Sep 29, 2013

Jean-Baptiste Monge does it again!

This blog is rapidly turning into the Jean-Baptiste Monge Show, it seems. I've written about him numerous times, like here and here, but blast it if he hasn't gone and done it again: produced something that I have acquired that demands to be written about!

The object in question this time? This thing of immense beauty-


I saw this book a while ago, and was very tempted to but it then. But then JB started selling it in his Etsy store and I grabbed a copy very quickly. And I'm really glad I did. It is just one of the most gorgeous books I own. Here's why...

TITLE: Jean-Baptiste Monge - A World of Imagination
PUBLISHER: Trinquette Publishing
SIZE: 225mm x 218mm
PAGES: 48 pages plus front & back endpapers, a Special Thanks page and the indicia/colophon page with space for a sketch.

My particular copy had this on the indicia page-


I can't seem to figure out the precise translation of 'Trollement votre,' but I think it is something like 'Your Troll.' Whatever it is, the sketch is fantastic and I'm a very proud owner of my new Troll.

So what is the book about? Well, it's a pictorial review of some of the best artwork Mr. Monge has produced over the years. It has a great deal of work in the Faerie art realm, with plenty of sketches and watercolour pieces, as well as some rather exceptional digital work too. But it also has some more cartoony type of stuff, plus some of JB's fantasy work for books in the past, including some brilliant Dragon pieces. Here's some of the work to be found in the book-


 

I find myself loving JB's work more and more. He's so good at so many things. His colour usage is exceptional; just look at that pot in the above image, not to mention the reds in the skin and the electric blue highlighting. You can see the video of how he did that piece over here.
His basic structure is remarkably simple, but so effective. They're almost cartoon shapes, but he makes them work with his rendering. And he can do the realistic stuff incredibly well. His animals are lifelike and fit with the faeries he draws next to them so seamlessly that even the great Rien Poortvliet would admire how he handles them.

The book can be purchased over at JB's Etsy page. If you're a fan of Faerie illustration, or art in general, I really can't recommend this book enough. And hey, Christmas isn't far away, it'd make a fantastic present for that special somebody in your life. Go get it, you won't regret it!

I'll be back soon with some new sculptures and drawings of my own, probably in a few days.

Sep 19, 2013

The End is the Beginning is the End is the Beginning is the...

I have lots to show and tell today. But I want to mention for the final time that there are still plenty of free prints of the Cooking with Cthulhu piece I did a while back. You can see it, and all of the details, over here.
Also, there's still a stack of the 100 Heads in 100 Days pieces looking for a home, you can find all of the pictures that are still available on this page.

I'm going to wait another week, then I will be mailing all of this stuff, as well as the Troll Witch prints, off to the people that put their names down for them.
Once this week is over, the Cthulhu prints will still be available, but the 100 Heads pieces will be archived. I will be doing this because I want to close that chapter and start up the new one. So go get your prints and Heads now while you still can!

Okay, on to other things...

The Galway Pub Scrawl's 4th Anniversary party took place on Monday the 16th. It was a great night with a whole crowd of folks there, dining on delicious treats and creating some fantastic arts and crafts. Donal Fallon, the boss of the whole thing, put up some pictures over on the Scrawl's blog, go check it out!
You'll notice that there's a picture of me holding up a new piece I am working on, here's the pic again-


This is the main illustration from the short story I wrote last week. I will be doing a post on this image once it is completed, resplendent with progress shots to show how I go about producing such a picture, look for that soon.

One of the Scrawlers, a cool artist by the name of Mary Lillis, had a special present for me that night-


Mary works at a print and design company called Printthat at Galway University. A little while back, I asked her if she could print me up some of the business cards I designed. She came through like a champ. They look fantastic and it's great seeing my first ever business cards in the flesh. Thanks Mez, I owe you one!

In other news, the two Stonemen I sculpted last week have only just yesterday gotten dry enough for me to even think about applying some paint. Here they are-


I haven't applied the varnish to them yet, I wanted to show off the painting without having to deal with reflections and such, even if they are still quite reflective without the varnish... I think they look pretty sweet, but I need to experiment on how to achieve the desired result quicker and more effectively. I have another couple of Stonemen drying on the racks as we speak, they will be painted up some time next week. I'd like to do a couple of these fellows a week. They're so much fun to sculpt and paint! As I get a better handle on the techniques required, I'll be adding things like moss and ivy, and I'll probably have a base of grass for them too.

