Monday, November 24, 2014

Magic ProTour Qualifier and visit to Havre de Grace

As an artist for Magic, I get a lot of really interesting opportunities for travel and exploration, and I've been taking advantage of a lot of them since I've been on my own this year. I'm also guilty of failing to document most of my trips- I'm the type who doesn't like to be on my phone or behind a camera the whole time I'm having an in-real-life experience so I forget to update social media, then when I return I'm often swamped with work or email and writing about my travels gets put on the back burner, and then forgotten forever.

Last Saturday's journey was up to a ProTour qualifier (aka "PTQ" -a small-ish event where folks play competitive Magic, and the winner(s) get to move on to compete in an upcoming ProTour). That was the official reason for leaving home, but there were so many unique aspects of this trip that I feel compelled to sit down and spend a minute time typing them out before getting back to business.

Spencer Silver Mansion: Living Room | digital painting study from life (while sitting in front of a fireplace)

PTQ's don't normally have artists, since they're hosted by independent game stores, but John Klisavage who owns Washington Street Books wanted to make the experience for his players different. I happened to luck out and take another artist's place because he had a schedule conflict, and it was drive-able for me. The PTQ itself went great- I got to sign a lot of cards, do lots of sketches and alters, and chat with folks. A good day's work, and I think people had fun.

Now, the trip's first interesting side feature was that I got to stay in a beautiful historic Bed & Breakfast built in 1896, called the Spencer Silver Mansion. I also had extra down-time since it was only a one-day event, so I got to do some sight-seeing and sketching that I'm normally too rushed or tired to do during events.

Concord Point Lighthouse | Graphite in moleskine sketchbook

One of the best places I visited during the whole trip was John's store itself. Washington Street Books is a collector's paradise. You think that you can find anything in a big city, but this is the kind of out-of-the-way place where you find amazing things you can't even find on eBay. He has everything from rare old books to movie props from The Last Samurai. I ended up doing a fair bit of Xmas shopping at the store, and picked up a couple things for myself...some Magic cards, comics, and an all-Japanese box set of collectible figures from Final Fantasy 9, including Princess Garnet, who is my video game alter ego (still totally geeking out about it!!!). John was kind enough to let me browse through a bunch of his collectibles and even sent me off with some of his Lone Wolf Cub comics. You just don't have nice personal experiences like this working from home all the time.

One of the many many display shelves at Washington Street Books- I spent a good deal of time with the Star Wars collectibles, duh.

For those who like my step-by-step posts, I'll leave you with a two-night digital painting study I did of my cozy bedroom:

Thanks again to John K. (and family) for the experience and for hosting the event, Carol for taking great care of me at the B&B, and all the players and fans who came and said hi. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Karen Memory" | Book Cover Reveal!

"Karen Memory" | Digital painting, 2014
Cover for novel by Elizabeth Bear
Art director: Irene Gallo

It's with immense pleasure that I get to show you my latest illustration: the cover artwork for Elizabeth Bear's novel Karen Memory, published by Tor Books. This was actually my second time working with the inimitable and talented Irene Gallo. I don't know if she knew how badly I've wanted professional excuses to paint Steampunk-oriented stuff, but let's just say this was one of those dream jobs you spend years hoping for.

See the official post via

Prints available in my INPRNT store: