Wild Morgen's Core*

*(this is what auto-correct turned "Elf Mother Colors" into when I emailed the photos to myself.)

True to my word, I am well and truly back in the watercolor saddle, and feeling pretty damn fine about it.  It's been a really interesting project, in terms of forcing me to come face-to-face with my own shortcomings and growth edges (although it's been a pretty good year for that in general, I'd say) and tonight I realized that one of the most important lessons I've learned from this project is that it's okay not to be perfect all the time.  It's okay to play, to produce art for no audience but myself (::coughcoughshesaidonherpublicblogcough::) and to not freak out if it's not of a quality that I'd want it to be if someone were paying me.  Turns out I produce a lot more that way- and producing more means sharpening my skills faster, which means better products when I do create on behalf of someone else.  Which, while rare, does still happen on occasion...

But enough narcissistic navel-gazing.  On to the pictures!
Yep, this is the one you've already seen.  Just to remind you of what the stark linework looked like.
When I orginally dew this, all the way back in May, I was going for a Tolkien-esque elf vibe (as opposed to the Pini-esque elf vibe I usually channel), but a side of them we don't really see in the books.  We know they can have children, but we never really see them in that context- so here I come with my imagination and my pens (and my brushes)!
Honestly it was probably "good enough" after one night's colors, but I wanted to do more.
When I finished up last night, I knew that I'd allow myself one more night of colors, and then it would be time to move on to the next image.
The "finished" piece.
For what it's worth, I'm actually quite pleased with it (smear on her hand aside).  Okay, yes, I can pick it apart on several levels, but dang it all, I'm telling my Inner Critic to shut it, and just enjoy it for what it is, which is a pleasing little what-if portrait.

I'm excited to see what my brain spits out tomorrow.


Who Are You Again?

Hi!  Welcome back!  To me, mostly.  I've been deep in the throes of starting my new career over these past two months, to the point where I actually took about a month off from the 365 project just to stay functional.  But today is the day I get back to it, and to celebrate that, I wanted to share what I did from 04/22/18-05/19/18 (which is when I accepted things would need to be put on hiatus).  I took pictures of pages rather than individual pieces, in an attempt to actually get this whole thing done today, so commentary will be shorter than usual (although, obviously, the entirety of the post will be somewhat longer).
I spent several days trying to capture the way that being in the woods brings me peace.  There's a poem in the left image, and here's how it goes:

Steps slow and burdened/Searching for the way I’ve lost/I pace the leaf floor
Following the path/Dark and light and dark again/Deep into the wild
The weight of sorrow/Pressing on my lungs: exhaled/Gathered up by Them
The Ancient Ones, still/Breathing with me in silence/Lifting my burden
From poison to life/In the space between heartbeats/They transmute my pain
Out and in and out/The one becomes the other/The other the one
My balance restored/Light and dark and light again/I find my way home

Sweet Things
I'm super into The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  You should be, too.  And then I found a pretty pittie who had wandered away from her home, and she was so sweet I called her Dulcinea.  Happy ending: she was reunited with her family after I took her to the Humane Society.  Also Happy Ending: I painted her without drawing first.  Progress!
Unfinished Business
I love what I've got going here, with my maenad and her satyrs, but I spent several days on it and it refused to progress.  I'll probably come back to it, someday.
I finished the first sketchbook on the last day of April.  I'd been reading a book that dealt with whales (Deep Wizardry) and it inspired my doodling that day (and I quoted it up there in the upper right corner).  (The lyrics in the lower left corner are from a song by Young Summer called "Waves That Rolled You Under", and I highly recommend you go listen to it right now.)
X Factor
Just a little green study of Madame X, because I was still working on painting without drawing first.
Jackalope Got Me Down will be the name of my first album.
More paintings without drawing, with limited success.  The Jackalope thing is because for some reason TLG took it into his head that anytime he fell down it was appropriate to say, "Jackalope got me down!" We have no idea where he picked that up from, but obviously we find the idea of blaming things on random jackalope attacks hilarious.
Damn good appetizer
Not much to say about these, except that I put a million layers into that cherry tomato and I think it looks awesome.  Also, the quote "He's my Wade and I'm keeping him!" is from the last time I played DnD (waaaay too long ago, now), and my character Severan sort of accidentally picked up an NPC squire and basically he's the Podrick to her Brienne now.  I'll hear no arguments.
Rainspheres (as opposed to bows) over the Grand Canyon, and also some Geese.
Red lips and purple ties.
Feet silhouetted in the pool at night, Super Professional Face.
These are all from my trip to Tempe at the beginning of May, where I had maybe five minutes each night to sketch something out before I dropped into bed, exhausted.
Love Undying
This last one, you'll notice, has a whole lot of dates next to it, and no color whatsoever.  That's because after nearly a week of making incremental progress, and feeling super stressed out about it, I realized that I needed to give myself a break.  So I did.  Which brings us to today, and this blog entry.  And once I finish this blog entry,  I'll start laying in some colors.  So stay tuned, Gentle Readers, and thanks for sticking with me for this long.


