See you in the twilight zone….

Since it’s the time of festive winter holidays, naturally I felt compelled to draw something … creepy and vaguely unpleasant!

I was pretty done with Christmas songs, and at work we get to listen to some fun German metal/rock radio stations (also Bosnian and Swedish, but those are for another day), so to clear out the endless holly-jolliness I’ve been listening to songs like Avantasia’s “The Haunting,” which is juuuust as spooky as I wanted it to be.

I had the impulse to draw the creepy creature(s) narrating that song (“A thousand nights we’ve been calling your name/Close your eyes but I won’t go away”), and I settled on something that’s just soft and housecat-like enough that it’s not extremely physically intimidating, but with a decidedly repulsive demeanor that would make you steer clear of any large gatherings of them. It’s definitely much cooler to the touch than you’d want something this mammalian to be, and I imagine it just going “heh heh heh” here (it also seems to have gotten hold of someone’s hair).

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Everybody scream….

Song: Baby, You’re a Haunted House — Gerard Way

Plant: Hedera helix

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Just some English Ivy on an old brick wall … also, thx Gerard for continuing to mess with us.

Song: Shallow City — Handsome Ghost

Plant: Petunia sp.

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Okay, we can agree that everyone loves those black petunias right? If I could keep plants alive I would 100% have black petunias. Anyhow, this one mentions sidewalks and concrete and wearing black, so … when I think of dark-colored plants that grow in sidewalk cracks, this is what I end up with.

Song: Choke — I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME

Plant: Viscum album

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Honestly I suppose bindweed would have been the best choice for this one, but the moment I listened to it in the context of this drawing challenge I knew I wanted to do mistletoe.

Happy Halloween!

Never get free…

Song: Blood // Water, grandson

Plant: Utricularia sp.

Notes: Look, I knew I wanted to use a carnivorous aquatic plant for this, and this is literally the only carnivorous aquatic plant I knew of. Plus, when I was looking it up I got to read some fun research about how it can slowly dissolve small animals to death, so that was … something.

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Buy me a thorn….

Last year I made random sketches for songs on my Halloween playlist, with the restriction that I could only draw for the duration of the song. This year I wanted to do something similar with new additions to my list, but with a little more structure since a lot of the songs aren’t strongly “themed” by nature.

My research while making the flower crown for If you think I’m pretty…  reminded me that I really don’t know much about plants, especially when it comes to drawing them. This year I’ve decided to make some sort of botanically-based sketch for each song, and post them at … probably pretty arbitrary intervals depending when I remember to, if I’m honest, but still.

Due to aforementioned lack of plant knowledge, I’ve allowed myself to do as much research as I like on the subject matter beforehand, but I still have to create the drawing within the span of its song. This cuts down on the amount of double-checking I can do as I draw, but also prevents me from just taking forever on a single drawing because I want it to look good. For the most part these should be 4-minute sketches, tops, with most clocking in around 3-3.5. I did allow myself to go back later and add a single color to some, because just filling in color takes an unreasonable amount of time; and I’m using pencil so I can erase (sorry, Inktober) … but that’s where the concessions end.

Some of these will feature immediate choices that popped into my head the moment I landed on the song (as we’ll see with Choke later on); others, like today’s, started with a vague idea that required a bit of research before I dove into the actual drawing.

Today’s sketch is for Fifth Harmony’s I’m In Love With a Monster (3:32), featuring the fruit of an Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) and a small fruit bat of some kind. My first thought on hearing this song was to work with a thorny vine/shrub, or with some kind of bat-pollinated cactus flower, but then I saw some image results of bats feeding on the cactus fruits … these things apparently have a tendency to split/be torn open and end up looking like toothy red jaws covered in spikes, which was just perfect.

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If you think I’m pretty….

I realized today that I haven’t really drawn a single thing since moving … between the new apartment, new job, new city, and delightful flash flood that drowned one of my favorite sketchbooks (see my Instagram for a few shots of what’s left of those sketches), it’s been a bit hectic.

