Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Remember that piece . . . ?

So, that piece I posted way back in, what was it?  June?  Yeah.  I have been working on it.  So.  It's going to be the first piece in my black and white portion of my portfolio.  This is obviously just the final drawing.  I am putting it on the board today.  Cross your fingers!

I got some pieces of inspiration from SFAL2 back in May.  I jotted then all down in my sketchbook to review later, but 'Bear Attack' jumped out when I asked myself what was an experience I knew about.

It's kinda hard to say how these experiences kind of merged in my head - but they did, and I had all the pieces before I could really trace them back to their source.  So . . .

For those of you who know or have gone back through my blog posts, you know that I spent some time in Alaska at the end of my junior year in college working on my thesis.  It's kinda a long story, but what you need to know is that the school gave me money to go up to Alaska for several months and I ended up getting on board with someone who did outreaches and ended up traveling all over the state, helping out and taking pictures and drawing and painting.  Anyway, I was up there during the summer for part of that when the salmon were running (as in going upstream lay their eggs).  We went fishing or hiking (when we had time, which wasn't often), and one day near the end of our trip, we ended up in the area around where the Russian Kenai Rivers join up.  We had been there all summer, seen almost every kind of wildlife there was to see: moose, caribou, eagles, etc.  You name it, we had seen it.  Except for bears.  And it was salmon season, so that was a little odd.  We had heard the bears were out, we had even been witness to some of the damage they can cause by breaking into storage sheds and garages to get into meat freezers.  But I hadn't seen one.

So we hit the woods, hiking down to the river and the first thing we hear from people hiking up is that there are bears everywhere. And there were.  Like three.  Two huge grizzly cubs and a mother black bear.  None of them were as big as the bear in this piece, obviously, cause this is fantasy, but we had an experience or two that day that I will never forget.

The other piece of this little story is kind of about one of my brothers, Mark.  He's married and off doing army stuff - and that was always one of those things that everyone knew was going to happen because my brother is a warrior through and through.  He's always been that way.  Anyway . . .

When we were little, we would go up to Tennessee a lot; my parents had bought a cabin up there that we rent out and homeschoolers that we were, we would drive up there and stay for months at a time, fixing up the house, pulling weeds, cutting firewood, etc.  Sometimes I think that homeschooling is just and excuse for parents to have ready access to child labor anytime and anywhere - which is why I have every intention of homeschooling my kids whenever I have any.  Anyway . . .

We had two dogs at this point, a golden retriever and a beagle, and even though they had free reign to go off and run all over the mountain, we still occasionally took them on walks (I'm not sure why either).  Which is what we were doing when some giant monstrosity of a dog runs up completely out of the blue and attacks our golden retriever.  Now, all six of us are freaking out - my mom, my two younger brothers and two younger sisters (one of whom was like, three).  One of my sisters is crying, youngest brother is crying, Mom had picked up my littlest sister and is shouting trying to get the owner to come and take care of their dog, I'm trying to keep the beagle out of the fight, and Mark is just mad.  He jumps onto the back of this huge dog (that's bigger than he is, cause he's, like, eight) and starts beating it's back with his fists shouting "Get off my dog!  Get off my dog!" Which, of course, freaks my mom out even more.  But Mark doesn't care, he wraps his little hands around the other dogs collar and just keeps tugging, trying to pull the dog off our golden.

Anyway, I don't remember how we got that thing off our dog - but I'm pretty sure it just got fed up with the little hellion on it's back.  But that's Mark.  Never met a challenge he couldn't beat; throws himself 100% into whatever he's doing.

So all that to say, these are the two main ideas that came together in this piece.  The little kid with the pitchfork doesn't really know what he's going to do with said pitchfork, but he's not gonna stand there and let the giant demon-bear eat his sister and brother.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ari's War

A very incomplete sketch of Ari and Zan -
don't want to give too much away yet.

As usual, this is a rough outline of a story. I am in the process of developing it further for a project that I am working on, which I am sure you will hear more about soon.  

Please don't steal anything.