Birthday NPC

A friend of mine (who is also my DM) recently had his birthday, and when I told him to name me a character and I'd sketch it for him (quite selfish on my part: I still have a looooong way to go on this 365 Project) he did me one better and told me to roll up an NPC and illustrate that, and then he'd put it in our Game somewhere.  I then accused him of being a Hobbit, and giving out gifts on his own birthday.

Well apparently the Universe liked the whole "Hobbit" idea, because here's what came out:
Yes, a bald halfling.  The dice deities, they have senses of humor.
Here are the traits I rolled for her, as well as the commentary I went back and added to each trait as she became a Whole (Half?) Person in my brain:

Distinctive Physical Feature: Bald (she got tired of her hair catching fire)
High Ability: Wisdom (notices details, even if she then trips over them)
Low Ability: Dex (hence hair catching fire and perforated eardrum and lots of little knife and burn scars)
Talent: Expert Cook (chef, really, because CREATIVITY)
Mannerism: Speaks Loudly (perforated eardrum from childhood)
Interaction Trait: Curious (about people in general but with a special interest in food they've encountered)
Chaotic Ideal: Creativity (specifically with food)
Bond: Protection of Valuable Possession (workbook)
Flaw: Arrogance (about her cooking but also it's merited?)

So that was an extremely fun exercise that satisfied my Project on the 19th-21st.  In case you're wondering, her outfit is dragon-hide, because when you're that clumsy of a cook you need some seriously fire-proof clothing.  And steel-toed boots, for that matter.  Those pink speckles you see all over her hands and face are burn and knife scars.  She's a mess!  But her food is awesome, so there you go.


Bold Persephone

I've spent the last three days on this lovely lady:
Still trying to master skin-tones darker than "vaguely Mediterranean".  ::sigh::  Practice, practice, practice.
This piece is inspired by Russian Iconography (hence the goooooolllllld), a particularly lovely Instagram update by Black Girl in a Big Dress (the eponymous web series is one of my Very Favorite Things), and Halloween 2000 (I personally was a Maenad that year, but one of my friends dressed as Persephone, and wore a very similar flower crown).  (I should try to find photos from that year- I was appropriately scary with all my blood smears, and made a lot of drunken frat guys feel more than a little freaked out.)

I'm thinking I may actually go into that gold background with some ink and do some intricate patterning (perhaps pomegranates seeds?), but I wanted to get it preserved for posterity in all it's pristine-ness, before I screw it all up.

Plus, you know, the novelty of updating more than one time in a week...

But on to not-art-related things!  I bought myself a new suit the other week (since the old suit- purchased about 15 years ago- was cut for the old body, which TLG has rendered permanently curvier) and today I took it to a tailor like a real-live grownup!  Because, you see, when you have a shoulder(-and-bust)-girth like mine, you have to buy jackets that are way too large for any of the rest of you.  Which is why I've never been much of a blazer person in the past.  Sleeveless/stretchy fabric all the way, baby.  But anyway, the tailor poked and prodded and pinned and finally informed me that next time I should be shopping in the petite section for my tops, so that she wouldn't have to shorten the sleeves so much.  The more you know!

