Friday, December 23, 2011

Greetings everyone,

It's two days before Christmas and nine days before the start of 2012. May all who read this have a joyous Christmas and Happy New Year!...

In mid November, I traveled to Pasadena, CA for my MFA in Illustration program through the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford. As before, it was a delight to see my fellow graduate students again. We were able to have the honor of meeting in person local professional illustrators and viewing their work. Some illustrators of note were Gary Meyer, Scott Anderson, Joan Charles, Dan Quarnstrom, Kenton Nelson, Paul Rogers and Bill Robles. All of these people produce wonderful work and I recommend anyone to check out their websites. As an assignment for the trip, I created a portrait of tennis star John McEnroe on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but done in the style of illustrator Robert Cunningham whom was mentioned in Murray Tinkelman's class last July. I chose Cunningham because I really admire his application of strong, bold colors and dynamic compositions. Below is the assignment I created:

In late November, it was a real pleasure that I received an assignment from the art director at Christianity Today in Brazil. It was for an article about how people read the Bible in different ways. The illustration will be published in the February issue of the magazine.  Here is the final illustration:

This past Fall, I taught an Oil Painting class at the long-established Edina Art Center.  It went really well. All the students were cooperative and eager to learn from me the methods and techniques of painting in oils. Looking forward to teaching the next class at Bloomington Art Center starting in January. The course will cover children's book illustration.

That's it for now. Talk to you in 2012!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Summer News

In my last entry, I mentioned how busy 2011 has been so far. Well, the "busyness" continued into the rest of the Spring and through the Summer...

In July, I returned to Hartford, CT for two weeks to attend classes for my MFA in Illustration program. It was good to be back in Hartford to catch up with my fellow classmates and meet the first year students.  But I especially enjoyed attending two classes that were taught by group of well-respected and established illustrators. The first one was Digital Illustration, which was led by Nancy Stahl and Zina Saunders. The assignment was to design and illustrate the introductory and interface screen for an IPad game. I chose to create a target practice game with William Tell, my thesis subject, as the theme (gain points by shooting the apple off the son's head!). The final pieces came out really well and I received very good reviews from students and the teachers. After seeing my finals, both Zina and Murray Tinkelman, the program director, said my work comes across as very genuine and personal and not contrived. Shown below are the two final pieces for the game assignment. In the second week we had a class taught by Gary Kelly and Chris Payne. In the beginning, both illustrators demonstrated their technique to the class, then afterward the students could work in one of those techniques and create their own pieces. I chose to produce a series of monoprints, a form of printmaking that Gary Kelly demonstrated. A few examples are shown below. While in that class, I was also able to show my portfolio website to both Gary and Chris. They commented on a number of my illustrations and gave me much valuable feedback on how to improve. One thing they emphasized on was the importance of finding other successful illustrators, past or present, whose works resemble mine and learn from them.

Lastly, I had the opportunity to teach some illustration and fine art classes at two long-established local art centers, Edina Art Center and Bloomington Art Center, this Summer.  It was a gratifying experience to share my knowledge to the students and see their interest and enthusiasm while they worked on their assignments during class.


Introduction screen for Digital Illustration class

  Interface screen for Digital Illustration class

Monoprint from Illustration II class

Monoprint from Illustration II class

Friday, April 29, 2011

SCBWI Conference and San Francisco

Quite a busy 2011 so far!

In late January,  I returned to New York City to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Winter Conference. The conference brought in a large number of children's book writers and illustrators from around the country.  It was very educational and inspiring to meet other creative people in the industry and listen to speeches by successful, well known authors and illustrators. The most beneficial attributes of the conference were three workshops that I attended.  These workshops, or presentations, were each lead by an art director from a prominent book publisher: Simon & Schuster, Viking (Penguin) and Little, Brown & Co. Each art director shared their professional knowledge and insight into the children's book industry. They also accepted sample postcards from the attendees who participated in these workshops.  While in NYC,  I took the opportunity to present my portfolio to art directors at a number of children's book publishers and received valuable feedback.

In March, my fellow MFA students and I reunited again for an exciting week in San Francisco. We had the great opportunity to meet a number of talented and professional illustrators from the Bay area and hear them speak about their work.  We also participated in two field trips while in Northern California. The first was a bus ride to San Jose to see the large collection of illustrations owned by "Bunny" Carter, an instructor at San Jose State and the Hartford Art School. The illustrations, many of them created during the first half of the 20th century, were wonderful and inspiring. The second trip was to LucasFilm at the Presidio in San Francisco, where we were able to have a rare tour of the facility and see many of the authentic props and models used in various LucasFilm movies.  Murray Tinkleman, the director of the program, and a few of the instructors from the Hartford Art School also participated in the trips.  On the final day, we had the critique for the NYC trip assignment, in which the students had to create an illustration with a New York City theme. Below is the piece I produced, which can also be seen in the Portfolio page of my website, Studiofmtrauts.

In the last few months, I had the opportunity to teach a few illustration classes. The subject in both classes was how to illustrate children's books. It was a pleasure to share my knowledge to a group of students who were eager to learn. On the last day, many of the students commented that they enjoyed the class and learned much from it, for which I was happy and grateful to hear.  I am scheduled to teach more classes later this Spring and through of the Summer.