Now all I have to do is come up with a name for them. I'm not too keen on 'Stonemen,' especially because, in this context, stone in the language of the people that made many of the actual standing stones, is men. So, in a way, this could be translated as Men-men. Maybe something like 'Hengemen' or 'Faerie Stones' would be better.

In other news...

I'm back at work now after that blissful holiday, so the activity will slow down a pinch in these parts. I'm still hoping to put up at least one post a week though, most likely two. Regular readers will be aware that I am not above promoting other artists and writers I like. I've been picking up some fantastic books over the couple of months and I would definitely like to share some of them here. I just grabbed Wayne Reynold's new art book the other day, and there's a new Frank Frazetta book out next month, so don't be surprised if the odd book review appears here.

Other than that, all my efforts are going into the Realms of Faerie. Not all of the work I share will be the big stuff, there's still space in my crazy schedule for the odd sketch and quick colour piece too. These may not even be Faerie related at all, I STILL love Fantasy art, and I want to keep that side of my art fresh and alive.

So here's to closing one chapter, and opening another!
See you soon.

Sep 18, 2013

The Realms of Faerie roadmap

Okay, so maybe I'm not done with the path analogies...

This post is very much a companion to the previous one, and is sort of a continuation of it. Where the previous post dealt with why I want to be a Faerie craftsman, this post is going to go into more detail about how I intend to go about doing that. Let's get to it then...

First and foremost is my desire to write and illustrate Faerie books. The big one is Willow and the Otter, but that is only the first in a series of interweaving books I have in mind. These books and the stories they tell are hopefully going to be my life's work. Because of the nature of the way I have set them up, I don't envision ever running out of story ideas for them.
On top of these novel length stories, there are the shorter stories I want to continue doing. I figure I can pull off one of these, fully illustrated and edited, a month. I plan on collecting these into books at some point too, but for now they will serve the multipurpose of being portfolio builders, writing skill refiners and world populating devices.

Secondly, there will be the craft section of the Realms of Faerie. I will continue to dabble with clay, with things like the Stonemen; but I also want to create little Faerie figures once my skill level improves and I learn new tricks.
I would very much like to do some wooden sculptures too. These will be small and intricate and will vary based on the materials at hand. By that I mean, some will be carved out of blocks of wood and will be more figurative, while others may be sculpted out of unusual pieces of wood, using the existing shapes to create unique carvings. I have all of the equipment required to sculpt both in clay and wood, so hopefully there will be some work to show soon.

Thirdly, there will be the hired work. This may come in the form of commissions, or it may be proper book illustrations. This is still a little way off, I think, but it is certainly a direction I want to go in.

All of the art and crafts, be it sculptures, books and whatever else I can come up with that I think is marketable and unique, will be sold in an Etsy-type of store. My aim is to provide quality pieces at affordable prices that are original and of interest. I'm a firm believer in being generous to people that like your work. I never want to treat a fan as a source of money, I want to treat them as a person to share things with and make their attention worth their while. Earning a living is a part of it, but it's a small part for me; the love of the work and sharing it with people who like it is really what I am all about.

It is my aim to bring all of these far-reaching plans to fruition in 2014. I could go crazy and just do everything at once right now, but I believe that a slow-burning approach to the career I have planned is better suited and will be more sustainable. I don't want to be a flash in the pan, I want to be a presence of lasting quality and quantity.

It's a long road ahead. My caravan of readers is small now, and I cherish each and every companion I already have, but as we roll on down that road, I hope we can make room for more and more passengers. There will be those that wish to hop off at some point, but I'm hoping that I welcome more people than I bid farewell to.

Who's with me?

There'll be yet another post, probably tomorrow or the day after, that will have art, photos and a couple of other choice slices to reveal. See you then.

Sep 15, 2013

The state of the (my) art

It's another one of those 'pop your kettle on, it's a long one' kinda posts, I'm afraid. But the subject matter is quite important to me and is weighing on my mind. It's my art, you see, it's giving me some bother...

I want to say "I'm at a crossroads" with my artwork, but I don't think that is the term for it, as 'crossroads' can tend to have a negative connotation not too dissimilar to the saying, 'at the end of my tether.'
I think I'm actually at a T-junction. And, yes, I'm aware of my overuse of analogies involving paths and roads. But I detour...

