Tale as old as time….


Sometimes I just draw. Usually this happens right around the time I’m NOT supposed to just be drawing — when I’m working on a new design or haven’t updated my web stores in a while, for example. That’s right about when I get a sudden hankering to draw a full-page mind-vacation cobbled from whatever elements are simplest or are currently stored in my mental clipboard.

They often turn out fairly well for doodles, since I intentionally avoid anything difficult while drawing them. If lion’s paws are simpler than an antelope’s hooves, then you can guess which one I’m going to end up with, whether the thing has horns or not. If it winds up looking like a cross between Disney’s Beast and those tiger-sheep folk I drew earlier, then so be it. After all, Beast was pretty cool-looking (before he turned into a delicate blond teen, of course).

The fox is just an innocent bystander.

At least I only have one more week of City training. All this free between-lectures time and blank paper is encouraging my bad habit of making elaborate doodles instead of the full-fledged designs that I unfortunately have to finish ONCE in a while, at least. Although the intelligent Librarian Conversation around our table during breaks (including viewing of the trailer for Tusk, discussion of the potential merits of a film called Big Ass Spider!, lamentations regarding the current Frozen-ation of Once Upon a Time, and a general pondering of Scenes Where Someone Trustingly Drinks Super-Suspicious Tea And Inevitably Passes Out In The Most Noisily Abrupt Manner Possible) will certainly be missed.

People say it if they oversleep….


PuzzlePieceIt’s a wonder I learn anything at all, really.

To be fair, much of this doodling was during breaks, or bits of lecture that weren’t relevant to me; it’s a heavy-duty amount of doodling though, considering this is less than half of it. They offered snacks; I drew on the plate. They offered pamphlets; I drew in the margins. They offered this weird little puzzle-piece to indicate we, the Valued Employees, were all integral parts of a larger whole (being mass-printed, the puzzle pieces were all the same shape and did not actually fit together in practice). I flipped it over and now I have a water buffalo. They offered an FMLA PowerPoint that took some time to cooperate with the projector; in the meantime, rather than dwelling overmuch on the first few letters of that initialism, I drew some savannah wildlife, the state bird and some morning glories.

Their key error, of course, was offering freshly-sharpened pencils in the first place. Nobody took notes, or at least not eight-pencils-per-six-person-table quantities of notes. We were actually walking around in a huge group and physically unable to take notes during most of the times one might have needed a memory aid; for the time we were sitting down, all the information offered was easily accessible from a home or work computer. EVEN THE PAMPHLETS. Now, I respect that some people don’t have home access to a computer, but for those of us who do it’d be nice to have a designated “that’s okay, I really don’t need to carry these 40 pieces of paper around for the next four hours” pile. For several people, of course, said pile was created in the nearest wastebasket. Since a fair amount of it was one-side-blank non-glossy paper, I decided to hang onto it for the day at least.

So basically what I’m saying is, I’m a ravening insatiable drawing-beast and will sink my claws into anything, ANYTHING I can to fuel my shameful habit.

The goofy cheetah actually turned out pretty well though, all things considered.

It’s really quite pleasant, except for the smell….


Well, uh … I don’t know. This is a goat? Not quite as lopsided as he looks (the paper was at an angle) but a little now that I look at it. Anyway. The first time I heard “Mama” by My Chemical Romance, I got about two words in and thought, “wait, why is he *bleating* in this one? Is he intentionally sounding like a goat here? Maybe it’s somehow relevant to the … nope, it’s about war.”

To be fair, it gets less bleaty after that initial “maa-maa,” but now I cannot for the life of me listen to it without picturing a kid goat singing the verses. Not in a bad way, just in a … y’know … kind of goaty way. He looks a bit panicky here, naturally, given the circumstances … honestly he should have been wearing a helmet, but I can’t draw people-clothes to save my own life, let alone a graphite goat’s. His ears have seen better days, to be sure; I can’t seem to bear drawing big delicate ears like that without tattering them a bit. With the exception of pampered housepets, they do tend to be a bit ragged in my experience. Plus, you can fashion them rather nicely out of mistakes you made in the borders…

Interesting note, Black Parade and the Fables comic book covers introduced me to the artwork of James Jean (though I didn’t get around to looking up the actual artist’s name till recently). There’s this sort of perverse thrill in looking at artwork that’s similar to your ideal style but just miles and miles better; it’s like those scenic overlooks where the view is amazing but you know if you lean over a few more inches you’ll plunge over a cliff to your gruesome death. Well, not exactly like that I guess, but what do I know about scenery.

I had to go and make a few mistakes….

…Actually no, I don’t really like that song.


