Includes FREE entry into future SmArt School Art Prize competitions--where your work can be seen by more art directors, gallery directors, & editors + cash prizes. See our Instagram feed for past contests
Email us your art if you're wondering if you're ready for this class
If you need a payment plan there's PAYPAL CREDIT interest-free credit Click Here
*The mentorship runs for 14 sessions. SmArt School teachers sometimes have to travel for professional reasons. If they must miss a class they will notify all students with as much lead time as possible and add a session to the end of the calendar. Some weeks off are also scheduled into the calendar, see the 'Courses' main page for details. ALL CLASSES MEET LIVE and are not recorded due to proprietary content. Teaching will not happen via email, only during class time.
This course will focus on two things: Composing your own Imaginary Realist painting and painting it in oils with traditional techniques.
What is Imaginary Realism? It is a contemporary art movement that is part of the deep and rich tradition of Allegorical Painting. Imaginative Realism uses images borne of the artist’s own vision, but is supported by an understanding and application of principles of form, light & shadow, setting and environment, and the relationships all of these elements have with each other to convey a harmonized composition and narrative. Artists may visualize, compose, and conceptualize their work using modern tools like photography and digital sculpting. In this course, however, we will focus on bringing these ideas to life using traditional painting techniques.
What is Allegorical Painting? It is art that tells stories, as illustrations do. But allegorical paintings can be more open ended. An allegory is an application of connections between ideas and visual symbols. The meaning may not be immediately apparent. Allegorical paintings nudge the viewer toward a conversation or dialogue with the work. The ideas are veiled just enough that it’s the artist who begins the sentence of the painting’s proposed conversation, and the viewer who completes it, but in their own words. Perhaps in the process the viewer gives the sentence their own meaning via the artist’s visual prompts.
Allegorical painting is also a conversation with other artists – through it we continue an exchange that’s been taking place for as long as we could tell each other stories. In this genre we revisit symbolism that speaks to the connections we have to each other, and the predicaments and woes and sufferings and triumphs we continue to grapple with and experience. This workshop will inspect and unpack imaginary realism in painting throughout history. We will take a wide look - of artists of various eras and locations and perspectives, who have worked within the language of symbolism and allegory: from prehistoric cave paintings to J.W. Waterhouse to Frank Frazetta and to contemporary painters like Inka Essenhigh. Students will make their own forays into art history to uncover the compositional structures that speak to them most personally and most powerfully.
Then we will return to the present moment, in which a new artwork is created in Martin’s studio. We will cover all of the aspects he employs to begin one of his paintings: the formation of ideas, gestural sketching, bringing of form and dynamic composition to the abstracted concepts that seek articulation, gathering and creating reference imagery, and making digital color studies prior to painting. Then he will begin the oil painting process with a limited-color underpainting. There will be demonstrations of how artists use techniques such as glazing and scumbling, and direct/opaque color layers to bring a painting to completion. The materials, tools, and resources used throughout the process will be discussed in detail.
On this journey the students will be diving deep into their own personal work. They will find their own favorite source artworks in art history, develop a strong composition based on those artworks, gather and apply reference imagery, and then execute an image based on this composition in oil paint. They will do this in a way that makes the artwork richly and believably convey a personal narrative, learning how to keep their compositions harmonized and dynamic from thumbnail sketches to the painting’s completion.
Some painting experience (in any medium) is encouraged, although not required, as we’ll start from the basics before we move to higher levels of complexity. Having access to photo-editing software such as Photoshop or Procreate is also not a requirement, but these tools (Photoshop specifically), will be used extensively to help analyze art historical images, compile reference, and as a way for Martin to communicate ideas about students’ compositions.
Towards the end of the semester a special guest gallery director will review student work. After taking this class students will also receive the option of a free profile on the Alumni Portfolios page. Visit the Alumni Portfolios page and type a teacher's name into the search bar to see some of the artists who studied with that teacher.
About Martin Wittfooth
Martin Wittfooth was born in Toronto, Canada in 1981 and currently splits his time between studios in Savannah, Georgia, and the Kingston, New York. He earned his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2008. Wittfooth’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, including the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Akron Art Museum in Ohio, and La Halle Saint-Pierre in Paris, with solo exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Montreal. His paintings have also appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, The New York Times Art Review, and Vice, and cover features in New American Paintings, Hi-Fructose and American Artist Magazine.