Article in the Isthmus on Drawing at the Chazen Museum

This summer I have been running a very exciting class: Life Drawing at the Chazen Museum of Art. The classes are in conjunction with their “In the Studio” exhibit, currently on display. It is very inspiring to be drawing the figure surrounded by so many masterpieces. The class was very popular, and sold out soon after it was announced. The Madison weekly paper, the Isthmus, featured an article on the experience. The article can be viewed here. Otherwise, see below.

Play like an artist


JULY 11, 2019


The Chazen is eerily quiet at 5:30 p.m. on a rainy Tuesday. In the Brittingham II gallery, a dozen empty easels are set up facing the Vasari. If you took Renaissance to Modern Art at UW-Madison, you probably know it  —  a wall-size Renaissance painting called The Adoration of the Shepherds. What I remember learning about the painting is that most of the languid figures in it are pointing, either at baby Jesus or heavenward, indicating the infant’s holiness. I took Renaissance to Modern Art in 1980. The painting is still there in a room that looks much the same as it did then — bringing to mind what Holden Caulfield, in The Catcher in the Rye, thinks about Manhattan’s Museum of Natural History: “The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was.”

It is that inert quality that curator of education Candie Waterloo longed to work against in introducing free life drawing sessions this summer at The Chazen.  “I wanted to give people the opportunity to play like an artist, in a low-commitment and non-intimidating way,” says Waterloo. Holding figure drawing sessions in the galleries dovetailed with this summer’s exhibit In the Studio, which highlights the spaces in which artists create.

So, provided are easels, sketch pads, a handful of graphite and charcoal pencils, a kneaded rubber eraser, a live model, an instructor — Madison artist Philip Salamone — and eight two-and-a-half hour sessions over the course of the summer. Advance registration for the 15 slots for each class filled almost immediately, Waterloo says. I have nabbed an easel on this night thanks to a cancellation.

Best part: “No experience necessary.”


I have no experience. Not at life drawing, i.e., drawing a living breathing human being (who is often nude, but, in this case, clothed) standing in front of you. I have almost no experience with drawing of any kind. I took a four-session class in portraits in 2017. Let’s just say I am always grateful that what I am working on manages to look like a head.

Most of the participants are likewise novices. Among them is a retired diplomat, a retired social worker, and a pharmacy school student. The most practiced was an economics major in college.

Everything is quite casual. Chill. We draw a series of five-minute sketches, then move on to 20-minute poses. Daniel, the model, sits, stands, curls his arm, pulls his knee up, checks his phone between poses. He knows, I think, that we are faltering. 

Salamone doesn’t prescribe much, every so often blocking in rough proportions on someone’s sketchpad, after which the paper looks like a stack of teetering rectangles, not a human form. A common mistake, he says, is that students try to make their drawings “too human, too soon.”

Mostly he stays in the background, shooting out bits of advice that seem like reasonable adages until I start pulling them apart; then they seem a little lopsided and quirky: “Be bold but cautious. Ruthless but delicate. These may seem like contradictions, but they are really not.” Very Zen. It gets to a feeling one of my classmates expresses to me during the break. She feels like what she is drawing is “too tight.” There is the will to be free, the pencil reaching out and creating a little bit of the universe that had not previously existed. Against it is the pressure to work slowly and methodically, slavishly bowing to reality.

“Choose a specific goal beyond ‘make this look like that,’” says Salamone. (This actually had been my goal.) Pick one particular element of drawing to focus on, he tells us. Big shapes. Shading. Proportion. Don’t get bogged down in details. “I don’t need every county on that map,” says Salamone.

This, as my final sketch is starting to go horribly, fatally awry. I let go, scribbling darker, more frenetic lines until the limbs resolve into something more figure-like.

“A good painting is almost like committing a crime,” Salamone says. How’s that?

“You need a plan, and you need a contingency plan, and you need to stay flexible because things don’t always go according to plan. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a vision.”

Invitational Award at Art Fair on the Square

I’m honored to announce that of nearly 500 artists exhibiting at MMOCA’s Art Fair on the Square, I received an Invitational Award, which was juried for best in originality, craftsmanship, impact, and design. For my first art fair, I feel very blessed and thankful to be recognized by the jurors, and for the public who came out and showed their support.

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Art Fair on the Square

I’m excited to be participating in this year’s Art Fair on the Square, hosted by the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA). The event is July 13th, 9a-6p, and the 14th, from 10a-5p, at the Capitol Square in Madison, WI. More info can be found here. Hope to see you there!


