IMC 2013 - Day Seven

Here's the belated IMC last-day post! So, on the last day, we cleaned up the studios and set up our finished (or still-in-progress) paintings on display. Unfortunately, I can't post any of those amazing illustrations yet, because some of them were still unfinished, and I need to get permission from the artists. I will post several of my favorites in a few weeks.

While wandering around admiring the art, everyone signed everyone else's sketchbooks. Here are just a few of the scribbles I collected:


Julie Bell and Boris Vallejo gave me a pair of dragons.


Rebecca Guay drew an elf. Irene Gallo, Julia Singh, Dirk Tiede, and Judy Riggenbach also gave me doodles and signatures.

Over the week, people had also been drawing on the whiteboard in the dorm's common room:


The IMC this year (and last year) has been one of the best weeks of my life. I learned and laughed so much, and had a few crises along the way, but so did everyone else. We're all mad here.

IMC 2013 - Day Six

I didn't get much painting done today. I started Loki's hair and face, but I want to do a few quick studies of his back and robes before I paint them. Anna Mohrbacher was kind enough to take a photo of me while I was working.


And here's a really dim photo of the piece in progress. (It's gloomy outside. I think it rained nearly every day this week.)


The students and faculty, photographed by David Palumbo:


Yes, that IS a mammoth! Amherst College has an amazing natural history museum with dinosaur skeletons, footprints, and crazy minerals.

The college also has an art museum with a Bouguereau. A BOUGUEREAU. Here. In Massachusetts. Just up the hill from the IMC studios. I'm still in shock.


Cupid pours thoughts of love into a young girl's ear, distract her from her work. I stared at this painting for a long time, hoping to absorb some of his genius by osmosis.

IMC 2013 - Day Four

Today I took the best parts of my sketches and mashed them together in Gimp, blew it up to the size I wanted, reversed the image, printed it, drew over it, flipped it over on top of my illustration board, and did a rubbing transfer. (Yes, it's a weird, complicated process.)

Then I began drawing over the transfer.


Rebecca Guay helped me design some interesting flowy robes for Loki. (I love Rebecca's paintings. As a child I loved the book covers she painted without ever knowing her name, until last year when I finally connected the name with the illustrations.)

So. Painting tomorrow!

IMC 2013 - Day Three

Today I began by obsessing over bones and muscles. I want my painting to have a very Classical/Grecian statue mood. Florence_statue_hercules_killing_the_centaur

(Update: a reader has informed me that this is a statue of Hercules fighting Nessus, sculpted by Giambologna.)  I found this amazing statue in one of my Google searches, but I can't find the name of the artist. This is Hercules fighting a centaur. I love that hand pressing against Hercules' chest. I want to use that hand.

So I went back to my reference photos and began piecing together arms and legs and torsos.


At this point Donato told me to stop obsessing over musculature and concentrate on the faces, since the faces are the most important thing-- that's where the viewer's eye will linger, and the emotion on the faces is what will make the painting.

So I went and drew emotive faces.


James Gurney came today to give a lecture. He walked around the studios and stopped to talk with me for a while. He said he loved those heads!

Several other people thought that these faces weren't expressive enough, so I turned on Youtube and got Tom Hiddleston's face and drew sad Loki and screaming Loki. That ought to be emotive enough.

In the end, I decided I really like that second pair of Thor and Loki heads. Those are the faces I'm going with. This is a moment of calm in the midst of the battle, when Thor has to decide if he really has the strength of will to bring that hammer down on Loki.

IMC 2013 - Day Two

Most of today was spent taking reference photos for our paintings.  Yesterday in my critique group, Julie Bell told me that I needed to stop making thumbnails (since I had a good one) and go straight to the photoshoot, because I had a complicated pose that couldn't really be conceptualized without reference photos. The students and faculty here are wonderful about posing for references.   I posed for three valkyries, two Daeneryses, and one Titania.  (Norse stuff, Game of Thrones, and A Midsummer Night's Dream are all among this year's illustration assignments.)