Once upon a time, in a far away land there lived a girl named Ari.  She grew up with her mother among the Suomi people: a group of semi-nomadic people who followed the migrations of the jakatta herds.   
Ari's father was not of the Suomi, he came from a land far to the south of the Unen Mountains.  He died when Ari was very young and her people could never fully accept her into the clan.  They made her tend the lesser herd-beasts - a job normally given to children too young to ride the morin (huge dog-like animals the Suomi ride).  She was never allowed to participate with the young people her own age.  
She would not have even been allowed to have one of the morin, which are sacred to the Suomi, but she found and cared for a runt pup which was not expected to live.  She named it Zan, and he ended up gaining health and thriving with Ari and her mother's care.  
One day, after tending the herd-beasts for several weeks, one of the younger boys came to take Ari's place.  He treated her with indifference, as many of the children followed their parent's example.  It bothered Ari more than she would ever let on, but it didn't stop her from trying to help the boy lock up the herd-beasts before a storm which was moving down the mountains hit them.  But he spurned her help so Ari turned and went back to her mother's home with Zan.   
The storm raged on for two whole days, and no one could leave their home until the blizzard subsided.  When the storm finally died down, the clan came out and found that the lesser herd-beasts had escaped their enclosure.  The elders turned on Ari, blaming her for the loss which she protested, but the boy who had relieved her watch did not come forward to corroborate her.  Everyone feared that the beasts had been lost and died in the storm, the uproar becoming so great that the elders cast Ari out of the clan.  
Ari's mother wept bitterly and pleaded with the elders to change their minds, but nothing she could say moved them.  She tried to go with Ari, but she had been lamed in a battle many years before and had no morin of her own.  Zan could not carry two people for many miles, Ari knew this, and she told her mother that she could not take her also into banishment.   
So Ari and her mother parted.  She and Zan wandered far into the mountains looking for shelter, but it wasn't long before they came across the trail of the lost herd-beasts.  In a moment of blind hope and desperation, Ari decided to track them down by herself and bring the herd back to her clan.  They would forgive her and take her back, she thought.  But herd-beasts are difficult to round up and heard by yourself.  Two days had passed before Ari and Zan had managed to track all of them down and push them back down the mountain.  The task was made doubly difficult by a pack of snow-cats that picked up her trail and stalked the herd for many days, scattering the herd time and time again before Ari and Zan could drive them off.  Slowly, Ari and Zan's strength was sapped and their progress became slower and slower before the snow-cats came in for a last attack.  A Suomi hunting party came across them as Ari and Zan were making a last attempt to defend themselves.  The hunters drove the cats away, but they accused Ari of trying to steal the herd-beasts.  They did not take any notice of Ari's protests or pleas.
That final meeting broke any desire to be accepted by her clan that Ari had left.  She spent the next few months learning how to live on her own.  She had no contact with anyone from her clan, not even her mother and she grew very adept at avoiding people entirely.  
One day she came across a trail that she had never seen before.  Following it, she and Zan came suddenly upon a strange group of creatures.  Both groups were startled; the strangers quickly turned on Ari and Zan, but were eventually overcome.  Greatly disturbed by the fightand the discovery of such strange creatures, Ari backtracked them to find out where the strangers had come from.  The trail went back into the mountains, and the creatures’ wanton destruction of any life that crossed their trail disturbed Ari even further.  The trail eventually led Ari to a huge encampment of the creatures who were stealthily making their way down into the valley where Ari’s people lived.  
For a moment Ari was tempted to leave them to their fate, but she remembered her mother and some small kindnesses that some of the clan had shown her on occasion and she ran off to try and find help.  
Her first instinct was to warn the village, but would they listen to her?  Fortunately as she was making her way down the mountain, she comes across another trail - a hunting party of Suomi.  She followed this trail, and found one of the younger members of the party separated from the rest.  It was the young boy from her clan - the one who’s inattention had led to the herd-beasts breaking free.  Ari tried to convince him that these strange creatures were on their way down into the valley, but the boy was sullen and refused to believe her.  The boy ran off, leaving Ari more desperate than ever.  She knew there was very little she could do on her own - or even her clan could do on their own against such an army.  
As she and Zan were making their way further into the valley, Ari spotted a herd of the jakatta, hundreds of beasts, and the beginnings of a plan started to form in her mind.  First she made her way back to the scouting party and while they were sleeping, crept into the camp, found the boy again and told him what she was planning to do, telling him to warn the village in case her plan fell through.  
Then Ari and Zan moved out and began working to round up the herd of jakattas.  Ari had learned a few tricks in her time alone in the mountains and she and Zan eventually got the jakattas moving.  
The boy meanwhile stayed silent.  But the scouting party comes across the creatures that Ari and Zan killed, and the boy reluctantly tells the others what Ari said.  
Ari moved the jakattas down the valley and caused them to stampede over the unsuspecting army of creatures.  But she’s not able to turn the herd out of the path of the village.  The hunting party had made it back, not in time to help turn the herd, but soon enough to get most of the clan out of the path of destruction.
When the dust settled, there wasn’t as much damage as was originally feared, but there is enough that the elders still do not accept Ari back into the clan. But she found that it didn’t hurt as much as it had, she content with her life in the mountains, she’s not helpless - and there’s still the chance that something could change down the line.  

To be continued . . .

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Artist You Should Know About

From Scott Robertson's Mecanimal Sketches

Scott Robertson is a designer and a teacher at Art Center College of Design. He also publishes a lot of really cool books through Design Studio Press.

I think I've talked about his book The Skillful Huntsman before, where he takes three of his student through the entire process of conceptualizing a story for a game or movie.  It's been a huge inspiration for some of what I am doing with The Robin Hood Project.  

He has a lot of awesome (FREE!) tutorials on YouTube that you should totally go check out.  You can also check out his website or his blog here.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some Truth for Today

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

- Aristotle

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

And Now We Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

Here's what's been happening in my life since I last really posted:

So I went to SFAL 2 and managed to get back home without having been transported to Oz by a tornado, though that might have been interesting.

I have mixed feelings about Kansas City.

I don't know what to write here.  I don't know what I want to say.  I'm working on one or two (or 6) projects. I have a bunch of ideas that I want to experiment with.

I'm trying to get off coffee.  Teacchino has been suggested as a possible substitute, but I think I made it wrong because it both smelled and tasted like paint-thinner.  Or what I imagine what paint thinner would taste like.

One of my brothers came home from college for the summer, so things were a little reminiscent of that Chinese saying around my house: "May you live in interesting times." I know it's usually meant as a curse, but I rather liked the variety.  Of course there's always the possibility of too much of a good thing . . .

My sister got married this summer, too.  Life has been both very stressful and very boring.  And I have no idea what else to say about any of this right now.  So.  If you haven't seen some of what I have been working on through Instagram, here's a quick update: