New Approach to Painting Demonstration

Last night’s painting demo for the East Aurora Art society was very satisfying and inspiring, for the presenter at least! I believe the audience had a good time too as they interacted with me the demonstrator and with one another in asking questions, making comments and enjoying good snacks and artistic company. When I’ve done painting demonstrations in the past, I’ve typically arrived with a painting already in progress so the group could watch me work on refinements, and already have a structured scene to relate to from the beginning. But this time it was different.

artist, fantasy art, demonstration, teacher, oil on panel, easel

Dean Vigyikan with his new fantasy painting from the demo

The morning of the event, I got the idea to start from scratch. I’d had a piece already begun to continue working on for the demo. But I also had some blank canvas panels ready to go, and a new idea in my head for a fantasy art piece. I wanted the group to be able to see something emerge out of nothing but a blank slate, combined with paints and imagination. The fun we all had as the demo unfolded attests to the fact that this new twist was a good idea, at least on this occasion.

The medium being discussed was water mixable oils, with their wonderful properties of safety, easy clean up, and compatibility with traditional oils. These are, of course, true oil paints, just formulated to mix with water instead of turpentine (though that would work too). These miraculous paints can achieve the same effects as regular oils, including thin washes of glaze and bravura dashes of impasto application. Colors are rich and brilliant, and drying time is comparable with traditional oils. Pretty cool stuff!

I enjoy being able to get in front of a piece and work and go to town with the paints while talking and interacting with onlookers. There was no shortage of humorous banter back and forth while also talking serious art and technique. Everyone seemed to have a good time, while I hope much was learned and some inspiration gained to move forward with the artists’ individual creative directions. While not all the audience members were necessarily artists, most of them were, and there’s wonderful talent among the members of the art society. I was honored to be their presenter this month. It had been a while since I’d done a demo for them, and last time it was sculpture. So this time around was different in more than one respect.

Live Painting Demonstration

Many thanks to the West Seneca Art Society for inviting me to perform a live painting demonstration last night at their November meeting at the West Seneca Senior Center in West Seneca, NY. It was a fun evening and well-attended event. It’s always a pleasure mingling with groups of like-minded artists who ask engaging questions and make informed comments about our common interest. Of course all are welcome to events like these. You don’t have to be an artist to attend!

concept art, fantasy art, character, artist, oil, demonstration

Vigyikan with painting after live demonstration

The center where the gathering was held is a beautiful and spacious venue. We met in the “ceramics” room, which is certainly appropriate for these kinds of art demos. For my subject matter, I chose to demonstrate the early stages of a fantasy oil painting. I brought in the piece having already “blocked-in” basic shapes of color. During the presentation, I began fleshing out the forms with areas of light and shadow in the character’s torso, arms and blowing capes. It was enjoyable also during the closing portion of the meeting, where attendees got to come up and observe the work close-up while asking one-on-one questions, and sharing some of their own artistic experiences.

My next art demo will be held next Thursday night for the East Aurora Art Society, at the East Aurora Senior Center in (you guessed it) East Aurora New York. Address:101 King St #A, East Aurora, NY 14052. Meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. All are invited to attend.

Fall Exhibition – A Visual Feast

This year’s Buffalo Fine Arts League Fall Members Exhibition does not disappoint. As can be expected from this group, members came out with a showing of beautiful interpretations of realism in various media from oil painting to pastels, watercolors and sculpture. Naturally, I’m slightly biased towards realism in art. But for folks like me, these kinds of shows really are a treat for the senses. I also like the many different approaches to “realism” taken by this artistically diverse collective.

Wildlife Art Cougar Mountain Lion Sculpture Wild Cat Predator

“The Overlook” sculpture by Dean Vigyikan

Of course the subject matter is as varied as the artistic styles involved. Some magnificent portraiture combines with lovely landscapes and moody still lifes to make a beautifully well-rounded display. A show like this wouldn’t be complete without animals, and there are some examples of this genre featured as well. Two of my sculptures are included in the exhibit, and I’m honored that the juror awarded one of them, The Overlook, third place in the competition. My other sculpture is entitled, The Abolitionist.

