Aug 31, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #96 - Those pesky Piskies

100 Heads in 100 Days #96
A Piskie
The main baddy of my book is a nasty old witch, complete with warts, a big nose and a pointy hat; who I will be introducing here in a couple of days. Like any serious baddy, she has minions. In my book, these minions are in the form of dozens, if not hundreds, of Piskies.
My Piskies are winged little critters that are full of mischief and shenanigans. They aren't particularly dangerous, it's more about the purpose they serve. They have large noses and even larger ears, so they are great for guarding something. They're like a living and breathing alarm system.
Piskies feature in various places throughout the book. They're a fun storytelling tool and an easy source of humour.

Me Fact #96
I have big plans for my Realms of Faerie. But I don't want it to turn into something that doesn't fit in with the feel of it. As an example: Bookmarks = Good. Lunchboxes = Bad! 
It seems to me that so many writers and creative people want the full works for their project, they won't be satisfied until there is a deal for an awful movie and an even worse computer game lined up. I don't want that. All I want is to be able to find an audience for the Realms of Faerie that allows me to produce books and closely related items for the rest of my life. Is that too much to ask? Probably, but that isn't going to stop me from trying for it.

Aug 30, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #95 - Brairbriar

Oooh, I can taste that finish line now, it tastes yummy!

100 Heads in 100 Days #95
Brairbriar
The closest town to Willow's home holds a pub owned by a fellow who goes by the simple name, Brairbriar (pronounced to rhyme with rare-liar but with the b's in there too).
Brairbriar is an odd one, no mistaking. He's big and burly, with meaty hands and deep-set eyes. He also likes to make sculptures and invent things for the pub out of his favourite material: potatoes. He makes all sorts of things out of them, including the drinks he sells at his pub. He's quick to anger, but just as quick to laugh. Once you find yourself in his favour, there's nothing that is within his power to do that he won't do for you.

Me Fact #95
I have an I.Q. in the mid-130's. You'd think I'd be smart, then, but I'm always making stupid mistakes and all-too convincingly playing the fool. I'm really slow to catch on with things, so I'm gullible and often way behind in conversations. I'm yet to find a useful and practical application for that I.Q. score...

Aug 29, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #94 - Mossters

100 Heads in 100 Days #94
A Mosster
As Willow and Berry travel further north in search of their destination, they enter thickly fogged swamps that nearly claim them and drag them to their depths. They are nearly running out of food and fresh water and the endless slog through the difficult swamps drains their strength even further. Just as they are about to give up hope, they spy a massive, hulking creature coming toward them. They try to flee, but the monster is upon them before they know it...
The monster they encounter is a Mosster, a giant of a creature that is covered in moss. They are actually very gentle souls, as Willow and Berry will discover.

Me Fact #94
Continuing on from yesterday, here's a few more authors I like: D M Cornish, William Horwood, James Silke, Edgar Rice Burroughs, James Barclay, Terry Brooks, Dennis L. McKiernan and Gavin Maxwell.

Aug 28, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #93 - The River Dragon

100 Heads in 100 Days #93
A River Dragon
Just before they cross paths with Mother Wolf and her cubs, Willow and Berry have to cross a stone bridge to continue on their journey. As they are crossing the bridge, a River Dragon swims downstream and under the bridge. Willow has never seen one before, and it sends him dashing into the cover of a hedge on the other side of the bridge, nearly into the path of Mother Wolf.
A River Dragon is an immensely large creature, and by large, I mean long. It is said that if you can see a River Dragon's head, you can't possibly see its tail. The average River Dragon is about a mile long, with the older specimens extending to almost double that.
But they are not to be feared. The are herbivores that survive on plants that grow by a river.

Me Fact #93
My reading habits seem to be changing immensely these days. In the past, it was all fantasy or nothing at all. I had/have a preference for the old school fantasy such as Tolkien and David Gemmell with a bit of Modern Fantasy in the vein of Charles de Lint or Robert Holdstock mixed in. But these days, I'm reading a lot of books on writing and even some Non-Fiction. Gasp! I know...
Mind you, even the above mention of Mr. Charles de Lint is enough to make me want to pull down 'Moonheart,' 'Spiritwalk' or 'The Little Country' and give them a read, it's been a while.

Aug 27, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #92 - The Goblin Guard

100 Heads in 100 Days #92
A Goblin Guard
The Goblin Guard is something I came up with many years ago. They're a traveling group of Goblins that offer their 'services' as guards and protectors to customers who don't know what they really are: a marauding gang of thugs and thieves that will take their fees and run before the job has even started. This way, they always remain one step ahead of the reputation they leave in their wake.

The Goblins in the group come in all shapes, sizes, colours and degrees of wickedness and stupidity. They share one thing, though: they all wear the uniform of the Goblin Guard, which is essentially a black, tight-fitting hood. The rest of their clothing is up to them, and is usually the typical Goblin attire, scraps of clothes and metal beaten into armour.

In my book, the Goblin Guards appear fairly early on, but again, only in one scene. They have their own story to tell though, it interweaves with Ageric's story quite a lot, but their exploits are worthy of standing alone.

Me Fact #92
I'd like to find the time to do some sculpture pieces next year. I've always wanted to sculpt Faeries out of clay or carve them out of wood. I've done a few pieces for my mother and father over the years, but I'd like to create some figures to sell as one of a kind pieces. We'll see what the new year brings. 

Aug 26, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #91 - Orbus the Wizard

100 Heads in 100 Days #91
Orbus the Wizard
This is Orbus the Wizard, one of the greatest wizards to ever call the Realms of Faerie home. He is so great, in fact, that his skill has become an utter nightmare for him.
You see, Orbus has advanced his skill and knowledge in the magical arts to the point where he need only utter a word, such as 'lollipop,' and he will turn into that thing. As you can imagine, he has to be careful of every word he says. As a result, he doesn't talk much, nor leave his tower very often.

He's another character that appears very briefly in the book; but again, I'd like to give him his own story.

Me Fact #91
I don't believe in fate, providence, luck or fortune. The way I see it, everything is chance and timing. It's probably a good thing that I think this way, as Steph and I have never attracted much in the way of luck or fortune.

Aug 25, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #90 - Ageric

Only 10 days to go!

100 Heads in 100 Days #90
Ageric. His eyes are waaay to close together.
Ageric, named affectionately after the mighty Fly Agaric fungi, is only in the book, as it stands now, for a single scene; a very brief scene at that.
Ageric is a great warrior, and he knows it. He is a noble faerie, but he is also proud and terribly arrogant. He will happily risk life and limb to protect somebody or something in danger, and he will do it with honourable intent, but there is a part of him that knows there could be a reward at the other end of it. He doesn't necessarily require that reward to take the form of money. He will gladly accept a heart-felt hug and a kiss from a maiden (where one is readily available, of course) or the odd honourary feast in his name would suffice.

Ageric travels the Realms of Faerie, usually on horseback, seeking adventure and fame. He has a particular disliking for Goblins, and will travel far to vanquish them if the need arises.

