Monday, October 5, 2009


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Gina Canady Adler is not only a member of the 501st Legion, she is also an amazing artist with a heart of gold which emanates through her work!

I had the pleasure of meeting Gina & seeing her beautiful work of art in person during the 501st mixer @Dragon Con. Gina created a very special piece which was presented during the induction of R2-KT during Dragon Con. The presentation of Gina’s piece left no dry eye in the venue! Her beautiful spirit & amazing art is the focus of this feature. Gina was kind enough to take a moment out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her life, art and her process...

Please tell us a little about yourself...

Hmmm well lets see...

I am a wife and mother of 3 children( my best 3D art work to date. J ) Currently my family and I live in the mountains of Virginia in a somewhat forgotten Victorian boom town. Population some wher e around 400 I think It’s small and quiet and I like it. I am the 4th generation living on our property that was bought by my great, great grandfather after the Victorian hotel that use to stand here burnt to the ground. It gives us a rare opportunity to dig into the past, my oldest son uses it as his own
personal archeological pit and it has a heavy mental influence on much of my art.

I am the daughter of a scientist and a drama major; I get my geek pretty

A few of my oddities are...

I collect sand, I love comparing the differences...
I am a chocoholic; dark chocolate is the best thing ever! I’m easily amused and I’m OCD about mowing the lawn. My first exposure to art was a combination of my parents and my maternal grandmother she was always doing some kind of art or craft. I use to get letters every week from my father during his tour in the Vietnam War. They all included a drawing, simple things like ducks, jeeps, his desk and office or the banana tree that use to sit outside his window. Art was his hobby. I don’t remember if I had started drawing at that point but I am often reminded by my mother that it wasn’t long after my Dad returned home that I did. She said I use to sit and watch my Dad draw and paint for hours and in one incident upsetting my grandmother very much. See my Dad use to draw people upside down using that whole “left side of your brain” thing. How or why I don’t remember but I found a black permanent marker and was drawing on my grandmother’s white wall in the formal dinning room. Needless to say I was in very big trouble by my parents and grandmother, but my grandfather being who he was sat quietly and just stared at it. He brought out the fact that I had drawn an upside down woman on the wall. I don’t know how old I was at that point but I think plenty of paper, pencils and crayons were in constant supply in the house after that. I’ve never really had any formal art training. Yeah sure I took art in Jr. High and High school but my teachers quickly came to a point that they would often give the class an assignment and give me something different to do that was a little more advanced.

I do have an aunt that is a formally trained traditional artist and after I
graduated high school I spent 1 summer with her at her print shop as an
apprentices but it was mostly cleaning, hand tarring paper and helping roll
the press for the copper etching print jobs that came in. The only bad thing
about that time of my life is I didn’t have a focus. I only kind of knew what
kind of art I wanted to do but didn’t know how to go about it. I had the
beginning skills but not the direction of dedication. Many of my early pieces
are very rough and unfinished. I had done convention art shows in the late 80’s and early 90’s but it was only a rare occasion that I would sell a piece since I was still very unfocused.

After the birth of my daughter Ember in 94 and my oldest son Brandon in 95
that I didn’t have time to sit and draw anymore and put it aside up until
2007. My youngest son Nathan had just started pre-school and I was looking
around the house going “okay, what now?” We had recently moved back to Goshen, I had quit my job to be a stay at home mom since we had no
babysitters and I decided that it was past time for me to sit down re-learn
how to draw and get serious. This time I had a room to set up my art table
the Internet to access any reference I needed and quite time during the day or evening’s after the kids were tucked into bed to teach myself how to
draw again. It was an opportunity I knew I couldn’t pass up. The difference this time? I thought hard and long of what I wanted to draw. A style that was different that was more me, but still could be fantasy and science fiction IF I wanted it to be. I had found a left over drawing pad and had been in the attic for years and it had 3 sheets of paper left on it. 1 technical .05 pencil since I didn’t have a pencil sharpener on hand, an unused knedable eraser, an antique Victorian photograph and a few old anatomy books. “Captured In Time” was my first real drawing after so many years...
1. Captured In Time (photo)

It started out as a simple self imposed homework face study and morphed on it’s own. 3 years later and several pieces later and I found myself doing a very special
piece know known as Katie & R2KT.

