William Grill, an English Illustrator Worth Watching

 

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William Grill shares his new book with Bobby Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press.

I recently had the honor of being on a panel for reluctant readers at the ALA Convention in Orlando. The other panelists were Jim Ottaviani, M.K. Reed and a charming young Englishman, William Grill, who goes by Will. Will told the assembled librarians that he was a reluctant reader himself. He has dyslexia. As a kid he’d slog through a novel, but he loved to read maps, atlases, and illustrated coffee table books. Today at 26, he makes the sort of book he would have happily read as a child. His oversized picture books are light on text, but filled with maps, diagrams, and visual information.

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A spread from Shackleton’s Journey © William Grill

Will won the Kate Greenaway Medal, Britain’s version of the Caldecott Medal, for the best picture book of the year. That book was Shackleton’s Journey, about the epic 1914  journey to Antarctica. It is published by Flying Eye Books.

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The book began as a junior year project at Falmouth College. He visited New York while still in school to pitch the idea to U.S.publishers. He met several editors and art directors. They told him to keep working on his art and “perhaps visit again in ten years.”

Back in England, he exhibited the original Shackleton art at an annual exhibition for new illustrators called ‘New Blood.’ Will explains, “Shackleton’s Journey started as a relatively small third year university project. However, it later grew into an 80 page book after being spotted by Flying Eye Books at the D&AD (Design and Art Directors) show. As well as wanting to create an unconventional picture book, I saw the project as a chance to channel the way I draw in my sketchbooks into a more finalised piece of work.”

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His new book is The Wolves of Currumpaw. He got the idea when he came upon an old leather-bound book in a used bookstore in the village of Peterborough, England.

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E.T. Seton Photo from Wikipedia

It was a work by Ernest Thompson Seton written in 1898. Seton was born in England, but raised in Canada, where he became an expert outdoorsman.

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Ernest Seton’s illustration  for his story Lobo The King of Currumpaw

In the 1890’s Seton moved to New York City to work as a writer and illustrator. He missed the great outdoors. Seton heard about a $1000 reward to kill a legendary wolf, Lobo, the King of Currumpaw, in New Mexico. Lobo was said to be so smart one trapper insisted he was a werewolf. Seton headed west to kill Lobo. I will not spoil the story. Like his Shackleton book, The Wolves of Currumpaw is 80 pages. This is more than twice the length of a typical 32-page picture book. The pages are airy, some resemble a storyboard with dozens of vignettes on a page.

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Artwork © William Grill

Other pages are wordless, atmospheric images that maintain the immediacy of the artist’s sketchbook. He uses Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils in his sketchbook and for the finished illustrations.

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New Mexico landscape, colored pencil ©William Grill

William Grill didn’t go to Antarctica to sketch for his first book. Some of his best reference for that project came from old Pathe newsreel footage of Shackleton’s voyage. But he did go to New Mexico and camped out and sketched in the same valley where Seton tracked Lobo over a century ago. He spent a week drawing at a wolf rescue station.

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Early sketches of wolves © W.Grill 2016

Will’s work is simple yet remarkable. The writing is spare. The drawings are marked by sincerity and a keen sense of observed details. The term I hear used to describe illustration created by actual observation and drawn on paper, unfiltered by Photoshop, is mid-century. It refers to the mid-twentieth century, which doesn’t seem so far away to me. Will’s style is often compared to the great Raymond Briggs.

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William Grill is often compared to Raymond Briggs.

I asked him if there were other British artists who influenced him. He named two, Eric Ravilious and Edward Bawden. I had to look them up.

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Sign Shop © Eric Ravillious estate
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Cattle Market at Braintree © Edward Bawden estate.

Here are links to bios of Ravillious and Bawden. It is great to meet a talented young artist following in the footsteps of these midcentury masters. More work by William Grill can be found on his website. There is also a fascinating interview about his wolf project on his publisher’s site, here.  I also recommend the Guardian page where he shares his sketchbooks. It gives give a great overview of his artistic process.

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William Grill signing for fans at ALA Orlando,2016

The reviews for The Wolves of Currumpaw have been great. Publisher’s weekly calls it “A powerful, cinematic work of naturalistic fiction that deftly outlines the importance of respecting nature.” I think it is the perfect book for reluctant readers. I know we will be seeing more from William Grill.

