Friday, April 25, 2014

"Examining the Russian Academic Tradition" Panel Discussion

The GCA will host "Examining the Russian Academic Tradition", a panel discussion focused on the methods and philosophy of Russian Academic art and the teachings of the Repin Academy in St. Petersburg. The panelists are:

James Sondow: A New Yorker by birth, Sondow traveled to the Repin Academy, becoming the first American to attend the sculpture program in 15 years. He studied at Repin for 5 years before returning to New York City, where he now resides.

Iliya Mirochnik: Born and raised in New York City, Iliya also sought out training at the Repin Academy, where he studied drawing and painting for 7 years, receiving his Masters in Fine Art. He now resides in New York City.

Jacob Collins: New York City artist and founder of Grand Central Academy

Please join us this Wednesday, April 30th, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at the Grand Central Academy on 20 W 44th St.  
To reserve your seat please RSVP simply by clicking YES on this form

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Summer Drawing Intensive

 The four week Summer Drawing Intensive (June 16th - July 11th) is an introduction to classical academic drawing. Students will work from antique casts and the live model, learning the rigorous methods taught in the core program in a condensed, but focused, time frame. 
Instructors Katie Whipple, Anthony Baus and Patrick Byrnes will address the fundamentals required to make a clear and accurate drawing. 
Establishing proportions and conceptualizing form will carry the artists' cast and figure drawings to a highly resolved finish. Students will gain greater technical facility and a deeper understanding of the Classical tradition.
 If you are interested in the 2014 Drawing Intensive, or other workshops at the GCA, visit our page of: Summer Workshops

Monday, April 21, 2014

In Conversation with Douglas Flynt

"Conches" by Douglas Flynt
Douglas Flynt is a full-time artist living and working in Fort Myers, FL. In addition to receiving his MFA from the New York Academy of Art, Douglas studied under Jacob Collins at the Water Street Atelier. His paintings depict resplendent light on form with strikingly accurate drawing. This July, we are eager to have Douglas teaching a 6-day Still-Life Painting Workshop.  Below, a very informative discussion on his technique.  ~Leeanna Chipana

Leeanna: Douglas, judging by your video tutorials and demos on your website you will have a lot packed into the 6-day workshop. How will you break it down for artists to understand in only 6-days? What can they expect to achieve?

Douglas: There will definitely be an intense amount of information.  We will create preliminary drawings to problem solve for placement and structure before we start painting. These will be transferred over to our linens or canvases.  We will next do a very simplified underpainting before modeling the form with paint in a subsequent layer.  Of course, to do this we will also investigate ways to layout our colors and explore why light causes the colors we perceive- along with how the organization of those colors creates a sculptural illusion. Because of the 6 day time-frame participants shouldn’t expect to walk out with elaborately finished paintings. I, of course, want them to feel good about what they do create but they need to think of the paintings they create as studies rather than masterpieces. I’m going to encourage everyone to keep their subject matter simple.

What I want everyone to be focused on is the process, along with the ideas and concepts, which go into the creation of a painting.  What they’re working on during the workshop is practicing an implementation of those ideas and concepts. It’s my hope that after the workshop is over,  they can then take that knowledge and apply it on their own, with as much complexity as they would like, and take as long as they need, to create more fully developed paintings.

"The Still Life Collection," by Douglas Flynt

Leeanna: Your students have spoken very highly of you, describing your teaching as “very generous” and your communication as very clear. It sounds like you are very passionate about teaching. When did you first start? What keeps you motivated?

Douglas: I believe I first started teaching around 2004. Like many artists it was initially out of necessity—needing an income.  However, I began to quickly find a number of the people I worked with, that is the people I taught, felt that I had a knack for conveying my thought process more so than many other instructors they had encountered. And of course it felt good to receive that kind of praise. But I also began to see another benefit. By having to explain to others what I was doing it made me more consciously examine my own thought process—and helped me further solidify my own understanding of both process and ideas.  And just like with anything else, with more and more teaching experience I’d like to think I figured out better and better ways to convey information to others.

My teaching philosophy centers around trying to get individuals to be consciously aware of what they are doing—to really get them to think about their actions. If they can do this they can ultimately learn to teach themselves. These days I still enjoy the financial benefits of teaching but the real excitement is to see someone experience an ”aha” moment.  Seeing the delight someone gets when they have a sudden realization, insight or comprehension regarding something they're working through.

