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Backtracking part 2 - Wish Fulfillment

Wednesday morning we woke up and headed down past my parents’ house.  You see, back in early December, I did something quite fiscally irresponsible.

One of my favorite artists/illustrators is Michael Whelan.  If you read science fiction or fantasy, you’ve seen his work.  Many, many, many moons ago my freshman year of high school, Neil McCarthy convinced me to come to an art show of a local artist at the Danbury Public Library.  That was Michael, and that evening started my obsession with science fiction/fantasy illustration and led to my collecting it.  There are other artists whose work I love, but Michael is my first and enduring artist crush.  It also helps that he’s just a nice guy.  Back before the internet I was on the gallery’s mailing list from close to day one.  I haven’t always been able to afford the pieces I want when they were available, but I have a nice assortment of them at this point.

Back to early December.  It was fifteen minutes until a staff meeting, and I was killing some time before I had to lock the computer and go in, so I hit the website to see if there was anything new.  Every so often they offer originals.  Let me say that word again.  “Originals.”  That day there was an acrylic study for the cover art for “Daughter of Regals.”  It was a LOT of money.  But it was a manageable amount.  (In hindsight, I paid as much for Nishka’s teeth…)  I called Bob up and said “how much does work love you, because I want to do something REALLY irresponsible.”  I ordered it before the meeting, and did a happy dance in my cube.

Later that day I got an email confirming the order, mentioning that the shipping would not be nearly that much because I lived so close, and by the way since you live so close *would you like to come pick it up at the house and we can show you the rest of the ones we have hanging here?*

Words cannot express what went through my head, although an EKG at that point in time would probably make very interesting reading.  I *loathe* cute little text-type abbreviations, but what best expresses my reaction is OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!  What can I say?  Sometimes it’s appropriate.

Did I want to pick it up at the house?  Is the pope Catholic?  Does a bear shit in the woods?  Let me repeat: OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!  What I actually replied was something along the lines of “that would be lovely – what would be convenient for you?”

Now – to make this work I needed to ditch Charlotte.  Having a three year old along is NOT conducive to… anything.  Hmmm.  Maybe Bob will offer to stay with her.  So I mention it to Bob, and he makes puppy dog eyes at me and allows as to how he’d really like to come along.  That means I need to involve my parents – who are indeed just the next town over, but I really don’t want to tell them that I’m spending this much money frivolously because – well – they’re my parents.  Heeeeeyyyyyy – we’re going to NYC!  Which means leaving Charlotte with mom and dad...  And mom suggested overnight…  Any chance you could keep her for… *two* nights?

So Audrey and I swapped emails and phone calls to nail down the timing, and off we went Wednesday morning.  Audrey had given me fantastic directions, and they were very easy to find (I also spent my teen years driving that area.)  I will admit to feeling very nervous about ringing the doorbell – bringing my little fangirl squee into his HOME felt very intrusive.  Now, what *I* was expecting to happen was that I would be handed a package, I would turn over a credit card, would get fifteen minutes or so of polite conversation and a bit of “these are the ones that hang in the very public areas,” and I was deliriously happy at the thought.  I was NOT expecting to be offered coffee, to chat with Michael, and for them to spend *ALMOST TWO HOURS* talking to us.  We talked about the paintings, the books that they were covers for, kids – his and ours, the Met, painting techniques (holy crap I’m talking shop with Michael Whelan!!!), he asked about how gold leafing is done…  We scritched the cat,and talked about the difficulties of painting in a house with cats - in his case the frustration of having just finished varnishing a piece, and noticing a cat hair smack in the middle.  I’m in heaven.  (I’m also half waiting for my phone to ring and my father to say “where the *&^% are you?)  Then he looks at me and says “So, where can I see some of *your* work?”

?!?!?!?!?!?!

Internally I said something that sounded a lot like EEEERRRRPPPPKKKK!!!!!! – imagine, if you will, a sound something like the combination of a stepped on hamster and a sucking chest wound.  Bob says I covered it nicely.  I seem to remember stammering something about the fact that because I give all my work away I don’t actually have any of it any longer, and I got a very stern “But you DO keep copies, right?”  I promised that I would send on a couple of scans. 

My artist crush asked to see my work.  I can’t honestly explain how that felt.  Amazing.  Horrifying.  Beyond words.  *The* illustrator of his generation asked to see MY work.

We said our good-byes and thank-yous, and I floated back to my parents’ house to collect our offspring.

I really don’t remember what all we did or talked about for the rest of that day.  I just wanted to get home and find a place to hang my new painting.

Epilogue to this story: a couple of weeks later, I pulled scans off my computer of the three of my best pieces that I have digital records of and emailed them off.  I then hyper-ventilated for three days.  Some time after that when I decided that he’d just been being polite, I got this response:

    “GORGEOUS work. I'm not fit to judge, not being knowledgable about calligraphy, but the work looks splendid to these eyes.

    You must have amazingly steady hands!

    Michael”

Squee.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
jtdiii
Feb. 9th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
A wonderful addition to a great piece of art. :)
hugh_mannity
Feb. 9th, 2012 11:37 pm (UTC)
Insert appropriate fangurl squeeing here! (yes, I do in fact squeee like a fangurl -- totally!)

I love his work. Years ago he used to put out a desktop calendar screensaver... I miss them.
kls_eloise
Feb. 9th, 2012 11:43 pm (UTC)
Yes - and hardcopy calendars also. Do I still have every one ever published? Why yes - yes I do.

I *think* I managed to not embarrass myself - but it was a really close thing...
galingale
Feb. 10th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC)
I'm so happy for you! Not only is it wonderful to have original artwork -- but to get a wonderful conversation like that, and exchange art and...
wow.
kls_eloise
Feb. 10th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC)
About as good as it gets. :-)
kass_rants
Feb. 10th, 2012 01:23 am (UTC)
Awesome. Just too truly awesome. I'm beaming for you.
kls_eloise
Feb. 10th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
I was *beside* myself. Not only did I get to see the originals, I got to talk about the books with him (because he reads the manuscripts to do the covers,) and we even talked about paint. SO cool. I got to talk shop with my artist crush. Still all floaty...
kebbykate
Feb. 10th, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How wonderful for you!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )