Jul 31, 2013

Spellbound Magazine roughs

I thought I might show some of the work I've been doing for one of the jobs I have on the go at the moment. I have three jobs that I'm attempting to juggle currently, but after the end of this week, that should go down to just one big job.
I'm producing a single illustration for Spellbound Magazine's Fall 2013 issue, which has the theme 'Creatures of the Deep Dark Woods.' 

Here's what the website says about the magazine:
Spellbound is a children’s fantasy e-zine published by Eggplant Literary Productions for kids 8-12 years of age.  Published quarterly, each issue contains stories, poetry, art and more all centered around a featured creature. 

So, with the topic in mind, I started developing ideas for the piece. I drew a lot of figures in a variety of poses and settings and slowly got closer to the core idea of the topic. I initially sent these two roughs for feedback or approval:

A Wood Wife
A Wood King
This is the sort of thing I love to draw, I can include elements I never tire of drawing: moss, standing stones with holes and markings on them and lots of trees.
They quite liked the Wood Wife piece, so I did a few variations of it for them to choose from:
Nanny Tree-Speaker
Grandmother Hare
They chose Grandmother Hare in the end, with a couple of slight alterations requested to make her look more like an actual hare.
I'll be working on the final version of this piece in the coming week; I have a deadline of August 9th for it, but I won't be able to show the finished piece until the magazine is released. But as soon as I have the go-ahead, I'll pop it up here.

It's back to a Head tomorrow, and my personal account of my encounter with a real Faerie or Faeries will also appear.

100 Heads in 100 Days #65 - The 31 Day Drawing Challenge ends

Today is the final day of the Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge. The gang produced some fantastic art for it this year (not that they didn't last year) and I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to contribute more to the challenge this time around. But there's always next year!

Before next year, though, I'm sure our fearless leader, Mr. Donal Fallon, will cook something else up to keep us frayed at the edges. There's already whispers of this year's 24-hour comic drawing day. I'm on the fence about doing it this year. Some of you may recall that last year, I produced a children's book called 'Klogg the Troll.' I wasn't working at the time of doing that, but now that I have a full-time job this time around, it might be difficult to get to, but I would very much like to, I might even do a follow up story for Klogg.

Anyway, my congratulations go to all that were involved in the 31 Day Drawing Challenge.

100 Heads in 100 Days #65 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #31
Toadstool Tom
This final 31 Day Drawing Challenge topic follows the tradition set down last year, the artist can draw anything they like. So I drew Toadstool Tom, naturally.

Me Fact #65
My parents, Pam and Noel, were born and brought up in Perth, Western Australia. The distance between Perth and Melbourne is about 2700km, or 1700 miles as the crow flies. That's about the same distance as London to Greece or New York to Mexico. Perth and Melbourne are very different places, as a result.

Jul 30, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #64

It's the week that I dread every year right now, Galway Race Week. A whole week of people gambling and getting very, very drunk and making fools of themselves. The traffic is an absolute nightmare, the police take over all of the major intersections to help alleviate the congestion. I swear though, last year, they did more harm than good. I was stuck waiting for one of them to let our side go through at one point; there must have been cars backed up for a good 200 metres behind me and the moron decided to skip us to let a queue of about 20 cars to go through in stead, so we had to wait our turn again, which was another 5 minutes away.

I got angry, I confess. I honked my horn at the policeman and made a 'what the hell!?' gesture. When our turn finally came around, he slowed me down and told me that "good things come to those who wait." I just kept driving at that point, which is probably just as well. If I didn't, I'm sure I would have said something along the lines of "do those that wait longer than they should have, because a policeman can't count out the order of 4 different directions, get something special?"

There is torrential rain here in Galway today, which I reaaallly hope affects the races. I despise the 'sport' of horse racing. I think it is barbaric that horses are whipped and sometimes put down so that people can gamble their money on which one of them is fastest. The old argument that those horses are treated like kings and they love racing does not wash with me for a second. Ask a horse at the start of a race if it could potentially be shot because it breaks its leg just so that the people over the fence can throw some money around, would it still like to race? The answer is pretty obvious.

So I hope it rains here all week and washes the races out. There will be less traffic, less of a mess in town, less dead horses.

100 Heads in 100 Days #64 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #30
An odd looking Viking
Day 30 of the Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge is to draw either a Viking, a Ninja, a Wrestler, or a Cowboy. I went for a Viking. I was so conscious of not putting horns on his helmet that I forgot to make it look good. But oh well. I was kinda going for a 'what if Stoick the Vast (Hiccup's father in How to Train your Dragon) were real' vibe.

Me Fact #64
I can't handle spicy food. The hottest I can tolerate is about Tikka Masala level, and then only the westernised version.

Jul 29, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #63 - copying Travis Charest

I'm going to talk briefly about another great artist today, one of the great modern comic artists that has heavily influenced many current artists, including Leinil Francis Yu - Travis Charest.

I first discovered the art of Mr. Charest (pronounced CH-a-REY, I believe) through his work on Flash Annual #5 which I must have picked up some time in 1992. It was clearly obvious that this guy was good. He had a style somewhat similar to Jim Lee, but there was much more to it than that. You could see he was influenced by more than just comic art, there was an element of European illustration to his faces and rendering techniques.

I picked up whatever of his work I could find over the coming years, from his Darkstars work, to his move to WildC.A.T.S.
His initial output on WildC.A.T.S. was great, he did a healthy chunk of issues from #15 through #31 and the work got progressively better. But at the same time, the work got more sporadic. It got to the point that he was turning in just a couple of pages an issue toward the end of that first run, but by goodness those pages were pretty.

Then, in 1997, there came WildC.A.T.S./X-Men: The Golden Age. If you're a comic art fan, this one-shot comic is a must have item. It's in my Top 5 single issues of all time. This is Charest firing on all cylinders.

A couple of years later, Charest was the lead artist on the WildC.A.T.S relaunch, and he produced some more spectacular work on the handful of issues he did. But, again, the burden of a monthly deadline proved too much, and his name disappeared from the comic shelves once more.

This has been the great challenge for all Travis Charest fans. When he does produce work, the standard is always incredibly high, but you DO have to wait for it. It brings up the question: Would you rather he produced 7/10 work on a regular basis? Or is it better to hold out for the 10/10 stuff? I'm of the mind that the 10/10 work is worth the wait.

100 Heads in 100 Days #63 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #29
The bad guy...?
Today's Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge topic is a Master Copy, so I thought it fitting to copy one of Mr. Charest's heads from his awesome Spacegirl strip. If you'd like to compare it to the original, I took it from strip #45.

Me Fact #63
I've never gotten around to getting a manual license, I can only drive an automatic.

Jul 28, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #62 - A Standing Stonehead

So here's a question for you. I keep an eye on the hits I get on this blog pretty regularly. June was the busiest month yet for traffic, and the first half of this month was even busier. But then, literally overnight, it dropped to about half the hits and has rapidly gone down from there. What could be doing this? Is it the content I'm putting up? Are people tired of what I'm doing? Are the daily posts annoying at this point?
Or is it an outside factor? Is it some Google algorithm that was initiated that stopped traffic coming my way?

Not that I'm too concerned about how many people pop in to have a look. Sure, more is better than less, but I'm not going to pander to the masses, but I don't want to scare people off either.

