Thursday, December 1, 2011

Illustration for Visiting Anne McCaffrey

Since I won the "Dragondrums" art contest, I was entitled to visit Anne McCaffrey in Ireland. If you visit someone, you have to bring them a gift, but what could I possibly bring to the Dragon Mistress? Art, of course; original art that no one else would have. I put together this folksy illustration of McCaffrey's popular character "Menolly," and portrayed her with her nine friendly fire lizards. I borrowed the style from Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin, though I didn't do a very good job imitating him. I also made a nametag miniature for McCaffrey, also with a portrait of Menolly on it.

When I got to Ireland and finally visited the author, I presented these pieces to her, and it seemed to me that her reaction was rather indifferent. Some of that was tiredness, as she had just returned from New Zealand, but also, she had a collection of hundreds of pieces of art that fans and artists had done for her. Mine was just another for the stack. She had at least one of the original covers done by the famous Mike Whelan. As I recounted in a previous post, I got to see a lot of art that she had put up on her walls.

Now that she is gone, I wonder what happened to the art. It could just pass to her descendants, including her son Todd who is carrying on the writing. But what happens to an art collection once the owner dies? If it is of no monetary value, does it just get thrown out if no one else wants it? Is it sold as a lot along with other unwanted possessions? I would imagine that fans of McCaffrey would be glad to buy up the art collection, one by one, including mine, if it ever had to be sold off. Most likely, I will never know what happens to this piece.

This is a personal matter for me. My mother, an artist all her life, has amassed hundreds and hundreds of original works which she has rarely if ever tried to sell (she doesn't believe that fine art should be "marketed", or didn't have the energy to do the marketing). They fill not only a studio but a room of my parents' house. Mother is 90 years old and sooner or later I will face the matter of disposing of (or storing) this art collection. As for my own art, I don't keep it if I can at all help it go somewhere else.

"Menolly and Fire Lizards" is ink and gouache on illustration board, 11" x 14", summer 1980. Click on the pic for a larger view, at least the border is kind of nice.

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