With many years ahead to fall in line….

Sketch

In honor of my birthday this week, I have decided to … do nothing at all, really, other than watch movies and eat assorted unhealthy goodies. It worked out quite nicely for me, though it doesn’t make for very riveting blog material. Instead, I have another picture of the sketch paper posted earlier, with some extra scribblings added while working on the “real” drawing. There’s not much that can be said about that; so I guess I’ll have to regale you with my birthday festivities just for the sake of filling up the empty space.

Well, I watched two movies, Frozen and The Lego Movie, and found to my mild surprise that I preferred the latter over the former. While enjoyable, Frozen just didn’t come together for me, and the big musical number seemed overly grand and “epic” for the scope of the movie. Some of the other instances of bursting-into-song seemed like they would have preferred to be plain dialogue. The Lego movie, on the other hand, pretty much had one song repeated OVER AND OVER AND OVER, which is far from a work of lyrical genius but just managed to be more catchy than it was potentially-obnoxious. Plus it had Liam Neeson and Batman. So. There. (Though I’ll admit, Kristen Bell being chased by “marshmallows” certainly had its ironic charm.)

Whew. Okay. That’s all the opinion I can muster for this month. The rest of my birthday was all tried-and-true fabulous things like cheese crackers, fruit juice, pink yogurt, brightly-colored cake, and Rocko’s Modern Life. I even got Friday off for the first time in … just about three years. And I didn’t draw anything. But never fear, tomorrow I officially return to the Real World and catch up on all the work, dishes, assignments, reading, and book-vacuuming (seriously, I need to move my books to an area that doesn’t constantly collect all the small detritus in the room) that I put off this week.

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Everyone knows apples are red….

Everyone knows apples are red....

Well, I don’t have much to show for another week, except a child’s drawing of a tree with some pomegranates on it. See, here’s the thing — I draw animals. Or beasties. Or animal-beasties. Meat-things, with heat and heft and tooth and claw and few, if any, easily-detachable body parts.

Then we come to the trees.

Your basic carnivorous mammal looks a certain way — four proper legs and two proper eyes and the head on the front and the tail on the back, covered in furry earth tones that get lighter toward the tummy. Your basic primate or songbird will look nothing like this, but there are always some basic analogues. If you’re trying to figure out which part of the dog is the knee, you can stand on your toes and work backward from there. Spread out your fingers to draw bat wings, press them together for birds’. Wings go on top, legs on the bottom, horns at the front and tails at the end.

Trees seem to laugh at such boundaries by refusing to have a set size, shape, or number of limbs. If anything from an anole to an antelope were wandering around with its innards scooped out, missing half its face, and/or with offspring in various stages of development budding awkwardly out from its ankles, you would probably assume you were on the set of one of the many delightful post-apocalyptic nightmare programs that have become increasingly popular as of late. Sure, there are animals out there that can grow back missing bits or duplicate themselves or both, but few so dramatically and not-grotesquely as your average plant. Birds molt and mammals hibernate, but to do both simultaneously would seem a little excessive outside kingdom Plantae. A deciduous tree that doesn’t have at least four different seasonal outfits is bound to be laughed out of town by its neighbors. Raising a puppy in a small flowerpot will not result in a healthy but attractively gnarled, miniature dog.

Basically, what I’m saying here is, trees are confusing and weird and while I like them alright as a concept, I cannot understand how to draw them so I’m just going to have to stick with “brown log with single picturesque knot, assorted oval-shaped leaves, and levitating red fruits” in the long-standing childhood tradition. There’s an underlying rhythm to them, I’m sure, but I’m just not feeling it. As you can see, I couldn’t even get the basic “swoop” of the trunk right in the first go, so now there’s an odd little ghost-trunk sneaking out from behind it. With animals I can just play it by ear until the thing looks right (speaking of which, Mr. Beastie’s feet need some remedial attention), but I wash my hands of trees.

Hm. I actually intended to say something about my colored pencils this week, but apparently my arboreal nervous breakdown took precedence. Ah well, maybe next time.

It actually does sit on a Hellmouth….

It actually does sit on a Hellmouth....

Since the hibiscus tree is not any different from the last two times you saw it, I decided to crop a little more closely to get some detail on the things I actually am adding to. Of course, more detail means it’s easier to see flaws — but if actors soldier on despite the presence of HDTV, I suppose I can handle a little scrutiny of a pencil drawing.

From a distance, on the other hand (e.g. the thumbnail preview) I realize that Mrs. Beastie is starting to look something like a thylacine, pattern-wise at least. Which is a bit odd; but since I’ve never had much luck intentionally drawing one of those, I suppose I’ll take what I can get. Mr. Beastie kind of looks like every third Buffy demon — or the beast from The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. Or Beast himself, come to think of it, the Disney one, although he doesn’t quite have ram’s horns. Why do the humanoid ones always have ram’s horns? Isn’t it goats that traditionally have the scary supernatural associations? Then again, I chose sheep-style horns in part because they’re compact and elegant-looking even on the “wrong” body type; the same doesn’t necessarily hold true for the dramatic up-and-out sweeps or dizzy corkscrews one sees in the goat tribe.