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Veronica Lawlor’s Way of Seeing

Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing, ink on paper, ©  Veronica Lawlor, 2015
Gate of Heavenly Peace, Beijing, ink on paper, © Veronica Lawlor, 2015

Veronica Lawlor is an artist who draws to document what she sees. When everyone carries a camera 24/7, why bother drawing?

Viewing Lawlor's drawing of Stp Peter's Square Rome, at AFA Gallery, Scranton.
Lawlor’s pen and ink drawing of St. Peter’s Square, Rome, at AFA Gallery, Scranton.

The new 1.5-micron pixel iphone is, according to Apple, “the world’s most popular camera.”  Has the iphone replaced pen and ink and human hand?  It is worth recalling Robert McCloskey’s observation, “Hands do play a part in drawing, but it’s an automatic part like shuffling cards or knitting. Drawing is most of all a way of seeing and thinking.”

Panoramic drawing of St Peter's Square, Rome. © Veronica Lawlor
Panoramic drawing of St Peter’s Square, Rome. © Veronica Lawlor

Veronica Lawlor proves hand-drawn journalism is not a throwback to simpler times. Like craft brewing, observational drawing is in the midst of a remarkable renaissance. And Veronica Lawlor is at the vanguard of the movement.

Veronica Lawlor, with Chris Spollen and Kevin McCloskey, AFA Gallery Scranton.
Veronica Lawlor, center, with Chris Spollen, Kevin McCloskey, AFA Gallery, Scranton.

A working illustrator, she is a professor at both Parsons and Pratt. Her original drawings can be seen through March 28 at Scranton’s AFA Gallery. I have the honor of sharing the gallery with her and Chris Spollen, who I wrote about last week. Veronica emailed me answers to questions I posed about her work.

Times Square urban sketches for Canson Paper © Veronica Lawlor.
Times Square urban sketches for Canson Paper © Veronica Lawlor.

KMc: Veronica, where are you from?

V.L: I was born in Manhattan, and spent my early childhood in the Bronx. I have lived in four of the five NYC boroughs: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. From about 1998 to 2006 I lived within walking distance of the Manhattan hospital that I was born in. I always liked that it was so provincial, in the middle of such a large city.

More Times Square Tourists, detail © Veronica Lawlor
More Times Square Tourists, detail © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: Where did you study?

V.L: Parsons School of Design, in the eighties, and after graduation at the Passalacqua School of Drawing and Illustration, with my mentor, the late David J. Passalacqua. He used to take us to Disney World in Orlando, and sit us down at the entrance gates to draw all the tourists as they came in. He called it the Gates of Hell! (Almost felt like it, since this was usually happening in August.) The illustrator Margaret Hurst and I have continued this tradition with our own school, Dalvero Academy. More recently, I received a Master in Media Arts from the New School.

Tour de France ©2006 Veronica Lawlor
Tour de France ©2006 Veronica Lawlor

KMc: I am fascinated that you drew in Lower Manhattan on 9/11/2001. How did that come about?

From the book, "Sept. 11, 2001:Words and Pictures" © Veronica Lawlor
From the book, Sept. 11, 2001:Words and Pictures  © Veronica Lawlor

V.L: On September 11, 2001, I was heading downtown to meet a friend. When I got off the train at Union Square, in downtown Manhattan, there was bedlam on the streets, and the World Trade Center was burning. I had a sketchbook in my backpack and a few pencils, and my first instinct was to draw what was going on.

Police Barricades 0n 9/11/2001.© Veronica Lawlor
Police Barricades 0n 9/11/2001.© Veronica Lawlor

I kept drawing and walking, further downtown, as the towers fell, until the police stopped me, somewhere in TriBeCa. I continued to draw the events of the next month around the city. Unfortunately a dear friend of mine lost her husband, a firefighter, on 9/11, and she asked me to draw his funeral as well. These drawings are in a book, called September 11, 2001: Words and Pictures. You can see a few of the drawings here.

The drawings were exhibited at the New York City Fire Museum in 2006, and I was very touched by how many big, burly firemen came up to me with tears in their eyes, and told me how the drawings brought them right back to that day.

Venetian Vendor, St. Mark's Square, Venice © Veronica Lawlor
Venetian Vendor, St. Mark’s Square, Venice © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: What can you tell us about the Urban Sketchers and upcoming projects?

