Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Shadowscapes Tarot Major Arcana and Sketchbook

A little something that I had been working on the side with a few months ago (before convention-print-matting temporarily took over my life). The border drawings I did earlier this year were a bit of a sneak peak to this project. I was being secretive about it before because I wasn't quite sure if I'd manage to get it all pulled together. But the proof arrived from my printer (after yet another song and dance number fiasco with FedEx *growl*) yesterday and I'm quite happy with how it looks. I went with an offset printer (instead of digital on demand) for this because it's in full color and hardback.

Hardcover with dust jacket, 96 pages, full color, 8x11 inches. Each of the 22 trump cards, along with text to accompany the images and ink illustrations created especially for this book. Followed by sketches of the development of each piece and insights into the symbols depicted, inspirations, and the lore behind them.

I'm expecting the book to be available in about 6 weeks. This is a Shadowscapes exclusive, not available from anywhere else, and a nice companion to the deck that Llewellyn will be releasing next year. Which by the way they have started production on at last yay! I'll be sure to update when I hear more news about the official release date. Oh, another spot of good news on the deck though - Llewellyn has heard all the pleas (most especially from those at the Aeclectic Tarot forums, but I also conveyed the many comments regarding the issue that I got in emails) and will be going with absolute minimum borders for the cards. Only enough for the name of the card at the bottom was what I was told.

I'll start taking pre-orders for this book on the site in a couple of weeks. Price is still to be determined.

Here's a preview of a bit of it!

(Thanks Yeechi and John for proof-reading!)


Back from Comic-con! Happy to be home, but once again, I seem to have caught my yearly summer-convention-cold. Such large crowds of people seem to make it inevitable for me. It's a rather sniffly/sneezy homecoming as a result.

Shared booth space with my artist friend Sandra Santara. I have to say that the nice booth setup was entirely thanks to her, as she brought all the carpet panels for hanging our art up on, as well as all the lighting. My usual convention setup is more sparse than this. It was one of the few occasions I had to bring framed originals with me as well, since I drove the 8 hours south to San Diego with my brother this time, rather than flying as I normally do for Gencon and Dragoncon.

* * *
A snapshot of a quick drawing I did one evening in a friend's sketchbook while hanging out at the Westin. I had left my own notebooks and things back at the hotel room, and with a room full of artists sketching away, I needed something to do to keep my hands busy. And since Allen is a goober and takes 3 years ever to scan any drawings I ever give him at shows, I took a bad photo of it.

* * *
At every show, there's always busy times when I can't seem to pull prints out fast enough or answer the 4 questions that are shot my way at once; and then there are the quiet lulls where you wonder where everyone suddenly vanished off to and whether those garlic pita chips were perhaps perfuming the air around you.

I like to dig out my pens and work on ink drawings during the quiet spells. Once upon a time when I first started going to conventions I would actually bring paintings to work on, but I find now that those are too distracting to start and stop constantly. And having to worry about not spilling the water cup is an extra annoyance (especially so in a situation like Sandra and I had at this show where we were crowded so close we were practically in each others' laps!) Ink is nice and easy to pick up when I have the time, and set aside when necessary.

Inspired by a banyan tree I saw recently on my Maui trip whose roots were tangled around a large boulder (which we dubbed "the big ole' tree ball") I scribbled a quick sketch and worked on this for the first couple of days. There's almost a meditative quality about working on detailed line textures.
7x11 inches
brown hi-tec-c gel pen on bristol board

* * *
And then when that was done and I got tired of twiddling my fingers, I pulled out another sheet and started with some random lines. They quickly resolved into nautiluses, a few photos of which I found floating in my digital camera, which conveniently was on hand. Perhaps a bit of Cthulu inspiration as well. Hard to go to a con and not see something Cthulu. Or perhaps it was just spirals on the mind.

7x11 inches
black hi-tec-c gel pen on bristol board

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Morning at Golden Gate Park

Set off this morning for Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Tried to make it early as it is Saturday, and as soon as the sun peeks out from behind the ever-present clouds in the sunset district, the park rapidly becomes very busy. When I got there the roads were still empty, and the only company I had were the hordes of early joggers making their rounds along the paths.

My brother and his wife were meeting me around noon to see the King Tutankhamun exhibit that is showing at the De Young Museum. Which left me a couple of hours of prowling the park on my own. I'd been wanting to take my sketchbook out there for a while, so it was a perfect opportunity.

It was misty when I arrived. The not-too-distant hills were half-obscured by the low-lying clouds, with only a few taller trees peeking out above the gray haze. A bit of damp to the air as well. Somewhere up above I heard a hawk screaming, and when I looked up I saw it glide through the air above my head to perch on a nearby branch. I watched it for a while, and it watched some distant bird. And then I blinked, and it was gone.

