Tales of Illuxcon (Part 4)
Justin Gerard is an artist I have been following for a little over a year now. I first discovered his art when doing a Google search for “combining traditional and digital art.” What amazes me about his process is that he starts with a fairly detailed watercolor painting and then scans it in to do a fully rendered digital painting over the top. The finished result is an impressive mix of digital and traditional painting. (For an example of his process check out his blog.)
When I saw Justin was going to be at Illuxcon I was very excited and made sure to take the opportunity to speak with him. We talked for more than half an hour about his process, traditional and digital art, the future of digital art, and my portfolio. I had a blast talking with Justin and was very thankful for his insights. To top it all off I purchased one of his art prints of his painting of the Reluctant Dragon. This will hang in my soon to be arriving (end of January) baby’s room. (My wife and I are decorating in friendly dragons!)
Another one of my influences is Thomas Kuebler, a sculptor who makes amazingly disturbing life like sculptures. I was pleased to be able to show him my Goblin Card Shark piece in which I referenced the hat worn by his Puppeteer. I also thanked him for the tips and advice he has on his website to help up and coming artists trying to make it. We then proceeded to talk about how much we both liked BROM. Which led my friend Grant to start telling us about BROM’s book the Devil’s Rose, which is about a bounty hunter sent from Hell to return lost souls to the Devil. After Grant finished Mr. Kuebler looked at me and said, “Sam… we need this book!” So Thomas Kuebler and I then went over to the bookshop and each grabbed a copy of Devil’s Rose, then went to BROM’s table and got him to sign it. I then had the privilege to photograph Thomas Kuebler and BROM! It’s so cool to realize that my heroes are just as big of art geeks as I am.
I then walked on over to Steve Prescott’s table to marvel at his wonderful illustrations. I religiously follow Steve’s Draw Blog and was excited to talk with him. After he looked over my portfolio he gave me some tips on how to make my Filipino Vampire piece a little more gruesome by adding highlights in the bloody areas.
Towards then end of Illuxcon I was able to track down Jon Schindehette who is the Senior Art Director at Wizard’s of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons. He also runs a blog called Art Order (if you’re an artist and you don’t read it you’re missing out). Those of you keeping up may recall that Jon reviewed my portfolio back in August at Gen Con, where I got some very specific and helpful feedback. At Illuxcon I caught Jon in between seminars and the numerous portfolio reviews he was doing. I asked him for a portfolio review and he agreed. I was pleased to tell him that all the pieces in my portfolio where new (that’s right folks five new paintings in a little more than two months!).
Jon flipped through my book and then settled back on the Harlequin Dancer piece. He told me that I was very close and that he’d like to see a whole portfolio full of pieces of the caliber as the Harlequin Dancer. He then offered a few simple changes that would make the piece stronger. He said I needed to knock back the trees in the background just a bit with a little more blue. That the dancer’s left arm was thinner than her right. He explained that neither size of arm was wrong, but that I needed to decide which to use. He suggested adding an element that helps the viewer flow back into the piece, since both the rock and the dancer point out of the piece. He recommended that I render the tree just a little further as it is the second most important element in the piece. He then added that to ad grace to the dancers point I should consider re-doing the arm she is pointing with because her elbow and hand are locked in place. If I instead had the elbow and wrist bent a bit and had her fingers fan out it would make the dancer seem more lithe, which he felt would increase the mood of the painting.
Once again I was very thankful for Jon’s comments. He is excellent at providing very specific feedback. Based on his comments and the comments of Secondary Narrative by Donato Giancola I plan to work a little further on the Harlequin Dancer piece. At this point I only have about 8 hours into the painting I figure with another 2 or 3 I can really pump it up!
Which is exactly how Illuxcon left me feeling… PUMPED UP ABOUT ART!!! I’m really looking forward to this next year. I think it’s going to bring a lot of great things for me, my family and friends, and my carrier. Another THANK YOU to all the folks that reviewed my portfolio. I hope to see all my Illuxcon friends at Illuxcon next year and maybe even sooner!
If you’re an artist who didn’t go to Illuxcon this year start planning now to go next year. The opportunity is unlike any other in existence.
Look back here soon for updates to the Harlequin Dancer and other post Illuxcon 2009 art!