Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dennis Nolan and the Hartford Art School

Yesterday I visited the Hartford Art School in Connecticut, part of the University of Hartford, to give a lecture about picture making and world building.

After the talk, a group of about 50 students invited me to do a watercolor demo. I had a great model, someone I've painted many times before: my good friend Dennis Nolan, professor of illustration and noted children's book illustrator

Since I only had a half hour, I used the most direct method I know for portraits, starting with big shapes of watercolor laid on wet with a big brush, and then finishing with a few details and textures with water-soluble colored pencils, drybrush watercolor, and a few touches of gouache.

Here's Dennis afterward with his daughter Evie, a student at Hartford. The painting is in a Moleskine water media notebook, using a Schmincke watercolor set.

If you're a high school student interested in studying illustration, I recommend the program at Hartford. It's led by not only Dennis Nolan, but also Bill Thomson, and Doug Anderson. The school also has a very interesting class on the science of art taught by Jeremiah Patterson. The illustration program is strong in observational drawing and painting as well as composition and imaginative realism, and the seniors create their own children's picture book from start to finish. They also recently added an animation component to the curriculum. The illustration program is very popular; this year they have the largest sophomore enrollment ever.
Dennis Nolan's faculty page at Hartford Art School
Previous post on the Hartford Art School


S. Stipick said...

Fantastic event that was very graciously made available to the public by the Hartford Staff. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can only hope I may have many more exciting and similar opportunities.

A sincere thank you to Mr. Gurney and the staff of the Hartford Art School.

Tom Hart said...

James this is one of your most stunning watercolor portraits, imho. To think it was done in only 30 minutes! (Plus years and years of preparation :^))

I had the pleasure of witnessing Dennis Nolan do an acrylic demo many years ago back in Northampton. MA at a school called The Illustrators' Studio (later called the Northampton School of Design). I wish I had (then or now!) an opportunity to study with him.

Five Fives said...

James, where can I find a list of your upcoming lecture locations?

Kokopelli said...

Amazing portrait James, so fast and takes 30 years to be that fast and good Cheers

CC said...

WOW! You are so inspiring! Wonder if I have 30 years left to get that good in 30 minutes? ;) Bravo! ♥

Felice Applauso said...

Thank you mr.Gurney for sharing! ..beautiful artwork, I love the red hue you added on the skin for the cheeks and the nose, really adds more richness to skin tones of the face. On an unrelated note: few days ago you posted a follow up to your Gamut Masking video (on YouTube). In this post you illustrated an in-depth tutorial on how you mix strings of colors for the gamut masking method. Because it was late at night (when I discovered the post) I ended up browsing through it quickly, with the resolution of returning the next day for a more in-depth read…. but, in doing so the following day I wasn’t able to find the post again. Was the post removed?..or is my imagination playing tricks on me? Best regards!

James Gurney said...

Felice, thanks for asking. I think the video you're looking for can be found at:

Industrial, sorry I couldn't give advance notice about this lecture because they told me the auditorium wasn't big enough to hold too many outside visitors. My next lectures will be at Illustration Master Class in Amherst in June, and the SKB Foundation this September in Wyoming.

Thanks, everyone else for your kind words.

Unknown said...

Unknown said...

Amazing portrait!! Thank you for sharing!

Jeremy said...

Nice portrait in such a short amount of time. On a related note, are there any other schools you have been to or know of with a strong illustration program? I visited Mica recently and hope to visit some other schools soon, so I'd like to get a pro's opinion(especially if that professional is you).

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Jeremy, Check out the blog's search string on Art School Visits.