Meet the Artist: Edsel Arnold

www.edselarnold.com

Edsel Arnold is a licensed Wheel of Time artist, widely recognized for his Art Nouveau-influenced style. His art is featured in The Wheel of Time Companion. Edsel has been exhibiting his art at JordanCon since 2013.

How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?

I’ve always been drawn to the arts. When I was in kindergarten I did a drawing of the Gerber baby food kid…does that date me? I’ve really been drawing that long.

My parents drove me half an hour away to UGA for art classes when I was in Junior High, and I was always taking a pottery class or some such in the summer. In high school I convinced myself that Architecture would be a more practical career than painting. I enrolled at Georgia Tech, where ironically my favorite classes were the required art classes for my degree. I think if I had been at the Savannah College of Art & Design, which didn’t have an Architecture program at the time, I would have switched majors to art.

Throughout my architectural career, I never lost the artist’s itch, and I spent my free time painting backdrops, or sculpting rocks, or illustrating sets for plays, or designing posters for different events. Eventually, I tested the waters for a painting career by switching from design architect to interior illustrator at a firm that created high-end house plans for “Southern Living” and “Colonial Home” magazines. I had to watercolor one room a week, and as long as I kept to the floor plan, I could design and paint whatever else I wanted in the room.

I loved working as an illustrator, and I only went back into Architecture when I was adopting my children, and a friend offered me more money to help him out. The job he gave me has served me well and provided my family with security, but as much as I love architecture, the practical and financial aspects tarnish the creative joy. On the other hand when I’m creating art, it’s completely about the imagination, not anything “practical”. The idea that anything is possible really invigorates and drives me, so I guess I’ll never lose the art bug.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?

Interesting question. Most of my life I’ve wanted to be an artist, but actually I consider myself a designer. And for a time I wondered if being a designer was inferior, but recently I’ve embraced it as part of my aesthetic style. I think I’m an artist more in the sense of Alphonse Mucha from the Art Nouveau period, or the Arts and Crafts Movement painters and architects or the Disney/Pixar animators, or Tiffany or Faberge. I’ve realized I’ve always admired these people as artists and designers. I like the way the Japanese don’t distinguish between the fine arts and the graphic arts the way we do in the West. I’ll admit that the first time I heard my youngest daughter tell someone I was “an artist” instead of an architect, I was on Cloud 9!

Which artist do you find most inspirational? Why?

Easy… although I’m drawn to many of the artists of the Golden Age of Illustration and current Fantasy Art greats, the two artists that influence me the most are Alphonse Mucha and William Adolphe Bouguereau. I respond to both of these artists because of the grace of line and extreme beauty present in all their works.

Are you a fan of the Wheel of Time? If not, what is your favorite book or series?

Oh, I’d say I’m a big fan. I was a LOTR fanatic, and read voraciously looking for that next fantasy high, but not quite finding it. Robert Jordan’s world building and character development in WOT made it the first series to capture my attention and affection in the same way. I typically keep one of the books in my backpack as a casual reread. Nynaeve and Mat are my favorite Two Rivers characters, though I hated Mat at first. Moiraine, and Verin are my two other favorites.

How did you get started creating Wheel of Time art?

Through the years, I started to paint religious and fairy tale watercolors just for myself. About the time Robert Jordan left us and Harriet engaged Brandon to finish The Wheel of Time, I came across a quote from Ellen DeGeneres that said, “If you’re not doing what you really want to do, you must not really want to do it.” I thought, I really want to create art and be known for that, and so I tasked myself with creating “Pink Ribbons” and showing it to Harriet and Brandon at their first book signing in Atlanta. I was so pleased with the way it turned out that I decided I would make it a goal to eventually retire from Architecture into painting full time. My youngest finishes college in 9 years, so that’s my “at least by…” goal!

If you’d like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other “Meet the Artist” blogs.

Meet the Artist: Joe O’Hara

www.studiojohara.com

Joe O’Hara is a licensed Wheel of Time artist, with art featured in The Wheel of Time Companion as well as in Ta’veren Tees’ popular Wheel of Time calendars. In 2012 he won the first-ever JordanCon Art Show Judge’s Choice Award for his work “Wheel of Time Characters,” an entire panel of 18 original Wheel of Time character portraits. While he has become recognized among fans for his amazing art as well as his Mat Cauthon cosplay, his true claim to notoriety is as one of the founders and instigators of the tWoTcast podcast. In 2014, he and the rest of the tWoTcast crew were toastmasters at JordanCon.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?

I’ve always felt I wanted to be one or that I was one on some level, but when I graduated with a fine arts degree I think I finally let myself say it on an official level.

How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?

My dad used to read me Batman comics when I was very young. So as soon as I could hold a pencil, I was copying what I saw in them and drawing my own.

Are you a fan of the Wheel of Time? If not, what is your favorite book or series?

No, I don’t really like it. (seriously?)

What do you see as the primary link between writing and art?

I think it is having to imagine what to put on the page. Authors and artists just do that in different ways.

What was the subject and title of the first piece of art you ever sold?

It was an untitled sketch of a bartender that I drew with both hands simultaneously when I was telling my friend I used to be ambidextrous as a kindergartner. The bartender heard me and demanded I draw her with both hands as a challenge. She paid me twenty dollars for it. There was probably one before that but that’s a good story. 😉

What’s the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?

Having interesting conversations with complete strangers that you feel like you’ve known your entire life because of the vast amount of shared interests between you. That feeling is kind of amplified when you go to smaller convention like JordanCon because of its niche audience.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other “Meet the Artist” blogs.

Meet the Artist: Linda Taglieri

13depository.blogspot.com

Linda Taglieri scarcely requires introduction to the many fans of her famous blog on The Wheel of Time®, the 13th Depository. But perhaps less widely known is her immense talent and skill as a textile artist, a master of many techniques, working in a wide array of fabrics and materials. Like many artists, she evolves with each completed piece, still discovering how far the boundaries of her art may go, but delighting us at every turn. You can find out more about Linda’s artistic journey below, or chat with her in person at JordanCon, where she is a frequent featured panelist in the World of the Wheel track.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?

I’ve always made things from an early age. At home, we always had materials to hand: conventional art materials like paper, watercolour paints, pencils, but also yarns, buttons, fabric off cuts. I made good use of those. Apart from reading, I loved constructive types of past-times.

Even though I had been sewing my own designs for several years, I never considered myself an artist until I finished the first six months of a course on art quilts. Part of the curriculum was exhibiting our work in a gallery and when our group saw our works hung on the walls, we all realised that we were textile artists. This was also when textiles were becoming accepted as a medium for art. In my own case, my work takes so long to make that it is not commercial. But I’m happy to make things for the joy of it. It’s what I’ve always done, really.

While I’ve had training in embroidery courtesy of the Embroiderers’ Guild of NSW, I’ve had no training in drawing or painting, which is also why I was slow to consider myself as an artist. When I finished the design for a work I hope to complete for JordanCon, I realised that I have some drawing talent after all! So I am still discovering aspects of myself as an artist.

How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?

I gradually drifted into it. When my sons were babies, I started cross-stitching because it is relaxing and fairly put-downable. It was a small step to modify designs and a much larger to making ones from scratch. Magazines and books showed exciting possibilities of other stitches, fabrics and mixed media—and I was away! In 2000 I signed up to the embroiderers’ guild in my state and took my first weekend course, which was in canvaswork. This involves stitching an open grid of threads, commonly 12 or 14 holes to the inch. It’s a technique that I excel at, as it happens. When the guild had one of its very few competitive exhibitions, I won first and third places in the canvaswork section with two pieces of my own design. I also like combining different traditional embroidery techniques—canvaswork stitches on linen, for instance, or patchwork blocks as embroidery. My pictured work Zentangle Blackwork has 16th century blackwork stitches (multicoloured instead of the traditional monochrome) alongside other surface stitches on evenweave linen in a sort of cubist design.

In late 2010, I had been writing about costume in the Wheel of Time on my blog, and had the idea of doing a series of quarter-scale fashion dolls wearing these as described in the books. It took a while to gather the dolls, materials and fabrics together and draft the designs. The first outfits were completed in early 2012—for Aviendha, and she travelled with me to DragonCon that same year. They are hand sewn and made as they would have been in the world, but one quarter of the size. No zips or elastic or serging. So far, I’ve made two outfits each for Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha, and Tuon, three for Egwene, and one each for Min, Mat and Rand. More are planned; probably starting later this year.

Are you a fan of the Wheel of Time? If not, what is your favorite book or series?

Much laughter at this! I certainly am! I have been writing about the Wheel of Time since 2002, and have had my own Wheel of Time blog, the Thirteenth Depository, since 2009 where I write about a variety of aspects of the series and have a read-through running. I love the complexity and depth of the world, the excellent characterisation, the plot threads, the altered allusions to the real world that Jordan put in…

What’s the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?

The people! Especially JordanCon—it is like one big supportive family. They are fun to hang out with, discuss all sorts of topics with, see and hear their work and their views, meet authors and artists. So many kind, friendly and talented people in one place. When I boldly flew over by myself in 2010—my first trip to the US—I had no idea what it would mean to me! Definitely my tribe.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other “Meet the Artist” blogs.