How did this beautiful piece come to be?
That’s a little complicated and involves several factors and a few years. The first is
SheVaCon a convention held in Roanoke Virginia every February and I have been on it’s board of directors for 17 years. Starting out as it’s art director and now as it’s chairman. The second was 3 years ago I was looking to pull in the local 501st
Garrison to come out as costuming guests and 1 year later became a full member of Garrison Tyranus. I love my Garrison, it is full of wonderfully talented, passionate and fun loving members. I started hearing stories about a droid called R2KT followed by stories about a little girl named Katie Johnson. This past December Garrison Tyranus was re-invited to walk in the Richmond Christmas parade and my Husband Troy Adler ID1540 and myself went out to troop the parade with our Garrison and Members of the Carolina Garrison, Rebel Legion and Andy Schwartz from the R2DC group. Carolina Garrison had brought R2KT with them and Andy had brought his R2D2 both of them were being driven in trucks in front of us as we walked. I noticed that while R2D2was happily beeping and turning his head with his lights in full twinkle to some very excited children, R2KT sat dark and quiet during the whole parade route. It wasn’t till after the parade that Cher Lambeth from the Carolina Garrison told me that R2KT was badly in need of repair. It broke my heart knowing the story behind R2KT and seeing her
unable to move during the parade. But getting her the parts she needed and the
right people to do the work in one place was difficult. A few months later with the
help of Cher Lambeth, Albin Johnson (R2KT’s owner and Katie’s father) Andy from
R2DC and a large money donation from SheVaCon we were able to not only Schedule R2KT’s appearance at the convention but we were able to hold a workshop to have new parts and repair work done to get R2KT up and running again. See R2KT has a very special job, she makes appearances at children’s hospitals, visiting sick children and giving them a few minuets of smiles and help brighten their day. To find out all about how R2KT came to be you can find her’s and Katie’s stories at It was a few weeks before the convention itself when I was continually thinking about Katie and R2KT and
sent an email to a very dear friend of mine Joe Schonberger also a member of Garrison Tyranus. I had done a few illustrations for Joe before he has a good eye and is very supportive.

Were you approached with the idea for this piece, or did you come up with the idea on your own?
This is where I take the risk of sounding very weird to some. A lot of my art
pieces start out as very strong pictures in my head it’s not something I can force, it just doesn’t work. And the piece of Katie & R2KT was the strongest I had ever had with a consistent feeling I needed to do it. I had emailed Joe to find out if Albin would be ok if I did a piece of art with Katie in it. Oddly enough Joe was having the
exact same idea and feelings I was. Right after SheVaCon my family and I had gone down to South Carolina to visit my husband’s grandmother and it was on the way home that we ran into van trouble and was forced to stop for a short time in
Columbia SC. The feeling to do this project was strongest there and I was anxious to get home and get started. It’s a project that we had to be very tight lipped about since it was Joe’s idea to present it to Albin and family at this year’s 501st mixer at Dragon*Con.

Do you have a technique that you use to help you get your ideas out? Do you like to sketch out your ideas?
Depending on the project will depend on whattechnique I’ll use. Some ofmy pieces I can see very clearly in my mind, others I’ll get a veg idea and willhave to take time toformulate the idea. My husband and children have often had to pose for me to use as references. They humor me most times but are happy if I’m not having
them stand for long periods or holding something so I can get the right photograph

2. Wishing Pills Sketch
(photo Idea sketch)

3. Wishing Pills Color (photo Finished piece)

Painted in photoshop 7 with wacom Intuos 3 tablet...
Foremost I have to be able to see it in my head and I’m always checking references to make sure that I’m still pushing myself forward. If I’m going the more traditional route and using pencils I’ll start with the eyes, cause if I
can’t get the eyes right then the whole piece won’t work. That part is very slow
and exacting starting out sketching them very lightly and then slowly putting more and more shadows in as I work...

4. WizardsChessWIP

Now if I’m working digitally it starts out as a very rough and messy sketch due to the fact that I can easily, re-sketch, smudge, push, erase until I get what I
want without sacrificing expensive paper...
5. Katie1WIP (photo)

Did you use a computer, or did you illustrate your ideas by hand?
I use both. Lately it has been more computer work and less pencil work, which
at this point I’m dying to get back to my art table cause I miss that part of the process. But with so many commissions needing to be filled and quick deadlines, using the computer makes things go faster.

Do you have a preference of computer over freehand?
Depends on the project and the dead line, If I have enough time I prefer to do
things on the Archer French Rag paper and then I take it to my local print shop that has a very large flat bed scanner. My pencil originals can be as large as 30x20. The print shop will save me a large file on CD and I can put it onto the Computer to paint with and get in really close. But if I don’t have much time I’ll hit the computer first...

6. SteamPunk Pencil (photo)

SteamPunk started out as a traditional piece for a SheVaCon advertising project so I was having to work a bit fast and I really wasn’t happy with the way the guys face came out and his arm isn’t quiet right. But when you look at the Colored version you can see where I had been able to change his face and his arm. The guy’s hand is now showing holding the gun...

