Sometimes, I sit down to paint, overwhelmed by the urge to paint, but nothing comes to mind. I end up listlessly browsing the 'watercolor' and 'gouache' tags on Tumblr and Google image search... most of what turns up is idyllic flower portraits or gardens or puppies or something else cute and wholesome. 
I have a natural aversion to that kind of kitschy cuteness. The more I browsed for "inspiration", the more I furrowed my brows and frowned. 
"Man, this stuff is boring." 
And then it hits me that I still have some skinned coyote feet in the freezer and bam, inspiration hits me like a truck. 
(You'll get the story of why I have coyote feet in my freezer... later.) 
It was to be my first really serious gouache piece in a while. The last full-on painting I did was in my oil painting class a year ago, and because oils are made of condensed demon's blood and are hellbent on making your life miserable, the idea of doing another painting (until now) kind of rubbed me the wrong way. And by 'rubbed me the wrong way' I mean 'plagued me with fever dreams of the Reflective Objects and Elaborate Geometric Patterns Still Life.' 
But, today, gouache was calling my name. And my blank pieces of aquabord were feeling lonely. One thing led to another. 
Colors start to  happen.
Adding color to the underpainting was thrilling and frightening. As an artist, paint thrills you, and no one else gets why washes of ochre and burnt sienna get your heart racing.
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The final product: Wholesome, endearing, warm-fuzzy feelings. Wook at the widdle paaawws!
 
 
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I made a thing!
So, BOUND TO ASHES is getting closer to being a final draft. Some might say that a final draft doesn't really exist, but we're using 'final' as loosely as we can. Anyway, I sent draft number six to my beta readers. (Hi, beta readers!) Just sitting back and waiting for their feedback, now. Resting on my laurels. Basking in my accomplishment. Because even if it's nowhere near being published, yet, it still feels good to have a written, re-written, and polished work under your belt. It's a good feeling. 
And I made a book cover, just to brush up on my graphic design skills*, and to finally have an image for my book. 

But there is no rest for the wicked, dear readers. I'm back to working on THE CHILDREN OF CADUCEUS, the sequel, right now. (You know, the book that I wrote in two months last year... it's got a sound story, but whoa, do the meaty bits need some TLC...) 

So that's what's been going on this past month. Besides the usual-- wedding plans, book reading, doodling, mentally preparing myself for school again, etc. 
Until next time. 

* 'skills' also used loosely
 
 
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Yup, drawings. I know, right? Try to contain your excitement! Totally almost wrote 'excrement' right there, and yeesh, what a typo that would have been. Aaaanyway.

Left image features Ashton and dog Punk, characters from my book. (Which at this point might not ever be written completely, ever. Seriously, I've re-written this hunk-o-junk like four times.) But check out them dog feet. All six of 'em. 

Lately I've been pretty addicted to the draw-erase-draw-erase technique. Like scratch board that works in both directions. The rhythm is so... perfect. Giving and taking away marks like a benevolent art god.
What do you mean, 'power trip'? I just love how it makes everything seem so dense and three-dimensional. And black and white art is always stylish. Always. 

And admittedly at this point I'm trying to write enough to fit the giant space this tall-ass image has created for me. Thanks a lot, Ash. You're a pal. A seven-foot-tall-pal. Punk, this is partially your fault, too. 

Oh and you can click the image if you want to make him even taller

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Tiefling butt! Gasp! (How lewd.)
Title of this piece: "Your Inner Fire". Alternate title: "Shameful Excuse to Draw Fire". Some  of the scratch board techniques I mentioned earlier are here, too, but now in violent color.
Fire is one of those things you don't really have to know how to draw, but if you get the general shapes kind of right, people will fill in the blanks for you. Because, think about it, fire never holds still. When you look at a photo of fire for too long, it stops looking like fire, because it's not flickering and fidgeting like fire does. So what I'm saying is that I know how to get away with crap like that because reasons. 

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Man, does this artist draw nothing but naked Tieflings? I mean come on
"Somehow Not Sincere" was the first piece that I really tried out the scratch board technique. Love at first sight, let me tell you. My favorite part is doing deep black things that are super shiny-smooth, like those horns. One wiggly line tells you the texture and color of the object without even trying. Way to go, wiggly line, you're an inspiration. You're doing god's work. Or something. 
Even looking at this piece makes me want to do the scratch board thing more. Which is kind of dangerous because it took 100% of my artistic drive to finish the fiery thing up there, so, yeah. Such is life. 

