CLASSIC MACAU by Guno Park (MFA 2011)

Last December, the Macau Government Tourism Board hosted ten US based artists to journey to Macau to capture its beauty.   Out of the ten artists chosen were three Academy alumni.  On a cold winter evening, Michael Smith (MFA 2006), Steve Forster (MFA 2010) and Guno Park (MFA 2011) ventured off to embark on an epic seven day adventure.  After a disco nap from enduring fourteen hours of travel including a thirteen hour flight to Hong Kong and a hour long ferry ride, the crew was ready to discover all that Macau had to offer.  You can take part in their whirlwind experience through the words, lens and video by Guno Park.

Left to right: Guno Park, Steve Forster, Michael Smith
This was our first view of Macau after a dark one hour ferry ride. We were tired after a long flight and the lights of the casinos were glowing and reflecting on the water as we woke from our naps.
In Macau, there was quite a bit of smog and it was tough to see very far. There were lots of construction happening near the hotel and everywhere across the city.
Throughout the city, around corners and inside neighborhoods, there are temples of all sizes. The mix of residential buildings, office buildings and the ancient temples create interesting visual layers of time.  Amongst the crowded city, these temples create a place for the people to come and pray.
Looking inside these temples are a treat because they're all unique and allow for really interesting lighting situations. Those coils are incense that burn constantly. 
The food in Macau is a mix of Chinese and Portuguese cuisine. Here's Steve and Mike during our group dinner of fresh seafood including tasty snails.
As there was only 4 days for us to explore and take in the city for inspiration, we didn't have much time to spend in the casinos. We did go inside for one drink and experience the 'Grand Lisboa' which is the golden building that is visible from almost every street we were on. 
This was a highlight. The famous egg tart from Lord Stow's. Usually when something is hyped up extensively before the experience, it dampens the moment, but even as a fan of desserts, this was probably the best egg tart I've ever had! It was excellent! I had about seven more during our 4 day trip. I should have had more.
Macau is not a big city, but dense and tall in many areas giving it a feeling of depth.
The ruins of St. Paul's was one of the main tourist attractions we visited. Near it are shops and restaurants everywhere for blocks on end. During the peak hours, there were thousands of people in and around this area.
Fish and meat were all they were selling in this giant two-story building. The main floor was the seafood floor and the upstairs was the meat section.  Not the best smelling part of our trip but we saw some very interesting food choices being bought and sold in there.
As crazy and chaotic the city was, there were some parts that were so peaceful and quiet. Just a few minutes off the beaten path were these serene concrete hills with thousands of apartment windows.   Every once in a while you could catch a glimpse of an old man inside a window having tea, or smoking a pipe.
Macau is a beautiful and deep city that I would love to visit again.  As I was preparing the artwork to exhibit at the "Classic Macau" exhibition, there was an abundance of inspiration to draw from.


Motorcyclist in Macau by Guno Park
Weren't able to catch the "Classic Macau" exhibition at the Academy?  Don't worry, you can always view the traveling exhibition during its next stop in Los Angeles. For more details visit the exhibition page on the Academy's site.

Looking for more information on Guno Park?  Please visit his website where you can see his drawings from Macau and much more.

Street View in Macau by Guno Park

Studio Portraits: Amanda Pulham (MFA 2014)

Amanda Pulham, Class of 2014
Studio: 4th floor


Gabriela Handal (MFA 2015)

When I was looking to further my studies, one of the things that was extremely important was the study of the human body, anatomy classes, drawing and studying from life. I serendipitously found the Academy and ended up in Dan Thompson’s class in my first semester.I think he is probably one of the best teachers the Academy has.

In class drawing by Gabriela
Everything about Figure Drawing Intensive in my first semester and Anatomical Drawing in the second semester has been incredibly enriching.  As a teacher, there is no end to Dan’s generosity.  I’d never experienced such attentiveness from a teacher and I don’t think any other teacher has ever inspired me as  much.   His enthusiasm, hunger for learning, and love for what he teaches are contagious.
Anatomical study of Maya by Gabriela
Generally, class starts with a lecture or a demonstration or both and then we set up our easels and do some drawing and analysis of our own work.  During this time, Dan invests time with each student, giving feedback and assisting us with our drawings. His teaching is really what I expected from the Academy.  

The study of the human body is enriched with a great instructor.
As for models, having a fellow human lend him/herself for our study is a real privilege. We take our bodies for granted and are in denial of them.  Seeing the nude model standing proudly in front of the class like an elegant statue for us to observe and learn, is an incredible practice. In observation, simple things like the model's breath or shifting their position becomes amplified and very beautiful.

Drawing by Dan Thompson
Specifically with Anatomical Drawing, we are meant to do studies of what we see in the model, next to a more finished drawing. We conceptualize what we see, to better understand what is happening in the pose that the model has taken. Transverse plane, cubes, cylinders, rotation, inclination, turning away from you, turning towards you, medial, lateral, muscles, bones, perspective, light, shadow, volume, depth, convex, concave, bony landmarks, muscles, and the model stand. Everything affects what you see and how you see it.

In this class, there is a special kind of awareness and study, not just of the body, but of its surroundings.  I am fascinated and more aware of the vessel that carries me and everything that I am. I find myself further amazed by the machine that is the human body.  It is an exquisite organic form and we know so little about it. I am extremely lucky to be able to study it the way that I am doing right now at the Academy.

Closer by Gabriela

To learn more about Gabriela Handal (MFA 2015) and her work please visit her website:

For more details about the Dan Thomson and the Academy's anatomy track please visit the Academy's website:

Studio Portraits: Jessica Benjamin (MFA 2014)

Jessica Benjamin, Class of 2014
Studio: 3rd floor