Skullbaby

ajla_skull

Yes, I’m still alive.

A little surprised though to see that I haven’t posted anything in over a year, and really only because I haven’t done any “serious” drawing in that long.  By serious I mean sitting for a couple hours at a stretch.  There have been the occasional doodles and and 20 second sketches… oh, God that’s just sad.

Well, the other day I decided that, dag-gummit, I was a gonna set myself down and draw.  I had intended on doing this drawing for a very long time, as I loved the source photo when I first saw it.  The girl pictured was one of three I worked with a couple years ago whose face paints I did for Halloween.  This make-up was my favorite of the bunch, especially cause it was so well-framed by her hair.  I altered her selfie a little bit at the collar for the sake of symmetry, but otherwise this is what she looked like.

It’s neat (to me at least) to cover half the picture with my hand, flip it to the other side, then back again… “so pretty…so scary… so pretty… so scary….”

Couldn’t think of a title though, started with “skull…..” and the word “baby” popped into my head.  One of those word association things cause there’s a song called ‘Skullbaby’ by a punk band called the Didjits I used to see (what seemed every other week) back at U of I (Illinois at Urbana) in 1987.  They were usually packaged with another local indie band called the Poster Children.

‘Skullbaby’ always struck me as amusing cause the lyrics began:

“Momma had a skullbaby… and it screeeeamed all night long… you would scream too if all you had was a skull!”

Back then, I had my friend copy his copy of the Didjit’s home-made CD onto a cassette for me… but thanks to the internet I see all this stuff is available on Youtube, and I am blaring what was, in 1987, the new album ‘Hey Judester’.

Holy crap that was nearly thirty years ago.  How is it I still know the songs but couldn’t even tell you what classes I took without looking at my transcripts?

 

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Figure Study: Knight

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Ahhhh…

I have nearly forgotten how to use this site.  Its been that long…

As I have mentioned before, I have been busy working on a fantasy novel, which is finally finished!  I should get my proof in a few days, and if all is well it will be available on amazon (print or electronic).  The series is called “Fabelwald”… book one is “The Mythic Forest”.

Anyhoo, above you see three pencil drawings I did last night at the figure study group.  Its the first time I’ve been there in three or four months.  Same complaints about the poor lighting, LOL.  Its also the first pencil drawing I’ve done in months… I’ve only done two digital paints since then as well (damn that book of mine!)

This costume was not so bad, but overall not so great either.  The model had the biggest complaints… metal parts were pinching and poking him, he repeatedly lost circulation in his hands, the suit somehow got heavier over time, it was too hot, his head and shoulders were crushed under the weight, he could not move, etc.  All this meant he had just one pose available, to last 3 hours (with breaks every 15 minutes to half undress cause of the problems).

This was not so bad for the painters in attendance, but for me it was monotonous.  I pretty much finished in one or two sets of 15 minutes for each detail.  I even ruined the second pic you see cause I kept going back to add contrast in the face, and the final result is worse for it.

I did get to play around with new pencils I had bought long ago but never used.  I especially liked the ‘woodless’ pencils (basically a giant piece of “lead” wrapped in plastic); they stayed pretty sharp even though they are on the soft side, and oh boy did they make such nice BLACK color.  They felt funny to use, gliding on the paper smoothly and “waxy” like a crayon, compared to a more scratchy feeling by regular pencil (I was using slightly textured paper, sort of rough like a business card or construction paper.)

It was funny to watch our host playing the squire and dressing the knight.  Mind you, this is a cheapo, light replica without all the details… no padded shirt, skirt, short on straps and fasteners, etc.  This thing was supposed to be easier to wear than the real thing.  So what sort of grief did a Knight of old go through?  He had to lug around expensive heavy armor, have help getting dressed, and constantly have an armorer repair the suit.  It must have been like owning a Ferrari and having to go off-roading in it every day… cringing with every dent, but telling yourself you’re still special and super-cool.

What must have been the biggest heartache was to be the knight standing next to the first armored soldier taken out by the longbow…. realizing that all that money and a lifetime of training meant squat cause somebody just invented a bow that could shoot through you!