Drawing Fundamentals Workshop in Door County, Wisconsin

I'll be teaching a Drawing Fundamentals workshop in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin at the Peninsula School of Art August 7-10. The workshop will focus on fundamental components of visual phenomena and applying these concepts in graphite, in an effort to create convincing, sensitive drawings through a coherent, analytical approach to studying the craft of drawing. More information can be found here.    

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Show at the Driftless Historium

One of my former students, Sarah Gerg (@sarahketchz), is putting together an art show that includes her incredible work alongside that of two of her influences, the inimitable John Ribble (@johnthomasribble) and myself. The show will be up through June 25th, and the opening is Saturday, May 25th from 5-7pm. I will be displaying both new and used work..

Hope to see you all there!


Visible Bucky in the News

Bucky on Parade has ended, and Visible Bucky is in its permanent home, the Best Western Inntowner at 2424 University Ave in Madison. Over the summer while the statues were on display throughout the city, Visible Bucky has created a lot of press.


Here is a brief interview about the process, along with some progress pics.

Here is a segment by NBC 15, one of only two stories that they wrote about an individual Bucky.

Here is a glowing review by Tone Madison, which covers art, music, and culture in Madison.

Here is an article from the Isthmus about a group that has been taking photos naked with various Buckys.

Here is a blog post about Visible Bucky by Ann Sinfield, of the Chazen Museum.

Here is a blog post by Beth Simmons from on Visible Bucky.

Here is a reddit post under the subreddit ATBGE (awful taste but great execution).

Here is another reddit post under r/madisonwi.

Portrait Painting Workshop in Wausau, Wisconsin

I'll be teaching a workshop November 26-29 in beautiful Wausau, Wisconsin at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art. The workshop will focus on fundamentals of drawing and painting in an effort to create convincing, lifelike portraits through a coherent, analytical approach to painting. More information can be found here.    


Artist Talk on Bucky on Parade Statue

I will be giving an informal artist talk along with my star assistant, Sarah Gerg, on the inspiration behind and journey creating our Bucky on Parade Statue. On Saturday, August 25th, from 10:00am - noon I will be in front of Science Hall along with Sarah and our Bucky for an informal talk and a question and answer session. At this time, each artist will be in front of their Bucky as well to give a brief talk and answer any questions. The event is free and open to the public


Show at Yahara Bay Distillers

I want to invite you all to my opening reception this weekend at Yahara Bay Distillers. If you haven't been to the distillery, its a beautiful, inspiring space with plenty of unique spirits, incredible cheese plates by Madison Cheesemonger, and homemade pizzas. I will be displaying both new and used work, and it will be up for the month of July. 

The reception is this Saturday, the 7th, from 2-4pm at Yahara Bay Distillers new location, which is at 6250 Nesbitt Rd. #200. 

Hope to see you all there!


Bucky on Parade Unveiled

I recently unveiled a project that I had been working on since January, 'Visible Bucky.' It was painted for an event titled Bucky on Parade, where artists submitted designs to paint a 6'6" fiberglass statue of the UW-Madison's mascot, Bucky Badger. Eighty-five artists were chosen to be sponsored by local and regional businesses and individuals, with the proceeds going to various charities. I had spent 350 hours working on it, in addition to another 100 hours by my student/assistant, Sarah Gerg. The statue is on display outside Science Hall (500 N Park St.) through September, when it will move to its permanent location, the UW Hospital. For more information, including process pics, see "Bucky on Parade" under "For the Love"

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Bucky on Parade Unveiling

The official unveiling of my Bucky Badger statue that I have been working on over the past few months with a student of mine, Sarah Gerg, is just a few days away. The statues will all be unveiled simultaneously, rain or shine, on Monday, May 7th at 11:00am. Mine will be right in front of Science Hall, where Langdon meets Park St. After the unveiling there will be a reception at the Top of Sate Street starting at 11:30am with live music, food carts, free ice cream, etc. A digital map of all of the locations of the different Buckys can be found here, as well as below. More information about the post unveil celebration can be found here

I was quoted, along with Sarah, in an article about the event in the Wisconsin State Journal here

Bucky before I got started on him. January 2018

Bucky before I got started on him. January 2018




Studio Move

I'm officially out of the space I inhabited for 6 years, Winnebago Studios. Currently, the plans for redevelopment of the area include 4000 square feet of affordable artist studios below two stories of cohousing units. When construction is complete next year I hope to move back into the new space, this time with a bank of large windows that face northwest. In the meantime, you can find me and the Atwood Atelier down the road at 821 Williamson St.

