Saturday, October 1, 2011

My schedules for this blog neve seem to pan out

I thought I'd still be able to do these on a regular basis once I went back to campus for the fall semester but that hasn't worked out so far.

In order to get all the math I require before I graduate I had to start taking it and it's not really one of my best subjects, so it's been eating up a lot of my time outside of class. Which is probably good thing- I'm getting the help I need because the math department has an excellent tutoring and student study session set-up so I can ask questions when I need to. Hopefully by the time I'm at Calculus it won't be quite as much of a chore.

The other thing that is taking up a lot of time (a good thing!) is my vertebrate paleontology class wich has probably the most awesome professor ever teaching it. After I talked to her last semester about my interests she agreed to waive the pre-required classes so I could take it, which makes me the youngest person in the class (a sophomore with mostly seniors and some juniors and grad students). It's not a huge class, which is nice, but it goes at a quick pace and there's a lot of information to process. The reason it works is that there are both biology majors and geology majors in the class, so she does have to go over a few of the basics for both that I've missed by not taking the other classes. Things I will have to do in order to graduate anyway like historical geology and organic chemistry.

I am getting a lot more out of the class than just simple paleo lectures though. I love labs and this class has a lot of them- the specimens are fun to work with, and the length of the class leaves plenty of time for discussion. I've also learned a lot about what the grad students are doing. A couple of the undergrads are working on their own research as well which always adds a fun dimension onto the class discussions. It's also been helping me narrow down my focus as well- I'm pretty sure I want to work on the paleoecology of this part of Idaho before the great Bonneville flood. Possibly with further focus on Onychodus, a Devonian era fish with a set of tooth whorls and a possible ambush predator. I'd do sharks, but it seems a bit like the easy route because there are quite a few people interested in them in this class- specifically the Helicoprian sharks. We have a lot of those specimens which makes it a good thing to work with.

As a result of this the subjects of my art recently have been influenced so expect my shop to have a nice glut of extinct fishes and tetrapods in stock for awhile. I'm using them as a study guide.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Devil's Garden: Day 1

"Welcome to the Garden"

1. Introduction

"Welcome to the garden, little one. Here you will find horrors that were once thought lost to the world. You are welcome to come in, but there is no guarantee that you will want to leave once you do. Some visitors have become...permanent fixtures here."

"Midnight Snack"

2. Love

"These are the caretaker's pets. They tend to keep out unwanted visitors."

They're done on this kind of metallic bronze card stock that looks goldish in the sun light and really dark brown in the shadow or when the light's not directly on it.

Like this:

New project: The Devil's Garden

So I decided to revamp my 100 Theme Challenge pieces with a series I'm going to call "The Devil's Garden".

Basically, I'm going to do 100 pieces that are based on a version of the 100 themes challenge, but they're all going to be the same theme- carnivorous plants. They'll all be giant and eating things or will have eaten things in the pictures and I'm going to be doing them all on some interesting papers I got at the paper shop awhile ago.

I think I'm going to have to go back and see if they still have the sparkly brown paper because I think it's perfect for this project and I like using it.

As I get pieces done, and as I can, I'll start offering them as prints/originals in my Etsy shop. All of them will be rather small pictures- they should all fit in a standard 5 x 7" frame. They'll be done in colored pencil and possibly chalk pastel if I can find my set of Nupastels again because they're fun to use.

The pencils blend really well on the brown paper and not much else is sticking to it, so it looks like as far as that color goes I'll be using those.

As I work through these I'll post the finished ones and WIPs of whatever ones I'm working on when I photograph on here.

My goal is to have this done by the end of August (or around August 19th) which gives me 49 days to get all 100 pictures done and photographed. It should be easy enough if I finish 2 a day.


Quick note: The 100 Themes Challenge is a project where you take 100 words (there are various lists that have already been made, or I guess you could do your own) and you do a drawing based around each one. I'm using it to get out of a weird creative block I've been in for awhile.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gotta love the heat

There is no in between temperature here in the valley. It's spring one day and a nice 60-something and then the next day it's all BOOM! 90+ degree weather. No nice slide from spring into summer, it just happens.

Penny has revealed herself to be a princess dog, who prefers to be inside in front of the air conditioning/fan unit in our living room than outside in the sun, even when it's a pleasant 78F. She also enjoys playing with ice, and long walks in the evening.

Etta has found a wonderful place to escape both the heat and the reach of the dog's tongue. A good thing considering she apparently doesn't have the brain capacity to move when she sees the dog coming.

She is also very helpful when I'm trying to photograph stuff for my shop. This is exactly the kind of help I need.

This is what I'm getting paid to do this time- organizing a bunch of files (minus the blue box which isn't part of it).

And a WIP of another ACEO which I have yet to finish. It's a fawn but I think it turned out looking more like a dog. The leaves in the background are fun, and this is more like what I normally end up doing if I have nothing else going on in a day- I fill a page with stuff.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

AA Treasury 6/25

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Aaand I'm back now

After taking on way too much for my first semester of college (18 credits + three labs) and getting a bit lost in all of that, I'm putting stuff in my Etsy shop again.

