Another nice article and video about my visit to China.

Danny Gregory draws artistic creativity from ISB

By Tom Fearon

Artist and author Danny Gregory has led a life as colorful as many of his paintings. Formerly creative director at a multinational advertising agency, his journey from “ad man” to “art man” began in his mid-30s when he started sketching the urban surrounds of his native New York.

Since then he has written and illustrated nearly a dozen books about his life experiences and drawing. Now solely focused on art, Mr. Gregory travels the world sharing his expertise about harnessing creative potential through art and other means.
ISB hosted Mr. Gregory as the school’s artist in residence from September 15 to 26. He interacted with students from all grades throughout his two weeks at ISB, from leading sketching workshops in the lower elementary school to giving seniors advice on what to expect at art school or university.
“I’ve been trying to encourage kids at all ages to feel good about being creative. Little kids are naturally creative and don’t really need a lot of help, but when kids reach late middle school they can start to get anxious about their creativity and feel judgmental about the things they are making,” he noted.
at isb
One of his first engagements was participating in a student-led dialogue during a high school assembly on September 17. During the Q&A session, Mr. Gregory spoke about how he used his artistic talent in the corporate world and revealed what inspires him each time he picks up his pencil and sketchbook.
Yasmine R and Rachel W, from years 11 and 12 respectively, led the assembly dialogue and another in the MS/HS Cafeteria on the eve of Mr. Gregory’s final day at ISB. Both said ISB’s external partnerships that bring experts from all fields to the school benefit students of all ages.
“The fact ISB has so many opportunities to invite these speakers and give students a chance to go out and explore what they want to do is fantastic,” said Rachel.
“It’s a great opportunity to engage with really creative artists. We also get new ideas and advice that we can inspire our own creativity as well,” Yasmine said of ISB’s artist-in-residence program.
Mr. Gregory’s visit didn’t only inspire students’ artistic creativity. Li Keqing, a MS/HS Cafeteria server and ISB bus monitor, was chosen by the American artist to pose in one of his paintings that featured her and two of her co-workers.
The following day Ms. Li presented Mr. Gregory with her own artistic creation: a portrait she had sketched based on his photo.
“I was born with a love for drawing. My favorite subjects to draw are people’s faces, so every day at my previous work unit I would find someone seated to draw,” explained Ms. Li, who was forced to abandon her artistic dream in her youth to study machinery manufacturing.
Mr. Gregory said his time at ISB had also inspired a personal artistic evolution driven by tapping “kid energy.”
“It’s been great to be around this many people of so many ages. They inspire me and fill me with their energy as well. I found a lot of the drawing and painting I was doing was changing; I was using different kinds of colors and drawing in a looser style,” he said.

The Artist’s Pulse – now on video

At the end of March, I was part of a panel of artists (including Karen Cole, Jill Zaheer, Roxanne Evans Stout, Julie Prichard, and Michelle Ward) gathered to discuss our work and Seth Apter‘s new book, The Pulse of Mixed Media.

It was an interesting morning and for those who were not able to attend, Seth has posted a rather abbreviated video of the discussion.

If this doesn’t satisfy you, there is more on Seth’s blog. More importantly, there’s Seth’s book, brimming with many more inspiring thoughts and art thingees.

Spring: a new Sketchbook film about, well, me

I really enjoy making our little series of Sketchbook Films. With each one we become more ambitious and discover new techniques and gear to use. Last weekend, we decided to make a fairly simple one — no dollies, Winnebagos or helicopters.  I got in front of the camera again and left Jack to man the lens for the action sequences then Jenny covered off my drawing process (the fourth Beetle, Tommy Kane, was off doing something productive and couldn’t join us on this one though he approved the final cut as being Sketchbook Films worthy).

I wanted to show a simple pen and ink drawing, done outside on a gorgeous day. The weather didn’t cooperate and instead of gorgeous we got clouds and rain which meant things got more complicated and technical and we actually had to shoot bits and pieces over the course of four days and in three different parks.

It was still fun to make though horrifying as always to see myself on screen. It may surprise you to know that no aging makeup was used on this production — that’s actually how decrepit I now look.

A new Sketchbook Film: Pencil & Ink


(Sorry for the delayed launch of this post; had some last minute tweaks to do)

Tommy Kane, Jack, and I have just completed production on another in our series of drawing films — this one about NY artist, Justin Klein. It was a long and grueling shoot day, a good 14 hours, and by the end of the shoot, our set was full of bloodied paper, broken furniture, and empty beer cans and whiskey bottles. We all left the set changed for ever.

