MAY 24, 2007
My class at the University of the Arts has just concluded and as I mentioned earlier, the final assignment was a dragon. The students come to me with some foundation skills but few keep sketchbooks, and really don't know what their style is yet. They are students. We start first semester working from the figure, drawing then learning the portrait, then monochromatic painting the introduce color. Second semester we learn portrait painting and ease out of that and into an illustration class. I try to sense what they need to do or try and move them into that direction. All the time, I stress the need to marinate their brains in art, movies, literature and the world to come to understand what they WANT to paint or draw. Suddenly, in most cases these students find a voice. If I see a spark I fan it and try to encourage a fire out of them. With this final assignment, I gave them one word, "Dragon" and I could see their faces freeze. A few smiled thinking they won the lottery but soon found out everything has been done before, and doing something special is kind of hard. I want to show some of these young artist a moment here on my Drawger blog.
This artwork is by Tim Durning. His words: "With this piece I tried to redesign the dragon from the combination-animal point of view. Instead of something terrifying like a typical dragon I wanted a more nautical/aerial type of creature that would relate more to the idea of good, rather than a monster."
Tim Durning started working traditionally and started to finish his work on the computer. He is using the digital tools well and adds to his drawing without losing the freshness of the ideas or lines.
Here is Tim's sketch.
This is a portrait by Stephanie Struse. She was one of my more experimental artist in the class and I expect great things from her in the future. This piece combines two kinds of art she did in the class; black and white line work and oil painting.
Eric Braddock was the class mayor; first to talk in crits and helpful and supportive of everyone. He is a fan of Sci-fi, fantasy and has great ideas and ambition. He will be a stellar senior next year.
This illustration spread is by Shane-Michael Vidaurri. He's a great kid and keeps beautiful sketchbooks. He writes about his spread: "This comic explores the magic that surrounds dragons, the legendary creatures of folklore. To me, it only makes sense that they would live behind closed doors in ancient places."
Alexis Olsen was the sunshine in our class, always cheerful and pleasant. You would want her in your class. She came on strong in the second semester and did many great pieces including my favorite for the class. Early on in the second semester I gave the class and assignment to make an illustration that is NOT just a scene. MOre of a juxtaposition of images that don't necessarily make liner sense or order. She latched onto this concept. She wrote about this piece: "...Lately I have really been trying to make a senseless image, make sense, and to do this I try and create a sense of beauty and harmony throughout the piece..."
So now I put away all my teaching material and wait until the fall, where I start all over again with a new class of students. It's always hard to train a fighter into a good boxer only to watch them move onto other trainers and bigger fights. Good luck everyone at Uarts!
Finally here is Alexis' piece done just before the dragon. I love it.
I'm getting a few more images and these are really great too.
This is a sculpture made for reference by Lauren Lambiase. She's been in my class for 4 semesters and is a good friend. She had no idea how to even think of doing a dragon so she did this to help her see it and light it.
Here is Lauren's final art.
As a side note, my students are sometimes my models and Lauren has helped me out a few times this year.
Book cover for "The Beast"
"Long May She Reign" Another book cover where the character is a cross between Mona Lisa and Emma Peel. Lauren IS that.
Here is another student, Lauren Lopilato. She can really draw well and her painting is coming along. She works from her imagination and does really great work.
Lauren Lopilato writes, "I was torn between a more fantastical, serious dragon and the cute dragon you see now. I figured it would be more fun to portray a dragon totally opposite to the norm. So I took the stereotype of a dragon guarding a princess in a tower and turned it around into a cute and playful scene. "
© 2023 Tim O'Brien