Leeanna: Your colors are always so balanced.  Could you tell us a little bit about your composition process?

For my older paintings much of the color harmony was largely the result of a very limited palette.  Today I keep a wider array of colors on hand and my understanding of how to create color harmony is more theoretical. For compositional color choices it comes down to an understanding of the idea of color-space, or a three-dimensional organization of color, visualizing what section or gamut of color-space I plan to work with so that the average color choices in my painting favor a particular hue family. In more simple terms it’s my premise that if you could take all the colors in your finished painting, with the proportions that exist in the painting, and then swirl them together - the resulting mixture should not be neutral. The more the resulting mixture leans toward a particular hue family, the more harmonious the painting will be.

I often use clothing choices as an example to describe this in my workshops. If someone is wearing a chromatic, or intense, red shirt along with similarly intense red pants - the result is very harmonious, yet a bit boring.  If someone is wearing the same intense red shirt with pants that are an intense green - this clashes and would not be harmonious. Now, imagine that we keep the same red shirt and change out the pants for some that are still green but rather low in chroma, or a very greyish green. If we could mix the shirt and pants together, like paint, the result would still have a reddish color. We now have variety, which lends interest, but the result is still harmonious.

Leeanna: I noticed in your demo that you work directly on canvas. Here we usually use an “├ębauche” or “grisaille” as an under-painting before diving into modeling the form with paint. Do you find you have to work in layers or are you using a fast drying medium?

Douglas: In my own work it’s actually rather rare that I work directly onto my linen—unless I’m doing some type of paint sketch or study. I almost always create a preliminary drawing, which I transfer to my painting surface before I begin to paint. In the past there was a period where, once I had my preliminary drawing transferred, I would paint more directly, finishing as I went. However, these days I virtually always employ an ├ębauche or underpainting before moving onto my finishing pass—where I much more carefully refine the modeling of my objects. So yes, I guess you could say that I do work in layers, and during the underpainting stage I often employ an alkyd-based medium to accelerate drying time.

To read more about our Summer workshops click here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Interview with Jacob Collins - Suggested Donation Podcast

In the latest installment of Edward Minoff and Tony Curanaj's podcast, Suggested Donation, GCA founder and artist Jacob Collins talks about his own introduction to art, the inception of Water Street Atelier/GCA and his feelings concerning the contemporary art world - especially the development of representational painting in a post-Daguerreotype world.

Oil on Canvas
22 x 20 inches

With over 90 minutes of free-wheeling discussion, tune in and enjoy the show!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Copying at the Met - Workshop Week

Last week, about a dozen advanced students from the core program had the chance to study and copy directly from the paintings and sculptures on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal with several of the finest works of art spanning from Antiquity right up to the 19th century Hudson River School.
Niki Covington copying
"Alpheus and Arethusa", Battista Lorenzi
Jessica Artman copying
"The Vine", Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
Patrick Byrnes copying
"Portrait of a Young Man", Bronzino
Anthony Baus copying,
"Saint Nicolas of Tolentino Reviving a Child", Garofalo
Zoe Dufour copying
a marble relief of a horseman
Charlie Mostow copying
a bronze statuette of a youth dancing
Will Jones copying
"Study of Two Heads", Rubens
Sarah Bird copying
"Julius Angerstein", Lawrence
Connor de Jong copying
"The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak", Bierstadt
Abigail Tulis copying
"The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche", Schiavone
Michelle Palatnik copying
"Self-Portrait", Rembrandt
Every day for five days, we arrived at the Met Copyist Department, picked up our respective paintings and easels, and made our way through the halls to whichever masterpiece we had chosen. Painting in a museum like the Met, where the foot traffic is immense (consisting of people from all across the world) is quite an experience in itself. Several of the copyists found themselves within the center of literal mobs of people, while others managed to hide away in the smaller wings. Regardless, the experience was overwhelmingly positive and educational - the opportunity to so closely examine and reconstruct directly from the original paintings opened new levels of understanding into the methods and considerations of each copyist's respective painting.