V.L: I am working now on a book for Quarry called: The Urban Sketching Handbook: Reportage and Documentary Drawing, coming out soon. It’s full of examples of on location illustrations by me and many other artists involved with urban sketching – drawing on location. USk is an international organization of people who draw their home cities or travels, and post online in international and regional blogs. I am giving a workshop at the Urban Sketchers annual Symposium in Singapore in July, very excited about that! Learn more about Urban Sketchers here.

Brooklyn Bridge, detail, for Brooks Brothers, © Veronica Lawlor
Brooklyn Bridge, detail, for Brooks Brothers, © Veronica Lawlor

KMc: You still do corporate work, like the Brooks Brothers campaign?

V.L. Yes. I’ve just completed a reportage campaign for JP Morgan Chase that will be in branches around the country this spring.

Gallo Wine Label © 2015 Veronica Lawlor.
Gallo Wine Label © 2015 Veronica Lawlor.

KMc: What is Studio 1482?

V.L: I am the president of Studio 1482, an illustration collective based in New York City. Our website is www.studio1482.com. There are seven illustrators in the group. We all met in school and enjoy sharing our work and our experiences in the business. 

Veronica Lawlor’s portfolio can be found here. Even if you can’t get to her show in Scranton, or join her Singapore urban sketch workshop, her way of seeing might inspire you to sharpen your pencils.

 

 

Oaxaca Sketchbook 2015

Blake Myer's sketch of Oaxaca Valley as seen from Monte Alban
Blake Myer’s sketch of Oaxaca Valley as seen from Monte Alban
The observatory at Monte Alban by Malia Balas
The observatory at Monte Alban by Malia Balas
Welcome reception at Hostal Don Nino.
Welcome reception at Hostal Don Nino.

The Hostel Don Nino gave us a welcoming reception of flautas, which are like fried enchiladas, guacamole, Oaxacan cheese and aqua de Jamaica. It is not easy to post from my ipad here, but I will share student drawings and post more when we return from our 17-day Oaxaca tour.

Mariana Rivera giving us a tour of the Opera House.
Mariana Rivera giving us a tour of the Opera House.
Rebekah, Ashley, and Jen sketching at San Pablo
Rebekah, Ashley, and Jen sketching at San Pablo

13 KU students and Prof. Miles Decoster are with me sketching in Oaxaca. In less than 36 hours we have seen the San Pablo Center, site of the first Spanish Settlement in the early 1500’s. Then we visited the ancient Zapotec site at Monte Alban, founded circa 500 B.C, it may have been the very first city in North America. It had 30,000 people at its height. We also visited the Macedonia Alcala Theater, a wonderful old opera house, where we were allowed on stage and on the roof. We met the ASARO printmaking collective, and the students are doing wonderful sketches.

We will be having an exhibition of our prints at the Student Gallery in Sharadin Feb 10-15.

 

Danny Gregory Sketches From Life

Peonies, all images in post © Danny Gregory, from his Flicker page.
Peonies, all images in this post © Danny Gregory, from his Flicker page.

“Danny Gregory and his wife, Patti, hadn’t been married long. Their baby, Jack, was ten months old; life was pretty swell. And then Patti fell under a subway train and was paralyzed from the waist down.

In a world where nothing seemed to have much meaning, Danny decided to teach himself to draw, and what he learned stunned him. Suddenly things had color again, and value. The result is Everyday Matters, his journal of discovery, recovery, and daily life in New York City. It is as funny, insightful, and surprising as life itself.”  – note from Hyperion, the publisher of Everyday Matters.

Hounds © Danny Gregory.
Hounds © Danny Gregory.

Danny Gregory is coming to Kutztown University on Thurs, Dec. 4, thanks to Prof. Ann Lemon. Danny is an artist, illustrator, teacher, filmmaker and writer. I see from my Amazon history that I first bought his Everyday Matters when it came out in 2007. Like so many others, I was touched by the story of how he sat at his wife’s side during her hospital stay, and how the act of drawing saved his life. We use two of his books, The Creative License and The Illustrated Life as texts in classes at Kutztown.

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Detail from Amsterdam Sketchbook ©Danny Gregory
Detail from Amsterdam Sketchbook ©Danny Gregory

I asked Ann Lemon three questions about Danny Gregory. I asked when she first met him and what was her favorite drawing? and what’s Danny really like? Below are her answers:

Ann Lemon:  “So, I honestly can’t remember how long ago I met Danny. I think it was back in the 90s through his art director partner, who went to school with me. But I got to know him when we both worked at mcgarrybowen. I maybe even was more friends with his wife Patti – but then everybody always was.