Anyhow, I’ve been listening to a lot of music (especially for the first week or so where I was without internet or TV), and one that I was enjoying on the radio recently was Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown.” Naturally, this meant I’d eventually have to sketch something to go with it.

A unicorn in a flower crown felt just sweet enough to provide the dissonance the song seemed to demand; and you know how I love wordplay and drawing shaggy ponies, so a Fell Pony was the natural inspiration for the unicorn’s general color and appearance.

Her “crown” is a pretty mess of poison sumac berries and nightshade flowers, with a sprinkling here and there of bittersweet and poison ivy. There … might be something dark spattered on her horn and whiskers, and dripping in the dust in front of her feet.

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Tonight is for our ghosts….

I guess I was feeling a bit maudlin today after finding some old photos from ten years ago, just in time for Mike Shinoda’s “Post Traumatic” to drop … long story short, I’ve been listening to melancholy music and sketching old friends all evening.

Hardly my most detailed or accurate work, and I skipped a score of small pets and some feline acquaintances, but it’s nice sometimes to think back on everyone I’ve known:

Cats: Spaz, JJ, Salem, Tigger, Mittens, Jack, Zorro, Redford, Pyewacket, Hootie, BB, Crystal, Hermie, Cici, Houdina, Fritz (plus a sweet little blue-cream tortie who lived in a shop window and whose name eludes me; and six shadows behind the hill, who represent cats I know only from anecdotes and their presence in baby pictures of me)

Birds: Moses, Kekoa

Horses: Sergeant, Jewel, Kodiak, Cinnamon

Dogs: Ben, Spooky, King, Duchess, Gussie, Sam (plus a gangly black farm dog)

Hamsters: Stormy, Dusty, Bianca

Mouse: Willow

+Assorted Humans

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Some of these are from 20+ years ago, but I still remember Cici’s (seal-point Siamese) apartment that smelled like soup; Spaz’s (scruffy blue shorthair) pet tennis ball; Kekoa (blind Downy Woodpecker) feeling her way around the living room with her beak and her long pink tongue; and Duchess (Blue Heeler cross) bringing me hen’s eggs from heaven knows where on her farm. And as long as I keep drawing and writing about them, I always will….

Back again….

Yeah, I’m still around. Been too busy to draw much of consequence recently, but I managed a couple doodles today after a more-exciting-than-expected horseback riding trip.

So, the excitement in question came from this laid-back surfer dude, a flaxen chestnut who never looks more than 53% awake at any given time (I think it’s partly because of his super long blond eyelashes)

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He wasn’t in the best mood due to the heat and the insane amount of flies, but he seemed fine until it came time to hose him down after the ride. Even though the other horses had no problem walking over to the area, this dude would NOT go over there no matter how much pushing and prodding and reassuring anyone could do. Nothing seemed scary or flappy or brightly colored or moved slightly to the left or whatever wacky things might spook a horse, so for a moment it seemed like another case of his trademark Lazy Boy attitude.

Then someone finally managed to budge him forward a little more and he FLIPPED OUT. Artist’s rendition:

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He bucked, he kicked, he screamed, he backed the heck out of there and beelined back to where the others were crosstied. And then he was fine again. They still have no idea what went on in there that had him so spooked to go back all of a sudden, but summer is shaping up to be wicked here, heat-wise, so hopefully he gets over it soon and can enjoy his showers again.

After everyone was calmed down (a good roll in the dust works wonders) and let out, I went collecting barn cats. If cat-petting were an Olympic sport I think I’d do pretty well. At one point I was scratching an old red tabby’s tummy on one side and a blue longhair’s on the other, and they were practically farther apart than my arms were. Neither was considerate enough to just scootch a little closer, and the red one was VERY vocal about his disappointment if I stopped for a minute to adjust my position, but the blue one was doing that cute thing where they’re upside-down and you can see all their little murdery vampire teeths at once like this

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so obviously I had to keep petting both.

And that’s all I have for today. Stay hydrated!