Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Month: July 2015 Page 1 of 2

Dragon Variations

I’ve been having a lot of fun with variations on a drawing I first made in the spring of 2014, while I was in California. My original concept was to create a pair of leaping, swooping dragons in mid-flight, who could be positioned intertwining in midair. Here’s my original ink drawing for one of the planned pair:

Yes, this dragon does owe a great deal of its anatomy to my Italian Greyhounds Jake and Brenna. I’d had to leave them at home when I was in California, and apparently I was missing them even more than I thought i was. 🙂

My “iggies”–Jake and Brenna. More inspirational than I guessed?

When I began to work with the drawing again after my return to Kansas, my Adobe Illustrator software developed a glitch, and for a while I couldn’t use it. So I began to play with the basic line drawing as a base, and applied color with my Prismacolor pencils. The first variation I finished was Blue Pounce. I framed it and sold it in January.

Blue Pounce, 2014, by Jan S. Gephardt

After Blue Pounce I made smaller-sized versions of the basic drawing, and experimented with different color variations. This led to a series of Leapin’ (Fire) Lizard images, which I framed in 5X7″ shadowboxes and have exhibited this summer at the science fiction conventions ConQuesT 46 (Kansas City in May) and SoonerCon 24 (Oklahoma City in June).

Three of the Leapin’ (Fire) Lizard variations: Orange, Green and Violet.

I also created a slightly larger variation and titled it Red Fire Lizard. I sold it at ConQuesT, along with two of the Leapin’ variations. 

This is Red Fire Lizard, 2015, by Jan S. Gephardt. Photo shot through frame glass, hence the reflections–but I sold it sooner than expected! 🙂 

But after the basic color studies, I wanted to experiment with different “markings.” I (loosely) based the two most recent pieces on color-patterns found in Koi fish. I’ve always loved those members of the carp family, and have planned to do some kind of paper sculpture based on them. You might remember a much earlier experiment, described on my Artdog Observations Blog in 2011. 

This is a 2010 paper sculpture koi, part of a piece I never finished.

Here’s how I “revisited” the idea of artwork based on koi, in my most recent dragons:

This is my work-in-progress, Showa Dragon, along with examples of “showa” koi patterns at left.
I finished and framed Aka-Bekko Dragon, 2015, and exhibited it for the first time at SoonerCon 24. At right is an example of the “aka-bekko” koi marking.

You’ll note I still haven’t created the “other dragon” of the originally-proposed, intertwined pair. Stay tuned for more variations on this theme.

IMAGES: All images except the two koi photos are my own work. All rights are reserved, but you may reblog any of them if you don’t alter the images and include an attribution and link back to this post. 
I originally collected the two koi photos in 2010 or 2011, and since they were downloaded as resource images for my own personal use I did not note the source URLs. I have repeatedly attempted reverse-image searches, but I regret I have been unable to find them online. 
Since these were the resource images on which I based my dragons, I have reproduced them in the interest of an accurate record, hoping this constitutes “fair use.” 
If these images are yours, I regret I was unable to find your website–and I’ll be delighted to give you credit, if you’ll please contact me through this blog.

Artdog Quote of the Week: Value of Art

Pretty valuable, I’d say . . .

IMAGE: Once again, our thanks go out to the Dump a Day Blog.

Artdog Image of Interest: WARNING! Hot car DANGER!

It’s mid-July, friends. Most of our days in North America are WAY hotter than 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

Please share this image with everyone you know!

I hope it goes without saying this also applies for all other life-forms, too, including Baby, Grandma, and the crickets you bought to feed the gecko!

IMAGE: Many thanks for this timely image, to the Kicks 101.5 Facebook Page!

Late Notice–St Tammany Art Association 50th National Annual Juried Show includes my artwork

I have no excuses–I’ve been remiss. But I still want to very much thank the St. Tammany Art Association, and their highly perceptive 2015 juror, Don Marshall, for including me in the 50th National Juried Artists Exhibition!

They chose my paper sculpture, Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy-Light Cycle for the show, which is their current exhibit. The show runs through August 8.

Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy–Light Cycle is on display at the St. Tammany Art Association’s show.

If you are in the Covington, Louisiana area, please stop by! The St. Tammany Art Association Art House is a center of culture in Covington, and home to many events throughout the year.

A local artist (not named! Sorry!) paints the STAA Art House, home of the Summer Show.

Keeping it interesting all the way till the end, the Association has scheduled a closing Gallery Talk, featuring juror Don Marshall and some of the exhibiting artists, on the final day of the show, August 8, 2015, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Don Marshall, Executive Director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Foundation, was the juror for the STAA Summer Show. He will be among the speakers at the Gallery Talk that closes the show August 8.

Congratulations to all of my fellow exhibitors, and many thanks to Don Marshall and the St. Tammany Art Association!

IMAGES: The graphic banner for the show is courtesy of the Covington Weekly. The photo of Nine-Part Herbal Fantasy–Light Cycle was taken by me. You are welcome to reblog the image without alteration, and with an attribution and a link back to this post. The photo of the unidentified painter outside the STAA Art House is from the Louisiana’s Northshore website, and the photo of Don Marshall is courtesy of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Many thanks to all!

Artdog Quote of the Week: What are You Looking For?

So . . . What do you expect to find?
IMAGE: Many thanks to the Dump A Day Blog.

Voice Actor Tribute: James Garner

Voices touch our lives in ways we may not even realize. For many of my friends, this is one of the voices of their childhood.

