Elijah Boor’s haunting image for Let The Right One In

With my current SmartSchool workshop wrapping up in a few days, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the wonderful work from the previous fall semester. It’s a true honor to work with other artists in a teaching capacity, and I’m continuously surprised and amazed by what people produce during these 14 week mentorships.

Carly Milligan’s Cultivation, based on a character from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive


Painting and lettering by Joshua Griffin, for an imagined YA book cover. We spent a lot of time this semester talking about creating work for book and publishing clients.


Maryam Shariati’s painting and beautifully integrated, illustrative typography for Tamora Pierce’s Alanna


One of the many dynamic paintings Aniekan Udofia created, exploring the intersection of pop culture and Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth


Logan Maakestad’s contemplative, idiosyncratic take on an iconic myth


Galen Dara’s surreal, symbolist take on the workshop’s first assignment The Conceptual Portrait. Although most students end up taking the class in a personal direction, I always try and start the semester off with a simple open ended assignment to get everyone excited and thinking about conceptualizing art in a potentially new way.


Christine Mitzuk’s iconic solution for an N.K. Jemisin novel.

I’ve been teaching this workshop through SmartSchool for a few years now and it continues to be one of the most interesting and creatively exciting projects I am lucky enough to be involved with. It’s fun to meet other artists where they are, creatively, and address interests and struggles in a direct way. I’d like to think I really get to know my students as our time together unfolds and I consider myself lucky to be able to meet artists from so many places around the world(ain’t the internet magic sometimes?).


A lot of the class is spent discussing sketches and value structure, setting up a painting for success in the planning stages.


Elijah Boor’s atmospheric meditations on Macbeth, created using 3D models and digital painting. I’ve learned so much from my students over the years, watching them use new tools and technology to explore their work.


An in progress painting by Carly Milligan. I love watching these works unfold week by week, offering support and encouragement along the way.


Although every workshop begins with a few open ended class assignments, I find it just as rewarding to spend time talking about sketchbooks, media experimentation and personally generated work. With only ten students in each class, there’s a flexibility to what can be explored that is pretty unique in my experience.

One of Galen Dara’s explorations for our experimental media project.


Some next level media exploration by Maryam Shariati

Aniekan Udofia’s watercolor sketchbook explorations

A glimpse into Logan Maakestad’s sketchbook(and mind?)

Digital painting exploration by Joshua Griffin

Every artist is different of course, and so much of what I enjoy is getting to learn and care about everyone’s individual journey. It’s interesting to see what sort of fears and challenges we share, and what observations I can offer via my own experience of doing this funny thing(Art), for so many years. It’s rewarding to come together as a group each week and really care about each other’s individual artistic journeys, I can’t think of a better way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Some of Galen Dara’s client work that we discussed in class. With everyone at different stages on their journey’s, it’s always interesting to speak about work created in collaboration with a client


Aniekan Udofia working on pieces for his comics portfolio

Christine Mitzuk

Logan Maakestad

Honestly, the success of this whole thing has everything to do with the people that have joined this workshop over the years, I’m always amazed by the effort and passion participants bring to their work. Thank you so much to all my students for joining me and allowing me into your creatives lives! I’m honored to be included on the journey.

If anyone is interested in learning more about my upcoming Fall 2022 SmartSchool Workshop, there’s more information here. 

More work by these talented humans at the links below:

Christine Mitzuk, Maryam Shariati, Logan Maakestad, Joshua Griffin, Galen Dara, Elijah Boor, Carly Milligan, Aniekan Udofia