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Reporting live from my state of mind (includes Illustration Friday contribution)

I spent last evening drawing angry art. I started out copying some LOTR movie orcs as a kind of study for a snarly, monstrous drawing I had in mind I had in my mind, inspired by a Szukalski piece and an unfinished drawing Yonaka showed me. Then I got sidetracked and drew angry self-portraits instead. The one on the right came out pretty close to the way I've been feeling lately - full of pent-up hatred. (Note: It's been a while since my head was last shaved, so I don't actually look like this right now. But the skinhead factor makes these portraits work better.)
This one didn't work quite as well, but is still interesting enough to show here. It's more contemptuous than angry, so it doesn't quite project my mood as well as the first.

I wonder how it would affect people's responses if I used one of these as a message board avatar. People's avatars tend to be either clear fantasies or cute, benign images. Would my postings on message boards be seen as more inflammatory if they were flanked by a portrait of the artist as a man seething with hate?

The pose implied in the first self-portrait, looking over one hunched shoulder, and the bald head, reminded me of the movie Nosferatu, so here's a not-very-good drawing of me as Count Nosfereinder, Eldritch Creature of the Night. While working on these drawings, something happened to my 5B pencil. The lead had got loose in the wooden shaft, causing it to shift inside. In the end, I pulled the lead out and used it like I would a graphite pencil. Without the ability to sharpen reliably, I couldn't get a fine line out of it anymore, which affected the Nosfereinder drawing. Not to blame my tools of course; I deliberately continued with this modified pencil, trying to see what I could do with it. Unfortunately the answer is "not much" especially because a very thin 5B lead is prone to snap.

With those and other drawings (which you won't get to see because they're pretty bad), I got my anger out of my system. Just prior to waking up this morning, I had an odd dream.


I was being shown around a number of places including what looked like the reptile pens at Emmen Zoo, while carrying an over-large guinea pig on my shoulder like one would with a tame rat. Throughout, I was concerned that the guinea pig would try to jump off my shoulder and do a runner (how do rat owners train their beasties to stay with them?) and tried to keep it from doing so, to increasing protests from the guinea pig. Eventually, it let out one cry that I hadn't ever heard a real-life guinea pig utter, and a few minutes later, as we were outside, it jumped off and ran down a canal embankment. Alongside the path of the guinea pig, there was a short flight of stairs, which crumbled and fell into the canal. Some more things happened but by this time I was fading into consciousness.

I was woken up by the radio, remembered to turn the dryer on, and when I did, it went "Bang". I then realised that the reason it had stopped last night wasn't that I'd carelessly turned off the master switch in the shower, and that the "Bang" I'd heard just prior to leaving for the studio wasn't some object falling from the top of the dryer but some important part of the equipment giving the ghost. Damn, this is going to cost me.

Back to the dream. I mentioned this to Yonaka in IRC and she suggested that it meant I needed a mild-mannered companion to show an interest in my doings, or something or someone to care for. Might be, but I'm afraid that a simpler interpretation is that the guinea pig is just another beast on my back, that it represents a part of me I've been too painfully aware of: the part that is useless and a bit stupid and doesn't know what's good for it. Yep, in addition to the seething hate, I also have self-esteem problems.

But sometimes the world is good for me! I only bothered to try to draw the Guinea Pig Dream because I was waiting for Illustration Friday to announce its new theme. While writing this, I checked, and what do you know? The new theme is "Dreams"! So this blog entry will be my first submission for that.


If I'd known, I would have made a more polished one, and maybe generalised it more. Drawing dreams is tricky because the memory of any dream tends to fade quickly after awakening. I tried to show that in the drawing above by not filling in the features of the person showing me around the zoo, but that aspect could have been done better. Hmm. Maybe I'll have another shot.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 26, 2005 3:30 PM.

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