Archive for June, 2018


2018 Winter Trimester – Part 2

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

2018 Winter Trimester Part 2
with Rebecca Yanovskaya


During the second half of the winter trimester, our new teacher Rebecca Yanovskaya taught us her unique approach to rendering in ballpoint pen and gold leaf. Coming from Toronto Canada, Rebecca works as an artist and freelance illustrator in the Fantasy genre.

She has mastered the use of fine hatching in ballpoint pen, reminding us of the grace and finesse of the old masters. She then finishes the designs with 23k gold leaf, applying subtle shadings above the gold to add extra definition. Gold creates an uniquely lasting impression, giving an interesting contrast from the black ink on white paper.

Rebecca frequently illustrates mythological stories and aesthetically strong characters in her art, so her style is well suited to book illustrations, in which she has a varied portfolio of work. she has also undertaken more unusual commissions, such as the design of a limited edition coin for the Royal Canadian Mint.

“You have to stop the eyes from going off the page”

After being introduced to Rebecca’s portfolio of work, we studied examples from Neo-Classical and Pre-Raphaelite Art, as well as her own genre of modern Fantasy Art. From their works, we saw how certain elements can keep the viewer’s attention fixed on the image, directing the eye around to focal points in the composition that arouse interest and feeling. By discussing these compositional elements, we learned how to recognize the basic principles of pictorial design. For example, we looked at the underlying shapes and the directional lines of tension within dramatic scenes. Designing a path for the eye to follow, and framing the scene with directional elements, was all part of the more complex compositional strategy that we were learning.


Heroic Mythology was the theme for our group exhibition and we were encouraged to think about how our personal experiences could relate to recognizable mythologies in our culture.

Academy Director Laurence Caruana gave a visual presentation on this theme, summarizing the works of Freud, Jung and Joseph Campbell in the context of the ancient image-language underlying art, myth and dreams (from his book Enter Through the Image). We were asked to look deeper into our own dreams and childhood memories, and seek out those recurring motifs which could expand into cultural mythologies.

We also looked at the various life-thresholds encountered at the different stages of life – such as marriage, profession, building a home and engendering a child – which are personal life struggles that arise in our dreams, but are mythologized by all cultures from all times.

After showing us examples from the works of the Old Masters, Laurence concluded that Greatness is made when the dynamic tension between personal biography and cultural myth is preserved.Creating bold scenes that captivate the viewers attention is encouraged.



To begin our compositions, we experimented with a variety of ideas through thumbnail sketches. Rebecca showed us why it is important to think about the value and contrast of the work on a small scale first, so that we could see where to place key elements in the composition.

Through these small drawings, we learned how to make the image more appealing from a distance, and how to invite more attention into the details to create a lasting visual impression.

Deliberately keeping things simple at this stage, we also experimented with different angles and viewpoints. Through the use of directional indicators, we tried to give the viewer a particular set of focal points, which change the feeling depending on where the eye glances at the scene.

Once our chosen thumbnails were sufficiently developed, we started sketching out the image in larger size, creating patterns, details and expression within the composition.

Many of the students called upon each other as models for their designs – a process which always creates a feeling of extended family among the artists, learning and growing together. We were encouraged to think about what a pose can evoke in the work and how to use expressive gestures to convey subtle or strong emotions.

To make deliberate choices about perspective and the lighting for our scene, we learned how to set up the lighting and angle in our photo references, so as to mimic the chosen light source for our image. Some of the students even made miniature stages with scenery and props to get a better reference for the perspective and lighting.

All of this preparation formed part of the story telling, as our chosen mythology developed into a work art that would also reflect our lives in this present moment.


Figure Drawing

An essential part of our practice as artists was our regular Figure Drawing class with the nude model. Each Wednesday afternoon we would dedicate four hours to this practice, and witness improvement every week as our skill and style evolved.

Beginning with extremely short poses, Rebecca taught us how to quickly define the model’s proportions through basic shapes, working primarily with charcoal or pencil. Then, gradually extending the length of the pose, we began building tonal values and sought out more accurate definitions and details. Eventually we made a more complete sketch of the live model from a longer pose of one to two hours.

How will the art of today be remembered in generations to come and what kind of images will become influential in our culture?


Art History

Laurence Caruana’s Wednesday morning presentations in Art History explored the myths and symbols of different world cultures. We began with the Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic styles of ancient Greek culture, studying the mythology and philosophical thinking that had such a profound influence on their way of life. From the Byzantine period we advanced to Netherlandish painting and then the Italian Renaissance, linking its influence to us today as the heirs of Humanist thinking.