Another retrospective here, and a day late again I’m afraid. This one takes me way back, though — we’re entering the land of eleven-year-old drawings. (I was going to clarify whether that was my age or the age of the drawings, but I realize it works either way give or take a few months. Convenient.)

I try not to bring these drawings into the light of day often, because I was eleven and relatively speaking they’re rather bad. They’re supposed to be; if they weren’t, then I’d be really sad that I hadn’t improved at all since I was eleven. But they’re on the same sketch pad I’m using now (I don’t go through the huge paper as quickly as the 8.5x11s I use like salt), so I was going to have to face them eventually.

I drew a lot of people’s pets. This was a Pyrenees Mountain Dog that made a lot of noise and shed a lot of hair. Speaking of bark, look at that crosshatching. Just look at that. That’s what bark looks like, right? And I definitely knew it needed to be on more than 1/3 of the trunk, but it was just so MUCH crosshatching…


This was a wolf, because preteens draw a lot of wolves. It’s emaciated because I was trying to figure out where the bones went, I guess. There’s a ladybug because I like ladybugs. Ladybugs are cool.


This was one of the fancy birds I always drew when I got some new Prismas — this one was probably for Henna or whatever that burnt-orange color on the upper mandible and around the eye is.


Of course, for every triumphantly-finished and fully-colored full-page extravaganza, there was one of these…


Or these…


…or eventually, in the depths of despair, these…


That lumpish raggedy-unibrow-Anne thing I have going on there is completely accurate for my look at the time. As you can see, I never actually got around to erasing all those “TO BE ERASED” drama-fests; partly because I secretly hoped I could redeem them later, but mostly because these are freakin’ huge sheets of paper and it seemed like a lot of work for no gain (after that much erasing, it wasn’t like I’d be able to draw on it again). So, the record-books of my drawing history are filled with these weird misshapen little orphans, testament to how unreasonably difficult it is to draw an eagle or put a horse’s legs in the right place. I mostly just shred these now if they’re drawn on cheap paper, or turn them into monsters (which I did back then as well, with the ink drawings I couldn’t pretend I’d be erasing later). Who knows, maybe I’m better at drawing monsters now because I had so many mistakes to practice on. Or maybe they just reminded me that real things are too much work to reproduce accurately.

I still can’t draw an eagle, by the way. It’s a weird phenomenon; with eagles and lions I seem to revert back to my formative levels of drawing skills. I think this is why I draw griffins — they just happen to swap out the most difficult features of both species for an easier one from the other. If anyone asks though, griffins are just cool.

What sharp teeth you have….


I’ve cheated again and given you a digital drawing instead of a “real” one. This is, however, what’s been occupying most of my time for the past few days … also, I had planned to post a mongoose and bee-eater I’d drawn but I forgot to photograph them. The bee-eater went to a co-worker who of late has been oddly plagued by bees and their kin (I’m not helping by having my office supplies in a mug with bees on it, right next to her desk). The mongoose went to another desk, for someone who was similarly inundated with spiders (I couldn’t think of any analogous dedicated spider-eaters, and mongooses have the added benefit of being non-picky invertebrate-gobblers and great with snakes to boot).

Oh right, I should explain the drawing that’s actually here.

I was basically thinking of variants on “hood” for a cobra drawing, and then I discovered that cobras come in red. Fantastic news as that is in its own right (it’s a lovely color), it was also quite helpful for the “red riding hood” angle. There’s some artistic license going on here, obviously, but the inspiration is the Red Spitting Cobra, Naja pallida. They do not typically live in the woods (or inhabit picnic baskets, or have any way to move a picnic basket while sitting in it), but see previous sentence. To be fair, Little Red Riding Hood didn’t typically live in the woods either, and there are definitely some weird plot holes in that story.

I had the design thought up most of the way before I even found what manner of cobra I was dealing with — knowing that it’s a species that spits at its assailants makes this picture so much better, in my opinion. Regular cobra, you’re looking at a wolf that freaked out and ran because he wasn’t quite charmed to meet a snake in a basket. Spitting cobra? That’s right, Little Red Hood decided to spit in Big Bad’s eye and sent him scrambling. I’m not sure I quite succeeded in telling the wolf’s side of the story with the transition from walking to running prints (I’m rubbish at drawing animal tracks), but showing him running off in the distance seemed — much as Gary Larson fretted with that “Dog Threat Letters” comic — a little redundant since the prints are there.

I overthink these things, I know. But hey — somebody has to. Right? No? Oh well, that’s never stopped me.

You’ll find a god in every golden cloister….


