Thursday, May 22, 2014

Interview with Gregory Mortenson

Self-Portrait in Russian Hat, Oil on Linen, 16" x 14", 2012
by Gregory Mortenson
Leeanna: You were one of the first students to enroll and graduate from The Water Street Atelier in its current location in NYC. Can you tell me about your history and growth as an artist here?

Yeah, I was in that first group that started studying at the Grand Central Academy.  I remember being a little star struck.  I had been following the work that was coming out of the Water Street Atelier for years.  Suddenly I was studying with the superstars of that group.   My growth as an artist has been immense.  I think the most measurable take away has been adding theory and understanding to my method.  Before studying here, art making seemed somewhat magical to me.  I sometimes would look at my own work and wonder, “how did I do that?”  Now I have a very specific method where I know A+B gets me to C.

Orveda, 20" x 16", Oil On Linen, 2012
by Gregory Mortenson
Leeanna: Looks like you travel a lot. Your portraits for your Haiti series are beautiful. Can you tell me a little more about what prompted your study and series in Haiti and what some of your future plans are?

Gregory My first trip to Haiti was shortly after the earthquake of 2010.  When I saw the devastation on TV I wanted to help somehow.  I got the opportunity to go with a friend who was building an orphanage and schoolhouse for children who lost their homes in the quake.  I helped with some manual labor and did a few sketches on that trip.   I really wanted to be more involved with the kids but I just didn’t know what I could do to help.  Last year I was able to return to Haiti where I taught some drawing classes.  The children range from K-12 so I broke it down into three different age groups and taught them still life and portrait drawing.  They loved it and I found it very rewarding.  I plan on returning this summer and teaching more classes and sketching as much as I can.  In 2015, I plan on having a fund-raising show at Arcadia Gallery.  The show will be built around the orphanage and children there.

Leeanna: That's wonderful Gregory! I look forward to seeing your show at Arcadia. I hope more artists become inspired by how you've helped a community and do the same. Another painting that caught my eye was one titled "Underground Busk" of a young accordion player. Can you tell me what inspired this piece?

Underground Busk, 40x22", Oil on Linen with Gold and Silver Guilding, 2013
by Gregory Mortenson

Gregory Melissa is the model that I used for that painting.  I drew and painted her several times here at the GCA.  She came to New York to get her MFA in classical piano at NYU.  While here, she picked up the accordion and joined several bands.   On occasion, I would hang out with her outside of the studio.  Often she would play on the street as we waited for a bus or a subway.  She always attracted a crowd and start an instant party. Years later I got the idea to paint her as a street performer.  She came to my studio, and as we got caught up, I found out she was actually making a living “busking” on the subway.  In fact, she was planning on performing immediately after our modeling session.  I accompanied her to the subway to get a feel for what it was like.   It took about a year of working on again, off again but I finally got her in my studio enough to finish the painting.  The subway platform I used in the background is a mosaic at the Bryant Park subway stop not far from the GCA.

Leeanna: Gregory, as a student of yours in the past for your figure class, I can attest to your patience and kindness as a teacher. Can you tell us a little more about your technique and what your students can expect to achieve in your portrait workshop?

Gregory In the workshop we’ll do a detailed block-in with graphite on paper, working out the perspective, anatomy, and structure of the portrait.  Then we’ll transfer that drawing onto a canvas.  The next step will be the imprimatura, where we will do a monochromatic wipe-out, effectively focusing on establishing a hierarchy of value and strengthening the drawing.  The next stage will focus on turning the form.  There will be emphasis on the physics of light, as well as discussions around hue, chroma, value and some Munsell basics. Of course every student will have different experience levels and goals.  I’ll work with each student individually to help them achieve those goals.

Gregory will be teaching a Portrait Drawing and Painting Workshop  June 2nd - 6th

$625 (deposit $325)
10am - 5pm (lunch: 1-2pm) • Monday - Friday
Full payment due upon registration.
Class open, limit is 14 students.

To register now and save your seat, click here!

Click here to view our Summer Workshop Schedule.

New Suggested Donation Podcast - George O'Hanlon of Natural Pigments

Pictured Left to Right: Tony Curanaj, Ted Minoff, George O'Hanlon

Suggested Donation Podcast, produced by artists and GCA teachers Ted Minoff and Tony Curanaj, has released a new podcast featuring George O'Hanlon from Natural Pigments. Listen to this interview for an in depth study of artist's materials. George walks listeners through his view on the state of the artist's materials business, and the differences in what we are using now versus what artists of the past used.  George is very thoughtful and knowledgeable - to learn more you can sign up for his "Best Practices" lecture. Tony also tests Ted on his materials awareness. 

