Illustration Friday: Zoo

Tough Stains

Giraffes stand head and shoulders above the rest, when I think of zoos.

For this week’s topic I was thinking about jobs at zoos and ended up… here. Drawing in ink on the back of a business card.


NaNo Winner

Five things I did not buy in America

Two weeks before I flew, a… unique individual gave me two valuable insights. One was that I would meet the love of my life in America (I either didn’t, or don’t know it yet). The other was to buy two things which are not obtainable over here. I will not tell you what they were because then Errantry would turn up on completely different google searches to the current standards of “mr squiggle knit” and “teapot microwave Sydney proof”. I did not buy those two things.

Here are five other things I did not buy, but should have:

  1. Autumn merchandise: Fabric and paper autumn leaves, oak leaf cookie cutters and a particularly hideous purple-and-orange owl-patterned bandanna.
  2. More cheap Moleskines (I did buy two).
  3. I heart NY t-shirts, ironic alteration, for the purposes of.
  4. Novels. $8 new! Why, why, why did I not buy more books?
  5. Cinnamon rolls. With cream cheese icing/sauce. More than two of.

My brain hurts

Foot study

Life drawing is hard. Mentally painful and exhausting, in the way that completing an obstacle course when you’re very unfit is hard. Not impossible, but it wrings you out and leaves you exhausted and seeing little lights. Or, in my case, seeing everyone I pass as a tangle of planes and shades and tendons.

In the case of life drawing (and an obstacle course, for that matter), I am very unfit. I’m throwing myself in the deep end, and hope it will pay off, but at the beginning of every pose I sit, shaking my pencil-hand and thinking, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” And then I draw a shape into which the pose sits, or only draw the shadows, or concentrate on the negative space, or simply unfocus my eyes and draw big loopy lines, and then focus and work down to the detail. And I hope that repeating, and repeating, will make better, if not perfect.

Tonight we had a male model, which adds another level of difficulty for me, because I am not used to breaking the male body down into proportions and I am fundamentally unfamiliar with it. With female models, I have the advantage of having a female body with me 24/7, so I understand a little more about how it works. And the female body – even underweight – is composed of curves and roundness and sinuous lines. I suspect this is why the female nude figures so much in decoration – there is something about its lines which is decorative (in the sense of it functions on an ornamental level as well as representational – much like the lines and patterns of arabesques). The male body is far more a study in musculature and bone structure, all angles and unexpected shadows and lines and places where the ribs or spine or collarbone play a much less subtle role in the overall shape.

Navel gazing

Further, life drawing is bad for public speaking. When told to picture the audience in their underwear, you will not feel less embarrassed. You will feel like you should be drawing that overwhelming array of shadows, sinews, solar plexxi and lines of balance.


The animation society is folding at the end of the year, so I will have to find a new session to attend after the next fortnight. It’s a shame. I prefer to walk in Woolloongabba alone at night than in the Valley.

Well, this should be interesting

After voting on Tuesday (and being charmed to find that the voting booths at City Hall were located near a display of embroidery), occasionally forgetting I had voted, attending the Toogoolawa Camel Races, driving to Gatton, catching up with Aimee, breaking my car, waiting for the RACQ, finding the breaking-of-the-car was not my fault, being driven home by Aimee and engaging in consumption of baked cheesecake, I find that Howard has formally conceded defeat to Rudd.

Although not obvious from the above, I’ve been wrestling with whether I am willing to trade economic stability for social security.

 I guess I’ll find out.


Study for Crucible

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “Superstition”, so I began a study for the cover of a hypothetical graphic novel of The Crucible. It started as business card sketches, but this is a study executed in pencil and marker in my Moleskine. I’m not sure the costume is from the right era, but I am fond of the poppet and may make one.

This is a thumbnail image of the projected cover (the reason for the flared skirt). I’d like to try finishing this off, some day, with a woodcut effect and era-appropriate lettering.

Thumbnail cover


The Soldier Flower Disrobes

When I was small and we lived for a few years in Brisbane, my father showed me how these flowers looked like little soldiers, and how you could remove their helmet and coat and tunic and leave them cold and bare in their long pale underwear.

Most of the rest of the world knows them only in troops, the bunched flowers of the Cockspur Coral tree – Erythrina crista-galli. I found that out this week.

I collected this one from the bitumen on my street. The wriggly pattern is probably bug damage, from its shape.

Drawn in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook with Faber Castel manga markers.

The Soldier Flower Decays

I let this one decay for a day on my desk. He turned from brilliant scarlet to being shot through with purples and greens.

Drawn in my pocket Moleskine sketchbook with my beloved Prismacolours (beloved at least among coloured pencils).

(So you see, I am conquering my resistance to using a Moleskine on other than special occasions).