Over the past few years, I've been getting a good amount of work in the fantasy gaming industry. I haven't yet cracked any of the big publishers, but I think I probably could if I continue on down that road. Let's call that the right-hand turn at the T-junction. Down that way, I could build a career as a fantasy artist and be pretty happy doing it. I'd still find time to do the Faerie stuff, and it is entirely possible that the Faerie stuff could take over the fantasy work.

The other option is to take this opportunity, when I have no jobs on the slate, to make my future intentions clear. This is the left-hand turn at the T-junction. I want, as I have ever wanted, to be a Faerie artist/writer and a children's book illustrator. But I also want to keep doing some fantasy stuff. I don't want to restrict my artistic horizon, but I don't want it to be too broad either. So, down this road is my artistic pursuit of choice, with some other work I like to do on the side.

This choice, left or right, has implications. If I go to the right, I will be using more paint like acrylics and oils, to the left is watercolours and pencil. To the right is heroic anatomy, armour, weaponry and settings. To the left is whimsy, trees, artistic licence and freedom.

I really want to turn left. It's calling to me more than the other road. I look at artists such as Larry MacDougall, Jean-Baptiste Monge, Brian Froud and a more recent discovery, Emma SanCartier and I want to live that life. This is not an envy thing, it's just that the lifestyle they have appeals to me. I want to be a Faerie craftsman, be it in picture form, written word, sculpture or whatever. I want it to take over my life. I want it to BE my life. I think it is what I am meant to do, I think it is what I will do.

This week's holiday has given me lots of time to be introspective. It has all timed out perfectly, actually. With the previous two holiday weeks I've had from the bookshop this year, I've had a pile of work to get done for jobs. But this week has been job free. The 100 Heads challenge also finished up just a few days before the holiday. So I've been able to give myself some time to think about the future, instead of just going from job to job.

The stuff I have been doing over the past week has helped to cement my desire to turn left, too. I've been doing some writing, a little bit of drawing, and I even pulled out some clay to see what I can come up with over the next couple of days. I've been enjoying it immensely, all of it. Why, just the other night, just before nodding off to sleep, I had one of those ideas that makes your brain burn with the intensity of it. Two of the images from the 100 Head challenge that folks seem to like more than most of the others, were the two Standing stones with faces on them that I did. Well, what if I were to make a series of little sculptures of those? I woke up yesterday morning with the desire to give that a go, so I drew some quick designs of possible options-

I was so smitten with this idea that I whipped up a couple of rough testers to get an idea of whether they could work too-

Once these are dry, I'll work up some paint on them and give them a coat of varnish too, I'll post pictures of the finished results once they're complete.

I've never really done any sculpting, I've done the odd thing here and there for family members and such, but it's not a medium I'm very familiar with. But, by goodness, it's fun. These two quick studies certainly impressed upon me the skill required to do it well, but it's something I'd definitely like to explore.

I'll be working in that self-drying clay stuff to begin with, but I'd like to branch out into wood and other materials too. If people like them, I might start making moulds and selling them, but we'll see. At this stage, it's all about being a versatile Faerie craftsman.

As far as the artistic work, it is my aim, with the aid of the short stories I am writing, to get together a portfolio of pieces that could be used as children's book illustrations. These will then be sent out to publishers with the goal of getting me some work in that field. My work in this field is more of a classical style, similar to the Golden Age of Illustration. This style hasn't necessarily fallen out of favour in the current market, but it is by no means the popular way to go. I'm cool with that. I think the work is there for that style still, it's just a case of approaching the right publishers and producing quality work.

I could, of course, simply approach a publisher with a completed book of my own and try and get it published. This is viable, but perhaps more risky. By having a couple of illustration credits under my belt, and thus, a name better known in the field, the chances of a book being accepted for publication increases. It's a safer way to go, with less likelihood of failure.

As you can see, I have far-reaching plans. I've set them up so that varying degrees of success will be sufficient; it's not a case of 'all or nothing.' I intend to make the Realms of Faerie a brand of sorts. It will be an umbrella for all of the work I put into it; be it books, art or crafts. Once I have some more things completed and to my satisfaction, I will be looking into places like Etsy to hawk my wares, some time next year, fingers crossed.

