– by Scott Fischer

Some behind the scenes action from day one of IMC 2017. www.artimc.org

IMC is quite possibly the most intense and awesome week of the year for many involved. I’ve had the privilege of being a core faculty member of the IMC for the past 10 years along with Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Donato Giancola, Dan Dos Santos, Greg Manchess, Irene Gallo and our founder. Our beating heart. Our true north, Rebecca Leveille Guay.

Special artist instructors this year are the kick-ass Andrew Hem, that art-wizard named John Jude Palencar, and the fabulous Cynthia Sheppard, who brings a full-circle moment for all of us. For once upon a time, before she was the Spectrum Gold medalist. Before she became an Art Director for Magic the Gathering- she was an attendee here at IMC. (Though honestly she was well on her way before she walked through our doors.)

It is an honor return to the beautiful campus of Amherst college annually, to help guide such a talented and driven group of artists. (I only wish there had been something like this when I was a student!)

The question is, how much info can you cram in your brain before it starts leaking out of your ears?

Day one starts off with a bang, a slide-show avalanche of art, showcasing every faculty member.  I am constantly inspired by my peers- but before we could catch our breath, we rolled right into a lecture on composition by the multi-figure master, Donato Giancola. A composition means nothing without emotional intent, which Rebecca covers by elegantly discussing the difference between “Predictable and Unpredictable Choices”. This year Dan Dos Santos brought it home with a fabulous lecture on using value to tie your composition and emotional intent together. (Other years you may have heard Greg Manchess talk about composition and setting the stage, or myself talking about finding flow in your paintings.)

Next up is lunch at the Amherst College cafeteria. (My college never served Talapia and Chicken Masala!) If you are here, I don’t know if your belly or your brain is digesting more, but there is no time to think about it, because it is time for action.

Day one feels like the longest day at IMC. It is sketch crit day. What follows is a sampling of what goes down.

Cynthia Sheppard, dos Santos and myself are one sketch crit-group. But you will find a similar frenzy of ideas and suggestions in any of the 5 groups.  First we look at some samples of your finished work to see where you are coming from, like this wonderful sampling by Mariah Tekulve.

If you brought traditional sketches they go up on the chalkboard and we start drawing on top of them and on the chalkboard itself. Here on Alice Herring’s work. Sometimes the three of us drawing at the same time. Correcting composition, intent and value structure. (Sounds familiar.)

If you are pure digital, your work goes in photoshop on my Cintiq and is projected on the wall for everyone to see. There is almost a tug-of-war that happens with that poor stylus as Cynthia, dos Santos, and I are all itching to get the thoughts out of our head and into yours. “Who is the star of your painting?” “What is this pose telling us about the character?” “Every element should be considered and should be aiding your intent.” “Look for the hidden rivers of energy in your piece.” Cynthia suggested a great head flip in this zombie piece by Joel Hustak. And one of the most important, and hardest to answer, “What is it you want to do with your art.”

The hope is, when we are finished critiquing your sketch, you are seeing your piece in a new light, and are ready for MORE drawing, drawing, drawing.

Here is a great before and after crit by dos Santos on Shonn Everette.

And after 5 hours of crits, it is time to fill your belly again, caffeinate, and come back for MORE lectures on shooting photo ref by dos Santos (to help inform your new sketches).

…and then how to mix and paint flesh by Donato Giancola. (Hint it is more involved than a tube of this!)

Finally everyone returns to their own easels and desks and they continue to, you know, DRAW, DRAW, DRAW!

And just think, 6 days to go!!!