Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just some expression practice

Just working on conveying some emotions. Will do a few more, they're fast to do. And I might give this guy a hairstyle and a leather jacket or something. Actually, wait, reader participation time: provide photographic examples of hairstyles (and facial hair styles) and clothes for this guy in the comments and I'll draw the ones I think fit him best! Move besides the obvious!

I need to do a lot more anatomy work before I embark on any other new projects, because frankly, I have a lot of holes in my technique. The saner choice would be to instead settle on a stylized approach that hides my faults better than the erratic style-switching methods I usually employ (on the ZX comic most of all) but I don't think that compromise is forthcoming. My psyche wants to fight!

I work so much with strict black and white inking that using a full grayscale range feels like cheating now, heh. That must sound crazy for actual illustrators who are used to employing a full value and hue range to convey their objects, but I've dedicated so much mental processing in a highly specialized sub-set of the drawing craft that is "how to convey stuff using only little opaque black lines" that I'm afraid I've damaged the part of my brain that revels in lack of restrictions and open creativity. I'm sure fiddling around with pixels and 16-color palettes didn't help either.

At least it's funny when I step outside of my inky inky idiom and draw something like this and then people tell me they're surprised and how it doesn't look like my art. I guess that's a polite way of saying "I didn't know you could draw anything else than your usual black and whte robots!".

A large part of how slowly I become better is that I don't particularly enjoy the process of drawing. I enjoy the conceptualization and I enjoy the end result. The middle period where I have to get my chops up and put in all the work to arrive at a palatable result is not enjoyable (though as I've said before, inking is fun when you're done with the artistic choices and all that's left is filling in the spaces). I'm comfortable in the knowledge that I am not alone in this attitude but less with the inevitable reality that I'll never be as great a draftsman as I could be because of it. But that's fine, I keep reminding myself. Nobody ever is what they imagine they'd be, because our imaginations stem from this fantastic survival mechanism that is the presupposition of never-ending willpower. When we make plans or theorize on our future course of action, we tend to calculate with our own actor being in best-possible shape and full of desire to succeed, we never take into account our past history of faults and repeated behavioral patterns, our well... personality. "Man I'm going to draw *every day* for *three hours* for the next *four weeks*, you bet!". Ah, well, it's better to overestimate than underestimate and sell that as a "realistic" excuse to do nothing!

Seriously though, I need to go frolic on a beach somewhere for a couple of weeks. Plans are being made.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Time off for Helm

Until the end of August, probably. I'll be posting, sporadically, probably not a lot of art. Time to take some time off, I've put in the time, certainly. Get off of the computer, go swim in the sea, hope they don't burn the rest of Greece down while I'm away...

see you guys soon. Nothing, absolutely nothing after the jump.

You see, this "read more" thingy, it's a hack for blogger. It's not supposed to be there. I can't turn it off, either every article has it or no articles have it. We have to cope with this dreadful reality.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Technothrash revisited

Over at the Illogical Contraption, mr. Cobras has been gracious enough to host another compilation by myself after the one on Greek metal and another on progressive metal. This time it's about technothrash. You can go download it and read about the bands featured over there if you're so inclined. If you're not you should click on the link below instead.


Goodbye 1bit

I hate having to write this.

The little cat we've been keeping at home for the last couple of weeks is missing. When we found him he was in a sorry state, big bump on the head, crying constantly, wouldn't eat or drink, blood ran from his ears and nose. We took him to a vet, got him hooked on UV for a couple of days. The doctor said she thought the kitty wouldn't make it. But he did.

We weren't sure we'd keep him, there's been interest by two friendly parties to care for him. Early on when we got him back in the house it was apparent (to me at least) that the cat couldn't see right. He wouldn't track movement, he walked around very hesitantly and cried out when left without hugs for too long. It could have been just the shock though, or perhaps the dehydration because for the next two weeks of care he seemed to be able to see much, much better. A day before he went missing I caught him tracking a fly, which told me the cat had near-normal vision, now.

Yes, I gave him a dorky pet-name but I didn't think I'd have to keep it because I didn't think I'd have to keep the cat. But two days ago he just up and vanished. I live on a first floor apartment, below is a yard with dogs, it's not easy for cats to escape (I had to save my first of two current cats, named Cat, from the dogs once, true story). The first thing that I dreaded was that the cat had fallen off the porch and was promptly eaten by the dogs below. I searched for evidence of this but could find nothing. I searched the house like mad, you know how cats are with hiding. Put food in many places around the house and let it stink in the heat, nothing.

