Greg Guler's career began at two years old with a rendition of a 1930s Popeye the sailor—and today spans more than 50 years of experience and a myriad of noteworthy projects, including several years with DC Comics and an impressive list of Disney TV series.
One of Greg’s earliest inspirations was watching Saturday morning cartoons as a child, following the adventures of classics like Mighty Mouse, Popeye, and the original Disney characters. Becoming enamored with cartoon and animated characters, Greg drew as many as he could.
“I’ve always loved creating a world where the rules didn't apply, a fantasy environment. My parents used to ask me why I wouldn’t just draw a normal horse—I prefer to make up my own renditions of characters," Greg says.
Today it seems Greg’s inspiration has come full circle—as one of the original character designers for Disney’s hit TV series Phineas & Ferb, (and an artist for Walter Foster's Learn to Draw Phineas & Ferb), Greg stays inspired through the response of the show's young audience. Although he leaves his home in Colorado one week per month to work in-house at the Disney studios, Greg is often able to visit local schools or bookstores and interact with Phineas fans—that is, when they don’t find him first.
Greg says the youngsters in his neighborhood have identified him as “the Phineas & Ferb guy”, and have been known to stop him while out on a neighborhood walk to make story requests.
“They may not realize that I don’t actually write theshow, but they often have pretty good ideas!” Greg laughs.
Greg also stays motivated knowing that he helps make something both kids and adults enjoy, especially in collaboration with a remarkable team like Disney. His list of projects for the company includes Buzz Lightyear of Star Command—Buzz’s prequel to the Toy Story series—Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Lilo & Stitch and A Goofy Movie.
Greg is especially proud of his involvement with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, remembering that it was no easy artistic task to convert the show's original 2D Mickey and friends characters into a design formatted for CG animation.
The advances of modern technology impressive as they are, Greg still values the tried-and-true method of drawing with a pencil and paper. Perhaps it helps remind him of the “less is more” approach he takes toward composition, being careful to stay concise and not add too much of what professionals call “line mileage” to a piece.
“As a character designer, your job is to communicate the design in a way that helps the animator keep things clear; it’s important to know what details to include and what not to. In the end, people should be focused on the character itself, rather than the drawing,” Greg says.
This finesse with simplicity is something Greg has developed with experience, learning to value the fun, playful spirit of his work. Greg says this progression is natural for most artists, remembering an obsession with overly-realistic details early on in his own career.
“As you get older you start to analyze things differently. Every drawing doesn't need to look like a photograph—though you always want levity in your drawings, you learn to appreciate the fun.”
Growing to cherish the fun in his work, like this year's holiday card above, has no doubt helped Greg to invest so much time in his craft over the years. In the rare moments when he’s not drawing, Greg enjoys spending time with his family—his wife, two children, and pair of beagles named Smudge and Trinket.
Overall, Greg is passionate about art and the process of developing creativity in the younger generation. He’d give any budding artist the same encouragement he passes on to elementary school students: if you enjoy drawing, keep doing it no matter what.
“Most people can draw if they really want to. It’s a matter of making the time and training your brain and hand to do what you see—just remember nobody in the universe but you can draw what’s inside your pen!” Greg says.
When I reminisce about the best gifts that I have received over the years, I don’t think about clothes and jewelry, or about gadgets and appliances. I think about the gifts that were crafted with love and care—the gifts that were made with me in mind, and that will always serve as a reminder of the people who gave them to me.
Last year my holiday budget was smaller than usual, so I decided that instead of buying the women in my family expensive gifts for the holidays, I would put a new hobby to the test and make them jewelry out of beads and wire. I have always struggled with what to buy for my little sister—no matter what I put under the tree, it never seems to bring a believable smile to her face. The previous year’s gift was the worst—a Belgium waffle maker when she had just started a carb-free diet. But last year I gave her handmade earrings, and she wears them all the time. It was not only the most inexpensive gift I had ever given her, but also her favorite.
A similar revelation came to me before my wedding this last September. My soon-to-be mother–in-law threw me an amazing bridal shower. The gifts were piled high and ranged from practical to luxurious. But the gift I received that I will treasure the most was not an item I had listed on my registry, nor was it the most expensive. It was a stained-glass heart made by my aunt that contained my and my fiancé’s initials. She couldn’t believe I was more excited about her homemade gift than I was about the crystal pitcher she had given me as well—but I was. It was special in a way that nothing from a department store could ever be.
Now that the holidays are approaching once again, I am heading to the art supply store instead of the mall. This year everyone on my gift list will receive an original watercolor painting, not a mass-produced trinket or last-minute gift card. And of course, I am including with their gifts, a collection of Walter Foster books and kits, in the hopes that next year I might get something just as special in return.