When we meet Ageric in the book, he is on just such a Goblin hunting quest. I plan to continue his journey in his own book at a later date. One of the things I want to do with the book(s) is have characters that seem to be periphery at best, take the spotlight in subsequent stories. It's all about creating that rich, interwoven tapestry.

Me Fact #90
I like frogs. I had a bunch of them when I was a kid, I got the tadpoles off a neighbour. I set up this cool home for them where they could swim and jump and be happy. I can still remember watching them grow legs and lose their tales as they turned into adults. I found some frogs about 10 years ago down at the local bog, I grabbed a couple of them and gave them a good home. In both cases, I released them when they got to an unmanageable size. It's important to set wild things free, no matter how much you may want to keep them. They should be free and where they belong.

Aug 24, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #89 - Mr. Numble

100 Heads in 100 Days #89
Mr. Numble. Leprechaun relation?
There is a beautiful forest that few faeriefolk know of, have heard of, have walked in, or have laid eyes on. It is the Hidden Wood; magically charged to appear as nothing but a dull field to any faerie that looks in its direction. In it, the animals of the woods hold sway. Foxes dash through the conifer lines at night, the badger sleeps soundly under the willow during the day. The squirrels don't care what time of day it is, they seem to be always scurrying here and there, up a tree, down a tree, around a tree, into a tree...
There is one particular Faerie, though, that knows these woods more than even the squirrrels and the birds, more than anything or anyfaerie. His name is Mr. Numble, the Fungi Farmer...

Mr. Numble (probably not the name for him I'll go with) features in a story that Willow tells Berry on their way to Guildford. In the story, Mr. Numble has to teach a new faerie in the woods, one Pamshee Cobblebok, a very important lesson. I like to have morals in my stories. I don't like to preach them, but I don't like to conceal them either. The way I look at it, readers know what you're doing, I think it's better to acknowledge that and present the moral well, in a fun manner that doesn't hide what it is, but makes it interesting to read.

Me Fact #89
Things that scare me: The Lollipop Guild, people that blink too much, people that are short and blink too much, Dog Boy, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson fans, Irish drivers, religious zealots, the sound of a chainsaw, guns, clowns, horses, balloons, the taste of pineapple.

Aug 23, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #88 - Mother Wolf

100 Heads in 100 Days #88
Mother Wolf
Mother Wolf is a creature that the main characters, Willow and Berry, meet along the road north of Guildford.
Mother Wolf is a civilised Werewolf. That means that she doesn't howl at the full moon or devour hapless victims by the batch a few evenings a month. Instead, she bakes pies and keeps chickens for their eggs. She wears pretty clothes and cares for her pack of Wolflings as well as any mother can.

Mother Wolf is probably the one character I have created that resembles something out of a Nursery Rhyme. She's half Mother Goose, half Big Bad Wolf; with a pinch of Old Mother Hubbard mixed in for good luck.

Me Fact #88
I have been in a vicious war with my belly for many years now. Sometimes it gains the upper hand and expands, other times I manage to get the edge on it. At it stands now, we're both in the bunkers, waiting for the other to make a move. War is an ugly thing.

Aug 22, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #87 - The Hill Giant

As I briefly mentioned yesterday, for the rest of this 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge, I am going to introduce a character from the book I am writing each day here on the blog. The posts won't be too elaborate or fancy, I'll just be giving a little bit of information on each character to give a feel for what the book is about.
Here's the first cab off the rank:

100 Heads in 100 Days #87
The Hill Giant
This is a Hill Giant that the main characters (to feature in their own posts soon) meet toward the end of the book. He lives far from any town or settlement and as a result, his isolation has made him a bit odd.
The Hill Giant is a character I've wanted to write about for many years now. I like how the Hill Giant creates a world of Faerie notions all by himself: he's a large, talking creature that lives in the ground. This suggests many things; mainly that Faerie is a place of weird and wonderful creatures of all shapes and sizes, and that there is magic all around and in many forms.
His personality is a fun one to write, too. He is forgetful and not very observant. He is somewhat self-centered and rather unhelpful due to his state of mind.

Me Fact #87
My parents never bought a house, we always rented. As a result, we moved houses pretty often. I seem to have inherited this almost nomadic trait. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I have lived in over 20 different houses over my lifetime. One day, Steph and I WILL settle down in our own place and stay there. One day...

Aug 21, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #86 - The Secret Trader

There is a laneway, black and ominous, in the town of Starpeak, that few are brave enough to enter. Along the laneway, there is a tiny door, barely seen, with no handle on it and only a tiny hole for the person to look out into the lane from inside.
The store behind that door trades in a commodity nobody else, anywhere, deals in. It is doubtful whether anybody has ever even thought of dealing in it, let alone done it.
The owner, a Mr. Earwhisker, is quite proud of the fact that he alone has come up with the idea. He is also quite proud of how much coin it has brought him over the years.

You see, Mr. Earwhisker trades and deals in secrets. His patrons come to him with secrets. Some of them are little ones, some of them are considerably more juicy. The system he uses is quite simple: People give him their secrets, he establishes a value for that secret and asks for proof as to the veracity of it. He then loans the value of the secret to the patron with the threat that the coin must be paid, with interest, by a certain date. If the loan is not paid, the secret is revealed to the public.

Mr. Earwhisker is a very rich faerie indeed. Everybody has secrets. Everybody needs coin from time to time. Mr. Earwhisker is the one they go to.

100 Heads in 100 Days #86
The Secret Trader
This is the last of the little tales series, starting tomorrow and continuing to the completion of the challenge, I will be introducing readers to some of the characters from the book I am writing.

Me Fact #86
I'm developing a liking for mixing watercolours and gouache. The Secret Trader picture was done with a thin wash of an ochre in watercolour, then the white highlighting is with gouache. I like the way they blend and settle with each other. Once this 100 Heads is over, I might experiment with this mix a bit.

Aug 20, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #85 - The Tree Namer

In the deep forest of the Allgreen, there lives an unusual Elf
He is unlike any other Elf alive, as he has gone quite insane
His hair is cut strange, and he wears weird clothes
And he is wonderfully petrified of the rain.

He is the Tree Namer, a title he granted himself one day
As it suggests, he goes around the Allgreen
Giving names to all of the trees above his own height
All trees he has given names, from his home to the fast ravine

Connor, Melissa, Simon. Brent, Francine and Tamara
He knows each tree by sight, each of them his friend
He watches over the trees to come, their names forming in his mind
He will protect and tend to them; until, alone, they can fend

How did The Tree Namer come to be?
Nobody really knows
His heart is in the right place
Though his mind is far away
The trees he names are safe with him
Their names given they will recall
Long after he is gone, left without a trace

100 Heads in 100 Days #85
The Tree Namer... I hate this drawing.

Me Fact #85
I get hives this time of year. They're #!(*£^& annoying. I get them around my knees mostly. This is a fairly recently occurrence, maybe the last 3-4 years. Steph gets them too. We can't work out why we have started getting them. They're easily remedied though, if I could remember to buy the blasted pills that stop them pretty effectively.