I waited and waited for him to show up again but it's pretty clear he's not in the house anymore. The biggest telling is that my two current cats, Cat and Black Thing, have gone back to walking around the house in their usual relaxed manner. This tells me they can no longer smell poor 1bit around the house, so they've gone back to default house kitty behavior. No guests anymore.

We can hope that the kitty fell off (or climbed off) the porch and evaded the dogs and now is living a life of freedom. It's possible, he had grown much more assured and strong in the couple of weeks we've had him and as I said he could see pretty well now. Perhaps he wanted to leave that hard, perhaps he just fell off and made of the situation what he could. We searched around the neighborhood but nothing. My girlfriend and I joke that we're going to see lots of black and white (1bit, get it? *sigh*) kittens around the hood come next summer and I don't know, perhaps it'll be so. Who knows? Not knowing sucks.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Usually I can tell it's Xenakis because it sounds awful

Two voices are in a bed. It's very warm and humid. Friend Computer is shuffling through a gigantic music folder, providing diversion. A lapse in the conversation lasts long enough for the song that has just come on to grab their attention.

The first voice is excited, the music on the computer belongs to him and he knows it well. He's eager to translate the lyrics to the second.

One day I saw a man
Dressed in rags, with a staff in his hand
Begging for a penny to survive

How poor a man can be
I gave him hospitality
A room, a bed and lots of food to eat

Still I hear his last few words
"I can never return what you've done
But heaven will remember and repay"

Fifty years had gone since I saw him
I was dying and I'd soon be dead
Three angels stood beside my bed

The first one she said to me, "don't be afraid
I will give you immortality, and grace for your soul"
The second had eyes of gold, she gave me my wings
The third gave all wisdom an angel could give to me

I joined with my destiny, eternally
I knew I was born again, an angel to be
A vision beyond my dreams, called me by name
So in devotion I spread my wings, to heaven I had came to stay

The two voices now are joined in limber conversation, the song's meaning is explored. The Heavy Metal solo in the middle is judged to be off-mood, but otherwise the piece is commended for beauty and motive. The second voice, curious at the juxtaposition between morose metallic orchestration and positive Christian sentiment, asks about the band and what they believe in. The first voice says 'probably nothing' meaning, they're not Christian. But they can hope just the same, right?

As the voices debate on the possibility of a just afterlife and what it would take for someone to earn an eternity in heaven (more than either of them has done, they concur), Friend Computer counterpoints with his follow-up song.

The first voice is eager to tell the second that this music exits because a friend of his wills it so. Moreover, that friend has made her acquaintance in a few occasions. The second voice pays extra attention to the sounds because she wishes to understand the distant friend as well, perhaps. There are no lyrics to this song to discuss, but there are meanings still. Perhaps because of the previous song, this one is felt and discussed as an examination of an afterlife as well. Especially towards its end where the shimmering guitars stray outside of the mix and what is left is only feedback and smoke.

A connection is made between the two pieces of music. Two paths to an after-life, one where justice is served and meaning is achieved for an eternity and another where words were just words and meanings were an errand for fools, where after-death means eyes that are always open but ever so slowly dim. Hades of thick smoke that enters the lungs not to suffocate, but to embalm, to keep the solemn traveler perpetually existing. A journey without an end.

A third comes as punctuation.

The voices almost simultaneously remark on how this is not a song about an end, it's a song about the now. The first voice offers wisdom to impress the second "this is probably by Gy├Ârgy Ligeti". The umlaut sounds especially impressive. The string quartet discusses with the piano, pleads, argues, commends. Sometimes the piano adds flourish, sometimes it plays along, other times not so much. The whine of the violins is almost sickening, then.

Two songs. One about hope, the other about un-hope. And a third to remind that we're not done yet with hoping. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The two voices get up from the bed and go to take a shower. Computer text now in reading range corrects: not Ligeti, Xenakis.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

blogger is weird with comment moderation.

If you've left a comment and it's not showing up it's a possibility that blogger is failing to bring them up for verification once in a while, so keep that in mind. If I take more than a couple of days to make your comment public, it's probably lost, not me censoring you.

Nothing after the jump.


Monday, July 5, 2010

What cats do when nobody's looking

Friend and reader Lackey requested

I'd like you to draw something like you would feel seeing through a window into a brightly lit room while walking alone at night.

I enjoyed drawing this. Had to return to some technique practices I haven't had much real need to use since I've been inking digitally for the last year and a half. This scribbly style takes a long time but it's a pretty zen for me anyway so I don't mind.

On other news, I have a new cat visitor which might become a permanent resident. His eyes can't see very well due to the dehydrated state in which we found him, but he can see enough to lead a happy interior-cat type life. We are debating on whether we'll keep him or not. Here's his mug.

If any of you want a slightly disabled kitty (blind and semi-blind cats are just like regular cats inside the house, really, so don't worry that much), he's an absolutely kind cat that likes cuddling and purrs all the time. He's only a couple of months old, max. But hurry in making up your mind because he might otherwise claw & gnaw his way into our hearts here at Helm (:his dad's) mansion (: modest apartment).


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sympathy for the Overthinker

This is thought that has been swirling around in my head for a while and today it coalesced into relative certainty, so, as it is pertinent to a lot of things I actively do and even more I am passively involved in, here. It has to do with the concept of 'thinking too much' and some assorted accusations of pretension. The brave click onwards.

It's not a complicated argument but it seems it's one worth putting out there publicly once or twice: Don't disparage thinkers for thinking, don't mock wordy types for being wordy, don't disapprove of worriers for worrying.

There seems to be this idea going around (for as long as I have been paying attention at least) that it's some sort of choice to be engaged in intellectual pursuits. As if it's cut and separate from more visceral needs and desires for which, while there is no shortage of social critique, there seems more of an awareness of the critique's futility. Intellectualism is widely loathed as if it's a frivolous hobby, at odds with everything natural in life.

While I find the attempts at substantiating this strange thinking/feeling dualism to be fascinating sometimes, I grow tired of them when leveled against me as weapons. Please accept one empirical observation, that the tendency for intellectual examination and for assorted wordy exposition is not a voluntarily one. It is an emotional reflex and much like most reflexes it can be fought against only to an extent and even then the sufferer has to wonder why they're fighting against themselves to begin with.

If the reader has offered the advice to others that they should "think about things less", even if they meant it out of kindness for having spotted the Gordian knot the overthinker has entangled themselves into, they should be aware that what the overthinker is hearing is disapproving critique of foundations of their personality they have little free will to alter. What they're getting from it, basically is "I disapprove of you and I have the unrealistic expectation that you will change at my behest for having shaped my disapproval in socially unassailable passive-aggression". Yes yes, I know, that's unfair, but people don't really know what you meant because what you said was precisely antithetical to further examination. In silent victory, the words have ended.

Likewise, Overationalizators (I count myself included) are reflexive. The whys and hows of that behavior pattern can be deconstructed endlessly (and this is also a favorite pastime of navel gazers the world around) but rest assured they are not a stance, not an act, not a pretense. I see things happen around me and they, like lightning, touch on three-dimensional inner constructs of causality, they interface with presuppositions and inform my world-view subconsciously. This is instant. The quasi-rational deliberation afterwards is not instant but that doesn't mean it's much more controlled. Nor should you assume that the rationales spewed forth are considered truthful or accurate representations of world workings. They are a debugger buffer for the program of consciousness.

I have met people that, at the time, I was convinced they were pretending to be intellectuals and were trying too hard to impress me. Their most significant characteristic was not they they were thinking about things too hard but that they were implicitly asking me to acknowledge and agree with their line of thinking, nearly at the end of every value judgment. Some of them were also overthinkers, yes, but the two situations are not necessarily causally related. I have certainly also met blunt and base men who also pressured me for endorsement at every turn. The ones who value the conversation (and let's not kid ourselves, the exposition also) more than the agreement are mostly harmless.

And as a final note on wordiness. We cannot all be Nietzsche. It's a matter of mental acuity and talent. Some of us need to take the long way around an argument until we've circled it completely and on many planes and then only can start cutting towards the center. Bear with us for our philosophy is not meant as entertainment for you nor as a hobby for us, it is a practical necessity for our survival.

In an effort to accept others I'm slowly trying to treat a lot of their personality I find displeasing as prima facie instinctual behavior and not begrudge them for their nature, I'd be wonderful if they would do the same. That doesn't mean I have to hang out with all of them and neither should it mean you should read every word I have to say on whatever strikes me as significant every Monday, but please, easy on the judgments.