I'm pretty excited to see how it turns out; I expect to look far more professional than I did in the dressing room, where the sleeves were hitting my knuckles and I didn't appear to have much of a waist (but at least I could move my arms without splitting the seams!  Something I have literally done to jackets in the past!  So yes I am always extremely paranoid every time I try on a "fitted" jacket!)  I'll post photos so you can be excited, too.  You're welcome!



You guys, I'm so excited about what I finished up today that I'm not even going to bury this lead:
That's the angle that lets you see the shiny gold embellishment, but here's what the whole thing looks like:
Inara Serra, ladies and gentlemen.
(Fun Fact: I sent a shot of this to my brother earlier today, and he demanded I put a banana in the photo so he'd have a size comparison.  I did, but since bananas come in all sizes, I'll just tell you the page is like 9"x12" or so)

I've actually been working on this piece since the last time I updated (before, even) in addition to my daily stuff, so I'm pretty glad to be done with it.  And like I said: so pleased with how it came out.  It was my first Big Experimentation with using masking fluid, and doing iridescent accents.  I learned a lot from it (namely that if I'm going to do larger pieces, I need to suck it up and get REAL watercolor paper from The Internet and stop pretending like Strathmore will ever fulfill my needs), which I will surely put to use in future pieces.  Woo!

Now let's look back at Other Stuff, including me adding color to the Ladies of Firefly (which I can now tell you started off as a thumbnail for the above piece):
I spent probably four nights adding color.  They could use more noodling, but (having reminded myself of the SKETCHBOOK NATURE OF A SKETCHBOOK) I've decided to move on.
Oh speaking of sketches, here's one I didn't finish because I lost interest!
Characters from ElfQuest.
And the reason I lost interest in finishing is because I got this super sweet metallic paint to play with!
But I made up for it by spending a few days working on fan art for other fandoms, ie for Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness!
Yes, yes, I know the freckles are too stark.  OH WELL.

This was mostly about seeing what it took to get a nice, even appearance from the gold.  Minimum two coats, is the answer.
So, yes.  Feeling good about Art at the moment.  Also feeling good about having passed the Series 66, and my upcoming Insurance Licensing Exam.  Also feeling good about my awesome family.  Yes, goodness all around.


To the Nines

First of all, Happy Anniversary to Me!  And Nathan too, I guess... nine years, and still kicking.  Woo, go team!  That being said, let us jump into the many days of doodling since last we met.

First off, I got into a serious Salt Experimentation Phase from March 23rd-26th.  Behold:
What's going on here, white balance?  Who knows...

Thaaaaat's better.

Black and White!  Black and White!
It was fun, just to play around again, let whatever wanted to happen, happen, rather than being concerned with representation.  And you can see up there in upper right-had corner where I took the playing back to sketching, which in turn brought us the offering for March 27th:
But who is this mysterious lady?  The world may never know...
A conversation with my mom, combined with missing a certain friend, and my hair being ridiculous, led to this little sketch of Anne Shirley on the 28th:
The wind must be up- look at those chapped cheeks!
And then missing my brother and his boys took tangible form in my sketchbook on the 29th.
The trouble with trying to draw the people you love is that it never, ever looks right, because you know their faces too well...
We're going to skip ahead a few days to April 1st, and Easter, where I had another bit of "fun experiment times", but this time with wax resistance:
Super Fun Bright Colors Time!
And now we back up (but also go forward) to a bunch of line drawings of the Ladies of Firefly.  None of them are colored yet, because I need to run a copy of them so that my nephew has a chance to color them the way he wants to.  So you can fully expect to see them again someday in the not-too-distant future, only with color.
I know, I know... River's face is too narrow... oh well...
Speaking of color!  TLG has been super obsessed with letters and numbers lately, so I thought I'd make him a little treat in my sketchbook:
Phoning it in?  Maybe.  But it's my sketch book, and I'll phone if I want to...
He liked it so much that he wanted to keep it, which of course he could not do, so I promised him I'd make him one of his very own, which I managed to get put together before he came home today:
Plus a few words of Especial Interest to him right now.
So that's where I stand with all of that.

