Wednesday, September 18, 2013

thoughts of IlluxCon

Ok, it's been a few days since the con ended, and I've had a chance to reflect and let everything settle in, so I thought I'd write up my thoughts on one of the best events for artists in North America.

First off, I really liked the new venue.  It was bigger, and better laid out than the previous location in Altoona, and I liked having both the main and weekend shows.  The hallway downstairs, aka, "The Birthing Canal", was a bit tight, but otherwise, amazing.  Having a cafe inside the event that was open every day was incredible.  I'm from the Pacific Northwest, I gotta keep my blood-coffee ratio up, and I was well pleased :)

Restaurants in the area were fine, and it was really nice to be able to walk to and from the hotel and the event.  Allentown isn't quite as "lost in the best part of the 1950s" as Altoona, but ya know, I'll deal with it :)

Ok, the event itself - wow.  So many of my heroes in one place.  I really don't have words to describe the feeling.  As usual, everyone was friendly, opening to looking at my stuff, and super helpful.  Since my focus is on visual development, sometimes the artists at the show would be a little at a loss to give what they felt to be helpful advice, but I always found their comments to the point and insightful.

Number one advice was to bring my "character" skills up to be in line with my environments.  I completely agree with this, and I'll be starting to go to the 3-hour life painting sessions held at Basic Inquiry as soon as I'm in Vancouver on a Sunday.  On top of that, more observational drawing of buildings, and more plein air painting.  Nothing I'm not already doing, but it's great to get the feedback that I'm doing the right stuff.

I had two "official" portfolio reviews, one with Robh Ruppel and the other with Joe Shoopack.  Both were fantastic in very different ways, and I'm really looking forward to going back to them in several months and showing my progress.

Beyond all the crits and inspirational paintings, IlluxCon is incredible for meeting people and making friends.  Always, always stay in the con hotel, because the best stuff happens after hours, when you realize you are kibitzing with your favorite artists over a couple of beers.  In the 3 years I've been going, I never have felt like I was excluded from any clique because I was less famous, or not as good an artist.  On the contrary, there is laughter, joking and friendship to spare.

So, long story short, I am inspired, fired up and ready to go, and the plan is to have at least 75% of my portfolio replaced in time for CTN-Expo in November!