Meet the Artist: Sara Glassman

www.medusasmirror.etsy.com

Artist Sara Glassman creates stunning crocheted jewelry, each piece of which tells a story worth reading. Her work is tangled, entwined, and bound about with symbolism and literary references, entirely appropriate for a self-professed bibliophile and fan of the written word. Spend some time at her Art Show table, look closely, and you’ll find yourself quickly drawn in or, better yet, say hello to her at her Dealer table and discover why she’s become a storied member of the JordanCon family.

Which artist do you find most inspirational? Why?

Kinuko Craft is one of my major inspirations. Her works are so intricate and rich. Every time I look at one I’m mesmerized. That is the sort of sense I try to create with my crocheted necklaces; the feeling that every time you look at them, you might find something new.

One year at DragonCon, they had some of her original paintings in the art show and I remember feeling almost trapped, unable to look away from them because there was so much to SEE! More even than I had ever seen on a poster or book cover. I stood in front of the bay where her work hung for almost twenty minutes until one of my friends came and got me.

What’s the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?

The people. Both the guests and the attendees. I first started coming to JordanCon because of a guest and kept coming back because everyone was so wonderful. That’s pretty much how it’s gone with every convention I find myself going back to. I’m looking for that sense of community much more than I am the opportunity to meet a particular guest. I love getting to meet other artists, but also to watch people react to all the art in the art shows as they pass through. Networking is certainly something that happens, but really, it’s all about getting to spend time with people who are excited about the things you love. And, of course, the Bielaczyc dance parties are also a vital part of a good convention.

What do you see as the primary link between writing and art? (If you think there is one.)

I find huge inspiration from writing. Several of my pieces are inspired by characters from the stories I adore. Many of them are from books that I read as a younger reader that have just latched onto my heart. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an artist who was not also a reader. Reading stretches the boundaries of your imagination; even the most descriptive book leaves something for you to fill in. I think reading trains your vision and your curiosity, which are vital for any kind of artist.

If you could create your masterpiece, what would it look like?

Probably a wearable stained glass window. I’m not even entirely sure what that would mean, but somehow combining light and color into a piece of jewelry. There was a book I read ages ago, “Shattered Glass” by Elaine Bergstrom, that described someone pouring and blending a huge piece of glass and all the colors that swirled together in the molten glass. I want to capture that feeling someday. Seeing the big pieced or poured stained glass windows in person with light behind them has always been an elevating experience for me.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other “Meet the Artist” blogs.

Meet the Artist: Sam Flegal

www.samflegal.com

As an illustrator for both book covers and games, Sam Flegal, who first joined us at the 2014 JordanCon Art Show, specializes in painting strange scenes of epic fantasy and graphic horror. He describes his art as “stylized realism,” portraying fantastical things in a comic book-like graphic manner, but with an eye towards real life. Sam’s preferred medium is oil paint.

How long have you considered yourself an artist?

I’ve been drawing since I was 3 years old. Growing up I always thought of myself as an artist. I eventually went to college for art, and got my degree in Graphic Design. At some point along the way I became a designer and only distantly identified myself as an artist. In 2008 I came to the realization that my soul would shrivel and die if I didn’t get back into to art, so I did. Now I’m an artist and an illustrator, and will be for life.

What was the subject and title of the first piece of art you ever sold?

It was a drawing I did for Chaosium. It was a knight calling on the spirit of the raven to bless his armor before battle. I very cleverly named the piece “Knight Magic.” I sold it to April Moore at Hypericon in 2009.

How did you first discover art, or that you wanted to create art yourself?

My dad’s comic collection was my first exposure to art. My parents were very supportive, and got me lots of art classes and the like. My mom is an editor and worked with illustrators. She would make sure I got to meet them. As far as that moment when I knew I wanted to create art, I can’t pinpoint it. I’m a storyteller, and I’ve always wanted to tell stories through pictures.

What’s the one thing you most enjoy about attending conventions?

One of the great joys of being an artist is meeting fans and seeing people fall in love with your art. It’s an amazing rush to realize that something you created by hand is so appreciated by another person. It’s also one of the few fields I know of where people buy things from you, and then act like you did them a favor by letting them buy it from you. It is awesome!

What do you see as the primary link between writing and art?

Good art inspires people to write. Good writing inspires people to make art. It’s the same with music, really. For me the special link between writing and art is storytelling. It is innate to all cultures to tell stories and make art and music about them. So I guess the main link is humanity.

If you’d like to find out more about the authors and artists who share their work at JordanCon, check out our other “Meet the Artist” blogs.