Thursday, July 23, 2009

07/23/09 - Mazza Conference and James Gurney

Last week I was able to attend the Mazza Museum's Summer Conference last week for one day. The Mazza Museum is a teaching museum for picture books located in Findlay, OH on the campus of Findlay University. The five-day event was their 17th annual summer conference with a mixture of professional authors, illustrators, teachers and librarians in attendance. This is is a similar institution in purpose to the Cartoon Library & Musuem at OSU.

The way I discovered this event was through reading James Gurney's excellent blog GurneyJourney and seeing that he was going to be making a speaking engagement fairly close to home (about 4.5 hours away).

If I appear dazed in the picture below, it may be from lack of sleep from the night before! That week my family and I were on the way home from a summer trip to the northeast so we were coming from CT the day before. We arrived at our hotel in Findlay around 2:30AM but I was able to arise and attend the 9:00 AM keynote speech on Wednesday July 15th. James gave an excellent presentation detailing his growth as an artist, researcher and author (the Dinotopia series being the most notable). Come October look for his new art instruction book: "Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist".

Later he led a pull out session where he showed his sketchbooks and demonstrated the use of water soluble pencils for field sketching. He closed with a short question and answer session.

It was a pleasure to meet this kind and gracious man and his lovely wife Jeanette. James is a truly gifted and skilled artist. But I think he is just as significant as an arts educator. He shares an incredible amount of knowledge he has learned over the years on his aforementioned blog. He is able to show the nexus of science and art: through his work biology, history, anthropology, optics, are integrated with architecture, illustration, oil painting and sculpture. Please let me know if you would like to help advocate for James Gurney to come and visit our area. He makes numerous appearances each year, around the nation and internationally, speaking primarily at private art colleges.

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