Sunday, February 23, 2014

Artist's Sunday #4: Nerd Love, Episode 1 - Big Bad Beholders

I'm kicking off the next month of Artist's Sunday with Episode 1 of a series (as I type this, Dragon is peering over my shoulder humming the Star Wars theme music... argh!) celebrating the artisan crafts inspired by various nerdy pursuits. Depending on what I find, these themes could include cosplaying, larping, Steampunk (and/or its various permutations, such as Dieselpunk), Cyberpunk, pen-and-paper gaming, MMO gaming, heroes and monsters of various fandoms, Star Wars, Star Trek (hmm, an entire Sunday devoted to Wars vs. Trek in art form...) and, heck, whatever else I find. This may have to extend longer than one month to squeeze all the awesomeness in, or I may have to do a couple multi-themed posts, or... well, we'll see.

Stay tuned for Twinflame Studio's artistic month of nerddom.

Episode 1: Beholders
Because no Dungeon is complete without a Beholder.

What the devil is a Beholder, I'm sure some of you will ask. (I salute those of you who do not need to ask, and say namaste. :D)  Beholders are nasty creatures with an evil eye (11 of them, actually...) and a tendency to use those eyes to zap anyone that ventures too close. From the Monster Manual I (3.5): "A beholder is an 8-foot-wide orb dominated by a central eye and a large, toothy maw. Ten smaller eyes on stalks sprout from the top of the orb." They float, and you can't sneak up on one unless it's asleep. Each eye has a different, and devastating, magic power. They are typically kept as watchdogs by villainous adversaries, and no magic-user can think of a beholder without cringing at least a little. Its central eye is constantly emanating an effect that keeps any other magic from functioning, in whatever direction the beholder is looking. 

They are a classic, iconic Big Bad Nasty, the stuff of any adventuring group's nightmares, and the artistic Muse of many an artisan crafter...

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful White Fox

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Artist's Sunday #3: the Unicorn

Artist's Sunday is your Artful White Fox's day to pay it forward, showcasing other artists' work that catches my eye.

After my snarky comments about unicorns on the last Artist's Sunday about Persephone, I decided these lovely creatures needed a little more attention. After all, they've captured the imaginations of fantasy enthusiasts for generations. Maybe I should turn my nose down and remember how I felt, reading those dozen library books over a summer as a kid...

Unicorns have inspired literature and myths, arts and crafts, movies, plays, and even dances, since their inception as a mythical beast. The "official" Wikipedia entry says that unicorns have been around since "antiquity" which in this estimation means since the Classical Age, although some translations have rendered a word from the Bible, re'em, as unicorn. Interesting. Unicorns in the Bible? This bears more investigation.


Also of note is the fact that they were not a mythological beast to the Greeks. The mentions of Unicorns in Grecian writings are in their natural histories, rendering Unicorns as more of a cryptid than a mythical beast. Grecian experts on natural history were convinced the Unicorn existed in the wilds of distant and exotic India. Popular modern theory is that the Grecian writers were describing the Rhinoceros and the Oryx.

Back to the topic at hand, however. Unicorns are typically described as horselike or goatlike, with a single long horn and cloven hooves, and sometimes a goat's beard. They were extremely wild, free creatures, the epitome of purity and grace, and could only be tamed by the touch of a virgin. Its horn was believed to have the power to cleanse water of poisons. In medieval times they represented lovers, chaste love, faithful marriage, and even the relationship between the Virgin Mary and Christ. (Does that make Christ or the Virgin Mary the Unicorn? ;) )

*ahem* Anyway. You're here for the art, not my exposition on the literary history of the Unicorn.

Well, there you have it, boys and girls. It might be a little late (usually I write the draft the night before and schedule it to post early Sunday morning), but I made it. I love doing Artist's Sunday; I find so many new artisans to love, and I love sharing their work with you. <3

Live, Love, and Make Art
-your Artful White Fox

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Artist's Sunday #2: Re-kindling Persephone

Been awhile since the White Fox did Artist's Sunday. The blogging life often gets superseded by other things. The holiday season was... taxing, and time- and energy-consuming. So, apologies, dear readers, but here we go again!

Since childhood, your White Fox has been fascinated by mythology and folktales. My favorite stories to read were the Greek myths of Persephone, Hephaestus, Artemis & Orion, the Graces, the Muses... well, you get the idea. There was a phase of obsession with unicorns - and not fluffycorns, by the way - the old stories, the real stories of unicorns that would rip you open with that horn of theirs unless there was a virginal maiden nearby to calm him. I checked about a dozen old books about unicorns from the library that summer and read, and read, and read... these days, however, I'm convinced the unicorns were just randy old goats...

