Interlude (II)

The final bear. Next, we return to our regularly scheduled trolls.


Interlude (I)

I was doodling a bear (obviously a motif that's on my mind lately) and when it was done I was really pleased with it. Here it is, in its original notebook paper form:
Really rough, of course, and he has three hands, but I liked it. Usually, I'd slap this on a light table and do a tight tracing of it, but I liked the sketchiness of it – made it look more furry to me, somehow. So instead of re-doing it, I took it into PhotoShop, and:
Still sketchy, but at least with the right amount of hands. So then I took it to rough color:
Needs more work, but getting out the watercolors for some fun fluff is good practice for the big troll drawing I'm about to start (it's transferred to watercolor paper at this point, so ready to roll). I'll put the final of this on as well when I finish, but that'll take a bit longer than these first quick steps.


Coming Along

Brought it to the marker comp stage. Now that takes me back to art school – haven't done marker comps forever. Haven't done grayscale images for about that long too, which is why I figured I'd better take a practice run before starting to paint. Pretty pleased with it though, so it's on to the final painting.


Well, that turned out radically different

When I posted the first version of this, I mentioned that I might change the position of the bear and the boy a tad. Instead, I completely re-did it. I got here after about half a dozen different comps (if I can get them in any sort of shape I'll post them too, but right now they look like blobs on paper, as I was trying to work out the composition).

The next step is to bring it to finish. It'll be in gray tones, instead of color, since it's an interior illustration for the book I'm working on, and in those books the illustrations are always black and white. I'll put it up again either when I'm stuck trying to figure out what to do with it, or when it's finished. Hopefully the second.


Mother's Day Revisited

Here's the Mother's Day card I drew for my wife. Why I would draw this probably needs a little explanation.

The kids all love to play Jack and the Beanstalk. The stairs are the beanstalk and the rooms upstairs are the giant's castle. The giant – that is, me – has to pretend to sleep while guarding a golden chicken, which Jack comes to steal (in actuality, it's a chicken that lays golden eggs. However, we don't have anything that lays golden eggs, or even a chicken, as the part of the chicken is played by a rubber duck. But you work with what you have).

The only problem is that everyone wants to be the giant. You go upstairs, pretend to sleep, and when someone steals the golden chicken you jump up and chase them all over the place. So all three kids want to be the little giants that help the big giant catch that nasty thieving Jack.

So – you guessed it – the part of Jack is inevitably played by my wife (I guess the feminine form would be Jackie and the Beanstalk).

On a side note, the whole game started when my daughter did play Jack, and cut down the stairs, er, beanstalk. Then my son said "tape tape tape," meaning he taped the beanstalk back together so I could keep chasing her. I called him the little giant for helping me and the whole thing just escalated from there.


More Bear's Son Art

Now that I've finished writing the Bear's Son story, I can work on sketches of scenes that are actually in the book. In this one, the Bear's Son and Bear Cub come face to face with a troll.

I love trolls for children's stories. They're tough enough to rip cars in two, but fragile enough to turn to stone if they're exposed to sunlight. So you either have to be a superhero to take one on in a fair fight, or a five-year-old clever enough to trick one out into the sunshine. No end of possibilities for little kids to be heroes.

I compromise in my story – the Bear's Son is phenomenally strong, so he just picks the troll up and tosses it out into the sunlight.

Here's the sketch – I'm happy with the troll but the composition of the other figures and the trees seems to need a bit of work. There may be a bit of change as this gets closer to a finish.


More About the Bear's Son

One reason why I was interested in the Bear's Son story (other than being a HUGE myth geek) is that I had a story in mind that would involve a really strong guy who was raised by bears. I've now written it as a chapter book (and re-written it, thanks to input from my wife and my writer's group). As it turns out, it too is nothing like the actual Bear's Son story either, but that's a good thing in it's own way. No need to do another fairy tale re-write - time to write something new.

If all goes well, I'll find a literary agent for it, but until then I'd like to keep sketching scenes from it to send along with the manuscript.

If there's any interest, I'll post the first chapter on here. But first, here are a couple sketches that were very helpful in writing the story.

This first one is the big climax of the story - the Bear's Son (here named Rob) and his brother taking on the North Star (don't worry - no actual stars were harmed in the creation of this piece).

It really helps me in writing to draw things out first. I had initially meant the North Star to be some big buff guy, but in drawing this I realized that a young boy, no matter how strong, couldn't actually wrap his arms around someone that large. So I had to make the North Star tall and skinny, which actually worked out better for the story.

This one is from the beginning of the story (no actual cows were harmed in the creation... you get the idea). I wanted to show him doing something that required a lot of strength, and cow juggling seemed to fit the bill.

Unfortunately, neither scene made it as is into the final manuscript - but it did give me a lot of inspiration while writing it. I plan to do a drawing of a scene that actually is in the book, which I'll post when it gets at least as far as sketch form.


Cinderella Stories vs. the actual Cinderella

While I'm on the subject of the Three Stolen Princesses, I've been reading Jack ZipesVictorian Fairy Tales. In it is a version of Cinderella by Anne Isabella Ritchie that not only tells the usual story, but also adds how the stepmother managed to hook up with Cinderella's father in the first place.

Which made me realize that the stepmother's story would, as the term is usually used, be considered a Cinderella story. Here you have someone as down as you can be - a woman used to the good life, who's lost it all. No husband, no prospects, two daughters to care for. Suddenly, Mr. Rich comes in and marries her! A real rags-to-riches fairy tale.

Except, of course, that it isn't. Any benefit she might have gotten from her fairy tale ending vanishes due to her harshness and self-interest, without any real need for acting so. After all, she does have a husband who loves her enough to apparently forget about his own daughter, so why should Cinderella be seen as a threat? In contrast, Cinderella has every reason to despise her stepmother and stepsisters, and yet refuses to do so. She won't even stoop to dressing her stepsisters badly for the ball they've forbidden her to attend. Or, as Perrault puts it: "Anyone but Cinderella would have dressed their heads awry, but she was very good, and dressed them perfectly well." (trans. Andrew Lang; see http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/cinderella/index.html) The big difference between Cinderella and her stepmother is not their circumstances and their rise to happiness - which in many ways aren't all that different - but how they see the world, and treat others in it.

In this light, a Cinderella story really shouldn't be considered one where something unexpectedly good happens to someone. It should be one where things happen to someone who is unexpectedly good.