I’m working on something big again! No, not lizard porn. This is just a little distraction from the big project. I took a photograph of some lizards copulating in a bush and it was blurry and unusable but the arrangement of their limbs was so cunning I had to make this little sketch to memorialize it. Anyway, the thing I’m working on is much, much worse than lizard porn.
We interrupt our irregularly scheduled content of rural noir graphic literary criticism to celebrate my favorite little Hufflepuff, who readers of this space know as the Girl. She’s 14 now (not so little; we’re almost the same height and I can wear some of her pants) so I dashed off this little sketch for her birthday. Really am sorry I didn’t ink the nosepiece of her glasses. I did get her hilarious Ugg boots and her blue hair. We live in Arizona. She wears Uggs. She’s got her own sense of style, this kid.
We’ve been working our way through the Harry Potter series for a while now, and we’re well into Half-Blood Prince. Apparently she used her birthday money to order an official Harry Potter wand off the internet, and then, two days later, she saw one of the interactive wands that activate things at the Universal Studios park in a second-hand store, and she bought that too.
Anyway, this card did say “Accio Cake!” on the inside, but the cake was a lie, because we decided she was a getting a box of birthday doughnuts with a candle stuck in them.
You know you’ve spent too much time on the Wacom tablet when you try to control-Z a piece of paper.
This is just a quick sketch I did before I went to Florida (I’m back now) based on a selfie I took the week before. Although I still have some Dragon Comics to finish, I’m also working more in pencil lately, trying to be less dependent on the tablet and Photoshop. Been working on a big project that might take the rest of the year, but still trying to update this blog semi-regularly. Seriously, I drew this picture just to remind myself that I could draw.
The original photo was taken at a place called Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch, about 45 minutes north of Tucson. It’s a tourist attraction petting zoo where you can feed little deer, miniature donkeys, goats, sheep, bunnies, parakeets, lorikeets, ducks, and sting rays. I might be missing some creatures. Oh, yeah, the stupid ostriches, which I ignore, because the rest of the attraction is much more fun. You get a lot of joy for $10. The deer are my favorite, but the sting rays are pretty cool. And the bunnies are bunnies.
Whilst searching for some other document (never found; can’t even remember what it was now), came across this blast from the past: one my first mandalas. Not sure about the date, but probably from sometime in the mid-’90s, although it could be earlier. Sketching it out was meticulous work; I literally used a compass and a protractor to get all the curves and angles. The center part shows the phases of the moon, and the cardinal points are trees during the 4 seasons.
After putting so much effort into making the sketch perfect, I then became terrified to ruin it by trying to color it, so it just hung out in a tube for 15 or 20 years. No idea how it got stained…the stains are not as bad as they look, but rather amplified due to the Photoshop correction I had to do to the original image just to make the pencil lines clearly visible.
The whole this is pretty banged up, and, of course, held together with scotch tape, but none of that matters anymore, because now I do have Photoshop. I could draw a clean and more perfect copy in a relatively short period of time, and I could color it in a million different ways without ruining the original. Would make a wicked cool T-shirt.
Not that I don’t have 50 other projects.
At the same time I acquired 3 pounds of polymer clay, I also picked up another set of Sharpie Metallics to replace the defective ones I bought for October’s Black Cat Bulletin Board. These came from Michael’s, rather than Walgreen’s, and probably hadn’t been sitting on the shelf long enough to completely dry out. Then I got really excited to do a zentangle on black paper, so excited that I somehow failed to notice that this paper was substantially larger than 8 1/2 x 11 (i.e. somewhat larger than my flatbed scanner). So the edges of the design got cut off in the scan, but otherwise this one looks really nice.
Even though this piece was drawn yesterday, I’m still uploading it an hour late today because it’s hard to get back into a rhythm after a vacation, and also other reasons. Needless to say, I never got the chance to actually make anything today, except, of course, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So now I’m behind on everything.
If you’re going to let a blog slide, December is the time to do it. No one has time to screw around online in December. In related news, my holiday sales are booming: 2 Tshirts and 2 stickers in 2 weeks. Success. Yeah. Please, buy my stuff so I can pay for all these art supplies.
I honestly couldn’t tell you where this stuff comes from. I mean, like most creatives, I suffer from depression, but that doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Socks are extremely meaningful to me. My grandfather was a hosier–he sold socks and underwear–and when I was little we regularly received shipments of same. My grandfather retired when I was in elementary school, and the stream of undergarments dried up. I don’t think my mother realized how often little kids require new socks and underwear, because for the rest of grade school I never felt that I had sufficient.
As an adult, naturally, I overcompensate in the other direction: 5 overstuffed drawers full of socks and underwear.
The problem with painting from live models when you want to paint a cat is that cats make terrible models. They have no trouble posing themselves; effortlessly, they assume all manner of provocative positions, seemingly begging to be capture for posterity. And then, just as you start to get the outline of a decent sketch, basically the moment they notice that you are looking at them, they move.
