Thursday, January 28, 2010

If your totem is the Rooster....

You are charismatic and flamboyant, with the tendency to be somewhat vain. Wherever you go, you draw the eyes of admirers, but sometimes your rambunctios nature can be rather overwhelming. You like gifts and attention, and often it does not seem like the celebration or occasion cannot begin until you're present.

Element: Sun

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pick-a-theme pieces

Three of the five are done!

Ex-libris Bookplate for Timeinmyhands:

For Itti, the nightingales (real and clockwork) sing a duet - or attempt to. From the fable by Hands Christian Anderson.

And another musical group, this time it's the Musicians of Bremen, although only the rooster is crowing his worth. For CIndyjob. And yes, she spells her name like that too. Even though that WAS a typo on my part!

Alas, I am now left with two to do - one quite easy (zetti birds) the other very tricksy - Goo Goo Doll lyrics. And their lyrics are all airy-fairy metaphors and love stories... I might just go with "...I wanna wake up where you are..." Probably starting Katta as she likes to cameo in my song-inspired cards. And I'm not even particularly fond of the GooGoo Dolls...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roleplaying Geekdom

As you may have noticed, I've been quiet for a few days. Why, you may ask?

I've been away. For a weekend of gaming debauchery (well, does role-playing count?) followed by plenty of exercise walking Wellington and then becoming a feeding platform for Red Pandas.

Those of you interested in my role-playing endeavours - I played a swashbuckling fop in the innapropriately named "Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies" where I neither got in a sword fight nor took to the skies but instead chased clues around a grungy town in which my companions attacked and killed someone before they even knew he was guilty. In another session, I got to play the sensible (disappointingly) human best friend to a girl who fell in love with a faerie in a Twilight-and-all-other-things-popular parody (which was exceedingly fun) and concluded day one with a rather disappointing RPing-game-cum-board-game that I ended up walking out of early so as to play a half-crazy Treespeaker in a live-action RPing game (in which I discovered my long lost brother and didn't get my brain dissected). Day two held rather more promising games in which I played - a cute little girl with her bunny, Berry, who was evacuated with her family and friends during the war and ended up trapped in an ex-soldier's subconscious; a warty white rat and finally a totally kick-as martial artist who wound up with 3 P-kills. That game was awesome!

Anyhow, as you can guess, I have not had a vast amount of time for art.

However, I did finish up my next baby name plate:

I suppose if they really want I can put the other three letters in front. Just realised this cross-posts to my Facebook and the parents of this particular bairn might see it. Oh well... I'm sure they're too busy looking after the wee fellow to look at every single post.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vintage Postal Pets

These original stamps are NZ Health stamps from 1964. I liked the images, so scanned them up from my collection. Printed them out and then recreated them in my style but the original positions etc. I am rather proud with how they turned out.

Little Blue Penguins

Red Billed Gulls

The backing is pretty neat too, as I designed them to look like envelopes.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Doodle Pets!

I recently hosted a Sparklepets swap, where the aim was to draw unnaturally coloured animals. I had 11 participants and all but one came through, despite the proximity to Christmas. Amazingly, the last one came in only 4 days past the official deadline. Thanks to the generosity of my participants, 8/10 actually sent a bonus card, meaning that I did not actually have to contribute anything myself. Instead I rustled up these "doodlepets" for everyone that made me a special card. These are rustled up using a 4-colour neon pen on textured paper. They were actually quite fun.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Recreate a Postage Stamp

I could not really resist joining this swap on ATCs for All. I love postage stamps, and I love recreating art in my style. So I pulled out my photo album from back in the late 80s. Turns out that sucker isn't nearly as acid free as it should be. Some of those nasty stamp hinges have turned yellow and icky (or maybe I was using tape there, towards the end. I know those hinges really did bug me). Anyhow, I've tons and tons of old NZ stamps (and a Vanga one from Madagascar I never realised I had when my Malagasy obsession began). But I wound up using Australian ones for my first two recreations:

Initially I just copied the lineart directly, with the same style. Then I decided that was just kinda sad, flipped over the card and started again, this time using the original poses but doing the faces etc MY way. And I am quite pleased with the result. Although in the USA one, the background colour is all messed up. I've been bad of late at overworking backgrounds.

I am quite proud of how the colours worked out in this one - and the animals look far more in my style than the rather simplistic format of the original pieces. The stamps attached are printed copies, as the originals are slightly wider and I would like to keep them, thank you very much.

The final two cards for this set I may make in my regular Postal Pets style as there are many stamps featuring NZ flora and fauna, including some nicely stylised moths and flutterbies. Or I could make one up with a kiwi and a lemur, but Madagascar has never been particularly linked with New Zealand.

The bottom stamp was available in New Zealand too, just my sample was the Aussie one. Ours was worth 40c cos of the exchange rate.

