Monsters in the Room

Gary Kelley and CF Payne were a wonderful team. Everyone reallly grew in their attitudes, vision and some just in the techniques presented during the week. It was a great boost for the second year students to have a chance to work on their thesis, stew on their thesis or change their ideas of the thesis under the tutelage of  two outstanding illustrators, outstanding for the work, but also outstanding in their inspiration and process. You do not get to have the level of chops those guys have without a strong dose of being able to see through the thicket to see what works and doesnt on their own pieces. For a second year student, the strong vision each illustrator presents affirms their own personal journey--encouraging the pursuit of an idea through multiple images sometimes touching on action, portrait, landscape and detail as Kelley points out in the lovely childrens books he creates. Personally, it was a week of " I think I can, I think I can"--yielding not a ton of ready to show work, put affirming just that--put the pencil down and start moving. With effort comes results.

It was a bit disappointing that both illustrators were very biased around media and not necessarily what the end illustration is/ and the content it renders. This seems to be something that is out there with the older group not letting go of the illustration venues (print, --can you say magazine and newspaper advertising has fallen off the edge of our little flat world--with many publications folding, or cutting budgets to just get by), and with that the way illustration is delivered and created. I throughly understand and can relate to the sensual and intellectual charge one gets with pen or pencil on paper and how an image can bloom and develop as you work through an image, editing, changing, developing with the  quiet mind seeing and changing the work as you go. It is that communion with the idea, that quiet contemplation that is often the kernel of why we go there--to experience that vibration with an idea that keeps us wandering into new images and  pictures and coming out as changed people. I agree that drawing is the key to our journeys as illustrators --it is the vehicle for idea development and variation. I agree that the use of layers of tracing paper is a very quick and excellent mode of refinement and thought. However, how the final image is generated either as a traditional job, or using traditional media and editing in the digital realm or whether it is entirely digital is irrelevant. What the end image is, the spirit and hand it expresses is what is important to me. Speaking as someone within eyeshot of their age range, I find their shunning of technology down to cellphones as either fear, no need  to have it or change existing work practices which is beyond old fogeyisms... but something that parallels the stubborness of typesetters in the mid to late eighties to evolve and change. As they did not, the job and necessity of the typesetter became consumed by graphic designers. To my surprise last week, one of the threats on the horizon for illustrators beyond that of digital work was that of those encroaching scalliwags, the designer who illustrates!.  Get with the program. Speaking as a scalliwag and survivor of the typographer's downfall, if the illustrators do not start embracing change, focusing on the end image, perhaps turn the "designers that illustrate" on its head and become "Illustrators that design"--there might be an amazing renaissance  for picturemakers. Nomenclature is thin soup--but in setting up these terminology and anti technology walls--they are doing just that, creating a fortress to hide inside of versus opening up to change and how it could affect them postitively. As you know, change can be great.

(Images shown here are from the collection of the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA)