob had assembled a group of teachers and enthusiasts, all given over to the practice of classical drawing from life and plaster casts, and from that nucleus came this studio and the Grand Central Academy. The best half-serious label Jacob could find for his approach was “traditional realist revivalism.” Jacob and the writer went to a show of Bronzino drawings at the Met. Over the years, the absence of true skill had unmanned the writer’s love for art. Later that week in the studio, there was a nude model named Nate. As the writer stared into the impossible landscape of ripples in Nate’s torso, Jacob said, “Look into his torso and find a new form, another shape to draw. Something outside your symbol set.” The way out was, homeopathically, the way back in: lose your schematic conventions by finding some surprising symbol or shape in the welter of shades, and draw that. After a few months, the writer produced some kind of recognizable rendering of the pattern of light in front of him. It was the best thing he’d ever drawn. He had made it up out of small, stale parts and constant reapplications of energy and observation. Drawing turned out to be like every other skill you acquire: skating, sauce-making, guitar playing. Describes sketching a female nude. The writer stepped away from the studio after the year. He still likes to draw, but the questions that he had come with were mostly answered, or at least quieted.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Portrait Sketch Workshop Added!

"Maria" by Colleen Barry
oil on wood

August is looking to be a popular month for taking portrait workshops at GCA! We've just added another 1 week session of Portrait Sketch which will be taught by Colleen Barry. The workshop will be held August 8 - 12, 2011. Registration is now open. Read the course description here. Send your registration form to

Both of these portraits were completed in 4 hours.

"Adam" by Colleen Barry
oil on wood

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Drawing Intensive Week 2 & Evening Cast Hall Continues

It's the Ides of June, a lunar eclipse is dazzling skies abroad (and virtually on google) while day and night artists work in our cast hall.

Instructor Joshua LaRock demo's how light falls over a curved surface.

Intensive student Sally works on her cast drawing.

Intensive monitor John transfers his drawing.

Instructor Carla demo's modeling the form.

Dedicated evening student Jacob at work.

Brady works on his first cast drawing in the evening.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Sculpture Competition Results!

On Friday night, after two and a half hours of close study and vigorous debate,
Judges Mason Sullivan, Brian Craig-Wankiiri and Steve Bass awarded the following prizes:

First Place, $10,000: Susie Chism
Second Place, $3,000: Chad Fisher
Third Place, $2,000: Anna Lee-Hoelzle
Honorable Mentions: Will St. John and Kevin Christman

Susie Chism states,
"I know of very few environments where such talented sculptors from around the world can meet together with such energy and enthusiasm and compete with each other so supportively. I am enriched and inspired by these widening connections and friendships that the Grand Central Academy sculpture competition has fostered. I have learned much from this experience, and my peers, and am so appreciative of being allowed this opportunity for growth."

For views of all twelve sculptures,
watch the slideshow on the top right of this blog!

Pictured left to right: Hironori Kawabata, Susie Chism, Kevin Christman in the last moments of the competition.

Pictured left to right: 3rd, 2nd and 1st place sculptures.

Friday night's post-awards viewing

Left to right: Chad Fisher, Susie Chism, Anna Lee-Hoelzle and Kevin Christman (not pictured,Will St. John)

Thank you to the sculptors, judges, monitors, another amazing model, and our friends and colleagues for supporting this event, and thanks most of all for the beautiful sculptures that inspire us!

The GCA and the annual Classical Figure Sculpture Competition are made possible by the generous support of the Morris and Alma Schapiro Fund.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Report from the Sculpture Competition Days 3 & 4

In 24 hours the winner of the Fourth Annual Classical Sculpture Competition will be the meantime, it's stormy weather outside but inside, I interviewed another competition monitor, Abigail Tulis. Abigail is a core student in our Sculpture Atelier. In September she'll be starting her second year. Read her impressions below.

The atmosphere in the room is very focused and intense. Despite being worn out, everyone is concentrating on their work with an extreme amount of energy. Even though the pressure of the last day is approaching, there is still a lot of camaraderie.

