Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: paper sculpture

the logo for Archon science fiction convention

Because Archon’s Doing it Right

By Jan S. Gephardt

I am happy to report that I’m going to Archon 44 after all. Why? Because—and only because—Archon’s doing it right.

The Email That Changed Everything

At left, a vaccination map of the US, shows Missouri’s vaccination rate is less than 55%, and Illinois is less than 70%. At right, the most current chart available at publication time shows that on Sept. 20, 2021, there were 207,974 new COVID-19 cases in the USA.
The vaccination map at left is by Josh Renaud, courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The chart at right is from The New York Times, via Google.

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I very reluctantly decided to withdraw from this year’s FenCon, a Texas science fiction convention that my son and I have come to love. I had been watching the COVID-19 trends in the St. Louis area and growing more and more convinced I’d have to do the same with Archon. But then I got the Email That Changed Everything.

“The Archon Chairs have decided to require vaccination OR a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours,” the email said. “Documentation is required for both. . . There are no exceptions to this policy.” This is such an unusual and—sadly—BRAVE position to take in this part of the country that I actually gasped.

Archon 44 Co-chairs Alan DeVaughn and Scott Corwin are boldly going where many regional convention chairs have feared to go. And while they’re at it, they’re going “all the way.”

The state of Illinois has mandated masks for indoor public spaces for anyone older than 2 years old,” they wrote. “The mask must cover your nose and mouth, unless you are eating or drinking. If you are asked to put your mask on by an Archon staff / committee member and choose not to comply, you will be asked to leave. There are no exceptions to this policy.”

At left, protesters hold up signs with slogans opposing vaccine requirements. At right, protesters from a different group hold up signs with anti-mask slogans.
At left, protesters demonstrate against vaccine mandates (photo by John Lamparski, via The Atlantic). At right, anti-mask protesters in Kalispell, MT (courtesy of the Flathead Beacon).

Archon’s doing it right.

Yes, Archon’s doing it right, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I plan to honor their commitment to follow both science and good sense in the best way I know how: by coming with my books, my artwork, and my work ethic. I’m scheduled for nine events and panels—and I plan to show up for all of them as well-prepared as I can possibly be.

I’m also going to do everything in my power to promote their event—for example, on this and my other blogs, and on every social media platform where I have a presence. Because Archon’s doing it right, they have earned my heartfelt gratitude and loyalty.

If anyone reading this was on the fence and wavering about coming to Archon, please make this policy your deciding vote for going!

Oh, and a word to the wise: book your hotel reservations (use the link on their homepage to get the convention rate) as soon as possible. Historically, they fill up fast!

This montage shows views from Archon 42 and 42, held in 2018 and 2019. Above are two art panels. Below, two views of the Gateway Center, one in sunshine and the other in rain.
Top L, artists Brent Chumley, Rachael Mayo, and Allison Stein discuss creating fantasy creatures in 2019. Top R, Rachael Mayo and several attendees discuss art materials at a 2018 panel. Below, R-L, we had much sunnier weather at the Gateway Center in 2019 than 2018. (All photos by Jan S. Gephardt).

I Have History with Archon

As I noted in the article on my Events Calendar, Archon has been around for a while.

The “44” in Archon 44 means this annual convention has been around for a while. G., Warren, Pascal and I all went to earlier Archons when we were just starting in fandom. And a few years ago, Ty and I started going to them again. If you follow my blog, you might remember posts I’ve written about hall costumes at Archon 42 and 43, and the Art Show.

It’s a well-established convention, run by people who generally know what they’re doing and find excellent ways to make it a good weekend for attendees.

After years in the funky, rambling, since-demolished Henry VIII Hotel in St. Louis proper, the convention has found an excellent new home in the Gateway Convention Center and DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville, IL.

Throughout my career, I’ve had some great moments, and met some wonderful people at Archon.

