Friday, November 6, 2015

Painting Mermaids at MICA

Patrick O'Brien, a professor of Illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), has redesigned his “Oil Painting for Illustrators” class to appeal to the new generation of illustration students, calling it “Creature Creation Workshop.”

They started by painting from dinosaur maquettes to get used to visualizing a creature in a setting with believable light. 

Then they moved on to mermaids. The students looked at how mermaids have been portrayed in art history, and then did lots of sketches from their imagination.

They brought in a female model to hold a mermaid-like pose (for the upper half at least).

Patrick O'Brien bought some fish at the market so the students could do empirical research on the mermaid's lower half.

They put it all together, with lots of drawings and studies to fit the mermaid into the environment they imagined.

They did their final paintings in oil. Not many students get a such a rare chance to paint fantasy creatures based on real-life inspiration. 


Susan Krzywicki said...

So wonderful that the teacher envisioned something that caught the students' attention. Very smart. And I loved the methodology.

Viktoria Berg said...

That´s some masterly pedagogy. Very clever and I wish I had been taking that class - it looks like a lot of fun!

Patrick O'Brien said...

As the teacher in this blog post, I'd like to state that the assignment was directly inspired by James Gurney's posts. I'm a daily reader of this blog, and an enthusiastic reader of Gurney's books. Gurney's tips and tricks have taught me much about depicting color and light, and I share them with my students frequently. What's especially useful is how Gurney has so often put a name and a description to a lighting, or a painting, or a compositional concept that I have often used in my art, but had never thought about so concretely. Giving a name to the thought helps to think about it more clearly and use it more deliberately.

Jayson said...

I know most readers probably already noticed, but it's great that one of the pictures shows Imaginative Realism sitting on one of the artist's work spaces.

Bruce Brenneise said...

Would have loved to have had this as a class back when I was in a bricks-and-mortar art school program. Granted, not sure the administration of that school (I'll leave it anonymous to protect the guilty) would have gone for it, as it wouldn't necessarily have fit with their preferences for abstraction over realism (fictional or otherwise).

K_tigress said...

Must have been a pretty aromatic experience using market fish. ;)

Unknown said...

I have painted many mermaids but never in this way. Must be a great experience!