Aug 19, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #84 - The Gupper

Of all the wonders of the ocean, The Gupper is the most strange. It is the size of a large fishing boat, though only because of its long and spindly limbs that end in paddle-like hands and feet.
Sailors fear The Gupper, for it can wreck a ship with the batting of a hand or the kick of a foot. The Gupper is the protector of the seas; anything that wasn't born in it or on its shores is at the mercy of The Gupper's wrath. It will drag down faeriefolk to the bottom of the ocean and destroy vessels that use the ocean surface.
Thankfully, the oceans of Faerie are wide and deep, and The Gupper simply cannot be everywhere at once. But the risk for sailors and other sea users alike is immense.

Dare you go into the water while The Gupper could be nearby? I wouldn't.

100 Heads in 100 Days #84

Me Fact #84
My Ma and Pa got me the three seasons of the Australian TV show called Frontline for my b'day. It is one of my all time favourite shows. It was waaaay ahead of its time (it was made in the mid to late 90's). It is a behind-the-scenes, satirical look at a fictitious current affairs show. It is truly champagne comedy mixed with innovative style. Gold, I tell you, gold!

Aug 18, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #83 - Bird Boy

There is an everboy who loves to watch birds
His heart lightens at the thrill of their flight
At the sound of their call, he wishes he could understand
He has a book that is worn, tattered and stained
In it he writes every bird he has seen, and what it was about

He spends his days seeking out yet more new birds
He has no home, he merely follows their wings
He gathers raven feather fall, and sews them to his clothes
He has so many now that he looks like a bird too
He found some clay, so he made a beak
He cut out holes, so that his eyes could see

He is the Bird Boy
He sleeps in trees and makes words through his beak
Sometimes the birds listen, or ask what he is
He wishes he could fly with them, but he has not the skill
The birds laugh at his shape, as they fly from the trees

Ever will Bird Boy yearn, for that which he cannot have
He will never fly like he wishes
Nor speak as they do
But every day brings him joy still
For he is nearly one with the birds

100 Heads in 100 Days #83
Bird Boy
Me Fact #83
I'm 36 today. I really hope I'm not one of those guys that has a mid-life crisis, but I get the feeling I will be. It'll probably kick in any day now.

Aug 17, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #82 - Mr. Tumble

In one of the more gentle Realms of Faerie, where life is long and contented, there is an odd little fellow of small size and extensive years that spends his days walking here, there and, if the weather is kind, everywhere in between. His name is, simply, Mr. Tumble. With his trusty walking stick, he sets out every morning and usually begins with a warm-up stroll around his township of Wickerwove before moving on to the surrounding areas.
He stops often, to chat to a rook on a fence post, or perhaps to lunch with a family of squirrels beneath his favourite Maple tree.
Mr. Tumble loves to talk of one thing, and one thing alone: the weather. He'll always open a conversation with a comment about the current state of the weather, be it "lovely day we're having" or "there's rain in those clouds over yonder" or something along those lines.

Mr Tumble may seem unique, but really, there's somefaerie very much like him in every township in Faerie. The human world also has its Mr. Tumbles. All of them are harmless, fine for a quick chat, but the endless weather discussion can wear the nerves down after a while. It is best, if you haven't the time to chat, to simply give a friendly wave or a warm nod of your head as you approach them and don't slow your pace. Better still, cross the street or duck behind a bush and hope he hasn't seen you.

It is also vitally important that you never take too much personal interest in weather yourself, or you will turn into a Mr. Tumble too!

100 Heads in 100 Days #82
Mr. Tumble
Me Fact #82
I can never decide which season I like the most, they all seem to have their own charms. I know it definitely isn't summer, though the comfort it brings is nice. Spring is a delight, of course, especially early in the season. I find Autumn very appealing, I love the smell of rotting leaves and looking for fungi in the woods. The starkness of Winter is full of mystery, especially on a grey and still afternoon. I think I lean to late Autumn and early Winter, when it isn't yet freezing and there is still light enough for a long walk with the dog. We both find Hazel nuts for him to eat and we pause as the bird calls through the trees. I'm looking forward to those times coming soon.

Aug 16, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #81 - Chuckball

For the majority of the species found in Faerie, sporting events hold very little interest to them. The general consensus being that pastimes like these are frivolous and best left for children.

There are, however, exceptions. The Ernian race is one of these. They love sports, the more violent and pointless the better. They are a stupid race, made stupider still by the countless blows to the head they receive in their sporting pursuits.
The favoured sport of the Ernians is a game called Chuckball, which they invented long ago. The rules are simple, for simple beings. There is one ball and two players. Each contestant picks a landmark as their target and the distance between them is then measured. Once the middle distance between the two targets is established, a coin is flipped to see who will have the first turn.
The object of the game is to hit your target with the ball. Each player takes a turn, throwing from where the other player's previous shot landed. The targets are usually set great distances apart, sometimes miles away from each other.
And so it goes, back and forth, each player throwing the ball as hard and far as they can, sometimes only gaining mere inches as they go back and forth. The winner wins nothing other than bragging rights and the honour of whatever glory they perceive they have earned, which to the casual observer appears to be next to nothing.
Most games don't even reach completion, fighting usually breaks out long before either player gets anywhere near to their target. Some say that the whole game of Chuckball was invented for the single purpose of legitimising the opportunity for Ernians to beat each other senseless.
Whatever the reason, Chuckball is a tradition for the Ernians and they take it very seriously. It's about the only thing they do take seriously...

100 Heads in 100 Days #81
An Ernian Chuckballer
Me Fact #81
I would love to, one day, get all of the current masters of Faerie art together and make a book about their/our thoughts on Faerie. With names like Brian Froud, Alan Lee, Larry MacDougall and Jean-Baptiste Monge, not only would it be a beautiful book, but I think it would be rather interesting to read.
My head is full of crazy ideas like this.

Aug 15, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #80 - Oakorn Wood

There is a small copse, full of dense Oak trees, deep in the heart of the Everspring, that is a place of such beauty and serenity that all who enter it are reduced to tears at the sight of it. It is Oakorn Wood, home of the Oakorn beings who tend every blade of grass, every cluster of moss, every frond of fern.

The Oakorns are tiny Faerie folk, no bigger than an Elf's little finger. They spend their days sweeping the paths, watering the trees and underbrush and mending torn leaves. They are tireless in their work and are immensely proud of their forest.

Those who threaten Oakorn Wood are banished for good, never to again pass through the magical barrier that surrounds this haven of peace and beauty.

Oakorn Wood and its keepers are eternal; as pure as the crystal clear stream than babbles its way between rock and wood within. It has always been, always shall be, as it should be.

100 Heads in 100 Days #80
An Oakorn
Me Fact #80
I've been walking in the hazel copse up the back for over 10 years now, sometimes as many as 8 times a day. I never grow tired of it, it never ceases to make me smile, it never fails to inspire me. I don't know how long that copse will exist though, I believe its days are numbered, and that makes me very sad, frustrated and angry. I don't understand why it needs to be cleared, there is plenty of land here for grazing farm animals. But that is what I am up against here, people that don't care about nature unless it is making them money.

Aug 14, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #79 - Knotlings

If there is a more infuriating, frustrating and exceptionally unhelpful being than the Knotling in Faerie, I have not heard of them. They are the bane of the flower gardener, the scourge of the fruit grower, the mortal enemy of the pond enthusiast.

Knotlings are very small, stick-like creatures that are perfectly camouflaged in their homes in trees. Dozens of them can live in a single tree, and they can infest a whole garden in days. The unfortunates whose property becomes infested will often go to great lengths to have them eradicated, with variable results.

You see, Knotlings like to do one thing, and one thing alone. They hide among the branches of trees in gardens and wait until all of the fallen leaves have been raked up from the grass or sieved from a pond and then they, in unison, shake the trees they are in to make leaves fall some more. When there are no leaves left to drop, they will start to throw down twigs, then branches, until there is nothing left but a naked tree trunk.

The only known 'cure' for a Knotling infestation is to place bird feeders in all of your trees. Knotlings are petrified of even the smallest bird, so a bird-friendly garden is Knotling-free garden.

100 Heads in 100 Days #79
A Knotling
Me Fact #79
I cannot abide the buskers here in Galway. Some of them are great, most of them are nowhere near that. There seems to be a never-ending supply of late teen and early twenties men who feel the need to strap on a guitar and bellow out songs far louder than is necessary. Do they think they are performing at a concert? And why can't they learn more than three songs? And why does one of those three songs always have to be that blasted 'Wagon Wheel' song?
Then there's the regular buskers, the dreaded dog-boy (a guy who sits under a covered table with a hole cut out of it so that he can stick his head through it. He then wears a stuffed dog toy over his head and howls songs all day). There's the woman with the incredibly nasal voice too, every time she sings 'Under the Boardwalk,' I block my ears. But the king of Galway buskers is, of course, Malarchy. This young fellow likes to wear a suit and hat and swagger around town supposedly 'crooning' to passers by. The problem being, he has an awful voice, no rhythm and makes a mockery of the songs he is supposed to be singing by forgetting lyrics and missing notes.

Aug 13, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #78 - The Fwarewees

Far below the Elven cities in the treetops of the Forever Wood, but just above the fern and moss covered ground too, live the Fwarewees. The Fwarewees are frivolous little winged creatures who burrow holes in the trunks of the great Lord Oaks that house thousands of beings. They see no harm in it, if they ever give it even a moment's thought at all.

Fwarewees, with their minute wings that move at the speed of a bee's, appear to have nothing better to do than flutter from tree to tree, and talk incessantly to one another about things that nobody could ever possibly care about.

Fwarewees are good at one thing alone, evasion from predators. Even the Elves above them cannot seem to catch them, nor the Neandertrolls that have such prowess with the Fwarewee's distant cousins, the Flower Faeries. It is unknown how they manage to evade even the greatest of hunters, one theory is that they have the ability to become insubstantial at any chosen moment, so no weapon can harm then, no trap catch them.

Apart from that, the Fwarewees seem to be entirely inconsequential. They whiz around the trees and foliage, with no obvious reason for anything they do. Danu must have been in an odd mood when she created the Fwarewees.

100 Heads in 100 Days #78
A Fwarewee
Me Fact #78
I'd love to visit Devon in south-west England, mostly to hopefully meet Brian Froud and Alan Lee, but also to see the countryside that inspired a great deal of their work.
It's not a case of me wanting to stalk Messers Froud and Lee, I promise... ... ... maybe it's a little bit about that.

Jean-Baptiste Monge: Faerie artist extraordinaire!

So, I've mentioned the Faerie artist Jean-Baptiste Monge a lot lately, I even did a little bit of a review of his work a while ago. In that post, I mentioned that I had purchased an original sketch off him and was waiting to receive it in the mail. Well, the wait is over. It wasn't even a very long wait!

Ordinarily, if I were to get something in the mail that I wanted to show here, I would simply show the item I'd received. But this particular delivery was very different and should be treated so.
Every now and then, you get a parcel that is just a joy to open, you take your time with it and make it an experience. I find that in today's world, with Amazon and all of the online shopping that is available, the receiving of a parcel has lost its magic. I think Mr. Monge is aware of this situation, because he seems to have gone out of his way to make the opening of this parcel a journey of sorts, with lots of surprises along the way. So let's get to it shall we?

Here is the front of the envelope, nothing too special there I guess-
Note: The sensitive information on this has been removed.
Then, on the back, is the first clue to the delights that were to be found inside-
The 'Goblin's Way' sticker
Once I'd removed the outer layer, the first thing I noticed was how well the contents were packed. There was foam board to protect everything, and it was all taped up securely. The tape strips themselves were all numbered so that you knew exactly the best way to open it up to get to the goodies. I have never seen this done before and I was pretty amazed at the level of detail JB had gone to with this.

After removing some tape and a plastic sleeve holding everything, this was the first thing I came across-
Mr. Monge's business card
Then, after that came this-
His flyer
I love this sort of thing. Most folks would give this stuff a look and then maybe throw it in a pile somewhere, or even throw it out. Me? Well, I'll be laminating these beauties and using them as bookmarks or finding a special spot for them.

As good as they were, though, I didn't expect this-
His postcard
The back of said postcard
Is there anything better than a hand-written, personalised note from somebody you admire? At the moment, I can't think of anything.

And here, finally, is the original sketch-
I love it! I like the blue watercolour splashes on it, I like the erased drawings that can just barely be seen under this sketch, I like the quickness of the sketch, the balance of sketchy detail and the more refined bits.

I've decided I am going to laminate this sketch too. Living in Ireland, there is the problem of dampness in the colder months, and because this is a sketch, I don't want it to get damaged. So I'm going to laminate it, to protect it from the harsh Irish climate.
Then I'm going to get it framed. Because it is a small sketch, I can afford to get it professionally framed. I'm thinking a wooden frame, dark coloured, thin and grainy if possible.

There you have it, anyway. My thanks go to Mr. Jean-Baptiste Monge for not only selling me a wonderful little sketch, but for also making the experience of receiving the piece an absolute pleasure.
We must do this again some time!

Aug 12, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #77 - The Snorg

The Snorg

The tale of The Snorg is long and sorrow filled, and no being can tell it all in even a handful of sittings. It is a tale as old as the lakes and hills he formed, his great feet carving out valleys and caves as he went along his searching way. Before him lay old worlds, in his wake, land formed anew.

The Snorg was the last of his kind. The last of the giant Fellorgon beasts to ever shape the realms of Faerie. But he did not know that, nor would he believe it to be so. He walked the realms of Faerie, seeking out his family, never seeing, never knowing. His cries of grief formed the clouds, his tears the seas.

Danu, the great goddess, heard her child's pain from afar, and knew the heavy words she must speak to him. She came to him as he hunkered in a valley of stone, a fresh river running from his dark eyes.

'Your search is in vain, poor Fellorgon, my sweet. There are none but yourself remaining in these realms of mine. The others lie in rest, all about you. See, that mountain ahead of you, that is your father, dear Shoom. Your mother lies to the west of this place, and your sisters to the east.'

The Snorg sobbed as he looked upon the towering mountains around him. His eyes lightened a little as he saw them, his long lost family, lost in the ages beyond reckoning.

In his deep voice he said, 'Then I shall rest here too, for it is a comfort to be among my family once more. This will be known as the Fell Lands from this day, and the winds will speak our story, for as long as the wind remain.'

With that, The Snorg rested his head on his front legs and gave a great sigh. Danu watched as his enormous body turned to rock and wood. She sighed as well, then, saddened and happy at the same time. She turned from his side and walked back to her home, leaving the Fell lands to those who would find them and call them home, among the great Fellorgon, with The Snorg at their core.

THE END

100 Heads in 100 Days #77
The Snorg
Me Fact #77
I keep all of my favourite trinkets on some shelves next to my side of the bed. There's a bunch of Gnomes, some Otters, Badgers, Knights, a Wendy Froud figure and an assortment of Faerie odds and ends. It's a pain to dust them all.

Aug 11, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #76 - The Bullrush Gnasher

The Bullrush Gnasher

There is a river, far from all things, and nearer to no thing by far.
Its only company, the great Willow tree at its edge, sways and mumbles away.
But the tree speaks only of dull and slow matters, interesting only to itself,
so the river is forever sad, its tears splash its steep banks.

As the river weeps its way, through fields of gold and grey,
there is a deep and dank pool, where the current dare not tread.
There, sick lily grows; with thick, course reeds and starving fly traps.

But something else lies in wait there, The Bullrush Gnasher.
Her glazed eyes and black algae hair are all that can be seen of her,
but if you see these at all, it is already too late, I fear.
For if you see her, she has most definitely seen you.

Barely a ripple does she make, as she watches for her next meal.
She loves to prey on fish, relishing eels and birds too.
Her favourite of all is the flesh of man, which she gnaws at for many moons,
letting you rot and bloat under the water, before even taking her first bite of you.

If ever you see two glass eyes in a pool, far from all things, near to none,
run for your life if you value it, and pray she needs no feed,
for the river will help you not, and the Willow will pay you no heed.

The Bullrush Gnasher waits for you even now, there in that pool of green.

100 Heads in 100 Days #76
The Bullrush Gnasher
Me Fact #76
A friend of mine, Paul Hughes, and I used to play a couple of songs at an open mic night many years ago. He sang, I played guitar. He was good, I was never very. I remember being mostly petrified of doing it at the time. I've barely picked up a guitar since. Not out of fear of it, more an acknowledgement of my limits with it. I look back fondly at those times though, but I'd never do it again. NEVER!

Aug 10, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #75

Well, I've made it 3/4 of the way. Time for another milestone celebratory post then, I guess.
What I'd like to talk about first is what I have planned for the final 25 posts of this challenge.

I've been weighing up a number of ideas of how to close out this challenge. I think I'm probably settled on what to do with the last ten or so, it's more about what to do for the posts up until that point.
I have about a dozen posts to fill still, and I want to make them a little more meaningful than a typical 100 Heads Challenge post. So what should I do? I have plenty of ideas, but what I think I am going to do is write something, then draw a head relating to it. Most of the time, I've just been drawing any old thing that comes to mind and not really making it resemble anything the text is talking about. I think I'm going to change that for these ones leading up to the final batch. So, starting tomorrow, I'm going to be writing little tales and drawing heads to go along with them. It should be fun and something a little different.

Also today, because it is a milestone, I'm going to show off another piece of work I haven't revealed here yet:

This was done as a magazine cover for the company I did the Cthulhu piece for. I'm not sure what the story with the magazine is at this point, but hopefully it'll come about some day.

100 Heads in 100 Days #75
Louie
This is a quick sketch of our dog, Louie. He means the world to us, he's more of a son than a pet.

Me Fact #75
My grandfather was a POW in WW2, I believe. I'm against war and violence in general, but if somebody wanted to invade the place where I live and potentially harm the people I love, I would take up arms to defend them in a second. Ireland, where I live, is known for being a neutral country in wars. They don't fight. Even when a maniac threatened to rule the world through hate and mass murder, they didn't lift a finger. I couldn't do that.

Aug 9, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #74 - My Top 10 Favourite Artists

I quite enjoyed doing that Top 11 Tips for Aspiring Artists list the other day. I like lists. I'm going to do another one today.

Here, in no particular order, are...

My Top 9 Favourite Artists

Bart Sears
I've been a fan of Bart's work for over 20 years now. He's a good friend and continues to create work that mesmerises me.

Rien Poortvliet
I was quite young when I first saw his work and I still adore it to this day. He's a wonderful children's book artist and a master nature illustrator.  I've seriously considered learning Dutch so that I can read his books in their native language.

Alan Lee
Nobody draws Beauty better than Alan. Every line he puts down is a beautiful thing.

Frank Frazetta
He introduced me to fantasy art and will always be the master of it. I hope to own an original, even a sketch, one day.

Larry MacDougall
Larry shares many artistic qualities similar to my own. I've had a few people say there is a resemblance there. I'm cool with that, he's great!

Greg Staples
The perfect balance between fantastic style and technical skill. He's prolific, too. That helps.

Brian Froud
THE Faerie artist of the modern world. He's another artist I have followed for most of my life.

Arthur Rackham
To my mind, he's the godfather of Faerie Artists. All of the subsequent Faerie Artists that I like were influenced by him just like me.

Jean-Baptiste-Monge
His Faerie beings are almost exactly what I see when I picture Faerie myself. I wish I could draw like him.

Why only 9 and not the usual 10? Well, those 9 spots were easy to fill, but deciding on who would get the last spot and who would miss out was doing my head in. Should I include Travis Charest at the expense of Jim Murray? What about Dermot Power? Simon Bisley? Countless other artists that I like?
So I chickened out and left it at just 9. I'm the boss here, I can do that if I want.

100 Heads in 100 Days #74
The Umber Giant
Me Fact #74
I love incense, but my wife can't stand it, so I only use it when she isn't around for a while. It makes me feel all spiritual and hippie-esque (which I used to be). It smells good too.

Aug 8, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #73 - New books

I've picked up a few very nice books in the last couple of days that I thought I might show off here. Because, you know, again, I can!
First up, I ordered this one through the bookshop:
'The Celtic Twilight'
There's two reasons I picked this one up. Firstly, it has that Brian Froud cover. A Brian Froud cover makes any book better, I find. Secondly, William Butler Yeats is a great Faerie Lorist (is 'lorist' a word?). I have a 1906 copy of his 'Fairy & Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry' which is one my more precious books. I've also got a 1999 copy of The Celtic Twilight, but this new edition is much nicer. It's a very short book though, and pretty disjointed, but it's still good quality Faerie Lore, nonetheless.

The other book I got is this bad boy:
Les Armes du Meta-Baron
It's a French book, which in my experience is a very good thing. They really know how to design and produce a quality book. This one is no exception. It is a hardcover, 48 page comic, about half of which has illustrations like this by Travis Charest:
His work in it is stunning. I'll be looking at it a lot over the coming weeks. I might even try to track down the English version of it so that I can read what the heck everybody in it is saying...

100 Heads in 100 Days #73
Master Samwise Gamgee

Me Fact #73
I only give money to animal and environment charities. It's a personal choice I make. I would simply rather support animals and nature over humans. We humans hurt animals and nature, I would like that to stop, so I support charities that do try to do just that.

Aug 7, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #72 - Top 11 Tips for aspiring artists

Here's the deal: I've been drawing for a long time. I'm only just now starting to get along that career path to being a successful artist and I have a long way to go. I have read a lot of books on the subject, and know a thing or two about striving for success and the hurdles that can get in the way of achieving that (I'm sure I still have many to encounter yet).

But I want to impart some wisdom I have accumulated up to this point. It might be useful to some people starting out, or perhaps those of you who are struggling to gain momentum. Maybe I have no right doing something like this. Maybe I do. I think it's important to point out that it is not advice given by somebody who has made it in the artistic world, this is advice from somebody who is on the same level as many aspiring artists. This is where I am coming from. I'm an amateur freelance illustrator, the words I say here are from that perspective. Hopefully one day I'll be able to write another advice post from the perspective of a professional artist. But until that time, here's what I've got to say from the level I am at right now.

Here are my...

TOP 10 TIPS FOR ASPIRING ARTISTS (like me!)

  1. One of the biggest difficulties I found when I started to get serious about being an artist was that I could visualise my work as it could potentially be. The problem was, I sucked at the time. That was frustrating. There were huge holes in my knowledge that showed in my work. The solution is to use that vision of how good you know you can be and set it as a goal. That goal may take a very long time to reach, and it's definitely not something that should be rushed. You can't expect to get there overnight, nor should you. Don't get upset when you can't draw as well as you want, treat it as a journey of growth and skill development. It is a great thing to watch your work improve through hard work and intelligent approach.
  2. There are many things you will have to do that you actually don't know how to do. My advice in this situation is simple: learn by doing. Art is all about discovering new things and growing, even if it doesn't feel like you are sometimes. It is amazing how learning one thing, be it a technique or new medium, will influence the things you already know. It all relates, I promise.
  3. Be smart when you are creating. Think about what you are doing as you are doing it, and why you are doing it. It's very easy to just draw on autopilot, even then some great results can be achieved. But to be consistently good takes thought and concentration. Any piece will bring up a million different design questions, and if you're not concentrating on all of them, things are going to slip through and your work will suffer. A good trick is to ask yourself why you are putting that line down, or mixing in that colour. If you don't have a good answer, then why are you doing it?
  4. Don't fear the things you think you suck at. Sucking is just another word for not knowing how to do something in most cases. Do you think you suck at drawing hands? Or is it just because you don't know how to draw hands?  Don't be afraid of hands. They are just another thing that needs to be learned how to do. Look at the things you think you are good at. Were you always good at them? Or, like everything else, did you have to learn how to do them? The difficult things are only that, they are difficult, not impossible. It's all a skill to be learned, nothing more.
  5. Talent only goes so far. Talent is what sets the great apart from the good, but even the great spent hundreds of hours adding skill to their talent. There's just no two ways about it, you're going to have to put in the time too. 
  6. The sooner you get serious about being an artist, the sooner you will be one. Those hundreds of hours you are going to have to do are not going to reduce until you get to work on them. This is one of the big secrets of the game- The people you see that are making great careers out of their fantastic art aren't there because they won a lottery ticket. They worked at it every day. If you want to be one of them, don't delay another minute.
  7. Setting goals is a good idea. Make big ones and small ones. Set yourself realistic deadlines for your own projects. Push yourself, but don't break yourself. The sooner you get into the system of knowing what it takes to meet deadlines, the better your career will be.
  8. Don't think of creating your art as a chore, or even as a special treat for yourself, just make it a part of your daily routine. Make it so that you don't even have to think about it, just go to it. If you're one of those artists that has to be 'in the mood' or 'set up and ready to go' before you start being artistic, you're going to struggle. Make it second nature, make it something that is a natural part of your day, regardless of outside influence or internal desire. You just have to do it.
  9. Seek inspiration everywhere. If you're, say, a comic artist, the worst thing you could do is look solely at comics. To be a great comic artist, you need to know how to draw everything, and well. Don't learn anatomy from comics, learn it from real anatomy. Manipulate it to your style however you wish, but it has to have a source in reality. Look at something you think is cool and analyse why you think it is cool. Once you start to train your eyes to look at something from an analytical perspective, your work will improve. Most importantly, learn from the bottom up. Structure is far more important than any subsequent layer. You have to get it right at the start or all of the things you add to it will be based on a bad foundation.
  10. Finally, stay positive. It's easy to get down in the dumps because your art isn't coming out the way you want it to. This is going to happen for the rest of your career. Get used to it. The trick is to roll with the punches and power on through. Even if the piece still turns out sucky, it's a valuable lesson on a long line of valuable lessons. Learn from it and grow. Once you get into a routine of persevering, you'll find that less of your work is sucky. You'll still do sucky art, but you'll learn how to fix it and become a more professional artist.
I'm going to add one more tip to this list, as I feel it is perhaps the most important of them all.
  •  Finish what you start. The people working as artists today, be they a painter with work in galleries, a children's book illustrator with stuff on the shelves, or whatever, they got there by completing pieces. You won't go to a gallery and see a painting with half of the canvas still blank, nor will you pick up a children's book and discover that only the first half of the book has illustrations, the rest of it being blank. These professionals got to where they are by completing pieces and developing portfolios which were then sent out to gain work. You're never going to find a publisher or gallery owner that is going to hire you based on your sketchbook and half-finished pieces in you portfolio. Finish the work. Make it look as good as you can. Then move on to the next one. Finish that one. Make it good. Move on again. Keep on creating your art, but finish what you start.
So there you go. These are probably rules that everybody already knows, but sometimes it helps to hear other people say it and in different words. You'll notice that I made no promises as to doing X and Y will lead to instant employment, because that just isn't the case. There's no trick, unless hard work and intelligent approach is a trick, which it is in a way, I guess, a really elaborate and time-consuming trick. But it's the only trick in town, you only have that choice, so get to it.

End of advice. 

100 Heads in 100 Days #72
A Gnoblin
This is a Gnoblin. They are wicked little beings that are born of a Gnome mother and a Goblin Father. They aren't very common, thankfully, as they are pure evil and best avoided.

Me Fact #72
I'm nutty about conifer trees. I love the variety of them, the fact that they remain green all year round. There is nothing that reminds me of Rien Poortvliet more than snow on a conifer branch. 
Pine cones are cool too.

Aug 6, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #71 - Elven races

I'm back on Elves today, with a look at some of the Elven races and subspecies that I have developed for my Realms of Faerie.

I love coming up with races and their histories, the stories that make them what they are. It's my greatest writing strength and I never tire of it. Names, places, tales, this is what I love to do. Drawing these things almost comes secondary at times when I am writing well. But really it's all just part of the tapestry I want to create. Some of it is creating things with words, some of it is depicting them in pictures. It's a package deal that I hope will attract publishers in the future.

Anywho, let's get to some Elven folk, shall we?

Fernfrond Elves
Fernfrond Elves are a race of forest dwellers. They are perhaps the most peaceful of all Elf races. They spend their days in deep meditation and are skilled healers. They are susceptible to attack from outside forces, so are heavily dependent on other Elven races for protection. Fernfrond Elves usually reside within the territory of a larger forest Elf race. Because they are nonthreatening, they are allowed to reside as they are in exchange for the use of their healing aid whenever it is required.
Fernfrond Elves are tall and slender beings, with large, dark eyes and exude a tranquility that turns even the most hardened of hearts.

Wallowdeep Elves
The Wallowdeep Elven race chooses the deep and cavernous caves inside mountains as their domains. They have incredible light perception due to their surrounding, but they go practically blind when above ground, even at night. They use no fire, no glowing liquids or any other light giving source. One would think that their existence is dank and dreary, but this is not the case. They are masters at cave shaping and mining, perhaps even more so than the Dwarves, and live in splendour and comfort beyond many other surface dwelling races.
Wallwdeep Elves have no dealing with other Elves, they are an entity unto themselves. They are shorter and somewhat stockier, and their flesh is almost translucent. Their eyes are exceptionally large and they grow no hair.

Misthorn Elves
Misthorn Elves reside in the cold and wet hills of the northern uplands. They are a dreary race, prone to dark moods and perpetual illness. They are melancholic and morose and come quite close to being almost entirely solitary, a rare trait in Elves indeed. The hills and dales will echo with their horn music. They fashion wind instruments from fallen deer horns and are masters at atmospheric undertones. They do not use melodies as such, rather a series of long and mournful notes that intertwine and meld as they sing out over the mist-heavy land.
Misthorn Elves live in small holding of perhaps two or three small families. They are dull and depressing, a mirror of their surroundings.

Barnacle or Sea Elves
Barnacle Elves are Sea riders and ocean deep divers. They have developed breathing apparatus along the lines of gills that enables them to breathe under water for up to an hour before they need to resurface for air. They are also great ship makers and swimmers. Their fingers and toes have developed very thin webbing in between them.
Barnacle Elves live on purpose-built islands off the coast that are anchored to the seabed below to keep them from drifting. These islands are built from woven wood drift that passes by and are always in a transitional state of growth as more and more wood is added.
Barnacle Elves can vary in appearance considerably; their skin can vary from yellow to blue, with many of them green as well.

Tundra Elves
Tundra Elves are hardy warriors and resourceful beings. They live in a variety of terrains, but prefer open flatlands and arid deserts. In appearance, Tundra Elves are unusual. Their ears lie close to their heads and aren't as pointed; this being due to the usually windswept places they reside. Their eyes are smaller and less open, as the desert sun requires less light reception.
Tundra Elves are mostly nomadic, but if they come across a particularly good spot, they will overwinter or sometimes even establish settlements.

Summershine Elves
Summershine Elves are the Elves of the fields. These Elves are far smaller than all other Elves, reaching an average height of only a few feet. They live in the hedges between the fields in cunningly disguised holdings made of sod and twigs. Summershine Elves are a race of laughter and joy lovers, they delight in their field games and are friendly with all animals. Summershine Elves know nothing of war, of hate, of death.
Many Faerie scholars have argued on whether the Summershine Elves should even considered a race of Elf. Nobody actually knows the answer, not even the Summershine Elves themselves. Or do they?


This is the tip of the iceberg of the races of Elves I have come up with. They are all part of a grand plan I have to eventually write and illustrate a Realms of Faerie Bestiary. One day.

100 Heads in 100 Days #71
A Misthorn Elf
Me Fact #71
The worst job I've ever had was at a Pet shop. It was an absolute disaster and I didn't last very long in it. The amount of dead animals I saw in that time was pretty shocking, from countless fish, mice (often consumes by the mother) to a rabbit on my very first day. 
It is no place for an animal lover to work.

Aug 5, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #70 - Jean-Baptiste Monge

I've mentioned the name Jean-Baptiste Monge a couple of times on this blog in the past. I even did a quick review of one of his books several years ago. But as I'm looking at artists I like as part of this 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge, and considering he is one of my favourites, it seems only fitting that I turn the spotlight on him again.

I first discovered Mr. Monge's work back in 2010 while looking for Faerie artists on the internet. As I've mentioned before, finding a Faerie artist of the caliber and style that I look for means wading through a whole lot of work I am unattracted to. Realistically, there are only a handful of living Faerie artists that I think fit the bill. Jean-Baptiste Monge is most certainly one of them.

The thing that initially hooked me in about Mr. Monge's work was his gorgeous colour illustrations of diminutive Faerie beings. His skill with the brush is some of the best I have seen in the field. Most 'real' Faerie artists tend to use a more loose stroke with their work. Artists like Arthur Rackham, Brian Froud and Larry MacDougall can be quite sketchy with their colour illustrations, which is entirely relevant and appropriate for the subject-matter, it lends itself to more rough work perfectly.
But Monge works his colour illustrations up to a level of detail and finesse that most Faerie artists don't. I think this is due to personal style in many ways, but I also think it is a result of influence. On his blog, Jean-Baptiste has mentioned his major influence in the American illustrator, Norman Rockwell, on many occasions. I think this influence tells very nicely on several levels in Monge's work. From the way he applies the overall design to a piece, the lighting, even the humourous side to the theme is a knowing wink and a respectful nod to Rockwell.

One of the other things I love about Monge's work is the fact that he is a master of anything he puts in his hand. His colour work, which can vary in feel and application greatly, is the work of not only a great Faerie artist, but an artist full stop. His pencil work, too, is so good that you can almost imagine the Faerie Folk he depicts actually posed for him for a few seconds while he sketched their likeness down. They are lively, whimsical and applied with such a deft touch that each little figure seems to bounce around the page.

