Saturday, December 29, 2012

Post-Script Blog on Hurricane Sandy, Jenny Saville and Will Cotton Master Class Workshops and other assorted highlights from the fall at NYAA!

By Ian Factor (MFA 2014)

Well here we are coming through the first weeks after Hurricane Sandy. The good news is that the Academy was untouched and is fine, but is still, at this moment, without power, as is most of the rest of NYC below 39th street. Classes have been cancelled all week and we hope to get back in there Monday, depending on when the power goes back on in lower Manhattan.
(At the time of publishing this Blog, the power was back on after a week away and classes are back in session at the Academy, business as usual!)

Darkness - The financial district during the black out.

I'll avoid sounding like the news stations and try to focus on the last couple weeks at the Academy BEFORE we evacuated for the storm Sunday during the Jenny Saville Weekend Master Class. Yes, the weekend with Jenny was cut short by a day and a half, but I was able to get some great shots of the setup and the start of what was turning out to be some incredibly interesting exercises.

Jenny Saville Master Class!

Below are several images of Jenny working with the students who attended the workshop. It was incredible. I was lucky enough to spend some time speaking with her about her work and process and had the great fortune to have her visit my studio for a quick critique of my current self portrait in progress. The students who had the opportunity to learn from and speak with Jenny were all glowing with excitement and gratitude.

This past weekend was the Master Class with Will Cotton, which was very different from the Jenny Saville Class, equally amazing and mind opening. 

Will is an incredibly approachable artist full of knowledge and more than willing to share it all with the group. His demo was inspiring and the workshop was a once in a lifetime opportunity to work along side this master while having his wonderful and insightful critiques and observations for two full days. Here are a few images of the workshop:

Will Cotton Master Class Workshop - Will's Demo of his approach.

It's been quite a few weeks here! Mind boggling how much has happened since my last entry, so much experience, so much wisdom being passed down from such incredible artists and teachers. B
 elow are some random photos from gallery visits, studio and classroom times, sketching the Sorolla masterpieces at the Hispanic Society and a few other great moments...
I hope these images give you a glimpse of the intense density and amount of information and inspiration here at the NYAA from 8:30 am till midnight 7 days a week.

Students at the Forum Gallery's "Self Portrait Show".   

Wade Schuman and students at the Forum Gallery's "Self Portrait Show".  

Self Portrait in the 3rd floor studios.

Randy McIver teaching anatomy, pelvis in hand.

Arm Study, Sculpture Studios.

Sculpting from Life in the Sculpture Classrooms.

Coffee Break on the 4th Floor.

Painting I - Still Life in the 5th Floor Classrooms.

Painting I - Still Life in the 5th Floor Classrooms, pig foot. 
Sketching the Sorolla Masterpieces at the Hispanic Society.

Steven Assael Torso Demo in Charcoal.

Painting I - Still Life in the 5th Floor Classrooms, fish parts. 
Painting I - Still Life in the 5th Floor Classrooms, fish steak.

Self Portrait work in Studio, 3rd Floor.

Wade Schuman with his Color Charts.

Below are some images of my recent classwork, some still in progress. Some Graphite sketches and lots of self portraits in the first year...self reflection time.

Graphite Sketch from Drawing I - 18" x 14" - Ian Factor.

Self Portrait In Progress, Oil- 30" x 15" - Ian Factor 

Self Portrait In Progress, Oil - 40" x 30" - Ian Factor

Self Portrait Sketch, Graphite - 18" x 14" - Ian Factor

Self Portrait In Progress, Oil 40" x 30" - Ian Factor

Now, back to the studio.

Till next time...

Ian Factor (MFA 2014) will be blogging here throughout the year about his first year at the Academy and moving to New York City.  You can also follow more of Ian's experiences on his blog: Ian Factor's New York Academy of Art Experience.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reflections of the First Week at the New York Academy of Art

Steven Assael Drawing Demo : Drawing I, First Day of Class, 2012

I've been trying to come up with catchy and witty metaphores and analogies to describe my first week here at the NYAA, and for a week I haven't come up with anything that comes close to describing this immense experience. Perhaps beginning a novel would be the only way to aptly describe everything that's transpired since Orientation on September 10th...but that won't happen at this late hour with more painting to complete for tomorrow, so...
I'll try here to briefly describe and express the my overall impressions over the last 10 days or so,
doing my best to keep from exagerating and sounding too cliche or romantic.