The plaza near the museum and the Academy of Sciences had clusters of early morning Tai-Chi practitioners greeting the day. And beyond them by the fountains the artists were setting up their booths for anticipated Saturday park-goers.

The sound of drumming drew me near the stage, where a small knot of people were gathered. Turned out to be a Chinese lion dancing class.
A great chance to do some gesture drawing, recording the mental impressions of constantly moving poses. Lion dancers were perfect for this, as their movements are very striking, and though it can be fluid, there is also that feeling of each motion being frozen for a split second before moving on to the next series of actions. Something one of my flamenco teachers once said about dancing was to try and think about each accented movement as being for a snapshot photo. That's what these lion dancers were like too. Stalking prowling steps - snap. Rearing up to roar - snap. Stretch out low - snap.

Time had passed rather quickly, and it was approaching noon. Made my way over to our meeting spot, and settled down at the sculpture garden outside the museum.
Unfortunately didn't get a chance to do much sketching once we were inside the exhibit, as the crowds and dim lighting were not so conductive to drawing. "Well what did you expect?" Dana snorted when I commented upon returning home about the crowds. "King Tut's the Sting of Ancient Egypt. Everyone's heard of him!!!"

Thursday, July 16, 2009

(Semi) Old Pieces Posted to Etsy

Nearly done packing for Comic-con, and matting pieces for Dragoncon mail-in. What a relief. Prepping for the bigger shows is always several day's work of going through my inventory, figuring out what I need to re-order from my suppliers, figuring which and how many of each print to bring along, and just general chaos in the house as I sort everything out into large piles near the front door (for my husband to trip over as he comes home at night). I've managed to streamline things a bit over the years. Inventory of prints is much easier now than it was in my disorganized early days of con-going. (Simply alphabetizing my stock was a huge improvement.)

Found a box of some matted pieces in the garage while sorting out what to bring to Comic-con. I do seem to find a lot of unexpected treasures in the garage huh? Think what I'd discover if I'd lived here for longer than two years! Surprises: the rewards for a scatterbrain.

Anyway, they're mostly little pieces. Not that old, just 2-4 years maybe. Posted them up on etsy for those who might be interested.

* 3 original watercolors, from Dreamscapes
* 7 original ink drawings, from because-I-feel-like-it

Step this way to see the rest of them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mat Board Larceny

After matting for a week, I found myself pulling the last sheet of board from under the bed. Time to re-order. Hopped online to my usual art supply websites and was about to place an order when I realized it would arrive too late, since I'm leaving for Comic-con on Tuesday. No matter, I could get a sheet or two from local stores. It couldn't be that much more expensive than the $5.60 per sheet that I get online right?

An hour later I'm at Aaron Bros. frame shop, picking up a few frames that I needed for the shows as well. I got distracted by the friendly fellow at the counter as he started talking about painting with watercolors on canvas. Sounded like an interesting prospect. At the checkout, I remembered I needed two sheets of mat board, and belatedly asked about it. "It's $12.50 per sheet," he said.

I winced. Well, I was already checking out, and I could maybe find some cheaper elsewhere. "Nevermind that for now," I said, and he rung up the frames for me.

I swung by Michael's later. Marched to the framing department in the back. "Do you sell uncut mat board?" I asked.

The young man there scratched his head for a moment, then said, "Yeah I think we do," and offered me the array of colors to chose from. After I repeatedly attempted to select a color only to have him look in back and tell me, "We don't have that one," I finally said, "Well, do you have anything purple?" he comes back with a lilac sheet that would do nicely.

"I'll take it," I told him, not even asking the cost.

He started to punch in arcane codes into the computer to get the price. "I think this should be about $16.00 or so per sheet," he mumbled, fingers busy at the keyboard. I winced a bit harder. But at this point I was willing to just take it anyway. After several minutes he said, "Oh sorry, I was wrong, it's not $16.00." Ah good, I thought, that did seem rather pricey. "It's $35.00 per sheet."

My jaw dropped at that, and I couldn't help laughing out loud. "Are you sure you're looking at the right thing?" He turned the monitor out so I could view it. I laughed again, then told him, "I don't need it that badly!"

* * *

Well after those adventures, I headed home, and did eventually manage to scrounge up a scrap sheet just barely big enough for my needs.

And by the way, MisterArt.com for mat board.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Madly Matting

Past few days have been spent doing one of my least favorite things -- matting. Lug out the heavy mat cutter from its storage in the closet, dig out the sheets of mat board from behind the piano where they spend most of their time serving as sound dampeners (piano in a mostly empty, hardwood floor room is loud!), and set about measuring and cutting. Preparation for Dragon*con, though unfortunately I will miss actually attending that one in person this year! But I will be at both Comic-con (next week), and Gencon (next month).