I've often said that the mark of a good artist is how they can handle just a pencil and a bit of paper. Another vital element that sets the truly skilled artist apart is their knowledge and manipulation of basic structure. Jean-Baptiste Monge is one of the best at these things. Look at the structure of his figures, even just the simplest sketch; find the basic shapes within them, the curves of the plains of the heads, the perspective on facial features and the comical body structure. To exaggerate these features in this way and not have them look completely unbelievable is such and advanced skill, and something Monge does seemingly effortlessly, that it is the mark of an artist of immense talent and knowledge.

I bought several of Mr. Monge's books back in 2010 and they have come to be treasured possessions of mine. Those books are almost akin to Faerie art bibles for me, much like Brian Froud and Alan Lee's 'Faeries' or Rien Poortvliet's 'Gnomes' books. They are tough enough to find now, but are so absolutely worthwhile whatever the asking price is that I wouldn't hesitate in buying them, whatever the cost.
Just yesterday, I bought my first piece of original Jean-Baptiste Monge art. This fellow here-


He'll definitely be getting professionally framed when he arrives here.

For those interested in looking up Mr. Monge, here's a couple of places to find him:
His Website
His Blog
His Etsy Store
His Facebook Page

100 Heads in 100 Days #70

Sir Longwhisker
Me Fact #70
I get what Michael Palin referred to as 'happy attacks.'  These waves of overwhelming joy that wash over me and fill me with this peace and tranquility that borders on spiritual. It usually happens when I think about my Realms of Faerie, or when I'm out in nature.

Aug 4, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #69 - A Day as me...

I'm a little bit under the pump today. I spent too much time drawing today's Head and didn't leave enough time to write. So there'll be no long-winded drivel today I'm afraid. I know, I can almost hear the tears as they roll down your cheeks.
But I do have enough time to write a quick post. What I thought would be entirely uninteresting to everybody else but me would be if I documented a day in my life from start to finish. As I've mentioned before, I have a lot of work on at the moment, but this schedule has been in place for most of this year anyway...

6:18am  - Get up. I'm normally awake before this though because of my stupid internal clock.
7:18am  - Out the door. There's a 20 minute walk down to the bus and that takes about 25 minutes to get into town.
8:10am  - I pop in to McDonalds to have some breakfast and draw for about 10-15 minutes.
8:35am  - Work at the bookshop begins.
12:30pm  - Lunch break. I usually wolf down a sandwich and then draw for another 20-25 minutes.
6:00pm  - Work finishes. The return bus leaves at 6:20, then there's the journey and the walk from the bus stop again.
7:00pm  - I get home. I spend some time catching up with the wife and the dog. We have dinner and settle in for the evening.
8:00pm  - I get back to work. These days, I normally warm up by finishing off the next day's Head at this time. Once that is done, I'll move on to the bigger jobs and keep at that until..
11.30pm  - I fall asleep before even hitting the pillow..

I think I might do another artist review tomorrow. Mr. Monge beckons.

100 Heads in 100 Days #69
A Dryad
Me Fact #69
With all the walking I do, and the flight of stairs I walk up and down all day, I have shin muscles for the first time in my life! They look weird.

Aug 3, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #68 - Elves

As part of my ongoing look at Faerie and its many facets, I thought it might be interesting to look at individual races from Faerie. First up, we have one of my personal favourites...

On Faerie - Part 4: Elves 
I'm not going to go into the long history and origin of Elves here, suffice it to say that they are a Germanic mythological creature and were originally very different from what we think of them today. All of that information is easily available online.

What I do want to talk about is what I think they are and how they fit into my own vision of Faerie.

For me, an Elf is certainly some things, and definitely not others. Elves are most definitely not Orlando Bloom. Elves are definitely not the little impish things Enid Blyton wrote about. Elves certainly are in tune with nature, but not always in harmony with it.

Perhaps most importantly, there are many sub-species of Elf in my Faerie, most of the differing attributes are influenced by environment. For instance, the Winter Waste Elves are much hardier and robust than the more elegant and civilised Springhaven Elves.
One thing all Elves have in common is their adoration and worship of Danu, the Goddess of all. Elves genuinely believe themselves to be the firstborn of Danu and that she cherishes them above all others. This gives Elves, no matter where they live, a feeling of entitlement and superiority. Danu hates this and is constantly telling the Elves that she treats all of her creations the same. Obviously, the Elves don't believe this is true. Why would the Goddess give them such power and beauty above all other species if not because they are her favourites?

These delusions of grandeur, although sometimes entirely justified, have lead to some rather serious rivalries between Elf subspecies. Many wars have been fought over which particular subspecies is the 'true' Elven race, and who Danu loves over all other Elves.

As can be seen, many Elves are proud and jealous beings. Not all of them though. The Elves of the Green are mostly honourable and kind beings. On the other hand, Desert Elves are particularly vicious, and would slit your throat for even a drop of water.

The thing that Elves are most associated with is, of course, forests. This is very true in my Faerie as well. Most of my Elves are forest dwellers of some kind, but even with this there is a large amount of diversity throughout the subspecies and tribes of forest dwelling Elves.

I'm going to continue this look at Elves in a post in the very near future, where I'll present some of the species of Elves I have 'come up with' and their prevailing attributes.

100 Heads in 100 Days #68
A Sea Elf
Me Fact #68
When I was about 6, my father and I were kicking a football around (the AFL kind, not soccer) at a local school and I distinctly recall finding an awesome Han Solo blaster gun toy in a tree. I vividly recall feeling as though I'd just won the lottery. I took it home, played with it a bit; then my brother, Ryan, who must have been 3 or 4 at the time, broke it. I have never forgiven him for this. A couple of years later, he broke a toy bow and arrow set I had too. What a monster.

Aug 2, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #67 - New tools!

I went to probably the best art supplies shop in Galway today. It's called Cregal Art. I only really get to go to it when I have a loan of a car, as it is just far enough away from town to be too far to walk.
So I stocked up on stuff while I was there.


I mentioned a few weeks ago that my favourite white pencil, the mighty Karisma White, is getting pretty worn down. So I bought an assortment of white pencils from different brands to see if there is anything that comes close enough to be able to replace it when it finally wears out completely. I haven't been able to test them out properly yet, but with these 100 Heads, I'll have ample opportunity to do just that.
I also picked up some of my favourite white gel pens and a few other bits and bobs. I love art supply stores; there's always something different to give a try.
The blue thing in the picture is a brush cleaning cup. You fill it with water and the funnel lid ensures that there's no spills. The grooves you can see on it are brush rests. I've had a different brand brush cleaning cup for a while now, also bought from Cregal, but it doesn't have the nifty brush rests. This new one is better, thus.

100 Heads in 100 Days #67

A Patchwork Orc
This fellow was drawn with a couple of the things I bought at Cregal. I used a water soluble HB pencil (the green one in the photo) and it is really nice and has a lot of potential. The yellowy highlighting is from a Pitt Pastel. It's pretty chalky, but I like the sickly colour of it.

Me Fact #67
I used to talk to my buddy Bart Sears every day on Skype. We'd be working away on our own things and just messaging back and forth for hours. I don't have the time these days to do that, unfortunately. I miss our chats very much.