Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I do love Halloween-- after all, it is the oddest of holidays! To paraphrase Dickens, I honor Halloween in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. But especially today, of course!

I'll add an illuminated nocturnal view of the JackOWLantern tonight, once I get home from a Halloween Hoop Jam in the park, with costumes. Oh boy, I just can't wait! What are your plans for the evening?

Happy Halloween to all! Oh, & check out ArtBizBlog today-- along with some great advice about artists' fears, you may see a familiar skeleton monster creeping by! :-)

Edit: As promised, the JackOWLantern in its nocturnal glory. :-) Sorry, no photos from the Hoop Jam, but it was great!

Monday, October 29, 2012

X is for Xaphania

This week's entry for AlphaBooks is the leader of the rebel angels, from The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. I love Pullman's trilogy (His Dark Materials-- my series "Her Odd Materials" is a tribute of sorts). I'm especially grateful that he created an "X" character so I could squeeze this in before AlphaBooks ends! Xaphania is both ancient & young, radiant & forbidding... she plays a pivotal role in the book, but it would be something of a spoiler to specify.

I have to say this one was quite a challenge, & I'm not really happy with it, but at least I tried to work in a few "X"s with the wing forms & crossed limbs & digits. And yes, in case you were wondering, all angels appear naked in this book.

Acrylic on text ~5" x 8" with some Photoshopical tweakings. The text is mostly obliterated, but here's a pinch of it that I particularly like:

And if you help everyone else in your worlds to do that, by helping them to learn and understand about themselves and each other and the way everything works, and by showing them how to be kind instead of cruel, and patient instead of hasty, and cheerful instead of surly, and above all how to keep their minds open and free and curious… 

Monday, October 22, 2012

W is for Walter Mitty

This week's entry for AlphaBooks & IF is the protagonist of James Thurber's classic short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The quintessential daydreamer, Walter goes about his daily tasks in a mild-mannered, dutiful, non-confrontational way, but in his head he is the bold, dashing hero of countless exciting adventures.

I've always loved this story, despite its mildly misogynistic slant, because it captures so well the double life (or multiple lives, really!) of the daydreamer. And yes, I am one of that breed, in case you couldn't guess. Not quite in Walter Mitty mode, but still I'm a firm believer that dreams of all sorts make any life more interesting!

Acrylic on text imported from Zo√ętrope, where you can read the entire story online, ~5" x 8"

I can't believe we're so near to the end of the alphabet! I wonder what will be next. Here are all my entries to date-- there are still a few gaps I hope to fill at some point.

Monday, October 15, 2012

V is for Violet Beauregarde

This week's entry for AlphaBooks is one of the anti-heroes of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In this scene her gum-chewing jones becomes her undoing as she greedily chaws down on an experimental product, & the blueberry flavor turns out to have a serious glitch...

No, I didn't do this in blueberry ink! Once was more than enough for that experiment. This time I used artificial blueberry in the form of acrylic. ;-)

I had a hard time figuring out how to work in the "V" until I realized I could just play up one garment feature. Do you see it?

George Washington Zombie

I'm running late again with AlphaBooks because I spent too much time fooling around with this horrible little Oddment! It's a ceramic doll-head of GW that I picked up at the Fleam some time ago, and, inspired by CreepyGlowbugg, I decided it was high time to zombify him.

First I did a little deconstructive surgery with Sculpey to give him a bulging eye & drooping lip.

Then I gave him a base coat of acrylic. I thought the green back of the greenback would make some pretty sweet zombie skin, so I scanned one & tore it to bits to collage nearly all of his skin. (I especially like the way his chest ended up reading "One Doll.")

I let all that dry overnight before adding the finishing touches with acrylic.

I wonder what GW would make of the current election process if he really did rise from the grave this Halloween?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

U is for Urquhart McVarish

This week's entry for AlphaBeasts stumped me at first-- not too many "U" characters out there, & I have a personal rule for this series that I'm only going to do books that I've read & enjoyed. But then I remembered Robertson Davies' The Rebel Angels, featuring the devious Urquhart McVarish, manuscript thief & all-around nasty schemer. The book is a dark take on academic life, part of a trilogy on themes of art, music & letters, religion, skepticism & tarot-reading, along with many other philosophical musings. I found it quite entertaining, although my favorite Davies novel remains Fifth Business.

In this scene Urky has stolen a manuscript by Rabelais & I tried to suggest the master's signature, very loosely based on a letter in which he signs his name in the Latin form, Rabelesus (obligingly including a "u"), but please don't try to make sense of my Latinoid scribbles otherwise! Also, I couldn't really remember Urky's physical description, so forgive me if I'm way off-- I just didn't have time to reread the whole book.

I did my best to make the whole figure (including ms.) form a certain letter, though... do "u" see it? ;-)

Acrylic on text scanned from a 1983 Penguin paperback.

Monday, October 1, 2012

T is for Toad

If you are here from Illustration Friday, you may not know about AlphaBooks, the group drawing project run by Rich Barrett, Andrew Neal & Ben Towle.

AlphaBooks is the name of the game. We will be drawing ficitonal characters from books every week - one for each letter of the alphabet. On the first day (Monday, May 21), everyone will draw characters whose names start with the letter “A.”  The following monday, we’ll draw characters whose names start with the letter “B.” And so on! 

If you'd like to submit your own artwork to the project, please join us! It's loads of fun. You can jump in late with any letter you like so long as you don't go ahead of the game.

My entry for AlphaBooks this week is one of the main characters in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. This is a classic children's tale that tells of the gentle, rural pursuits of Badger, Mole & Ratty... & then there's Mr. Toad. A bit of a spoiled-frat-boy type, he's obsessed with the latest must-have technology, which at the time was the motorcar. His headstrong ways lead to all sorts of misadventures, but his loyal, patient friends always save the day.

Acrylic on text scanned from a 1969 Yearling paperback, ~ 5.5"x8.5" Do you see all the "T"s?