Sunday, May 20, 2012

Joe Jusko Demo at Big Wow!


Saturday was a day spent at the BIG WOW! convention in San Jose. With no Wonder Con in San Francisco this year, many of us were looking at this and March's IMAGE CON in Oakland to take the edge off. BIG WOW! has been around for a few years under different names like Super Con. Previous years haven't always yielded the best of conventions like the times back in the Oakland convention center were guests and artists were leaving early or recent years in its newer San Jose location were one could be done with the dealer's room in an hour and the masquerade, if the contestants were not called up for a 2nd and 3rd time, could have been done in 5 minutes.

In many ways, this is a very uneven convention but its strength is the line up of artists whom attend. One of the convention owners, Steve Morger, is also the art rep for Frank Cho, Travis Charest, and others so that helps to land the talent. Paying for the big talent to come on out to sunny California and treating them to wine tasting after the con also helps. This is a good relaxing con before the craziness of San Diego two months later where fans and get some good face time with the artists and, I imagine, the artists have time to chat and hang out with their peers.

I was talking with Steve Wyatt, the other owner of BIG WOW! back at March's IMAGE CON with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's (I know, right??) and I was mentioning that they really need to play up their strengths at this con. Last year, they started doing some art demos with Adam Hughes and Copic markers and a figure drawing session with Frank Cho where audience members were invited to draw along and then Frank would critique and correct the drawings. I absolutely loved it and, with such an array of artists on tap, they could really make this con something special going beyond just a good con for buying original art to a destination for artists wanting art seminars. And I think the owners were listening as more art-centric panels and demos were on the agenda for 2012.

Having arrived a little late, I only caught the last few minutes of the Coloring Comics panel but was just in time for a two hour acrylic painting demo by Joe Jusko, whom I had just purchased his book minutes before. While the volunteers setting up the hardware for projecting the presentation 45 minutes in was a little distracting (I think I get spoiled with how smooth of an operation the San Diego Comic-Con is), it was a great two hours to just watch, enjoy, and learn. I took photos so here is what went down...


Joe starts with a pencil drawing on crescent illustration board. He says he prefers the cold press (rough surface) over the hot press (smooth surface) because the hot press feels like he is painting on glass. His subject for today is VAMPIRELLA....


Normally he paints on a drafting table but this easel was for the purposes of the crowd getting a good look at the demo.....


Joe likes to work with glazes by thinning out the acrylic paint with water, much like watercolors. Oils take too long in the fast-paced deadlines of the illustration world but acrylics dry faster. He keeps a denim rag on hand to wipe the brushes and usually has a hair dryer to quicken the drying process if need be....


Jusko began by blocking in the skin tones. He says he likes to get this down first, as the most important part, and then work on the rest of the painting to match. Some artists work the background first then the figure but I believe Joe said he does the opposite. He will mask out the figure when working on the background.


Joe was under some time constraints here with only a two hour demo but he said normally he could do a paint from one day (working maybe 12-14 hours) to 3 to 5 days. Under this compressed situation, there was no time for backgrounds and a limited time to work on rendering....



Joe would put in some darker browns to start shading the figure.....


 With the limited time, Joe wanted to concentrate on the face, really the most important part of many paintings.....



Getting some hair in there helped with the contrast. Personally, I don't think I could ever work that tight standing up at an easel. I just don't have that kind of control and it would drive me bonkers. After shading the face, Joe went back with a lighter tone for highlights on the skin, which really makes the figure pop.....


And there you go. Less than two hours of work which just shows you how labor-intensive illustration can be. But what Joe has so far is beautiful. Thanks to Joe Jusko for sharing how he works. Many of us artists appreciate learning from the pros and, personally, acrylic was always the 'kiss of death" for me so I always did my illustrations in watercolor. I might just have to give the acrylics a try again.

Thanks again, Joe!



 Next up....Figure Drawing with Frank Cho!

Oh boy!!  :)






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