Friday, January 20, 2017


There are a lot of things going on in the art world recently, many with deadlines fast approaching. We thought a few were worth reminding our readers of.

Live Demo with Greg Manchess

Tomorrow, Greg Manchess will be live demo for our Patreon Supporters. He will execute a portrait of (by then, former) President Barack Obama from start to finish while fielding questions from the audience. The event starts at 3pm EST, Saturday January 21st. These live demos are always impressive and this one is sure to be no exception.
Click here for more details:

Spectrum 24 Call for Entires Deadline

The Spectrum Annual is the go-to source for Fantastic Art for fans and Art Directors alike, and is one of the most effective means of advertising you can buy for $20. The deadline for this year's submission is January 25th, and is less than a week away! You can submit online quickly and easily.
Click here for more details:

SFAL Travel and Accommodations

If you plan to attend Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, you better start thinking about flights and hotel accommodations. April will be here before you know it!
Click here for more details:

Smart School Enrollment

Smart School is a 15 week online mentorship program to help artists make that artistic leap they've been trying to make. This is not a pre-recorded video lesson. It is actual one-on-one time with personalized feedback on your work from some of the industries top professionals. Enrollment for the Spring Semester just opened. Class sizes are sometimes limited to as few as 8 students, so if you plan on signing up, I wouldn't delay.
Click here for more details:

IMC Enrollment

The IMC workshop is an intensive week-long workshop in Amherst, MA, and has the reputation of being 'life-changing' for a reason. Imagine 4 years of college crammed into a single, awe-inspiring, week of painting, lectures, demos, portfolio reviews and special guests. There really is nothing else that compares. Attendance is limited to about 90 students each year, most of which are already gone, but there are still a few openings left.
Click here for more details:

Dean Cornwell Book Pre-order

The Illustrated Press launched a Kickstarter a couple of years ago for a limited run of a new Dean Cornwell art book. All 1000 copies subsequently sold out. But so many people were left clamoring for this beautiful book, that they are doing a second printing. The only guaranteed way to get a copy though is to pre-order one. If you missed out last time, don;t miss out again!
Click here for more details:

    Thursday, January 19, 2017


    -By Justin Coro Kaufman

    Hello good people of the muddy colors! First off let me say it's a huge honor to be able to contribute to such a great blog. Quite a few of my art heros on here (Manchess, I’m looking at YOU), so I'm pretty excited to be rubbing virtual shoulders with such a prodigious group of picture making giants.

    Figured as a first post, id go ahead and give a little background on myself. Gotta be honest. I feel like a bit of an odd duck here since this blog is mostly print artists who do amazing book covers, posters and magic card illustrations, and generally create more finished paintings than I typically get to make for work.

    For the past 16+ years I’ve been working primarily as a concept artist for video games and entertainment media. While its been a lot of robots, barbarians and dragons, the intent has usually been more to serve as visual guides for 3D game assets and vfx, camera framing and pacing, etc.

    I tend to have less of a “signature style” than a lot of more established illustrators. Back when I was in school, I struggled a lot with what kind of an artist I wanted to be. I’d always enjoyed painting subjects from life, but also very much enjoy pulling stuff out of my head and not using reference at all.

    I’d always been kind of all over the place in terms of approach and “style," which eventually became something of an asset when we started our art studio, Massive Black, years ago.

    At MB, my role as Art Director required me to become sort of a “swiss army knife”. I was often tasked with figuring out best practices and approaches in order to create art that consistently fell outside of my comfort zone. I’ve been lucky to have not only learned countless lessons along the way, but have also had the good fortune of contributing visuals to a large number of entertainment licenses in varying capacities.

    The last 5 years or so I’ve also been more and more involved in providing visual support to more “real world” and research-related efforts, working with organizations like DARPA, SRI and Google. These tend to be a bit less linear in process and I rarely ever get to show any of that stuff. However, I really enjoy this type of work since it involves collaborating with insanely smart folks that I wouldn’t normally get to work with in the entertainment realm, helping them to visualize emerging technologies and other real-world endeavors.

