Tuesday, February 12, 2013


I'm finding Facebook a lot less intuitive than I expected. Therefore, there's nothing on it and I haven't invited anybody to be friends.

For the record, I will not be your neighbor on Farmville and if you invite me to play Sims Social I will explain to you exactly why it is Not Real Sims. So don't even go there.

So far this week all the social networking I've done involved going to the SCBWI conference in Austin. I drove up the night before, stayed overnight with friends, and as usual left not long after the raffle to come straight home. In between, though I had a good day. Especially compared to the last time I attended this conference at this place, when I had to simultaneously cope with Moby's brakes and steering letting me down pretty badly. I saw people I only see at conferences, met a person I only know from online, bought Cyn Smith's most recent book about the supernatural scene in Austin, Feral Nights (you'll never know how menacing a werearmadillo can be till you read this, I tell you what), attended panels and breakout sessions, bid at the silent auction, and all that good stuff.

I often say that I don't know anything about art, not even what I like; which is probably why my favorite parts of the conference involved listening to illustrator E.B. Lewis talk about the visual language used in picture books. Possibly because he was a teacher and a fine artist before he became an illustrator and was used to thinking and speaking analytically about art as well seeing and feeling analytically about it - these are separate skills for all the creative arts; many excellent artists can't explain why this or that work in their art does or doesn't succeed - he was able to discuss both the various pictures of his own that he used in his presentation, and the submitted portfolio pieces in the "First Impressions" panel in terms I could actually follow.

Make no mistake about it - the trained eye sees (and the trained ear hears) differently than the untrained one. I look at a picture with human figures and think that they're stiff; Lewis looks at it and says that the artist needs to decide whether his voice is stylized or realistic, because if the one then this is where to focus effort and if the other then that is.

It would never have occurred to me to think of an artistic voice in a visual medium, either; but once he started talking about it I started being able to hear it. And choosing between stylization and realism - writers have to do that, too, though I hadn't put it in those terms before. For all I know, so do musicians. It's certainly at the heart of the art of gaming.

I do not know how useful, in the long run, this sort of cross-medium enlightenment is, but I know it's refreshing, and I know it can't be useless. So I'm going to call that a weekend well-spent.


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  2. It definitely sounds like a well spent weekend. And if you went away feeling it was refreshing then the cross medium enlightenment has done at least that. Success!