As many of you know, I spend the last two weekends conducting workshops on caricature in the nearby city of Eagan, MN. Both workshops started with a Friday night welcome party at my house and a look at my studio, and continued at the host hotel on Saturday and Sunday. Each workshop had 13 students. Here’s a brief synopsis of what we did:
Friday night: The entire group came over to Casa del Richmond for some of The Lovely Anna’s culinary goodies, a few adult beverages, a goody bag full of stuff, and a tour of the studio.
Saturday: We got going early at 9 AM, and I started out with a brief presentation/lecture on my philosophies behind caricature and what it’s all about. I discussed the fundamentals and went through the basic approach to caricature whether it be for a live drawing or a time-consuming illustration. This included a few sample subjects and my observations on the key elements of those subjects to exaggerate, and what makes a successful caricature of them.
Next we spent some time working on a handful of different subjects, where we worked together on breaking down the foundation elements of each face and what could be keyed on to exaggerate in our caricature. I drew on a tablet projected on a screen with the picture of our subject right next to the drawing.
After a nice catered in lunch, I separated the group into two. One was going to focus on general/live style caricature, and the other on illustration.
For the latter group, I assigned them a mock freelance job. We briefly discussed the elements of a successful illustration with an emphasis on the narrative or basic storytelling goal of the piece, and they went through the process with me acting as art director. They started with concept roughs, and followed through with pencils and finally inks for finished art (with anticipation of coloring on their own back home) as the weekend progressed. I did a more thorough inking demo, and set everyone up with bristol boards, assorted pen nibs and brushes, and ink.
For the former, I had a huge stack of pictures of subjects to work on, and we drew caricature from these pictures. Each student worked in the medium of their choice, and I went around working with each person one-on-one helping them with their drawings and identifying their strengths an weaknesses.
Throughout the weekend I would do demos of my live drawing technique as well as my airbrushing. I drew caricatures from almost all the photo references myself, talking through each drawing with my observations of the subject and pointing out the different challenges with each one and how I tackle these, explaining how I draw elements like hair, eyes, teeth, noses, etc. I also drew each of the students in a live caricature style.
On Sunday we continued our projects/drawing and I tooks some time with anyone who brought a portfolio of their work along offering critiques and an examination of their work including possible applications of it that plays to their strengths.
Each student received a goody bag with a signed copy of my book, a bunch of my mini prints, one of the big prints of their choice, and other fun stuff. I did an illustration with caricatures of all the students from each class, and made a T-shirt out of them that each received as well as a big print of the artwork. One person also won the inked original of that artwork in a drawing at the end of the workshop.
Overall things went pretty well, I think. The main problem I had was being able to find enough time to spend one on one with everyone. 13 people is stretching it. I think 12 is the max I can handle. The other issue I had was that different people were there for different reasons… live caricature, illustration… and there was a wild swing is skill level. I had a few who were beginners or hobbyists and a couple who where seasoned professionals. That made it difficult to tailor a curriculum to fit everyone.
What people seemed to respond the most to was when I drew the caricatures of all the subjects and talked through my thought processes as I worked. The feedback I got was that people learned a lot just seeing what I did with each face, my decisions, and how I handled the various elements of the subjects along with my explanations of my approach. I will make sure I do a lot of that in future workshops.
And there will be future workshops, except I will be taking the show on the road. Instead of making everyone travel to Minneapolis, I will go to various cities around the country and do a handful of 2.5 day workshops at a host hotel. That will save many potential students the costs of travel and possibly of hotel if they live close enough to commute. My first 2017 workshop will be in Orlando in January, followed by Las Vegas in February. Other potential cities might include L.A., The New York area somewhere, San Fransisco, Pittsburgh, Washington DC/Baltimore, Cleveland or Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix… there are many possibilities but I will probably limit it to six workshops in 2017. Looks for the specifics on the Orlando workshop later this week.
I will also have another one here in MN next year. The nice thing about having it here is people can visit the studio… I can’t do that in Orlando.
The best part about these last two weekends was getting to meet (or see again) and spend some time with so many terrific artists and people. I hope they all had as much fun as I did.
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