Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

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Four composite images from the post show eight “New Year Dragon” works of art, four each by featured fantasy artists Theresa Mather, Rachael Mayo, David Lee Pancake, and Randal Spangler, plus a total of eight book covers – four coloring books for adults by Rachael Mayo and four children’s books by Randal Spangler, all with a dragon theme.

My New Year Dragon Project

In February I devoted two blog posts and 16 different social media posts to a “New Year Dragon Project” display of dragon-themed artwork. When I discovered that this Chinese New Year’s animal was the Dragon, I immediately thought about all the amazing artists I know, who paint or sculpt – and indeed, specialize – in dragons. But for the sake of my sanity I settled on only four, whom I know well enough to anticipate they’d be willing to work with me on this project.

New Year Dragon Ladies

I decided to focus the first blog post of the Project on my two New Year Dragon Ladies I asked each to share four pieces and permission to reproduce them on social media and this blog post. All artwork is © by the artist, as noted on the imagery.

This is a square image with the eight artworks featured in this article arranged around a middle where it says, “NEW YEAR DRAGONS by Theresa Mather and Rachael Mayo.” Clockwise from top center the artworks are: “ “Chasing Wisdom,” “Celestial Dance,” “Heart of the Storm,” and “The Astronomer,” all by Mather. “Opal Paradigm, “Emerald Unity,” “Deep Rising 11,” and “Dragon Dance 6,” by Mayo.
Here’s the artwork celebrated in my “New Year Dragon Ladies” post. All artwork is © Theresa Mather or © Rachael Mayo, as noted on the individual compositions.

Practically the very first person I thought of for my New Year Dragon Project was Theresa Mather. I have rarely gone into a science fiction convention art show in the last two decades without a chance to see her latest work.

It also wasn’t hard to decide that Rachael Mayo would be my other featured New Year Dragon Lady. She may classify herself as an amateur at sf art shows, but she is an amateur in the most honorable sense of the word, a master who does the work for the love of it more than to make a living. She knows her craft through and through.

New Year Dragon Gentlemen

I conceived the two posts of the New Year Dragon Project to be a sort of “progressive art show.” The New Year Dragon Gentlemen post provided the second half. The “rest of the story,” if you will.

These posts were considerably longer on art than on words, but when the pictures are worth a thousand each, there should be little more to say. I hope you’ll enjoy these gorgeous pieces!

This is a square image with the eight artworks featured in Jan’s blog post arranged around a middle where it says, “NEW YEAR DRAGONS by David Lee Pancake and Randal Spangler.” Clockwise from upper left, the artworks are: “Eldar’s Secret,” by Spangler; “S’mine” and “Scrapper,” by Pancake; “The Literate Dragon,” by Spangler; “Solstice,” by Pancake; “A Gathering of Dragons” and “Devouring a Good Book,” by Spangler; and “Stormwind,” by Pancake.
Here’s the artwork celebrated in my “New Year Dragon Gentlemen” post. All artwork is © David Lee Pancake or © Randal Spangler, as noted on the individual compositions.

I’ve enjoyed David Lee Pancake’s wonderful resin sculptures for more than a decade. I love his artistry, his originality (check out his Vent Dragons for one notable example!), and his willingness to “go there.” I’m pleased for a chance to bring some of his work more attention. I hope you’ll be intrigued, and explore his website more fully.

And there was never any universe in which Randal Spangler would not have been one of my choices for New Year Dragon Gentlemen. He’s one of my husband’s closest friends. And over the years he and I have not only been friends but also business partners on several ventures. He’s the next-best-thing to family. Give yourself a little while to peruse his extensive galleries, and I think you’ll find his completely different, far more playful take on dragons has an enduring appeal.

This square design shows the covers of Randal Spangler’s four books (current count in Feb. 2024) on a variegated background. Clockwise from upper left: “Counting With the Draglings,” the newest title; “The Draglings Coloring Book,” “The Draglings Bedtime Story,” and “D is for Draglings.” All artwork is © by Randal Spangler. Covers are courtesy of Spangler’s website and (in the case of the coloring book) Amazon.
Please reference the links in the text below for purchasing information.