To sum all of that up:
  • It is my intention, from here on out, to focus the majority of my efforts in the pursuit of being a Faerie craftsman. There is room for other work, but the Faerie stuff is going to be my main focus.
  • I am going to be working on my Realms of Faerie stuff more than ever, mostly in the form of Willow and the Otter and the short stories.
  • I will be creating a portfolio for children's book publishers as I do this.
  • I will hopefully be branching out into other media, under the umbrella of Realms of Faerie.
  • I want to create a place for people to buy this stuff in 2014.
  • I am still available for commissions and small jobs, that won't change. But I can't be taking on big projects at this time.
  • This isn't necessarily a new chapter for me or anything like that, it is more like the setting in stone of the thing I have wanted to do since I was about 5 years old.
So, from here, things are going to get interesting. This is where it all starts, this is where my path to being a Faerie craftsman begins, officially.

Join me, won't you?

The next post, which will be up in a day or two, will go into detail a little more about what I will be working on in the coming months. Unable to resist the urge to do one more path analogy, this post will be a roadmap of what I'll be working on in the near future.
There, I'm done. I promise...

Sep 14, 2013

Spellbound!

A little while back, I mentioned that I was producing a piece for a quarterly online magazine called Spellbound. The company that produces the e-zine is called Eggplant Literary Production, you can find all of the details HERE. Buy a copy, won't you? It's a good price and great value.

Spellbound magazine is a sort of anthology of art and writing, in the form of short stories and poetry, that deals with a single topic. The topic for the issue I produced my piece for was Creatures of the Deep, Dark Woods. My kind of thing, I'm sure you'll agree.

Here's what I came up with-
Grandmother Hare
I reaalllly enjoyed working for these folks. They were an absolute delight to deal with and I sincerely hope to work with them again in the future; it was fun and a pleasure.

Believe it or not, I'll be back again in a day or two with yet another post, this one will deal with what I currently think of my art and what I want to do with it.

Sep 12, 2013

Autumn breeze, makes me feel fine...

I love Autumn, it may be my favourite time of the year.
The leaves are turning golden and brown, the undergrowth is receding, the nights begin to close in and the mornings have that pinch of crisp chill.
But not all is closing in for the coming winter. September is the time when many of those things that were blooming in the summer, now turn to fruiting bodies and seeds. The blackberries are out, the maple seeds fly far on the wind and fungi abounds.

Up in the wood, I eagerly await four things in particular this time of year, three of which have already started happening.

1. The Hazel (Corylus avellana) nut drop. Louie, our dog, loves the taste of hazel nuts (so do, I'm sure, the mice and shrews and other critters that live in the wood). I've set up nut cracking stations in a couple of spots in the wood to give Louie the odd hazel treat.

As you can see, they're not quite ripe yet, but I do find a handful a day that are.

2. The brief Wild Arum (Arum maculatum) display. Once the leaves and flower have withered away, the female plants leave these odd structures-

They're a really weak design, it has to be said. Most collapse before the berries have even ripened, as the stem is rather flimsy. They're just odd plants. These berries are poisonous and an irritant too.

3. The teeny-tiny purple fungi breakout.

I've not been able to identify exactly which species they are, but I think they are of the Entoloma family. As you can see, they have an attractive lilac colouring. They sprout in the same couple of spots every year. I love fungi, there's a green species that sometimes appears in the wood at this time of year, but I couldn't find them last year, but hopefully they'll make a return soon.

4. The Spindle Tree seed pod attack. They haven't arrived yet, but they shouldn't be too far away now. I'll take a picture when they do, they're fascinating looking.

As I was walking in the wood the other day, taking these photos, I also sighted a miniature Troll, standing on a moss covered rock:

This is a Troll figurine from the cartoon, David the Gnome, which is an adaptation of the Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet Gnomes books.
It's one of my favourite little nick-nacks. I have dozens of the Gnome figures from the series too. I'll no doubt be taking pics of them, on top of some other favourite figures.

On the work front, I finished a very short story/fable/faerie tale yesterday, and I'm in the process of working on some illustrations for it. Once they are done, hopefully in a couple of weeks, I'll post it all here. This is the first in a series of these I plan on doing, with the goal of bringing them together into a book (digital or print, I haven't decided yet) in the future.
I've also recently finished my contribution to the Adventures Dark & Deep Bestiary. I didn't contribute nearly as many pieces as I had hoped and planned, it's been a very busy summer, after all. This artwork will get its own post once the book is released, which I believe will be in October some time.