I guess I'll just keep plugging away and do what I do.

100 Heads in 100 Days #62
A Standing Stonehead
Distantly related to Stonehead Wayfarers, these Standing Stoneheads can be found throughout Faerie, sometimes in circles. When a Standing Stonehead talks, the ground shakes, when a Standing Stonehead sneezes, mountains crumble (luckily, they only sneeze once every eon or so).
Standing Stoneheads are solitary Faerie dwellers, they are alive, and they do move, but you'd have to wait around a very long time indeed to notice.

Me Fact #62
Continuing on from yesterday's fact, I have a covetous hankering for clear acrylic display cases. I would love to have the set-up to custom-make my own ones to size for the various figures and trinkets I have around the place. It can't be that hard to do, can it?

Jul 27, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #61

I'm a little freaked that I've been at this for a whole 2 months now. It's good to be comfortably over the hump and rolling on down to the finish line. The stack of pieces of paper with all of the heads on them is pretty thick at this point. There's a lot of work in there, some I'm proud of, some rather sucky, but as a whole, a pleasing display.

100 Heads in 100 Days #61
... ?
I have absolutely no idea what is going on with this head. I think I was just running on auto-pilot when I did it. Most of the time I can come up with a nifty back-story for a character quite easily, but this guy is drawing a blank. Perhaps he is the boy with no past, who wonders the woods, fearful of leaving its borders...

Me Fact #61
I love stationery. Fancy pens, sturdy metal rulers with buffed edges, Notebooks that fit perfectly somewhere and are well made... I like finding protective covering for my books and art supplies too. My current craze is with cigar boxes. I work across from a busy café/sandwich bar/bottle shop/delicatessen sorta place. They sell cigars there and they give me the empty cases. They're all over the place here at the moment, holding things like brushes, paint tubes, bookmarks, books... I'm thinking of finding a way to take a few of them and make them into bigger boxes somehow, the possibilities then are very enticing!
I do wonder how I got so weird about this sort of stuff.

Jul 26, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #60 - Robert Hardy

I've just finished watching up to the end of Supernatural's 7th season. It's a great show, probably Top 5 shows for me. I think the writing is solid, varied and has a great balance between serious and funny. The casting is fantastic and the dialogue very fitting. There seems no end to the potential plots too, big and small.
And, as I mentioned to some friends the other evening at the Galway Pub Scrawl, it has, hands down, the best gag reels of all time.

100 Heads in 100 Days #60 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #26
Robert Hardy as Siegrfried Farnon
Another of my favourite shows is 'All Creatures Great & Small,' as I've mentioned before. Today's Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge is 'Favourite Actor/Actress in one of their roles and/or as a Zombie.' I pretty quickly thought of Robert Hardy as Siegfried Farnon in 'All Creatures...,' he's amazing in it, one of the most memorable characters of all time.
I don't think I got the likeness, but maybe the vibe...

Me Fact #60
My wife and I currently have no TV channels. Ireland 'went digital' a good while ago and we never bothered to get the converter box thingy to get the free channels. Mind you, we don't miss them, the stuff they put on the TV here is awful anyway. We survive quite happily on DVDs.

Jul 25, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #59 - Featherhorn

The day off yesterday was pretty productive, I produced a couple of headshots and got a lot of painting done. I always seem to forget how time-consuming painting is. Half of it seems to be spent mixing the right colour, then the application and blending, waiting for it to dry to see how it looks (acrylics dry considerably darker than when they are wet), re-applying, highlights, touch-ups... the hours do fly by. It's so much fun though, you get into a zone and the outside world is a muffled blur as you concentrate on every stroke, every dab, every blot.

I've nearly finished the painting for the local guy and I have one more rough for the magazine to do tonight for approval and then it's on to the final illustration for it and the other projects patiently waiting in line

I'm wrecked tired though. There hasn't been a day of not working either at the bookshop or drawing for hours on end for months. But I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. It would feel very strange indeed at this point to not draw for at least a couple of hours a day.

100 Heads in 100 Days #59
I have an idea for a creature that I really like the visual design of. He is a forest spirit, ancient and wise. He has huge antlers with protruding fronds that spell out his name in ogham. For those who don't know, ogham (kinda pronounced OH-um) is an ancient irish writing form that is basically a long line with dashes of various formations running through it. It's pretty cool. Anyway, the above head is that creature's daughter.

Me Fact #59
I don't consider photography an artform. Sure, you can be creative when taking photos and when manipulating them, but there are also 'creative' lawyers, I wouldn't call them artists either.

Jul 24, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #58 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #24

I have the day off today. Here's what is on my list of jobs at the moment-
  • draw and ink another 14 images for the Adventure Dark & Deep Bestiary. I have produced artwork for the previous two books in the series, the Game Masters Toolkit and the Players Manual.
  • Finish painting the piece for the local fellow in Acrylics. Top priority.
  • Do a couple of varied roughs based on the initially approved idea for Spellbound Magazine.
  • Heads!
  • Write!
So much for a day off...

100 Heads in 100 Days #58 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #24

Today's 31 Day Drawing Challenge is Bad Hair Day. I was initially going to go for just a big hairball with a couple of beady eyes visible, but this is what popped out instead. Sometimes you never know what is going to appear as you move the pencil around the page.

Me Fact #58
I went to art school for about 6 months straight after High School. Then I got a job and joined the real world. Art school, in my mind, can only teach you so much. The real lessons take years of practice and commitment.

Jul 23, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #57 - A gentle reminder

No time for the usual long-winded post today unfortunately, so I'll use this space to remind all of you cherished visitors to my little blog that all of these 100 Heads that I've been doing are available to lay claim to. It's the best deal in town too, because they won't cost you a single cent! Not even for postage! That's right, I am giving these little pictures away to whoever wants them. I'm bat-poop nutso, I am aware...

All I ask is that you don't get too greedy, I'm limiting this give-away to a maximum of 10 pieces per person. All you have to do to reserve the ones you want is to comment on the post that features the pieces you want. Now, sometimes this Blogger template like to mess around with folks and not show the comments section at the bottom of posts, but to defeat it, just hit F5 until it is vanquished.
Obviously, these pieces are one of a kind, so once somebody puts their name down for it, it's gone.
Have at it, say I!

Also, the 10 Troll Witch prints I was giving away are all gone now. My thanks go to everybody who put their hand up, I'll be emailing you shortly to sort out where to post them to. I'll be presenting another print on the 100th Head post, most likely. I'm thinking the Cthulhu piece.

100 Heads in 100 Days #57
Proudbeard (Not, I repeat, NOT, Alan Moore)
Me Fact #57
I make my own bookmarks. I made one about 10 years ago that featured various members of the Goblin Guard, or my version of them, at least. 
The thing is, for some reason, I used to spell 'guard' wrong back then, going for 'gaurd' instead. I sold these bookmarks at a bookshop back in the day, so there's a bunch of them out in the world with my bad spelling on them. This gives me nightmares.

Jul 22, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #56 - A look at Jim Murray

Okay, today I'm going to talk about another artist I really like, an artist I've only really been a fan of for the last couple of years, though I've been aware of him for considerably longer.