It has been very insightful to see so many professional sculptors from different schools of training sculpt the same figure.

It is exciting to witness such a variety of approaches to all the stages of sculpting a figure: from the armature, building up the main masses, gesture, all the way to the finish.

It is also inspiring to observe so many people tackle such a technically challenging and mentally exhausting process with such relentless zest, focus, emotion and exactness.

This attitude towards the direct observation of the human figure is indispensable. I really anticipate getting back to my studies with similar zeal and tackling the challenges of this wonderful art form.

Join us tomorrow/Friday night starting at 8pm. The winners will be announced by 8:30pm after which the studio will be open for viewing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Drawing Intensive Week 1

We've been very busy here at GCA. Last week, Tony Curanaj's Value & Modeling Intensive kicked off our summer (blog post coming soon) and then on Monday, not only did our Sculpture Competition begin, but so did our Drawing Intensive and Graydon Parrish's Color Theory Workshops.

The Drawing Intensive is an opportunity for participants from all over the world to experience the rigor and training offered in our core program for one month. Some students are absolute beginners and others, such as our two monitors, have been studying in our part-time classes and are further building upon their training.

This summer, the Intensive is taught by Colleen Barry, Carla Crawford, and Angela Cunningham, with weekly demo's and critique from Joshua LaRock.

More images and impressions will be shared in the coming weeks.

Report from the Sculpture Competition Days 1 & 2

A snapshot interview with Katie Whipple, one of our Sculpture Competition monitors (as well as a core student in painting at GCA, who is entering her 3rd year in September.)

Q: What's the atmosphere in the room been like on Day 1 & 2?

A: It's very focused, very calm & respectful. Really good energy! Serious.

Q: What's it like for you, as an artist, to observe the competition in progress?

A: It's really fascinating how differently people go about doing, ultimately, the same thing. It's really interesting for me since I'm a painter. When everyone in a room paints a model, everyone's working on a different painting since they have a different view.

But with sculpture, it's all the same view since you move around the model.

All the sculptures in the room are really beautiful and unique. Capturing the same pose from all angles is something I haven't really thought about much yet.

I think this is an awesome prerequisite for taking more sculpture classes in the fall. I had never really seen armatures being built. It's all so cool! I'm gaining real insight into how you sculpt!

The next viewing open to the public is Wednesday night from 6-7pm. We've found that coming after 7pm, the sculptors have wrapped up their work and need to venture off into the sunset until the next day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sculpture Competition Begins!

The ten finalists gathered on Saturday to meet each other, review the rules with Mason Sullivan, one of our judges, and to make their armatures.

Come by GCA tonight (Monday) from 6 to 7:30pm to view the progress from the first day of sculpting!

Read the finalists' bios here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Drawing Competition Deadline!

Our 4th Annual Sculpture Competition starts this coming Monday and we hope to see you at our public viewings on Monday & Wednesday 6-7:30pm & at our gala on Friday 8-10pm. RSVP for events at

While you're in the spirit of competition, remember that applications for our 2nd Annual Drawing Competition are due on June 15th. The competition will be held August 29 - September 2, 2011. Finalists compete for 40 hours over 5 days to draw a figure from life.

The competition is inspired by the story of Apelles and Protogenes, renowned painters of Ancient Greece, who were both rivals and advocates of each other's work. At GCA, the tradition of a precise and fine finish to drawing continues...

Darren Kingsley, crowned Apelles last September, is teaching the workshop, Long Pose Figure Drawing at GCA, July 5-9.

Will St. John, crowned Protogenes, is teaching the workshop, Drawing the Figure in White Chalk, at GCA, July 25-29.

Both of these workshops still have some availability, but I highly recommend that if you've been thinking about signing up for these or any of our other offerings, you do so soon, as we're filling up quickly! Email to sign up.

To apply for the competition and read the story of Apelles and Protogenes, click here.