Two Steves and a Donato, More Illuxcon Tales (Saturday Part 1)

Saturday at Illuxcon began at the crack of noon. You know us artist types and early mornings! I started the day off by watching a painting demo by Donato Giancola on Portrait Painting in Oil. There is nothing like watching a master at work. I was so impressed by his demo that I plan to purchase his video on oil painting.

After the demo I started wandering the show room floor talking with as many different artists and art directors as I could. I really appreciate everyone that took the time to talk with me and I have a few highlights to share.

I’ll start with Stephan Hickman, who was the featured artist at Dragon Con back in 2008. He’s the reason I went to the first Illuxcon and one of the first people to ever review my portfolio. When my wife and I talked with Stephen back at Dragon Con it came out that Stephen had spent some time in his youth in the Philippines. For those who don’t know my wife is Filipino and she and Stephen really hit it off. At Illuxcon last year my wife brought a book on Tagalog (Filipino dialect) to give to Stephen, but he had to cancel at the last second. This year my wife sent me with the book and I was able to deliver it for her and thank Stephen in person for inviting me to the first Illuxcon.

I made sure to talk with Donato Giancola. After all the great seminars I had been to where he was speaking I wanted to get his thoughts on my portfolio. After flipping through he keyed in on the Harlequin Dancer (this would come to be the norm). He commented that it was my strongest work, and that I was very close. He said that where it fell short was in the Secondary Narrative. Now this was not a term I had heard before so I asked him to explain what he meant by Secondary Narrative. Here is what he explained:

“To take the piece to the next level you need to really push the concept of what will happen next in the story. Think about where the character is going, what the character is doing, and what will happen immediately after the scene shown in the image.

In your Harlequin piece you immediately ask why is she pointing? Is she leading an army or a small band of heroes? Why is she on that rock, yes it looks cool, but there is nothing in the piece to explain the background story. The Primary Narrative is cool dancer heroine, with a detailed costume, in a dynamic pose. The Secondary Narrative fills in the details.”

At this point I had never had anyone explain this concept so clearly and concisely. Donato just laid it all out in the open in a way that seemed so simple. In that moment he changed the way I think about art and composing an image. Needless to say I was floored!

Steve Ellis and Sam Flegal

One of my biggest art influences right now is Steve Ellis, and I was very excited to learn that he had arrived late to the show. I’d been keeping an eye on his booth waiting patiently until he was all set up, at which point I rushed over (what can I say I’m an art fan boy). I met Steve last year at Illuxcon where I really enjoyed his demo on composing an action scene (read more here). Over the last year I’ve been sending Steve updates as I ad new pieces to my website. My most recent work has only just been added to my website, and I haven’t sent out an update yet, so I asked Steve to review my portfolio. He keyed in on the Harlequin piece like most, but he also noted the Manananggal (Filipino Vampire). He encouraged me to do more Filipino monsters, which I plan to do, and also encouraged me to let my style come out more in my work. He stated that, “If you asked most fantasy artists to draw a dragon they would all look more or less the same, but if he asked me to draw one he had a feeling it would turn out to be a gross worm thing with drool and blood pouring out of its mouth.” He then explained that being different in the art field is not a bad thing and that I should focus on cultivating that rather than hiding it. He then challenged me to do a piece the quality of the Harlequin Dancer in traditional media rather than digital.

I then proceeded to buy all sorts of goodies from Steve. His new comic trade paperback, High Moon, was out. So I picked that up. I also got his new art book Scream: Draw Classic Vampires, Werewolves, Zombies, Monsters, and More. What enticed me about Scream was that Steve explained both his traditional art process and digital art process, showing how both media help the other. I plan on doing a review of the book soon, so keep an eye peeled. In addition I purchased two prints. Now what’s cool about Steve is that he does little drawings on the inside cover whenever he sells a book. He drew a werewolf on the inside of my copy of High Moon, but what was really special to me was that he did a Zombie Portrait of yours truly on the inside of my copy of Scream. HOW FREAKIN’ COOL!!!

Zombie Portrait of Sam Flegal by Steve Ellis

At this point I had a LOT to chew on so I took a break and tried to write down as much as I could in my notebook. Let’s us take another break too…

Join me soon for Illuxcon Saturday Part 2!

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One thought on “Two Steves and a Donato, More Illuxcon Tales (Saturday Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Illuxcon V « An Artist's Journey

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