Remember the first time you fell in love...REALLY in love?
Time stopped when you were with that person, together all day, staying up all night, night after night, eagerly and passionately anticipating the next day, re-energized by the newness, the amazement, the total absorption in the experience, you were learning, sharing, laughing, maybe crying, you coudn't stop thinking of this person, all day long, you fell asleep with them in your mind (if not your arms) and woke to the same, night after night, day after day, you ignored your freinds, your family didn't hear from you, you were lost in bliss, exhausting yourself as if you were a starving castaway on a deserted island suddenly plopped in front of an all-you-can-eat buffet...trying to devour and savor every moment,  and every moment was like a thousand years of experience, you felt so alive, so connected, so empowered so impassioned. Drained and full at the same time.

This is sort of what this week has been like.

Then it's also like the first time I traveled to Italy, I thought I knew good deal of the Italian language but when I arrived I realized I was basically iliterate, didn't speak a word of the "real" language, was mostly just making it up as I went along, "Street Italian" as they called it. I was not an infant but felt like one in many ways. My eyes were wide open, sensing everything as if it was for the first time, incredible beauty everwhere I looked, magic, power, grace, demonstrations of the intense potential of human creativity and willpower, every conversation tore open my mind and launched me into a new realm of thinking and understanding, it was as if I was seeing the world brand new again, as a child. The inspiration rushed through me, pulsed in my veins and physically dropped me to my knees in awe more than one time.

This is also sort of what this week has been like.

The first week convinced me that the New York Academy Of Art is the most important, magical and powerful institutions and communities in the world for the study of contemporary figurative painting, drawing, sculpture, and printmaking...there is no equal.

I am surrounded by and studying with just over 100 of the most dedicated, talented, disciplined, focused and driven figurative artists I have ever known. Every one of my instructors is so brilliant, knowledgeable and passionate about what they do that it's almost surreal.

Considering the intense level of talent, drive and desire to do and make greatness, the overall community here is like a giant family. There is naturally competition amongst all of us, but it's focused, healthy and channeled in positive, productive and supportive ways.

I'm am beyond honored to be a part of this incredible place.

I'll be putting together some more specifics of what the first week was like, composing an example of a typical (14 hour) day here at the Academy, and will be posting it next, but this is just a primer.
My next blog will have some more photos too.
In the meantime, here's a quick and dirty sketch from Steven Assael's Drawing Class, pictured above.
It's 14" x 11" Graphite on Clay Coat paper.

Graphite Sketch on Clay Coat Paper, 14" x 11"  ©Ian Factor 2012

Now, back to the studio.

Till next time...

*(I'll be posting a new blog every other week on the Academy's Blog site, then it'll be posted here on my own blog. To see it first, and for other Academy Blogs, news and updates, check it out: )

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tomorrow : New York Academy Of Art Orientation and First Day Of Class

The arrival in NYC about a week ago was interesting to say the least...when I finally found the apartment I had rented and went to open the door with the keys I had been given, none of them worked...locked out with a full bladder, double parked with a full truck. Good start, but the positive news was that my truck made it in one piece.
About 2 hours later and 3 generations of family members coming to let the "new tenant" in, they finally got the key thing straightened out, and I entered. I unloaded (the truck and my bladder) and at 10pm got in the Q-train and headed for Manhattan.
I stayed with a good friend who has a gorgeous apartment just behind the World Trade Center with great private rooftop terrace overlooking the Hudson River and NJ. (See photos below):

Sunset Sails over the Hudson River from Battery Park Terrace

Sunset view over the Hudson River from Battery Park Terrace

For a few days while I searched for a bed and some basic furnishings my host of hosts allowed me to stay in his extra bedroom overlooking Battery Park City and the Promenade there. Here's a quick sketch from day one:

