I’d been keeping track of dreams out of curiosity, and began to focus on a series of dreams I had which I clearly recognised as anxiety dreams from the last time I was at university: snakes, searches, war, volcanoes. This time, however, everything was always dealt with calmly and ended happily. Also there was a dream about pineapple butterscotch upside-down-cake.
I narrowed the choices down to a dream about taking shelter in a zoo in an office building in a wartorn city. I don’t dream in my own style, and the strongly backlit scene from the dream was a new approach to try.
After a series of tests, I decided to do a pen and ink drawing with digital colour (I kept panicking about getting the yellow wrong, and was submitting the art digitally for this exhibition).
And here is the final piece, The Peaceable Kingdom. You can even try your hand at dream interpretation, if you so desire.
Days early, it’s the November calendar! I was going to do something complicated with hands, but then I thought: you know what would be easier than something for which I have reference on the ends of my own arms? Unicorns. Unicorns would be easier.
Then it deteriorated into reportage on rampant unicorn-theft, and here we are. (Unicorn… foal? unicornlet? corncub? I suppose it depends on the design).
You can download the design to print pre-coloured or to colour yourself by clicking on the images below. It’s also up as a print on Redbubble: Unicorn Thieves.
I’d like to keep doing these calendars and similar extra art next year, because I love them and hope you do, but they do take time out of my paying deadlines. I’m considering starting a Patreon, hoping to keep a version of the main calendar design free but to give supporters extra behind-the-scenes details, input and material. More detail in due course!
A big, brief, catchup post, but here are some Cold Comfort Farm sketches to brighten it up. Also, I’m starting to keep track of books read on Goodreads as well.
Crusade – Peter M Ball (part 3 of the Flotsam Trilogy omnibus)
Bone Swans – C. S. E. Cooney: Such beautiful novellas. I wept. I drew fanart.
Tempting Mr Townsend – Anna Campbell
A Few Right Thinking Men– Sulari Gentill
Madensky Square– Eva Ibbotson: I had not read this Ibbotson and it is enchanting! A romance of pre WWI Vienna.
Winning Lord West – Anna Campbell
Pawn in Frankincense – Dorothy Dunnett
Q’s Legacy – Helene Hanff: So charming! So tiny! The follow-up to 84 Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street. Has influenced my driving.
The Ringed Castle – Dorothy Dunnett. Suffocated sounds of distress.
The Foundling – Georgette Heyer: Perhaps a new favourite.
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons: The first time I’ve read it, and I finally read it due to being presented with it at breakfast as a fait accompli by my landlady at a Devon B&B. I read it as a science fiction novel set in the world of The Fantastic Mr Fox, which was certainly memorable. I love her sheer disregard for agriscience.
The Tree – John Fowles
Stranded with the Scottish Earl – Anna Campbell
The Summer Bride – Anne Gracie
A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald – Natasha Lester
[Can’t tell you about it yet but very good]
Cotillion– Georgette Heyer
The Devil’s Delilah – Loretta Chase
Marked for Death: The First War in the Air – James Hamilton-Paterson: Fascinating WWI aviation history.
Movies & theatre
Captain America: Civil War
The Nice Guys
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople: This is really, really good, people, I highly recommend it.
Fun Home(musical): Helpless crying.
Love & Friendship: A remarkable study in telling only the connective tissue between big events, which works because it is all about the main character’s continuous, inventive self-justification and repositioning.
Star Trek: Beyond: Suffered for being seen between Sully and Deepwater Horizon, in both of which people try to actually do a headcount of surviving passengers and crew.
Now I have also received my test prints from Spoonflower (print on demand fabrics), and the designs are up there too in three options: Green background; white background; and no lines (rather impressionistic, would work well for backgrounds/lining).
Here they are, with my feet for scale.
And I ordered a doona/duvet cover from Redbubble. The printed layer has a beautiful silky cottony feeling – it was meant to be for the spare bedroom but I might keep it for myself. Shown here with books and sofa cushion for scale – it’s quite a large print.
First I tried to draw them without reference, but it turned out I was a bit hazy on which parts were raised and which lowered, and started evolving a sort of hairy bison-pig.
Reference didn’t necessarily help that much. They have those weird elephant knees and feet (why do elephants paint their toenails red?) which make them look a bit like two men in a hide.
Then it trended a bit violent with the hedgehog mafia (not show) but I pulled a Spielberg and turned their guns into icecream cones, and after that it was all inevitable, really.
I drew the final image digitally, and while I like it I prefer the weight of hand-drawn lines. I may rework the image at some point, but in the meantime it is up on Redbubble on some t-shirts and as stickers for summer.