Connor de Jong after Bierstadt
Anthony Baus after Garofalo
Patrick Byrnes after Bronzino
Will Jones after Rubens
Niki Covington after Battista Lorenzi
Charlie Mostow after unknown Greek
Jessica Artman after Harriet Whitney Frishmuth
Overall it was an excellent experience and many of us are hungry to return and copy again soon!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In Conversation with Camie Davis Salaz

"The Athlete" by Camie Davis Salaz
I have been a fan of Camie Davis Salaz for some time. She has quite the reputation around these halls for her skills as a figurative painter and for her unyielding teaching style.  “She pushes you for more,” Will Jones recently explained to me. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action this Summer when she arrives at GCA to teach a portrait workshop. Meanwhile, lets hear more about work... ~ Leeanna Chipana
Leeanna: Throughout history, the general public's knowledge of myth was robust in comparison to today. How do you think the viewer sees or relates to your work in lieu of their varying knowledge of the stories of myth?

Camie: I suppose it is natural for some, to feel Greek Mythology is not applicable to our modern age. The Greek Myths were indeed written for another civilization 3,000 years ago and yet they too wished to understand their world and their place in it, as a civilization and as an individual. One might argue that with all our "advancement" we are still wondering about the questions of Life, Death, Wisdom, Love and Beauty; the very content of Greek Mythology. 
Indeed, what study of Philosophy does not include Plato and Aristotle? What study of Science and Mathematics does not include Euclid? What study of Literature does not include Homer, Hesiod, Ovid..... And what true study of art does not begin in the cast hall, amidst the Greeks? 
Mythology speaks to me, partially because the questions and ideas are written in story form and are written quite Beautifully. Also, I am a sucker for Drama, Life and Death scenarios are my fave....
In regards to "the viewer and their knowledge of myth" it is my responsibility as artist to impart the ideas and/or meanings of the work of art as sincerely and beautifully as possible, whatever the viewer's comprehension of Mythology may be.
Leeanna: Speaking of drama, your figures are often in graceful, twisting or in contorted poses, how do you approach the design of your figures?  Is it from life or imagination?

Drawing for "Orion" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: I begin the pose with the idea of the work of art so I guess the answer is imagination. With Narcissus, I wished to capture both his character's inability to pull away from his self and his terror of drowning, so I tried to imagine what that would feel like and how the physical body would/could express these feelings and thoughts. I then explained my ideas to the legendary John Forkner; life model, athlete and Shakespearian actor, and he really took it home!! 
Because the poses are often difficult, I have to shorten the posing time, sometimes down to three minute poses. However, the benefit of a single artist studio is that my models only have to hold the part of the pose I am working on. I really couldn't do it without such wonderful models who believe in my projects and get into character.

Leeanna: Lastly, your portrait workshop description talks about learning how to create “naturalistic” flesh tones. Bringing about natural looking values to the skin is quite the challenge. Could you tell us a little bit about your process for achieving this?
Detail from "Narcissus" by Camie Davis Salaz
Camie: Working with color has not been a particular gift of mine, so I have had to resort to my understanding of hierarchy in Nature as my color guide. All color is in a hierarchy in nature; there is only one "highest chroma, only one "Darkest Dark", only one "brightest light" and all other values and hues must follow suit taking their place among the lesser chromas, the mid tones and so on. I have found that the more ordered a painting is, the more naturalistic it feels, so I rely heavily on these principals of hierarchy while teaching color.

Camie Davis is teaching a 3-Day Portrait Drawing and Painting Workshop

June 30th - July 2nd, $425 (Monday through Wednesday) In this workshop students will be working towards the completion of one finished portrait.

Click here to read more about our workshops.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Emilie Lee at Edwards Art Gallery

Contemporary Tradition
2014 Holderness School Alumni Art Exhibition

Emilie Lee

This weekend, art works by WSA graduate, Senior HRF Fellow, and GCA instructor Emilie Lee will be on view  at the Edwards Gallery in Plymouth, N.H.  When Emilie was here as a core student she was also a very active blogger so you may remember her from her pasts posts as well. Either way, if you find yourself in Plymouth be sure to attend her show!

A little more about Emilie Lee: Emilie Lee’s path brought her first to an art school base, followed by years of study in the tradition of nineteenth century European academy drawing, painting and sculpting methods at the Water Street Atelier. As an avid outdoors-person, Emilie’s concentration on landscape forms complements her portrait, figure, and still–life work with an innate love for nature, and its internal beauty. Her work is a reflection of this close, symbiotic relationship.