For more information about the redevelopment see the Cap Times article here. For more pics of the space, including many pics of the last show as well as photos throughout the years, see here

Below are a few pics of the last few weeks in our beloved space.

2046 Winnebago St. 

2046 Winnebago St. 

Display from the last hurrah at WS

Display from the last hurrah at WS

Another one of the walls from the final show at WS

Another one of the walls from the final show at WS

A third wall display form the final party at WS

A third wall display form the final party at WS

Eric Baillies, Will Turnbull, and myself. I'll miss these knuckleheads.

Eric Baillies, Will Turnbull, and myself. I'll miss these knuckleheads.

Nothing left including the slop sink

Nothing left including the slop sink

Bucky on Parade

Bucky on Parade is a public art event that will bring approximately 100 life-size Bucky Badger statues to the streets of Madison and Dane County May 7­–September 12, 2018. Local and regional artists submitted designs, and local businesses and other sponsors chose from the artist's proposals. One of my designs was chosen, and I have been hard at work on it. Stay tuned for the reveal in May!

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Art Renewal Center Salon Finalist

My painting of Adrian was selected as a finalist in the 13th International Art Renewal Center's Salon Competition. Adrian sat for us for a group show that I helped organize, Faces of Incarceration. More info on this show can be found here and here

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Two Exhibits Currently on Display

I have two different solo shows up in the Madison area. The first is at the Continuing Studies Gallery, at 21 N Park St. 7th Floor in Madison. The second is at Capitol Lakes, 333 W Main St., also in Madison. I will have an artist talk/reception on February 3rd at 7pm in the Capitol Lakes Atrium.


Article in the Cap Times

Madison's newspaper, the Cap Times, published my letter to the editor, encouraging the patronage of local arts by businesses and individuals.  A link to the article is here.

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Otherwise, see below:

Dear Editor: I'm writing in response to Lindsay Christian's insightful article "The Art of the Sale." I believe that although in general Madison is a difficult place to sell artwork, it has a lot of potential to be a place where art and artists can thrive.

Madison places a lot of emphasis on buying local, and this is very evident in both restaurants' and the public's enthusiasm for buying locally sourced food and regional microbrews. People and restaurants are more than willing to pay extra money to have food or beer that is of a higher quality, made locally, and that supports a fair wage.

I would love to see that same enthusiasm among restaurants, hotels, and the public for purchasing local artwork, furniture, and ceramics. Just as it is unacceptable now for a restaurant to serve only, say, Miller Lite and Bud Light on tap, I would love to see that same public pressure against furniture from Scandinavia and walls adorned with mirrors.

The interest in locally sourced food results in a robust, profitable farming community, some of the best beers in the nation, food with a unique local flavor, and a public that is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the products they're purchasing and the people they're supporting.

If businesses prioritized local artwork the way that they do local food, the ambiance in their establishments would reflect the unique style of our community, the public would recognize and appreciate the artwork they see everywhere, and this could be a catalyst for conversations and sales by an informed, appreciative public that respects and patronizes its newly robust, vibrant, artistic community. Not to mention create a more beautiful, interesting city. If we can set these standards for food and for beer, then I believe we can do it for the arts.

Philip Salamone

Painting at West Bend Mutual Insurance

In August I was chosen to give a live painting demonstration at West Bend Mutual Insurance. I chose to paint a portrait, and so I brought my mother along to sit for me. I am honored to have it hanging in their collection, which includes over 750 works of art, 95% of which are by Wisconsin artists, including Dan Gerhartz, Tom Uttech, David Lenz, and the great Carl Von Marr. Thank you to West Bend Mutual Insurance for supporting the arts, and for prioritizing local Wisconsin artists. 


Isthmus Article on Winnebago Studios

The Atwood Atelier was in last week's Isthmus regarding the future of our studio space, Winnebago Studios. There are plans for the building to be torn down and the area to be developed into Cohousing Condominiums, but with a unique component where the new development will include 4000 square feet of affordable artist studios. A link to the article can be found here.

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Second Place Audience Choice Award at DABL

Last week I participated in the third annual Dane Arts Buy Local (DABL), an event focused on connecting artists with the community and local businesses. It was an honor to have been juried into the show, and even more so to have won second place for the second year in a row among so many wonderful artists. More information about the event can be found here. Thanks to everyone who made it out and to everyone at Dane Arts who put in all the hard work behind the scenes. Thank you to the community for the Audience Choice award, and to all of the sponsors, who made the event possible.