The venue for the event is Stangler Fine Arts + Contemporary Craft, located in Orchard Park, NY. It’s a fine gallery space, with plenty of room to back up and view the works from a distance or close up in the well-lit environment. Orchard Park (and all of western New York) is itself a work of art this time of year, with the crazy quilt of fall colors just getting underway. The exhibition has been running since September 24, and will wrap up this coming Saturday, October 14, 2017. So, there’s still a short time left to come out and see this interesting display of skilled realist artists.

Art in the Park

Hi everyone. Just wanted to give a little example here of the fun to be had when art leaves the studio and gets out onto the streets or, in this case, into the park. Chestnut Ridge Park is a beautiful venue in Orchard Park, NY where walkers, bikers, hikers and all manner of sports enthusiasts and nature seekers come to enjoy the great outdoors. Acres and acres of dense forests, trails and picnic areas adorn this venue. The last couple of years the park has hosted “Artify the Park,” organized by the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy. It’s a one-day arts event where painters, sculptors, photographers and other artists show up on site and work live in the park.

artist, sculptor, sculpture, fox, tin foil, art, show, demonstration

Dean Vigyikan at work on a sculpture

The picture above shows me working at my spot on a picnic table. Lots of adults and kids passed through this building, stopping to visit with the artists working in the room. I did quite a bit of sculpting, and perhaps even more talking, as people seemed fascinated with the process.

Some artists set up outdoors on the lawn, performing music or working en plein air (landscape painting). Others, like myself, were indoors demonstrating their techniques in one of the park’s lodges. Among the many sights and activities were some which even offered hands-on opportunities for passers-by to try out various art methods for themselves. My demonstration showed visitors the early stages of a sculpture project. My initial wire and foil armature was in the recognizable form of a fox. Kids and adults alike really enjoyed watching me putting on a layer of polymer clay to cover the armature. This year’s event took place on September 23, and the summer-like weather was absolutely gorgeous.

New Mixed Media Art Exhibition

There’s a really engaging new art show in town. It’s currently on view at River Gallery and Gifts in North Tonawanda, NY. It’s the mixed media and fiber show entitled Medium Mix Up, and it truly lives up to its name. The works featured demonstrate the diversity and creativity inherent in the realm of “mixed media” in the visual arts. Styles span from abstract to realism and the media include everything from oil paints combined with acrylics to compositions involving combinations of materials like fiber, metal, clay, wood, and more.

Fantasy Fine Art Grimm Fairy Tales

“Hans and the Griffin” sculpture by Dean Vigyikan

Not only is the range of materials impressive, but so is the quality of the work in this juried exhibition. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the show is its arrangement. It’s curated in a way that showcases a large number of art pieces across disparate styles and subject matter in a way that’s both cohesive and visually stimulating. It’s pretty unusual to see an exhibit focused expressly on the theme of mixed media. Definitely worth a stop to check it out.

A couple of my artworks are included in the show. Hans and the Griffin, a fantasy art sculpture based on the Grimms’ fairy tale, The Griffin, is on view. Also featured is one of my paintings rendered in oil paint over acrylic, where both media play a vital role in the composition. I was surprised to see a number of other works in the show utilizing this same technique.

The event began with a reception on June 10, and runs through 4 p.m. Saturday, July 8, 2017. The address is 83 Webster St., North Tonawanda, NY 14120. Call the gallery at (716) 260-1497 for more info, or to confirm hours and plan your visit. Hope you enjoy the show!

New Exhibition and Award

The Buffalo Fine Arts League is currently holding its Spring 2017 Open Exhibition at Pencil in the River Gallery, in North Tonawanda, NY. The BFAL is a juried society of realist artists, of which I’ve enjoyed being a member since last summer. The current exhibit at this beautiful gallery features works by members of the group, as well as having been open to others who wished to submit artwork (hence an “open” show).

Fine Art Bronze Fantasy Fairies Sculpture

“Water Skimmers” bronze sculpture by Dean Vigyikan

This is a juried exhibition, so it’s a great chance to come out and see some really expertly created works of drawing, painting, and sculpture, all with a realist approach. I’m very honored that the judge awarded my sculpture Water Skimmers the Special Award in the competition. Last weekend marked the opening reception and awards ceremony, and the show remains on view until May 2, 2017.

In addition to Water Skimmers, my acrylic painting North Shore, depicting a pair of seagulls perched before a breaking wave, is also featured in the show. All are invited to visit this beautifully curated show and admire the virtuosic handling of oil paint, charcoal, pastels, and many other types of media on view. Please come enjoy, and I’d be happy to hear your comments. The gallery address is 82 Main St., North Tonawanda, NY 14120.

A Beautiful Show & Nice Award

I’m happy to announce a new spring show of the East Aurora Art Society, currently on view at the East Aurora Library. All are invited to come see this collection of works by members of the society in a number of media. I’m grateful to this year’s judge for awarding my piece first place in the show. I won’t yet give away which of my pieces is on view, so those who attend might be in for a fun surprise.

Wildlife Art Lion Lioness Acrylic Savannah Landscape Africa

“Father of the Pride,” a work exhibited in previous shows

The exhibit consists of two dimensional works in various media including oils, acrylics, pastels, and watercolors. I’m frequently inspired by the beauty and virtuosity inherent in the works of many members of this society who have become adept in their respective media. I hope all who can will come to see this colorful exhibit in a town known for its strong artists’ community, East Aurora, NY. The address for the library show is: 550 Main St, East Aurora, NY 14052.

 

Art Exhibition Ending Soon

It’s been my privilege to be participating in a wonderful juried art exhibit at Stangler Fine Art + Contemporary Craft in Orchard Park, NY. As a member of the Buffalo Fine Arts League, I’m eligible to submit work to the League’s juried members exhibitions. The fall installment of these shows is going on right now at the aforementioned gallery, but ends this Saturday, October 22.

Fine Art Bronze Female Woman Figurative Fantasy Sculpture

“Ascension” Sculpture by Dean Vigyikan

The Fine Arts League is a 63 year old society of realist artists. So, if you’re into realism in art, this would be an enjoyable show for you to visit. While all the work is representational, with an emphasis on drawing skills, the approaches and styles represented are exciting and disparate. Of course the subject matter presented crosses the gamut as well. That’s one of the things I love about realism. It’s not just a matter of “making it look like a photograph.” The effects and impact of representational work are only limited by the imaginations of the artists themselves.

Orchard Park is a beautiful and historic village, featuring homes and storefronts which clearly have stories behind them. Autumn is a particularly gorgeous time to visit the town and take in some art. The old trees and brilliantly colored leaves lining the small-town streets truly inspire, and are like works of art in their own right. Fall is a favorite season for many people, and the northeast is one of the finest showcases there is for the beauty this season has to offer.

I hope, if you’re in the area, you’ll avail yourself of the opportunity of seeing this exhibit. Two pieces of my work are on display in the show, including one acrylic painting, and a sculpture which received second place overall in the exhibition. Participating in this show has been an honor and a privilege, and the event makes a lovely venue for art lovers in the Western New York area.

Live Sculpture Demo

People who’ve been following my blog might be aware that I’ve done quite a few sculpture demonstrations. This past summer I had a chance to do another one. In this instance, the audience was the Orchard Park Business Connections group, a collection of entrepreneurs and professionals from a cross section of disciplines. The vast majority of my previous live art demonstrations have been for other artists. This meeting was a bit different, since these folks, generally speaking, weren’t artists.

Art Demonstration Business Meeting

Dean Vigyikan sculpture presentation

In spite of their being newbies to the ins and outs of sculpture, the OPBC group members contributed many bright and meaningful comments and questions to the discussion and were thoroughly engaged in the presentation. I love this kind of participation since sculpture is a medium many people don’t get to see every day, especially taking place in real time. My audiences, whether artists or not, have, for the most part, been thoroughly entertained by the process and description of art-making at these events.

