Gonzo Sketching with the Great Ted Michalowski

14468242_10154147444014234_2242321415096126844_oYou have seen Ted Michalowski’s art on TV. He’s done courtroom reporting for ABC, CBS, CNN, all the major networks. He is an energetic part of the Scranton, PA art scene. When I say he is a ringmaster, it is not a metaphor, he has worked with the circus. His is a 4-time winner of the Electric City ‘s Best Visual Artist award. Once a month Ted takes over the New York’s Society of Illustrators to host their Sketch Night. He arranged recent the Gonzo Sketch night that celebrated the current Ralph Steadman exhibition. Steadman invented the visuals for Hunter S. Thompson’s stories in Rolling Stone that define Gonzo Journalism.

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Ted recreated the Gonzo experience for 20 Kutztown illustration students. He brought the perfect Gonzo model, Ariel Krupnik. Ariel wore a coonskin cap, a feather vest, and what appeared to be an American flag kilt. A dead frog hung from his neck. Ariel leapt onto the conference table in the Society’s library and struck a pose. Ted’s bluetooth speakers blasted Elvis Presley’s  Viva Las Vegas!

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My 3-minute study.

Elvis screamed “Bright light city gonna’ set my soul on fire…” and Ted screamed over Elvis, “One more minute! New pose! Switch hands!” It was magic.

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Ted Michalowski sketch of Ariel Krupnik

I first met my friend Ted at the Society of Illustrators. We sat at the same table at an ‘Educators who Illustrate’ conference. There was some gloomy chatter at the table about the state of education and illustration.  A fellow prof was moaning how teaching ruined his illustration career. It happens. Not every career choice is win-win. Ted and I make a conscious effort to keep our conversations posi, shorthand for positive. Whenever anyone, myself included, complains about a lackluster student, we refuse to let the conversation end until we consider an amazing student.

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Sketch by Jess Paley

One of my amazing students said Ted’s Gonzo drawing lesson was the highlight of her illustration life.

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At one point Ted instructed the students to draw with their opposite hands. Then he had students pair up and two people drew on a single page with their opposite hands. I asked Ted where he had learned this mind-boggling technique. He told me it was brand new. He invented it that very moment with the Kutztown students. GONZO!

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Kutztown Students in NYC photo by Kathy Sue Traylor

You too can draw alongside Ted at the Society of Illustrators. ($20 entry or $15 for students and seniors.) There is a rotating roster of great artists hosting the weekly Tuesday night event. There is often live music and  always live models. Ted is there once a month. Check the Society of Illustrator’s sketch night schedule. Stay Posi.

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Gonzo Sketch by Meredith Shriner

Some photos courtesy Ted Michalowski, Thanks. Thanks also to the wonderful staff at the Society of Illustrators, and to Prof. Ann Lemon for organizing the field trip.

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