IF – Beneath

I had this grandiose idea of painting a paradise fish under his bubblenest (which I may still do), but I found these cute drawings I did a million years ago amongst my old oil paint. This one is a mermaid, pondering her existence beneath the sea, just like me. Drawn in 1998 on stationary.

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From the garage

Yes, this is my collection of paint. What I want to know is, will it actually work after spending YEARS in the garage freezing and thawing? I know some of the oil and medium will be fine. But the paint itself, it seems a bit, um, chewy. I must say, I am surprised it looks as good as it does. It has been 13 years since I used any of this.

Oil paint used to be my medium of choice. I loved how it did not dry on me, allowing me to move it around and soften edges. Doing an oil painting is like spending time in a new place, it is an experience. Oil color is living, not flat like acrylic. With acrylic, I find I have to keep adding more straight colors to it to get the brilliance I want – it does not blend the same way. This can get expensive. Oil also does not dry up and die. Or at least I hope not. I can’t afford to buy new. I do happen to have some powder pigment, it was never opened (jackpot – these cost me about $75 back in 95).

Maybe my next post will celebrate a new start – if any of this is usable. In any case, I will keep you updated. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

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IF – “Acrobat”

Just one more flip!!

I wish my scanner was bigger. This was from a pretty bad photo, sorry. I am contemplating the current experiment of doing the background in pastel. I don’t think it’s exactly becoming here. Oh well, next time, I’ll try something a little different.

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The Feral Heart is…

…a middle reader adventure novel in progress. In the past, there was more readership for novels featuring speaking animal characters. Today, not so much. As I look back, some of my favorite books were Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of Nihm by Robert C. O’Brien, Bambi by Felix Salten, and Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I know, old school.

Newer novels with speaking animals are many times cast into the Animal Fantasy genre. Some of my newer favs are the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and Firebringer by David Clement Davies. But “The Feral Heart” is not exactly fantasy. The animals do not do anything that real animals would not do, except speak. They only speak to each other, by the way. Not to the humans. And they sometimes have trouble understanding human speech, and must consult each other for translations.

So what’s going on in “The Feral Heart”? The story follows Micah, a headstrong White Shepherd, on his sometimes ill-fated quest to find true freedom. His journey takes him from the haute couture of dogdom to the gutters of cur-ville, with all manner of humankind reigning over him. From one of the middle chapters:

Micah began to tremble, feeling the man’s sour mood mounting to anger. What punishment could he expect now? He wondered too about Chronos’ suggestion – to show himself a steady good dog, not prone to running wild. How was it that such dichotomy existed in the life of a dog? On one paw, a dog yearns to be free, running with the wind like a wolf. On the other, he must stay put and play follow the leader with the two-leggeds. What great life has any dog lived? He is either dragged around and commanded, or chased and scorned.

Check back for more tidbits…

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Chapter One

I haven’t drawn anything the past week or so. I have been working on The Feral Heart in Chapter 1 – again. I do not know many novelists, but I wonder how many revisions you can do before your work becomes a hack job.  I feel almost like it’s ruined.  The entire book is a complete mess, like a drawing that has been erased on so many times the paper is ragged. I have faded out characters, deleted huge chunks, added nuances of character development. But I am to the point I am tired of the process. Usually when I do stuff like this, I can just put it aside and quit. The problem is, Micah won’t go away. I keep thinking about him, my main character. Micah is calling to me, howling. I have created a real dog.  A dog whose story is just beginning.

Micah shivered angrily in the cold October rain. He watched it collect into a miniature lake near his feet. Drip drops on fallen leaves muffled the occasional bleats of sheep in the nearby barn. Micah blinked at his mother. She was perched like a griffin on top of her house in the adjacent pen.

“I will miss you,” she said without turning her eyes his way.

Micah pressed his claws against the wire, his eyes pinched into points. “What if I am to be a pet? And I have to sleep inside a human house? It would be worse than herding sheep. At least now I have air.” His breath came desperately, as if he would never taste it again.

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Art Kindergarten

A friend told me the other day she felt like she was in Kindergarten again – she started using watercolor for the first time. It seems we get into a technique groove and it’s hard to break out of it, especially when our busy lives shove the art into the background.

When I was in high school, I was very torn about the direction I would head for college. I was either going to be an artist or a biologist. I chose biology because “artists don’t make any money.”After focusing on art throughout high school, I took ONE painting class in college. It was sort of a joke. I had a friend who was a painting major and I had met her professor. He invited me to take the class even though I was not allowed to be in it (upper level class for painting majors only). I had already been using oils for the last couple of years and did well in the class. After college was over, I did only a few more pieces of art – a handful or two – over the next decade. I did not even keep a sketchbook.

So now, after boring you with the story of my life, I have come to the place where I need to do something serious. Everyone has dreams, it is important to not let them die! I will be 40 this year. Time to go back to kindergarten. And it really is hard – I haven’t ridden this bike in a long time. What am I trying to do? I can draw anything realistically from a photo. But transforming that style into living story characters has been a real challenge. Yesterday I tried to draw the cow jumping over the moon. I spent hours with nothing really to show for it. My pencil sketches look like a kindergartener’s. The lesson here is that artists do WORK, it is not always thrilling. But I just know something wonderful is ahead of me if I do the work. I will not rest until I get there.

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Illustration Friday – Atmosphere

Since it’s about 90 outside today, I am thinking of cooler climes. I have never been to Maine, but I hear there is a different atmosphere up there.

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