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Talking and talking and talking...

MARCH 8, 2009
From the New Haven Register
This is my season of giving. I go long stretches without doing any presentations or talks about my work and illustration but it seems like March 2009 is the month of talking. As these presentations get closer I get more anxious. How will this work be received? It's certainly not cutting edge and will it come off as cool to newer illustrators? In the end I place myself in their minds and try to offer some insight into what I do and how I am able to survive so long. First, I've been doing many demos over the past few months both at the University of the Arts and at Pratt. I will do a post soon of all the demos, it's funny to see them all. Next I ran into my high School art teacher at my 25th high school reunion recently and had a wonderful time reconnecting. She is still amazingly dedicated and full of such great positive energy. She lit many fires under my listless body in the early 80's. In our conversation I said that I would love to come to her class and just sit and listen and talk to the kids. I am always curious about how young artists think and I thought it would be a fun day. I offered to do a demo. We agreed on it but it started to snowball a bit. Now I was getting a grant and helping to teach portrait painting to the kids in conjunction with black History month, celebrating figures from the civil rights movement. I gave the grant back to the class for supplies and went to my old school. Old teachers showed up and my elementary school art teacher was there too. My school was torn down a few years ago and they build a brand spanking new one in it's place, so it was not weird to re-enter the place again. The class was filled with healthy and attractive kids who seemed to have more than we did. Great materials and tables. I met the principle and stressed the value of art in any student's education. They obviously agree. I showed a couple of dozen originals to a very engaged group of kids. They were on par with any college level students as far as questions asked and reactions. The kids were with it! After that, I started a demo. The kids in the class stayed for hours in what was a in school field trip. They stood behind me as I did a portrait as they might do it. I don't work on white when I paint but imagined that they might. I did a crude drawing as well. The reason was I wanted to show how they could take that and make it a painting. I think they were blown away, not so much by the work but the trick of it all. I did a wash over the drawing and then scumbled a tone over that and began working. The local press showed up and I did two interviews while I worked and posed for photos. It was great fun. My teacher, Diana Blythe is a wonderful person. The class was teasing her for making me sound like a superman and she took it well. It's great knowing we have these people behind us, even as a man in my 40's. Incidentally, we are now almost the same age...how did THAT happen? I wrote earlier about my FIT panel last week, but that one was in the mix as well. Just talking and no tricks other than chatter. I can do chatter. The final talk is this week. I am off to visit California College of Art in San Francisco. Robert Hunt asked me and I jumped at the chance. I hope to see Adam and others when I'm out there too. Tim O'Brien Lecture at California College of Art Tuesday, March 10, 7 pm Timken Lecture Hall, San Francisco campus 1111 Eighth Street, San Francisco, CA 94107-2247 415.703.9500 Contact: Alexis Mahrus at amahrus@cca.edu or 415.305.4421 For CCA, I'm doing a Keynote/Powerpoint presentation on Tuesday evening. Prior to that I'm doing a demo in Robert's class. I'm crazy to do this in HIS class. Man, are these kids going to be jaded or what? They get to see Robert do his thing all the time. After this I go back to the studio with speaking finished, Society Galas enjoyed, and ideas in my head for some new pieces. There is a catharsis to getting out there and talking too much. I hear what I have to say about my work and how it looks. I get it all out and then have the feeling of having cleaned out my mind. Time for new work. Visiting the Burckhardt's helped as well. I got Barack Obama elected, now I have to take care of me.
Showing the work
The principle of the school He had a bright smile.
Talking and painting
Behind me is a very adoring teacher, Diana Blythe. It's either that or she's wondering what is up with my hair.
The demo finished. I drew this out of my head and tried to show them that a piece can be completed fairly quickly and to concentrate on values over color.
This is the son of two classmates of mine from high school who stayed together since. His father was the quarterback of the football team and Nick is as well. He's also interested in art and may be attending Parsons or Pratt. I thought he looked like a young Max Schmelling. I was right.
Poor Robert is putting me up on Monday night. I will mess up some part of his house I'm sure. Thanks Robert!
Topical: Procrastinations  
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