Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back to the easel

For some reason, I'm on a painting kick. When this happens, one must not fight it!

These paintings, while still consisting of chicks, makes a new direction that, frankly, scares the bejeebus out of me. I am painting fictional characters. MY fictional characters.

One of my long-term goals in life is to get my act together as a writer. I have stories of all sorts in my head - even in several formats! I have movies, novels, short story collections, graphic novels, plays and TV shows all bouncing about inside my brain. (Oh, and a comic strip, but you might have known that already.) Scariest part: If given the chance, I could tell you everything about them. My problem is that I never learned how to write. In hindsight, it makes sense due to my broken brain - but even with medication the best I can do is write a few pages before I wander off to pace around the room/yard/whatever. My writing folder is filled with documents that are a page and a half (10-point font, single spaced) and often end mid-sentence. How pathetic is that?

I'm a verbal creator. I talk to myself as I pace. I work things out this way. When I sit in front of a computer, the best I can do is throw out whatever I have on the surface-level of my brain and write until something distracts me. (Sometimes, like in this post, I write my distraction and hope the point eventually gets in there.) The problem isn't the same with art, as I am free to get up and bounce around the room as I work. I can flip the canvas/paper, move myself around to work from a different angle or even sprint around the studio to get out excess energy - while keeping my work in the corner of my eye. Writing is...sitting down and just writing. Weird.

Let me tell you that these posts often go through several revisions. (You'll when I *don't* go back to revise because the post is full of typos and makes little sense.) The joy of blogger is that editing doesn't show in the timestamp. Woohoo! Also, blogs tend to favor unfocused rambling. You'll note everything I've written outside of the first four sentences was not something I intended to write. I do this all the time. Only sometimes do I have the proper sense of shame to make me delete the blather.

Anyway! With me and writing, I know my stories inside and out. My tendency is to juggle several fully-formed characters, allowing their personalities to move the plot. This means that, if allowed, I can talk for HOURS on end about some hundred or so characters. Yeah.

My grand piece of writing is my most ambitious: Maquette, a story I call my opera! The characters in the paint sketches below all hail from Maquette. While they will hardly be definitive portraits - as with my painting the style is the main thing - I will do my best to capture what I can of these gals. It's weird to not that the first two characters I decided to take on are both noted for having physical abnormalities. Guess I just like to make things hard for myself.

You can also see more of how my paintings develop, as each painting is at a different stage. The first has had three passes to start figuring out the details. The second is on its second pass, starting to tweak the weakness from the initial sketch. It's still raw as hell and makes me cringe to share it. The last is the very first pass, showing how awkward and awful these things can look when I start 'em. You know what, I'm not going to show that last painting! It's not looking good, it may be scrapped, the character isn't a physical freak like the other two and - most importantly - showing that this character exists would be a *major* spoiler for my story. Those close to me already know the gal, but I have to think of future readers here.

This is Annelise Ellen Rose. Yes, she *does* introduce herself to people using her full name. In her defense, the Rose surname in insanely common in her area. She lives in the city of Rostelmain, in the territory of the same name. Rostelmain's name came from the merging of three towns: Tellersburg, Main Crossing and Roseton. A third of the territory is called Roseland. If you're a Rose - heh, A. Rose - you've got to do *something* to be memorable!

As noted several months ago on this blog (I'm sure you remember) I always want to put librarians into my stories. Annelise is my librarian on steroids - she runs the Maquette Archives, home of just about every bit of information the land has to offer.

Increasing the pressure: She's one of my all-time favorite characters. The woman is a force of nature. She is aggressive, ambitious and unrelenting in her pursuits - with a sharp sense of humor and no patience for weakness. When describing her personality, most characters would liken her to a wild animal. One would think a fox would appropriate, given that she's a striking redhead - but the general consensus is that a more vicious class of wild dog is needed. You know, she's a bitch. I love her. Underneath her tough exterior, she's... well, she's still a bitch - But a complex and deep character nonetheless!

Annelise is loosely modeled on Julianne Moore with a heavy dose of Kate Walsh. (I imagine Annelise speaking with the same cadence as Walsh's Addison on Grey's Anatomy.) As for the aforementioned physical abnormalities, the common description of Annelise is that every physical attribute of hers is out of proportion - but since it's all out of whack it somehow evens out! She has a slightly larger frame than normal women - just enough to be noticeable - with a strong bone structure supporting her. Her shoulders and hips are too broad. Her arms are more muscular than they should be. Her face is slightly out of sync, but not in a way one can explain. She wears giant, clunky corrective shoes that throws off her gait. Still, what could be a Frankenstein's monster thing still leaves her fairly attractive, if somewhat awkward. She has big honkin' glasses, yet they seem to be the key to make everything come together and look normal. This type of description gets imaginations going when put in novels. When I put MYSELF on the line to depict it? Fuck me, I'll do the best I can.

Next is Dania Koren, director of the Wizards School. (Yes, my characters are magical. Shut up!) In my world, on of the great saints, Charlotte Maquin, is quoted in the scripture as saying the more power a human has, the less human they become. The more ability a person has, the less humanity they exhibit. Dania seems to be a living example of this.

To an outsider, one would not believe Dania is a real person. She looks like a doll; with oversized eyes, porcelain skin and a disturbingly-thin frame. To add to the artificial look, she has a cranial implant that wraps around her hairline, looking somewhat like a permanent (if modest) crown bolted in place. She talks in a soft voice, almost in monotone. She *never* shows emotion, and her huge eyes seem to look right through you. It's like she has so much magic inside her that no room remains for humanity. And yet, she's loved by most around her. What gives?

Just because it's muted, doesn't mean her personality isn't there. Once people get to know her, they are no longer frustrated with her flat nature. Instead, they savor every hint of personality Dania can offer. Eliciting a slight smile is a victory. If she raises her voice at you, it's terrifying. The day she confirmed her place as a beloved figure was the day she embraced the students' nickname of her - "The Ice Queen" - and showed up to work with her white hair dyed ice blue. On her most recent birthday (she's 44) a large group of students dyed their hair to match. (I should note that in my stories there is a genetic quirk with some mages that causes some or all of their hair to grow in without pigment - so students often dye their "silvered" patches various wild colors.)

I really struggled to find a model for Dania. Trial and error has shown that launching into painting without *some* picture reference tends to end in horror. The final painting might not look at all like the picture - in fact it shouldn't, since the work has to be my own - but it's nice to have a reference for proportions. To find my model, I scoured the internet for over an hour. I looked for skinny models. I looked for porcelain dolls. I looked at anime characters, since Dania definitely has an anime look. No good. Nothing had Dania's signature ringlets hair style.

And then I smacked myself in the face. You know whose hair is similar to the style I want for Dania? NUMBER SIX FROM BATTLESTAR GALACTICA! You know, the show that has consumed my life for the past few weeks. Shesh, Chrispy! The model was right in front of me the whole time.

Damn, I can yammer on. I know I've said it before, but blogging is like having a conversation without have the other person there to tell you to shut the fuck up because no one cares.

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