The next post will be up in a couple of days, and will actually have some artwork to show, I promise.

A reminder, too: there are still prints available for anybody that wants them. All of the details are here.

Sep 10, 2013

A writer's worst nightmare

I've been away from work for four days now and I'm feeling quite refreshed, I must say. With no deadlines or projects that need my attention, I've been able to relax for the first time this year. I've been catching up on some Skyrim (very important, especially as I'm coming up on the big 300 hours on it!) and I've even found some time to do some reading.
All of that is not to say that I haven't been working. I've started writing a little short story that I hope to have done and illustrated in a few weeks. I've also been working on my novel a little bit, which brings me back to last Friday when I had the biggest fright of my life...

I had just finished up for the evening and was officially on holiday as of that point. I packed up my things and cleaned out my drink bottle before putting it into the recycle bin. As I was placing the bottle in, I noticed a few publisher catalogues had been put in the bin too. I like publisher catalogues, especially the children's book ones. I try and keep them when I find them, as I figure they might come in handy when I go shopping for a publisher once the book is ready and I can see which publisher would be a good fit based on their existing output.
So I grabbed the catalogues and had a quick flick through them as I chatted to other staff members. Then, in one of the catalogues, I saw this:


I think I might have cussed at this point.
Here, in front of me, was a book about a Gnome and an otter. What are the chances? I'd certainly heard of the Gnome from Nome, what serious Gnome fan hasn't? But a book about a Gnome AND an otter? My heart skipped a beat, I'm sure.

On the bus back home, my mind was spinning. Did I see this book some time in the past and unconsciously regurgitated the theme? Was I an unwitting thief? Was I guilty of the very crime I so disliked in other writer's work: stealing ideas?

I've looked into the book and honestly have no recollection of ever seeing it. But that is irrelevant. The important thing is what I do now. I could, of course, change my story so that it doesn't resemble this existing one so much. I could make the otter a badger, or some other animal. But that would mean a complete rethink of the whole story. I'm not against doing that at all, but it would mean that the story simply wouldn't be as strong, it would be weakened, inevitably, by the process of altering such a core element.
Another option is to scrap the book altogether and get to work on something else. This is a scary thought and not something I want to do.
The third option, the one I'm favouring, is to keep on going with the story as it is and accept the consequences that come. Though the main characters ARE the same species, I doubt very much whether any other elements of the story are the same. The Gnome from Nome book takes place in the actual place called Nome, whereas mine is in Faerie. My book is populated by a whole array of Faerie beings that I am certain don't resemble anything in the other book; and the theme, while just as heart-warming, is very, very different.
The thought that is allowing my to sleep at night is that there are no new ideas, and there are multiples of every conceivable archetypal match-up already out there. So what if there is already a book featuring a Gnome and an otter! Does it matter if my book also has those two creatures too, done completely differently? I don't think so.
Look at it this way- I love J. R. R. Tolkien's work. I think that many of J. K. Rowling's characters are carbon copies of his ones. I used to say that Dumbledore is just Gandalf, but more colourful. But then I realised that Gandalf is just another version of Merlin, and so on.

The trick is what you do with the archetype to make it different and your own. As I'm a fan of analogies, let me put it this way- imagine you are baking some cookies. You have your baking book out and it tells you what to do and when. You pull out your cookie cutters and you see that you have one just like the shape used in the book. So you slice out a cookie in the shape of, say, a star, just like in the book. Now you have a choice, you can follow the decorating patterns the book shows, or you can do it your own way and make it yours. So instead of chocolate drops, you put almonds on, instead of a white chocolate topping, you use strawberry, etc. Once the cookie is baked, it looks nothing like the one in the book. It retains the same shape, but it tastes different and IS different.

That's what I am going to do. My book may look superficially like the Gnome from Nome one, but that's where the similarities end. In fact, as far as I can see, that is the only connection that can be made between the two. In all other aspects, from appearance of the characters, setting, book length, moral, audience, to packaging, these two books are worlds apart; quite literally, in some cases.