I found two amazing models for Thor and Loki! We shot the photos outside because the sky was nicely overcast, what Dan Dos Santos called "perfect Bouguereau lighting," which is exactly what I want for this painting.

I associate Bouguereau with soft, graceful paintings of angels, children, and Madonnas.  However, on a Google search for more of his art, I found this:


Look at the muscles! This is a scene from Dante's Inferno.  Dante and Virgil are standing in the background, watching.

Now that I have my photo references, back to sketching.

IMC 2013 - Day One

I'm back at the IMC! I loved it so much last year that I had to come again. (It's totally worth the money.) The first day was spent in critique groups. My sketches of Thor and Loki were critiqued by Julie Bell and Donato Giancola.


And the photo is blurry because they were moving so fast for my camera couldn't keep up.


EVERYONE, including my brother, his wife, other students, Donato, and Julie agreed that the sketch on the bottom right is the best. Thor and Loki are eye-to-eye, staring at each other. The moment before the hammer comes down and the dagger strikes. Old friendship vs. bitter hatred.


Julie's quick marker drawing of the basic shapes in the design. Ball of lightning in the upper left from Mjölnir. White column-shapes of the bodies. Dark mist around them.


I went back to Donato for more help with the pose. He did these sketches as suggestions. His paintings are so deeply emotional and epic, and I want to channel as much of that as I can.


More revised thumbnails. Tomorrow I'll shoot my reference photos. I've already cornered a model for Thor...


I'm headed to the IMC again this year.  (YES!!)  One of the illustration assignments is an action sequence involving vikings or Norse mythology.  I don't usually paint muscley men in combat, so I want to give it a shot.  I've also been on a Norse mythology kick recently, triggered by the recently released trailer for Thor 2.  (Loki's HAIR.) In the Norse tales, Loki and Thor were not brothers, though they behaved a lot like brothers.  One was always dragging the other along on some wild quest, and someone (usually Loki) had to get them out of whatever mess Thor's impetuosity caused.

At some point the two became enemies, or rather, Loki became everyone's enemy.  Either way.  At the end of the world, at Ragnarok, Loki will fight on the side of the monsters and the dead, and Thor on the side of men and the gods.


I did a lot of quick sketches from combat videos on Youtube.  On the right, Loki with his dagger.  On the left, Thor with Mjölnir.  I'm debating about whether a one-handed or two-handed hammer is cooler.


But I don't want to go completely action-scene-muscley-men-fighting.  The real tension in this battle is bitter, venomous hatred-- and any lingering love.  After all, one of Thor's kennings in mythology is "he who has compassion for Loki," and one of Loki's is "friend of Thor."


Another sketch for Loki, casting fire.

IMC Day 7

In which famous and not-yet-famous artists play soccer:

The guy leading the charge for the soccer ball is Donato Giancola.

And I am painted as Jane by Julia Singh (that's me in the photo reference at the top left):

And I continue to paint snow and flowers.  Right now I'm much happier with the snow than the flowers.  The ugly blur in the bottom center is where I'm erasing  a tulip:

IMC Day 6

I painted. I painted a lot. I grabbed any faculty member who walked by in an attempt to stuff my brain full of any wisdom they could give me. Winter vs Spring, in progress:

Doug Gregory from Blizzard Entertainment gave a lecture on cutting the essentials of an image down to basic shapes and silhouettes. So I did a few thumbnail sketches of Harry Potter sitting in his cupboard under the stairs and asked Doug to look at them:

Doug told me to first make a list of the essential elements of the image, which are:

  • Harry
  • Broken toy soldier
  • Dangling lightbulb
  • Slanted ceiling (underside of staircase)

And then he drew some basic silhouettes:

Poor Harry!

IMC Day 5

Today James Gurney gave two lectures on Composition & Worldbuilding, and Color & Light.  (He signed my copy of Dinotopia!) Then he and Dan Dos Santos gave a painting demonstration with a live model:

Same subject, very different styles and colors.