Check out this latest podcast here.
Or click here to link to iTunes.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Monday Portraits

Every Monday a group of GCA students and instructors come together for a 4-hour afternoon portrait session. Here are images from the last two Mondays including one by guest artist Shane Wolf.

Shane Wolf
Rick Piloco
Patrick Byrnes
Rebecca Gray

Leeanna Chipana
Raina Dai

Rick Piloco

Patrick Byrnes

Mary Jane Ward

Athena Kim

Ted Minoff

Rebecca Gray

Niki Covington

Leeanna Chipana

Jacob Collins

Friday, May 9, 2014

Ken Salaz Featured in Plein Air Magazine!

Artist Ken Salaz, a GCA alumn and Hudson River Fellow is featured in the April-May 2014 issue of PleinAir Magazine. His painting was selected for the cover! Click here to download the full article. 

Ken will also be teaching a GCA landscape painting workshop this summer during the Hudson River Fellowship in Jackson, New Hampshire:

Essential Landscape Painting - from Technique to Poetic Expression
July 21 - 23 (3 days), $425

Course Description:
The instructor will approach the landscape by breaking it down into the fundamental elements of Drawing, Value, Composition, and Color. This will be enhanced by a demonstration of atmospheric perspective, edge control, quality of light source, and paint application. There will be a detailed explanation of how to approach the different textures of Water, Trees, Sky and Landmass. In addition to these elements, participants will be guided through the process of developing a painting through the following stages: A small color study, a Plein Air Study, and a Light Effect Study. The workshop will conclude with the teaching of the idea of Light Effect and what decisions are necessary for achieving a powerful light effect directly from Plein Air work. Personalized and daily critiques are a foundation of this workshop. Each participant is encouraged to bring one sample of previous work.

Click here for enrollment information and for a listing of all our summer 2014 workshops!

Monday, May 5, 2014

GCA Still Life Competition 2014 - Call for Entries

Apply now for the 2014 Still Life Competition

The 2014 Still Life Competition is a six day event in which finalists will compete to compose and paint a still life painting for 8 hours each day. Participants are asked to bring their own objects for their painting, but the judges will also unveil one or two objects that everyone must add to their composition. 

We are very pleased to announce the judges for this year's competition:

Jacob Collins
Founder of the Water Street Atelier, GCA and the Hudson River Fellowship, Painter, Instructor

Keith Christiansen
Chairman of the Department of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tony Curanaj
Painter and GCA Instructor

The paintings will be evaluated for drawing, composition, perspective, light effect and paint quality. Each work will be also be judged as an overall work of art and for whether it speaks to the aesthetic values of the classical still life tradition. The best three works will be awarded $10,000, $3,000, and $2,000 for first, second and third place respectively.

The competition is open to all artists. No matter whether a student or professional, young or old, all are encouraged to apply. 

Applications are due June 1st, and the competition will take place July 27 through August 1st. Notification for finalists will be sent Mid-June. To apply online, complete the application form and all instructions located here.

On the first day of the competition, 3 objects will be revealed that must be included in every painting along with the objects each painters brings. The first day may be spent working on composition. The competition room will be open daily for public viewing from 1 - 2 PM during the lunch break. On Friday evening, August 1, we will host an awards ceremony and reception from 7 - 9 PM, also open to the public.

Friday, May 2, 2014

From GCA to Ireland

Last August, the luck of the Irish, was with workshop participant Julie Douglas as she attended our TNT portrait painting workshop with Ted Minoff and Travis Schlaht. She was so inspired by her experience she couldn't help but bring a little bit of GCA back with her to Ireland. (And Julie's returning again to study at GCA for another week this summer!)

Over the course of this past year, Julie has designed and implemented a new Drawing seminar and workshop series called 'Draw In' which is scheduled for this Summer at Belfast School of Art in Belfast, Ireland.

'Draw In' brings together a variety of fine artists, including architects, animators, illustrators, designers, botanic artists, sculptors and painters, who all define drawing as the core of their craft. The event consists of a 2-day weekend Symposium with panels, demonstrations, discussions and workshops. Leading up to and concluding the Symposium are two 5-day workshops in the classical tradition featuring our very own WSA graduate, Matt Weigle and GCA Instructor, Colleen Barry.

Julie hopes it is the first of many to come! And so do we!

Pictured: Travis Schlaht, Ted Minoff & Matt Weigle
in TNT Portrait Painting Workshop August 2013

Draw In: A Symposium to Celebrate the Value of Drawing Today: August 25 – September 5th, 2014

To learn more about 'Draw In' please visit:

Colleen is also teaching a workshop at GCA this summer: July 14 - 18: The Structure of the Human Body: A Drawing Workshop. To sign up: click here.