I’m not sure you can really call something an adventure if everything goes like clockwork, but it was a great way to kick off the new book! After a bit of nail-chewing last week (due entirely to my down-to-the-wire finishing of the book), Island Blueprint’s Printorium Bookworks came through for me with an advance run of Mermaid Music, and I was set to go.
Comic conventions come in different flavours, and VanCAF (which stands for Vancouver Comic Arts Festival) is one of the growing number of creator-focused comic conventions. Here you won’t find booths full of big-publisher superhero paraphernalia, batman t-shirts, and long lines of people paying big bucks to get a photo with their favourite Star Trek star. Comic Arts Festivals are about the people making their own comics, both writers and artists, and this weekend there were two huge rooms full of them in Vancouver at the Roundhouse in Yaletown.
Since we live on an island, it’s always a good idea to carpool to the mainland if possible to share the ferry costs, and we had a merry crew setting out: My hubby Ron and fellow artists Alex Steacy and Annely (names are linked to their art websites). We took the ferry and picked up my comics mentor (and Alex’s dad), Ken Steacy, en route at the Vancouver airport, then headed for the site to set up. Just having everyone along in the car (and their navigational skills) made the trip go much faster, and with reduced stress for me — I hate driving in Vancouver! For the record, we set out from Victoria at 9:00 and arrived at about 2:30 — although it doesn’t look very far on the map, a trip to Vancouver is a major undertaking!
Ken, Alex, and I had tables, so we bid goodbye to Anne, registered, unloaded, and set up our tables to be ready for the next day. Too tired to go to the scheduled Cloudscape book launch (there were social activities planned for each evening) we dropped Ken and Alex off at the places they were staying — it’s good to have friends everywhere! — and Ron and I continued on with old-fashioned map-based navigating (everyone else uses their phones) to our friends Jon and Sheila’s house. It was great to get out of the noise and bustle into their quiet, tree-surrounded house, and be greeted by an offer of a salmon dinner and a nice bed on which to lay our weary heads!
Saturday went by for me in a blur of impressions: comics and art everywhere, people who love comics and love to talk about making comics, being torn about wanting to go look around at other peoples’ comics and attend panels or stay at my table (I mostly stayed at the table), brief forays out for food at the fortunately located grocery/deli/coffee-shop across the street, gradually becoming less terrified of driving around Vancouver (as long as I have a navigator), the kind of bone-weariness that comes from talking to many, many people all day, followed by another delicious meal and relaxing evening with our friends.
Sunday morning I had a new experience — I gave a watercolour demo that was shown to the audience via a web-cam! It felt kind of awkward at first, but gradually became more just like teaching one of my classes. People crowded up afterwards to see the painting up close, a mermaid that I had drawn and inked the night before specifically for the demo. It was very satisfying, and lots of people came over and said they really liked it. The video will be edited and then put on you-tube, at which point I’ll post it here so you can all see! I’ll also post the finished painting, as there was only time to do part of it in the demo.
Sunday was more of the same as Saturday, with a finish of mad packing up in order to make the ferry (islanders’ lives are ruled by ferries). We did, with plenty of time for the one we’d planned (though only a few cars short of being on the one before, dag-nab it!), and were able to arrive home while there was still a bit of light in the sky, to be greeted by Mak the cat and our housemates. Now I have lots of unpacking to do!
Sounds like lots of fun, and it’s always good to have sleeping accommodations that save you the cost of a hotel room at a convention. I wish I could afford to attend conventions beyond my local.
I have GOT to watch and read your watercolor tutorials. Haven’t taken classes on that art style since the ’70s, and I’d like to improve my techniques and learn some new ones. For example, I’d love to know how you got the “light through water” effect at the top and bottom of your banner. If I could learn how to do that, I might redo the cover for “Silent Fathoms” as a watercolor (which reproduces much better than the colored pencil cover I originally did).
Hi Tamara, yes, it’s good to have friends when doing conventions – though sometimes it’s nice to just be on site, especially for the ones in hotels — in which case I try to share a room, though not with as many people as we used to try to squeeze in when I was a young thing!
So far my tutorials are all just read-n-look; after this past weekend, I’m inspired to try some video ones, but will have to learn the software for editing and all. So it will be a while yet before I have any of those. But there’s lots of stuff to try — the big thing is to put in the brush-miles!
The banner was actually created first with acrylics, mostly spray acrylics, for the background layer. The drawing part (lettering, mermaid, seaweed on left, rock on bottom) was created with Prismacolor markers. I think the secret to the effect, which could be recreated in watercolour, is to have subtle gradations in the first layer (you could create this with big loose washes), then sharper details on top letting the under layer show through. It’s an interesting challenge for another tutorial, I’ll see if I can get time to do it. Thanks for the idea!