Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stumpy the Tree Tortoise is finished

Good lord! I just looked back on the blog to see when I'd started this guy....I originally built the armature in July. I can't believe I've actually taken that long to finish him...though I guess I've had a number of other things competing for my personal sculpting time, including other sculptures. Anyway, at long last he's done, and I will commence painting soon. And I already have a heap of other sculpture designs on the table, just waiting for me to start them...

His design was based mostly on the giant Galapagos tortoise, though the legs are based on the African spur-shinned tortoise, which has these wonderful rough spurs/spikes on the front of its forelegs. The tree stump is based almost completely on an old gnarled stump in the local park, from a huge tree that was knocked down by a freak storm a few years ago.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Chess Set Ordeal

About a year ago I sculpted out the pieces to a Lovecraft-inspired chess set, thinking I would mold and cast them into a complete set and maybe even sell a couple.

From left to right: Cthulhu as the king, Shub-Niggurath as the queen, a Yithian as the bishop, an Elder Thing/Old One as the rook, a Deep One as the knight, and a shoggoth as the pawn.

When I molded them, however, I learned an important lesson: Don't buy cheap silicone. Frustrated to no end by the fact it refused to cure, despite trying several times and accounting for several variables (mix ratio, room temperature, humidity levels, etc) and even letting it sit for several weeks, it remained a gelatinous blob of pinkish goo.

Because uncured silicone is extremely disgusting, after scraping off the majority of it, the pieces all sat on my shelf for almost a year because I didn't feel like scrubbing it off. I kept meaning to acquire some better silicone and try again, but figured if I was going to go through the trouble I might as well just resculpt the whole set. I wasn't quite pleased with several aspects of it (mostly the bases, as well as the Deep One and the Shoggoth).

So I finally decided to finally scrub off the repulsive silicone bits on these little guys and paint them, mostly because I want to experiment with painting different types of stone. The actual process of cleaning the silicone out of all the little bitty crevices was not fun.

But after they were clean and sparkly, the painting process was far more fun. Each is then coated in high-gloss finish to lend a look of highly-polished stone (or slimy stone, brought up from the depths of R'lyeh, whichever you prefer)

Cthulhu, painted to look like sodalite. 

Jasper. Need a finer paint brush to get all those bitty little lines.

Mother-of-Pearl seemed particularly appropriate for the Deep One, but difficult to achieve. I was not quite successful. 

Tiger's Eye, also difficult to achieve due to the way the colours shift and change when viewed from different angles. Was less than successful at depicting it in paint form.

Malachite, another favourite stone. A finer paintbrush is definitely in order...

Snowflake Obsidian.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stump Tortoise, Part 2

That pile of wire from a couple weeks ago is finally becoming a tortoise. A big, plodding, pudgy tortoise. Starting to lay in some basic skin textures and details. He also has a face now. Got a long way to go--first the texture on the legs/head, then the stump shell, which will be complete with moss, mushrooms, lichens, and whatever else I feel like slapping on it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Stump Tortoise

Having finished my Cthulhu idol and a majorly crazy ink drawing I was mulling over ideas for my next sculpture. I have pages and pages of sketches documenting ideas for sculptures, some of which are in relatively great detail. However, it's always the random scribbles that seem to  jump out at me and demand to be made RIGHT NOW.

I found this while cleaning off a pile of doodles, junk mail, and old grocery receipts from the kitchen table.

It immediately demanded to be made. RIGHT NOW. So, not wanting to piss off whatever Art God or Muse that makes these demands, I set to work on on the armature. I started off with the legs and head.

At first I wasn't quite sure how to approach doing a solid chunk like the tree stump shell. So I just started throwing on wire.

Holy crap that's a lot of wire!

And then I just crunched it full of foil.  And more wire. 

Holy crap that's a lot of foil!

This is probably one of the sturdiest armatures I've built to date, mostly because I sat back and enjoyed building it as a part of the creative process (as opposed to "Blar! Friggin armatures, I just want to get this done with so I can push clay!"). It's also so dense I could probably lob it through a window. 