Thankfully, Willow and Berrie (yep, I settled on that spelling) are just two of many characters I have at my disposal. They are the lead characters in this first book, but others will step forward to fill that role in subsequent books.

I hope that Stephen Cosgrove, the writer of Gnome from Nome (as well as some 300 other books, props...), if he ever reads this, believes me when I say that I did not, in any way, intentionally use characters similar to his. I respect both the sanctity of other people's work, as well as my own ability to come up with my own characters. It's a horrible cliché to say, but it really is 'just one of those things.'

I'd be very interested to hear what other people think about this situation. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments box below.

My next post will be of a completely different nature, for those wanting to know. I'll be discussing the joys of Autumn, a Troll sighting and foragers rewards. It should be up in a couple of days...

Sep 7, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days - A postmortem

Note: There are still plenty of the 100 Heads looking for good homes, I've set up a page on this blog dedicated to listing the ones still available, go check it out right here.

My self-imposed 100 Heads in 100 Days Challenge is now over. It's done. Dusted. Finito.
It was a long road to get to here, and the road wasn't always smooth. But I kept to it; mostly to prove to myself that I could take on a longer project than I was used to and see it through.
I learned a great many things along that road to 100 Heads, here's the big stuff:
  • I CAN handle long assignments. I can juggle different assignments too.
  • I need to change the way I go about drawing (more on this at a later date)
  • Filling 100 posts with Me Facts was tough. I'm more dull than I initially imagined.
  • Experimentation with techniques and materials is fun, but it has to be treated with caution.
  • white gouache over watercolours is THE way to do flesh tones.
  • My imagination is stronger than my ability to depict what I imagine.
  • While I preach that correct structure is the foundation for a drawing, I must practice what I preach better.
  • Variety is the spice of life. Drawing 100 heads in a row was restrictive in many ways.
  • When using multiple layers of watercolour, a paper's quality is put to the test.
  • I will NEVER set such a challenge again! Not that it was bad, just that it was too constricted.
I think I progressed as an artist along the way to 100 heads. I picked up some new material techniques and stylistic progression, which made the challenge invaluable. This was definitely part of the reason that I started the whole thing to begin with: to gain more skill. I think I was successful with that, but I still have a long way to go.
That's the funny thing about progressing as an artist: Once you gain one skill or a better understanding of something, it sort of jumps ahead of you again. It's as if you were chasing a leaf that is blowing in the wind. You finally catch it and hold it in your hand, only to see another leaf go whizzing by that is even prettier and more enticing, so you start running after that one. And as an artist, there are many leaves to catch, often more than one at a time.
Personal style is very similar. I can see that the style I have now is okay, and I can apply it to anything I want to draw now (which is a great milestone in it itself), but I can easily picture the next step in my style, and I want it, bad. So that is where I want to head next.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge. It WAS worthwhile, fun, exhausting, burdensome, interesting, challenging and unforgiving. I'm glad I did it. So much so that I made a little video of the whole thing:


As promised, there is another reason for this post... FREEBIES! Some of you may recall that I gave away 10 prints free to commemorate the 50th Head. Well, to celebrate to 100th Head and the completion of the challenge, I have another 10 prints to give away free. As with the previous print, all shipping, printing and packaging costs will be covered by me. All I require from you is the address you want it posted to. It won't cost you a single cent!

Here's the print in question-
As with the other print, there are only 10 copies available of it, so be quick to secure yours now! You can post a comment on this very blog post, or through my Facebook page (Jay Penn) or by email (jaypennart at yahoo dot com). So go to it. Once they're gone, they're gone for good. First in, best dressed rules apply.

So what happens now? Well, I have the week off from work and I have a couple of new posts in mind. I plan on being very active here as a general rule. I'm looking to post at least a couple of entries a week going ahead, so it certainly won't be all quiet on the Realms of Faerie front.
The next post will deal with an issue I have just, rather alarmingly, encountered: Discovering that the idea you had, that you though was so original and unique, in fact, isn't.

I'll see you then, and don't forget to put your name down for a print!

Sep 4, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #100 - Willow for the win!

Well, we've made it all the way to this, the final day of the 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge. It has been a long 100 days, and I am very glad it is over, but I'm also happy with the project and the work I did for it.
I'm going to keep this post in keeping with all of the other posts in the series, so I won't start blathering on here about what I think of the 100 Heads in 100 Days challenge. That will be covered in detail in a 100 Heads follow up post in the next couple of days. And, as promised, there will be another 10 copies of a new print up for grabs in that post as well. So do come back soon, won't you?