Quick sketch from Battery Park Promenade. Statue Of Liberty in Background

Here's a good, and disturbing story; On my LAST visit to the sleazy's (I mean sleepy's) while I was getting the heavy handed bait-and-switch, I literally saw a bedbug crawling over the top of one of the "New" mattresses! (FYI, this was at the Sleepy's in Sheapshead Brooklyn). I naturally and immediately pointed it out to the salesman and he quickly slapped the mattress next to the bug as it went flying into the air to land most likely on another unsuspecting sample bed. His slick and frighteningly nonchalant comment was, "It's not like it's the first time I've seen that..."The difficulty in finding a bed in the city, without getting ripped off or having to drive out to some suburb of New Jersey, was profound. I was still exhausted from packing up everything in Boston and moving here, and the fatigue continued while I drove around from one end of Brooklyn to the other and took the train in and out of Manhattan, dealing with the sleaziest of sleazy bed salesmen at more than one "Sleepy's" (Dont EVER shop there!!)
I left without saying a word. True story.
Onto IKEA, the weekend of Labor Day, probably the busiest bed and furniture shoping day of the year for students and proud (and exhausted) parents of new students heading off to school.
Chaos doesn't describe the scene at the Brooklyn Store, the lines at checkout reminding me of my first visit to Disney World as an 8 year old...minus the rides and Micky Mouse. IKEA Brooklyn, which is the main warehouse, the size of most large city's airports, is daunting and overwhelming, regardless of the packs of frantic shoppers. 
Needless to say, I could write a novel about the few days spent there. 
Instead, heres a sketch of a sleeping man on the Q-Train that sums up how the shopping left me feeling:

Man Sleeping on Q-Train - Brooklyn

Finally, as of two days ago I have a new bed. 

So today, Sunday I woke early, rode my bike down to Manhattan Beach, about a 7 minute ride from my apartment, just on the other side of Sheapshead Bay, and then rode over to Brighton Beach and down the length of the Coney Island Boardwalk, along the beach to the far end, actually the end closer to NYC. It was my first time there, Coney Island...
like another country. It was a beautiful, perfect sunny day with large gorgeous cumulus   and cumulonimbus clouds after yesterday's double tornado touching down in Brooklyn and Queens. The language I most commonly heard was Russian, with a smattering of Spanish and a few random English words thrown in. There's a huge Russian population here in this part of Brooklyn, a language I love to hear and not understand. Just the sound and intonation is intriguing. 
Here are a couple shots of the first riders of the day at Coney Island:

Coney Island - First Ride Of The Day

Coney Island - Wonder Wheel and The Strange Evil Cat Ride

And then on my way home I stopped here at Brighton Beach to take this one more shot:

Brighton Beach - Under The 'Stares'

Now sitting in Starbucks, for the free internet and not-so-free cup of tea, I enter this Blog...and watch the middle school kids violently threaten the other middle school kids. Maybe we should be giving them Vodka to drink at that age instead of Coffee drinks.

Orientation at the Academy is tomorrow, studio move in is 8:30am. 
Time for a good meal and a good night sleep. 

Much more soon...


Friday, August 24, 2012

Days away from the move back to NYC!

Well after an incredibly exhausting and draining month of organizing, packing and storing not only all the stuff in my 1200sf loft but more than 30 years of stuff in my folk's house (they will be selling their house this year as well) I am about 98% ready to drive to NYC for the start of the semester. 

Last night after feeling like I was about to collapse I drove up to Maine to spend a couple of days just relaxing and floating in the lake, to rest my body and mind and to re-energize for next week's move.

I'll be heading out of Maine Monday, then leaving for NYC from Boston on Wednesday or Thursday after one last organizational push to get as much crammed into my 4Runner as possible. Whatever doesn't fit in, or on the truck will go into storage, though my storage unit is about maxed out at this point as well.
Then I'm off.

Once I get to the city and settled in I'll be posting a more complete blog with info on my schedule for the semester, and some images of the city and the Academy.

I received my class schedule for the semester and am thrilled with the instructors I've gotten. It'll be an amazing, and as I've been told, intense and non-stop semester. 