Sketchbook © Danny Gregory
Sketchbook © Danny Gregory

Then, kind of a weird surprise, after Patti died (major tragic accident) he began dating my good friend, J.J. Wilmoth, who had also worked at mcgarry. They moved out to L.A. together for a while when she took a job out there last year, but they both missed New York too much and returned a few months ago.”

Bad to the Bone by Danny Gregory
Bad to the Bone by Danny Gregory

“Not sure what drawing would be my favorite. Maybe the cover of Bad to the Bone cause I have a major crush on his dog, Tim. I hope Tim comes to the talk. Actually, as long as Tim comes, I don’t even care if Danny comes.

Self-portrait © Danny Gregory.
Self-portrait © Danny Gregory.

His work personality is absolutely the opposite of his book personality – at work he comes across as kind of tough, silent. Also, he is a writer by trade, not an art director, so a lot of people at work had no idea he had this other life as an artist. He’s really funny, but always serious, too. You’ll see.”

O.K. You’ll see, too. Come see Danny Gregory at Kutztown University, Thurs. Dec. 4 at 6pm, Academic Forum 101. Free and Open to the Public. Bring your sketchbook, Danny will not mind if you draw while he talks. Sponsored by The Communication Design Dept., KUSSI, and KU’s AIGA student group.

My Mexican Sketchbooks

America, mural detail, Chapel Atotonilco, Mex.
America, mural detail, Chapel Atotonilco, Mex.

In a few days I find out if I have enough students to run a sketchbook class in Oaxaca, Mexico. Info on the class can be found here. I’ve been looking through my Mexico sketchbooks. These pages remind me of the wonderful days I have spent in Mexico over the years.

Flower vendor, Guanajuato.
Flower vendor, Guanajuato.

Sometimes my drawings are quick pen sketches. Sometimes I take time to add watercolor washes. Often they are drawn to remind myself about a particular place, like the restaurant Itanoni in Oaxaca. My notes remind me of Itanoni’s fresh organic corn tortillas. Itanoni also serves a wonderful hot chocolate drink, called champurrado, a type of atole made of maize flavored with cane sugar and cinnamon.

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tule copySometimes I draw tourist attractions, like the giant Tule tree outside of central Oaxaca. I’ve seen people jump out of a taxi, snap a photo of the Tule tree and be gone in 60 seconds. Sketching forces me to catch my breath, to savor those few minutes I spent under the shadow of this ancient life form. Some call it the world’s largest tree. The Zapotecs believe it was planted by Ehecatl, the wind god,1400 years ago. With a circumference of 137 feet, it is wider than the giant sequoia of California.

The Weaving Teacher, Oaxaca.
The Weaving Teacher, Oaxaca.

zocaloOnce when I was drawing in the zocalo, Oaxaca’s central square, an old campesino asked me if I could draw his picture. I told him I would be glad to do so. He folded his arms across his chest and stared hard at me.

campesinoA crowd gathered. Some thought I was drawing him all wrong, some thought I was doing it right. In the end, I showed it to the man and he just laughed and walked away happy. The crowd turned their attention to the marimba players and the balloon vendors. I kept drawing and I felt connected to the throng, like I was a part of the wonderful human opera of Oaxaca. I have a new sketchbook and I look forward to visiting Mexico again.

Tom Hart & Leela Corman on Grief & Cartooning

I went to NYC for the 92nd meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium. I’ve missed 90 meetings, but they are a welcoming bunch. The Symposium pops up someplace different each meeting, so you need to find it. The Symposium is free, info here.  This is not Comi-Con. The emphasis is on D.I.Y., independent and innovative comics.

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Tom Hart and Leela Corman, husband and wife artists and educators presented. There was a crowd of about 40. Tom and Leela arrived a bit late navigating their way into the SVA conference room with their baby Molly in a stroller. Tom shared a Powerpoint about the Sequential Artists Workshop, SAW, the one-room schoolhouse for comics they founded in Florida in 2011. As Tom’s eyes darted across the audience he gave shout-outs to old NYC friends. He taught cartooning for 10 years at SVA.

Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.
Leela Corman teaching Life Drawing at SAW, Gainesville.

VISIT GAINESVILLE: More Lizards than Criminals! Tom spoke of their move to Florida. A New Yorker in the audience must have flinched. “It’s Gainesville!” said Tom. “It’s not what you think of when you think ‘Florida.’ We have WAY more lizards than criminals.” He’s working on a graphic memoir dealing, in part, with their exodus from New York. I read somewhere Tom just got tired of being a starving artist in New York. I recall one telling detail. He wore his useless wristwatch for months because he couldn’t afford a new battery.

First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW's blog.
First floor at SAW, Gainesville, from SAW’s blog.

SAW’s one room schoolhouse is in what looks like a mini-mall. Tom touted his Gainesville neighborhood, pointing out SAW’s proximity to the South’s oldest feminist/LGBTQ bookstore and the South’s oldest Infoshop. He explained the impetus for creating SAW, an affordable stand-alone academy for comics. “I had this vision of an intense, serious place, – The Paper Chase for cartooning.” (The Paper Chase was a ’70’s T.V. show about Harvard Law School with a hero named Hart, oddly enough.) Tom’s recollections of his time studying cartooning at SVA were not pretty. Nobody finished anything. -“It was terrible. They were all listening to The Cure and doing drugs,” he recalled. “and my mother had to take out a loan.”

Tom Hart's Hutch Owen comic strip is at www.hutchowen.com
Tom Hart’s Hutch Owen comic strip is at http://www.hutchowen.com

“It’s not right. There are art schools charging $35,000 a year, and there are schools charging less, like $12,000. Even that’s too much.” he said. “SAW’s flagship program, a 1-year full-time comics boot camp costs $3,500 for the year.” SAW’s program includes master classes in life drawing, comics/art history “that begins way before Hogarth” lo-fi technique classes, and, naturally, critiques. They don’t have a lot of computers or software, but they do have a risograph printer. SAW is not accredited, but teaches the same stuff as  accredited schools and the results are quite impressive. I wrote about SAW before and interviewed student Adrian Pijoan here.

Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.
Yahrzeit detail © Leela Corman 2013.  Silver Medal winner, Society of Illustrators

Leela took to the podium. Besides teaching at SAW, she’s a zinester, illustrator, and belly dance instructor. A Powerpoint malfunction prevented her from showing much of her award-winning graphic novel Unterzakhn. Tom still asked her the question that irks her most, “Is Unterzakhn autobiographical?”  She answered with mock annoyance,”It’s about twins! It takes place in a brothel! in 1910! The answer is, No!”

leela-corman-unterzakhn-2012She shared work done for the Symbolia, the app ‘where comics meets journalism.’ I took some solace from her offhand remark, “I have to learn to draw again for every book.” The progressive Jewish mag Tablet published some of her most heartfelt work, – her graphic meditation on her Holocaust survivor grandfather and her own pain of losing a daughter. Their daughter Rosalie died near the age of two in 2011. “Since my first child died, I’ve tried to understand how my grandfather handled losing his entire family, and how he kept going.” As Leela noted, no one can understand this sort of grief, if they have not experienced it. Even then, it is beyond understanding. The full strip is here.

Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.
Odyssey, detail, © Justine Mara Anderson, SAW faculty.

Secret Project GNAT

Tom returned to the podium to share a rather incredible comic he is editing for DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are the folks who invented the Internet and drones. Really! Everyone is getting into comics. The GNAT project (Graphic Novel Art Therapy) is meant to help vets deal with PTSD. A declassified explanation of the overall project can be found here.  Tom shared pages from a graphic retelling of the Odyssey for vets. He pointed out details including extraordinary inking by Justine Anderson, above. That final panel is drawn with a toothpick.

Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.
Gasoline Alley panels by Frank King, circa 1921.

Tom looped back to his own memoir project. He posts his Rosalie Lightning work-in-progress online. He, too, spoke of his massive grief when baby Rosalie died. He recalled reading classic 1920’s Gasoline Alley strips by Frank King. When got to a panel where Walt panics about losing his baby Skeezix, he couldn’t bear to continue reading.

The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.
The Gasoline Alley panel Tom Hart showed, taken from his Tumbler.

Maybe it was a catch in his voice, or a dip in Tom’s positive psychic energy, but as he talked about “losing our baby” something changed. It seemed even Molly, eleven months old, sensed it. She swung her wee body away from her mother’s breast toward her father. Leela held on as long as she could, but Molly went willfully horizontal, arms outstretched toward Tom.

