Thursday, 26 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Last post 26 October? October? Sheesh.

Excuse #1: I've been rehabbing a very stubborn wrist injury that makes me shaky if I try to have too much fine muscle control for too long. Frustrating for someone who likes to work in pen and ink. It's getting better (finally!) but I think I'd be wise to stick to pencils and (sigh) paint for a while. Why the sigh? Well, as anyone who's looked at this blog more than once knows, I paint like a five-year-old. I wish I didn't, but somehow my brain just doesn't like to think in paint.

Excuse #2: The "art" I've been making lately is just too randomly blobby for me to want to bother scanning it. I've been amusing myself, but it's definitely not for public consumption. Heck, sometimes it's barely for my consumption. Trust me, you haven't been missing anything.

Excuse #3: Is it just me, or has Illustration Friday been a bit less inspiring lately? Probably just me. It's my usual reason for bothering to post here, though, so if it hasn't been doing much for me I guess that still counts as a reasonable excuse.

Today's (likely) last post of the year is a quicky in tinted charcoal. And yes, I know that's not the right colour for a poinsettia; even the highly overbred ones that make up Christmas decor these days. If they make red or even pink in tinted charcoal, I certainly don't have it. Lavender was the closest I could come.

Anyway, here's to posting more than every two months in the new year. And here's to me not being stupid enough to bugger up a major joint for months ever again.

Um, anyone who knows me in person is killing themselves laughing right now at the absolute impossibility of that last sentence, and to them I'd just like to say shut up and then pout in a corner...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Thing in watercolour pencil, inktense, metallic watercolour, and pen & ink

And the kitchen sink, I suppose.

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is creature, and this is...


Well, to be honest, I just turned on the internet radio and freestyled it. Considering the period of music I'm listening to, it could be a transferred hallucination, I suppose.

As usual, my cheap scanner's lost the wash in the background. That totally makes no difference this time, though.

I bet that the scanner's disappointed.

The sad thing is, this is what's finished my current sketchbook. The great thing is, I've finished my current sketchbook. That hardly ever happens.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Moustache in pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is moustache.

Professor Arboreous had just started to realise that his dendritic studies might be affecting other parts of his life...


Ok, this is silly, but it's been a while since I did any random branching so I figured what the heck. I'd like to say that branching -- which is something of a life-long obsession -- is meditative for me, but I have too much trouble focussing on anything for too long to ever hit meditative. I suppose it's just a way to let my hand do something while I'm thinking of other things. In other words, you generally find a lot of branching doodles in my notebook after a staff meeting.

This, by the way, is the longest period at one sitting that I've managed to use a pen since I screwed up my wrist months ago. Still very shaky and I'm sore now, but it's a start at least.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Bird in Hand in watercolour pencil

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is onomatopoeia. And yeah, I'm enough of a language nerd that I didn't have to look it up. The link's just for those of you who might be unfamiliar.

The Black-capped Chickadee (and other chickadees, for that matter) gets its name from the chickadee-dee-dee call it makes. Around here we've nicknamed its whistled song cheeeseburger (you can find it on that last link), but that's another topic altogether. It does help the kids remember it, though.

As a naturalist working (mostly) with children, chickadees have become pretty much my favourite birds. They're around all year, they're vocal, they're interesting to watch, and they don't really give a fig if they are being watched. In fact, with a little patience and some sunflower seeds -- we recommend the small, black oil type -- they can be taught to come right to your hand to feed. I've never done that personally since I'm not a huge fan of encouraging wild animals to come up to humans, but since the chickadee can make a pretty quick getaway it's fairly harmless.

I know that this doodle is really, really rough, but if you'll notice the date of the previous post you'll see that I've been away from the game for months. I've been rehabbing a wrist injury (for rehab read: haven't been able to do eff all except blotch around in my mixed media mess journal), and even now it gets shaky altogether too quickly if my hand tenses up for any length of time.

You know, like to hold a pen. That's a pain, because I really like to fool around with pen and ink.

Ah well, for now we're stuck with my lack-of-painting skills. And hey. Maybe this is the start of being able to work at something for more than half an hour at a time...

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Equilateral in pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is equality.

Ok, this one threw me. I knew what the obvious current route was (at least amongst American participants who follow the news), but I deal mostly in nature subjects.

You know what? There's no such thing as equality in nature. Things eat other things, and in turn are eaten by other things. Things are outcompeted by other things. Even the classic examples of commensalism and mutualism, upon reexamination, are often being found to be more like parasitism than any kind of equality.

I don't think there is or ever will be such a thing as equality in human society either. All men are not created equal, as much as that sounds good on paper. Beyond the simple fact that some people are born with talents in certain areas that others don't have, we're always going to have inequality. Some are rich, some are poor. One sex (and the sex differs in different cultures) will always lord it over the other. Some people are always going to be seen as leaders -- sometimes simply because of birth -- and some are always going to be seen as followers. And as far as the US's recent steps to marriage equality go (which, to paraphrase The Daily Show, welcome to the 20th Century, folks...), it doesn't matter what the court says, moralistically speaking. There are always, always going to be people out there who refuse to recognise that sort of equal right, just as there are always going to be people who can't figure out why women think that they should get equal pay for equal work.

Sigh. Obviously I'm a bit pessimistic on the whole subject of equality. What to do, then?

Geometry, I guess.

No one can deny the equality of the angles in an equilateral triangle, right? So there you go. Three nested equilateral triangles.Well, actually more than that, but I'll leave you to do the counting. At any rate, that's a fair amount of equality for someone who doesn't really believe that equality's possible.

It's also boring, so I decided to doodle on it a little.

And what should you read into it other than the fact that my injured wrist is still too shaky for me to manage any real drawing? One or two things in my mind, actually, but all things being equal I think I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself.

Oh, and in case anyone wondered, yes. Yes, I did scan this crookedly entirely on purpose. It's not that way on the page.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Old Hat in pen & ink

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is worn. This is an extremely quick doodle of my father's old, worn, and to be honest somewhat grungy Tilley hat.

Oh, wait. Tilley hat, for the non-Canadians out there.

This doodle was quick (and yes, shaky) because my wrist still isn't in any shape to be doing this. Maybe in a couple of weeks, if I don't muck it up again.

When this week's IF word came up it nagged at me a bit since I could have sworn I'd done something for worn before. Sure enough, I had. It was a few years ago now, but if anyone would like to see a much better drawing for the prompt (and a little silliness), check out my original version from June 2009 right here.

Hmm. It's been quite a while since I brought out the little modelling clay men. Maybe it's time for a revival...

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Yellow Warbler in Derwent Metallics

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is sweet.

This fellow looks about as shaky as my sprained wrist could make it, but I'm tired of babying the wrist and not drawing so there you go.

The tie-in to the prompt? The song of the Yellow Warbler is usually transliterated as sweet sweet sweet oh so sweet or some variation of that. The song really doesn't sound much like that since it's more of a whistle, but I have to admit that the mnemonic does help me remember the number of  "syllables" in the usual song.

I guess that's the point of having the mnemonic at all, though, isn't it?

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Mountain Ash Buds in Art Stix

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is future.

I'd kind of wanted to do something more detailed this time around, but my recovering wrist doesn't like to be out of the brace long enough for pen & ink or anything like that. Macro it is, then, and I got out the Art Stix for a quick doodle of a Mountain Ash (some might know it better as Rowan) flower bud.

It's a scribble, but ah well. It's something, anyway, and I've been busy enough lately that not many other somethings have happened.

And if proto-flowers aren't the ultimate hint of the future this time of year (late spring and all), I don't know what is.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Stripped Down in tinted charcoal

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is farewell.

Goodbye, winter gear. Too bad, so sad. Don't come out again until next November.

Of course, since this is Alberta it'll probably be out again next week.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sunflower Scaffold in tinted charcoal and Derwent Metallics

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is train.

I like to train morning glories up my sunflowers. I like the way it looks, and since I'm container-gardening on a balcony the two-for-one in the same space is a nice bonus.

Now, if only spring would make a slight thought about appearing...

Friday, 12 April 2013

A couple of work things

What you're seeing here is Early Blue Violet (Viola adunca) above, and Prairie Crocus or Pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens) below.

These doodles aren't terribly exciting since they were designed more or less as clip art for in-house publications. With any luck there may be a few more of them if I get focused (or at least more focused than I've been managing lately) this weekend.

This weekend.

Which I'll be spending at home rather than at my father's place.

Because the impending SNOWSTORM means that the roads may be absolute crap.

Yep. This is the closest I'm going to get to any sort of spring flower for the next while, I'm afraid.

Both of these artistic wonders are Inktense base with Graphitint details. I didn't bother to wash the Graphitint, so I guess I could have just said coloured graphite and saved myself the extra typing...

Ah well.

Incidentally, I really need to get myself a more purplish Inktense pencil if I'm going to keep doing spring flowers. This fuchsia isn't really cutting it, but I figured that it would do for what I want to use it for. They're mostly recognisable at any rate, and I guess that's what counts.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Pysanky in conte crayon and metallic graphite pencils

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is egg. And I see it's been over a month since I did an IF. No particular reason, really. I've just been mostly puttering lately, and haven't come up with much that I wanted to go to the trouble of scanning and posting.

This week's doodle features a part of my heritage that I know almost nothing about.

My grandfather was Ukrainian (well, Ukrainian-Canadian), but he died long before I was ever thought of. All I really know about my Ukrainian side is that my grandfather made his own pyroghies, but I don't even know if he pronounced it pyroghies, pyrohies, or varenyky.

And these aren't pyroghies anyway.

The pysanka (pysanky, plural) is the decorated egg you find as part of the Ukrainian Easter celebration. It's done using a wax-resist or batik-style method: you draw wax lines on a raw egg for the white part of the design, dip the egg into your first (usually, lightest) colour, draw more lines to add to the design, and repeat with as many dyes as you're planning to use. Remove the wax with a candle or a brief dip in hot water, and you end up with an extremely intricately decorated egg. Traditionally, each family had its own designs that were handed down from mother to daughter. There's lots of info out there if you're interested in more details, or here's instructions on how to do it yourself.

I'd love to try it, even though with my self-flagellating personality it would probably be an exercise in start again... start again again...and start again...

Anyway. A little ways north of me there are plenty of settlements that celebrate Ukrainian founding and Ukrainian heritage, even to the point of building the world's largest pysanka. Given that and the current holiday, I thought that it was more than appropriate for the prompt.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Midas Has... in soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is whisper. I seem to be stuck in mythology with IF entries lately, but what can ya do?

This one comes from Greek mythology again. Midas (yep, he of the golden touch) became a follower of Pan after accidentally turning his daughter to gold. At one point Pan challenged Apollo to a music contest. Apollo was judged to have won, but Midas fervently sided with Pan. Apollo scoffed that he must have ass's ears to think that, and gave him some as a punishment.

Midas was mortified and hid his ears under a turban so no one would know. He charged his wife (in some versions his barber, but I figured that I may as well stick with my series of inexplicably featureless females) never to tell a soul. The secret ate at her to the point where she nearly went mad, and in desperation she dug a hole and whispered the secret into it. Unfortunately for both her and Midas, reeds later grew on the soil covering the hole, and every time the wind blew over them they whispered Midas has ass's ears over the land.

Poor Midas never had much mythological luck.

As usual (so usual that I don't know why I bother to say it anymore), the scanner's done away with most of the wash. There's enough there to give the idea, though. Oh, and if anyone's wondering, this particular graphite is Derwent Graphitint. Limited colours, but at least it means that I'm not doing everything in greys when I'm doing the soluble graphite thing.

The scanner would probably love it if I'd stop doing the soluble graphite thing at all...

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Tiamat in pen & ink and soluble graphite

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is storm.

Tiamat is... well, my knowledge of Babylonian mythology is sketchy at best, so I'll leave you to look her up for yourself this time. To be honest, I just wanted a sea goddess.

I don't know why I'm doing goddesses lately. I'm not usually a goddessy person.

The scanner killed this one as usual, but I was expecting it. Maybe I'll start signing my posted work "D.O. & Scanner". It's pretty much deserving a co-credit by this point. Anyway, please just do me the favour of assuming that there is actually a bit of sublteness (and shading, even) in the original. My co-creator apparently didn't think that it was necessary.

Just for fun I put this through a couple of quick filters after giving up on the hope of making the above look anything like the original. She kind of looks cool this way, really. Maybe I just should have posted this and called it digital art.

Ah well.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Daphne in various watercolour pencils

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is myth. Kind of my thing, what with the Classics courses in university and all of the sky mythology I do at work.

The scanner kind of killed this one, by the way, but I was expecting it to considering the medium. Or, I guess, media, since Inktense is technically ink and everything else was more standard watercolour. Anyway, I just decided to roll with it today. You can use your imagination if you'd like to guess at what the original really looks like.

The story of Daphne is easily findable on the internet, but the brief version is that Eros (Cupid) was annoyed with Apollo for saying that his arrows couldn't affect anything, so he shot Apollo with a gold-tipped arrow (leading to amorousness) and the naiad Daphne with a lead-tipped arrow (leading to abhorrence of love). Apollo chased, Daphne fled, and when it became obvious that she couldn't outrun the god she begged her father, the river god Peneus, to help her. He changed her into a laurel tree, and Apollo, still being in love, made the laurel his sacred symbol.

My Daphne looks nothing like a laurel, of course. Ah well. Artistic licence.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Octopus in metallic pencil

This week's Illustration Friday prompt is ocean, and that was just the excuse I needed (not like I needed an excuse anyway, but work with me here) to play a bit with the Derwent metallic water-soluble pencils I got for Christmas.

I'm pretty impressed that they scan so well, especially with my fussy scanner. I'll have to get myself some heavier black paper now so that I can play with washes. The paper you see here is only 60 lb and far too absorbent, so my first attempt at using these with a brush was... well, kind of pointless. I'll let you know what happens with more appropriate paper.

Incidentally, Wheat (my office mate. Long story on the internet nickname) and I are of the opinion -- very honest opinion -- that it's a darned good thing for the human race that octopods don't have very long lives. They're extremely intellegent, they're able to manipulate things, they can walk on land (don't believe me? Search for it. There are more than a few videos that prove it)... I'm not kidding when I say that if they lived longer we'd all have octopus overlords.

A good thing, or a bad thing? I haven't quite decided that part yet.
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