Hope all your summers go well, and I'll hope to hear from you all soon via phone, email, Facebook, Twitter or even an old fashioned paper letter. I'll send out my physical address from the city.

In the meantime, below are a couple of photos from the packing chaos of this month. It hurts my back just to see them on screen again!

A presto,


Packing up the Boston loft, so many boxes of paintings and frames.

The 10x15 foot storage unit, almost full...ouch.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Prep For the Move to NYC...
and an Open Studio this Saturday the 21st from 11am-5pm!

Less than two months away 'till the start of the fall semester at the NYAA. It's been an interesting and busy month to say the least, last blog entry was two weeks ago, and in that time I've been setting the schedule for the upcoming few weeks of packing, prepping and storing all my stuff before I take off.

I've grown more familiarized and comfortable with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like, so when I get to the Academy it'll be as seamless as possible to continue the updates and news.

Today the fall class options for the Academy were emailed so I'll be picking all my courses for the 1st semester and registering next week. The idea of setting up my schedule brings excitement for the prospect of putting everything aside for the next two years to just study and produce.
I can't seems surreal at this point.

In other news, I'll be having an Open Studio this coming weekend, Saturday July 21st from 11am - 5pm. Below is a link to my last newsletter with all the information. 
There'll be great music, nice COLD beverages and of course, lots of paintings, drawings and prints for your purchasing pleasure! 
Click HERE for the newsletter:

One of the pieces in the upcoming Open Studio
The Flower Goddess (Xochiquetzal) • 34" x 54" • Oil on Canvas • ©Ian Factor 2012

As soon as the open studio is over, I'll be packing almost everything up into storage. Then I'll be heading to NYC during the first week of August to look for an apartment / room to rent, I'll be there for just a couple of days, then back to Boston to take care of the rest of the packing and to transfer my studio here over to the new occupant. I'll then spend a couple of days in Maine to relax in the woods and by the lake, paint and set my mind for the transition. I plan to move to NYC in the 3rd week of August. Orientation at the Academy is September 10th.

In the meantime, I am working on a new portrait, I have included an image below, and plan to get it done in the next few days. The challenge with this one was the difficult light and subtle halftones across the face...a warm yellow incandescent light from inside of her office, above and to the subject's right and the cool blue outdoor overcast light streaming in through the window to the subject's left. This all created a strange and tricky effect through the middle of her face where the warm and cool lights collide. It's so subtle in the flesh tones, more obvious in her hair.

Newest Portrait - In Progress  • 40" x 30"  Oil on Canvas • ©Ian Factor 2012

I'll be continuing to head out for some plein air work even after my studio is packed up here as well. My French Easel and Pochade Box will be by my side during the move. In the next week or so I'll be posting a blog with a description and photos of my home-made Pochade Box, or "small travel paint box", for those who are so inclined to make your own and save 200-300 dollars from the price of buying one pre-made!

Don't forget you can always check in and see what's new on Twitter and Facebook by accessing the links in the window to the right...and NOW on Instagram, which is a great fun way to share photos immediately with the world. Just download the app to your smart phone and search for "ianfactor"...I'm just beginning to load photos there and as the semester begins and the new work and events start happening there will be many more photos and many more updates.

Hope to see everyone at the Open Studio this Saturday, and if you can't make it to that, stay in touch and keep checking in on the blog, I'll be updating it more regularly from NYC once I settle in.

See you soon, in person or in the virtual world.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Chelsea River Sunset

Driving home along the Chelsea River tonight at sunset I caught a glimpse of a moment that summed up my feelings about leaving this town and moving back to least for the time being.

These old oil (gas?) tanks seem to be in the midst of being dismantled, and one of the caps with the #7 lays in the foreground. It almost looks like the wing or tail of an old downed fighter plane, perhaps one of the fighters from my earliest drawing memories in second grade. (see earlier post with "Statement Of Purpose" for NYAA). The barbed wire fence trying to keep me in...or out, but not for long. 