So I don’t know about this little painting. I did it about a month or so ago and of course it’s not quite right because the cat was done long before I was. You can sort of tell what it’s supposed to be…but it’s not great. Can’t recall my original motivation in using so much red in this painting. The cat in question, my current cat Lupin, is a real Halloween cat, almost completely black except for a few white hairs and a little charm on her throat. She does spend a lot of time lying splayed out in the sun, so her belly is bleached brown, but she’s generally hard to capture visually because she basically sucks light into herself like a black hole.
While I was working on my original painting and trying to make it into the one I published (and also covering up a lot of the red and some of the silver) the cat just randomly sat down in front of me in almost this exact post, but I decided to just ignore her, knowing that if I tried to make any serious study, she would immediately move.
Even though they look similar, this is a totally different cat, Suna, who passed away a couple years back. She was actually a tortoiseshell, even though here she looks entirely black. I knew Suna as a kitten, when the Bear and I went to school in Ohio, and then many years later as a mature cat when I came out to the Sonoran Desert. I can’t remember which moment in time this sketch is from, but it’s either 1997 or 2005. I suspect the former.
I was looking everywhere for this picture when I first started the blog; I wanted it for another post on cats last year, but it was just nowhere to be found. Friday night I ditched all my friends who wanted to go to a bar and randomly started cleaning some of the clutter in my office. This sketch was stuck in a transparent plastic report cover along with the design for my second tattoo and a bunch of Winsor McCay reproductions. Makes perfect sense.
In real life I do not sleep in the middle of the bed, because I’m married, but otherwise this is pretty accurate. You probably know that feeling. You promise yourself you’ll get to all the stuff you need to get to, the stuff you didn’t get to today because you were having some kind of crisis of faith, or you were distracted by emergencies or other stuff that seemed more pressing, or you got overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of what you meant to do, or you just forgot. For whatever reason, it remains undone, but tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you’ll get up, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, and focus on what’s really important to you.
And then tomorrow is today and you get up and have the same influences and the same distractions and the same excuses and before you know it bedtime has rolled around again and you’re lying in bed promising yourself, “Tomorrow, tomorrow.” But even if you swear to yourself that it’s absolutely, positively, definitely tomorrow, deep down you know it’s maybe tomorrow, because everything’s maybe and nothing assured. There you are, covering your face with your hands (maybe just metaphorically; it doesn’t have to be physically) trying to forgive yourself for your shortcomings and forget your failure, except you don’t really want to forget because how are you going to remember how important this is tomorrow if you can’t recall how disappointed you are today.
Maybe tomorrow. It’s a gift of hope but it’s also a threat.
Another serving of strangeness out of my virtual sketchbook. A fish camouflaged as an eyeball with so many rippling little fins that it almost looks furry makes perfect sense. Also, it was fun to draw. The water effect for the background really did come out beautifully. Just yesterday I was watching the ripples of sunlight on the bottom of the swimming pool and thinking how difficult it would be to capture that effect in paint. But really it’s easy with basic Photoshop tools. The little tendrils look sweet, too.
Today was another non-starter for me, but my censorship article went up on Panels and got a great reception: retweets, comments, Facebook shares!. It’s called “I Expected Batman and Robin, Not Pornography” and it’s just a little rant about people who don’t get the concept of liberal arts education. Go on and click it you like comics, dislike censorship, or just enjoy stories about clueless people or straight up ranting.
There seems to be a consensus among a certain group of artists that the measure of your ability can be found in the ease with which you draw realistic looking human hands. Drawing the comic has smoothed this skill over for me. (Yeah, I know the characters in the comic only have 4 fingers. But still.) Hands never seemed that great of a challenge to me–it’s face that give me trouble–and now my brain knows how to visualize the reproduce a variety of hand positions. If I can look at my own hand, or someone else’s hand, or a photo of a hand, then it always comes out right.
This is my left hand, which I did in digital paint as a tiny image a few weeks back. It took only a few minutes. Then I blew it up and smoothed it out just now, which only took another few minutes. Of course, I could have messed with it for 4 hours and made it look even more realistic. I probably could have messed with it for 18 hours and made it look like a some kind of uncanny volar valley, something that looked almost, but not quite, like a photograph. Wherein lies my problem: given enough time, I can draw anything. But then time becomes an issue. In 4 hours I could draw one perfect hand. Or one imperfect comic.
Lately life has been overwhelming and my brain doesn’t seem interested in drawing, or anything at all. It’ll probably pass. But producing new stuff seems just out of reach right now. I do have an article about censorship coming out today on Panels, but the link won’t be up for a few more hours, so I’ll post it later. There’s half a comics script on my desk, and with a little effort it could be a real comic by tomorrow.