Well, there you go. I had to dust off this blog sometime. Hope it was good. Peace be with you, denizens of Internetia. 
 
 
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"Very Quietly in a Large Empty Room" Painter X, 8"x10"
 
 
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When your whole life is a war,
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and more battles are fought against yourself than the enemy,
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and your own talents turn against you,
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it takes a certain type of courage to win.
 
 
Because everyone loves snarly wolves! Snarly, yawning, and creepily grinning wolves. 
My new year's resolution was to get better at drawing. Grand schemes of attending live model drawings and doing gestures every day slowly faded to, "I'll look on Deviant Art for photos of cool wolves." Hey, man. It's a starting point. I'm working up to it. Your hands and artistic brain are muscles. You have to get back into shape before you can run a marathon. And by 'run a marathon' I mean 'do really kick-ass fantasy paintings like you dream about'. Same difference. 
 
 
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Blaaaagh
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Mleeehhh
Just two works I've done recently. 
Top: A monotype print depicting what my first day of a new university felt like. Interpret as you will! (And no, it did not involve massive, writhing piles of angry wolf-parts. That part is metaphorical. Or is it...?!)
Bottom: A ball python... puppy. I took a bunch of reference photos of ball pythons lately and figured I'd use them for something. They have the cutest little faces. Or horrifying, depending on your view of snakes. I think they have puppy faces, but I also think that jumping spiders do, too. So there's that. 


Anyway, the drawing-bug has bitten me again, so maybe some new drawings will head this way. Maybe they'll be something not dog-related.

Funny joke, Maranda, haha... 
 
 
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A finless-variety 'Pembroke welsh pearlscale' goldfish dog.

Goldfish Dogs-- Genetic Abomination, or 'The Next Big Thing' in Exotic Animal Husbandry?  
by Maranda Cromwell

Since humans emerged as an evolutionary powerhouse, harnessing agriculture and claiming ownership over the lands, they have also taken control of animals. I'm talking about domestication. 

With the power we hold over the animals, we can control their fates. From wolves, we have made chihuahuas and maltese. From small wild cats in Africa we have created the common house cat. Fancy goldfish are no exception-- from the sleek and noble koi's ancestors to the 'fancy' goldfish: round and wiggly fish kept by aquarium enthusiasts all around the world. 


But humans did not stop at wolves and koi. 


In a frenzied quest to create the perfect companion, breeders and geneticists working together have made a breakthrough in the field of domesticated companion animals. The rationalization is clear: combine the loyalty and adaptability of dogs with the simple-mindedness and somehow cute appearance of fancy goldfish. At the time, perhaps that seemed like a good idea. 
Like the fabled story of the Two Headed Cat, scientists quickly discovered their folly as the first goldfish dog was created. 

With all the enthusiasm of a puppy and the relative brainlessness of a goldfish, the goldfish dogs proved to be many things, none of which was the scientists and breeders's idea of a good companion. Scatterbrained, moronic, clumsy on land and water, the goldfish dogs had one thing going for them: they were cute in the same way a two-legged-dog is cute. Pathetic, but well-wishing. In training classes and standard obedience courses, they only barely passed: just for trying their best. 


Most fancy goldfish owners will tell you that goldfish do not have a 3-second memory, and that their memory is closer to 3 months instead. And as we all know, dogs are among the smartest animals on the planet, the smartest of which can remember vocabularies up to 2,000 individual words and are the only animals to understand the concept of pointing-- looking at the object being pointed at instead of the hand. Sadly, goldfish dogs did not receive the long end of the stick. They remain famous for being "the most unintelligent animal ever to be created by man." And that includes chickens and guinea fowl, which are rated 2nd and 3rd on the same chart. 


But despite their lack of redeeming qualities in the mental faculty department, they somehow remain popular as household pets. The scientists and breeders are not sure how their popularity came about-- the operation was supposed to be top secret, yet somehow strains of several breeds were loosed upon the exotic pet trading networks. The smooth-coat shubunkin terriers, the Pembroke welsh pearlscales, and the black moor chow chows are among the most popular, though mutts are gaining quite a following as well. Thankfully, the goldfish dogs are considered too simple to experience advanced emotions such as fear or aggression, and generally have easygoing and aloof personalities. 


As of yet, there are no ongoing attempts to reclaim the "top secret" goldfish dog population, because as the head developer claimed, "We really just don't care anymore." 