7. SteamPunk color (photo)

When you use a computer, what program do you use?
Currently I use Photoshop CS4 to paint with and my Intuos 3 Wacom Tablet. I
had started out using an old photoshop 7 version. I had been contacted by a small
company by the name of Orion’s Bell to illustrate some cards for a game. This was before I had started using the computer to paint with I
was still only working In pencils. My husband and I took 2 weeks to decide how I was going to go about doing these cards. After all those years of not doing any art work all my paints had dried up and I had no boards to paint on. Making ends meet can be at times a challenge. So we took our time in decided what the best and most cost effective way to do the job. We kept turning back to the idea of the wacom tablet. I never run out of my favorite color, every color imaginable is at my finger tips at all times. I never have to buy or prep boards, I can stop in the middle of painting and not worry about my pallet drying out or my youngest deciding he’s going to help by putting his own style of art on top of what I was working on. Or bumping into the board or pallet and having it hit the floor. No mess to clean up and Hey it’s green planet friendly! And I didn’t have to pay shipping costs for shipping the boards back and forth. The tablet completely out weighed the traditional painting method. My tablet was my Christmas present for 2 years. First tip, Just don’t forget to hit the “save” every once in a while. I was hitting the free tutorials on Deviantart hard and fast while I was waiting on my tablet to arrive. Those first 2 weeks while I was trying to use a mouse to paint with was hard...

8. Yellow Brick Road. (photo)

I was just starting to learn how to use layers...The pieces I did for them are still rough as I was having to learn very quickly how to paint using the computer and it took me time to understand the use of layers and find or make some brush types to use. Unfortunately the game had been shelved due to the recent down turn of the economy as far as I know they are still looking for a backer. But it was an
excellent learning experience for me. I don’t have any regrets about doing it.

When using the computer, did you face any challenges creating
your piece, or did using a computer give you the freedom to
make changes as you were working?
Learning any new medium is going to have it’s own challenges as you learn the
in’s and out’s and how to’s and get into your comfort zone. I can treat the digital
medium as I would a traditional painting but there are no in between drying times. Layers can be made and stacked into folders incase I change my mind and have to go back to a layer without effecting or repainting the whole piece. So there is more
room for freedom and you’re not locked down into a clothing style or a particular shadow or detail on something and having to start all over. Simply delete the layer or erase the part you want to get rid of. I’m always trying new painting methods and studying some of the old masters and painting tutorials. Pushing myself further, challenging my current style and become better.
9. Kaite2WIP (photo) Katie & R2KT work in progress
10. Km4KT (photo)

Created for Joe Schonberger for his Kilometers for Katie project. Raising money for
the Make A Wish foundation in the memory of Katie Johnson

12. 2009WIPGCA(photo)

1 of 4 current works in progress. You can already see the difference in the painting style as I learn how better to paint. It changes with each piece. The Katie piece did have one big challenge for me. Before I had not had much luck in drawing or painting children and being able to keep them looking like children and their magical angelic innocents. This was the most stressful part of this piece, due to the fact this was for someone and not someone I had met personally at that point.

Were there any changes in the progression that occurred as you were working on the piece?
There were several changes although some of them on the small side. One was the eyes I had finished them one way but found a tutorial from another artist and found a better way to do the eyes that made them look more believable. The pink of her shirt and the pink on KT also changed a few times until I reached a shade I was happy with. Another change was, as I was working I was trying to put in a split screen type of picture that would have been separated by the matt board but as I
got about half way through painting, Joe felt it wasn’t flowing with the main piece
so we cut it off...

From start to finish, How long did it take you to finish the piece?
Ooo that’s a good question. Each piece is different and some can take a little longer than others. Some I remember to track the times and others I become so involved I forget.The Katie piece probably came to a compiled time of 92 hours.
The more I paint the faster I become, but I have seen some artist that can do some amazing speed painting.

What was it like for you during the presentation of the piece?
The closer it got the more nervous I became. Even that morning during the parade I was agonizing over it and by the time we arrived at the 501st Mixer that night I was a nervous wreck and was making Joe tense. The art piece was only ½ of the full presentation. First R2KT was inducted into the 501st Kilted Trooper Brigade and presented with her very own KTB kilt. When it came time to present the Katie &R2KT piece to Albin and family. I was still really nervous about how the piece looked until Albin unwrapped it and I saw the look on his face. I could finally breath inside I knew I had been able to make Katie look like Katie. I also teared up as soon as Albin, his wonderful wife Kathy and Daughter Allie did.

Do you have a website that feature more of your artwork?
My own personal website, ummm not yet. I’m still working on what Joe calls the Adler finical fluency plan. At the moment I post my art over at and I do send my art out to different sci-fi and fantasy convention art shows across the country. Yes for sale. J

Anything else you would like to add?
Albin recently gave his blessing letting me do a very Limited Edition print run of the Katie & R2KT piece available to only to members of the 501st and the Rebel Legion. The bulk of the proceeds will be going to the Make A Wish foundation through the Kilometers for Katie project in the name of Katie Johnson. I’m very excited about this project and will be sending a copy to Steven Sansweet who said he fell in love with it at the mixer. Another very amazing moment for me that night. Thinking back about it I do believe that it was Kaite that was truly pointing Joe and myself in this direction. She had something to say and she is a very powerful and inspiring spirit and I am very grateful that it was me that she picked to do this piece.

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