Wednesday, 17 April 2013

He came, He saw, He conquered...Bil Donovan...

Remember the fabulous Bil Donovan Illustration Masterclass I attended during the recent LMFF in Melbourne last month, well I still haven't come completely down to earth and every image I see now has me thinking about shapes and shadow and form and lines... funny how things stay with you.

And it was all thanks to the determination of Melbourne Illustrator Angie Rehe as an extension of The Patsyfox Drawing Salon that the ball got rolling in the first place.  Angie, (an old illustration tutor of mine) being a big fan of internationally acclaimed Bil Donovan, sent off an email to his office and got to visit him in his Tribeca studio last year during a whirlwind around the world trip.  As one conversation led to another, plans were made for Bil to visit our shores and lead a group of very lucky participants in an Illustration Masterclass for 2 days.  (That was two very full days!)

I had previously watched Bil at an illustration demonstration at the Society of Illustrators in NY and at another NY Gallery via YouTube  (you thought I was going to say I was actually there didn't you!), and there are other videos of him talking about his work and his inspiration and if you have a chance just do a search online here to see some of them.  But being able to be in the same room with a creative talent like Bil means that you can revel in his enthusiasm and creativity and bask in his warmth and generosity as he guides participants through different media and styles and really, a different way of 'seeing'.  And if you're lucky, he'll wield the brush or pencil in front of you and within a few seconds produce a fabulous sketch using his elegant and refined brushwork.  Which he did a couple of times during the weekend and made it look sooooo easy too!  Bil also held an illustration demonstration at the LMFF Business Seminar while he was here - see link below.

Talking to other participants during the weekend, ranging from fashion students, professional illustrators, illustration teachers, artists - everyone seemed to be enamoured of Bil and his creative skills.  His personable and approachable manner made the teaching part really easy to understand; his flair and style with a pencil and brush made the practical part easy to convey and easy for us to absorb; and his generosity with feedback and telling a participant when they 'got it' was warmly welcomed and exciting!  Imagine having access to an internationally acclaimed Fashion Illustrator and Artist from New York for a whole weekend and basically being able to pick his brain about technique and style (if you're into that sort of thing!).  We're talking about someone who is the current Artist in Residence at Christian Dior Beauty, who also teaches Fashion Illustration at F.I.T. in New York, who has worked with some prestigious clients like Vogue, Lancome, Christian Dior, who is the author of "Advanced Fashion Drawing/Lifestyle Illustration" , and who was commissioned to create the illustrations of a couple of publications - Edith Head's 'The Dress Doctor, Prescriptions For Style From A to Z" and "Birds of a Feather Shop Together - Aesop's Fables for the Fashionable Set".  None too shabby hey?

So what did I take away from the weekend... well, as someone who has been sketching, drawing, drafting for years (I can't remember not drawing or being in love with yet another set of Derwents or new paintbrushes!), from little fashiony figures I used to sketch for my high school art class (that's going way back), to designing clothing ranges for my studio work (years ago) and one off bridal commissions where the bride wants to keep my sketches, and most recently doing little portraits of my friends kids (so cute!)... I take away with me a different way of looking at things really - freeing it up and not being afraid to splash out and make a mess and loosening the control hold.  Not having a preconceived notion, I think, is Key.  Even trying a different medium will open yourself up to a new style to explore (Hello, ink I love you!) - you never know where it'll lead you... as I say to my little one when he doesn't want to try a new vegetable -"Prova -  just try it and you might like it".  

Why don't you try something you've been wanting to start this coming weekend too?

That my friends is how I tell a story... if I don't emote enough it's because I babble on occasion!

Check out more of Bil's work via his website - Bil Donovan /
or the video of our masterclass weekend appearing on Vogue here (my 2 seconds of fame are at 1.47!) / or the video of Bil's talk during the Business Seminar at LMFF here /
check out the illustration he made of a stunning Dion Lee outfit for Fashion Week which will appear in Vogue soon here /
and Angie Rehe's illustration blog here.

And now you're gonna wanna see some pictures right?

The wonderful images below are by photographer Rebecca Rocks who spent Saturday with us in the drawing room.   Look, there is a very concentrated look on my face. 
C'est Moi, in full concentration mode to the left of Bil's elbow - and generous Bil giving out some tips and feedback

The necessities, pencils, cough drops, mints, sharpener - concentrating again 

Moving onto ink work - Hi Angie!

Our salon - and the lovely live model, Courtney

Did I mention I had a great time? :)


Anonymous said...

I'm truly happy for you Helen for having been able to attend that class. Your description of it sounds wonderful. I can only imagine how inspiring and inspirational that weekend must have been.

I'm no expert but your illustrations are beautiful. Consider that first one pinned!

Audrey said...

Beautiful Helen, i always enjoy to see your illustrations! you describe your devotion for the love of painting so beautiful. Thanks for a "look at your class".

Neda said...

Beautiful illustrations, Helen! What a wonderful experience that must have been. I'm sure it'll stay with you for a long time. So nice to see a lovely photo of you as well! xx

fashionsensitive said...

That was a great change, Helen, I am so happy for you. And the sketched, very beautiful!

fashionsensitive said...

* sketches

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