    I’ve done my best to try to balance out the corporate work with personal projects as much as possible. I am a firm believer that an artist should draw their inspiration from the world around them. I lived in downtown SF for many years, which eventually led to a 4 year long graphic novel project about homeless people called “Transient”. I based it in SF and drew inspiration from folks id see in my neighborhood. Id never done comics before, and it was a very rewarding experience. Comics are HARD to make. You have to juggle so many balls. I walked away feeling like I’d learned more than in art school.

    Shortly after the completion of Transient we had our first son, Melvin. With his arrival, I started to feel this need to explore more autobiographical themes in my personal work. I had always been a fan of Andrew Wyeth. there’s an honesty to his work that appeals to me more and more as I get older. There’s a vulnerability about painting your life. It makes you extra careful to make sure you get the details, and more importantly, the feeling right.

    I fell in love with oil paint back in art school, and though I rarely got to use it for work, I never stopped doing little personal studies and whatnot. It made sense to approach these more autobiographical themes in oil, and that’s kind of where I’ve been applying my personal efforts these past few years.

    We moved our family out to rural Washington State in 2014, which pushed me even further into this direction, painting the fields and trees that surround our place in addition to the kids that lived inside. Its become very much about personal narratives for me. I can approach this stuff in a way thats not possible to do when painting something meant to sell a product or intellectual property. Different intent. Different level of attachment.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love commercial work. Not sure If I could function without it a this point. I enjoy the psychology behind it. Arranging pictorial elements to best sell an idea, creating a specific mood or feeling, and in general being able to help pinpoint what a client is after never gets old. Or it hasn’t yet! It's rarely easy, but incredibly rewarding.

    In a lot of ways I see the professional/personal stuff as kind a yin/yang type thing. Concepts and approaches learned from one always feed into and inform the other. In the end its all just information that can be applied to solve visual problems, regardless of style or subject matter.

    Looking forward to sharing more on here. If anyone has anything in particular they’d like me to blather about in future posts please let me know!

    Wednesday, January 18, 2017

    Painting Obama

    -By Greg Manchess

    A painting demo should do a few things at once. It should be informative, it should drive toward a finish, and it should be lively without trying to entertain.

    That said, I end up feeling that we’ve come through it together and that’s kind of entertaining.

    Entertainment is not the order of business though. I enjoy giving the viewer inside information about my personal approach as it usually breaks down into general painting concepts that most anyone can use. When that happens, the questions get better because they get more global.

    All the specific questions are easy and quick to answer, such as what size brushes do I use, what’s my palette like, and what kind of paint do I work with. But as we go along, the questions fall more into emotional and philosophic queries.

    And that gets fun.

    Recent demo for my SmArtSchool class of Richard Schiff as Toby, from West Wing

    This Saturday, I’m doing a live painting demonstration right here on Muddy Colors. I’ll start with projecting my reference onto the canvas and you’ll see how I sketch the image to be painted. Then I’ll seal the drawing and begin painting.

    My subject will be President Barack Obama. Yes, Barack Obama will be sitting in my studio while fourteen choppers hover outside and Secret Service agents surround the building.

    Er, uh, no. I lied. But wouldn’t that be sweet? I know, right?!

    John Lennon, from a Boskone demo

    I have adored watching The First Family these past eight years, and I thought this demonstration painting would be a fitting farewell to a historic presidency.

    If you can stop by at 3pm EST, Dan, our contributors, and I would love to get a chance to have you there, and take some questions. Or compliments.

    I’m counting on the compliments.

    That’s if no cats jump on my painting or something else goes awry.

    Just sayin’.

    If you're a Patreon supporter of ours, we hope to see you there!
    If you're not a supporter yet, but want to check out the demo, a donation of $5 or more will get you access to the event. Just click here:

    New admissions will be cut off at 2pm EST the day of the event.
    All Patrons will receive a link shortly before the event.

    David Bowie, from another SmArtSchool class