And Donato Giancola worked on his painting of Gandalf and Frodo at Bag End:

I started painting Spring vs Winter. The value studies turned out to be very helpful, but since I'm not used to translating black and white to color, I've been using the black/white filter on my camera to check my references and my painting, making sure that things are dark or bright enough.

Skulls! I've never painted them before.

IMC Day 3

So after much wrestling with sketches of dead deer, I decided to ditch Katniss and go back to an old idea of my own:  a fairy-like girl summoning spring at the end of winter.

And suddenly this creature of life and green things comes up against a tomb.  Death vs.  life, winter vs. spring.  Only her spring is not powerful enough to touch this winter.

Under the advice of Donato and Rebecca, I made lots of thumbnails.  Lots and lots of thumbnails.

Bottom right thumbnail was drawn by Rebecca as an example. (Famous illustrators are drawing in my sketchbook!!!)

I wanted a sort of creepy cross for the grave. I asked Brom for help, since is he famous for creepy.  So he drew a creepy grave for me:

On the left, sketch by Brom. (Sorry for the poor lighting. I am working on a borrowed computer that doesn't have an image editing program.) Hopefully tomorrow I'll finish the drawing.

IMC Day 2

In which famous illustrators show people how to vastly improve their sketches:

These are the four faculty I was with most of the day.  Left to right: Dan Dos Santos, Iain McCaig (he did art for Harry Potter and Star Wars!), Rebecca Guay, and Greg Manchess.

Then the famous illustrators decided to act out what they were talking about:

All in all, a good day. (Although I hate the Hunger Games more than I did yesterday, so I may scrap Katniss altogether.)

IMC Day 1

I arrived at the Orlando Airport this morning.  I've been to this airport before, but apparently since the last time I was there, they adopted a new mascot: Freaky Racoon.

I took a picture because I thought he was hilarious. Lots of things are hilarious when I've only had a few hours sleep.

Then, in the elevator, I encountered Freaky Racoon again, this time in plush form:

At this point my mom said I was acting like a tourist from Wisconson.

The lovely swamps of Central Florida-- my view from the plane. I had forgotten the airplane smell: recycled air, a hint of tar, and cleaner.  I love that smell.  It's the smell of travelling.

A few hours later I arrived in Conneticut and got a shuttle to Amherst College, Massachusetts.  I had forgotten that in Massachusetts, all the streets are named things like Liberty Ave or Congress Blvd.  (And I just realized that I have been spelling Conneticut wrong my entire life, because spell check informs me that it should be "Connecticut." )

I wanted to take pictures of my dinner adventure in this quaint New England town, but although I remembered my camera, I left the memory stick in my dorm room.  Speaking of which, this is my dorm room:

My room is in the basement on the side of a hill, and there are these cool  little steps in front of the door.  The dorm was built in 1912 and has a fireplace in the common room and old fancy-glass windows.   Very Hogwarts-ian.  I keep expecting to see Malfoy.

Oh yes.  This week is about illustration.   Of the possible subjects we were assigned to illustrate, I chose The Hunger Games.  I am not a fan of The Hunger Games.  (I will never forgive that author for what she did to Peeta.)  But I do love to paint the Appalachian area that Katniss knows as District 12.

Katniss hunting. The deer's last sight of the setting sun.  Sort of a metaphor for the innocence of the Tributes being led to the slaughter by the Capitol.

Quick colour sketch.  I ♥ painting mountains.  I want to paint Katniss wearing dirty, muddy clothes that have been patched and torn and grass-stained, clothes that would blend into the bushes.  Only her face would be lit up by the sun.  The deer is the focal point.  Katniss is half-hidden.

Tomorrow the faculty will critique our sketches and we'll get to find a place in the studios.   Breakfast starts at 7am.  I am not by nature an early riser, so we'll see how well this goes...

Tomorrow the faculty will critique our sketches.