Gone a year. Still not forgotten.

IMAGE CREDIT: Many thanks to Sheila M. Gagne for this tribute collage. See more of her work on her Facebook Page. Thanks also to Ty’s Shufflings, for alerting me to this material.

Artdog Images of Interest: Cautionary Tales from Environmentally-Interactive Street Art

I’ve been running an ongoing series of “Images of Interest” featuring environmentally-interactive street art. Today’s collection passes along some cautions!

What Happens When We Smoke, by 6Emeia
A Very Sad World, by OakOak
Stain, by Pejac

IMAGES: Many thanks to Wondermika for a blog post that actually attributes the art! Also to 6Emeia, OakOak, and Pejac for their creative visions.

Dive! Dive! Dive! Ever-Deeper POV?

I don’t normally discuss technical aspects of fiction-writing on this blog, because it usually features a more general look at living the creative life. Also because lots of other blogs do address these topics well.
But today I want to address a mix of current trends I haven’t yet seen addressed together. Be warned: this post gets hip-deep into writing technique. If that’s not your bag, I apologize . . . and I have an Artdog “Images of Interest” post coming Saturday, that you may enjoy more.
Diving deep into character Point of View is a challenge.
Still with me? Then let’s talk about “deep point of view.” If you’re new to writing or you’re a writer who’s been living in a cave (i.e., not looking at any writing websites, reading any writing books, or talking to other writers) for the last couple of decades, you may ask, “What is deep POV?”
Basically, it’s a contemporary writing trend in which the writer attempts to remove as many “filters” between the reader and the world of the viewpoint character as possible. The goal is to create more immediate, effective, and vivid fiction.
If you aren’t sure what techniques work best, here are Kristen Lamb, Beth Hill, and Susan Dennard, with helpful guidance.
Grappling with how to improve my own fiction.
If you do know what I’m talking about, then you’re probably a writer who’s been grappling with questions of how best to manage deep POV in your own fiction.
But how deep is “deep enough”? Will third-person be immediate enough, or does it need to be first-person? Not necessarily.
Is “narrative past tense” immediate enough, or should it be written in the present tense? Again, that depends.
What about first-person present tense? Is THAT “immediate” enough?
What? A story—heck, a novel written in first-person present tense? Could that work?
Well, some writers actually are making it work.
Linda Castillo makes first-person-present-tense work for her.
I just finished reading the first three novels of LindaCastillo’s “Amish” mysteries, set in Ohio’s Amish country. Not all of her viewpoints are written in first-person-present-tense, but in the viewpoint of her protagonist Police Chief Kate Burkholder, she uses it to surprisingly good effect. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a potential tool in the kit. Gimmick? Hmm. Time will tell.
But wait! There’s more. Today’s post was sparked by an article, “Reader is My Copilot,” in the most recent Writer’s Digest (Yes, it’s July as I write this, but the cover date is September 2015. Ah, publishing!).
Marie Lamba, author and agent
In the article, author and literary agent Marie Lamba outlines tips for bringing the reader in on the creation process. As she puts it: “Readers have in their minds a seemingly endless library of common images and related sensory memories . . . . Common images and impressions should be an important part of your writer’s toolkit.”
Then she goes on to encourage writers to use strategicbut minimal description to activate those impressions in readers’ minds, and then get out of their way.
In other words, don’t overwrite. Instead, let readers visualize their own setting, character, etc., for optimal vividness and immediacy. Since it’s WD, she outlines the technique and gives illustrative examples to help clarify what she means.
Have we now reached the “event horizon” of just how deep and immediate written prose fiction can possibly get? Are these concepts of immediacy and deep POV bringing us techniques for the ages—or are they the passing fads of the moment, that will identify for future literary scholars, “Ah, this was written in the early twenty-first century”?

How engaged are YOUR readers?
Depends on how well it serves the reader’s engagement in the story—and on how many authors can get it to work for them. Stay tuned.

IMAGES: I am grateful to all of the following! 
The underwater cave photo shows “Diving at Mount Gambier, South Australia,” on the Moray Dive Gear website’s blog post “21 Spectacularly Beautiful Underwater Caves to Scuba Dive.” 
The image of my hand on the keyboard of my computer was taken by me, using my other hand to clumsily wield my iPhone. 
The images of the first three books in the Linda Castillo “Amish crime thriller series” are from Castillo’s website
The photo of Marie Lamba is from her website’s “About” page
And the visual pun of the engaged couple engaged in their reading is from Meg Perotti’s blog—announcing the engagement of her friends Rosemary and Chris, who appear to be quite the bibliophiles (and we wish them all the best!).

Artdog Quote of the Week: The Value of a Moment

This certainly has been true for me.

Cherish the moments and people in your life.

IMAGE: Thanks to the Dump a Day blog!

Artdog Images of Interest: More Environmentally-Interactive Street Art

Three Saturdays ago, I posted images of “environmentally interactive” street art created by an artist called OakOak. Here’s a small collection of other pieces that play with their surroundings in similar ways.

Boy with Flags, by the ever-popular Banksy.
The Straw, by Mentalgassi
Sum Times, by Aakash Nihalani
Who Left These Glasses Here? by P183
Seeder, by Morfai, in the daylight
Seeder, by Morfai, when the spotlight is on at night.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Wondermika, for leading me to these artists’ websites themselves, instead of taking the easy way out and just swiping their work! And many thanks also to Banksy, Mentalgassi, Aakash Nihalani, P183, and Morfai, for their creative vision!

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