I present to you... Jim Murray

I first came across Jim's artwork a good 10 years ago. He did some of the packaging artwork for the TV show Spaced (another Simon Pegg reference!). He also did some of the artwork, I believe, that Pegg's character, Tim, a comic artist, drew.

Then some of his artwork started popping up in a few Magic the Gathering blocks, namely the Mirrodin and Kamigawa cycles. Over the years, he has produced artwork for about 75 Magic cards, here are a couple of my personal favourites -
Gaea's Herald
Bramblewood Paragon
Pentark Paladin

He has also created some fantastic work for the World of Warcraft card game -
A Final Blow
Kavai the Wanderer

Then, last year, he produced a digital comic for Dota 2. I HIGHLY recommend reading it, it's amazingly good, probably in my Top 5 favourite comics of all time. It is quite simply some of the best painted comic art I have ever seen.

Most recently, Jim and writer Robbie Morrison produced the lavishly illustrated comic called Drowntown. I picked up my copy of the hardcover a couple of days ago and it is really great. It's a large format comic and just feels good in your hands. Get it.

So what is it about Jim's art that I like? Well, I think the thing that attracts me the most is his pure skill as an illustrator. He can obviously do many things incredibly well. His nature stuff is vibrant and has the haphazard wildness that is a great representation of how nature actually works. His knowledge of anatomy and technical things is right up there too. He seems to be at home drawing anything from a tautly muscled forearm to a piece of made-up tech that looks as though it could actually work.
I also really like how he balances realism with caricature. Many of his faces are obviously heavily exaggerated, but he uses such solid and subtle rendering and lighting that the effect is quite remarkable.
Lastly, he's a great one for using unusual angles to play with drama and heighten story. I would say it is cinematic, but I think it goes beyond that to a sort of super-view effect. Much like his figures and features, the angles that Jim presents are often on an extreme level.

Most artists have a few things that are part of their signature style and become what they are known for. Some of these artists will have a few more special skills to add to their arsenal that makes them even greater. I think Jim Murray is one of these artists. He seems capable of drawing anything with no drop in skill and manages to retain his style no matter what he is doing. He can also adapt his work to suit the subject, again, without a style or skill drop.
That's impressive.

Thus ends our brief look at the art of Jim Murray.

100 Heads in 100 Days #56
Skeelig the Goblin
Me Fact #56
I cut my own hair and have done so for the last 7-8 years, I just shave it a number 4 every couple of months and I'm good to go. I've saved a fortune on hairdressers and I usually leave the cuttings out for birds to use for nesting up in the woods.

Jul 21, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #55 - Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art

I was going to write about an artist I like today, but there's another subject that is at the forefront of my mind at the moment that I had better deal with first.

I've just, finally, gotten around to reading Neil Gaiman's commencement address at the Philadelphia University of the Arts made in May of 2012. We have it in book form at the bookshop. It's the address with some attractive graphic design layout by a fellow called Chip Kidd. I tried reading it that way, but I wanted to get the flow of it better, so I just printed out the transcript.

The title of the address is 'Make Good Art.' It is really quite interesting. I'm usually quite squirmish about these motivational sorts of things, and highly skeptical. But I found that this Gaiman fellow presented some thought-provoking ideas.

Early on in the speech, he mentions a nifty little technique wherein his goal (in Neil's case to be a writer of comics, books, movies etc.) was imagined as a distant mountain. Every job, every story, every journalistic assignment was viewed on whether it brought him closer or further away from that mountain. If it was taking him away from that mountain, he had to weigh up the value of doing it at all.

I like that method. I definitely have my own mountain (though I like to think of it as a Faerie forest rather than a mountain) that I seek to reach. I think I'm going to adopt this method of visualisation, I can see its merits and how I can benefit from its use.
I have definitely fallen into the trap of taking on jobs that perhaps led me... well, not in the opposite direction of the Faerie forest, but perhaps on a meandering, scenic route in the vaguely correct direction instead. It's the prospect of getting paid to draw that is such a seductive temptress. Which artist wouldn't want that, right?

I have up on the wall in front of me right now a little saying that means many things to me. It says 'If you don't build your own dreams, someone will hire you to build theirs.' In one hand, you could take the hard line on this and say that this could be telling me to just concentrate on my own stuff and not take on any jobs at all. I don't want to do this. The way I see it, if I take on the odd job that will help build my platform and visibility, the richer the Faerie forest will be. By richer, I mean, more rewarding and successful, not just wads of cash.
That saying could also translate as 'if you have a dream and set it aside in favour of another person's, yours will never come to be.' I think the important point to take from this is that your dreams should not be entirely abandoned in favour of earning a living. This is the idea that I hold to. I DO take on other work, but I am constantly working on my own dream at the same time, even if only in thought (an important process too).

It's all about the balance. This is something that Neil Gaiman alludes to in his address. On one side of the scale is financial security and the possibility of steady work, but to the detriment of your 'true' voice and the satisfaction that can give. On the other side is the dream, the road to it and the real you. It is fraught with hardship and no promise of success, but the joy it can bring is substantial, even if it never sees the light of day. On that scale, I would like to begin somewhere in the middle and work my way over to the dream side. As time goes by, with every job I pick up, I will move a little closer to that Faerie forest. There will be a day soon when I will stop taking on jobs and just concentrate on my own thing, come what may. I'm nowhere near that point yet, but I can see it on the horizon.

The other point in Neil's address that caught my eye was his advice on rejection and understanding that many things will fail for every one thing to succeed. This is a very important point for any creative person to keep in mind. A thick skin is absolutely essential for a person looking to walk down the creative road. I'm not sure if I have a thick enough skin yet. I think I have the mental capacity to see reason in my mind, but I imagine my emotions will win out initially. You have to believe that what you have to offer is worthy and that somebody will want it, while all the time accepting that many will not.

This brings me to a point where I slightly disagree with Neil and many other motivators and advice givers. It is usually at about this stage when the speaker will say something along the lines of 'if you keep at it, work on your craft, be the best you can be, someday, somebody will knock on your door.'
I think this is a dangerous thing to say, because, realistically, it is simply not true. There are absolutely no guarantees that anybody will ever knock on your door. There are seas of creative people who have never seen their dream come true, never reached their mountain. Persistence, resolve, resolute belief, are no sure fire way of achieving success. In fact, I would go as far as to say that 99% of creative people never realise their dream.

So should a creative person give up all hope in the face of those alarming odds? Certainly not. But they should be realistic about their chances. More importantly, they should do everything in their power to become part of that 1% who reaches their mountain. Which is where I tend to agree with Neil about his next point, that even if you fail, you still have the work. If the work is a reflection of the true you, the thing you most love, then success or failure are meaningless, because the joy of the work, if pure and true to you, should be immensely satisfying in its own way. You should work on a piece, whatever that may be, and polish it until it is everything you have dreamt it would be, and see that it alone is a thing of value, if only to you.

I tend to think that the best way to go about creating something is to not think about a target audience or market. Rather, you should make it for only one person... you. The moment you start thinking of an external audience is the moment that the work becomes less what you want it to be and more what others might want. It dilutes the purity of it, softens the refined edges. I like to think of my own piece of work, my Realms of Faerie, as a ball I can fit in my hand. At the moment it is a bit flabby, not perfectly round and it has holes in it, scars on it and it is has no sheen. But with every bit further I get with the story, it hardens up a bit, shines a little more, the surface becomes more smooth and the holes shrink a pinch. One day it will be all shiny and perfect, but it has to be bounced and rolled along that path for a good long way yet.

