Monday, June 24, 2019

Fantasy Art Workshop Illustration Intensive 2019

Last week I had the great opportunity to take part in the Fantasy Art Workshop Illustration Intensive. FAWII is a, "five-day workshop for aspiring and professional illustrators who want to take their art to a whole new level in an encouraging and creative environment, all while getting intense instruction from an award-winning faculty with decades of experience in fantasy gaming, video games, editorial, conceptual art, children’s books, and more." FAWII is run by Jeff Miracola and Silvia Acevedo with a core faculty of Jeff Miracola, Aaron Miller, and Steve Prescott. This year's quest instructors were Howard Lyon and Mark Nelson. Guest artists were Jeszika Le Vye and Tony Moy, art director guest of honor was SooJin Buzelli, and rounding things off, guest artist of honor was the legendary Thomas Blackshear II. And last, but certainly not least, studio assitant Melissa Sue Stanley. An impressive gathering of artists, no matter how you slice it.

As these things often occur, this workshop was just what I needed at just the right time - for many many reasons. It was a truly amazing, invigorating, exhausting, exciting, rewarding week and I can not say enough good things about everyone that was participated in the workshop this past week, be they attendees, staff, or guests. It was a joy to be a part of it, and I STRONGLY encourage those interested in checking it out. Next year is lining up to be even better than this year.

I could rattle on and on about how amazing the week was, but I think it would be better to share some images and thoughts from the week so that you can get a better feel for things. I will say that my journey to the workshop was a little rocky in that the first plane of the day had a fuel leak which threw off the entire day. Safety is paramount, and I am glad that the issue was caught, but I did arrive at my destination six hours late. On the plus side, I did get upgraded to first class for my troubles, and I was able to make it to the tail end of the meet and greet.

Trouble was afoot, but it worked out in the end.

Oh, look! Reference!

Monday morning saw us jumping straight into sketch review and critique. On one wall was Steve Prescott and Howard Lyon, this was the wall I had chosen to hang my work.

On the other wall was Aaron Miller and Mark Nelson. They announced which faculty was going to review which wall AFTER everyone hung their work, so no one could pick favorites.

At the workshop, I elected to work on the final large piece for the Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. It is an aerial view/map of the Grand Bazaar and is 30x20 inches. It is by far the largest piece that I am doing for this project and in many ways, the most complex for me to get my head around. I arrived with a sketch which I had already transferred to the final paper. This is not advisable for nearly all that attend these types of events, but much of this piece cannot be changed due to its connection to other illustrations and the writing in the book. When attending a workshop like this, you should come with an open mind and be ready to work. I did receive some advice and suggestions for this piece which I did incorporate as I worked on it. They ALL helped improve the piece overall. Since I was more or less ready to go when I arrived, I was able to jump right in once my review was completed. I got to work on the detailed drawing after lunch.

Steve Prescott did a drawing demo in our studio room Monday afternoon.

 Steve's final drawing from the demo.

Making progress on the drawing.

And a little more progress. I knew going in, that this piece was going to require a lot of work. I had imagined that I would possibly complete in during the week. With demos, lectures, and interacting with other attendees, I quickly realized that I may be underestimating the amount of work I had set aside for myself. I had enough experience to know that I should be able to get the line work done by the end of Tuesday.

Tuesday morning has Aaron Miller doing a surface prep demo in our studio room.

Little by little, the piece is taking shape and a line work completion of Tuesday night seems definite.

Howard Lyon did a painting from life demo in the main demo room on Tuesday.

At the end of Tuesday, I had completed the line art for the piece. My right thumb was aching from all the drawing, but it was nice to see that piece taking shape. Only nine thousand buildings to render.

On Wednesday Jeff Miracole did a painting demo in the main demo room. It was great to see him paint in real time in person.

Jeff's piece at the end of the demo. He started with a copy of an inked dragon that was mounted to board.

The rendering begins! I made an adjustment to Ethra's tower to make it more prominent.

Wednesday saw the arrival of the art director and artist guests of honor. Thomas Blackshear jumped right in with a painting demo.

Thomas filled the demo room with his art and production boards that had production and process examples. It was inspiring to see how much time and love he puts into his work.

Thomas's final demo painting.

Thomas brought a ton of original demo pieces and roughs. He answered questions and had us all captivated.

Wednesday night, all of the faculty and guests got together for a photo. I was asked to take it (on Jeff's camera), I hope I did not mess up!

Things are starting to take shape, and the rendering continues.

Steve did a small painting demo in our studio room.

This is a shot of the oil studio on Thursday.

This is a shot of the mixed media studio (#1) on Thursday.

This is a shot of the mixed media studio (#2) on Thursday - the studio I worked in all week.

 This is a shot of the demo room on Thursday. You can see all of Thomas' art in the background.

On Thursday Mark Nelson did an inking demo in the demo studio.

A selection of the pieces guest artist Tony Moy worked on during the week.

Thomas did an impromptu gouache demo on Thursday. It was like watching someone perform magic.

The portrait that Thomas brought to life in mere moments.

Aaron was feeling left out when all the other tables were full at lunch, but don't worry, we made room at our table.

I continued to render as I circled around the Bazaar to bring the countryside to life.

Thursday night offered the opportunity to take part in a costumed life drawing session in the demo room.

By Friday morning the rendering of the Bazaar had begun. That was also when I hit a wall. Apparently, four and a half VERY full days of drawing and learning was my limit. After lunch, I had to go take a little nap, or I would not have been able to enjoy the rest of the day and night. My thumb needed a rest, and I had worked my butt off all week.

By deciding to take a nap, I missed out on a large group instructor/guest artist demo session in the demo room. I was able to make it back in time to see the finished pieces though as the artist put on finishing touches. Arron is working on his next tokin painting, a super cool blind monkey.

Jeff did a zombie portrait of Howard.

Howard was working on a fantasy portrait - more on this later.

Steve worked on a crazy skeleton dude.

Jeszika, Tony, and Mark hard at work.

Mark's drawing from the demo.

By Friday afternoon I had made a lot of progress on my piece, and I was thrilled to have accomplished so much. There is still a lot to do, but I am well on my way to getting this over the finished line very soon. This piece would certainly not be where it is at now without all the help and support, and the time to work on it that I was able to receive at the Fantasy Art Workshop Illustration Intensive.

There was a very special closing dinner Friday evening where we could all reflect on the week. There were also drawings for prizes!

Speaking of prizes, I won Howard Lyon's demo painting!

Jeff made closing statements, and it was a fantastic end to an amazing week.

SO MANY thanks to Jeff Miracola and Silvia Acevedo for an amazing week. It was a one of a kind event!

The night concluded with everyone heading to a local drinking establishment where we celebrated the week and each other. Much fun was had!

This is by no means even a tenth of what happened during the week. There were more demos, lectures, one on one demos, critiques, reviews, and so much more. It would be impossible to share the entire week here on the blog, and would not be fair to all that attended. You need to go for yourself to experience it all for yourself. Again, thanks to EVERYONE at Fantasy Art Workshop Illustration Intensive for making it such an amzing week.

As a side note, the trip home was a lot less complacted!

That's all for another exciting Monday on the blog, see you back here on Wednesday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website:

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