Wednesday, August 16, 2017

SmArt School with Greg Manchess, September 13th


--Greg Manchess

To pull a person into your image for the split-second opportunity you have to capture their attention, you need mad skills to do it. Skill is not automatic and must be learned. Learned through hard training.

And training takes focus.

My SmArt School online class starts up again this September 13th! For 15 weeks we are going to focus on just how that’s done. Over and over again, on each of your paintings, I will guide you to understand depth, value, contrast, line, overlapping, light, and lots more, including paint mixing, and application. Building an image a level at a time, working your way to the finish. With every piece.

I’m not talking about technique either. I’m talking about learning to use each of the principles above to build powerful composition, and composition, used well, will give you concept. Not the other way around.

That’s right. I doubt you’ve ever heard that before. Learn to design good concepts by understanding powerful composition first. In my class, over the course of the Autumn semester, you will learn more about composition than you even thought possible. It takes 100% focus, but the simple principles are easy to understand.

It’s just the massive dedication you might stumble over. But then, you knew that…right?

Join me this Fall and we’ll step our way through it together. We have a great time, and if you want more of an idea about my teaching, listen to what this student said about my class. (scroll down)

Find out how focused training can give you the skills to produce the paintings you want.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Toned Paper Drawings

by Cory Godbey


As I've been working my way through my 2017 sketchbook, one facet I'm particularly excited to show is the toned paper and white charcoal drawings.

While I've been putting together yearly sketchbooks since 2008 it's only been since 2015 that I've included toned paper drawings and studies in those sketchbooks. Why only since 2015? I have no idea. I really should have been doing this all along because they are a joy to create.

They are relatively quick to do and when that white charcoal hits the paper they really come to life. 

One of these days I'll to do a post on the how and whys of creating annuals sketchbooks on a theme but until then here's a look at some of the finished toned paper drawings from my upcoming 2017 collection. If you're going to be in town for New York Comic-Con I hope you'll stop by and take a look! I'll be debuting the sketchbook and related work at the show in October.


If you, like me up until pretty recently, haven't gotten around to exploring what this medium has to offer, the materials list is nice and simple. Low stakes entry point, well worth experimenting.


I start most all my work with a brown Prismacolor Col-erase. From there I'll lightly work up the drawing switching back and forth between a BiC 0.5 and General's Kimberly 2B. For anything darker I'll go with a General's Kimberly 8B (or 4B). A blending stump can be useful for rendering. Lastly, the white charcoal.

As for paper I usually work with a Strathmore 400 series. I'm sure there are others but this one has always done the trick for me.

And here's a quick look at the progression:



I've found that doing these pieces are great for studies or just taking a thumbnail and working it up into a more respectable idea. This might sound simple and obvious but somehow or another it took me years to get around to putting any real time into the medium. Again, I say all this to say if you, like me until relatively recently, haven't given toned paper a shot, go for it. It's a delight.

These can make for great pieces for collectors and they lend a nice visual variety to a sketchbook.





2017 marks my tenth annual sketchbook. 

Over the last decade I've gone from collecting random drawings done throughout the year to creating an intentional series on theme. One of the major things I've learned in that time is that by creating a framework for yourself, by creating works on theme, you give yourself a world to explore. It's concentrated development. When you take one main idea, one theme, and turn it around in your mind you begin to uncover new possibilities and directions that you might not have thought of otherwise. 

I know that's been the case for me over the last ten year's worth of personal work and toned paper drawings have become an integral part in my creative process.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Arahbo, Roar of the World

-By Jesper Ejsing


I love Magic the Gathering. I play with the cards every week, and the time I am not playing I am sorting out teh decks and try to come up with different new combos for playing. So I was extra thrilled when I got an assignment for a magic card for an upcoming Commander card. Commander is a special format within Magic and is my favourite format.

Mark Winters, my art director at Wizards, ask me to do a huge cat lord, an elephant size cat looking like a mix between a lion and a snow leapoard. He is roaring and surrounded by snow leopards in a snow canyon. “Great!”



I had a complete pure image in my head and sketched it out right away, loved it and submitted it for approval and got a green light a couple of days later.

And then I started looking at it... And my evil mind started to doubting it.

The sketch was too static. He looked moaning rather than roaring his pose was passive and the weight was weak and he was looking away from the camerea. “This is a Commander, Jesper. You cannot let this weak illustration be the Commander”, I said to myself, and started all over again. But I couldn’t go completely back to scratch, I had approval, so I needed to stay within the same angle, zoom and so on. But I could make a better Lion. I changed its face and posture. I raised him up so that he was rearing back, as if in a mid jump, roaring and showing teeth. I gave him horns, one broken to show how old he was. I even sketched in an ethereal glowing crown hovering above his head, but abandoned the idea because it would collide with my plans for the lightsource.


I was super happy with the new drawing and started painting a color comp. I tried 2 version. My ususal purple and blue, and a bluishgreen with a hint of warm brownish. I knew I would like to paint the purple one, but the card was a Green/White card and the second rough would do that way more justice. So I chose the more difficult one.


I painted it and sent it to Mark.


When I got the mail asking for some minor revisions my heart sank. First off, the horns was making him look too much like a demonic creature. “ Argghhh, Jesper. You should have known, he is right”, I cursed at myself. And painted away the horns. The second revision was harder. Mark was really liking the more stoic lion from my first sketch, and he asked if I could put his lifted foot down to make him less attacking and more regal? “I know, Mark” Palm to forehead. “ I went to far from the first sketch. Actually I looked at the old one again and found that what I liked about it in the first place was the regal pose…

I sucked up my nervousness, tightend the belt and painted the whole leg away. Mind you, this is acrylic paint on top of a complete final painting. Lets just say I held my breath a lot. I repainted a new leg pulled in under him a bit, added a cliff and some rock to rest on, and painted some the leopards in the background so they would match the new leg. Also; after I removed the horns the weight of the movement of the whole body seemed a bit shifted, so I removed a couple of fur strands. I am super happy with the final result. And a bit embarressed that I had to go through so many changes of heart. But it was mainly because I was nervous of not doing a great job.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Art of Motion

-By Ron Lemen


Motion and sound are very difficult to paint, which is why I think I am so drawn to them.  I'm not saying that I do not enjoy painting "easy" subject matter, whatever that means, but rather, I like as difficult a challenge as possible, something that wakes up every corner of the creative space in the brain, tempts and challenges everything you know and understand, and then letting it all go and allow mishaps, mistakes, other means of guidance to intervene where normally we would never allow ourselves to do such things.

A few big influences on me artistically came from all the cool magazines my grandparents had lying around the house.  Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, National Geographic, Road and Track are the first that come to mind, especially Road and Track for all the amazing car art that I remember staring at for hours.  I was in awe of how someone could "paint" something to look like it was in motion, and also make it look so real.

As I start to push my imagery towards the problem solving of sound and motion, I look more and more to my collection of favorites from the magazines.  What I take away from this group of artists is a bit more abstract than straight forward, I think their art will speak more efficiently than any words I could assemble together in attempt to describe what it is they have done for me.

Keep in mind that when I found these artists in my youth, they were a different form of inspiration and of spirit than when I found them later on in my "career" when I was actually in need of their expertise.  Regardless, what I have taken away from them in whatever stage of my intellectual or technical growth has been forever beneficial to how I think about and stage motion and movement in my work, albeit, what I still have struggle with is to achieve exactly how I feel about what I see in my mind.

To help me combat this mental battle I have a few artists I fall back upon to help reinforce the objectives I hope to achieve in my work as successfully as they did in theirs.   Here are many of my favorites that help influence my approach to the way I tackle such abstract subject matter.  You don't have to like automotive art much to appreciate the amazing things these artists have done to try and trigger the other senses in our heads when we look at and experience the art they have created.  Here are a few of my go to artists for this needed inspiration.



At the top of this list for me is Dexter Brown.  This artist pushed the limits of motion in painting, stretching rendering, abstraction, graphic design, and color to the limits.  Here is a few of his tricks I have noted from studying his work as much as I have.   He uses the diagonal, a design element the old masters found worked well to convey something in motion.  Within the diagonal striping he also breaks up the space with pattern, very well controlled pattern.  Within those patterns he controls the color depth by systematically stepping down the chroma and the hues used to create a visual motion much like a color wheel gives our eyes.

In his book there are many examples of his sketches prior to the completed canvases which in my opinion are far superior to the finished works just out of the innocence of what he is designing and his brave mark making that has no preliminary drawing to fill in the way the finishes are developed.










William Motta was the art director for Road and Track, and a very good artist.  While he did not always test the boundaries of motion, he certainly created excitement in his pieces with his textures,  his slick design sense, and his fantastic placement of color.  I tried to find a few pieces of his that show motion but like many of these artists, the internet was not around during the height of his career so the only places where any body of work can be seen is from the galleries that collect his work or fans that have set up fan site pages so I could only find a few.  But I included several other images to show his design sense and his virtuoso use of color.

I love the psychadelic waves in this piece.








Walter Gotchske was the go to artist for Porsche during the mid 20th century.  He painted elegant stand alone pieces for their catalogs, as well as painting these amazing racing images, pushing gouache to its limit with all the complex variations of motion he experimented with.








Alfredo de la Maria is a fantastic painter, pushing sunlight to its limit with his oil pigments.  He is also extremely good at creating what look like the after effects of motion photography, and giving the designs he uses for that motion amazing personality and vivacity.









Juan Carlos Ferrigno was also amazing at painting motion.  Many of his pieces are cropped in very close to the vehicles, but even so, his use of pigment and the brush strokes he commands really gives a sense of movement to the subject matter.







Also to mention but not at the top of my list are George Bartell, Gordon Crosby, and Michael Turner are all also good at painting movement, but I find more of their works to be decorative than kinetic.  George Bartell in my opinion is better at figurative movement than when he paints vehicles in motion, but still very influential in that subject matter.



George Bartell







Gordon Crosby









Michael Turner





As much as I like these last few artists, I have learned from my favorites that sacrifice is a necessity and that rendering is less of the objective and concept is far more important.  Manipulating the materials and finding the strengths of each of them is also important when searching for these abstractions.

Many of these artists can be found in this book that is long out of print but can still be found on Amazon or elsewhere on the internet.  In it are also included 4 Berkeys that are almost worth the purchase of the book to acquire.  Although the art is older art, it is a fantastic source of inspiration for painters, especially tech painters.  I hope you find this art inspiring to your art whatever the subject matter might be.