"My goldfish dog is the best animal I've ever had the pleasure of keeping," one owner told us excitedly. I interviewed her at the 2nd annual Goldfish Dog Fanciers Association Meeting, which consisted of a grand total of 13 individuals, all claiming ownership of one or even several of the strange creatures. "When she borks at me at the door when I come home from work, my heart just melts. I love Bella so much," the owner went on to say. As I came to understand, "borking" is the sound the goldfish dog make: a garbled version of a dog's bark. 


The Goldfish Dog Fanciers Associations meeting consisted of various competitions, including 'Best Bork', 'Cutest Face', 'Buggiest Eyes', and 'Most Endearing Gait'. As opposed to the dog shows put on by the AKC, these meetings tend to be more casual, and 'breed standard' is more like 'breed suggestion'. Goldfish dog judging is more based on personal preference than a set-in-stone set of rules. Even the finless varieties of goldfish dogs, considered 'improper', have been known to win ribbons in a few categories. 


"The good thing about goldfish dogs, or gofogs as we call them, they're just so cool with everything! Marshmallow lets me put little shoes and sweaters on him, and he doesn't care! They don't bite, they don't scratch, and they only wet the carpet sometimes. I mean, compared to an actual dog, I'd much rather have a gofog," another fan said. 


The public seems to have other ideas regarding the 'gofogs', however. A random passerby, when asked what her opinions of the animals were, simply said, "Those things? They're gross." When I pressed further, she explained, "They're horrible, like, inbred things. I mean, either have a goldfish or a dog, don't put them together in some science lab!" 


Other opinions varied from outraged, to somewhat amused, to downright apathetic. It may be a few more years until the Goldfish Dog Fanciers Association picks up more members. 


But what does this mean for the well-meaning goldfish dog? "We have a very extensive breeding regiment," the president of the GDFA said, "we have a very small gene pool to work with, but thanks to one of our members who also breeds pomeranians, we have a genetic expert on our side. In a few generations, we should have a healthy breeding stock so that more people can obtain the gofogs and see what amazing, loving, adorable pets they make." 


Who knows what the future holds for the goldfish dogs? But somehow, many people doubt that 'gofogs' will ever reach the popularity of dogs or cats, or even goldfish. But time will tell. In the next few years, don't be surprised to see someone walking a celestial calico shepherd down the street, or see a red ranchu pug peeking out of a woman's purse on the subway. 
 

Buzzed

11/25/2012

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So I've started drinking coffee again. No this has nothing to do with this painting I don't know what you're talking about cough cough. 

So anyway this is a painting I did for my dad for his birthday. He loves humming birds and I think that's precious. I think the humming birds like him, too, because of all the sugar water. "Yes, the human we have trained to feed us is back again! Everyone, sit around and look cute." 
I guess this is sort of an implied play on words... hummingbirds 'buzz', and he's 'buzzed' on coffee... or something. My paintings usually lose focus about 1/4 the way in. 'Concept A' turns into 'Concept F' by some means of artistic witchcraft. For example, right now I'm having that surreal moment of, "Wow, that must be a tiny cup." Or a really fat bird, either-or. Man, I dunno. Art

 
 
Admit it, the genre "weird wolf art" is pretty freakin' vast. Search 'wolf' on DeviantArt and prepare to never leave your computer ever again, the end. Like a roiling sea of pink-striped, half-dragon-half-border-collie-half-wolf monstrosities, all vying for originality and sometimes starring in a Really Bad Wolf Comic (you know of what I speak). I grew up with this subculture of popular art. I had a 'fursona', liberally sprinkled with early 2000's faux-punk. I'm talking safety-pins-in-the-ears, wrist bands, apathetic I-hate-the-world stares from big red anime eyes. Many middle-school art classes were spent trying to explain to my classmates what the hey a 'fursona' even was. 
Anyway. 
I still haven't quite grown out of drawing wolves and wolf-like-things as a default. I can't help it man, they're just neat and easy to pin down. And snarly. But you guys know about my weakness for canines. Doggies! 
Here's the latest addition to my Army of Woofies*. Another Wolferpillar, but with less legs because to heck with drawing that many legs again, golly. It started as a normal, snarling maned wolf, but somewhere along the way I decided NAW and threw on stick-legs and snake-body. Welcome to my brain. 
* No relation to Army of Darkness