A page from Hart's Rosalie from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/
A page from Hart’s Rosalie Lightning from http://rosalielightning.tumblr.com/

Leela carried Molly across the room carefully shielding the girl’s eyes from the glare of the projector. Tom cradled Molly in his left arm and, as best he could, used his right hand to advance the slides. At one point he tried to pass Molly back to Leela. Molly refused to go that go far.

Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey
Tom Hart and Molly at NY Comic Symposium. K.McCloskey

Nick Bertozzi seated near the podium managed to bounce Molly on his knee as Tom wrapped up his commentary. Tom apologized if he’d gone on too long. The room filled with applause. Molly’s eyes lit up as if the clapping was for her. I suppose some of it was. Grateful applause for the whole family: Tom and Leela and Rosalie and Molly.

There was time for a few questions, and someone asked how to help SAW. Tom was clearly relieved by the softball question. He’d totally forgotten to mention that key point. SAW depends on donations to keep tuition low. SAW will announce a new Indi-GOGO fundraiser in December. To help out visit the SAW site and sign up for the newsletter. They also have low-residency weeks if you haven’t got a year off.

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Note: The 93rd NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium is Mon, Aug. 4, 2014, 7 pm, Dixon Place on Chrystie St. Free and open to the public. Presenters: Sophia Wiedeman & Anna Raff.  Details here.

Art Oasis in Mexico City

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Maestro Gerardo Torres Gonzalez (center) tends an oasis in one of the world’s largest cities. Mexico City’s Bosque de Chapultepec is home to many wonders including Emperor Maximilian’s castle. Below the castle in a grove of eucalyptus trees you will find a house called Quinta Colorado. In the patio every Saturday and Sunday there are art classes. At the center of this school is an extraordinary art teacher, Maestro Torres. Anyone who finds their way to his class is welcome. The classes are free. Maestro Torres gets support for the project from the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes , the famed Mexico City art school where he studied.

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Carolina, one of the youngest artists in the open-air class.

Mexico has a long tradition of open-air and free art education. It was especially big in the 1930’s. It is wonderful to see the tradition continue. Maestro Torres told me he has been in the park for 6 years; before that he taught  classes for 11 years at another location. He has a truly amazing in his capacity to teach a class of diverse students of mixed abilities. Some of his students arrive with recycled copy paper and a single pencil. Others bring watercolors and proper sketchbooks. When I visited one young artist , Luis, was painting in oils. Maestro Torres works with what he gets, and treats every student with respect. Over the years I have observed many art teachers in action. This man is special.20131013-114118.jpg
My friend Diego works as a civil servant in a skyscraper at the metro stop Zapata.  Weekends he gladly rides the train a few extra stops to Chapultepec Park. Diego has no expectation of quitting his day job to become an artist. He told me the art class means so much to him because his office work is so very routine. At Quinta Colorado, Diego has a chance to do something creative and forget the stresses of his week.

Carolina, a talented little girl came with her grandfather, who sat behind her on a stone wall reading a novel while she painted. There was one older fellow with gray flecks in his beard and long hair tied up in an odd knot like a Hindu monk. His fingernails were painted black and he didn’t say much. Maestro Torres greeted every student with enthusiasm, and hopped from table to table giving encouragement and technical demonstrations.

Alberto, age 7, uses crayons for his art.
Alberto, age 7, uses crayons for his art.

Maestro Torres believes that copying photos is a fruitless way to learn to draw. He told me there must be a balance between observation and imagination. He has developed a number of quick exercises to facilitate imagination. One he calls the ‘Constellation.’ He peppers a page with random dots. Then with the side of a pencil, or a hexagonal bar of graphite, he connects some of the dots creating a balanced, but abstract, tonal composition. He then takes a quick breath. I noticed at this point he sometimes looks up into the trees for an instant. Then he finds something on the page. If he is working with a child, he might draw an animal. If he is working with an adult he can create a complete figurative drawing in a matter of minutes. He dates his drawings, signs them with a carved stamp and gives them freely to his students.
20131013-114219.jpgThe maestro is a firm believer in keeping a sketchbook. In fact, he keeps two. He was good enough to share these pages. Even his tiny pocket-sized Fabiano notebook demonstrates his mastery of the human figure and his delightful drawing ability with brush, pen, and pencil. Maestro Torres is working on a book about his teaching methods. I look forward to seeing it.  When I return to Chalputelpec Park, I know where to find him. Gracias, Maestro.

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