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

Monday, March 10, 2014


Congratulations 2014 Hudson River Fellowship Recipients:

Phillip Ackermann, Benjamin Arnold, Jessica Artman, Kevin Boylan, Leeanna Chipana, Kevin Muller Cisneros, Brandon Cook , James Edmonds, Evanny Henningsen, Will Jones, Kadin Goldberg, Jennifer Keltos, Athena Kim, Katie Liddiard, Rodrigo Mateo, Bethann Moran, Charlie Mostow, Allison Parker, Cesar Santos, Alexandra Tremblay and Tony Winters.

Albert Bierstadt (1830 - 1902) "Moat Mountain Intervale, New Hampshire.
Moat Mountain is part of the White Mountain range. 

This  Summer is sure to be our best fellowship yet.  Twenty one painters have been selected to study and paint the landscape surrounding the White  Mountains of New Hampshire together for this years' 2014 Hudson River Fellowship. 

During this three-week fellowship starting July 14th,  artists will work daily from dawn until dusk to produce field studies (pencil drawings, tonal studies, plein air sketches) that will inform their larger studio paintings later. Lectures will cover history, area geology and the methods and materials of 19th Century landscape painters who flocked to this region.  Fellows will be living communally in one of two ski chalets with beautiful views. Several bunks will be reserved for Senior Fellows or instructors who are always invited to drop in and paint. So far, this year's visitors will include Jacob Collins, Ted Minoff, Tom Kegler, Rick Piloco, John Morra, Ken Salaz along with Eric Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq (who live in Jackson, NH and are the Fellowship's mountain hosts!)

2013 Fellows painting from the porch of "Middle Mountain Trail" house.

"Mountain View Road" house.

Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern U.S., over 6,000 ft high with its erratic climate and winds known to reach more than 200 mph, could not stop Fellows from painting its stunning views.

Don't Miss this Summer's Landscape Painting Workshops

Workshops during the fellowship offer participants an opportunity to paint alongside the Fellows and attend informal gatherings. Participants are encouraged to attend lectures and show with the fellows at the 2014 Fellowship Exhibition hosted by the Jackson Historical Society on the last day of our adventure!

Last year's workshop attendees and fellows watch a painting demo by Instructor Tom Kegler.
Workshop Instructor Tom Kegler offers a "Traditional Landscape Painting" workshop starting July 16.

Landscape Painting Workshop Schedule

Techniques of the Hudson River School with Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq
 Jackson, NH - July 10 - 15, 2014 (6 instructed days)

Traditional Landscape Painting with Tom Kegler
Jackson, NH - July 16 - 19 (4 days)

Essential Landscape Painting - from Technique to Poetic Expression with Ken Salaz
Jackson, NH - July 21-23  (3 days)

Traditional Landscape Workshop: 2-Day Plein Air Painting in NYC with Tom Kegler
Location: NYC TBD (likely NY Botanic Gardens)
June 21 - 22 (Saturday and Sunday)

Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq will teach "Techniques of the Hudson River School" starting July 10th.

Grace by Ken Salaz, 36X36. Salaz will be teaching a workshop "Essential Landscape Painting from Technique to Poetic Expression" starting July 21st.

 Find out more about the annual Fellowship.
Visit our gallery of paintings and studies by Fellows.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New Suggested Donation Podcast - Graydon Parrish

A new epsiode of the Suggested Donation podcast is out, this time featuring an interview with the artist Graydon Parrish. Edward Minoff and Tony Curanaj spend the hour talking to Mr. Parrish about his youth and art education in Texas, NYC and Massachusetts; as well as the Charles Bargue book, Munsell color system and much more.

Graydon Parrish
Young Woman Looking to Her Right 
(Susanna (muse)), 2010
Heat bodied oil, fumed silica and amber on hardboard.
Private collection.
Check out the episode here, or look for Suggested Donation on iTunes to subscribe.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2nd Annual Open Studio - In Review

Our 2nd Annual Open Studio was even more popular than last year, with a great turn out of artists, students, enthusiasts and collectors. The halls were completely filled from wall to wall with artwork, and several pieces sold that night. The live portrait demonstrations in both sculpture and drawing served as counterpoints to the finished work on the walls

Assorted works from core students 

In the Landscape-Still Life Hall
Liz Beard´s Green Boots
Rebecca Gray's still life set-up
Cast work in the Cast Hall
Patrick Byrnes still life set-up
Sculpture portrait sketches from the live demonstration
Observing the in progress figure sculptures from this month
Live portrait drawing demonstration in the figure hall 


Students Jessica Artman, Zoe Dufour and Al Costanzo

Jon deMartin, Anthony Baus, Jon Brogie and Michelle Palatnik each sold works, and many more inquiries continue yet. If you missed this year's Open Studio event, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year!

Photo Credit: Mariana Hernandez-Rivera