Of course, with every armature comes the inevitable "Oh god, termites have chewed up my hands!" feeling, which you get from three hours of wrestling wire and foil and accidentally supergluing yourself to every surface in the vicinity. It gets worse the instant you head to the sink to wash off all the metal bits when suddenly you discover "HOLY SH---TINY CUTS EVERYWHERE! IT STINGS!" But it's all good, because the carpal-tunnel syndrome takes care of that, at least for the moment. I'm typing up this post by bludgeoning the keyboard with my half-numb fingers. 

Next up: clay pushing. Hooray!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Brief Break from Sculpting; The Forest Colossus

The Forest Colossus wandered. No one knew who had originally built it, or if indeed it had been built by the hand of man, or of some greater civilisation; many suspected it had been birthed from the earth itself. No one knew how it was powered, or what its purpose was. It had been around for as long as any generation could remember, and the growth of centuries had created its own ecosystem upon the creature's body. Great streamers of moss and vine hung from it, trees sprouted from its back, and its flanks were coated in lichen and fungus. Though its purpose and makers had been forgotten, none dared disturb the colossus; as it showed no malice towards man and weapons did not exist that could harm it, it could continue to wander, and likely would until the end of time, or until it crumbled to dust itself.

I have been having increasing difficulty focusing on sculpting; after finishing Cthulhu I decided it was time to take a break from clay and work on something 2-dimensional.
This has been sitting on my desk looking like this for about a year:

So, in a mad inking marathon over the past few days, I finished it.

I have mixed feelings on the result. Ultimately I have a love-hate relationship to this piece; I have alternately liked it, hated it, despised it, thought it looked awful, thought it looked OK, and mostly I'm just glad it's finished. I had originally started it nearly two years ago after being inspired by the game Shadow of the Colossus, and had almost abandoned it when my brand-new super-fine Rapidograph pen started failing, and I got frustrated, shook it violently, and it barfed ink everywhere. The finished photograph is admittedly terrible; I don't have a decent setup for photographing paintings. Every inch of the 16x20 inch board is covered in dots or extremely fine lines.

I had intended mainly for it to be an experiment with applying coloured ink washes to my pen-and-ink drawings. I've never really used ink washes before, and I'm not sure if I like them or not; they behave almost identical to watercolours except for being waterproof, so I don't have to worry as much about turning them into mud by applying multiple layers of colour. They're not very forgiving for the same reason, though.

Onward to more art!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cthulhu Fhtagn!

When I first started on this I didn't intend for it to take almost 5 months to finish, but because of a bunch of other things, that's about how long it took. It feels good to finally be done after having Cthulhu sitting on my desk glowering at me in various states of half-finishedness for that long.

Anyway, this is my interpretation of Cthulhu as based on the description in the story (fort those of you unfamiliar with the source material, it's "Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft) I had originally intended to give him a traditional octopus-like head, but when it came time to sculpt his head I opted for a Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish appearance; they have far more of an alien look, and damnit, octopi are just cute. I did not want cute.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Holy hail, Batman!

Not snow; hail. Also, that stream is my sidewalk.
We had the single most torrential hailstorm a few days ago. Neither my parents nor grandparents could remember ever seeing hail this thick, ever, in their lifetimes. There was so much of it that the next day, there were still piles of it in areas where it had yet to melt off. Most were pea-to-marble sized.

My art has been on hiatus since then due to the fact that over seven gallons of water leaked (read: gushed) through my bedroom ceiling when the roof was damaged, and I had to do some emergency damage control and everything is in total disarray. Fortunately Roof Guy fixed it today, so now it comes down Cleaning Up. And being as there is a giant, vaugely Australia-shaped hole in my ceiling where the plaster came down, and my carpet smells like rotten roof water (I think there are probably some squirrel corpses up there as well) that will be a Not Very Fun Process. But the artings will return as soon as I can squeeze some workspace in amongst the clutter.

But you know, I'm not really complaining; a leaky roof is only a minor inconvenience to, say, the ridiculous number of tornadoes that have been hitting areas further south and turning whole towns into splinters. Or the massive flooding along the Mississippi river. Or earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, etc. We have been having a massive amount of thunderstorms and torrential rainstorms here lately, way more than is normal for this time of year. 

Mother Nature seems to have flipped her lid lately.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Meet Borfus the Dragon. 

Borfus, along with the Desbok, is part of a bestiary of creature designs I have been compiling. Borfus started out as an entry for a creature design competition held back in November by the Shiflett Brothers, in which the only premise was "monster rider." Because I like to keep a sense of fun about things, I went for a huge, unruly dragon.

