The National Caricaturist Network Convention 2005 I
by Elizabeth Pankey
April 1, 2005
Part One of Two
The National Caricaturist Network should be renamed the International Caricaturist Network. Why? The NCN membership includes artists from Japan, Korea, Spain, Germany, England, Belgium, Canada, Puerto Rico and the United States. Attending this year’s convention in Las Vegas at the Palace Station Hotel was like a goodwill ambassador tour of these nations. We all have the common bond of caricaturing in its many forms from almost straight portraiture to totally abstract and all phases (or should I say “faces”) in between.
Sunday, February 20th we had Airport Express Shuttle service pick us up at home and whisk us down to the airport in the morning. One of our past CNW presidents is a driver for this company, but he wasn’t our driver this time. With electronic check in, there was no hassle at all checking our luggage and heading out to our gate. Our flight to Las Vegas was full. I’ve renamed all full flights the Sardine Express. A very good reason for me to shed 50 pounds so the seats will seem larger. Our plane taxied out to the runway, then returned with a broken gauge. After an hour’s delay with all of us still buckled TIGHT into our seats, the plane finally took off for Vegas. When flying these days, take your own bottle of water and choice of snack because short flights serve only beverages and may take a while to get that little cup of liquid.
Our landing in Vegas was choppy due to some wind and increasing cloudiness. Yes, we left Seattle’s beautiful sunny weather and arrived to clouds and rain in Las Vegas. Whoopee! Roger took his golf clubs thinking he could play golf while I was busy in seminars and working on caricatures. No such luck. Sunday through Thursday, 20th – 24th, was rain, rain and more rain.
We made our way to the hotel shuttle bus just in time and the fun began right away. Eve Myles, Ellen Forney’s aunt, was on the bus with us. At the hotel we proceeded to check in at the hotel desk and see more of our NCN friends milling around the lobby.
After taking our luggage up to our room we went back to find out the location of the NCN check-in. We had to weave through the casino labyrinth to the 2nd floor escalator. Are all gamblers smokers? Or do people who gamble like to also gamble on their lives by smoking? I was coughing up blood laced “stuff” by the second day due to my sensitivity to smoke. I love the NCN conventions, but can’t tolerate old Vegas casinos. After that bad “breathing” experience, we found an alternate route outdoors across the parking lot…even in the rain.
NCN Check-in was outside one of the hotel banquet rooms. Seeing familiar faces (Jan Op De Beek from Belgium came as a member this year) and welcoming many newbies (many Japanese, Brits and Yanks) kept us busy for a little while before going back to our room to get ready for the opening night reception at six. The hotel staff set up a wonderful spread of food for the reception. After a plate full of good grub and grog, we all started sketching whoever was sitting at our table. I met Gary Javier, a new NCN member from Puerto Rico, who turned out to be a favorite subject at the convention. That means many artists did their interpretations of his handsome dark features, receding hairline and long dreadlocks. The room’s lights were soon turned up to full brightness and the room full of over 100 people cheered. Then we all laughed.
Day Two: After a long day before, the first full day began with a delicious buffet breakfast and sketching friends around the table. There was a quick welcome from the NCN board members with announcements of the week’s events. Most of us experienced attendees brought our art supplies for the day and set up our portfolios in a display room. Most caricaturists will be creating images (2-D or 3-D) of each other throughout the next three days. The fourth day is for judging, clean-up of work space and the final Awards Banquet in the evening.
The first two seminars were “Caricature 001” and “Exaggerating with a Likeness” lead by Dion Socia and Joe Bluhm respectively. Dion gave a great presentation that helped me understand even more about proportions is scaling a caricature. One of the most talented young artists in NCN, Joe really knows what he is talking about when demonstrating his techniques. All of us in the room were able to see clearly due to a very technically savvy caricaturist who set up camera equipment and laptop computers to facilitate projecting everything up on a large screen in front. These enlarged images play an important roll later on in another seminar.
Okay, I’ll tell you about that right away. Tuesday morning was Jan OpDeBeeck’s official seminar “Drawing with Jan.” He had taken digital photos of many of us who had attended the NCN con in Orlando, Florida two years ago. Much to our surprise, many were victimized for this year’s seminar. Teresa Farrington, Okie artist, is a favorite of many artists due to her front teeth with a wide center space. So it was no big surprise that he chose to exaggerate her features. There were other prominent members feeling Jan’s magic pencil. So it was a surprise to see my photo then his caricature of me up on that BIG screen. I was honored because Jan is greatly respected for his masterful skills. For this article I’ve attached both Jan’s caricature of me and my caricature of him. I rendered his from photos I took at this year’s convention.
Was it prophetic that Ted Tucker led a seminar on “Quicksketch Watercoloring” on Tuesday? Or was it just the constant downpours in Vegas that caused the roof to leak over one end of the main workroom? Roger noted there was a large rusty water tank above the area that was leaking. Several of us helped move worktables, chairs and some artwork mounted on adjacent walls. It started with one plastic trashcan underneath to catch the drip and quickly led to 16 plastic containers and a swamped floor under the waterfall. More and more hotel employees showed up to access the problem. It was funny.
Much more to write about for next month: great seminars, the art, the magic, and the celebrity visitor.
contact: Elizabeth Pankey