I am just Mr. Metaphor today... sorry about that.

100 Heads in 100 Days #55 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #21

Tauron the Bullorn Faerie
Today's Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge is a sign of the Zodiac. I'm a Leo, but I went for Taurus instead and made it into a Faerie being. Because, well, I can!

Me Fact #55
My favourite He-Man and the Masters of the Universe character is Mer-Man. I loved those cartoons and toys when I was a kid, I have lots of the figures still and watch the cartoons every now and then.

Jul 20, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #54 - On Faerie Part 3

UPDATE: There are still 2 free prints of my Troll Witch piece looking for a home. Check out the details here.

I'm considering altering the layout template I use on this blog soon. I really like the way this one looks, with its snippets of text and the image from each post, but I would like a locked down sidebar for all of the information I have on those floating tabs to the right. It seems as though this template, and specifically those floating tabs, is a bit twitchy. Sometimes the tabs are there, often they are not.
So I'm going to see what else will look good and work better.

Anywho, on to...

On Faerie - Part 3
I'm going to talk about some of the things about Faerie, or our view of it, that I disagree with.
First and foremost is the Christian meddling with Faerie.
There has long been a tradition of religious types imposing their belief system onto Faerie, none more so than Christians. The Christian explanation for Faerie is that the faerie folk are beings (often angels) that were cast out of heaven with Satan, but weren't 'bad' enough to go all of the way to hell. So they ended up here and in Faerie. Obviously, this is hardly the first time that Christianity has bent existing beliefs to their own fold, nor will it be the last, I'd wager. But to say that Faeries, who in many people's minds are entities set apart from us, are creations of the Christian god is taking it a bit far. There has been reference to the Faerie world for considerably longer than that religion has been around, and to just lump it in with Christian mythology (because that's all it is!) is not only short-changing Faerie, but I consider it a great injustice. It goes so far as to state that Faerie inhabitants are petrified of the word 'god' and other religious terms, and they won't walk on consecrated ground. Pish posh, all of it!

Another element of Faerie that I don't care for is the belief that some Faerie dwellers can be 'bound' by certain objects, often iron. I don't think this is the case. The fact that there are great metalworkers like Dwarves in their midst suggests to me that they are familiar with metals and use them in many ways. So why would they be afraid of one of the most common metals? That makes no sense to me.
Faerie seems to be awash with magic, it seems to permeate all things and imbue its inhabitants with a natural magic. The idea that humans can magically bind them when we have no magical skill is, again, illogical to me.

Finally, there's the way that we Faerie enthusiasts are viewed by others. I've gotten some truly odd looks when I've mentioned my interest in Faerie. This goes back to the modern idea that Faerie is a creature like Tinkerbell or the ghastly Cicely Mary Barker Flower Fairies. Yuck.
Most folks don't realise just how far away from the good stuff those fluttering little things are. The stories I read (and write) involve all sorts of creatures, from flesh ripping swamp beasts, dangerous and beautiful beings that will lure you away never to be seen again, great hulking behemoths that will crush your world flat and not even notice. Where a walk in the woods is about the stupidest thing you can do, and mystery and wonder are always tempered with fear and loss.
So now, when somebody asks me what I'm interested in, I normally say something like Nature or Fantasy Art. It saves the trouble of explaining what Faerie really is. And there's less odd faces...

I'll be writing more On Faerie articles soon, but I'm going to mix it up with other stuff, perhaps a look at another artist tomorrow.

100 Heads in 100 Days #54 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #20
Today's Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge is Apes. I took some chunky liberty with that subject and drew a female Neandertroll. There's a link there, I promise.

Me Fact #54
Following on from yesterday's fact, I'm also for same sex marriage. People's sexual orientation is no business of mine, and I shouldn't have a say in whether they can get married or not. It doesn't affect my life, and even if it did, I can't see how that would be in a negative way. I think gay couples should have all of the rights a heterosexual couple has. Anybody that says otherwise is wrong. Prejudice is a powerful thing, it clouds the mind and makes logic harder to see.

Jul 19, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #53 - On Faerie Part 2

Let's talk more about Faerie, shall we? Good good.
For those of you interested in the subject, the first part of this ongoing series of 'articles' can be found in yesterday's post right here.

Okay, are we all up to speed? Onward then...

On Faerie - Part 2
In this part, I am going to talk about the geography of Faerie and how to make sense of it.

I think that one of the most common mistakes made about Faerie is that it is bound by the same laws of nature as our own world. This appears not to be the case. Upon reading about many encounters that humans have had with the realms of Faerie, it is obvious that time itself works differently. Many mortals have been taken to Faerie for what seemed like only a night, only to find that decades have passed on Earth upon their return. Traditionally, these people will turn to dust very quickly as time catches up with them.
In this way, time between our realities works very differently. It can possibly be manipulated by denizens of Faerie, and it is perhaps a fluid thing, unpredictable and fluctauting.

I think the terrain of Faerie is somewhat similar to this. There have been many first-hand accounts of the appearance of Faerie, visions too, and each seems to be as different as the last, with very few striking a chord in unison. These are the possible reasons, I think, for this-
  1. The human capacity to objectively observe is limited, so any accounts of Faerie are going to be subjective to many human influences.
  2. Witnesses have been shown only what they are allowed to see. There are powerful entities in Faerie, so a feat like this would not be difficult.
  3. Faerie is an immense place, with landmasses of great size and variety. All of the differing views of Faerie could well be just that, these people have only seen parts of a greater whole, each different from the others.
  4. Faerie is more than one plane of existence. Whilst one person could have had a glimpse of one layer of Faerie, another person could see a completely different one.
The last example is the one that I subscribe to. I believe that Faerie is a grouping of many levels, if you will. Imagine it this way, picture a lava lamp with its floating spheres of different sizes and shapes. Some will collide and join together, others will rub up against each other before separating again. That's what I see Faerie as, an ever moving grouping of spheres, some with pathways between them (and here), while others stand alone. Each sphere is distinct in many ways, with unique flora and fauna and mechanics. Some sphere's are violent places, full of darkness and death, while others are places of intense beauty, the likes of which cannot be seen here. I see the spheres as magically charged, they don't physically inhabit the same space as each other, the paths between them aren't necessarily made of soil and stone.

Many artists and writers have presented their own view of what Faerie is to the world, from Arthur Rackham's whimsical and gnarled vision to Larry MacDougall's bright and homely realm. I think all of them are right, not that there is a right or wrong. I think that each artist and writer's view of Faerie is there to be discovered, on one plane or another. This is where it gets tricky though. Does each version of Faerie exist only because somebody imagines it into being? Or did it previously exist, and the person just imagined an already existing place? I don't know. But I do like to think that Faerie exists on its own, often in spite of us, not because of us.

More tomorrow.

100 Heads in 100 Days #53
A Wood King
Me Fact #53
I am pro-choice. For all of the usual reasons, but mostly because there are too darn many of us humans as it is. The planet simply cannot sustain this many humans with the lifestyles most of us strive for. My wife and I have no intention of having kids.