Photos from the “writing side” of Archons 42 and 43, held in 2018 and 2019. These photos show a variety of people engaged in panel discussions, readings, and demonstrations.
At left, EMT Kevin Hammel conducts a highly informative 2019 presentation on gunshot wounds, for writers who want to get it right. Top center, a 2018 panel on Diversity in SF, which included, L-R, Jennifer Stolzer, Kathleen Kayembe, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer (M). Top far right: I prepare for my reading in 2019. Below center L-R: Donna J. W. Munro, Marella Sands, and Christine Nobbe chat with the audience before their readings in 2018. Below R, Jennifer Lynn discusses Shamans, Druids, and Wise Women in a 2019 presentation. Photos by Jan S. Gephardt, with the exception of one (guess which) by Tyrell Gephardt.

But that was then. What about Now?

ecause Archon’s doing it right, I’ll have an opportunity to show off my new book (readers who’ve followed this blog in recent weeks probably noticed I have one) sooner than next February (looking at you, Capricon 42). And I’ll get to display my artwork in an in-person display for the first time in almost 2 years.

“A Bone to Pick” by Jan S. Gephardt, envisioned as an ebook on the left and as a trade paperback on the right.
Jan’s new book A Bone to Pick became widely available in a variety of formats after Release Day, September 15, 2021. Cover artwork © 2020 by Jody A. Lee.

I’m scheduled for an autograph session on Friday, a reading on Sunday, and seven panels (several of which I’m moderating). I love doing those things, because they give me opportunities to have great conversations with other panelists and audience members. I get to meet creative, interesting new people (and so can you, if you’ll join us at Archon). And I also get to re-acquaint myself with people I haven’t seen for a while.

I’ll come equipped with an expanded collection of S.W.A.G., badge ribbons and bookmarks for all (or—if that last order doesn’t arrive in time, at least most) of the books and stories Weird Sisters Publishing has produced so far. If you’re a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, and you tell me so at Archon, I’ll even have an exclusive-offer “I’m a Member of the Pack” badge ribbon for you.

Here’s Jan at her Autograph table, surrounded by S.W.A.G.
Jan at her Capricon 40 autograph table (photo by Tyrell Gephardt).

Introducing “Stripped ‘Scripts”

Also because Archon’s doing it right, my son Tyrell will have a first opportunity to present his new service to authors, called “Stripped ‘Scripts.” Through it, he’ll bring his skills as a developmental editor to a new audience.

What’s a developmental editor, and why would a writer need one? In the movie industry they’re sometimes called “script doctors.” While that name gets applied to services from high level plot-revision to hands-on rewriting, the idea is basically that when a plot or a manuscript has gone off the rails, dead-ended somewhere, or developed another kind of structural dysfunction, all hope may not be lost.

A good developmental editor can look it over and offer an analysis. They’ll often have a better idea of what’s wrong and how to turn it into a structurally sound story than an author who’s “written themself into a corner” and run out of ideas. I’ll freely admit that my stories have benefitted from Ty’s “big picture” view. I also appreciate his fresh takes on cultural adjustments to varied technical innovations, and his martial-arts expertise.

Here’s a photo of Ty, along with his business card for Stripped ‘Scripts
Photo and developmental editing business card design are both courtesy of Tyrell Gephardt.

Because Archon’s Doing it Right, We can Relax and Have a Great Con

I know I’m not the only science fiction fan who has missed going to conventions. I’ve blogged elsewhere about why I love science fiction conventions. Not rubbing shoulders with other writers and the fans who keep us afloat has been disappointing, but necessary during the pandemic.

But although it seems as if it’s taking forever, it’s now in our power to make this fourth wave the last one. It’ll be a bit longer, no thanks to the purveyors of an unprecedented flood of misinformation. But we can do it. Spread the word. Speak up in support of those who are doing it right. Kindly (if possible) help to educate those who are sincerely confused.

Science, technology, and government services (sometimes government really isn’t the problem!) have given us the tools we need. They’ve placed research, growing understanding of this virus, and three phenomenally effective vaccines within our grasp. We’re the taxpayers who’ve underwritten much of this historic work. We now have the right and privilege to avail ourselves of these new tools and understandings.

And because Archon’s doing it right, we now can do it at a science fiction convention!

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Archon’s Facebook Page, for the logo header image. The map showing vaccination rates in the United States was created by Josh Renaud for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The chart of COVID-19 cases in the United States is regularly updated by The New York Times, accessed 9/21/2021 via Google.

The montage images from Archon 42 and 43 are all by Jan S. Gephardt except for one, taken by Tyrell E. Gephardt (of Jan’s reading). Ty also took the one of Jan at her Capricon 40 autograph table. Moreover, he provided the photo of himself, along with the image of his “Stripped ‘Scripts” business card.

Many thanks to all!

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!

Desk piles

There’s only so much you can do in advance.

That’s what I keep trying to remind myself. There are some things that can’t be totaled up or capped off until after the fireworks go off at 12:01 a.m. January 1. 

For days now, I’ve been planning to write a blog about “desk piles of the future” (considerations of what we might clutter our offices with, in the purportedly “paperless” future). 

This was gonna be the week!

This isn’t gonna be the week. Too many desk piles of of the present. 

These are actually not my own personal desk-piles. Mine aren’t anywhere near this extensive and chaotic. These are more like a dramatization of how mine feel at the moment.

So please excuse this all-too-brief mid-week blog post, while I work on my 2016 Year Review, and my 2017 Year Plan With Interim Benchmarks, while also working on final revisions for Going to the XK9s and squeezing some art-making in edgewise from time to time.

Also, wish me luck, please.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Point It Digital Marketing, for the 2016-to-2017 image, and to Craig Jarrow’s Time Management Ninja website, for photo of the not-so-virtual desk piles.

“Coming Through!” multiple-original paper sculpture joins my Etsy lineup

I thought you might like to know I have a new limited edition multiple original listed in my Etsy shop.

I’ve listed two Artist’s Proofs of the image Coming Through!, which features an assertive unicorn powering through a patch of day lilies.

These particular Artist’s Proofs represent a very short run of two. The variations are lighter-yellow lilies than I’ve decided to offer in the eventual edition of 25, and a “floating” oval that is cut out and elevated above the backing.

I originally created the Coming Through! image in 2012, but I’ve been playing with variations on it ever since. In all its variations, it has been well-received at the science fiction conventions where it has been exhibited, but I’m hoping the Etsy listing will gain me a larger audience. Why not offer something in time for Christmas, right? (If I can get things matted, I hope to offer more soon).

Here’s a look at some of the pieces I must cut out and sculpt, to create a Coming Through!

As with any of my multiple originals, each of these pieces is unique. Even when working from a digital output, the cutting, sculpting and assembly process requires individual, hands-on work. No two are exactly alike, although I do try to create a consistent edition once I find a combination that works for me.

The proofing process is the way I find that combination. These two proofs ended up not being practical for an entire edition, but I hope their unique qualities also will appeal to art-fanciers.

I score the back of each piece, then turn it over and work the front, each time I create a piece of paper sculpture.

I was an undergraduate art major with a Printmaking emphasis, so creating these multiple originals is second-nature for me. I spent a good part of my young adult life as a graphic designer (when I wasn’t being an art teacher, a mom, or a writer), and I still use the Creative Suite to manipulate my images digitally.

If you count the 2011 Mail Piece Project’s five multi-dimensional artworks as my first three-dimensional multiple originals (as I do–click on the links for glimpses of the New Year’s, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Mail Pieces–dang, I didn’t document that series as well as I thought I had!), then Coming Through! is my seventh foray into multiple original imagery. The sixth (or first, if you count stand-alone pieces that aren’t part of a series) was Common Cliff Dragon–Male, which I’ll list on Etsy and feature here once I’ve gotten mats and spacers cut.