Okay yeah, this was a last-minute one. See, I got distracted by the internet again.

It started out normally enough: I was about a decade overdue to look up the song “One Night in Bangkok,” whose tune I knew but whose words were basically “One night in Bangkok makes la la man la laaa; lalalalalalaaaa” in my memory-banks. Now, I’ve had the internet for a while, and — while lyrics sites have mysteriously not really improved since I was 13 — it’s become pretty much second nature to do a quick web search when I realize I don’t know the words to a song I enjoy or find interesting or just heard once in a Walmart. Somehow, One Night in Bangkok has managed to escape this treatment until now. And now, well … MIND BLOWN.

Not because of the lyrics themselves (which are admittedly funnier than I’d expected), but the string of revelations that followed finding the lyrics. It’s a song about chess! There was a musical about chess! It was called Chess! I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS MUSICAL, even though everyone has heard “Bangkok”! That song was written by ABBA (more or less)! Murray Head is Anthony Head’s big brother! “One Night in Bangkok” counts as rap! I SHOULD KNOW ALL OR AT LEAST SOME OF THESE THINGS!

Anyhow, this led me off on two time-consuming tangents: digging up cast versions of the song because they existed, while wanting to rewatch season 3 of Buffy because Band Candy (among others, but there was a rather amusingly lip-synched live version of Bangkok where Murray’s strutting and hair-mussing — maybe, like the accent, he figures it’s What Americans Do? — reminds me of Ripper’s … well, strutting and hair-mussing, in that episode). Eventually I decided to put the song to rest by drawing it. That’s how we scribbly people deal with these things.

But I’m a scribbly person who draws animals (and has never seen Thailand) so naturally I wound up with … cats. Regionally-appropriate-ish cats, to be sure (an American Shorthair, natch, along with some shadowy Oriental Shorthairs/Longhairs, a poorly-drawn last-minute Korat, a Siamese or two, a Burmese and a Bombay), but yeah. Still cats. The American is wearing a ridiculously oversized chess piece on his collar, but hey, rappers are supposed to have crazy jewelry. Some random blobby pieces of architecture and a tiger version of a scary statue are in the background, and … really that’s about it. Cats seemed appropriate (that is, marginally less inappropriate than the myriad other arbitrary animal species I could have used) due to their general behavior and that punny line about queens (female cats are still called queens, right?).

So … my apologies to Thailand and music, I guess?

Throwback Thu– Sa– oh, who cares


Not saying or doing much tonight — tomorrow’s the Big Day, library opening after two years moving/renovating/camping out in a cramped former Hastings building in a strip mall. I know that “Oh, what will I WEAR?” is not the kind of dilemma one pictures with relation to hanging out in the youth department wrangling over-excited six-year-olds who work up enough speed to slingshot out of their parents’ orbit (and let’s not mention the possibility/likelihood of vomit on our new carpets), but … well, it’s still kind of like a party. And it’s early autumn in the Midwest of course, so I have to dress for the potential 70-ish degrees during the day, just under 50 degrees as it gets late/overcast, 70-ish degrees again while indoors (but running around this time), possible rain, AND a kind-of party.

I’ll just add my black socks with the lightning bolts on the sides to a regular outfit and call it a day.

As for this picture, this is an older (circa 2010 I think, actually not long before I started working at the library) drawing from one of my periodic “DRAGONS! BUGS! DRAGONBUGS!” spells. I have a spidery-looking one too that I may have to drag out if I continue to not get anything else done. I have four in all, I think (five if you count the loon, but let’s not), and I just rediscovered the digital copies of three of them — in a folder-within-a-folder from when I was even more poorly organized — which was a nice surprise. I’m making fancy digital backgrounds for them so my Drawn @ Random Zazzle store can get a little color; it’s been largely black and white up till now. Of course, the base price for prints (even if I were to leave off my royalty entirely) is insane so I don’t anticipate actually selling any of those. They brighten the place up though.

What I remember most vividly about this drawing is that I messed up the black somewhere and — well, it’s black, there’s not much coming back from a mistake in black pencil when your only other main color is *yellow.* Oh, yellow, I love you and all but you’re just terrible about getting smeared with other colors and then smudging them around later. Well, that time someone sharpened a black eyeliner pencil in my electric sharpener and didn’t clean it up afterward wasn’t really your fault, but you’ve had your moments nonetheless. Let me tell you, remembering about those little blue fuzzy bits on the hindwings really improved my mood, because I was getting royally sick of black and yellow.

And someone just uttered the phrase “anime Rapture movie” to me, and even in context I have no idea what is going on with that. I guess that’s as good a note as any to end on.