As a special thanks to all of the aspiring artists out there, we are offering 40% off any online purchase this holiday season. (See the coupon below.)
I am often asked how I begin my Continual Line Contour Drawings. I usually start at the top and work my way down on the left side, and back up on the right side. I am conscious of not closing in the entire subject. It is important to leave open edges.
Keeping open edges allows the eye to move in and through the drawing freely. In the sketch you will notice a dot where I began and where I finished. Once I put the pen on the paper, I don't lift it until the drawing is finished. The image becomes a little distorted but I think that is part of its charm.
In the photograph I show the still life set-up, then the contour drawing, and the final stage with watercolor. This is a demonstration of how I use watercolor with a continual line contour drawing. I use Tombow pens
for the drawing because they are filled with water-based ink that dissolves nicely when I paint watercolor over it. The color I prefer is a burnt sienna. Another reason I like to use these pens is because the drawing is less prominent than it is with waterproof pens. This is a wonderful warm-up exercise.
Walter Foster Books By Brenda SwensonKeeping a Watercolor Sketchbook Steps to Success in Watercolor Discover Watercolor Sketching
Nathan Rohlander works on a portrait of his father for his upcoming book, Drawing: The Head
, which will hit shelves in February. Nathan used Dura-Lar, a frosted plastic material that comes off a roll and is cut to size, for this piece. He said this smooth, toothless support “is very archival and a wonderful surface to work with.” To see more of Nathans work visit his website at http://www.rohlander.com/NPR/Home.html
September 25, World Peace Day, marks the opening of The Peace Project
—an international art competition and exhibit that challenged artists to demonstrate their visions of peace in an effort to connect peace-minded people the world over. The project is the most recent effort of an online artists’ community, The Whole 9, to bring people together in the name of making the world a better place. Proceeds from sales of donated artwork will go toward helping victims of war in Sierra Leone.
The show opens at Gallery 9 in Culver City, California, and will run through November 6. The exhibit can also be viewed for one night only in San Francisco on November 9, and in New York on September 30.
This piece, drawn by Nathan Rohlander with graphite on paper, has been selected for The Peace Project and will be on display at gallery9. It was a spontaneous drawing of his wife and child. He stumbled upon them in this position and said “Honey, please stay there as long as possible, I need to draw this.” He described this moment as being so harmonious that it filled him with love, a sense of well being, and peace.
You don?t have to be a professional artist to participate in The Sketchbook Project. Everyone who submits their art will have it displayed in museums and galleries across the country in the spring of 2011. Don?t worry, there is still plenty of time to sign up and get started on your sketchbook!
The idea behind Brooklyn-based Art House Co-op?s annual project is to eventually create a massive library of contemporary art for the public to view. ?In the meantime, the sketchbooks they are soliciting from creative people all around the world will go on tour.
Here?s how it works: Go to the Art House Co-op?s Website
and select a theme for your journal. Themes range from ?Things found on restaurant napkins? and ?Make mine a double,? to ?Help!? and ?Sleepless.? After paying a fee of $25, the co-op will send you a moleskin journal for you to fill with art and alter any way you like. The journal must remain its original size, but pages can be replaced with thicker paper, the cover can be cut up and altered, and things can pop out of it as long as they are able to fold back down. The possibilities are endless.
Each book will have a barcode on it, which is the only portion that cannot be altered. Participants will be able to track how many people look at their book and be able to locate it in the Brooklyn Art Library. The co-op will be filming the exhibits for those who don?t live near any of the tour?s destinations. Participants will be able to go online and look watch how people attending the exhibits are interacting with their books.
To participate you must sign up by October 31, 2010 and have your journal postmarked by January 15, 2011.
2011 Tour Schedule:
Brooklyn, NY: February 19-27
Austin, TX: March 12
Atlanta, GA: April 8-9th
Portland, ME: April
Chicago, IL: May
Seattle, WA: June 10-12
San Francisco: June 18
I remember when I was young I tried to draw a picture of my mom. I remember looking at her and very carefully drawing her head, her hair, her body, and the stool she sat on. To me, at the time, it was a perfect rendition.
My mom still has this drawing. I look at it now and find the crayon drawing laughable because those carefully trained strokes of crayon created another stick figure, complete with several individual hairs depicted by straight lines shooting out of her round stick figure head.
My love of art continued through out high school, where I sat through many drawing and painting lessons in the classroom, receiving art instruction with other beginning artists like myself. We were learning to draw by learning to see and controlling our media.
