-By Dan dos Santos

As many of you know, I live in Connecticut. One day, about 10 years ago, I was in New Haven shopping for art supplies. In the art store I spied a postcard for a gallery show hosted by a local tattoo studio. The studio claimed to have the works of Luis Royo and Joe Linsner on display amongst several other illustrator heavyweights. I thought to myself, ‘There is not a chance in hell that there is a Royo on display in New Haven’. I found the gallery in question, named Hope Gallery, and sure enough there before me were the works of Linsner, Travis Louie, Mark Elliot, and slew of other great artists! I was stunned that this gem of a gallery was tucked away in New Haven and that I had never heard of it. I spoke to the owner Joe Capobianco (a tattoo legend in his own right), and initiated what would quickly become a very dear friendship.

Over the years, Hope Gallery has hosted some amazing shows, many with a strong emphasis on SF/F illustration. They have also hosted several seminars and workshops… including one by myself last year. So, I am very pleased to announce that next month, they will be hosting Florida-based painter Brian Despain for a 4-hour painting seminar on July 31st.

If you are familiar with the Spectrum annuals, you are likely familiar with Brian’s work, which is included year after year. This seminar is great chance for young artists to learn the ins and outs of being a professional painter from an award winning artist. Brian will reveal his complex creation process as well as share insights and answer questions about his life long career as a professional artist in this four hour painting seminar.

If you are in the NY, CT, or MA area, you should seriously consider coming in for this seminar. I know I will definitely be there! Hope Gallery will have an exhibit on display, and will also be hosting a BBQ that same weekend, which is a wonderful opportunity to mingle with the local talent and pick Brian’s brain in a more casual atmosphere. Basically, it should be a really fun weekend!

You can find out more about Brian Despain’s seminar on Hope Gallery’s Event Page. Or click Here to buy tickets, which I am certain won’t last long. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

Hope Gallery has also conducted a short interview with Brian in light of his upcoming seminar. Here is that interview straight from Hope Gallery’s website:

Interview with Artist Brian Despain

How long have you been painting?
I’ve been painting with oils for about six years. Of course that doesn’t include the undirected, feverish dabbling I did in the two painting classes I took in college but that was more flinging and/or smearing paint on whatever surface I could find in a desperate attempt to have the required number of “paintings” by the end of the week. In other words I didn’t learn a whole lot. So, six productive years… Now before I come across as some kind of self proclaimed genius (even though I am in fact a genius) I’ve been painting digitally for much longer, since ’95 if memory serves. In other words I learned all my color theory, composition, painting style, etc, years ago, so when I picked up oils I had all the fundamentals in place and only had to learn the idiosyncrasies of the medium. It made the whole process much easier.

How would you describe your style?
I’m often lumped into the pop-surrealism group but honestly I don’t really think I’m truly a pop-surrealist like Todd Schorr, Ron English, or Robert Williams. If pressed I’d say I’m more of a neo-symbolist. I try to infuse my art with a lot of symbolic references and emotional triggers which much closer mirrors the idiom of the Symbolist movement of yore.

What are some artists that you look up to?
Wow, how much time do we have? There are so many artists that I enjoy looking at or are envious of their talents it’d be impossible to put them all here. But for the sake of a good interview here’s a few. John Singer Sargent and J.W. Waterhouse for their ability to handle paint, W.A. Bouguereau for his ability to render light, Alphonse Mucha for his unerring sense of design and composition and so this isn’t a list of dead guys… Phil Hale for being a monster painter, James Jean for his unholy talent, and Mike Mingola for being a god damned visionary.

What is one of the most important lessons that you have learned as a painter?
That no matter how much you think you know there’s always something new to learn. Every time I start a painting it’s like going into battle. The paint reacts almost like a living creature and it’s when you become complacent and stop paying attention to it that something goes horribly awry. Even when you ARE paying attention stuff can still go wrong. I think in every single painting I’ve ever done there’s an area where the paint did something radical and I ended up having to “fix” it, probably while swearing a lot.

Where have you found some of your reference material?
I find a majority of my inspiration from the internet. There’s a wealth of sites dedicated to imagery of all kinds CGHub.com is a great place to go see some wicked illustration, mostly sci-fi and fantasy stuff but really amazing stuff none the less. Illustrationmundo.com hosts more main stream illustrators but again there is a certain bent to the majority of the artists there that may or may not suit one’s tastes. And of course there’s always places like ffffound.com or Stumbleupon.com that use the shotgun approach and just sort of deliver whatever to you, however, there are gems in amongst the noise.

What can people expect to learn at your seminar?
Though it’s being sold as a “painting” demo I feel that watching someone paint, no matter how cool you think they are, is mind numbingly boring outside of five minutes.  As such I’m planning on talking a lot more about the nuts and bolts of art. Based on the “give a man a fish, teach a man to fish” adage I feel there’s a wealth of behind the scenes knowledge, i.e. not just the “how” of painting but the “why” as well, that is rarely touched upon in art schools. I’ve spent a good amount of my own time philosophizing and conjecturing about what goes into making a good painting and why people think and act the way they do and as such have formed some pretty broad theories that if applied to art can, in my opinion, raise the artistic experience for all involved. I’m planning on sharing some of this knowledge in the hopes that the audience can take that information and use it to amp up their own art. That and I’m going to run through my labor intensive process of how to put together a painting. Maybe I’ll juggle too.


Hope Gallery’s website: http://www.hopegallerytattoo.com/
Brian Despain’s website: http://www.despainart.com