Borfus, all told, is two feet long with a nearly two foot wingspan.

I don't think I intended to make him quite so enormous, but as I built the armature, that's what happened. So I went with it.

Unfortunately, due to a bout with the flu (and the fact that I grossly underestimated the size and therefore the amount of time necessary) I didn't end up getting him finished before the contest deadline.


I did, however, enter him in 2010's Spectrum Annual, but didn't get accepted in. Better luck next year I guess.
Borfus ended up being my take on the classic dragon and rider motif. Usually depicted as a wonderful, magic bond between the dragon and its rider, something that is coveted and desired by whatever human race occupies that particular fantasy realm, I went a different route. In Borfus's native homeland, his species have been domesticated for generations by skilled and extremely patient trainers; they are the quickest and most effective mode of transportation over dangerous terrain such as marshland or mountain passes. However, they are none too intelligent, difficult to control even when dragon and rider have been bonded since hatching, and are prone to veering off mid-flight whenever they spot an appealing morsel, leaving their frustrated riders clinging desperately while attempting to get them under control.
Dragonriders would in fact much prefer to be riding something else, but being as large flying animals capable of being domesticated and trained to carry riders and cargo are few and far between, they are stuck with these guys. The neighboring continent is occupied by a civilized, intelligent race of dragons who hold Borfus's kind in deep scorn, and would rather not have to claim them as distant cousins.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Computer Woes, Cthulhu Idols, and Sick Crabs

I went and started this blog thinking I'd update once a week, but I've been spending the past four months with a crippled, zombie laptop that I'm almost afraid to turn on lest it burst into flames. The hard drive crashed and we managed to salvage all my files and revive it so it's usable...but it's making noises now if I leave it on too long so my computer time has been limited (read: almost non-existant) However, I've started up the Build A New Computer Fund, and once I have that in place, I will actually be able to run Photoshop without my crippled zombie dinosaur computer crapping out on me. Not to mention being able to use the computer without fear that it will crash in the middle of something important. But I think we've all been there. Hooray!

I also find myself tending to one of my studio pets, who has developed a bit of shell rot. He hates being bothered. In fact, he hates being looked at sometimes, and will glare angrily at me the entire time I'm working. He especially hates being rudely picked up and stuck in a bucket while I clean his tank.

Those claws are almost comically, disproportionately huge. Also, they hurt like hell.

Sick crawdads aside, my latest sculpting project has been an obligatory Cthulhu idol, which is now nearing completion. He will begin collection souls shortly.

Stay tuned for more rambling whenever I find the courage to turn on my computer again. As it is, it's making some buzzing noises at the moment, so I should probably turn it off....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Desbok

Being a large, sturdy pack animal bred mostly for caravan travel along dangerous mountain roads, desboks are good-natured and docile, if a bit dim-witted.

This creature concept originally comes from a drawing I did some seven or eight years ago and stumbled across in a sketchbook while trying to brainstorm ideas for sculptures. He's part of a "bestiary" of sorts I have been working on for some time.

The sculpture itself was completed about two years ago, one of my earliest--as well as being the first with a proper armature stand and aluminum wire. Prior to this one I had been making free-standing sculpts with coat hangers for armatures which, I can tell you, is not the best idea. At the time I also did not have the giant box of sculpting tools I have now, and all the detail was accomplished with a toothpick and a bit of bent wire.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Holy Crap! I Have A Blog Now

I figured it was about time I had one of these things. So here it is. And as you have probably deduced, it will be full of my personal art and probably more than a few somewhat amusing anecdotes and rantings.

As this is the first post, there isn't much here at the moment to look at. I will be working to fix that in the nearest future. My primary outlet for creativity for the past couple years has been sculpture, but I also do ink drawings and occasionally paintings in oil and acrylic, or graphite, or coloured pencil, or collage...or just about anything, really. Chances are, if it's an art medium, I've tried it. Most of my work manifests as some form of fantasy creature or other, ranging from the dark and twisted to the sickeningly adorable.

And as not to waste anymore of your eyeballspace with text ramblings, here's a dragon, inspired by the mad inkwork of illustrator Ian Miller.