IMAGES: All images are photos taken by me, of pieces of my own artwork. You’re welcome to download and re-blog them, but please include a link back and an attribution. Many thanks!

The value of a good critique

This is a reblog of a popular post from my Artdog Observations blog. It was originally published on May 16, 2013.

In your creative life, how often do you seek out an honest and knowledgeable critique? 

Most artists are vulnerable creatures.  We make up new things out of assorted sources, imbue them with our personal vision, and then place them out into the harsh glare of an uncaring and often hypercritical world. To think of seeking a critique is always somewhat fraught with pain and fear.

I present my work to the group at the InterUrban ArtHouses ArtMatters Critique Night on May 1, 2013 at the Vintage House in Overland Park, KS.

We do the best we can, but many times we just can’t figure out (or don’t realize we haven’t figured out) the Ultimate Best Possible Solution to the creative problem we have decided to tackle.

We can’t “see the forest for the trees,” because we are too close to the subject.  In my dog-show circuit days, we called that being “kennel blind”: you can see the problems with other people’s dogs, but you are blind to the problems in your own dogs.

Recently I have participated in several, extremely helpful critique sessions, focused on either my artwork or a science fiction novel I am writing. Different fields, different media, and from different sources. The photo above is from a notable recent evening (more to come).

But in each case I not only discovered solutions to problems I’d been having with the work in question—I  also became highly energized to leap back into the work with even more focus than before.  

Followup note: the InterUrban ArtHouse has grown and expanded its mission since this article was originally written. Read more about its current scope on its website.

IMAGE:I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the InterUrban ArtHouse and its Facebook Page, and to the multi-talented Nick Carswell, for the photo of my paper sculpture presentation at the ArtMatters Critique Night.

The Making of “Love in the Storm”

My newest piece of artwork debuted at ConQuesT 47 in Kansas City, this past weekend. It’s titled Love in the Storm, and I’m still trying to decide if it’s finished or not.

This is Love in the Storm, as it appeared in May 2016 at ConQuesT 47.

It looks okay at fairly close range, but when you back several feet away the green dragon kind of fades back into the waves. Is this enough of a problem that it needs to be addressed? Or is it good the way it is? Please comment below, and let me know what you think! I’d appreciate viewers’ guidance.

Overlays fit pieces together.

I use overlays to fit pieces together.

My paper sculpture is all based on line drawings that I draw “from scratch,” usually based on reference photos. I scan the inked drawing, and often use tracing paper overlays to draw details, such as pieces of wings, interlocking shapes, etc.–then scan them, too. This piece is the culmination of three years’ assorted drawings and re-thinking. Perhaps you’d like to know how that happened. 

I often re-use “base” drawings for several different compositions. The “base” drawing for the green dragon in this piece dates back to early 2014. You might recognize it, because it’s been the basis for a fair number of my other recent dragon images. I blogged about it last year, in a post called Dragon Variations

I built up the color layers for the “Ocean Wave” background element in PhotoShop.

I originally created the “waves” that form the background of this piece with the idea that I’d use them for the backgrounds of my “Koi-colored” dragons of 2015. They didn’t work for that, so I left the drawing in my sketchbook. But I realized that once I added color, cut them apart and layered them up, they would be just the thing for this piece’s background.

Deconstructing, then sculpting, layering and reconstructing the waves.

The little red dragon was the element I added this year. I’d originally wanted to create a piece with swooping dragons flying together, when I did the 2014 drawing–but I never could manage a second dragon that I liked, until this past May.

Sculpting and assembling the dragons.

I made that one the same basic way I made the first one: base drawing, wing to add on (in fact, its wing is a reverse of the green dragon’s wing), then Prismacolor pencils to enhance the color from the computer printout. I like to add the touches with Prismacolors, for their rich hues and responsive handling. Then I put it all together, and thought, wow. That actually looks okay. 

IMAGES: This is an easy one: I took all the pictures of my own art. 

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