Books by New Year Dragon Project Artists

We normally don’t think of artists as also being authors (yes, that’s me talking, the exception that illustrates the rule). Two of our New Year Dragon Project artists also push against that expectation, although in less “text-dense” ways.

As I note in the linked blog posts, both Rachael Mayo and Randal Spangler also have books to their name. Rachel has created four coloring books for adults, working with Kaleidoscopia. Randy has a coloring book, but also a growing line of children’s books. He just produced a third children’s title, which is now available through his website.

This square image shows the covers of Rachael Mayo’s four dragon and fantasy art coloring books, each featuring 52 images and designed to be used by people of all ages. They are: Top row L-R, “Dragon Adventure” and “Dragon Adventure 2.” Second row, L-R, “Dragon Adventures 3, Dragons and Friends,” and “Dragon Adventures 4, Fantasy Drawings to Color.” All were published by Kaleidoscopia Coloring books, and all are available on Amazon. All artwork © Rachael Mayo.
Rachael’s four (to date: 2/28/24) coloring books are full of her wonderful art. Follow the links from her Amazon Author Page to find links to more information of purchase.

What did you think of the New Year Dragon Project?

These two posts were considerably longer on art than on words. But when the pictures are worth a thousand each, there should be little more to say. I hope you enjoy these gorgeous pieces!

And please leave me comments.

Do you like this “progressive art show” idea? Would you like to see more artists profiled on my blog posts in this way, perhaps as a “curated just for Artdog Adventures” kind of group show?

About the Author

I’m Jan S. Gephardt, and I’ve been writing this blog since 2009. Since I don’t want to let it die of neglect, even though I’m now too busy to write lots of individual posts. I still plan to come around as often as I can to post new things and keep readers up-to-date with recent posts we’ve run on The Weird Blog for Weird Sisters Publishing. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s the best I can do for now.

I’m also a novelist, as well as being a paper sculptor. I’m currently in final edits on Bone of Contention, the third novel in my XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. The series centers on a pack of uplifted police dogs who live and solve crimes on a space station in a star system far, far away. It is scheduled for publication September 24, 2024.

IMAGE CREDITS

Many thanks to Theresa Mather, Rachael Mayo, David Lee Pancake, and Randal Spangler, who provided all the artwork used in this digest post, the two longer “Weird Blog” posts, and the social media posts that were coordinated with this project. All of the artwork in this post is © by the artist listed in each copyright notice. See links in the text above for the book cover sources.

Archon 43 had a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville?

It’s early October, so it’s time for Archon! Will I see you in Collinsville?

This year’s convention is the 43rd iteration of “The Midwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Event.” After a hiatus of more than a decade, Ty and I returned for last year’s Archon, and quickly decided we wanted to come back.

Will I see you in Collinsville? Archon 43 has a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville? There’ll be a lot to see and do there. What will you miss, if you can’t come?

Artwork

As you know if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, I always want to be in the Art Show of any convention I attend. This one’s no exception! I’ll bring my own paper sculpture, including a newly piece that I’ve been working on–for real!–since 2012 (My Beloved is downstairs matting it, as I write this post).

The Silver Lady Appears. Jan S. Gephardt worked on this paper sculpture off and on from 2012 through 2019. It will be on display for the first time at Archon. Will you be in Collinsville to see it?
The Silver Lady Appears, 2012-2019, by Jan S. Gephardt

This season from ConQuesT on, I’ve been acting as an agent for Lucy A. Synk’s artwork, too. She has been developing an interesting series of “Dirty Pour Planets,” which actually include moons, stars, nebulae, and other astronomical objects, as well as imagined planets. She explains her technique briefly on her “Planet Series” webpage

This painting of an imagined planet and moon by Lucy A. Synk is called "Boreas and Khione," in reference to a Greek myth.
Boreas and Khione, 2019, by Lucy A. Synk

But you really should enjoy these originals in person, for the full effect. With all the iridescent paints, mica chips, and other cool elements in her bag of tricks, no photograph or image scan really does them justice. So, will I see you in Collinsville?