(Antlers also look rather weird on a human form; just ask anyone who’s watched Hannibal recently. Although that may only be when they’re stuck on something that looks like an evil version of Gumby.)

Finally, I just need to remind everyone how happy it makes me when television shows acknowledge their similar contemporaries. Well, Veronica Mars and Buffy may not really be contemporaries in the sense that they were or are airing at the same time, but come on. A spunky little blonde, Alyson Hannigan, Charisma Carpenter playing a former cheerleader (and somehow always managing to have a character name that maintains roughly the same alliterative sounds as her real one)? I tell people who have a passing acquaintance with the show that Joss Whedon was in an episode, and what they’re surprised by is the fact that he didn’t write the thing.

Anyhow, let’s cut the fangirling short tonight (which is difficult since I pulled my title quote tonight from my PERSONALIZED SHOOTING SCRIPT *insert mystifyingly excessive enthusiasm about the not-movie part of a movie here*), I’m still entertaining a vague hope that I might actually get something constructive done tomorrow that doesn’t involve finishing a TV series or finding a new favorite picture book….

Well, this is awkward…

Well, this is awkward...

This is what comes, I suppose, of storing your pictures on a camera and then not charging the camera battery and then not checking on status of said camera battery until the middle of the night. You might, for example, spend a good chunk of time hurriedly making sure you’ve actually made at least some noticeable progress on your drawing before blog-posting time, only to discover that it will be 40 minutes or so before your camera is up to the task, and your charger also happens to be with someone who is probably asleep right now.

So.

Here’s a really quick MyPaint scribble of something superficially resembling one of my critters, looking vaguely sheepish (and not just because of the horns) in an attempt to pacify my ~1.5 viewers (viewer? If it’s less than 2 is it technically still singular? Is there any reason to spend more than 10 seconds trying to figure this out?).

I did finish S., by the way, and am in the process of seeing if there is any earthly way the library can make it clear-but-not-overwhelming that there are 22 bits and pieces that have been painstakingly made to look like junk but are actually important to the plot and ideally would stay not only in the book but also in the exact page ranges where they were found because that’s kind of important too. But like, no pressure patrons and circ workers. I’m sure it’s fine … really … that tiny little notecard with a monkey on it totally wouldn’t blow away if you sneezed on it, and the decoder wheel totally doesn’t fall out literally every time you open the book and no matter where you put it.

It is a pretty cool book though. I just can’t decide whether putting it on my staff picks would be a good idea, an invitation to disaster, or both….

Permanent devoshe….

Permanent devoshe....

I really don’t have anything to blame this week, other than procrastination and a somewhat deadly combination of things beginning in S — snowstorms, Stargate, and the book “S.”

The snow makes me want to curl up with a good book or an old TV series, and events have conspired to provide me with both simultaneously. Well, to be fair I can’t be sure until it ends if “S.” is really a good book, but any library book with 3,000 little bits and pieces that haven’t been lost yet in the course of four months has got to be something pretty special. Also, I’m a sucker for pseudo-annotations, epistolary novels, and the like. I’ll admit that J.J. Abrams’ name on the case certainly got my attention, but I mainly opened it up because I was wondering if it had anything to do with Dracula. I don’t know, I guess I just go straight to “Stoker” when I see a giant blackletter-style S on an ominous black case with an old-timey looking seal on it (the sticker kind, not the mammal — there’s a monkey on it, though).

Spoiler: As of yet it does not have anything to do with Dracula, and is unlikely to given the general plot. It’s still tough to put away for the day, though. I love low-tech multimedia events.

On the high-tech side, a library patron was cruel enough to donate about a billion (are you enjoying my wanton use of hyperbole in place of semi-accurate numerical estimations today?) sci-fi/fantasy DVD sets, including several I needed to complete a couple collections. I finally managed to restrain myself to purchasing just one, and leave the others for the library to add to its own collections. That one DVD set was S2 of Stargate SG-1, and when my I’m eating/it’s dark/my hair is wet or one of the myriad other reasons I tell myself I can’t draw just now (incidentally, these are also the only times I can’t be distracted by a book) I break out the quaintly-designed DVD set for 42 minutes or so. Oh, Stargate — why would you make a single menu item bright yellow when it’s not even selected? And in my collection, only Firefly and first-season Buffy rival your use of excessive navigation menus when it comes to selecting an episode. But it’s so hard to stay angry long….

Anyway, I spent exactly one day adding on to last week’s artwork. Now I have to start working backwards, relative to how I colored in the male, and it shouldn’t be very disorienting but it is. I think I’ve already made the female’s ears too large. But variety, spice of life, &c. &c. I’m sure he thinks her giant ears are charming, or at least knows well enough to tell her so.