Tuesday, 7 July 2009

2009 ASAA Forum - Part Five

Academics and Presentations.

This year the schedule of events included several presentations plus a couple of very worthwhile academic sessions.

The presentations covered a diverse range of subjects.

Captain Rich Dann spoke about the upcoming celebrations of 100 years of US Naval Aviation in 2011. Rich is an ASAA member and artist, but is also heavily involved with the US Navy's preparation for the events being planned for 2011.

A video was put together at short notice by Bryan Moon of MIA Hunters about the efforts he makes to track down WWII aircrew missing in action in the Papua New Guinea region. Bryan had planned to attend and give the presentation in person, however events prevented him from doing so which was a shame given the good work he does in this much neglected field.I'm sure many in the audience would have liked to spend time speaking with him on this subject.

Keith Ferris held a Q & A session on business practices, with the proposed Orphan Art Bill dominating this session given the concerns nearly all artists have about its implications.

Merana Cadorette, who is a Savannah based artist give a slide presentation on her water colour works contained in her book the Gates of Savannah.

Hank Caruso held a short presentation illustrated in his own unique style covering the basics of flight and how aircraft at rest differ from when they are in flight.

A Figure drawing academic was hosted by Gil Cohen. Gil chose to restrict the halfday session to gesture drawing.

The idea was to quickly sketch the volunteers at work on the B-17 restoration in the Combat Gallery. Given these "models" did not stop working the trick was to capture their basic shapes and proportions with just a few pencil lines before they moved and changed their pose. I've never drawn any figures from life before if truth be told so this was very interesting session.

I was surprised at how easy it is to catch the gesture when you don't have the time to worry about the detail. I plan to carry on this type of exercise at home as it strikes me as very good way to improve my drawing skills. I firmly believe if I can draw the human form well, I can pretty much draw anything.

The second main academic was hosted by Charles Thompson, and was a messy affair, working with large sticks of charcoal. The aim of this session was to use charcoal to roughly block in masses and values. This allows compositions to quickly be tested before the main work is started. Charles does a lot of Plein Air work, and uses this method to establish a composition before he starts painting. In this respect it is similar to the way thumbnail sketch are used when building a composition. Again I've never worked with charcoal in this way before. The challenge Charles set was to draw without using lines. Again it was surprising how easy it was to build shapes without the use of lines. When you don't worry about the detail getting the basic shapes right becomes easier. (It's the front part of a B-24 mounted on a trolley, in case you can't tell).


Both these academics showed what can be learnt when you try something different and move outside of your comfort zone. Tutelage from the likes of Charles and Gil is worth its weight in gold, and all helps towards the aim of becoming a better artist.

John Clark did a wonderful job dissecting the construction of "Paris Street; Rainy Weather" by Gustave Caillebotte. No apparent connection with aviation art here, but I found this extremely interesting and it's an area I will explore further on my own. By the end of this session it was apparent that as much preparation went into this painting as any piece of complex aviation art.


The final academic was run by Keith Ferris and dealt with how to apply lettering and insignias to an aircraft. This is an area I, and many other artists find challenging but Keith, as always, had a very simple solution, proving once again that all problems can be solved, you just need to understand the real issue first. His solution is to ensure that the underlying shape of the aircraft surface is understood and that the markings being placed are broken down into simple shapes with known dimensions.

Tomorrow I'll wrap up with my thoughts on the week as a whole...

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