*ahem* I have always adored and been obsessed with dragons of all shapes and sizes. As I grew, I discovered other mythos - the Celtic stories of the Warrior-Queen of Connacht, Cu Chulainn, the Morrigan, Arawn, Arianrhod, the Cailleach, Cerridwen, Bloduwedd, Rhiannon & Llyr, the Tuatha de Danaan, Lugh... other tales, such as the stories of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, or Amaterasu, or Inari and his kitsune, or the Jade Emperor, ancient /Mesopotamian mythos, such as Inanna, Ishtar & Ereshkigal, Enlil, Gilgamesh & Enkidu (which she's actually been fascinated with because of an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. Extra points if you can name the episode...). The Egyptian mythologies, too, of course... like the story of how the gods had to get Sekhmet drunk on blood-wine to get her to stop taking her job too seriously and slaughtering all the humans. Most recently it's been a fascination with the Phoenix, and re-kindling of Persephone...

This Artist's Sunday is dedicated to Persephone, Queen of the Underworld.

She was born to Zeus and Demeter, and was beautiful, and much-loved by everyone, gods and humans alike. Even Hades could not deny her beauty, and he also loved her, so much that he opened the earth one day and stole her away while she was collecting flowers on the plain of Enna. He was so quick that no one but Zeus and Helios, the all-seeing god of the sun, noticed.

Demeter's heart was broken, and she wandered the earth searching for her daughter, until finally Helios revealed what Hades had done. The grieving mother was so angry that she withdrew herself from the earth, causing the earth to cease to be fertile (fecund...). Zeus took action, knowing that this infertility could not continue, and sent Hermes to Hades, to make the god of the Underworld release Persephone.  Hades agreed, but not before he had given Persephone a pomegranate. Eating from the pomegranate bound her to the Underworld, and she is forever fated to live there for one-third of every year. The rest of the year, she lives with her mother, Demeter, and there is joy and life in the earth.

When Persephone must return to the Underworld, Demeter refuses to let anything grow. This is how winter came to the world.

Some say she loved Hades in return, and ate the pomegranate seeds on purpose, so she could be with him, and Demeter would still allow the earth to grow. Personally, I prefer this version of the tale, but I'm a hopeless old romantic at heart...

And now a little more eye candy for your savoring, before I sign off on this Artist's Sunday:

Live, Love, and Make Art
Ever Yours,
the Artful White Fox

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Foxfire Daily: Documented Life Project, Chapter 2

Week 4: Write a secret message and paint over all but one word.

Ok, so I cheated slightly and painted (colored-penciled) over all but 4 words. But Artistic License is what it's all about, right? And I do love me some artistic license... I look at this and see amateurish work - too many angles combined with the organic look of other parts, crappy color combnations, and let's not even go into the "doodles" on the left-hand side of the page - but then I remind myself that I'm out of practice. And I don't have a lot of materials to work with. The only part of this I'm really pleased with is the message I chose, and the Celtic knotwork at the top of the page. 

 Now, next up, for your perusal... remember those leaves from my last post? With no glue, no fancy-pants gouache or any other such thing, I found some gift-wrap tape at the bottom of a box and went to town. You can barely tell where the edges of the tape are. (I hope.) I'm just glad my Bic markers actually stayed on the tape.

Thirdly, my initial (official) attempt at the Week 5 Doodled Border, which mutated into something with no border as of yet, but... well, see for yourself:

Week 6: Open Your Pinterest Board and be Inspired. The lotus has been blooming in my mind lately, as you can see in this in-progress pic. My inspiration was not any one board or artist, but antique Chinese jade carvings. I actually went a little hog-wild for a couple of days straight, obsessively collecting pictures of various and sundry jade sculptures, urns, jewelry, etc and pinning them to my board. You can see the WIP results:

This last one... the flame and the lotus roots... was in part brought into being due to my uncle's touching tribute to his father, who went on to the Summerlands very recently. He was a sweet, darling man who inspired his sons and was greatly loved. His passing came just after a trip with several family members to Panama, where he had done psychoanalytical work with dreams with a tribal chieftan. The chief actually came from several islands away to visit with this man during the vacation. The photos from the trip were a beautiful tribute to my uncle's father, and such a blessing that he got to have that adventure with his family before taking a path they couldn't follow. May we all be so lucky when it's our time.

Live, Love, and Make Art
Ever Yours,
-the Artful White Fox.