 “Contemporary Tradition” at the Edwards Art Gallery, Holderness School, Plymouth, NH. April 11 – May 25. M, Tu, Th, F - 9am - 5pm, and W & Sa – 9am - 12pm.

Opening Reception: April 11 at 6:30 – 8:00pm.
Artists” Gallery Talk: April 11, 12:45 – 1:25pm.

Emilie will also give in-class studio demonstrations of  her work on Thursday afternoon, 4/10, and on Saturday morning 4/12. Call below for details.

Franz C. Nicolay
Edwards Art Gallery, Director
603.630.2238 (c)

Click here for more information.

Michelle Palatnik wins Salmagundi Club's Richard C. Pionk Memorial Award

Congratulations to core student Michelle Palatnik who recently won the Richard C. Pionk Memorial Award for $1000 at the 2014 130th Annual Members' Exhibition at the Salmagundi Club for her painting "Coming Home."
Michelle Palatnik with her in process Rembrandt copy she created at the MET during last weeks Workshop Week.
Founded in 1871, the Salmagundi Club is one of the oldest arts organizations in the United States. Past members include William Merrit Chase, Childe Hassam, Howard Pyle, and N.C. Wyeth to name a few.  For more information about the club and membership click here:

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Report on Last Week's Workshop Week

Last week the studios were abuzz with lots of activity, workshops in every room. Regular classes were cancelled for a program of special offerings. This week, class schedules are back to normal and we're counting down the days to summer! Check out these images from the week:
Core students painted portraits with Jacob Collins all week in the South Studio.
Pictured: Devin Cecil-Wishing, Sam Worley, Leeanna Chipana, and Rebecca Gray.
On Wednesday students started working on poster studies with Jacob.
Pictured: Rebecca Gray and Sam Worley.
In the Sculpture Studio, Natural Pigment's George O' Hanlon lectured on
Painting Methods and Materials.
In the North Studio, Ted Minoff and Travis Schlaht taught portrait painting for the TNT Portrait Sketch workshop.
Pictured: Ted Minoff with student.
Students in the TNT Portrait Sketch workshop take a deserved coffee break.
WSA graduate Matt Weigle joins us this week for the TNT Portrait Sketch Workshop.

Other core students spent Workshop Week copying painting or sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stay tuned for a blog post on their work by Connor deJong.

Photo Credit: Mariana Hernandez-Rivera

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

James Sondow's Evening Sculpture Class

By popular demand in the core student student body, Beaux Arts Atelier instructor James Sondow is now teaching an evening sculpture class. The class just started yesterday, but the students would like to open the class to the general GCA community. There are 3 spots remaining and 7 more class sessions left - so jump on in if you are interested in learning the techniques of Russian sculpture!

Sessions: Every Tuesday/Thursday April 1-24th - 6-9 PM
Cost: $150
Location: GCA Sculpture Studio

Figurative Sculpture: The Russian Method
This course will introduce students to the Russian Academic method of conceptualizing and sculpting the human figure, which relies heavily on construction, composition, and the anatomical underpinnings of idealized classicist form from antiquity. Students will be guided to see the figure through strong clear demarcation of planes that integrate the weight, proportion, gesture, and likeness of the model. This will provide conviction to students’ decisions as they are pushed past simple silhouettes to think three dimensionally and feel how the various anatomical planes flow together and bind a complex set of distinct anatomical structures into the totality that is sculpture.  This approach is part of a living tradition that has passed down through an unbroken chain of generations since the Russian Academy’s inception over 250 years ago.

A native New Yorker, James was first introduced to figurative drawing in his teens at the Art Students' League and Hunter College High School. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1996, James taught art for the next decade at the Rubin Museum, Saint Ann's School, and various public schools while refining his craft, studying life drawing, painting, and sculpture at Pratt, SVA, and the Art Students' League. In 2003, he began his classical training in the Russian academic method at Bridgeview School of FIne Arts in New York City. Two years of intensive summer study at Russia's premier art academy, the Ilya Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, cemented James' affinity for their thorough program and their strict teaching methodology. Relocating to St. Petersburg from 2007 to 2012, James became the first American accepted to the Repin Institute's sculpture department in over 15 years. He has exhibited both drawing and sculpture in New York City and St. Petersburg and received various awards including, most recently, the Gloria Medal at the 2013 National Sculpture Competition held at the New York Academy of Art. 

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