Jul 18, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #52 - On Faerie Part 1

UPDATE: There are still 2 free prints of my Troll Witch piece looking for a home. Check out the details here.

I had thought to continue talking about the materials I use today, but I came to the conclusion that that would be rather dull. So, instead, I'm going to go on a rant about my thoughts of what 'Faerie' is. That sounds better, doesn't it?

On Faerie - Part 1
In this first installment, let's establish what I mean when I use the word 'Faerie.'
I follow the traditional usage of the word as opposed to the modern way. Faerie has long been considered a place, not a thing or being. Faerie, as I use it, refers to that realm that lies apart from our own. Many have spoken of pathways between the two, through Faerie doors, lakes, fungi rings and a host of other methods.

Somewhere along the way, the word 'faerie' began to be used in reference to a denizen of the place called Faerie. This, in many ways, has contributed to the modern, dainty view of Faerie. In the old days, Faerie was seen as a place you wouldn't necessarily actually want to visit. It was dangerous and dark, a place where mortals were susceptible to the whims of its inhabitants, and they delighted in punishing mortals or using them to their own ends.

But now, a faerie is not a place, it is a being, usually a winged female of diminutive size. This lead to the altered spelling of the word. It went from Faerie to Fairy. Ask an average person what they think of when you mention the word 'Faerie,' and I'd bet Faerie gold that they describe something like Tinkerbell.

These conflicting views of Faerie have become pretty polarised. The dainty Fairy stuff is never very far away, like a rat! It is a watered down, Disney version of the traditional view. The term 'airy-fairy' is actually pretty succinct. This view of Faerie is pretty and nice, flowery and insubstantial, I think.

The old view, on the other hand, is gritty, dangerous, multi-faceted and a kajillion times more fascinating. This Faerie, the place, is populated by such a diversity of beings that the mind doth boggle. It is the home of Trolls, Elves, Dwarves, Dragons, Bogles, Leprechauns, Piskies, the Sidhe, the Unseelie Court, Ogres, Gnomes, Giants and seemingly countless other species.

Faerie as to Fairy is what a book to a magazine is, what a forest is to a carpark. It's all about the substance. Fairy has little, Faerie has an abundance.

I'll continue this Faerie rant on the morrow, with a further look at the world of Faerie.

100 Heads in 100 Days #52
This is a quick rendition of the Irish hero, Cuchalainn, who Slaine is somewhat based on. If you're wondering how to pronounce his name, it's coo-CULL-en. Before I came to Ireland, I'd read about him in the Tain, but the version I had didn't provide a pronunciation guide, so I thought it was kuck-u-LANE. My wife and her friend Ruth laughed pretty hard when they heard me say that in my Australian accent.

Me Fact #52
When my mother was pregnant with me, she had a fall down an embankment or some such thing. Perhaps due to this, my ribcage is a little off. My left side is fine, but the right side is concave around the bottom rib. Not in a weird way, I'm not a hideous monstrosity. We'll, not in that respect anyway.

Jul 17, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #51 - The Karisma Enigma

I'd like to talk about some art materials today. It seems to me that an artist is on a constant journey of refinement when it comes to the tools they use. Along the way they will try out new things, give them a try, absorb them into their toolkit if they like them, or purge them if they don't make a good fit. Sometimes they will find a tool that completely trumps their existing tool, so it rapidly replaces the old one.
I used to be mad for finding the right tools, not necessarily the most expensive, nor what the other guys and gals are using, but I tried everything I could find, hoping to discover the secret formula, my own kind of artist's alchemical gold, as if the right mix of materials and tools would equal skill beyond my level. How silly of me. But now, it's all about how it feels in my hand and what results it gives me and how they work in with my style. Some tools I would never use again, but some I use every day and almost rely on!

Back in 2001, I bought a Karismacolor Berol Karisma White 938 pencil. I bought it in Edinburgh while I was living there. If I could go back in time, I would stock up on that pencil, enough for a lifetime. It is by far the best white pencil I have ever come across, and I've tried a lot. The line has long been discontinued and the pencils are getting difficult and expensive to find, to the point where people are selling used ones online for good money.

I still have that pencil I bought over 12 years ago, I have been using it really sparingly for the last half-dozen years because I know how good it is. It is just the perfect balance of chalk and oil. Some pencils can be waaaay too chalky and don't glide along the surface, it is almost like nails on a blackboard. Other pencils, such as Derwents, I find far too oily, the pencil barely makes a mark and it feels too fake, as though it were made of wax. But the Karisma pencil is just so good. It is smooth and pronounced and is brilliant for highlighting. My particular pencil is down to about 9cm in length. I'm going to have to buy one of those pencil extenders soon.

Another of my favourite tools is a Papermate E Racer, which is essentially an eraser pen. It too has been discontinued. I've been using these guys for a very long time, at least 15 years I think. I'm not sure if the new brands use the same eraser refill, so I might have to try and find some E Racer refills somewhere too, but I hear they are getting hard to find too.
Why!!!! Why, oh why do they discontinue brands that I like!

100 Heads in 100 Days #51 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #17
Sir Daniel Fortesque
Today's 31 Day Drawing Challenge is irresistible... Favourite Game Character.
I was really torn with who to depict. I nearly went for a Hobbe from Fable, nearly went Ben Finn (voiced fantastically by the great Simon Pegg) from it too! Heck, Reaver would have been fun as well.
But, instead, I went for Sir Dan Fortesque from the Playstation 1 game, Medievil. My brothers and I played that game a lot back in the day. It is one of those games that has a really fantastic vibe that flows through every element, from the graphics (albeit incredibly dated) all the way through the design to the music. I still play that game every now and then. It's still a lot of fun, but you have to be careful, it's one of those games that involves a healthy dose of walking along precarious ledges, cliffs, walkways and bridges, and the controls are really touchy; one tiny move can mean instant death!

Me Fact #51
I'm 6'1. I slouch though, so I probably only look 5'11. My father always told me to sit up straight, I probably should have listened.

Jul 16, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #50 - Free Troll Witch Prints!!!

Yaaay, I've made it half way! Time to celebrate, methinks.
One of the big things I am trying to do with this blog is to create an experience for the viewer, to give them fresh and hopefully interesting content as often as I can (which, obviously, is daily at the moment).
It's all about building my platform up. I'm hoping to soon enough be a published writer/illustrator, but with the current economic climate and publishing industry circumstances as they are in this modern world, it's not enough to just write a book, you have to get yourself out there and build your core audience and readership before the book even comes out. The sooner this is done, the better.
This blog is my main tool in doing just that. Things like this 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge will be the norm from here on out as I try to make this blog a fun and fulfilling source for people looking for the sort of thing I specialise in. My end goal is far reaching and elaborate, but within the parameters of what I realistically think is possible.
Once this 100 Heads challenge is completed, I have a few other ideas I would like to roll out. One of them is to produce a completed illustration a week and show it here. This will be in aid of me filling out my portfolio with the aim of sending it to publishers.
Another idea I have is to take a traditional faerie tale, re-write and illustrate it to show here. This will aid the portfolio too, but will also help to sharpen the ol' writing ability and create a body of work that is ever expanding.
And along the way, I'm going to produce a variety of things for viewers. Some will be free, some will have a small fee. There'll be lots of prints, postcards, bookmarks and other inexpensive merch that will mostly be given away. I'd like to do a few books along the way too, but we'll play that one by ear.

So, as promised yesterday, I want to do something special for this landmark moment, here's what I've come up with...
Regular visitors to this blog will recognise this image from just before I started this 100 Heads challenge. Well, I think it is worthy of a very short print run, don't you? How short? A mere 10 of them, say I. Why so short, say you? Well, these 10 copies of the print are free to the first 10 people that add a comment to this post expressing the desire to own one of them. I could run off 50 of them, but that'll send me broke, fast! So 10 copies it is, 10 copies looking for a new home, 10 copies that won't cost the lucky first 10 people a single coin. As with the 100 Heads, these prints will be sent to the winners all at my expense. They'll be signed and numbered and personalised if desired. They are A4 size and printed on fancy paper stock, 350gsm card stock to be exact.

So, let the race begin... NOW! All you have to do is post a comment here telling me you want a copy of the print. Obviously, it's first in, best dressed as usual.

100 Heads in 100 Days #50
Frodo Baggins
Me Fact #50
I prefer old books over new books, which is strange, because I am surrounded by new books all day at work (I work at a bookstore, for those who don't know). It's that chemical breakdown that creates that smell, of wood and vanilla. Gosh darn it, I love it. It's all part of the reading experience. I'll often track down an old copy of a book I could get new just so that I have the added dimension of smell to the atmosphere. I recently did this with one of my favourite books, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World.' I found a nice 1941 hardcover edition of it on eBay for a great price. It smells delicious.

Jul 15, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #49 - Under the Bed

Tomorrow marks the halfway point of this here 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge. I'm thinking I should do something special for it... not sure what yet, but I'm sure to cook up something. Whatever it is, it will probably be free, so if you want some more free art (on top of these 100 Heads, many of which are still looking for good homes for those interested), do come back tomorrow.

Anyway, tomorrow is tomorrow, let's get back to today.
The Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge has an intriguing topic today - Under the Bed. Naturally, I went for a monster. Those are all his eyes by the way, there's not a bunch of scary things in there, just one big baddy with lots of sets of eyes.

100 Heads in 100 Days #49 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #15
Me Fact #49
I was born two days after Elvis died. So my birthday is always a mixed blessing. On one hand, presents. On the other, Elvis songs and movies every year. I don't like Elvis songs or movies. In my view, the supposed 'King of Rock and Roll' would not, in fact, be the king if he lives out his twilight years in Las Vegas performing love songs to a bunch of gamblers. That is not the actions of the king of rock and roll. Sorry.

Jul 14, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #48 - The March Hare

I'm participating in today's Galway Pub Scrawl 31 Day Drawing Challenge. It's been a good few days since I have, but this topic is much more up my alley - a Tea Party!

100 Heads in 100 Days #48 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #14
The March Hare
I imagine a lot of folks doing this challenge will go for the obvious Alice's Adventures in Wonderland reference, and I am no exception. It is very tempting to draw a portrait of the Mad Hatter, but I'd bet a few people are going to do this, so I've gone for the March Hare instead.
I've always struggled with 'Carroll's' world. It should be the sort of thing I like, with it's multiple unusual characters and journey of growth (pun aware) for Alice, but something about it has always stopped me from truly enjoying it. Maybe it's the old-school language usage, maybe it's the absurdly deranged nature of the beings and situations... I don't know. Maybe I just haven't read it with the right mindset.

Me Fact #48
I don't drink alcohol. I don't see the point of it. I live in Ireland, there's more than enough alcohol consumers here to make up for me. I survive on Coca-Cola, water and the odd glass of orange juice.

Jul 13, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #47 - The Hedge Witch

For something different to what I've been doing for the last 46 days, I thought I might pull out an old little story I wrote years ago and make today's picture relate to it. Be forewarned though, it's perhaps the most pretentious thing I have ever written!
I initially planned to make this story into an illustrated piece, with one full-page illustration per paragraph, with the text working within each illustration somehow, but with a combination of lack of time and acknowledgment of insufficient skill level at that point to do it justice, I had to put it on that ever more crowded back-burner.
I'd like to give it a go at some stage, I'm thinking black & white, heavy inks with a thick brush, a combination of scratchy and tight in the right spots. But for now, I give you...

The Hedge Witch
Rainwater drips off unclean hair. A brow furrows, a jaw shudders. The Hedge Witch is dying. Dying... in this awful, wet, dirty, lonely place.

She does not know why she dies. She only knows that she can not stop it, though she still tries, so hard. But she cannot contain the life-blood that seeps through her pores, washing away in the rain, quickly replaced by more.

Her mind drifts to warmer days. Green leaves and youth. Power sought and power wrought. The ground and its heart. Its secrets. They opened up to her like a flower. Of flight. Fire. Sight.

She digs her claws into the ground in a panic, seeking that once so familiar life-force. But it does not listen to her pleas, it chooses not to. Why has she abandoned her, the great mother of the earth. Why must she die? Not now?

Bare feet suddenly stand before her. The harsh and evil man with his long beard and magic branch. He looks down at her with lightning behind him, flashing his silhouette, burning into her eyes.

He yells his made up lies, but she knows that there is a part of her that sees that they are not. She weeps. She weeps for the horrid things she has done. The people she did these things to. She was so very wrong to do it. But the power... the power.

With effort she rises. Defiance painted on her face, but with remorse scribbled around the edges. She stands and faces the Mage. Her hair a mess of twigs and mud. Her clothes of fabric and moss. Her skin pale and red.

The Mage looks at her, back. He sees her resolve, but pleads to her regret. He says there is no other way. She knows he is wrong. With one final surge, she engulfs herself in power. The Mage anticipates.

He shields himself. A circle of blue. It cracks. He screams. The Hedge Witch looks out, through a wall of fire. She can smell burning hair, her own. But she does not die. She does not die...

The Mage falls. His magic branch broken. She will mend it all the same. He is gone, she remains. She questions why she lives, she does not know. She only knows that she can not stop it, her life. But she will try, so hard.

But this is her Hedge. She is queen here. None shall destroy her while she resides, though she will invite them. It is her green. Her Shield. Her home.


100 Heads in 100 Days #45
Hedge Witch.
Me Fact #45
Unusually, considering I am Australian, I'm not a fan of hot days. I'd take cold and rain over dry and hot any day.

Jul 12, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #46 - King Jufflejaw

We are in the midst of an almost unprecedented heatwave here in Galway. The temperatures over the last five days have been climbing close to 30C each day, with no end in sight. Granted, that doesn't sound super warm by many other standards, but I swear 30C here is like 40C in Australia. It's darn hot. I don't cope well in heat like that. My brain gets fuzzy and there's nothing worse for an artist than having to draw with sweaty hands. And then there's the fact that I live in a caravan, which essentially is a large sardine can. So it's hot outside, but inside the caravan it is an oven.
But one must persevere as best one can...

100 Heads in 100 Days #46
King Jufflejaw
Me Fact #46
Some of my favourite movies are - Rushmore, Loch Ness (yes, the Ted Danson one), The Dark Crystal, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (pretty much any version of it), Troll Hunter, Legend, Despicable Me, Crumb, The Change-Up, Paul, Alien, Empire Strikes Back and Just Friends. I have some pretty corny taste, I know.

Jul 11, 2013

And now for something completely different...

I thought I might show off a picture I produced last year that has as of yet not seen the light of day. It was for a magazine article titled 'Cooking with Cthulhu.'
I think it is one of my better pieces, it's me being completely anal about every single line.
I produced a couple of other images for the folks that commissioned this one, but I'll put them on a slow drip for now.
Back to the 100 Heads tomorrow.

100 Heads in 100 Days #45 - Greg Staples & Slaine

I quite enjoyed writing about Jeremy Soule yesterday. It's given me an idea too. Seeing as I still have over fifty of these 100 Heads posts to go, there's a lot of space to fill with words. What I want to do is, every now and then, discuss a person that I like in more detail. It could be an artist, a writer, a musician, whatever. The important thing I want to do is express how these people relate to me. These 100 Heads posts are meant to be somewhat autobiographical, so when I write about, say, Brian Froud, it will be my experience with his work and how it has affected me, not so much a straight biography of him.

First cab off the rank is an artist by the name of Greg Staples.

I first came across Greg's work in the late nineties. I was going through a bit of a Slaine phase at the time, having been a fan of the character ever since Simon Bisley's seminal run on Slaine the Horned God a bunch of years before that. I was pretty drawn to Greg's work straight away. I liked his anatomical structure and application of paints.
So I started hunting his work down, which inevitably brought me into the world of Magic the Gathering. Initially, I only collected cards by artists I like, which was pretty much just Greg and another Slaine artist, Dermot Power, in the beginning. There used to be a cool little gaming shop near Glenferrie station in Melbourne. I picked up nearly all of the cards I needed there, this was back when the Urza block was out, which would make this about 1999.
What attracted me to Greg's work was his obvious skill with a brush. During the mid-to-late 90's there was a real feeling of there being a 2000AD school of artists. These artists were masters at the use of acrylics, utilising layering and strongly contrasted highlighting. Greg was definitely in this school.
The great thing about Greg is that he has never really stopped growing as an artist. If you look at his earliest published work, all the way through to his most recent, you can see that he has continued to grow, refine and improve as he has gone along. I'm particularly fond of his work from about 2000-2002, when he was producing some fantastic stuff, especially the Slaine story 'Beyond' and Magic cards like Alloy Golem, Phantom Warrior and Southern Paladin. Saying that though, later cards such as Sigiled Paladin, Force of Nature and Hunted Troll are rather spectacular, I think.
Back in 2000, I emailed Greg in the hope of chatting to him about his work. He was pretty swamped at the time, so we only got to exchange a few emails unfortunately, but he was very generous in talking to me at all. I've been friends with him on Facebook for a long time now, and it's always great to keep up with what he is doing.

I'll be trying a few different post ideas out over the coming week, so do pop back, won't you?

100 Heads in 100 Days #45
Me Fact #45
My father's side of the family is of English descent. We've never really been able to pin down from where in the UK, but we like to think the we're related to William Penn. We are not, however, related to Sean Penn's family, they are of Italian descent.
My mother's side is English too, but her mother comes from Irish stock, the Maddens. Where I live in the west of Ireland, there are quite a few Maddens about the place. There is also a large company called Penn Engineering nearby, so one could say that I am surrounded by distant family.

Jul 10, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #44 - Jeremy Soule & the Elves

Today, I am going to talk about two things that would appear to be only superficially related - Elves and Jeremy Soule. In my world, these two things are very much related, almost entwined. Here's why-
Whenever I have the option in a game, be it a console or tabletop game, I always go for an Elf, most likely a Wood Elf. I've often mentioned that I have a deep fondness for forests and mythical forest dwellers, Elves are some of my favourites. I love a game where archery has solid mechanics and if it can be an Elf wielding one, I'm sold. I'm not much of a hack-n-slasher, I prefer to fight from afar, like the coward I am. There are very few really good console fantasy rpg's out there in my opinion. I think it is because to make a successful game in that genre, an incredible amount of detail is required. Many games have tried, very few have succeeded, again, in my opinion.
Which brings me, nicely, to Jeremy Soule...
For those of you who don't know the name, Jeremy Soule is a composer. He's worked on a whole stack of games including the Harry Potters and Dungeon Siege, but most memorably for me on the Elder Scrolls games Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. He's probably the most popular composer in the gaming industry at the moment, perhaps of all time. He's that good.
I first came into contact with Mr. Soule's work whilst playing Oblivion back in early 2007. I love that game. I played it waaaaay too much. In that time, I got to know the Oblivion music inside and out, and over the hundreds of hours that I played away, I noticed that I never grew weary of the music. In fact, I reveled in it. Then Skyrim came along in late 2011. Here was another game to deeply immerse myself in (which I promptly did) and all-new music to absorb. I quickly snapped up the Skyrim soundtrack when it came out and was amazed when the 4-disc set arrived on my doorstep, signed by Jeremy Soule himself. Since then, I doubt there's more than a couple of handfuls of days when I haven't listened to at least some of his music. When I walk to and from the bus stop, I'm listening to Jeremy Soule; when I'm on the bus, I'm listening to Jeremy Soule. And when I am drawing and the wife isn't watching TV, I'm listening to Jeremy Soule.
I know, I know, how can somebody listen to the same thing over and over again? Easy. Take into consideration the fact that the Skyrim soundtrack alone, with its four disks, is over three hours of listening right there. Heck, the last disk is a forty-odd minute track of Skyrim atmospheric sounds! Couple that with the various other pieces of music he has recorded and you have many, many hours of listening.
But more than that, it's about the actual music itself. For me, Jeremy Soule's music is the pinnacle of atmospheric fantasy music. It's the sort of thing that you can either chose to listen to intently, or let it wash over you and float you along. It has highs and lows, calmness and immediacy, poise and action. Sometimes it is delicate and wistful, other times it is urgent and epic.
That's one of the great things about Jeremy Soule's work - it is ever changing and flowing. Much like the setting for one of my favourite pieces of his, the White River, his music ebbs, flows, turns, eddies, churns and tumbles.
So you can imagine my horror when I recently discovered that Mr. Soule had a Kickstarter campaign for an original composition called 'The Notherner.' The horror being that I completely missed it... grrr. I'll be buying the music as soon as it comes out anyway, but it would have been nice to have contributed to that.
Anyway, here's to the elves and Mr. Soule!

100 Heads in 100 Days #44
A pretty lame looking Elf. With something on his forehead.
Me Fact #44
I have broken my right arm twice, my left arm once. I don't recommend it.

Jul 9, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #43 - Bart Sears' Mael

I've bitten the bullet and have decided to get on Twitter. I don't quite know what I'm doing on it yet, but you can find me on it as Jay Penn. Just look for the Troll avatar!
I'm reading a book at the moment that deals with creating you writer/artist platform and how to manage it. A platform, in this context, is essentially your presence, your carved out corner that attracts people interested in the sort of thing you are doing. It can take many forms, but one of the easiest ways is through places like a blog like this, Facebook and Twitter. So that's what I'm doing. This blog is gaining some nice momentum, but I have a lot of catching up to do with Twitter. So if you do want to follow me, expect a healthy amount of tweets from me as I build it up, I'll do my utmost to make them relevant and not filler nonsense about what I'm eating for lunch.

