Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween, Carmilla and Special Effects Before CGI and Poe's Birthday

Here's hoping that you are enjoying this most macabre holiday. I personally am glutting myself on junk food and cheesey B rate Horror Movies.

Ever wonder about special effects before CGI, Rick Baker or Stan Winston? Back in the silver era of silent film, Chaney of course reigned as the king of makeup but have you ever seen the artistry of John Barrymore in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? In one single take before the jump cut, Barrymore makes the transition from Jekyll to Hyde without the aid of any makeup simply but contorting his face. The result was rather eerie.

John Barrymore, the great grandfather of Drew Barrymore and brother to Lionel Barrymore was considered in his time to the king of actors yet his addiction to alcohol brought him to ruins and late in his career he was often given over to ridicule, yet his early legacy was only surpassed in later decades by actors like Laurence Oliver.


I have finally finished Carmilla. I learned many lessons from this piece, one being to detail out the sketch before digitally coloring it and another on how to create brushes for Adobe.

I really struggled with this piece, that doesn't mean it hasn't been fun, but at times I ran into so many corners that I had to work out of that I wasn't sure I would finish it at all. Now that it is completed I can move on to the next and I am happy with how it did come out. The words Micalla and Camilla are anagrams for her original name which was Countess Mircalla Karnstein.

Amazon has Carmilla if you are interested in reading the story here.

If you would like to purchase a print of Carmilla, you can do so here. I may offer it soon with a different border.

Happy Birthday Poe

Poe came to live with me in October seven years ago, since then every October I celebrate his birthday on Halloween. This ink pig, who in the beginning could fit in the palm of my hand, has grown huge and has been a constant source of comedy, irritation, manipulation and also affection. I have never owned a male cat before Poe, females are rather demure, well behaved and love attention, the male species however are dramatists, court jesters, highly inquisitive and manipulative.

Poe also has his own vocabulary, a chorus of mews, coos and many other verbs but he can't seem to master consonants but he has little issue getting his point across whether it be food, attention or something he wants. He has also learned how to open doors and many times I have come home to see cat food poured on the floor and Poe sitting in the cupboard with an innocent look. I have since switched to canned food not only because it is healthier for him but also because he hasn't learned to use a can opener yet.

Here is hoping he will be here to celebrate 7 or even more birthdays.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Quick Note...

After my car broke down on the interstate about a month ago I decided that I would finally break down and get a cell phone. My car's alternator decided to give up its ghost and I had to walk two miles to a Homeland to used their payphone which upon arriving, there was none. The clerk informed me since cell phones had become so popular they had removed their payphones but I was allowed to use the store's phone. It was at that point I became resolved to get one.

Being the nerd/geek that I am I shopped about and finally decided on the HTC Evo. The Evo, running on the Android platform, is very customizable so I decided to create a couple of quick wallpapers, not animated, that may come later, because I always like to personalize my stuff. Below are a couple of wallpapers that I created rather quickly. I created brushes in Adobe using Alchemy symbols and a dragon's eye I created sometime ago for a comic book shop that commissioned me to do their web site. The gears are a brush set called SS gears, no I did not created them. The clock face on the second image is one I am working on for a steampunk clock for cafepress. It was a project that I set aside for awhile and may finish soon.

Both images are in the Evo size format if you have an Evo or an android phone, feel free to use them.

Note: I am still hard at work on Carmilla and have learned somethings and ran into a few snags. I am taking a 6 day Sabbatical from work starting this Wed. and hopefully will have something to show as well as more blogs since Halloween is quickly approaching.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ponderings, Musings and Flattery...

Musings and Ponderings

October for me is not only a month of hollowed eyed ghosts and howling, shapeless masses that cling close to the shadows, but also a month of reflection and reassessment creatively. Soon in the next few weeks I intend to revamp my cafepress site, Through a Glass Darkly and rework some of the border work as well as organize it so that items and prints are more easily found. I have neglected the site for over two years and it shows. I am not happy with some of the prints and items, either I have grown a bit more artistically or I feel that my work needs more respect than I have given it and thus needs to presented with more care. I have decided I would rather offer a few good pieces than just fill the site with things I am no longer happy with. It will be a slow process and many pieces will be reworked. I will update as I do changes to the site.


Almost a year ago I finished a piece with pencil on bristol based on the Norse god Odin. I decided to depict him in his hermit guise which he would adopt when walking about humanity and not the typical warrior god on his throne. This aspect of Odin always interested me, with his one eye given up for wisdom and his cronies of ravens that acted as his messengers. Here is the original pencil.

I decided to try my hand at digital coloring and used earth tones primarily creating an almost sepia effect. I use Adobe Photoshop for digital coloring and used a "leaf" brush that comes with the Wacom tablet I have to create a vignette about the central figure. I was pleased with the results and it was one of my better attempts at coloring a piece. Here is the colored version below.

Now I admit that this was one piece that I did on the fly, I liked it well enough for what it was but really never considered it one of my better works and it never fails to surprise me that sometimes people will like works I have done that I myself don't consider as one of my best pieces. Goes to show perhaps an artists is his worst judge. The real surprise came in my email, a young lady, I suspect who abides in France, sent me an email with a picture of the Odin piece that she had tattooed on her back. Now whatever your stance is on tattoos is a personal matter, but I found myself extremely flattered that this young lady would put this piece on her flesh. I mean it is one thing to buy a print or an item like shirt with an image on it, but to put it permanently on your skin for me was the highest form of flattery. So I thought I would share the picture she sent me.

I thought the tattoo artist did justice to the image and retained aspects of my style. I know that had to hurt the young lady as she lay under the needle and I am flattered that she not only chose my piece to adorn her back but also took the time to send me the picture of the results.

Note: Halloween will be here soon, I will blog more creepiness soon. =)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Carmilla, the Lady Vampyre

In 1872 Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu penned the short novel, Carmilla about a female vampire that predated Bram Stoker's Dracula by twenty years or more. The story contains the majority of the vampire lore save that Carmilla would shape shift into a large black cat, not a wolf or bat as Dracula but she did spend her repose in a coffin.

Carmilla hunted primarily female victims and occasionally would emotionally bond with a few, and her real name was Countess Mircalla Karnstein, Carmilla being an anagram for Mircalla. Carmilla has influenced several films, one, And to Die of Pleasure, being the English translation of the French movie Et Mourir de Plaisir, by Roger Vadim in 1960, also known as Blood and Roses, which explored the lesbian undertones of the story. Other movies such as Let's Scare Jessica to Death in the '70s were heavily influenced by Carmilla.

Carmilla recently inspired me to do this sketch. I was walking into the local convenience store on the corner one afternoon and as I entered this tall, dignified woman was entering. I could guess from her complexion that she was of Indian nationality, though whether Creek, Cherokee or what I would be hesitant to guess. What struck me about her was not only her penetrating dark eyed gaze, but her inner sense of regal nobility. She had fine narrow cast features and long silky straight hair tied back and her face haunted me on the way to work.

I couldn't help but think of the novella Carmilla, So I combined the face of that encounter with my fancies about the story of Carmilla and came up with this sketch which I will be turning into a digital painting. It is 2B pencil on bristol with a vellum finish. To my surprise I had forgotten about her shape shifting into a black cat, so the cat is a happy accident. I find I have many of those in my work, perhaps it is my subconscious kicking in overdrive. But in the next week or so I will be working on digitally painting Carmilla.

Thought I would also share what I did for the Halloween Project at work. Below are photos of the endeavor. Now this project was simply for fun, it is actually acrylic painting on cardboard that was coated with black spray paint. I enjoyed doing it and it got me out of my regular duties. =)