Some artists prefer to work in solitude, and I don’t mind this approach myself. However, from my days as a professional caricature artist right through these more recent live demonstrations, I’ve found that I actually enjoy “performing” in front of people, and am comfortable carrying on a conversation while working. This lends itself well to live instruction, since, at least in my opinion, a good demonstration consists of both artistic process and an ample portion of verbal instruction from the presenter.

oil based clay figurative art

Dean Vigyikan clay sculpture

Attendees enjoy getting to see samples of finished work and asking questions while witnessing a sculpture in progress. For this particular demo, I was working on a small figure maquette in oil based clay. Unlike some other more delicate compositions, this figure’s pose is such that no internal wire armature is required to support the clay. Not needing an armature tends to make the actual sculpting process much easier, since there are no supporting structures getting in the way of working on the piece from any angle. Smaller sculptures like this one make good demo pieces, since they’re easy to transport and can readily be spun around for the audience to see the progress taking place.

Plein Air at the Fair

This past weekend proved to be fun, exciting, and indeed challenging. The popular Erie County Fair held annually in Hamburg, NY features many exhibits of creative expression from flower arranging to photography to fine art painting. For the past several years, they’ve been including a relatively new addition and that’s a plein air painting competition. Plein air is a French expression meaning “in the open air,” and is typically used to describe the act of painting from real life in an outdoor setting. I’ve been intrigued by the idea of entering this contest in the past, and finally went ahead and did it this year for the first time.

Outdoor Landscape Oil Painting Fairgrounds Horse Arena

Getting ready to paint under “clear” skies

The rules include starting out with a blank surface and painting (or drawing) on site from some subject matter on the fairgrounds. The artists get to choose their own subjects. We had six hours in which to complete our projects. Blank canvases were initialed on the back at check-in to make sure no one was bringing artwork started ahead of time. And so the contestants spread out across the vast venue and got to painting. My choice of subject was the outdoor equestrian ring.

Everything was going well on this hot sunny day until the predicted clouds started rolling in. Even earlier than expected, the monsoons came. I felt prepared, pulling the plastic sheeting I’d dutifully brought with me over my artwork before taking cover myself under a narrow porch roof. Eventually the steel gray sky opened up a bit and I ventured out to continue. It wasn’t long before round two came on. This time my plastic tarp was useless, having been previously soaked by the first deluge. So I grabbed my painting and scurried under the tiny covered area along with numerous other horse spectators who were also seeking shelter. I wasn’t so concerned about my own staying dry as about protecting the fresh oil painting which I clutched, trying to keep the back of it towards the rain. Again, things let up a bit and I tentatively stepped out onto the wet lawn to adjust my equipment, which was now thoroughly soaked. How the other artists were faring with mother nature that day, I could only imagine.

The third time, the skies let loose with unprecedented fury. The group of spectators and I huddled again under the narrow roof as the rain came down in sheets, turning the horse arena into a mud ring. “What a great day for painting this turned out to be,” was my train of thinking, though I somehow managed to see the adventure in it all, and took it as a challenge to make the whole ordeal a part of the painting process. I found myself thanking God for letting me have the experience.

At length, the storm trickled off again. When I stepped out onto the grass this time, my feet were completely immersed in brown water. Physical comfort was no longer a part of this picture. It was time to get the work done. So I sloshed back over to my work area and proceeded to take heart at the announcer’s voice explaining over the loudspeakers that the rain would be taking a break for a while. Somehow I finished that painting in what I estimate to be about four and a half hours, after subtracting all the time spent in mere survival mode.

My fellow horse show spectators were generous in sharing their positive feelings about my painting as they watched me working. They kindly accommodated my need for space as I attempted to keep the canvas as dry as possible. Nevertheless, finishing the piece included my having to repair the artwork after the many watery attacks from the skies that day. In the end, the work turned into what I was going for – a collaboration between nature and me, as I even chose to leave some of the rain marks in the paint to enhance the design and act as a memento of the day’s adventures.

I made it in on time to submit the painting for judging where it’s now on display along with the works of my fellow intrepid artists who defied the weather reports to participate. I’m grateful to the competition’s judge who chose to award my painting first prize in the professional category. The show will be up until the end of the fair on August 21, 2016.