22 November 2016

[pdx] It's OryCon 38, Days Two and Three

I wasn't able to get right back to blogging about OryCon, but there were two more days of it. And it was very, very good, of course. And here are some highlights.

Day two was the one where I got to some panels. OryCon isn't just a great place to hang with some of the best people on earth, but the panels are always thoughtfully done and usually very well chosen.

My interest in art making ramping up yet again, I wanted to keep my knowledge fresh by attending a panel titled Composition 101. The panel description said it was going to be a discussion of light, value, key, and other basics, but it evolved away from that into this bracing metadiscussion of how ideas happen and how to be a working artist. The three artists there, Herb Leonhard, Paul Groendes, and Vincent Vaughn provided keen insights on working, how to keep working, and the function of cliche. I was able to firm up my own ideas about cliche as well. There was a bit of a round-table feeling to the panel. This was one I was glad I didn't miss out on.

After that was an Art Show docent tour. You want a decent docent, of course, and there are few more decent than the Artist Guest of Honor, David Mattingly. He's notable in the context of the 'con because he's the artist that gave David Weber's (our Artist Guest of Honor), Honorverse its visual look and feel via the masterful cover art he did: his art graces every Honor Harrington novel cover. Many of those covers were available as 3D lenticular art (you know those pictures that have the grooved plastic surface that seem to have depth and perspective changes as you change your angle of viewing? Those.) and he described the process and some of the business considerations of doing that. That was good enough just to show up but the real treat was moving about the Art Show and commenting on specific artists' work.

David Mattingly comes close to being an artist's artist here. His knowledge is deep and his insights insicive and generous; to an artist who does superb fired-clay sculpture, Mark Chapman, when seeing that sculpture he seemed quite astounded that Mark wasn't operating at a higher level than he was. He encouraged him to punch through to that next level, and was plainly impressed at this talent (which you can meet by going to this link here on FB). Mark had also branched into drawing and David viewed that as well, and Mark's drawing is pretty good, definitely approaching a good level of skill, but David emphasized that his strength was with sculpture, not illustration so much, but, and this is where David's generosity of spirit really shown through with a shout, if he wanted to expand his drawing skill, he told him to consider Rodin's sketching style and suggested that, instead of pencil, he should try sketching with paint.

I remember back when I was studying graphic design, the critiques were sometimes the best part of the design process. It wasn't just identifying what wasn't working it was also coming up with ideas on how to make what was working, work better. David is splendid at this; he had a way of commenting on a weakness in a way that perhaps could be nurtured into a strength … if not a main strength then a very strong supporting player in the artist's lineup of tools

To an illustrator named Lizzy D. Hill he suggested studying some of the old masters, John Singer Sargeant and Andrew Wyeth, for ideas on how she could push her watercolor hand to the next level as well, because, to his eye, it was splendid, and must only get better.

David had many cogent points to make about original work and the pleasure of seeing it rather than a print, and also how prints might not do justice to the originals. I pointed him toward Herb Leonhardt's work and David asked me if Herb was here, and I said he was and how I'd just been in a panel with him moderating. David asked me to have Herb seek him out if I crossed paths with him again, and I said I would (thank you FB for helping me bring two artists together).

The other panel I visited was a talk on visions of TEOTWAWKI in literature led by Roget Ratchford. He discussed a variety of doom scenarios and classed them from worldwide to personal, and talked of the ascendance of AI in a way that makes me want to hide in the basement until the day I die. Let me tell you this much my friends: the man can communicate. 

Day three was mostly just us hanging around, connecting with people, and attending one panel which is a perennial favorite and a uniquely OryCon experience: Onions and Orchids, the feedback panel. The orchids were well-placed and the onions were deftly proffered. Anyone who wants to get an idea of what ConCom has to do to get a Con on the road but doesn't want to volunteer for anything that world-shaking, I recommend this panel to you.

As anyone can see, attending an SF convention, when it's done right, is an expanding experience. You can't help but come away with at least one thing that you didn't have before, one nugget of knowledge or inspiration that isn't important. I got a few myself.

I hope everyone who went did. We put on a pretty good OryCon, I think. There were a lot of happy people there, and they had a great time.

So it goes.

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