Death, and Other Beautiful Things

It's been an interesting couple of weeks.  I've been thinking a lot about death and acceptance of the inevitable, and it definitely shows in what I've been doodling.  Which is not to say that I'm in a particularly dark or depressing place (insofar as death goes, anyway)- just... contemplative.  I've also been listening to Hayden Calnin's Cut Love Pt 1 on repeat.  Soooo...

I'm going to put these up slightly out of order, for the sole purpose of making sure the preview photo is a decent one.  Ah, vanity.  One of my many, many flaws.
Why Do You Hide
Although this is, to me, kind of a sad piece (the sketch sprang from sad- although not death-related- musings), it was also fun to work on.  Because hair.  And rainbows.  And getting highly pigmented lines with my watercolor.  I kept meaning to go back in and add shadows with gray, and maybe  I still will, but at the time I needed to let go and move on.
To a super cute baby!
...and by move on, I mean I was hanging out at Boozeday and there was a super cute baby there that needed to be sketched.  Now let's back up a bit to the second:
We had a date night!  I wore a swanky dress!
Aaaaand back (to the future!) again to the seventh:
I was feeling particularly uninspired, so I checked my table and saw that it was monochrome British Isles Landscape day!  Which I started, and then forgot I was doing monochrome so the sky is blue but that's okay.  I like the sky.

Purely Ridiculous
You may be asking yourself, "What the bloody hell is happening here?" and frankly, Dear Reader, I don't blame you.  Because there is a narrow segment of the population to whom this bit of nonsense might appeal/even make sense to, and that is the place in the Venn Diagram of Fandom wherein Fans of Elfquest intersect with Fans of Watership Down.  I doodled and painted this (over the eighth, ninth, and tenth) in response to a conversation with said people (ie my people).  It's two of the protagonists of Elfquest, Cutter and Skywise, done up as rabbits.  I regret nothing.

Speaking of Watership Down (aka my favorite prose novel)...
"What is, is what must be."
I've been dwelling a lot on death, and when one thinks about Death when one is also thinking about Watership Down, one naturally thinks of the rabbits' manifestation of Death- the Black Rabbit of Inle.  And knowing that black is meant to be a scary color, an absence-of-light sort of color, just as death is mean to be scary, an absence-of-life, but knowing also that black can be the presence of all-color... well, that lead down the rabbit hole (sorry not sorry) of making a Black Rabbit with rainbows glinting through his fur.  Which lead to the three days worth of experimentation you see on this page.

Which, in turn, leads us to today, wherein I was doing more Thinking About Death, but this time in terms of an entirely different Fandom: Harry Potter.
Gentle Creature

I love the whole concept of thestrals: creatures that can only be seen by those who have witnessed and gained an emotional understanding of death.  Poor, scary-looking things: I would pet one, if I could.

Which brings me, once again, up to date with my endeavor.  For now.

Things are getting pretty intense with my studies: I've done well enough that they've allowed me to bump up the date of my test, so now it's less than a week away.  Eek!  I'm definitely ready to be done with this portion, however: this entire process has really been laying some of my uglier flaws (arrogance, impatience, ease of distraction, temper) bare to the fire, only to crack a hammer down on them, repeatedly.  Here's hoping I can allow myself to be shaped appropriately.


Battle Steed

Look you guys, I've wanted a rhinoceros as a Battle Steed for literally 15 years.  I have a character I used to draw, creatively named Barbarian Princess, and her battle steed is a rhino, and I'm just saying that this has been on my Wish List since college, ya'll.

Needless to say, there was a certain scene in Black Panther that had me shrieking with giddy fangirl joy.
Lines last night, color tonight.

In the past I've drawn Battle Rhinos with war paint, but never with any sort of armor, so that was kind of fun to do.  Also, I could not find reference photos for that scene, so I worked with the impressions I could glean from a very short clip on YouTube, and a whole lot of Artistic License.  I like it!


In General

It's been a good year for us ladies in terms of cinematic generals.  And most recently I've added General Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje, to that militaristic list of bad-ass-women-to-be-when-I-grow-up (although actress Danai Gurira is only three years older than me, sooo... maybe I'd better hurry up with the growing up?).
I'm pretty freaking obsessed with every last world-building aspect of Black Panther, so naturally when I drew Okoye I also took the time to pull up some movie stills and get some details in on her costume.  Never have I so badly wished for some gold paint, I tell you what.  All the little intricate details (and sadly I had to leave some out) were just super fun to put in there, and reminded me how much I love doing that sort of thing.

Anyhoo, the main challenge for me on this (after attempting to find even one frigging photo of her head tattoo) was working with Gurira's very dark skin tone.  Although I've tried my hand at a variety of skin tones through the years, the truth of the matter is that I have a lot more experience with the pale end of the Caucasian spectrum, which makes it easier for me to noodle in.  I want to fix that- I want to be comfortable noodling in any and every skin tone, so you know what that mean...

...more practice is needed!

Also I may go back in with some hatching.  I dunno'.  Probably not, if I'm being honest.  It could use it, but... I've already put four days into this one, and it's time to move forward.

Last Unicorn Spread

The last time I got on here (a little over a week ago) I shared a painting I'd done of the Lady Amalthea, and mused that I might do a related drawing the next night.  Well, a dear friend of mine requested that I make good on said musing, so I now present to you the results of my endeavors from Sunday the 18th through Friday the 23rd:
Click to Embiggen- or just keeps scrolling...

It's kind of cool to have an entire two-pages in my sketchbook devoted to one subject.  I may try that again in the future.  In fact, I know I will.  Anyway...

Here are close-ups on The Bull...
It was fun to experiment with the background on this one.
...and The Unicorn...
I didn't get QUITE the mother-of-pearl effect I was going for with the horn, but OH WELL.
It's been a huge relief to let myself work on single images across several days (one or two nights for linework, and then more for colors) rather than churn out finished sketches every day- I'm 100% going to keep this up as I'm studying for my various licenses (which means through May) and I may keep it up for the rest of the year... we'll see...  It gives me breathing room to do more intricate things, which you will see evidence of in my next post (of a piece that I've worked on for four days straight,  now).  It's bringing these things into a weird place that can't be called "sketch" anymore, but also isn't truly "finished piece", either- but that's alright; I've always loved the in-between-y spaces.  And, honestly, it's making for a super-fun sketchbook.


A Study in Contrasts

I just noodled around yesterday, trying to paint a portrait without doing any sort of drawing first.  It was a horrible, horrible failure.  It was so bad that I'm saving it for the end of the post, so that I can start out with the one I'm really, really proud of- the one I drew and painted this evening:
I love braaaaaiiiiiiiddddds!
I was feeling sorry for myself after yesterday's debacle (you guys it's so bad, and the more I tried to somehow salvage it, the worse things became, until it was like maybe being awful was the only true reality, one that I must accept or go mad...) so I decided to draw something that I enjoy drawing, and something I enjoy drawing- really enjoy drawing- is hair.  I had thought, vaguely, that I might be doing Daenerys Targaryan (especially since I was using a promo shot for hair reference/inspiration) but after I started painting (which I hadn't intended to do tonight, but... well... I got into it...) I realized that actually I was illustrating the Lady Amalthea.  So maybe I'll draw a unicorn tomorrow night, or a red bull, or Prince Lir, or hell, even King Haggard.  We'll see.

Oh, speaking of horrible soulless monsters that are bent on destroying everything innocent and pure in this world:
Yes, this really was painted by the same person.  AKA me.  Please don't rescind my art degree.
Well then.  That's humiliating.  And I've got to get back to studying in the morning, but before I do that I need to work out, which means that now?  Now it's time for bed.  Past, even.  Here's hoping the unicorns keep the nightmares at bay...


Harping On


I liked the looseness of my bluejay, so I wanted to revisit bird feathers, but I also wanted to draw a harpy, sooo...
I did.
I 100% did not have time for painting on Wednesday (I was studying for nearly 12 hours that day- ugh) so I put it off until yesterday.


Come at her, bro.

