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Urban Sketching show opens Sunday in Pointe Claire

July 3, 2015

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My friend Shari Blaukopf has been working with the Stewart Hall Art Gallery in Pointe Claire on the exhibition “A Sketch in Time”, which opens tomorrow, at a Picnic Vernissage Sunday July 5th from 10am to 4pm. They will have a small selection of sketchbooks and urban sketching watercolors on display in the project room of the gallery for the rest of the month of July. There will be a few of my favorite older works hanging alongside paintings by Shari and our fellow urban sketcher Jane Hannah.

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There is an open invitation to come sketch with Shari and other Urban Sketchers, as well as other activities (info here). I would have liked to be there myself, except I’ve been called away to work on a sketching project down south, which I hope to be able to announce very soon. But if you’re in the Pointe Claire area, I hope you will stop by. 14Oct04_Fall_George Etienne Cartier Monument ~m

Just finishing up a week with Simo and Carolyne

June 29, 2015


We had a fun little reception in the garden at Villa Guadalupe here in Volterra. Everyone put out their works to recap the week and we had a nice gallery tour. We’d done the same at the class in Cortona, but I wasn’t smart enough to take iPhoto’s :) Here’s our teachers Carolyne Peyron and Simo Capecchi. They took us to all the best places in Volterra, and had new ideas to try at each spot. I was stubborn and stuck to my watercolors – but everyone else learned a lot from Chinese ink, found newspaper collage, blind contour drawing, even painting with wood stain borrowed from some workmen, and alabaster dust from the floor of a sculpting studio. By the way, here’s the view from the villa, and a look inside. You can stay with our wonderful hosts if you like – here’s their air BnB [link]. 

Sketching the Cortona Flag Festival

June 27, 2015

One of the things we sketched at the Cortona workshop, besides the beautiful scenery and quaint medieval streets, was their Flag Festival. It seemed like a great thing to capture for the folks in my Drawing People in Motion Class.


Here’s some iphone shots for now – I’ll replace these with better quality scans when we get home. 
The festival is part of a three day historical event including a crossbow competition and a recreation of a renaissance wedding – which I think was an important alliance between Cortona and a neighboring town. The cast of the recreation are all locals, drawn from the approximately 800 residents. Amusingly, the groom was played by a tall handsome gentleman who owns one of the local art galleries, and the bride by his beautiful daughter.
The flag tossing event itself was full of enthusiasm and intense competitive spirit. Each nearby town sent a delegation, their star flag-tossers marching in through a phalanx of crossed trumpets – like gladiators into the arena.


The event itself was a mix of tossers juggling flags 30 feet in the air while synchronized sprinters wove silk rivers of color around them. Every so often dueling pairs matched their talents in a kind of Kung Fu dance off. A squadron of drummers provided a dramatic martial soundtrack while flagpoles clacked like quarterstaves, whipped over ducked heads and below leaping feet.

In the final spectacle all the teams ran a tight double spiral, filling the small square with upraised 12 foot flags, then peeling back out a huge iron studded gate.

This night  was a terrific unexpected bonus to cap our week of sketching in Cortona!

Shari Blaukopf’s Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor

June 17, 2015

I just wanted to get the word out to any of my readers that my friend and painting buddy Shari Blaukopf has just launched a Craftsy.com class. She’s given me her instructors discount code to pass on to you. Please feel free to share this link with anyone you know!

Use the link (below) and you will get a minimum of 30% off, possibly more. It varies depending on what Craftsy.com is offering in your region. Enjoy the class! ~Marc

Click HERE to Register for: Shari Blaukopf’s Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink and Watercolor

Quick sketch from Cortona

June 12, 2015

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Workshop in Cortona starts tomorrow!

June 7, 2015

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We’ve been here a couple days, just looking around and enjoying the town. Lovely medieval achitecture, and spectacular views. Tomorrow we meet the drawing group.

This is going to be a great workshop – it’s a small group, which means lots of 1:1 feedback. The town is small enough we can get around on foot, and there are terrific drawing subjects everywhere you look.

I might not be posting for the next few days. We’ll see how busy it is.
Thanks ~ m

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Video Review: James Gurney’s Tyrannosaurs: Behind the Art

June 5, 2015

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The other day, James and Jeannette Gurney were in town, for the Benjamin Constant show at the Beaux Arts and he happened to mention his new making-of video: Tyrannosaurs: Behind the Art.

I’ve just received a free download from him – and am glad to give it a very positive review!

In this 40 min video, James takes you inside his studio – giving you an over-the-shoulder look at his painting process. He shows tools and materials, his painting methods – from the ideation and initial drawings, through the under painting in casein and eventually the finished effect in oils.

Here’s a great bit (below) where he selectively textures the surface with acrylic modelling paste, so the passages of color to follow can be worked in glazes and scumbles over top. A very efficient method of painting.

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Much of the film is on ‘how to be an illustrator’ – more so than how to paint. He gives valuable tips on research and scientific extrapolation from living animals, shows his rough designs and color mockups, as well as the client’s feedback and his final choices. We get to see a plein air study done for authenticity – and even go with him to the client as he delivers the finished paintings. Something that is becoming a rare event in this world of digital art and email.

This kind of first hand career advice is great stuff for someone trying to figure out the profession of illustration.

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But you’ll also find plenty of close up demonstrations of his painting method.

In the video he creates two paintings – showing bits of the work from start to finish. Jumping through time to give us the best parts – rather than long stretches of potentially repetitive ‘watch me paint’.

This is not a class for the raw beginner – he is making a real illustration, not taking time to simplify steps for students. So, besides some talk about materials and color choices, you are going right into the real deal.

While he will not explain every brush stroke for you – there is a lot to be learned from careful observation of his painting. It’s well worth watching multiple times. You’re seeing him work up close and personal. If you wanted to paint exactly like James Gurney – the method is here for you to learn from.

I’m always impressed with how efficient his paintings are. You can really see the weight of his experience. No stroke is wasted – every part builds on what went before to a rapid conclusion.

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It’s impressive how well he directs himself – painting and shooting the film at the same time, he knows when to set up the cameras and get a great shot. My favorite part being a daring correction where he blithely paints out a finished dinosaur face to make a change he felt improved the storytelling.

His reasons are sound  – but it’s a bold change many artists would have shrugged and hand-waved over. A perfect example of what makes a great illustrator. Commitment to getting the story right – even if that means giving up a great bit of painting.

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You can purchase the video – entirely shot and produced by James and his wife Jeanette – from his online distributors at Gumroad (credit card) or Selfy (paypal). It is well worth the moderate $15.00 fee. If you are a fan of his work, and would like to see more of the great content on his excellent blog – order your copy today!

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