Ogden and the Bird

Is there a bird upon my back?
	All non-chalant with feathers black?
	And in his eye that look of lacking
	any real wits?

I've spoke to him not fewer than
	8 or 9 occasions
	and tired to ascertain the thoughts
	that walnut brain of his has caught
	within its tiny gnashing gears
	that rather like him standing here
	but nothing seems to break through clear
	his tiny birdy fog.

So though I shoo him when he's near
	doubtless he will reappear.
	He always has, he preservers.
	He's resolute, consumed, austere.
	But if one day I turned to rear
	and looked and he did not appear,
	pretty sure I'd shed a tear,
	and miss him.

Ink Fairies — or —
Why We Don’t Go Into the Letterpress Lab At Night

Hair that's blackened to the root
	with ink; they say it makes them cute.
	And smudges on their smocks to boot,
	and clothes, and face, and birthday suit.
Make them welcome, treat them kind,
	and thank them when they come to mind.
A happy fairy's blessings spun
	will make sure that your presses run
	But if their pleasant mood's undone…
Disaster, most acute.

Theat[er/re]

Remember going to the theater as a child?  I do. We used to go as a class a few times each year.

Well now I know what it’s like to be on the other side. This past spring my classmates and I designed posters for the Coterie Theater (or Theatre, if you prefer), and their upcoming fall season. And guess what! My design for a musical adaptation of Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi was selected as the official poster.  You can see it on their website right now (what are you waiting for? Go, go…).

Seeing as I had one nice theatrical poster under my belt, it seemed a shame not to give some of the other plays a try.  The other three posters won’t be used by the Coterie (because my talented friends designed the official ones!), but I think they all go together nicely, don’t you?

Diesel Ground Sloth (EX package shown)

After the demise of the Detroit auto industry, a number of large empty parts warehouses and assembly plants were shuttered, quickly becoming important habitats for local urban wildlife.  Like artificial reefs constructed from sunken ships, a new, more environmentally focused local government encouraged the overgrowth of these derelict skeletons of industry in the hopes that a resulting blossoming of natural wonders might generate an eco-tourism industry to rival the former industrial economy.  City fathers went so far as to call for the release of many of the Detroit Zoo’s specimens into the “urban biological diversity zone” as seedlings of sorts.

Although a breathtaking number of new species resulted, as products of their environment most resembled aspects of the city’s former industry that residents were hoping to forget.  Although the animal lover’s mecca city planners were hoping for has yet to emerge, the area has raised interest among foreign chemical and energy consortiums looking for spokes-creatures to put a friendlier public face on their industry.

Place Postage Here

Do you think a war was ever won over stamps? Not a little skirmish or a battle, but a real war. The kind of war where the maps all have to be changed when it’s over.

I think of all the ways a citizen comes into contact with their government, probably the two most frequent and most personal are currency and postage stamps.

Think about where you see stamps on a daily basis. They’re in your bag that you carry everywhere you go. They’re in your desk drawer right next to your favorite pens. They’re stuck to the corner of the letters from your friends. A stamp—although a government may print it, although a sovereign’s face may grace it—is a personal item.

So then, if you’re the ruler of a country, but I have better stamps, who do you think the people will support?

Smile

As the Sun, I think, I have a raw deal
	and it makes me uneasy to see
that in your paintings, and pictures
	and old artifacts, my face is there smiling at me.

Smiling? No beaming, that's what you call it.
	I've practically got my own word.
But if you were the Sun, put yourself in my place,
	all this smiling's a little absurd.

Now I admit that I have a…a fondness for Earth
	and those cute little probes that you send.
I'm not one for pictures, but if it's for a good cause
	then I guess I can muster a grin.

But every last picture?  For thousands of years?
	I feel as though I've been slandered
And the fact that you think that's the way that I look,
	I just can't live up to that standard.

I mean, I would think, as friends for so long,
	that by now we would have a rapport.
That we might share our emotions, have a serious talk,
	play a game, shoot the breeze—something more.

But for thousands of years you people of Earth
	have worshiped my sight in the sky.
Except that's not where I am, it's just where I was
	8 minutes ago when you passed by.

I don't mean to complain.  I'm not a big grump.
	I'm flattered, I am, but you see,
how our relationships grown from something that's true
	to this cartoonish one-dimensional me?

So there, now I've said it.  And I do feel much better.
	Please take to heart my remarks.
Oh, and if you insist on painting more smiles,
	well I hope you can paint in the dark.

— The Sun

Stick Figures Need Not Apply

girl-color

With the unaccustomed introduction of some free time now that classes have ended I’ve suddenly found myself with an excuse to get some sketching done.  Over the summer I’m hoping to practice some animation techniques, but I need something to animate first, so I thought I might try working up some characters.  Something simple enough to draw over and over, but hopefully more interesting than a stick figure.

Anyway, after a few days I think I’ve come up with something that will work.  If you’re wondering about the strange ears/hair situation well…  She started out as a sketch for a goat with kind of pointy ears; then I turned the little nubs into pig tails; then they got short and turned back into ears, but by that time they had migrated down her skull a bit.  Basically I think just try not to stare, she’s kind of sensitive about them.

I don’t have a name for this one yet, but suggestions are welcome.

girl-poses

The Atmosphere in here is Awful!

sepia-landscape

Some experimentation with atmospheric effects today.  First up is a simple landscape in gouache.  This one is on a thick piece of BFK.

graphite-test-boxes

Next up, some odd little boxes with things above them.  Both are smeared graphite, but the item on the left i started out with an undercoat of H pencil, then built tone up over top, then a faint watercolor wash for “flavor”.  I wrote a note on the bottom wondering if the wash was a mistake, but looking at it today, I don’t know why, it worked out ok.

A Box Full of Grass

pencil-and-acrylic-grass-tests

First up, some preliminaries on drawing paper.  The top is simply graphite, but this time with some smearing.  The bottom is an acrylic wash.  The acrylic works just like watercolor, but subsequent washes don’t mix with what’s underneath.  Once it dries, the color is fixed.

grass

The smearing above was an interesting experience, so I gave it a try on a larger scale.  This one’s on smooth bristol (big mistake).  The smooth texture won’t take much graphite, so getting those dark values is a challenge.

watercolor-grass-box

Longing for more texture, this one’s on some pretty hefty watercolor paper.  I did an undercoat of sepia acrylic, and then overcoats of watercolor washes for the colored items.  Then graphite over the whole thing for tone.  I like kind of like this one.