Design Development: Troll God

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This gigantic beastie was featured in the Wildwarden “Godslayer” vignette.  I was sort of scribbling up some monsters, inspired by the vast array of wierdos seen in the recent Hobbit movie.  I researched a bit of thee history of trolls in myth, and found they were originally nature related, the word itself was used for boars, and that descriptions revolved around long, thick hair and big noses. Continue reading

Felespiller (the fiddler)

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Well I finally “finished” ( I still may do some touch ups) my Norwegian fiddler girl.  I suppose I will name her Cecilie, after an actual Norwegian girl who found and complimented my work in progress pic that I had posted on the deviantArt website, and who was kind enough to let me use her ID photo as a reference for the fiddler’s face.  The body, hair and fiddle comes from a photo of an actual professional Hardanger violinist named Maja Gravermoen Toresen.  I never had the time to do some modeling with my wife and kids for the current series, and besides, I do not want the same face for every character.  At least for the male faces I can alter my own by varying hair styles and facial hair, but the women’s faces would not be so easy to adjust with any reasonable level of realism.

I think the whole shebang took 5 or 6 hours over two drawing sessions.  I am happy with it, considering it is the first large scale attempt at realism I have ever done, and using a variety of pencils (H thru 8B).  I do wish I had better quality paper to begin with, this old stuff was not as white as I would prefer, and did not seem to hold up under an eraser that well.  I did wind up buying a much better quality, and really large pad today, figuring I could always cut the sheets in half if I wanted 11×17 size again.  Things I need to figure out at this scale from what I experienced here is how to control smudging, how to avoid shiny/metallic spots from pressing too hard with the darker pencils, and how to add highlights via erasing or perhaps white chalk.

Oh, also I have a new problem: how in the world to take good photos of these drawings at this size.  Here, I taped up the drawing on my kids’ chalkboard easel, turned on a bunch of lamps, and tried to hold my digital camera steady.  Then I imported the photo into Gimp, turned it to gray scale and cropped the edges.  The color you see here is not true to life, and the image is a bit warped (like a fish-eye lens effect) and no where near the resolution I would hope for.  I do have an old film camera that is pretty decent, but who the heck uses film any more besides “real” photographers?

Felespiller (fiddler) W.I.P.

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Here is a preview of another Norske character (#3) in the series of 10 I have planned.  At 11×17 its the largest pencil drawing I have tried in ages. I think I will frame this one as it is too big to store in a folder… lol.  I want to get some blacker pencils (>6B) and work on the contrast. The dress looks like crap to me as it is.  The tough part will be doing the Hardanger fiddle, which have a ton of decoration on them.

Norske Folk 1: Treskjaerer (woodcarver)

Attached you see a drawing which sort of “just happened”.  I had stopped working on any sort of drawings for a few weeks, as my Circe digital project was kind of burning me out with all of the experimenting in techniques and processes.  I wanted to get back to some good old pencil work, and at some point was feeling all folksy, so had decided to do a series of drawings/portraits of everyday people from the 19th and early 20th centuries.  I settled on Norway as a little tribute to my wife, and since I had used her as a model for the “Norske Jente” digital piece, I could tell myself “Hey, Lou, you already have one drawing done!”

I have a tendency to romanticize “the old days”.  Sure, we have it much easier today as far as science, medicine and technology goes, but I still think we are seriously lacking in fulfillment.  Many of our conveniences today are toys and distractions, and personally I do not get the same spiritual or mental satisfaction from my iPad as I do a thumbing through my dog-eared old books I bought at a school book fair when i was 11 years old (Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe).  The last century seems to me to be a better balance of technology allowing for great works, yet still “clumsy” enough to require a good amount of manual labor and artistry by everyday people.  A great example would be sailing ships…. beautiful, complex constructs that are both functional machines and works of art at the same time. They are full of moving parts that require constant attention and recalibration by people crawling all over them like spiders on a web. Another smaller example would be an old wind up Swiss pocketwatch… which to me seem magical or arcane compared to a digital clock.

Anyways, here is the Woodcarver, or “Treskjaerer”, what I expect will be the first of 6 or more drawings of  Norskies of yesteryear.  Others I am tinkering with include the Bride, the Fisherman, the Schoolteacher… any suggestions are welcome!