For now, though, I present to you, for the last time...

100 Heads in 100 Days #100
My old friend, Willow
Willow was created a looong time ago. He's the culmination of many factors; my love of Rien Poortvliet's Gnomes, the influence of J R R Tolkien on my way of thinking, my desire to do something new with an old type of creature, my love of books and my need for a particular kind of lead character. Willow fills all of those requirements. He's a Gnome, but by no means your typical garden Gnome, he has a personality close to Mr. Tolkien (or what I imagine that would be like), he's bookish and the type of character that can lead the type of story I like to come up with.
I'm going to keep any other information on Willow close to my chest for the time being, but he'll be making more appearances here in the future, no doubt.

Me Fact #100
I've made dumb decisions in my life. I've also missed opportunities through not making any decision at all. One thing I DID get right, though, was marrying my wife, Steph. She's the most important person in my life and always will be. Every early morning, every late night, every ounce of expelled energy, I do for Steph.

Sep 3, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #99 - Berrie or Berry?

Aaaaah, the penultimate head. Make sure you're here tomorrow for the moderately big finale!

100 Heads in 100 Days #99
Berrie... or maybe Berry. The purple stuff is jam, if you were wondering.
I've adored otters for many years now, they're my favourite species of animal and I've even adopted a couple of them over the years through the wonderful charity, the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) based on the Isle of Skye.
It's no wonder, then, that a major character in my book is an otter, is it? Now if only I could settle on its name. I'm torn between the spelling of it, Berrie or Berry...
I also don't think I've quite got its look down yet, the face isn't the right shape and the eyes are too close together; it's straying into bear territory a bit too much. I think I'll be doing a series of posts some time soon where I try and nail down each major character's appearance.

Me Fact #99
If I do manage to eventually get a publishing deal for the Realms of Faerie, I hope I get a say in the format and design of the books, though I know this is probably unlikely. I have pretty specific things in mind for them, though I am flexible and will defer to a better designer than myself. I think D. M. Cornish's 'Monster Blood Tattoo' books are gorgeous, and something similar would suit my Realms of Faerie books perfectly.
I want to make the books an experience to read. I want there to be lots of illustrations, naturally; but I want to do things like maps, character biographies, appendices and such. I also want to have little short stories at the end of the books dealing with specific characters. I figure that if Pixar can do it with their movies, I can do it with my books!

Sep 2, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #98 - Witchity

A mere two heads left to go after this one!

100 Heads in 100 Days #98
Witchity
This is the character I am having the most trouble with. I know how to write her; I know her personality, motivations, mannerisms and reason for being there in the first place. But I can't seem to nail down her look or her name. I think the above one is close, but she's still not quite right. I want her to look something like a typical wicked witch, but I also want to put my own slant on her and make her unique in some way. This may require a future post on the process of reaching that aim.

Me Fact #98
As it stands, I have about half of the first book of my Realms of Faerie series written, with the rest to be completed over the next year (including multiple drafts and such). I have the subsequent three books in the series roughly plotted out, with further ones very vague in my mind. I don't think I could actually run out of stories from the Realms of Faerie to write about. I honestly don't think there is an end to the possibilities.

Sep 1, 2013

100 Heads in 100 Days #97 - Thorntree

100 Heads in 100 Days #97
Thorntree
One of Willow's oldest and most trusted friends is a faerie by the name of Thorntree. They live quite close to each other and are often off visiting the other, sometimes they even meet in the middle unintentionally, both of them being on the way to see the other.
Thorntree runs a very successful small publishing company, called Thorntree Press, from his home. He owns a fairly precarious looking building that has three levels: his bookstore takes up the ground level, the publishing equipment takes up the next level, and there is a loft where his quarters are found. There is also a sizable garden out the back, with vegetable patches, flower beds and a few fruit trees. There is also a stable, where he keeps his trusty steeds, Foggle and Wentz.

Me Fact #97
There are so many places I'd love to travel to: Japan, Siberia, Lapland, Germany, Africa, Murrumbidgee, Nepal, Switzerland, Norway... The list of places I'm not fussed about visiting would actually be a lot smaller than the list of places I want to visit.