American Sketchbook – Part 2: Illuxcon, New York and Colorado

General notes: This is Part 2 of my sketchbook – Part 1 is here, and Part 3 is here. These are sketches with (mostly) Pitt Artist Pens in a little Moleskine sketchbook. You can see larger versions by clicking on the pictures, which will take you through to their Flickr page.

Here we begin with me hiring a bicycle in Toronto in order to get to the Merrill collection. I did not fall off. From Toronto, Jannie and I drove to Altoona, Pennsylvania for Illuxcon 5, which does not have the most up-to-date website but was jewel of a convention for fantasy illustrators, and a brave new world for me.

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For the first time in my life, I was not the only (or one of very few) people sketching at a convention. There were a few art show organisers and collectors. Everyone else – EVERYONE – was a professional or emerging artist or a student. At the end I managed to have a few actual conversations (and a portfolio review!), but at first I could only manage to make contact with my heroes! by asking them to sign the book after I bought art or books of art from them. These signatures (a very tiny proportion of all the people I met and adored) are Tom Kidd (books & sketch), Donato Giancola (book and shadow advice), Omar Rayyan (… several pieces of art, maybe possibly), John Jude Palencar (sketch!) and (below) Petar Meseldzija (book, but some of his vignette oil illustrations nearly broke my resolve and savings). After this I ran out of money.

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The show was, in essence, like stepping into a volume of Spectrum, and finding it full of eager, warm and friendly… friends. I was a complete newcomer (a strange experience after my respectable experience at other fantasy conventions). I reached illustration from the writing world, and sometimes feel as if (as an illustrator) I have been raised by wolves. I was also in a strange but not unpleasant twilight world – of the same genre but a different style, not a Name and with less training than the students, but also a working illustrator, both petrified with admiration and being asked advice by students. I WANT TO GO AGAIN.

Here is a sketching evening – the coloured sketches are the other artists sketching.

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We sat around and swapped pen recommendations. It was amazing. Also I ate a lot. A lot. Food has the importance with artists that alcohol does with writers.

And this time I helped tear down the art show. That’s one of many things that writer-heavy conventions don’t teach you: the sheer quantity of hardware that goes into an art show.

Then Jannie and I drove to New Jersey to stay with Andrea, who had an extensive collection of original art (I could have haunted her apartment stalking along staring at the walls), and feed me more food. New Jersey diners are dangerous. A late start the next morning, and then a train into New York city.

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I went to the Society of Illustrators – such an elegant old building and such a weight of worthiness and value – and then to the Village, where I sketched in a cafe and was asked if I would like to do an exhibition sometime.

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And then I met up with Delia Sherman, for  whose Freedom Maze I had drawn a cover. We had hoped to meet at World Fantasy, but weather intervened. And it was a wonderful, far too-brief coffee, filled with discussion of pretty much everything you see at the bottom of the page below.

And after that, I went to Broadway and found my way to a stage door where my luggage was taken away and I was given a ticket and promise of drinks, and so watched Rock of Ages, which was raucous and fun and improved further by intermission jello shots with the bar staff. Afterwards, the cousin responsible and her friends-and-housemates went on a quest to the Disney store, took tourist photos of me in Times Square, led the way back to Queens, bought Chinese takeaway and stayed up until almost 3am watching Brave.

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I love New York.

Then up early the next morning to go to Colorado, to visit my grandmother and a selection of my aunts and uncles. It was peaceful and lovely. We looked at old photographs and letters, read, drank tea, and then a delegation took me out for a lively dinner and a dessert expedition to the Cheesecake Factory in Boulder.

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Next stop: San Francisco.

1 thought on “American Sketchbook – Part 2: Illuxcon, New York and Colorado

  1. Pingback: American Sketchbook – Part 1: World Fantasy and Toronto « Errantry

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