Though I hate the mat cutting part, what is a little bit more fun is what I do after I've cut them. For convention auctions, I like to do a bit of custom ink art on the borders to make each piece unique. Here's a couple that were just finished today:

Upcoming Appearances:
Shadowscapes will be at San Diego Comic-Con from July 23-26. Look for me at booth #4813, listed under Ruth Thompson's Tarnished Images. If you have any requests for books/originals/prints that you would like me to bring to the show, now is the time to ask for it. Feel free to drop me a note with your requests.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dreamscapes 2 cover

My editor sent this to me today: a preview of the cover. Finished the final chapters last week and sent the manuscript off. So now it's just the long wait for the publishing wheels to get things going (I hate the waiting!) It should be out sometime early next year; I'll let you guys know if I hear any more specific date.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Between the Seams

13.5x17.5 inches

The Green Faerie lurks;
she hides in a dream -
her voice slips between
in and out of life's seams.
She hovers in edges
of shadows and light;
she beckons from doorways
and revels in night.

The Green Faerie asks,
"What do you desire
with deepest heart's longing
and soul-burning fire?"
She smiles as she offers
a spidery thin hand
and a cup: brim-filled
brew from her distant Green land.

The Green Faerie tempts,
"Just one sip. Just one taste!"
Knowing full well
with what dusts its been laced:
honey sweet brew
that hides in a dream
to slips down between
in and out of life's seams.

* * *

Some "in progress" shots of this painting as I went:

It started with Amy Brown asking if I'd like to join her and Jessica Galbreth for their monthly "Enchanted Visions" project, where they would pick a title and then go off and see what they'd each come up with. I'd expressed interest in joining them, since it sounded like fun. So June was "The Green Faery".

The little poem came to me one night before falling asleep, even before the image. What other things did that title conjure up in my head? Thoughts of absinthe (a tincture of wormwood), which is sometimes called "la fée verte" and was a popular spirit for writers and artists to partake of in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They claimed a dark inspiriation when in its grips, tied to a strange clarity of vision.

Dug up a sketch that I had done nearly 3 years ago. I always liked her, but just couldn't figure out who she was. Decided to try and play with it and see what I could do. She needed some revisions though...she looked too gentle, most definitely not a lurker, or a creature of shadows. And I knew I wanted eye contact. Deep green eyes to entice. And the orb, not quite fitting either. So with those revisions in mind, the second sketch. But that just seemed to completely lose all of which I liked about the initial drawing. Erased. Stared at it in frustration. Tossed it. Grabbed it back and scribbled more, erased more. Finally put that one aside as a lost cause, and tried again. I liked the result this time.

Next comes thumbnails for the composition. This came fairly quickly after the difficulties of the initial figure's sketch, which was a relief.

As did the rest of the painting.
Seeing as this is a personal piece, it's a change of pace from commissioned paintings because I can be more unplanned about aspects of it (composition and color) and can just let myself be guided by whatever impulse takes me. The explosion of her skirt into a flock of birds was particularly fun, as I was able to just let the irregularities of the paint texture dictate how my imagination would form the flock.
Also, since this is not a Dreamscapes piece, I'm free to use my less standard pigments , i.e. my new paints from Kremer!

Told you I was stuck on greens though....

Friday, July 3, 2009

Conversations in the Woods (and at Night)

"Conversations in the Woods"
8.5x11.5 inches

The Dragon Beign and O meeting in the woods for the first time. Cover piece for a poem-story by Mary L Riggs. Looks like I'm stuck on greens these days. Must be residual Hawaii.

Coming home from there to California though, I notice something about my own very green surroundings. There is a very different quality to it. While Hawaii is vibrant, shiny, yellowish-bright-sap-greens, California is more muted -- beautifully soothing viridian-blue-green. Damp tropical scents are replaced by the spicy aromas of redwood forests.

There's one path in Muir Woods (where Dana proposed to me) that I call "the Cinnamon flavored trail" because as you hike up the hill the crimson-barked manzinita, the towering old redwoods, and twisted oak trees combine just so to make a cinnamon smell.

* * *
Twice while in Hawaii I leapt up from a IMAX 3-D view nightmare of spiders. The first time, I jumped out of bed, the albino white spider as large as my hand staring evilly at me.

me: There's a giant white spider on the pillow!!!! (Standing next to the bed at this point, with the lamp on)
dana: (Who's used to these nocturnal outbursts from me, usually in reference to mosquitoes that he is then charged to kill. He looks up groggily) Hm? Where?
me: On the pillow!!! (Pointing)
dana: Honey, there's no spider.
Also, if there was a spider, how could you tell it was white in the dark?
me: (Damn logic...) Oh. Yeah. Right. Must have been a dream. (Climbing back into bed. A bit reluctant. Because damn it, no matter what he says, and what my logical awake-brain is telling me, I KNOW there was a giant white spider dripping venom there a moment ago!)

We didn't see any spiders there. Here back at home in Oakland though we actually do have some monstrous sized arachnids! Ironically I never have spider nightmares here.