100 Heads in 100 Days #43

This is the character called 'Mael' from Bart Sears' Ominous Press universe. I always loved his look. He's crazy muscly, covered in a green reflective metal, with a flaming head. Just awesome visuals.

Me Fact #43
The most important artistic piece of advice I have ever been given was by Bart Sears, who told me that structure is everything. If you have the structure wrong, no amount of fancy lines over the top of it can hide it. I nearly always remember that.

Jul 8, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #42 - Tolkien wins the day!

Today's 31 Day Drawing Challenge is a good'un - Draw your idol, role model, hero or favourite person in History.
I've been going over who I wanted to depict for this for the last couple of days and only this morning settled on one. The candidates were -

Bart Sears - I've been a fan of his for a very long time and I love his artwork. You can probably see a lot of his style in my work, especially with anatomy. He's a really good friend of mine too, I'd do anything for the bloke.
Rien Poortvliet - My favourite 'artist's artist,' a person that fills me with wonder for nature and animals.
Frank Frazetta - A God that could do anything he wanted artistically. He's my favourite fantasy artist.
Arthur Rackham - The faerie master. Any Faerie artist worth their salt bows before him.
Brian Froud/Alan Lee - I still plan on stalking them at some point.

But in the end, I chose this fella...

100 Heads in 100 Days #42 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #8
Mr. Tolkien
I read both the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings when I was quite young. I've since gone on to read pretty much all of his work. I really don't need to go on about his merits or relevance, everybody knows them by now. He's the master.

Me Fact #42
Some artists I love are- Bart Sears, Rien Poortvliet, Alan Lee, Brian Froud, Frank Frazetta, Jeffrey Jones, Larry MacDougall, Jean-Baptiste Monge, Arthur Rackham, John Bauer, Norman Rockwell, Travis Charest, Simon Bisley, Greg Staples, Kev Walker, Wayne Reynolds, Dermot Power, Jim Murray, Aldro Hibbard, Stapleton Kearns, William Russell Flint, Norman Lindsay and Barry Windsor-Smith. There's probably lots more I'm forgetting.

Jul 7, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #41 - Danu & free art for you

Just a gentle reminder that all of these 100 Heads in 100 Days are available to own free of charge for anybody interested. The full details are available on yesterday's post. Anyway...

Today's 31 Day Drawing Challenge is to 'draw your favourite Mythical Creature or God.'

100 Heads in 100 Days #41 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #7

Danu the Earth Goddess
As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to worship a deity. Her name is Danu, sometimes she is referred to as Dana, or Anu, or a couple of other variations. I discovered her, perhaps embarrassingly, in a comic of all places, specifically the 2000AD strip Slaine.
She's essentially an Earth Goddess type of deity, one worships her through adoration of nature and respects all of her facets, both bad and good. I don't worship her anymore though, but I continue to revere nature. Very much so.

Me Fact #41
I once went for a walk for about 35 kilometres from start to finish, mostly over rough terrain.
It hurt.
A lot.

Jul 6, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #40 - Heads for a good home

Alright, enough's enough. This here post is the 40th of its kind and I haven't managed to fob off a single head yet. So as of now, these badboys are going free to a good home. Yes, you read that right, I am going to give these heads away to anybody who wants them!
Why on earth would I do that? Well, I firmly believe in the act of giving for its own sake. I think generosity without thought for one's own personal gain is a noble act and I'm all for doing noble acts. I've always enjoyed giving presents to people too, so this is an extension of that.

So here's the deal, if you like any of the heads and would like them sent to you, all you need to do is put a comment on the post with the picture you like, stating that you want it. It's as simple as that. Pick as many as you would like, but try not to be too greedy, it's all about sharing and caring folks. Maybe limit yourself to less than ten to be nice. Obviously, it's a 'first in, best dressed' deal, so go to it!

What I plan to do is to send out the heads once all 100 are completed, that way I'm not sending off lots of envelopes every week and going bankrupt in the process. I'll be covering all costs including envelopes and postage, the prospective owner will not have to give over a dime.

Also, I have a few other similar ideas in mind for the future, perhaps even a few free limited edition prints. Who's in?

100 Heads in 100 Days #40
Undead Orc Cleric
Me Fact #40
I'm crazy for odd and unusual knick-knacks. I have all sorts of things covering every available flat surface. I'm not too keen on the new mass-produced stuff, and I have a very particular taste with them. I think I might need to do a 'knick-knack of the week' sort of thing once this 100 Heads is over...

Jul 5, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #39 - Medium materiality

I really need to do some experimenting with media. I love watercolours, don't get me wrong, they're quick and clean and a lot can be done with them, but sometimes I want a thicker mix on my brush with less transparency. So what's the solution? Acrylics would be the obvious choice, but I find them more and more cumbersome, they can be so claggy and uneven. I think I have got to start playing around with adding mediums to get the desired drying time and flow to the acrylics and try to see if I can get a good mix. I know that many artists mix up their own tried and true mediums, with measured quantities of a couple of different aids. I think I should try that.

Oh, by the way, there's a big announcement here tomorrow, so come back for some goodies!

100 Heads in 100 Days #39

Me Fact #39
I used to think that drawing comics for a living was where I was going to end up. I haven't thought that for a very long time. I gave it a go a couple of times many years ago, but I couldn't get my head around the process that drawing comics involved. I found the repetitiveness of it all rather frustrating. Not only do you often have to draw the same thing over and over again, but from roughs to finished pencils and possible inks, it's a lot of work and pretty blasted tedious.
Now, I think that writing and illustrating fiction, be it children's books or young fiction novels, is the way to go for me.

Jul 4, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #38

A couple of massive and beautiful Maple trees have just been removed down the road from us, to make way for a footpath of all things. I didn't know whether to laugh, grumble or Hulk out when I saw the van the tree cutters used. It said that they were 'tree care specialists.' Tree care, eh? That's kinda like getting to the Headless Horseman to 'care' for a headache. Why can't they just say what they are? Tree killing is their business, plain and simple.
Naturally, they're new enemies of mine.

100 Heads in 100 Days #38

Me Fact #38
My tracksuit-pant/sweat-pant colour of choice is grey.

Jul 3, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #37 - Mr. Badger

Today's 31 Day Drawing Challenge is to draw your Spirit Animal. Never one to actually do exactly what I am told, I've put a slight twist on mine...

100 Heads in 100 Days #37 / 31 Day Drawing Challenge #3

Mr. Badger
I think that my Spirit Animal would be a European Badger, and not just any badger, my Spirit Animal would specifically be Mr. Badger from 'The Wind in the Willows' by Kenneth Grahame. We share a lot of traits, mostly in the simply hating company and desire to be left to our own devices in our homes kind of way. We are both grumbly, react negatively to stupidity and we love woods and enjoy walking in them.
And we have hairy faces.

Me Fact #37
I yearn for those long gone days of summer in the densely wooded Jeffrey Street in Blackburn. Those were happy times when the days went on forever and the world was golden and green. Those towering willow trees dancing on the stream as my brothers and I caught yabbies, raced leaf boats and imagined we were on the forest moon of Endor. We must have been a nightmare for the neighbours, but what a place to grow up!