As I say to myself with each subsequent film, this is the best one yet. It is a bit of a departure from what we have done in the past but I think you’ll agree that it is an interesting extension of our core idea.
I’ll try to post again with some behind-the-scenes details about the production and answer any questions you post here.

Happy New Year!

—-

Filmed with a Canon 7D, edited in Final Cut Pro X.
Music: “Lux Aeterna – Cum Sanctis Tuis” from the Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Color Correction by Lenny Mastrandrea at Nice Shoes.

A Challenge for the Whole Family

[Seth Apter of The Altered Page is conducting a Buried Treasure hunt and encouraged bloggers to resurrect one of their favorite long ago posts. I like this one. I may put up a couple more golden oldies to follow. Then back to the normal sturm and drang of the present.]

It’s the 13th anniversary of Patti’s accident. Jack wrote a lovely essay about how that event has effected him since he was just a baby. Here’s a video of him reading it at his school’s literary festival.

The video is above and here’s the text:

A Challenge for the Whole Family by Jack Tea Gregory
It was June 8th of 1995 when the incident happened. It felt like a normal day, nobody expected anything out of the ordinary. My mother was waiting for the 9 train and she was in a hurry. She was rushing to a demanding photo shoot that was very important to her career. While she was standing near the tracks, peering down the tunnel, her stress and the intense heat caused her to faint. She started to fall just as the train pulled up to the platform and the wind caused from the train whizzing past pulled her into the middle of the track, allowing her to avoid any electrocution. However, she wasn’t safe, the way she fell caused her spinal cord to bend and her back twisted, just before a dangling piece of metal hanging from the train hit her. She was immediately taken to the hospital where they placed an iron rod into her back because her spinal cord had been broken. My mother had been paralyzed from the waist down. She could no longer walk and was forced to sit in a wheelchair. Ever since that day, her life and those surrounding her was instantly affected greatly. Luckily, she was able to get through the therapy and with the support of her family, a new child, and a great sense of humor she was able to push past the injury and escape the pit of despair that many fall into. Many people who are hit by trains come out the tracks in different ways; some are bruised and some are killed. Luckily she didn’t experience the latter, but still life has been a challenge. Our family has also recovered from it and is able to say that they have grown used to it.
Living in New York hasn’t been the easiest, there are a lot of places that don’t have ramps or aren’t accessible. Whenever we find a problem we try and make the best of it. For example, when Mom got her first wheelchair, instead of grimacing about not being able to walk, she would place me on her lap and we’d ride down huge ramps and hills together. The rush between fear of falling and the fun of the wind speeding past our faces created a sense that nothing else in the world existed. My old school had stairs everywhere and she often couldn’t come to school performances or celebrations. I would usually try to take pictures of what was going on so that I could bring her a substitute for not having been there. I would bring her my work if we were celebrating a finished work party.
When my mother would pick me up from school, I would look up from the monkey bars and see all the kids starting to crowd around her. They would ask her questions like, “Do you sleep in a wheelchair?” or “How do you go to the bathroom?” Being the kind woman she is, she’d simply answer them as if nothing was wrong. But I couldn’t help but feel separate from the rest of the children. They found it cool and interesting that my mom was in a wheelchair. They didn’t know how it really was though, all the things we couldn’t do anymore because of this problem. We sometimes can’t go on vacation to certain places because the hotel has a flight of stairs or its elevator has broken down. There are a lot of cars that she can’t get into because they are too high for her to transfer into. However, we find ways around this. My father or I lift her up the stairs and we use a small piece of wood that we call “the Transfer Board,” which she uses to slide across onto the car’s seating.
Taxi drivers are our next issue. Since we didn’t own a car, taxis or the bus are our main form of transportation. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of the drivers actually know how to load up a wheelchair. We have to help them to understand how the wheels come off and how to fold up the seat. This can take about 15 minutes and it becomes very annoying after the 20th time.
This incident has changed our life completely and entirely. I can’t imagine or picture how different I’d be if my mother wasn’t in a wheelchair. Most people would think that this is a near to impossible lifestyle but it’s not. We get through each challenge and we do it as family, together. We have as much fun as any other family would; we just do it in a different way.

[Originally posted June 7, 2008]