Closing Costume Party-Dark Dreams: The Art of James O'Barr

  • Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    James OBarrPRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Oct. 6, 2014) - "It's not every day you get to meet someone like James O'Barr," Sean Milbourne, a junior in the Fine Arts Department, said.  "It's really awesome to have the creator of such a staple film (of the supernatural action genre) like 'The Crow' here on campus.  It gives me greater hope as a sequential artist."

    Milbourne and other students got to show their portfolios to O'Barr during the artist's two-day visit Oct. 6 and 7, which included a meet-the-artist opening reception, a screening of the movie, "The Crow," and workshops for art students including a painting demonstration.

    "He's so famous," Milbourne said.  "Talking to him, I've stumbled on my words no less than 15 times.  I don't want to come off as too amateur, but at the same time, I want to pick his brain."

    Packed around him, the students did just that as they queried the graphic artist on his technique. "Always pencil first-you wouldn't build a house without the wood frame first," O'Barr told them.  "There's no magic tool, just practice.  You have to do it all the time."

    "I ink all my own stuff," he said.  "Not many people use brush anymore.  It's about line, weight and pressure  A lot of people use digital, but it looks flat with no life to it and they try to use color to make up for it.  Once you learn the rules, then you can break them."

     And the difference shows.

    Milbourne was one of the lucky students chosen to help Mosely Gallery director Susan Holt frame the 30 original works of art selected by O'Barr for the exhibit.  "You can look at the art online, but it doesn't hold a candle to seeing the original artworks with the brush strokes and holding them.  It's like holding a piece of the artist's heart or mind in your hands."

    When talking to students, O'Barr said he tries to be positive.  "But I want them to know the reality that it is difficult to make money at it (sequential art illustration).  It's not a hobby, you have to treat it like a job and go to the drawing board every day whether you feel like it or not.  You always have to be in the top of your game."

    "It's important to expose students to professionals like O'Barr and to see their original work," Holt said.  "The show compliments our rather unique sequential arts program."

    "Dark Dreams" is on display Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Mosely Gallery in the Thomas Briggs Arts and Technology Building at UMES.  The show closes Thursday, Oct. 30 with a Halloween Eve costume party from 4-6 p.m.  All events are free and open to the public.  Call 410-651-7770 or visit for more information.      



     Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580.