For Lily

Dropped this off today. I don't think she had in strong opinion on it either way - she was asleep the whole time. But she isn't even a week old yet, so she's excused. I'm sure she'll appreciate it when she's a little older and saying "Lobster doesn't start with Y". It's a Yabby, dear. They're Australian. Yaks (pretty much the only other option that doesn't start with "Yellow" or isn't an obscure water opossum) are too overdone. I suppose I will draw a Yak calf as well, just in case I ever get a child with two "Y"s in their name.

Goodness, I hope there are no names with two "X"s!!

And I'm glad I made some enquiries as to another friend's baby's abbrievated name. Or I would have got it wrong! I suppose I could use his full name, but I don't think 9 letters will fit across the foamboard. The next two I'm doing are six letters long, so it will require some maths to work out what size to print them off at (5 fitted perfectly at 3.5 inches wide).

I might start putting these up on trademe soon as individual letters, coloured according to request (to match gender/room colours). If you are interested in buying one, let me know. Size of individual cards will vary between 2.5 x 3.5 inches (for long names), to 6x4 (for 3-4 letter names). I will charge per letter.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another Name

My mother and I are going to visit my cousin and her 6 (or so) month old son on Monday. So I made him this. The animals are:

L = Lemur
E = Eagle
W = Whale
I = Ibis
S = Sloth

These pieces measure 3.5 x 5 inches (the size of a so-called "maxi ATC") an are made with tombow markers on oilpaint paper, giving them a painted, canvas look. I am not happy with the W. Might have to make it again.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fail - Sloth

This was designed for my cousin's son, Lewis. It's a sloth. But as you see, I've screwed up the colour in the background. Alas, attempts to salvage it failed and I do not consider it suitable for a chidlren's room (too dreary colour-wise). But I wanted to show it off because I know there are some sloth lovers out there and wanted to prove that sometimes I DO make colour mis-judgements.

It's 3.5 x 5 inches - so twice the size of a regular atc.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sneak Peek at my Current Project

It's a gift so I don't want to show the whole thing here yet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Farewell to a Feline Friend

Today I say "goodbye" to a staunch companion and affectionate friend. My parents' beloved feline, Cherub, had become now incurably ill. Today, at 3 pm, she went into her long and final sleep.

When we moved to Christchurch 16 years ago, my parents bought an exotic persian kitten. We named her Cherub, and she was born on the last days of the year. At first, I admit, I was slow to love her. I had already convinced my parents to permit me my own cat, a lanky, peach kitten I had named "Titus". As mum was none to fond of him, I was determined not to show "her" cat any affection either. After all, my moggy was better than her pedigree. With her downturned mouth, and snub-nose, she was not everybodies idea of beautiful. Indeed, she had a perpetually peeved off expression, which did in no way indicate her personality. Cherub proved to both live up to her name and be an instant charmer. It did not take long before I was won over. She was blessed with an endearing nature and she loved to be near people. Whereas Titus spent the days roaming the neighbourhood, invading other people's houses and stealing the occasional sausage, Cherub wanted only to be with us. If you were lying down, she would stretch herself across your neck, resting her head against your cheek. This position put her rumbling purr and tickling whiskers directly beneath one's ear, and even if you could fall asleep in such a pose, there was always the risk that she would suffocate you.

As she grew up and grew older, Cherub began to show the effects of her mutations. Her flattened nose made her breathing wheezy, almost ashmatic and one-by-one her teeth rotted and had to be removed. Still, her sunny disposition remained. She was always quick to forgive it ever you stepped on her paw or tail (she did love to be underfoot) and never once bit. Even when she pawed at you, it was only under the most distressing of situations that she would put her claws out. When she was put into the conservatory ("her" room) at night, she would claw at the door, eager to be in amongst the warmth and affection. If you were posing for a photograph in the garden, it was inadverant that at least one shot would contain her small ginger self curling around your legs.

After I moved out, I saw less of Cherub, and am regretful now that I did not make a point to cuddle or pat her every visit. As the firmest hand in the house, it was my duty to groom her - a process she hated (but sorely needed). This entailed holding her by the scruff of the neck with one hand, whilst using the other to comb the tangles and matts from her pelt. Although not a longhair, her fur was not low maintenance. She would put up with this for a few seconds before slowly starting to resist - digging her claws in, squirming away, or when the stress got too much, mewing piteously. Here was the only time she ever clawed in anger - when I pushed her too far. I was always concerned that she would begin to associate me with this undignified and unpleasant experience, and thus offered her treats at the end of each session. Whether it was this reward or her forgiving personality, I do not know, but she would still trot up to me when I came to call, begging a pat or a tickle.

