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John S. Dykes
Hartford MFA Program - A Week in Ft.Worth
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Last year I joined the University of Hartford’s limited residency MFA program, directed by the esteemed Murray Tinkelman, to get out of the studio, to work with other artists, to open myself up to new ideas - and simply see what develops as a result. In addition, focusing time and effort towards a masters thesis might lead to a significant area of new artistic growth - certainly different from what I might do on my own.

It’s been a great experience. This is the only Low Residency MFA program in the country dedicated exclusively to illustration. Just the idea of spending 4 weeks out of the year, for a period of about two and a half years, outside the studio, traveling and working with about 40 other artists is cool. I love it. Many of us know the energy one comes away with after attending an illustration conference. It must be something about spending time with like-minded illustrators. The time is divided between Hartford, Pasadena, Fort Worth, New York, and San Francisco.

Just recently in Fort Worth, the first day’s lecturers were Jack Unruh, Bart Forbes, and John Collier. Collier’s sculptures are not to be missed. Check these out: hillstream.com (click on the John Collier sculpture link on the left). There were studio visits, rodeos, trips to galleries and museums, good food, and plenty of inspiration.

I’ll put various contact info / links below for those who wish to look into this program further... Even if you only have a glimmer of interest in hearing more from a student’s perspective, call me any time at 978.495.0077.

When I first signed up, it was not without some measure of doubt of second-guessing. I’ve been freelancing for about 27 years now. I’m very busy with assignments and don’t even have plans to teach at this time (although I love the idea). Why would I put myself through what could end up being a pile of work on top of what I already have going? Well, this has been a creative, inspiring charge and, so far, that alone makes it well worth the ride.
 
Here are some paintings I created for my last assignment, given out at our November session in Pasadena, and critiqued in Fort Worth about two weeks ago. It was an open assignment limited in that it must say ‘L.A.’ in the feel, architecture, sensibility, etc.

Working from photo reference I took, I drew lots of sketchbook ideas, just letting it flow. From there, I prepared 5 boards of various sizes and materials and just started painting. I had not painted with water based oils before, so this was a good opportunity to give them a try.

The paintings got to a certain point, but nothing really held them together. I then decided, moments after almost being run down and permanently terminated by a texting soccer Mom in a minivan, that the common thread would be to turn them into various forms of advertising communication - a magazine advertisement, a yard sign, a travel poster, a stamp, and a matchbook cover. There was a learning curve working with the oils. These got a bit more dense than I normally like, and scanning was much more difficult.
Above: Randy’s Donuts is just outside LAX...
This is an American Illustration 31 Chosen image. Thx judges! Real Estate sign for ‘Shell’s Nail ‘n’ Hair’... Copy taken from actual classified so I’m not responsible for the spelling of lenoleum or whatever.

Ace Motel match book cover over there to your left
USPS Stamp (not)

Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce ‘Visit Sunny’ campaign poster.

Below are a quick handful of my classmate’s assignments. Some fabulous work - I think you’ll agree... I’ll post more from others in the future...
Lora Lee

Dave Szalay

Dave Szalay

Jeff Porter

Lee White

Lee White

Susan Hedley

Ryan Maguire

Amy Devoogd

Ryan O'Rourke

Lisa Ambrose

Here are a few contacts for info on the Hartford program for anyone interested. Next session begins mid-July, 2012.

Hartford Art School Blog (Squint)  http://www.hartfordillustration.com
U. of Hartford web site
Carol Tinkelman email: catink@optonline.net
J.S.D. email, phone: john@jsdykes.com, 978.495.0077
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Dykes is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!