I would practice my newly learned drawing skills at home in the evenings, carefully replicating colorful album covers from my favorite bands with colored pencils. In college, other artists and I would get together and listen to music while we worked on our drawings and paintings.
Unfortunately, in college I also learned that the only artists who made money were dead ones. After scanning the classified ads, I made the decision to go into commercial art, and quickly adopted digital methods. My love of art did not diminish, but my time creating it did.
The old habit of collecting art materials still remains although I am now grown up and have no free time for drawing and painting. They take up space under the bed and in the garage, but no matter how many times I move, these art materials travel with me. I vow that in my old age, when I am retired and have free time, I will learn how to draw and paint again.
I have been illustrating professionally for 25 years and have learned many things along the way. The first and foremost tip I have for aspiring artists is to learn the basics.
There are many styles that veer from traditional drawing and illustration, and there is a certain charm in amateurish art. What you may not know, however, is that even the most whimsical, childlike illustrations are drawn by professionals who have first learned the basics. With a good grounding in the basics, an artist starts with a confident understanding of form, perspective, and lighting, and then adds to that her own particular style.
Let’s take one example: the hands. If the artist has proficiency with faces but little understanding of hand structure, which is complex, she will struggle with the hand portion of the painting, thereby interrupting the creative flow. The end result will be inconsistency. Even if the painting is whimsical or primitive, there will be a marked deficit in the hands—an inconsistency that the observer will perceive.
Although complex, learning basic hand structure is worth the effort. It is a matter of breaking the hand up into a series of cylinders for the fingers and a polyhedron (a flattish cube) for the palm. The artist can easily use this technique to sketch the basic form of the hand in any position. This form technique can be applied to any part of the human or animal body.
Perspective is simple to learn and understand, and once the artist has learned the basics, application becomes easy—even intuitive. While creating a pastoral scene with a barn, for instance, the artist proficient in perspective will sketch out the composition with ease. She will be able to “feel” the long grasses swaying, “smell” the fresh air, and “hear” the cows lowing as she sketches, thereby giving life to her creation. If she does not understand basics, she will have to spend her time figuring them out as she sketches. The end result may be good, but it will lack life and passion.
What about lighting? Light/dark contrast in a painting or a drawing can make all the difference. A good understanding of light source and how it plays on a three-dimensional surface will make the vase “jump off” the canvas. In cartooning, particularly in Manga, lighting is important because it creates visual interest and sophistication.
Having a command of the basics ensures that creativity flows freely with no interruptions or snags, a finished piece looks polished, and your art has that extra special something: life, passion, communication. If you desire professional results, free-flowing creativity, and getting “in the groove”—and then remaining there while you paint or draw—don’t shortchange yourself. Learn, or brush up on, the basics. Click here to learn more about Diana Fisher.
Lance Richlin is the author of Drawing Made Easy: Lifelike Heads
People always say to me, “I wish I could paint.” I try to explain to them that they can, but they never believe me. And when teaching in art schools, I find that students are worried sick because they aren't sure if they have enough talent. I wish I could get them all to realize that they do have enough talent. The truth is that anyone with above-average intelligence could create the painting below—all that’s required is proper technique and a couple years of practice.
Of course, I can still take pride in my accomplishment. I’m proud that I learned the best techniques and practiced them. But the pride I allow myself is comparable to any professional that has earned an advanced degree.
In previous eras (from the Renaissance to the early 20th century), one could go to an academy or atelier and expect to leave with skills similar to those of the master. The ability to paint realistically was considered the birthright of anyone, in the same way that people can learn to write or multiply. There was/is no such thing as magical artistic talent that rare individuals are born with.
In medicine, do people become doctors because in youth they discovered their “knack” for surgery? No, doctors learn their trade from medical school. The same goes for art. However, note that medical schools with poor records are shut down. Unfortunately this is not so with art schools—specifically, schools that claim to teach realism. And these days, we have plenty of bad art schools.
The classical painting approach is the easiest method to learn, but it is understood by only a few artists. Classical artists must master all of the following: figure drawing and anatomy, perspective, composition, and traditional painting techniques. I’ve given up trying to convince other artists that my method is the same as Van Dyke’s. This creates tremendous confusion and debate. Therefore, I simply tell students that this
(pointing to my work) is how I paint—and if they like my results, they should study at my atelier.
Be ruthless in choosing a teacher. His abilities should be as impressive and refined as artists from the great ages of painting, and his students should also be superb. In every major city, you will find someone with classical training; seek out this person and learn from him, keeping in mind that he may not be famous, and he might not teach at an art school. Just remember that if you persevere and refuse to compromise, you can acquire the highest levels of skill.