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This event has made a huge impact on me and the direction of my art in more ways than one. I've never met a community quite like the tattoo community. They're not like the rest of the art industry, but they're very much apart of it. The artists I met over the course of the retreat were incredibly talented, genuine, and humble. I didn't realize until our last night there that my friend and I were quite literally the only non-tattooers there. It didn't matter though. We love art just like them, and I got priceless advice that I will take with me forever from some of them kind enough to walk me through their steps.
Before going there I was super nervous and doubts of my ability to pull off 2D work started swelling my brain. I understand 3D art and worked with it for years. But 2D stuff challenges my comfort level. I had only 3 paintings and a handful of drawings in my sketchbook completed before leaving for the retreat and I knew I'd have trouble following the basic concepts and had to be patient. I'm learning patience. It's a pain in the ass for me because with art especially most things come to me without much practice. But mastering something to the level I think I'm capable of doesn't happen over night.
We missed the figure/gesture drawing Thursday morning so right away I'm thrown into the mouth of the lion starting off in Shawn Barber's Portrait Painting class. If you've been following my blog you know I'm a huge fan of Shawn Barber's work. This is an opportunity beyond all opportunities and I wanted to get the most out of it as possible. I learned a lot of really useful things and got to watch Shawn paint one of his mindblowing portraits right infront of my eyes. He also came around to everyone and helped them with their portraits. My portrait still isn't finished but I'm happy with the progress I made.
They had forums every night at 9pm and they were interesting to hear. I was impressed with the people they had on the forum that were answering questions. I knew a good amount of them from following tattoo related news and from other fine artists' involvement with the tattoo community like Shawn Barber and Tyson McAdoo. It felt like I blasted straight past college and got the real deal from the people who live it and breathe it.
We did figurative drawing every morning at 10am, attended different seminars like one on texture and another Shawn Barber one on live portrait painting. On Saturday we painted for most of the day in the art workspaces they provided. I loved hanging out and painting while listening to music, that sometimes wasn't very good music at all. Haha. It really was one of my favorite things I've done so far this year. And that's saying alot after living in Italy, studying art and Roman history where it all took place, and sleeping under the stars in the Sahara Desert. Life is what you make of it, right?
More pictures for curious minds:
This is the area where all the seminars, forums, and artist workspaces were located.
1st Shawn Barber class
Live portrait painting
This painting is one of my favorites that I saw. The girl that painted it was so nice and had fantastic makeup. Haha
I liked this one too. The guy that painted this was in our Shawn Barber class.
More amazing talent
Next year it will be Paradise Tattoo Gathering again but I'm hoping they will hold another Artist Gathering with painting because I think it really inspired all of us and especially me since I've been wanting to connect with people like me who have 1,000 artistic interests and skills and don't really want to narrow them down into one thing like just tattooing, just painting, just jewelry, etc. It was great to meet people who started out in fine arts and later became tattooers, especially Chris Dingwell who spoke a bit about the influence of sculpture in his 2D art. It was a hundred times more enlightening then school could ever be. Not to say school isn't enlightening. But school doesn't give you a room full of successfully established artists with 10 to 15 years in the business still wanting to learn. The vibe is so much different. It was worth every penny.