Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Tardy Illuxcon Report

I exhibited the painting above at Illuxcon. It’s a book cover for “Stonefather” by Orson Scott Card published by Subterranean Press. It’s a cleverly written story that has the feeling of a fable but with a gentle humor you wouldn’t expect. I got a chance to do a few pen & inks for this book as well. I looked it up and it seems the book is sold out already. Below is one of a few doodles I did at Illuxcon. I'm putting them between paragraphs:As far as I know I’ve always liked fantasy and science fiction. Over the years it has only gained in meaning for me. This is due to a greater appreciation for science and for literature. So at first when I heard of Illuxcon it seemed wrong to separate the art from the literature. After all I like keeping the science in the science fiction and I like to read.The thing that most appealed to me about Illuxcon was the chance to meet many artists I’ve never met before. And I did meet some but not as many as I would’ve liked to. Nonetheless, you can see a few pictures from that event on my photo-blog Shutterbuggy Kidd. I’m a bit strange in that it usually doesn’t occur to me to take a picture of someone unless they’re doing something interesting -- I need to be prompted.The idea of bringing artists and people interested in art together was a great success. Illuxcon was small in size but large in content and I think it will continue to grow in all directions.There were two highlights of the convention for me, one that I thought was funny and another that I thought was a lot of fun. The first night there was a small party and because so many people didn’t know each other the hosts suggested we write our names on stickers and wear them. Pretending to be an illiterate artist I drew an airship on mine. Well into the party a young woman was talking to my friend Omar Rayyan, looked at my name badge and exclaimed, “Are you Gnemo?!!” I felt a certain childish pride that I could be recognized by a drawing.The other thing I enjoyed greatly was doing demos with Michael Whelan, Bob Eggleton and Matt Stewart. That was a total blast. Above is a painting Michael started and I made something of a story around by making him or her embarrassed at being caught naked. Modesty does not become him. Below is a demon Michael started, Bob worked on and I turned into a painter I call “Bob.”And finally, below is a painting I call "Untamed Muse." I started this one and Michael worked on it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mater (an outsider's view)

Picture credits (my wife's family): Starting from the left, Mom (Debbie), Dad, (Hugh, he was very tall), Aaron (brother #2), Harlan (brother #1), Mater (step-grandmother), Sean (brother #3), Andrea (the oldest and smallest in her family at present day and love of my life), Pater (Granddad) and Erica (sister).

This is the first time I'm not posting my own art to my blog. My post today is dedicated to a woman called Mater.

My wife, Andrea, and I are back from New Hampshire. We went up there for a memorial service for her step grandmother Audrey Logan. She had recently turned 92. It was a long life, a much longer life than Andrea’s mother or father who’ve been dead for a few years. Andrea called her step grandmother Mater and has always thought of her as her grandmother with no ‘step’ attached to it. Andrea’s maternal grandmother had died before she was old enough to know her. She told me that she saw her Mater as an excitingly exotic woman of great vitality who did things no other grandparent she knew ever did. For one, she went to jail, not just overnight, but for six weeks, for protesting the Viet Nam War. For many years she protected her daughter as she went underground to hide from the FBI. Most of my family would’ve found that scandalous, certainly my own grandparents would have.

I’d met and talked to Mater a few times and I knew a little about her but I really never got to know her well. The main thing I knew was that she treated Andrea and her siblings very well. She went well beyond what you could expect any grandparent to do especially for children that did not come from her own children. Andrea spoke very fondly of her visits to her grandparent’s farm. Anyone who is or was nice to Andrea is my instant friend so I already liked Mater before I met her. Almost all grandparents are nice to their grandkids but Mater was the type of person who changed lives for the better. At Mater’s well-attended memorial it was moving to hear testimonial after testimonial from people she had helped with her generosity of time and money, people of distant places and religions that held her in high regard. Beyond that I could see what she had instilled in the people there. Their memories of her were rich and fulfilling for them and I could sense her presence in them. They had learned from her. This was a Quaker service where people sit in a circle and stand to speak when they feel moved to. I liked this and I told Andrea that this is the service I want when I die, certainly not one with a minister giving a hackneyed sermon.

After the memorial, at a rather large family dinner I heard even more stories about Mater. My wife’s extended family was warm and generous just like their mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend. The people there laughed and sang songs from their childhoods. It was a contrasting prelude to a cold Sunday burial, a sad time of letting go. And I remembered one of my rare conversations with Mater when I told her how happy I was to be a part of her extraordinary family.

The amazing thing I came away with from this trip was a picture of Andrea younger than 18 (she’s around 13 in the picture I think). Almost all her family photographs were destroyed in a basement flood. In the picture she’s with her entire family including her Mater and Pater. No other complete family picture exists. See above.

By the way, Andrea’s grandfather was no slouch either. He was a Rhodes Scholar, well-known editor at Look Magazine, vice president at General Foods and he was the Republican majority leader in the New Hampshire senate, but not all at once.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pen & Ink for Songs of Dying Earth

I'm rushing around today (as I have been all week) but I wanted to put up a quick new post. This is one of 19 pen & inks I did for "Songs of Dying Earth" an anthology of stories written around a world, a far future earth, created by Jack Vance. The book is sure to sell out.