My Reading

I love readings at conventions. I love listening to them from other authors, and I love doing them myself, reading from my own work. It’s an author’s way of giving out free samples (and who doesn’t like free samples?). 

Jan S. Gephardt will read from her novel "What's Bred in the Bone" at Archon. Will she see you in Collinsville?
My reading at Archon 43 is scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m., in the Gateway Center Cahokian Room (“The Authorquarium”).

It’s also a great way to learn about new books and authors. A significant portion of my towering “TBR Pile” (to-be-read) may be laid at the doorstep of going to readings at cons

I’ll be part of a three-author panel that also includes Howard Andrew Jones and Marella Sands. We’ll each present a reading at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening (Oct. 5, 2019) in the Gateway Center’s Cahokian Room (aka “The Authorquarium”). 

I’ll probably read from What’s Bred in the Bone, unless enough of the audience is interested in hearing an excerpt from A Bone to Pickthe second novel in the “Bones” Trilogy (due to be released in 2020). Will I see you in Collinsville?

Panels

I’m scheduled on six panels, other than my reading (I’m pleased! I get to moderate about half of them!). Here’s my schedule:

Friday

4:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – The Viability of Being an Artist Can art be a viable career in today’s world?

5:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Salon 4 – “Why do Stories of Children Captivate us? It, Harry Potter, Stranger Things, etc. Stories about children grab our attention. Is it good writing or nostalgia?

At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our "Art on a Budget" panel. She'll be on a panel with me in 2019, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our “Art on a Budget” panel.

Saturday

Noon – Gateway Center Salon 1 – “Will the Robots Rebel?” It’s a popular plot device, but what’s the likelihood of this actually happening? 

1:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Bright Colors I have bright colors and I’m not afraid to use them! (artist panel)

5:00 p.m. – Double Tree St. Clair A and B – “LGBTQ+ Representation in Fandom The representation is getting better, but what can happen to make it amazing and standardized across the board? (I’ll have to sprint across the “causeway” to the Gateway Center after the end of this panel to get to my reading at 6:00 in the Gateway Center).

8:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Creating Covers Book covers are the first thing to pique the reader’s interest! Learn how to create dynamic book covers to complement great stories!

Will I see you in Collinsville? It ought to be an excellent weekend at Archon 43.

At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed "Alternate Paths to Publishing." There will be interesting panels at the 2019 event, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed “Alternate Paths to Publishing.”

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to the Archon website (artwork by Mitchell D. Bentley of Atomic Fly Studios) for the “Archon 43” banner. The cover artwork for my novel What’s Bred in the Bone is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee.

The photo of my art show panel from the FenCon XVI Art Show, and the photo of my new work The Silver Lady Appears, are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. The photo of the painting Boreas and Khione is by Lucy A. Synk, as is the artwork itself. Used here with permission from the artist.

The two “reading” photos that flank my book cover in the “readings” montage are by (L) Judith Bemis (taken at NorthAmericon ’17) and (R) Dolly M. Dgrafe (taken at FenCon XVI). The two photos from Archon 42 are by Jan S. Gephardt, and originally were published in the “Glimpses of Archon 42” post on this blog.

All the artwork at FenCon's art show is being prepared in this photo.

Artwork at FenCon

The Artdog Image(s) of Interest

displayed my artwork at FenCon XVI. You might remember I mentioned that in my mid-week post.

I spent a large chunk of time Thursday on the FenCon XVI Art Show. That was “setup day,” when the tables and display panels went up, and then the first of the art (the mail-ins and the work of artists able to arrive today) did, too. 

The artwork at FenCon is coming together at last in this photo of progress in setting up the art show as of about 5:00 Thursday evening.
Here’s how much of the artwork at FenCon XVI had been set up in the Art Show by about 5 p.m. Thursday. I’m not sure whether you can tell by comparing with my photo from last year, but t’s a much larger space than they had for last year’s Art Show.

As much as possible, all the rest of the art went up Friday, preferably before the Art Show opened to the public on Friday at 2:00 p.m.

Artist Guest of Honor Peri Charlifu

Peri Charlifu is one of the most talented and generous human beings I know–and I don’t think I’d get any naysayers if I asked others who know him if that was a fair characterization. He’s this year’s Artist Guest of Honor at FenCon XVI, so of course Ty and I found him working as hard as any member of the Art Show staff. His artwork at FenCon this year is a glorious bounty, and he gave me permission to photograph his artwork and post it online.

Rhonda Eudaly helps Peri Charlifu set up his artwork at FenCon.
Thursday Art Show setup with Rhonda Eudaly (L) helping Peri Charlifu (R) set up his display in the FenCon XVI Art Show.

I’ve taken full and gleeful advantage of his permission to photograph and post about his artwork at FenCon. He knows I love to tell my readers about cool new artwork that I encounter. 

Furthermore, he dares me or anyone else to take his ideas and execute them as well as he does. It’s a dare I would never take. I’ll happily promote him and his work till the world looks level, but the only way to get a real Peri Charlifu piece is to buy it from HIM.

Here's another look at more of Peri's commitment to bringing artwork to FenCon.
Peri Charlifu brought a dizzying array of artwork to FenCon XVI. They include awesome ceramics, sets, and kits, as well as 2D work.

If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to wander through the in-depth gallery of his work I posted on my Artdog Studio Facebook Page, as well as the Tale of Peri Potter and the Sorcerer’s Bowl, which involves a fun story about Peri, the author Rhonda Eudaly, and the special alchemy of artists inspiring each other.

Some of the artwork at FenCon has more than its share of unusual visual, "Petunia's Bowl of Prophecy" is definitely one of them!
This deceptively simple piece of art, Petunia’s Bowl of Prophecy, 2019, by Peri Charlifu, is partially from the mind of Rhonda Eudaly, the author whose manuscript is hooked under the edge of the pot. Read the story of how he inspired her, then she inspired him on my Artdog Studio Facebook Page.

My own artwork and that of Lucy A. Synk

Since DemiCon, I’ve been acting as an art agent for my friend Lucy A, Synk–or at least, my son Tyrell and I have been. I contact the show and manage the paperwork, but usually it’s Ty who puts up the show. And it’s also usually he who takes it down afterward. So of course we brought her artwork to FenCon.

All of these pieces of artwork are ©2019 by Lucy A. Synk. Each is a one-of-a-kind original. (Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt, 2019).
All of these artworks also are ©2019 by Lucy A. Synk. Each is a one-of-a-kind original. 
(Photo by Tyrell E. Gephardt, 2019).
I also had artwork at FenCon. Thank goodness, my panel wasn’t quite as crowded as the one at SpikeCon, but almost.

IMAGE CREDITS: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, and they may be re-posted or reblogged freely, as long as you attribute me as the photographer and include a link back to this post. Many thanks! 

If you wish to reblog or repost images of Peri Charlifu‘s workartwork, please attribute him as the artist, and provide a link back to his website. I’d also appreciate it if you’ll identify me as the source, with a link back to this post, please.

If you wish to reblog or repost Lucy A. Synk’s artwork, please attribute her as the artist and Tyrell Gephardt as the photographer, and link back either to Lucy’s page or to this post. Many thanks!

My Capricon 39 Art Panels

The Artdog Image of Interest

Kicking off the year with a panel comprised of both old and new . . . 

IMAGE: I took this photo (with Art Show permission) of my own art at the Capricon 39 Art Show. Reuse or reblog if you wish, but please do it with a “by Jan S. Gephardt” attribution, and a link back to this page. Thanks!

Glimpses of Archon 42

Halloween? No, just an active costuming contingent!

I enjoyed my return to Archon, a St. Louis-area convention I’d often attended when it was scheduled in the summer (I know: back in ancient days!). In more recent decades, this convention has become a major event for restaurants and hotels near the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL. The one I’m writing about here was held October 12-14, 2018.

I enjoyed the costumes–but what I managed to catch in photos are a far cry from their full extent. For a better glimpse of what tends to wander the halls of Archon, there’s a great photo lineup from #41, by Thomas Crone in St. Louis Magazine onlineand the Masquerade has a Facebook page you also may enjoy. Here’s another rather comprehensive look at the convention you also may enjoy.

One thing about Archon at the Gateway Center: you walk a lot. Even the main convention hotel, the Doubletree, isn’t attached to the Gateway Centerso you’re walking wherever you stay (we stayed at the just-as-nearby Fairfield Inn, which was sung and well-kept). The other thing about the Doubletree is that it books up each year in a flash. It wasn’t the best of weather for trekking though the landscape, this year. I was glad I’d brought my trench coat.

Of course, I always want to display my artwork at conventions I attend. Here’s my Archon 42 Art Show display.

I also love to be on, and also attend, panels. I have photos from several enjoyable ones, below. This year, I also have put a particular emphasis on my readings, as a way to both learn what other authors are writing, and to give people an advance glimpse of my to-be-released-this-winter science fiction novel What’s Bred in the Bone.

The programming staff mostly put me on Art Track panels, rather than the writing ones I’ve become used to lately, so I had a chance to do things such as dust off my art teacher skills for Basic Drawing and geek out with Rachael Mayo about art supplies, quality, and when/how you can afford to go with a cheaper option.

Rachael Mayo (seated at left) brought samples of different kinds of both paper and colored pencils (some cheap, some top-grade professional, some in between), for the audience to test at the end of the Saturday panel titled Crayola is Fine, Right?: Art on a Budget.”
One of the first programming items I attended on Friday of the convention was one of their three-person Author Readings, this one featuring, L-R: Donna J.W. MunroMarella Sands, and Christine Nobbe, who read a science fiction story she often shares with her gifted classes.
The “Diversity in Speculative Fiction” panel on Friday night of the con explored long-overdue changes developing as sf becomes more inclusive. L-R Participants: Jennifer Stolzer, Kathleen KayembeCamille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer, who moderated.
The Sunday afternoon “Alternate Paths to Publishing” panel had such an engaged audience that we overshot our scheduled stop-time, and missed Closing Ceremonies. L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”) moderated; Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer added a variety of thoughts and reflections on their experiences.

Archon 43 will be held in Collinsville again next year, Oct. 4-6, 2019. But don’t expect to book a room in the Doubletree. It’s already full up.

IMAGES: All of the photos in this post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, at Archon 42, between October 12-14, 2018. You may freely re-post or reblog them, but in all fairness please include an attribution to me, and a link back to this post. The cover art for What’s Bred in the Bone is a color comp by Jody A. Lee; she promises the finished art is coming soon.

Fencon Ho!

Headed for Texas

Ty and I are on the road once more.This time we’re set for the Westin DFW Airport Hotel in Irving, TX, and FenCon XV. It’s a new convention for us, but we hope to make new friends and meet up with some familiar faces. If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there! Please note: events on the schedule have been updated since this post was originally published. Please check the online FenCon schedule to make sure you have the most current version!

My Schedule 

Click the links for more details about these panels!

Friday September 21

4:00-5:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Women Heroes in a Male-Dominated World

5:00-6:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – The Sexes . . . . in Space!

6:30-7:00 p.m. (Pecan Room) – Reading (see below!)

Saturday September 22

12:00-1:00 p.m. (Irving Lecture Hall) – We Can Make Them Faster Stronger … and Better!

1:00-2:00 p.m. (Chinaberry Room) – Yesterday’s Tomorrow

My Reading

As I did at Worldcon, I’ve created a postcard about my reading at FenCon. I’ll read an excerpt (or two?) from my soon-to-be published novel, What’s Bred in the Bone. 

I don’t yet have finished cover art from Jody A. Lee, but she sent me a color comp that gives a pretty good idea how the finished project will look. It illustrates a scene from around the middle of the novel, when Rex and LSA Shiva Shimon, an agent from the Station Bureau of Investigation, venture into the infamous underworld neighborhood known as the Five-Ten.

What’s Bred in the Bone is the first novel of an in-the-works trilogy about XK9 Officer Rex Dieter-Nell, his partner Detective Charlie Morgan, his mate XK9 Officer Shady Jacob-Belle, and their Packmates and friends on Rana Habitat Space Station. Look for it this winter. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates and exclusive extras!


My Artwork in the FenConXV Art Show! 

I laid all my artwork out on a measured-off box on my living room floor–and I think I can squeeze it all in! I’m taking an example of every current piece of paper sculpture in my collection to the FenCon Art Show. Don’t miss:

The Art Show Reception at 8:00 p.m. Friday at the Gallery

The Art and Charity Auction at 6:00 Saturday in the Irving Lecture Hall

Note: you can still buy art on Sunday morning.

This was my display panel at Westercon 71/MALCon 6. Most of these designs will be available at the FenCon Art Show.

IMAGES: Many thanks to FenCon XV for their website header/logo! The color comp for my soon-to-be cover is by Jody A. Lee, and is used by agreement. I took the photo of my own Westercon 71/MALCon 6 display. You may reblog or re-post it with my blessings, as long as you include an attribution and an link back to this post. Thanks!

An improvisation with legs

The Artdog Image of Interest 

This is the first spark of the idea–an image finished at last! The First Guardian (2013-18) still needs a mat, but I hope to start exhibiting it soon.


rediscovered a forgotten piece of artwork the other day. Well, it was part of a piece of artwork. I knew it wasn’t finished yet. I’d put it together sometime back in 2015 or 2016 (I’d like to say I keep better records than that, but no. There are gaps).

At the time, I couldn’t figure out how I wanted to finish it, so I did what I usually do with such pieces. I set it aside. Recently I figured out a background and color scheme I liked, put them together, and as soon as I can get it matted I’ll begin exhibiting this work at science fiction conventions.

Part of this piece was based on a corner of my much-exhibited “mainstream” piece, Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy (2013), which made the rounds of national juried shows all over the country in its two-year heyday.

Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy (2013) was a success, by certain standards. However, it now resides in a box on a shelf in my studio. Meanwhile, more and more of my “Guardians” multiple originals series have found new homes and given pleasure, thanks to art shows at science fiction conventions.

Those “mainstream” shows cost a lot to enter, and a lot to ship a framed piece to (not to mention the cost of framing the piece in the first place). They are somewhat prestigious, but I never sold anything at any of them, and my quantity of output was always too low to interest a gallery. I have stopped exhibiting work in those shows since then.

Originally, there was going to be a “light cycle” of Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy and a “dark cycle.” I had several of the “nine parts” finished or partially finished for the “dark cycle” when I shifted the focus of my art exhibition efforts to smaller and more overtly fantasy artworks, designed for science fiction conventions. Those suddenly-orphaned parts joined bits and parts from at least a dozen other projects in a collection of storage boxes.

You might recognize some of these “art parts” from other finished artworks I’ve created. In the future, you may see more of these bits, bobs and elements used in new artwork I haven’t created yet.

Periodically I’ll pull all the boxes of pieces-of-pieces out, play with combining them in different configurations, and see what kind of compositions I can come up with. Sometimes I’ll see possibilities for combining parts from two or more different former projects, often with new pieces added, new backgrounds, or other additional elements.

These are the “Guardians” multiple-original compositions. They are: Top row L-R: Fierce and BraveBottom row L-R: Defender and Protector. I am delighted to report that they have been well-received each time I’ve exhibited them.

There are several differences between the piece I finally just recently finished and have titled The First Guardian, and the multiple-original editions I call the “Guardians” series. I based them on the earlier, improvised piece, but I think you’ll notice several differences, too.

For me, this is one of the fun things about my paper sculpture–but it’s also one of the frustrating things. The creative process isn’t always (make that: is almost NEVER) straightforward. An idea I’m sure will be fantastic . . . doesn’t always work out that way. Parts don’t always go together the way I think they will. And sometimes things come together in ways I never would have imagined when I started the earliest parts.

IMAGES: All of the photos in this post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork and art-making materials. If you wish to re-post or re-blog any of them, please attribute them to me and include links back to this post. Thank you!

An award-winning experiment finds a home

The Artdog Image of Interest

One of the nicest things that happened for me while I was at Westercon/MALCon in Denver earlier this month was receiving a blue ribbon in the 3D category at the Art Show. I feel very honored, because there was a lot of wonderful 3D artwork in this show.

The honored piece was a special, one-of-a-kind Artist’s Proof (abbreviated AP) of the Common Cliff Dragon–Male collection of multiple originals. I called it the “spiny ridge” AP because in a fit of madness I experimented with cutting out each individual scale on the ridge along the dragon’s back, then sculpting them to stand up slightly.

I took the second photo in December 2016 before I matted the piece. I have to admit it looked pretty cool, but it was a delicate operation, it took a long time, and when I’d finished I swore I’d never do that again. Granted, one should “never say ‘never,'” but now I’m officially on record that it was a one-of-a-kind experiment.

A one-of-a-kind experiment that was awarded this wonderful honor, and one which also has now been “rehomed” with a new owner. The owner got some prize-winning new art, but I was the one who got to keep the ribbon!

IMAGES: Both photographs were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. If you wish to re-post or reblog either of them you may, as long as you include an attribution to me and a link back to this post. Thank you!

Impressions from Denver

Preliminary reflections on Westercon 71/MALCon 6

I’m freshly back from Denver, and the 71st Westercon, hosted by Myths and Legends Con 6, a Shiny Garden event. The first panels and an opening reception began on Wednesday, July 4, 2018; the last events and Closing Ceremonies came on Sunday, July 8.

The reception on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 on the first night (July 4, 2018) gave us a panoramic view of several municipal fireworks displays in Denver and along the Front Range of the Rockies. They went on for at least an hour.

intend to devote at least one more post to the programming (possibly more), but I’m still waiting on a couple of things, so today I’d like to give some more general impressionsAs I noted last week, I managed to miss connecting with the Programming folks. As a result, this was a very unusual con for me in one way–no panels to prepare for or moderate! 

So I did what any truefan would do: I volunteered when possible, to help out. Science fiction fandom runs on volunteer power–and the best way to get to know people is to participate

Here’s a photo from the Art Show setup at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 in Denver. We had a pretty small space but Art Show Director Bruce Miller (far L, white hair with his back to us) and his MileHiCon Art Show Team who could make it–some were ill, sadly–have this setup thing down to a process. My son and traveling companion Tyrell Gephardt (3rd from right in the background) and I helped as we could. I can’t see well enough to identify the guy in the middle by the doorway, but the woman in the foreground right is Lizzie Newellfellow paper sculptor! (although her work and mine are different). At far right in the background you can see about half of Robert Pechmanna mainstay of Bruce’s Art Show Team.

Mostly, I volunteered in the Art Show. Having been the Art Show Director at ConQuesT for three years, before gratefully turning it over to the capable and talented Mikah McCullough, and having been involved in art shows since the early 1980s (including co-writing the original version of the ASFA Art Show Guidelines with Richard Pini, in intense consultation with Teresa Patterson, who is writing now but was running art shows then), art shows at sf cons are my “natural environment.” I like to think I helped, this weekend.

