Feb 28, 2014

Bliary Entry #4: The Mucous Monster attacks!

The last couple of weeks have been an absolute nightmare.
I had a cold that started up on Sunday the 16th, and now, nearly two weeks later, I'm still dealing with the nasty thing. I think I can reasonably say that it is the worst cold I have ever had.

But it's not the actual act of being sick that bothers me, as that is temporary and soon forgotten. It is the loss of a whole lot of work time that is irksome to me. Especially when I'm feeling particularly inspired/discontented/charlatanistic about my work. The fact that I want to do big things with my art in 2014 means that a loss of nearly two weeks through illness and low energy hurts. A lot.

What I really need is some mechanism, something that will change my biological makeup so that the act of creating artwork becomes second nature, rather than something that needs self-imposed self-discipline and deadlines to get the work done. It is something I have always struggled with. I guess I'm just a procrastinator and a bit lazy.

Something has to change. I have plans and dreams. But my lack of output seriously inhibits and delays their fulfilment. It sounds corny and fluffy, but I can almost hear the Realms of Faerie calling to me, wanting me to immerse myself in them and BE the creative person I want and need to be. So why do those calls fall on deaf ears? Why do I ignore the call?

Darned if I know.

No more, I say. No More!

It's time to dive right in, head first. It's time to be the Faerie artist I know I can be. It's time to be the Faerie writer I feel I have the potential to become. It's time to make my plans a reality, and to live my dreams.

It's time.

The Realms of Faerie are coming.

Feb 13, 2014

On Faerie: Those pesky Goblins!

I really do get quite a thrill whenever I get the time to sit down and actually do some writing. My buddy, Gordon MacKay, and I have resolved to catch up online every Sunday evening to do some writing so that we can keep our respective stories ticking over. We had our first writing catch up a few weeks ago, and I got to progress my Willow story some more. The scene that I was writing is actually one I've been looking forward to for some time. It's when Willow and the Otter find themselves stuck in the dreaded Goblin Market!
Writing this scene got me thinking about Goblins in general and what my take on them is.

There have been many different renditions of Goblins over the years. From Tolkien's version, Magic the Gathering ones, Tony DiTerlizzi's, to Christina Rossetti. You'll notice that I have borrowed Rossetti's title for the scene in my book. Let me assure you, that's about all that these two have in common!
The word 'goblin' has been around for centuries, and there are many interpretations of what these beings are. Some show them as quite evil creatures, some have magical abilities, others are tiny, some are mere phantoms.
Personally, I see, and have always seen, Goblins as tricksters; more annoying than actually evil. This is probably because I grew up with illustrations of Goblins by Brian Froud and Arthur Rackham. Their renditions of Goblins definitely leans toward the practical joker perspective. This is the way I like them. There are more than enough dangerous, wicked and evil creatures roaming the lands and realms of Faerie. Goblins fit nicely into that sort of middle ground between benevolent and malicious. Goblins won't be keen on doing something good, but they do stop at doing something wholly bad. Well, at least in my version they do. This isn't always the case in other versions. Take Chritina Rosetti's poem for instance (incidentally, the definitive version is illustrated by Arthur Rackham himself), the Goblins in that story are vicious and cruel, and potentially murderous! And, of course, Tolkien's Goblins are rather fond of killing things too.

The next point of contention is the size of Goblins. They can vary from a couple of inches, all the way up to human size. I put them at about three to four feet tall, on average. This would make tham a little bit taller than a Gnome (cap included). But like any race in Faerie, they can be highly varied. Some have huge and round moon faces, some have long and pointy noses. Some are hairy, others are bald. You get the picture. If you don't, here's an actual picture!
I'll be painting this fella up in the coming week. I'm thinking watercolour and gouache. Pop back soon to see the finished result!

I think that Goblins are a fun bunch to play around with and write about. There's certainly plenty of them in my book, that's for sure.

Let's look at another book from my collection, shall we?

Ah, Brian Froud's Goblins pop-up book. My brother, Ryan, and I each got our own copies of this book some time in the mid-80's I think. I still have my copy of it and I've picked up another copy along the way somewhere too. It's a really fantastic little book. It's not very long, nor very deep; but by goodness, what Mr. Froud has managed to cram into those pages is just incredible. Whenever I pick up that book, those illustrations really charge my imagination and memories of my first glimpse into Faerie come back, as fresh as yesterday.

There are probably only a handful of books that have heavily influenced my life. This would definitely be one of them. My thanks to you, Mr. Froud!

Feb 2, 2014

Bliary Entry #3: Amalur, Skyrim & Albion

Now that my January Sale is done and dusted, it's time to get things back to normal around here. I say 'normal,' but there really doesn't seem to be such a thing for this blog. It's always evolving. Which I kinda like.
I want to try out new ideas, new features, new adventures. That will never change.
But I want to get back to some proper blogging. Sharing ideas, art, thoughts and news.
Let's get to it then!

The topic of choice today is going to be games. Console games, trading card games, tabletop games. As I am an illustrator that gets most of his jobs in the field of gaming, I thought it might be an idea to mention what hands-on experience I have with them myself.

Firstly, I'm not a hardcore gamer. I have friends who game a lot; an old friend of mine, Kieran Turley, gets in about 3 group games a week. He's so into it that he used to regularly write for both Dungeon Magazine and its partner, Dragon Magazine.
He's done a lot in the gaming industry, writing a lot of rules and working out mechanics for companies too. This is on top of him having a regular job and a family.
As I said, he's really into it.

I met Kieran, and a lot of other serious gamers, about 12 years ago when I got a part-time job at a gaming shop here in Galway. It was a really fun job and I have very fond memories from that time. The boss, Jim Neary, is a great fellow and I still catch up with a good few of the regulars too.
Prior to working at Gamer's Realm, as it was called, I had very little experience in that world. I had friends that D&D'd and played Magic: The Gathering (Toby Rogers, where are you?!), but the closest I ever got to being a gamer was collecting Magic cards with artwork by Greg Staples and Dermot Power on them.
Apart from that, I wasn't a gamer at all. Except, I did play the odd computer game and collect comics.

The comics scene is quite similar to the gaming scene in many ways, with many aspects overlapping and a good chunk of gamers would read comics, and visa versa. I loved comics from a very early age. I was a Marvel fan from those days, with the Hulk and Spider-Man being personal favourites. I reached my comic geek peak at the ages of 14 through 17. Every Saturday morning, I would go into town to pick up comics and spend a fortune doing so. I no longer buy comics, except for the very rare one that catches my eye. I still love the artistic field of comic drawing, but I think I like the idea of creating comics more than reading them these days. But who has time to draw comics, I ask you?

Computer games are another area where I have played. Again, I'm not a huge console or computer gamer at all, but when I do find a game I like, I obsess over it. So far, there have only been a grand total of 4 games that have actually appealed to me: Medievil (1st generation Playstation), the Fable series, the Elder Scrolls series and, most recently, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
When I mean obsessed, I mean things like playing compulsively, obviously. But I've also got each of those games' soundtracks on my iPod and listen to them religiously (Kingdoms of Amalur is playing as I write this actually), and I get the Player Guide books, limited edition if possible and snatch up all of the merchandise I can.
But again, I'm not a hardcore gamer. It's just that when I find something I like, I explore every aspect of it. That's why I have a Fable keyring on my bag, a hard to find Hobbe figure on my bookshelf and a line of collector's edition games next to my consoles (original Playstation, original Xbox and a 360, all still working), to name just a few things.
But I've always been a fan of fantasy. I was a huge fan of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe when I was young, and still have a big selection of the figures to prove it. I also read Tolkien's work at an early age, and continue to read fantasy books to this day. My mind is never really far from a fantasy realm, be it Mr. Tolkien's, Mr. Sears' and especially my own Realms of Faerie.
You could say that my life revolves around fantastical worlds. So though I'm not a hardcore gamer, I AM a harcore fantasy fan.

Now, for something completely different, here's some new artwork.

I call this guy G-Gnome. Get it? Classic wordplay there.

I mentioned a while ago that my wife and I finally moved out of the dreaded mobile home and into a house with walls made from actual brick and mortar. We've been here about seven weeks now and are slowly getting into the swing of it. I still have a couple dozen very large boxes to unpack, but the process has begun, and it's great seeing some of my old books again.
It's so great in fact that I want to share some of my finds with you all in what I hope will become a regular feature of this blog, where I show off a cool book from my collection.

Here's the first one to be exhibited:

This is the first copy of The Wind in the Willows I ever read. This edition was printed in 1984 (about the time I must have been given it) and it is copiously illustrated by Harry Hargeaves. Willows is one of my all-time favourite books. I love it to bits and have many different editions of it now. I would love to, one day, be given the opportunity to illustrate an edition of it myself.