Saturday, November 21, 2009

New painting & other news

Just to catch up on some non-Illuxcon related news, I'm honored to have received word that four of my pieces have been selected for inclusion in UK-based Art Squared's book, Digital Painters 2, offered through Rage Publishing. The book features fine color reproductions of the work, as well as inspirational commentary from the artists.

Also, the cool kids over at Ninja Mountain put up a podcast wherein Jeremy McHugh interviewed a bunch of artists from the con including myself, and (in no discernable order) William O'Connor, Larry Elmore, Matthew Stewart, Michael Whelan, Joe Wilson, Laura Diehl, Chris Burdett, Piya Wannchaiwong,
Ryan Yee, and Aaron B Miller.

Currently on the easel, "Watchful Ranger" work in progress:



Friday, November 20, 2009

Illuxcon 2009 - Friday Evening, the 13th

Friday night was awesome.

I remember coming back to our hotel room at 2 AM and saying to Laura, "That. THAT is Illuxcon."

The evening began (after our naptime and sketchbook run) at Le Bistro, which was a new addition to the 'campus' since last year. I thought originally that no one in Altoona ate food, because last year it was impossible to find a restaurant in the whole downtown area... but really they're just hidden, and it was kind of Pat and Jeannie to reserve one.

We had some coffee and had good conversation with Scott Greig and Mike Sass- two very nice guys formerly from BioWare, who were visiting all the way from Canada. They told us stories about making video games back in the Baldur's Gate era (which admittedly was an awesome time for PC games). My favorite was the description of how models were textured in the days of yore; often they were limited to four textures per character, so an eyeball texture was sometimes stretched out over the limbs to simulate muscle.

We didn't really do much sketching, but judging from the crowd's fervor in the other room it was very very fun.

Afterward we crowded outside for Vincent Villafranca's live bronze pour:


Joe Wilson made the comment, "man, I can't even pour gravy that accurately."

The next part is always my favorite: the bar.
No, I'm not a huge drinker, but there's a lot to be said about meeting people with a drink in your hand. Fantasy artists are ridiculously nice people, and approaching them isn't hard anyway, though it's always nice to have a little extra bit of social lubrication.

Laura and I had a couple 'DS duels' where we traded her NintendoDS back and forth, making little paintings on the program Colors. Not so much a duel as a collaboration, but everything sounds better with 'Versus.' Eventually this ritual involved other artists. Laura even posted some of them on her blog!

I think the biggest significance about what Pat and Jeannie have done with Illuxcon, is that these events serve as a reminder to all of us that the community is still strong. You have the formal show and lectures, but you also have an open-format window of time to just talk to people- something you don't get every day in such a small field.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Illuxcon 2009 - Thursday the 12th/ Friday the 13th

Although it was fun going solo to the first Illuxcon, I think I prefer traveling with a group. This time I brought not only my husband, Brendan, but my illustrator pal Laura and her b/f Koz. We all shared a room at the Ramada to cut down on cost a bit, and used Laura's truck to load all our artwork.

(Koz & Laura in our hotel room, Thurs, Nov 11)

I knew it was going to be a great weekend going into it, but I was also excited about some of the new programming and artists. After getting into town, we stopped by the show, and wow. It was a bit overwhelming, honestly - it's not a show you can do in just an hour. You have to take it in in pieces, or else you'll miss a lot.
So we retreated to the bar. There weren't a whole lot of people there on Thursday night yet, but it was relaxing to grab a drink before turning in.

We woke up early on Friday and ate complimentary breakfast at the hotel so we could get down to the Heritage Center early. Our first stop of the day was the Art of Self Promotion roundtable discussion, with Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell, Donato Giancola, Ruth Sanderson, and Jeremy Caniglia. I agree with Boris that the audience-led conversation careened into tangential territory (talking about rights management and contracts) instead of focusing purely on getting your foot in the door, but there was a lot of useful information nonetheless.


One of the more notable parts of the discussion was Donato's demonstration of how 50% of your marketing will typically be for naught, while the other half might get the attention you're after; he demonstrated this concept by showing the audience two dollar bills, then tearing one into smaller and smaller pieces, representing how no matter how much you spend you'll get about half a return on your investment. He also brought along a portfolio he made out of two heavy steel dinner platters, which was... totally fun.


One of the more surprising things to hear was how much was mentioned, since previously I'd been under the impression that their printing was slipshod. Ruth and at least two others during the convention mentioned it as a cheap alternative to fancy offset printing for producing show books.

After that we sped over to room 003 and listened to Caniglia's History of Fantasy Art talk. This program was less interactive, but very informative. I felt bad bringing Brendan to this one since art history isn't easy to relate to if you don't have an art background, but he was a trooper. I thought the speech started out very strong, with Jeremy giving background on himself and tying Renaissance & Romantic art into modern fantasy themes. I wish that there had been a little more variety in the contemporary art parallels made, but after all there are time limits, and he did a great job for the time allotted.

After that, (ok this is mildly embarrassing) we all went back to the room to take a nap. At least the others did. My heart was moving at hummingbird speed from all the excitement, so while I tried to rest a little I couldn't stop fidgeting. After that was over, Laura, Koz, and I headed over to Target to buy sketchbooks (I told you this was embarrassing!) and then to Le Bistro for the Reception, Sketching, and live bronze pour...

To be continued...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Illuxcon 2009 - A (very) Brief Overview

It's good to be home, but I have to say that this year's Illuxcon was one of the best weekends I've had in my life. A huge thanks to Patrick & Jeannie Wilshire for hosting yet another amazing event.

I'll probably map out my whole experience day-by-day, but overall, I learned (or reaffirmed) a few important lessons:

1. Carry your portfolio with you at all times, including to restaurants and the bar. Illux is full of opportunities to look at amazing work both in- and outside the actual show, so take full advantage of every opportunity to make yours available. Likewise, if an illustrator does NOT have his or her portfolio, it's ok to scowl at them disapprovingly.

2. Buy a portfolio with removable pages (or bring an Xacto knife with you). Chances are your book will need surgery after the first several reviews, and there's nothing worse than playing doctor using the wrong tools.

3. Charge your camera battery. One of my biggest hopes for next year's con is that someone else will take over my photo-snapping responsibilities. I do like taking photos, but it's kind of frustrating to break character while waiting for a prosumer Nikon to FOCUS. Also, everyone seems to have a better camera than me... hmm...

4. Go to as many lectures as possible. Bonus points if you can somehow be in 3 places at once!

5. did I mention that thing about bringing your portfolio everywhere?

Now I mentioned to a few folks that I was thinking of creating a Flickr account for people to post up their post-con artwork (or rather, the paintings inspired by the 'Illuxcon experience'). And so I actually did! Come join here:
My studio floor is a mess with business cards, so if I met you you'll be getting an email from me to that effect.

More details to come- Back to work!!!!

(my silly mug @ the Saturday showcase... good times)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Illuxcon 2 is NEXT WEEK!!!!

SO EXCITED. I even made a little postcard holder out of scrap moulding. :)

Hope to see even more folks there than last year! I'll be there the full four days this time, so come find me at the Ramada hotel bar any evening and we'll talk art.