Basically I took the semester off of Etsy after being a bit discouraged by it but I'm giving it another try until I figure out where I want to go from there.

Summer's already here and we had a magnificent group of thunderstorms last night- they went right over the house and were loud enough to make the walls shake and break a few of the dishes in the cabinets. It was the puppy's first real thunderstorm but she didn't really care much- mostly she just wanted to know what we were watching outside and got really excited about it.

We went on a wonderful day trip to the Craters of the Moon National Monument before it started to get hot, which is really the time to go, since the whole place is covered in acres and acres of old lava flows. I'm told it's rather unpleasant to be there when it's hot, so I'm glad we managed to get there before then. I've lived here my whole life, and we've only driven past it before, so it was a good opportunity to see some more of the landscapes in the state.

No garden this year because the puppy ripped up the one we had last year and we haven't had a chance to build a puppy-proof garden area yet. My nosy neighbor is still being weird about my hens. It's gotten so I keep the blinds in my room closed when she's home so she'll stop trying to talk to me about them. It's not that she doesn't want them to be here- it's more that she just wants to talk and talk and talk about them.

Bullock's Oriole (kevcole on flickr)

We've had several of these lovely Orioles nesting around the house lately. They come by and raid the hummingbird feeders, although they haven;t been staying at them long enough for me to get any good photos.

Since I'm job hunting (again) for the summer I've been taking on some freelance office-type jobs for things like alphabetizing files, sorting papers/essays that have been turned in, and making lists which are all things I enjoy, oddly enough. Getting paid pennies for them, but its better than nothing while I try to find something that'll give me a regular paycheck for a few months.

Still working on doing the 100 themes challenge, and I'll be posting some of those on here soon. Depending on how they turn out I'll be putting them up for sale in my Etsy shop.

TL;DR: I killed myself with college work, now I'm back and I'm putting stuff in my shop again.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

World-Building Days 1 + 2

Well, yesterday was full of fun. I may have found something I'll actually get hired to do, so it was time well spent. Because of the job-hunting, i didn't get a chance to put up a blog post, as I used that time instead to work toward my small daily goal for my world-building project.

Something I have learned over the years as I have created various creatures for fantasy and sci-fi setting is that it's hard for some things to actually sound believable. Sure, you could have something that's huge and that carries your character around the world conveniently, but what do they eat? Where do they live in the wild? What kind of food requirements do they have?

Take, for example, the creature I was fleshing out yesterday. Because I still haven't created the language for this world yet, I just give everything pretty basic, descriptive names. The one I focused on was called the "Spiny Herdbeast" which fits quite well as a description for the picture that was drawn to go along with it. It's easy to tell this one apart from my other "herdbeast" type animals, and I can easily use it as a way to name it once I've smoothed out the language.

The first thing I wanted to do with it was have it be quite large. Since the characters I am using on this world are at least two or three feet taller then the "average human male" scale that is generally used in these types of illustrations, I got out a measuring tape and laid out on the floor how tall, how long and how broad it would be in order to get real world dimensions. Proportionally, they're similar in size to my main creatures in the way horses and cows are to humans.

The Spiny Herdbeasts are herbivores, so I took a look at the map I'd drawn of my worlds, and plotted out where they might be in every season, their migratory habits leading them to follow the water as they moved from spring/summer grazing to fall/winter areas. The terrain also posed a problem, and I adapted for that, drawing inspiration from Giant Ground Sloths of the ice age who had "hands" to help them graze.

When building fantasy creatures it seems like it's always a good idea to at least have a facet of real animals, or use them as a basis for the way the creature interacts with it's environment. Horses and cattle both have rather high energy requirements, so they end up grazing throughout the day. I used that as an aspect of the behavior of the Spinys, as it gives them at least some sort of grounding that makes them seem more real when they're written or drawn.

Because they graze so much, their diets also need to be full of energy rich foods, so I researched the kinds of plants that have high energy yields and based their stature and basic body structures on things that would help them to reach the foods they were most benefited by. As a result I ended up with a heavily built, stocky creature with a short neck, "hands" that help them reach things that are too high for them to eat and dig to find roots.

For day 2 I worked on a second creature. When fleshing out beasts and beings for worlds, I always like to have either a "fact sheet" or a reference sheet about them that I can use to quickly get information about them, especially if I need to use them for something. Having these around is also a good artistic tool for when I decide to draw them or use them in a scene for an illustration.

Basics I always look at first are a good, basic description (how do they fit into their environment? Do they have flashy colors, or do they blend into the background? What do they eat? How do they move?) all of those questions help me determine the size, shape and general behavior, which helps me as I get more in depth with my sheets, breaking down three groups (male, female, offspring) in the description area.

I also keep notes on feeding behaviors and migration patterns, making a sketchy drawing of the land masses and water on my planets and marking where they spend different seasons in different colors. My readers may not ever hear anything about some of the creatures, but I like having these sorts of notes around just in case. Plus to me they make the world more three-dimensional, as I am able to see things more clearly in my head when I'm writing.

Daily Goal: 3 pages
Day: 2
Page Count: 6