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.
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.
Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I walked through a darkened hall and stepped on something cold and slightly moist with my bare foot, and I knew exactly what had just been squished beneath my naked skin, because I’ve stepped on dead mice before. The cat helpfully leaves them in my path, on the only rug in the entire house, because, despite the fact that I feed her regular food and treats every day without fail, she apparently considers me a terrible hunter. The mice are pretty easy targets; they live in the compost heap and even I’ve killed one (by accident, with a pitchfork, while turning the pile). I can’t get myself worked up over mice living in the compost heap–they’re kind of cute when they’re alive, and even though my neighbor in convinced they probably carry the hantavirus, the heap is a pretty safe distance from the house–but the cat is vigilant about their community, and spends many hours a day sitting on the wall, gazing down at their home with dedication to an ultimate goal.
The dead ones are better than the disabled ones. In her quest to teach me how to hunt, she tried bringing me creatures with broken backs, still alive, but unable to walk. She must be perplexed when I let The Man finish them off for me. He grew up on a farm, and has more experience killing animals. In addition to mice, she has gifted me with many lizards, a sizable number of songbirds, and on one memorable occasion, a snake. It was a worm snake with a broken back, able to dart its head around, but paralyzed on the back end.
To her credit, we had a terrible cricket problem in here before she decided to move in, and, mysteriously, since her arrival, the house is no longer infested with crickets chirping their heads off all night in the walls.
In case it’s not obvious, this is another insomnia comics. Insomnia comics are drawn the night after insomnia, when the gears of my mind are sticky and don’t want to turn. I’m sure plenty of funny things happened today, but they didn’t want to be comics. There was the mom pushing a kid in a stroller even though that kid was clearly old enough to walk, and threatening to take away his dinosaurs every time he made a sound even though we were in a room full of screaming kids, for example. That’s weird, right? But I’m too tired to make sense of it. Oh, and then there was a conversation I had with my 86-year-old grandmother, during which she made fun of climate change deniers. And at dinner, we bumped into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, one of whom is a physicist, who told me that his Ph.d. thesis disproved the concept of teleportation. There’s got to be a joke in that somewhere. Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember how to be funny. Right now I’m just kind of stressed out.
Today also should have been the day that I started my holiday bulletin board, but I was too tired to think of a picture or decide on any text. As my mother always said, “Tomorrow is another day.”
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.
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.
Here’s a few more sketchy flights of fancy from my Trickster’s Hat days. There’s something so soft about pencil drawings, and especially velvety about color pencil. When I was a teenager I used to spend a lot of babysitting money on artist quality colored pencils, but I think this drawing was done with school supplies. I used to covet colored pencil–any arts supplies–so badly. Now I have dozens of sets of colored pencils, and I spent most of my time on the tablet.
Little Red Riding Hood again, this time a dark, brooding raven of a riding hood. Here’s one little girl who’s not afraid to walk through the forest. She’s more than a match for this brutally psychedelic world.
OK, back to the passion flower! When that’s finished, I may take a break from the tablet and get back to basics.