As for my studies, they're also going well!  I managed to bump up my timeline again, so I'll be taking the Series 66 on Monday (yes, this coming Monday- eep!) which I'm pretty excited about.  After that I should be halfway through the process!  Woo!  As much as I've enjoyed this time of learning (and getting to be around Nathan for most of the day) I'm read to get out in the field and start doing, you know?  You know.  Yeah you do.


Some Real Characters (and Some So-Called Flowers)

Since the last time I popped my head up, I've passed the Series 7, and begun studying for the Series 66.   I am definitely understanding why some people feel the former is more difficult, and some find the latter more difficult.  I haven't decided yet which camp I fall in to... all I know is I'm quite tired and it's showing in my artistic efforts (or lack thereof).
Nia Sonome
Ah yes, another Consult-the-Grid evening.  It came up "original character", so here it is, a little illustration of Gwen's best friend, who is three-quarters Japanese, one quarter British, and 100% Californian.  Aaaaand then when I go looking for entries about Gwen to link to, I realize that there... is exactly one, and it doesn't really tell you much about the actual story.  Hoo boy.  Okay, long story short: the year is 1996, Gwen is a scientifically-minded teenage werewolf, and Nia is her fantasy-minded best friend, and of these two people only one of them is excited about werewolves being A Real Thing.  Their story has been in my brain for over two decades.  Good gods I need to finish it...

Moving on to what I did over the 16th, 17th, and 18th!
Head too squashy.  Oh well.
Recently in our campaign Severan got herself a wolf cloak back from the tanner.  I'd been waiting for this damn thing for over a year in real time (but less than a month in Game Time, apparently) so I was suuuuuuper jazzed about it finally materializing, and of course I wanted to draw it!  Which, to be honest, meant a lot of time staring at Jon Snow.

I was feeling pretty grumpy on the 19th, for no good reason whatsoever, so in an attempt to cheer myself up I decided to create a new D&D character entirely via rolling, and then challenge myself to give them a backstory that forced everything to make sense.

It was actually super fun, and the gods of chaos were obviously smiling down on me, because they gave me things I actually could work with.  When I immediately rolled a Drow cleric, I was a bit concerned, but then I rolled her as Chaotic Neutral, and like I said- it worked out.  And what it worked out to was Tytias Advyn:
I rolled for her features, too: round eyes, straight nose, small mouth.  And her hair (hip length: topknot).  And her coloring.
In fact I  had so much fun putting together Tytias (and her patron goddess, Skiffring) that I drew her mace last night (and a little sketch of her outfit, which, yes, I also rolled for):
I left off the scale mail... maybe tomorrow...
If you're interested in hearing how I made it all work, drop me a line in the comments and I'll post the backstory one of these days... maybe even tomorrow...  I'll probably just keep Tytias in my back pocket in case I ever play a one-shot that I can't appropriately bring my Level 5 Paladin to.

Today was a better day in terms of Grump, in no small part because of a lovely bouquet of daffodils.  So naturally, after a long hard day of eye-crossing studying, I decided I'd try my hand at painting said happy daffodils, really letting myself enjoy the bright yellow and the looseness of the medium...  I won't share the worst of my failures, but I will share the best of them:
Yep.  Those are yellow flowers.  Probably.
Turns out I have sort of regressed in terms of my ability to be patient, which isn't super surprising, given how little time I've been spending on these sketches, lately.  But I have to cut myself some slack- the time will come back, and then I'll be doing more complex/interesting/experimental things again.  And also: they're sketches.  They're not supposed to be perfect.  It's okay Owens OMG.  ::eye roll::

Also also, I'm really jonesing for some solid Writing Time.  ::sigh::  Too many interests, not enough time...