We just wrapped up teaching at the eleventh Illustration Master Class. As always, the IMC provided so much energy and inspiration that I’ve returned to my studio with many ideas, many stories, and lots of technical information. This year’s guests included James Gurney, Kent Williams, Tara McPherson, Greg Ruth, Senior Art Director Jeremy Jarvis, Creative Director Lauren Panepinto, Art Dealer Lance Rehs, and Marc Scheff of Every Day Original.

IMC is the kind of teaching environment I thought art school, any art school, was supposed to be like: instructors lecturing on the overall aspects of an art career, with personal instruction, paying particular attention to a student’s mistakes and successes. I didn’t find that at the school I attended. The overwhelming attitude there was that 2% of us would ever “make it” and that you could try to have a career in art, but they wouldn’t recommend it…unless you magically arrived at the right formula to be considered “gifted.”


Not so with the IMC. I am part of a fantastic team of painters who have a much better approach to training a person to become more of a skilled artist than they already are. Since it is a one-week, intensely-focused workshop, we work with great focus to ensure a student returns home with plenty of information and insight to continue on with their own instruction and development.

In other words, we take the principles of brilliant picture-making, coupled with experience and attention, and strive to instill in all the attendees methods for working in the field and achieving a career.

Coming from such a confusing and depressing art education, I’m elated to be able to work with our students the way I would’ve wanted to be trained. The eight basic instructors, Rebecca Leveille Guay, Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell, Dan Dos Santos, Donato Giancola, Scott Fischer, myself, and renowned art director, Irene Gallo, do our utmost to give as much one-on-one instruction as we possibly can. Students can come up to us as well, to pull us to their station to work out a particular problem or even ask questions about their portfolio or direction.


What you see in these photos is the joy of finding a home, a community of like-minded artists striving to be their best. IMC is also a safe place to fail. For in that attempt of reaching for your vision, we all encounter false-starts, fears, and failures. We embrace the fact that every artist is challenged by similar efforts to create.

At the end of this life-changing week, many friendships are made because of that struggle, exactly because we faced those many challenges together.


That’s what I thought art school was supposed to be about. When I found it wasn’t, I never wanted to teach anyone. Ever. Until I was asked by Rebecca Leveille Guay, the IMC’s founder, to join the team and share how I paint. The IMC changed my life, too. I’ve never painted as well as I have since my first expose to our students eleven years ago.

And I include all of that approach in my online classes for SmArt School, too, where no question is taboo and failure is a key element for personal achievement. (classes are open now for enrollment in the 2018 Fall Semester!)

New Muddy readers looking to get an idea of the kind of information we share at IMC and in my online classes can check out my series of “10 Things About…” on this site.

If you’ve ever been confused or uncertain of how to attain your dream of becoming an artist, or what to do to take that next leap up in skill, consider joining us nexttime at the Illustration Master Class and connect with our ever-widening community of creatives.

catching a nap