Cathie Bleck and Sterling Hundley were this year's amazing guests at the SCAD-Atlanta Illustration Arts Forum event.
We lucked out with great spring weather and had a wonderful time with Cathie and Sterling.
The Thursday night lectures were held at the Digital Media Center, which is the perfect venue for this kind of event; great sight-lines, just enough seating, and a fabulous HD digital projector.
Cathie Bleck kicked things off with a wonderful presentation of her work, her roots, her infectious sense of humor and boundless enthusiasm. She is in creative overdrive all the time, and if you come away from a conversation with her uninspired, you are brain dead.
Next, it was Sterling's turn to blow everyone away. His intellect, his wit, his talent and his innate ability to teach came through in a profound and inspiring presentation that left everyone energized and humbled.
Friday was when Sterling and Cathie got to spend some quality time with the students, sharing their processes and talking about such mundane things as developing ideas in your sketchbook, brainstorming concepts with words and looking into the underlying meanings of symbols, etc. The overriding message was as much about the thought process as about the drawing and painting process.
Sterling's demo was a portrait of one very lucky student, Caleb Morris. Sterling spoke about the value of properly lighting your subject to bring out the form and to illuminate the shadows.
He started with a couple of warmup sketches, and then did a value drawing on illustration board with NuPastels.
The next step was "fixing" the pastel drawing with a wash of water and acrylics to set the drawing and allow subsequent layers of wet and dry media without disturbing the drawing too much.
We used a digital Elmo camera to project the process so everyone could see.
Caleb watching Caleb...weird, right? Sterling's Caleb is so much better looking.
See how much better looking?
After a nice lunch it was Cathie's turn. She chose to involve the students with a scratchboard workshop which included a broad process overview, a discussion about symbolism in imagery, and a hands-on demonstration of her clayboard techniques. Both artists spoke about their transition from the illustration world to the gallery world, and the importance of tapping into multiple revenue streams. The days of relying on strictly commissioned illustration are gone, and these two accomplished artists shared their knowledge and experiences in many realms of image making and marketing. The theme of the weekend was entrepreneurship; don't wait for an art director to call you, you be in charge of your career at every level and tap in to the many ways that contemporary image makers put their work out there.
Cathie brought tons of sketches, original artwork, works in progress, printed samples, and even polymer plates that were made from her scratchboard work to create the most amazing embossed artwork you've ever seen. Truly stunning stuff.
Julie was fascinated, as were we all.
Cathie described her thought process as well as her clayboard process.
Students came prepared with an assignment to create a symbolic self-portrait, and Cathie guided them through the process from beginning to end.
The whole time, students were welcome to come up and inspect the original artwork and ask questions of Cathie as she developed her demo piece.
She shared every aspect of her work, and encouraged the students to think metaphorically rather than literally, to embrace the happy accidents that appear, and to be genuine and authentic in their work.
Master schooling master.
Dylan Moore getting into it.
Saturday was Portfolio Review day. Sterling and Cathie got some one on one time with several grateful students, to see their work and advise them on what's working, what should be elaborated upon and what should be eliminated. Diego is soaking it all in as Sterling looks at his sketchbooks.
Cathie visiting with April Dukes.
These exchanges with the greats of our discipline are invaluable, and there is no way we can express the depth of our gratitude to Cathie, Sterling and all the generous and gracious artists who share their valuable time with students. This kind of experience often marks a pivotal moment in the evolution and growth of a student, and every one of us is humbled by and thankful for your talent and insight.
Thanks to Cathie and Sterling for an amazing Forum weekend!