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.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Here's a Great video from the New York Academy Of Art which I also just posted on my Facebook page. It's a brief view of some of the class of 2012's work and some wonderful words and thoughts by David Kratz, the President of the Academy.

Below also is an iPhone shot of the recent portrait I'm working on, in progress, about 80% done with the head and face now, almost ready to move onto other areas. Next step is to soften some of the edges, add some of the lighter values to the planes of the nose and cheek areas, and adjust some of the drawing on the forehead and neck...This is a detail, the entire piece is 40" x 30", oil on canvas.
More images late this week when it's closer to finish.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The First Steps...

It pretty much started back in December, after speaking with a good friend and incredible abstract painter, Sarah Dineen, about the ideas of Graduate School, and my strong opinion that there were no programs or schools that interested me at this point in my life, I was none-the-less intrigued.
I started a search online and and as I narrowed my google searches, the more specific I got, the more the New York Academy kept coming up. I decided to check out the website...and was blown away.

I called the school and spoke with Elvin Freytes, the Director of Student Affairs. His enthusiasm, information and encouragement to come to the city for the open house convinced me it was time to check it out in person. The open house was THAT WEEKEND, December 17th, 2011, so I cleared my schedule and arrived the day before.

The open house was amazing, inspiring and completely shocking for how good the student work was, how open and welcoming everyone was and what the overall facilities looked like. I had the opportunity to show my portfolio to Peter Drake, the Dean Of Academic Affairs, who was positive and supportive with the work he saw of mine. His earlier presentation to the group moved me almost to the point of tears...which was strange but telling, and from that moment on I knew I had to be a part of that community. 

That night I met my dear friend David Weller for dinner and told him of the experience, the photo below is Weller in Heartland Brewery, Union Square with my sketchbook and the Prospective Students Guide on the Bar. 
It was that night that Dave first urged me to start a Blog and a Twitter account to document the entire process, and here we are 6 months later.

I came back to Boston and immediately started the application process...
The 2nd photo below is of the finished package just before I mailed it away. 

Dave Weller with Sketchbook and
NYAA Prospective Student Guide. 

Finished Application Package ready to mail.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I thought I'd include here the "Statement Of Purpose" I submitted to the Academy for acceptance, as well as a few of the images in my portfolio. The statement is personal, yes, but describes clearly my intentions and goals for applying to this program...and only this particular program.
Thanks for checking in.