The coloring of the clouds and reflection off the buildings on the far side of the river look, ironically, like the result of a burning city. (On April 12, 1908, nearly half the city was destroyed in the First Great Chelsea Fire. In 1973, the Second Great Chelsea Fire burned 18 city blocks.)

And beyond the steel wire barbed, the fallen fighter wing and monstrous silver-gold fuel tanks, beyond the fire red reflections on the buildings along the river banks Chelsea, past the burning clouds at sunset and into the clear cerulean sky lies New York City.
My Big City Mistress. 
I'll be there soon.

Chelsea River Sunset  • June 29th, 2012 • © Ian Factor 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Progress Portrait - Right Hand Detail

Trying to finish up a Portrait I'm working on this weekend. Here's a small detail of the right hand, in progress, showing the loose brushwork I hope to hold onto through the rest of the piece. 
I'll post another update by the end of the weekend with more images closer to finish.

Detail of right hand - Beverlee Vidoli Portrait  • 40" x 30" Oil on Canvas • ©Ian Factor 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cafe Sketching

Gearing up for the move back to NYC and the initiation into the New York Academy, I'm prepping, packing and planning. In the midst of all the changes, I still make time for a few minutes a day of cafe sketching...sometimes more than just a few minutes.

Below is a 5 minute pen & ink sketch from an air conditioned cafe in Harvard Square today, a nice respite from the 98 degree heat and humidity. The lighting wasn't great but the Ginger Lemonade was amazing and the subjects seemed to intrigue me enough to pull out the sketchbook.

Generally these ink sketches are done in 1-5 minutes using an antique fountain pen with a 14 karat gold flexible nib made by Waterman. A couple of minutes is just enough time to make the clear statement I wish to make about a given subject. Once I start the drawing and the person inevitably moves, changes position completely or gets up and leaves, I wait for them to shift back or re-express whatever it was that first struck me...I then attempt to stay true to the memory of the first thing that caught my attention. If they get up and leave, someone sits in the way or they just change position too much, the sketch is done. 

Sometimes it's just a fleeting expression that moves me, sometimes it's the way the light falls on the brow or the upper lip, sometimes it's a body posture or an interesting angle...sometimes when everything aligns, it's all of the above. Once the energy of the moment is passed, I cease working on that sketch...only then do I feel I have captured an accurate record of that particular moment. If I lose sight of the original inspiration and / or the actual subject leaves but I continue to work on the sketch, 99% of the time it loses whatever "truth" was there to begin with, if at all.

So it's an exercise in awareness, precision, speed, sensitivity, patience and unobtrusive observation,
among other things...and of course, occasionally an exercise in sharing interesting conversation or avoiding a potentially awkward one.

I'll be posting more cafe sketches and thoughts on such throughout the summer and, naturally, after I arrive in NYC.

Stay tuned!

5 Minute Pen and Ink Sketch - Cafe Crema, Harvard Square • 6-20-2012 •  ©Ian Factor

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just updated my Website with new paintings from the "Lobstermen Series", an updated News & Info Page with the New York Academy Of Art announcements, updated Resume and Bio, and a new image on the Photography Page...

Studio Brushes • Keen Lofts •  ©Ian Factor 2012

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today, another piece of amazing news...

I was informed by the NYAA that I'll be receiving the "New Media Scholarship" award for 2012-2013!
It's an incredible honor and opportunity and I'm so grateful and thrilled!
Thank you to Andrew Mueller and the members of the Scholarship Committee! 

With the initiation of this blog, my twitter account, (!/IanFactor)
and the continuation of utilizing Facebook, ( and my website, ( I'll be regularly posting, tweeting and sharing my own personal experiences, work and progress as well as news-worthy, interesting and informative blasts of information about the artists and events of the Academy in general.

Once I get back to NYC and the semester begins (Sept. 10th is orientation) I'll have more, and more diverse images, updates, videos and news to share. 

In the meantime, here's a photo I snapped with my iPhone in the Cast Room at the Academy last month when I was there for the MFA Thesis Exhibition. This is only a small selection of an incredible collection of stunning casts that the students regularly work from. YES!!!

A few of the many casts at the New York Academy Of Art.