Countin’ those ties on the railroad tracks….


Well, I can’t promise more than a doodle next week, since I’ll be unpacking my worldly possessions into a new building. Naturally, art supplies are going to be pretty high on the list of things to keep handy (right up there with books and food), but things *do* have a way of going awry when you’d much rather they didn’t.

This is an aardvark who also appears to be a miner of some sort. He was drawn with the same pencil, sketch book, and eraser I used to draw my November critters (including his forerunner of sorts, Scooter the pseudo-aardvark from Four Legs Good ). The reason for the latter is simple: Those were the art supplies sitting next to my monitor. My monitor is on the floor. My computer is on the floor. My keyboard is on the floor. I am on the floor. Welcome to the final stages of the Small Move (the Big Move being the title reserved for my workplace’s move out of, then back into, its first-old-then-renovated library quarters, which is taking place around the same time as my personal change of address).

The reason for the former — which I assume you’ve forgotten after that whole paragraph, so rather than making you go back and re-read it I’ll just remind you that it’s the aardvark-miner part — is still fairly simple, but a bit less reasonable. Basically, I needed to have something I could just turn out little sketches of in a semi-reliable fashion when I got tired of what I was really working on. Since my huge unabridged dictionary is literally the ONLY book that has been spared in these last phases of the move, it seemed like a good place to start. I decided to take the first mammal (“animal” was my first choice, but I needed a way to politely dismiss various inconveniently tiny and ambiguous living beings that might otherwise count) I found for each letter, discover something about that animal that I *did not know before,* and draw a picture based on that new piece of knowledge.

I … really didn’t know how that would wind up going. Would I end up drawing the actual animals, or something based on them? Cartoony or realistic? I decided to just get on with it and look up aardvarks, since everyone knows (though I did still check the dictionary, hoping beyond hope) that’s the first mammal you’re going to get for A. I feel like there was probably a Hawaiian bird or two before that, but rules are rules….

But what interesting fact could I actually find about aardvarks? I knew the name meant “earth-pig,” knew various things about the crazy tongues, suspected they were edible … but I’d never really looked at the scientific name. That’s some crazy stuff right there. Orycteropus? Is that like some kind of nightmarish land-octopus? I could’ve stopped right there, but knowing that “-pus” means foot, I couldn’t help doing some digging (heh, heh) to see what the rest meant. Dictionary said it meant some variation of “burrowing foot,” via a Greek word that meant “miner.” A miner-aardvark sounded cooler than an aardvarktopus (or at least a lot less terrifying), so here we are. They’re omnivorous, so I like to think there’s a nice hearty termite-and-potato pasty in that lunchbox.

No, something better than magic….


Not a moth! But you’re used to that by now. This was just a sketch I made on a whim, lying in the hallway with some rather terrible lighting. Why not just move over to somewhere with better lighting that wasn’t, you know, a hallway, you ask? Well, that’s where the radio was and a good song was on … a good song I *own*, mind you, and could have played on at least two different devices that were not located in the hallway, but such is the mysterious draw of a playlist you don’t control.

Anyhow, if you haven’t noticed, this is a bookwyrm. That’s in no way an original idea — how could it be? — but I feel the need to point out that I did come up with it independently, at least. Hey, they can’t all be original ideas. The books I’ve been reading lately certainly haven’t been. That’s my fault for sticking so close to one genre and decade-hopping, though; one’s bound to find influences, homages, and (like the bookwyrm) decent ideas that just happened to spring up on two separate thought-islands without ever seeing each other. The better an idea, the more likely it is to have been done already. Then, people copy terrible ideas too (see: movies).

As I type this a song has come on that reminds me of a particularly unforgivable pun-drawing I made recently (the kind that hasn’t been done before for a good reason) involving Lorde and ball pythons. Look, I can’t help that there’s a morph called Queen Bee, okay?

I may need help for this art-pun addiction. It’s getting a bit out-of-control. I even changed that on-the-fly from “out-of-hand,” because snakes don’t have hands, even though that has NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING. Speaking of snakes though, as I was drawing the face of this dragon I suddenly recalled all the hours I spent long ago, looking at a library-book of snakes because I’d decided that snake-scales worked the best for dragons but I’d never seen a proper snake up close. I didn’t want little round boa constrictor scales (and not just because they’re a pain to draw), I wanted something from the the faster, sleeker specimens.