Here are two views from above: at left are fan tables and several general-interest booths; at right is a view from the catwalk above, of gamers enjoying tabletop games inside the atrium at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

As noted above, at least one more blog post in this space will deal with the panels I attended at Westercon 71/MALCon 6, but in more general terms I’d like to quote from a journal entry I wrote on Saturday of the convention (July 7, 2018), about my experience:

“I feel as if I’ve been attending an intensive writers’ and artist’s immersion experience this week. My typical day has been a wake-up into immediately thinking about my book, working on the book, then working in the Art Show, surrounded with amazing art and interacting with some of the people who made it, going to panels that are (at their best) almost like graduate-level seminars on the topic of the panel—frequently thought-provoking, even when they don’t reach that pinnacle. Evenings have been spent reviewing the day’s events and input, discussing experiences with Ty, and more writing.”

To my surprise and delight, theArt Show Judges (independent from any influence by the Art Show Staff I’d become a temporary part of) awarded me with a First Prize in the 3D category. The picture they honored was the one-of-a-kind “Spiny Ridge” version of the multiple original Common Cliff Dragon–Male. As I explained to Bruce, I don’t intend to tie up my time with anything that intricate again! We’ll see how long that resolve holds out.

After the better part of a full week at the convention, I must say my mood was divided. Part of me wanted to linger longer (maybe get more work done), but we also needed to get home!

Heading out on Monday, July 9, 2018: My little green Subaru fit right in, with the Denver crowd. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center has a lot of glass in that atrium.

IMAGES: All photos in this post were taken by Jan S. Gephardt, including the one of Jan’s own artwork. Please feel free to re-post, reblog, share, or tweet any of these photos, but please include an attribution and a link back to this page. Many thanks!

Busy and useful

The Artdog Image of Interest

I have examples of all my current artworks on my Westercon 71/MALCon 6 Art Show Panel.

This time I have all the artwork!

Well, all my current artwork that’s finished, that is. Today’s Image probably looks a lot like several earlier Images of Interest you’ve seen on this blog through the early summer: my Art Show panel at yet another sf convention.

I’m at Westercon 71 this week, hosted by Myths and Legends Convention, a Shiny Garden event. It’s in Denver, in a pretty cool hotel, the Hyatt Regency in the Denver Tech Center.

This has been an unusual convention for me so far, most notably because a communications glitch has resulted in my not being a panelist. This Concom got the same head shot, bio, and introductory letter that’s set me up with programming duties elsewhere (including Worldcon 76 in San Jose, CA, my next convention).

But there was a typo in the email address on my part, an unforeseen and unrelated complication for the Concom, and ultimately–no panels for Jan. Now, I know I probably could have pressed the issue and ended up with a panel or two. But there’s nothing that screams “insecure wannabe” quite so loudly to a convention committee as someone not chosen for programming, who then whines and moans and complains about it until the Programming Chair finally puts him or her on something, just to shut the obnoxious loudmouth up, already.

I can’t honestly claim that I never whine (if I tried, I know folks who would shoot me down in a New York minute, so I won’t go there!), but I do try not to be obnoxious. 

So instead, I’ve been volunteering this weekend–most particularly in the Art Show. No sf convention on the planet ever had enough volunteers, so that was the logical choice. I wanted to stay busy and do something useful. I know art shows (God knows I should, by now), so I knew to expect that Art Show Director Bruce Miller would need extra hands on the morning the art show panels went up. My back hurts as I write this, but I did stay busy, and it appears I made myself useful, too.

Honestly, is there a better thing we can do with ourselves?

IMAGE: The photo was taken by me (Jan S. Gephardt) of my own artwork on my Westercon 71/MALCon 6 Art Show panel. Please feel free to share or re-post it, but if you do please include an attribution and a link back to this post. Many thanks!

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