dragoncon art

i went to dragoncon 2011, my first, and it was so wonderful that i’m going back.  i went with jim, who was asked, and decided to do some paintings myself and show them there next year right next to his.

the question is what kind of subject to paint.  i’m not going to bother competing with all the brilliant scifi/fantasy artists who show at dragoncon.  their skills far surpass those of most fine artists.  i’m serious.  the kind of art school work you see looks like the work of amateurs compared to this expertly finished, lovingly detailed professional illustration and fan art, most of which goes for much much less than you’ll find in a gallery.

there’s a reason why gallery/museum art is nothing like fan art.  there’s a reason why art in an outdoor art festival is nothing like museum art.  here’s a good explanation of why, but i’ll just say that accessible is bad in the official art world (up to a point; there’s a growing trend), because accessible is what people like at the art festivals, and you’ve got to draw a line somewhere.

anyway, the trend in contemporary illustration is toward more and more accomplished realism, while in contemporary fine art they’re still painting with paint and making interesting marks.

so i can’t compete with either of those styles.  when i was still doing tight watercolors i could go there with the illustration style, but i don’t do that anymore.  i paint in wax, which tends to run.  can’t do good faces if the eyes are going to wander all over the head.  it would make interesting marks, but i’m not into abstract per se.

so for dragoncon, i’m not going to paint science fiction art, or fantasy art.  i’m not going to paint dragons or mystical highlands.  i’m going to paint dragoncon.

have i already written about this?  i’ve thought about it since early september, i’ve sat for hours-long image searches:  “dragoncon 2011” and browsed thru collections of 20,000 photos.  but these are all posed pictures.  people in costumes standing around looking characterlike.  and that’s not what i want to paint.

i want to paint the crowds.  i want to paint people in costume going up escalators and standing around sipping water and sitting against a wall eating a sandwich and slumped over taking a nap.

i’ve already been told that i’m going to have to avoid copyright characters, so no stormtroopers and no snow white.  but this is a fan convention, and so practically every costume is going to represent some copyright character, and i’m no fan so i’m not going to know.  and i don’t have anyone i can run it by, so i’m going to have to trace each costume to make sure what i’m painting.

and then there’s the fact that i’m working off of photos i found on flickr and photobucket and other places my google image search has fetched up.  and i don’t have the permission of any of the people photographed to be painting them.  i’m an accurate enough painter that, especially in miniature, my people look like the people they are (hint:  it’s a gesture thing).

so not only am i breaking copyright with every stroke of my brush, but i’m also painting portraits of a bunch of people who will be surprised to recognize themselves when the picture is published.  and maybe even the guys at the art show won’t want me in there precisely because i’m making pictures of people they recognize.  and that seems like it has to be a bad idea.


when i painted a picture of the local wednesday night hashers (a drinking club with a running problem) in front of a block of virginia highland shops, every one of them wanted a print.  they weren’t pissed off at all, and some of them bought prints for members who’d moved away.  so unless people were at dragoncon while the world thought they were on a business trip to poughkeepsie, nobody should be too upset.  maybe i should go out of my way to put people in.  maybe i should paint nothing but copyright characters as done by fans.  fan art of fans making art out of copyright material.

legally?  it’s up in the air but in general corporations don’t tend to take on fan art.  so i’ve basically decided that i’m doing art, rather than ripping off a corporation or exposing private persons.  and that gives me a lot of leeway.  so i can go back to my source material and gather hat suits me.  and if it’s art, maybe they’ll let me in to the show next year.


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