In hindsight, I seem to have gone for the smallish nonvenomous colubrids, species that probably would have made reasonable (and not particularly dangerous) pets. They do have the fiercest little faces though, with the streamlined scales and huge angry eyes. But, of course, those eyes have one little problem: they don’t look like the traditional “snake eyes,” with the little cat-pupils. They’re all round and troublesomely adorable. My preferred draconian visage wound up being a combination of several snakes and lizards, in the end, and of course I’ve far from mastered it even today. But when I just go on autopilot like this one, I’ve got the little green grass snake and his kin to thank for what appears.

Two legs at noon….

Mothra2I finally decided on the White-lined Sphinx for the color palette — it doesn’t necessarily go with the feathery antennae or teddy-bear legs, but I simply couldn’t do without those. It’s just not properly mothy to me without a lot of fluffy brownness. The Sphinx, on the other hand, contributes a little much-needed color and contrast with the namesake white lines (which I may render beige/yellow) and that bright splash of pink on the hindwings. 

In a somewhat relevant vein, I just spent about an hour explaining to someone what “fantasy” meant. Not like, the definition of the word itself, but the genre. Usually the trouble is distinguishing fantasy from sci-fi or supernatural, but this was more a case of convincing them that “fantasy” didn’t just boil down to “unicorns and Pokemon” (though I personally have nothing against either — or Rapidash). It can be awfully trying to describe a genre to someone who seems to view it as fundamentally “stupid” or “silly” … but I finally managed to get us started on brainstorming some possible fantasy scenarios. I was a bit trying in my own right, by constantly replying “Oh, like in [book title]” instead of nodding and pretending it was a new idea (as if those exist). To be fair, I consider it a compliment to compare something to a favorite fantasy book.

Speaking of favorite fantasy, I stumbled across the last Diana Wynne Jones (or rather, Diana and Ursula Jones) book the other day. The name of a deceased author on a new-book spine always catches my eye — and it happens just often enough to warrant an “always” there — though the quality does have a way of varying. I’ve heard good things about Islands of Chaldea though, so I’m cautiously optimistic about it. Wish me luck (or warn/encourage me if you’ve already read it)!

Sun’s comin’ up down on Main Street….

Madame Moth

Look, I’m being good and actually posting the project I’m ostensibly working on! Mostly because I put off this entry till the last minute and didn’t have time to think of anything else, but it’s something.

Side note: My little gecko’s eye is better, as far as I can tell — though, despite the abundant humidity and scratchy-things I’ve offered, he now has a little shed-mustache (more like shed-muttonchops, actually) that he’s even touchier about than the eye. Luckily it’s not anywhere that’s in a hurry to get infected or lose circulation and fall off, so I’ll just keep the shed box moist and let him take his time with this one.

Anyhow, I think I have Madame Moth’s pose down, though I’ll surely rearrange bits and pieces a few more times. I’m not sure whether I want her scarf to be a fancy scarf or a winter scarf, or something in-between. She’s got an umbrella, so unless she’s in a really weird climate I think I’ll probably be going with “fancy scarf.” Though a few days ago I probably could’ve used a scarf and an umbrella — in the midst of our annual lowland floods, it got down into the very low 50’s, a good ten degrees below average and just shy of a record. There weren’t as many “cold day in July” jokes as you’d expect, which I suppose was a mercy. I, of course, am not so merciful.

I’m not sure what colors I’ll be using, yet. The umbrella will probably be some flavor of black-and-white or black-and-brown, recalling the cryptic/disruptive coloring so often seen on the leading edges of moth and butterfly wings. The rest should probably be brown and beige tones, though my affinity for splashes of color may thwart that plan. The feathers, though already partially colored (I just can’t stand leaving it empty pencil) will need to become a lot more convincingly “feathery” before they’re done.

I think that’s all I’ve got. I’m a little (okay, maybe a lot) worn out from walking downtown, watching the holiday parade, going to work, walking around more downtown, and then walking home yesterday — all in all I wasn’t on my feet much longer than a regular workday, but there was a good bit more walking and outdoors-being. Fortunately I don’t sunburn, or I probably would have, but either way I think I got just a tad more sun than I needed. The unseasonably cool weather makes it easy to forget that it’s not *that* cool. Nevertheless, a proper night’s sleep and all is mended. Until next time!