Dear New York Academy Of Art,
The sketch was of a battle scene. Soldiers strewn over the field, tanks rolling through the hills, fighter planes firing lines of "exclamation marks" from their wings and explosions scattered everywhere. I remember it vividly, it was one of the major turning points in my artistic career. I was in second grade and the rest of the class was busy struggling with their handwriting skills, mastering the upper and lower case letters on the lined sheets of paper. I was busy struggling with making my hand create the circular shape of the tank wheels as accurately as I pictured in my head. The realization that this pursuit I was obsessed with had actual purpose and meaning, and even brought recognition, came at the next moment.
My teacher arrived at my desk and calmly said, "What have we here?". She gently snatched the drawing from under my hand and stared at it intently. I knew I was done for. Walking to the front of the class she held it up and said, "Look, everyone, look at what Ian has been working on.". Terror tore through my heart. She called me up to the front of the room. As I approached she opened the bottom drawer of her filing cabinet, a huge metal monster, and pulled out a crisp clean file. "I'm giving you this personal folder," she said, "so every time you finish one of your drawings you can put it in here, to protect and keep them. They're very special."
It hit me immediately, "This is important, this is meaningful to me and to others, and I can effect people in some mysterious and positive way with my drawings...this is what I must do for the rest of my life." The realization was that clear, and it hasn't changed in over 30 years. I'm still struggling to draw the wheels as round as what I see in my head, and I embrace the power of a single act to shape the future of a young student's life.
Elvin Freytes recommend that I address my main weakness and how studying at the New York Academy Of Art would help me develop this area. Image making has always been a sacred pursuit for me, and I have always had a particular vision of what this represents and the implications of
following this path. Anyone or anything supporting me and pushing me towards and along this path is sacred as well. Alternatively, anything keeping
me from pursuing this path is in conflict with my deepest sense of self. The single minded intensity that drives me can lead to desperation and resistance when I'm expected to sacrifice my integrity or ideals. This drive and conviction, when in balance, is positive and productive, but can be negative when in the extreme state. I am constantly working on how to balance and channel this intensity in my art and in my teaching.
When Peter Drake asked during my portfolio review at the open house why I am interested in attending the NYAA, I told him of the recent plateau I've hit in my work. After that day at the school, I'm convinced that by having the opportunity to train there, surrounding myself with such incredibly driven and talented artists, all with similar passions, learning and collaborating at such a high level, focusing solely on my work for such an intense period of time I will undoubtedly break free from this plateau and discover a deeper sense of confidence, purpose and clarity. This all adds up to greater balance, which in turn manifests greater work. I feel I am at the perfect time in my life to do the most with such an opportunity. 
I have selected the particular images for my portfolio to show my full commitment to pushing and refining my craft with an open yet focused mind. Some pieces were done all from life, others were built from combinations of sketches, oil studies and photos. I wanted to show a range of methods and approaches I've been exploring, while also showing some consistency. I feel that I have occasionally tapped into some sense of "humanity" with my images, but I still have so far to go. By studying at the NYAA I intend to push further than I ever have, to rediscover an honesty and depth in my work that I may have lost sight of, and bring it to a completely new level, technically and conceptually.
Human beings, mentally and physically, have always been the main passion and interest in my art. As I look to some of the giants of figurative
painting and some of my greatest influences, past and present, many of whom teach at the NYAA (Jenny Saville, Will Cotton, Eric Fischl...and the past masters Joaquin Sorolla, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Ilya Repin, etc.), I'm constantly reminded of what I'm searching for with my work: To tap into the potential of human connection, the 'truth' we are all part of, and to better develop the tools to communicate this experience. 
My main goals while studying at the NYAA are to deepen my understanding of anatomy and paint application while also sculpting the human form in 3 dimensions to gain a more complete knowledge of our physical bodies. The Anatomy Track will be my focus. I intend to work from life, as often as possible, on large scale life-sized single and multi figure canvases. I am intent on understanding more intimately the techniques of indirect painting and applying this to the direct panting approach I have been focusing on recently. I value the 19th century Naturalist's process and philosophy, and as they did, see the benefit in utilizing photography without becoming its slave. The subjects I'm most drawn to and which I will continue to explore while at the school are real people in real environments interacting and expressing profound, but often subtle human emotions. I also plan to further explore my fascination with the movement and functionality of the human body, especially when pushed to its limit, as my more than 30 years of training and teaching traditional healing and martial arts have perpetuated an even broader interest in these mechanisms. Though I don't intend to make overtly political statements, the concept behind my work is of the utmost importance. I will work with subjects that inevitably speak of our humanity, the human condition and some of the contemporary issues we all face, from ideas of beauty and freedom to fear and loss.
My career goals are to continue to live my life as a full time painter and teacher. The knowledge and experience I will attain at the NYAA will give me the fuel and abilities to do so, but at a much higher level in every paint better, teach better and ultimately communicate through both mediums more clearly, convincingly and meaningfully to a wider audience with a more universal and direct language.
After heavily researching the different MFA schools and programs available, I have decided to apply to only one. I am fully committed to attending The New York Academy Of Art at this crucial turning point in my life and career. I would be honored and thrilled to have this opportunity.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration in reviewing these materials. I hope to see you in the fall of 2012 as an MFA student. 
With much sincerity and respect,
Ian Factor

"Pulling The Traps"  30" x 24"  Oil On Canvas

"Haymarket - Boston"  24" x 18"  Oil On Canvas
"Sleeping Lady Of Malta"  36" x 48"  Oil On Canvas
"Curtain Call"  24" x 18"  Oil On Canvas

Well, it's official.
This is my first ever Blog entry. Fitting, as it's my official entry into the 2 year full time MFA program at the New York Academy Of Art for Figurative Painting, Drawing and Sculpture in NYC.
I was notified a couple of months ago of my acceptance, and today I found out that my Federal loans have gone though, so it's actually happening. So much to do, such little time.
I'll be using this blog in conjunction with my Facebook page,
and website, to keep everyone updated as to the experiences I'm about to embark on in this new stage of my life and career as a painter, teacher and student.

Since I'm just getting into this whole Blog thing, please hang with me as I figure it all out and get comfortable with this new format of communication for me.

The plan is to write a little update occasionally, post some photos, videos and dates of open studios, shows and events to keep you all in the loop of what's happening at the Academy and what my own personal experiences will be there.

It's an exciting time and I'm eager to get started this September 10th at orientation. I'll be trying to rent my studio / loft here in Boston while I'm in NYC and plan to get to to Manhattan late August.

I'll close this first blog entry with a quote from Robert Henri's "The Art Spirit", perhaps the most important book on art ever written.

"What we need is more sense of the wonder of life and less of the business of making a picture"  
~Robert Henri

See you all soon!