Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Portrait Group Profile: Matt Andrews

For two years, Friday Arts Project has been hosting a weekly portrait drawing session in Old Town Rock Hill. In addition to Space 157 studio members, a regular group of local artists have joined us for our Monday night ritual. Matt Andrews, a Winthrop University student, produces brilliant pieces week after week. Here are some of his 2-hour portraits and thoughts.

F.A.P. Matt, tell us about yourself

M.A. I'm a senior at Winthrop University studying illustration. My ultimate career goal is to become a concept artist for the video game industry. I've always loved the idea of using my artistic ability to entertain someone, and video games, when done correctly, can be incredibly beautiful, innovative, and artistic collaborative efforts of mass entertainment. I have been developing a style that is realistic enough to be believable, but imaginative enough to be worthy of the "concept artist" title.

F.A.P. What is the drawing group experience like for you?

M.A. The drawing group experience initially was very different from what I'm used to. Typically, drawing and illustration is something I've done for hours and hours alone in room or studio. I could spend 30+ hours on a project without talking to or seeing another human being. The drawing group, however, is a social, relatively quick session that allows me to get out and still do what I love doing: drawing. It promotes speed of workflow and socializing/meeting new people.

F.A.P. Tell us a bit about your process

M.A. Though I spent most of my life drawing on paper, I have, in the past few years, been focusing on digital painting as my primary technique. I am both a computer geek and an artist, so the digital medium is the perfect fit for me. I fell in love with the idea of digital painting in high school and never looked back. Not that I've abandoned traditional media or anything, I just love the speed, convenience, and experimental qualities of working digitally. The program I use primarily, after setting up my laptop and tablet, is a little piece of Japanese software called Easy Paint Tool SAI. It's basically a streamlined, highly intuitive version of Photoshop made specifically for painting and drawing as opposed to photo alteration.

I approach the portraits in software the same way I would start an oil painting. I prime the "canvas" with a base color that often coincides with what the model is wearing or complements their skin tones. I then just start blocking in colors and match shapes and proportions as I go. Even though I'm a draftsman at heart, I don't start with a sketch at all. I just jump right in with colors and it's a lot of fun.

M.A. Since I started going to the Monday portrait nights, I've gotten faster and more confident with my work. It has helped me improve and is a fun way to get out while honing my skills further.