I absolutely loved how the feathery markings came out (based on a harpy eagle, naturally).  I'm quite quite pleased with this one, especially since it's on the same page as Red Ribbon, and there's something really fitting about the pairing.

02.16.18 (OMG TODAY!)

I really liked the way I managed to keep it loose on my harpy, so tonight I wanted to do something with no under-drawing, no line work, no sketching out at all.  I pulled a tarot card from my nice little app and got the Five of Wands, Reversed (which is very true right now), and decided that rather than illustrate the Five of Wands, per se, I would illustrate its actual reversal- which, to my mind, took the form of torches being extinguished.

Anyhoo, I'm not at all dissatisfied, so I think I'll probably continue to push myself to try to paint things without drawing them first.

Now, on to non-art-related things.

You guys, studying for the Series 7 is no joke.  I'm fortunate in that I had a passing familiarity with a lot of the basics, due to working for an investment company for the past 10 years, but there are so many more complexities than I ever possibly could have dreamed of, and to tell you the truth 95% of them are actually pretty fascinating.  Like, if you'd ever told me I'd be super interested in tax strategies I'd have laughed in your face- but it turns out I totally am!  Hah!  So maybe I'll specialize in that some day, who knows...  I'll have plenty of opportunity for CE, I'm sure...

Mostly it's just so nice to be a full-time student again.  I've whined at Nathan for years that I wanted to go back to school, and he's always been firm that if I was going to do that, it would have to be for something that would actually make us money (so not, like, philosophy, which would be a total dream come true for me but isn't exactly the gateway to a lucrative career).  When I decided to make the jump to Financial Advisor I didn't really think about the fact that, uh... I'm basically going back to school.  Except this time I'm getting paid for it.  Winning!


Valentines and a Red Ribbon

Another group update...  but first, a word of explanation.  As you know, I love to make Valentines, and since I'm doing a watercolor project this year, naturally I figured I'd do watercolor Valentines!  With that in mind, I bought a little pack of 4"x6" watercolor postcards, and started experimenting...

Oh.  Oh no.
The very first thing I realized was just how spoiled I am to have such high-quality paper in my sketchbook.  Because the quality of these "postcards"?  Er... not so hot.  In fact, I'd say it borders on awful, and honestly it blows my mind just how terrible the experience of painting on it was.  But I thought to myself, "I won't let myself be limited... I just have to figure out how to work around it!" and I kept at it...

...and continued to be aggravated...


...to the point were I really wanted to scrawl across this one, "A crappy Valentine is better than no Valentine, right??"  (but I didn't.)

Still no.


So after three days of working on very dispiriting things, I decided to give myself a break, and paint a blue jay in my sketch book.

Blue Jay of Happiness?
I was very grumpy with it the day that I did it, but in retrospect I'm actually fairly pleased with how it came out.


And the next day I still couldn't face going back to the awful paper, so I did something else fun:

The Red Ribbon
Although to tell you the truth, I want to give it more line work, but it's fine, it's fine...


The next day was Monday, and the day I started studying for my Series 7, which means that by the end of the day I didn't have much left in the way of brain power, so I went ahead and tried the crap paper again, and made a silly little Valentine for TLG.

Sweets for the sweet.
It's not so bad, I suppose, and by that point I'd started to figure out how to work within the limitations of the media, which led me to the following night...


...and the making Nathan's Valentine!
Altered Love
So basically the key to painting on this paper is to not to attempt to blend or layer colors at all.  And accept that you're not going to have anything resembling a smooth wash.  And I will probably just give the remainder to TLG to play with, because as much as Nathan enjoyed his Altered-Carbon-inspired-valentine*, the paper is really just the worst.

The schedule that I'm keeping for studying is pretty much as intense as I'd feared, so expect more of these grouped-updates in the future, because while I might have time to sketch or do a quick painting, it's going to be rare that I also have the time to actually post it.  And most likely it will be a Tuesday or Thursday, when Nathan has Bedtime Duties.  So hang in there, Gentle Readers, and we'll get through this Very Busy Season together...

*(in case you were wondering, the show more than lives up to the book: it's freaking amazing and I can't recommend it enough.  And I 100% want a Hello Unicorn shirt...)