Cherub passed her 12th year - the expected lifespan of her breed, in good health (despite the lack of teeth). Although not as fast a-paw as once she had been, she still kept Max - the neighbours' ugly grey ex-Tom, on his toes. Although more time was spent lounging in the sun, she would still attempt to help mum with the gardening and could leap up onto the fence with ease to peer down on her domain. It was only into her sixteenth year that she really started to slow down. She spent longer hours sleeping (hard to measure with a cat as that is) and when picked up no longer responded with a headbutt and a nuzzle. Her wheezing breathes seemed shallower and the weight fell off her in droves. She guzzled her food, greedily lapped water, and resembled a fur-covered toastrack. Upon visiting - after not having given her a cuddle for some time, I picked her up and was shocked at how light she had become. It had become difficult for her to balance and she was forced to squat instead of sit. Thus she was taken in for that fateful visit.

The Vet's Verdict was diabetes - an incurable disease in which the body fails to assimilate the food successfully. Thus no matter how much she eats, it was not turned to life-giving energy. It is able to be maintained, but in a cat of Cherub's advanced age, the possible side effects combined with the stress of a daily injection, would likely be too much for her. We made the difficult decision to let her die with dignity. The last few days were hard. I visited more than usual, shedding tears over her fur (and not just because I am allergic to cats) and my parents doted on her - plying her with treats and affection. I hope she remembers us fondly, as she chases butterflies in the Rainbow Lands.

Goodbye Cherub, you are sorely missed.

(For those of you wondering what became of Titus, he was rehomed at 6 years of age when I went to University. I did not have much time for him and he was a cunning beggar who had managed to catch and kill four of our aviary birds. We put an add for him in the BSE that I wrote, starting with "Loveable rogue...". He found a new home in a motel on the outskirts of Christchurch very quickly. I hope he was happy there. I still miss him sometimes, but he was an independent, half wild soul)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The sugarplum Tree

Based on the popular poem by Eugene Field.

This is a 3 card ATC set (scanned before getting the chop). For Faithwalker who sent a lovely ATC gift to my mother before being checked into hospital with kidney failure. So, I hope this cheers her up a bit!

Native Flora

A selection of native New Zealand flora. Firstly - twinchies -

Then a Cobb Gentian -

Thursday, January 7, 2010

More from Aesop's and another Totem

If your Totem is The Domestic Cat
You have found your niche in life and can now lie back and soak up the rewards. Some might consider you lazy, but that's not the case - you may seem laid-back, but if opportunity presents itself, you are always quick to pounce.
Element: Sun

The Monkey and the Dolphin

A monkey worked for the circus and was travelling across the ocean on a ship. A mighty storm struck, and the ship sunk. The monkey was left floating alone in the ocean, struggling to keep his head above the water, when a dolphin came along. As dolphins are honour bound to help drowning humans, she fished him out and tossed him onto her back, before setting out for the nearest shore. But as he enared the coast, the dolphin tried to strike up a conversation of the monkey, asking if he knew a particularly famous landmark. The monkey, assuming this was a person, answered that “yes, he knew them well, and dined with them regularly.”. Realising she had been deceived, and feeling particularly vindictive, the dolphin dipped her head under the water and drowned the poor primate.

Those who pretend to be what they are not, sooner or later, find themselves in deep water

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Aesop's Fables

The Jay and the Peacocks

One day, a Jay decided that it would be a mighty fine idea to fancy himself up. He gathered some discarded tail feathers from the peacock flock and tied them to his own tail, before parading proudly up and down.
"What a fine fellow I am," he crowed.
The peacocks heard and gathered around him, eyeballing him suspiciously. Who was this little imposter who thought himself worth their equal? As one they attacked him, tugging the peacock feathers from the tail and giving him a thorough beating in the process. Dejected and bedraggled, the Jay staggered back to where his fellow jays had been watching. They greeted him with raucous peels of laughter and mocked him:
"It is not only fine feathers that make fine birds."

The Bat and the Weasels

Once a bat fell upon the ground and was pounced upon a weasel.
"Please do not eat me," the bat he begged.
"I must," boosted the weasel, "for I am sworn death to every bird."
"But I am not a bird," the bat besieged, "I am a mouse."
"Oh," said the weasel. "I do not like mice. Their fur sticks in my throat." And with that he let the bat go.
It was not long before again, the poor bat suffered another capture, from a different weasel. Once again, he pleaded for his life.
"Oh but I love mice," the weasel chortled. "So tasty and so sweet."
"I am not a mouse," the bat he begged, "I am a bat. We are not nearly so tasty and our meat is very rank."
The weasel sniffed him and saw that this was true. Disgusted, he rose his paw and let the bat flutter free.
It is wise to turn circumstances to good account.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best of 2009

This is a Meme that was floating around deviantart, but I decided to incorporate it here, I've modified the sizes and fonts to my own tastes, instead of using the original template.

Because this is on a month-by-month basis, some would not normally rank in my top 12 whilst others won against fierce competition.

I wonder what 2010 shall bring?