I’ve been gradually working on some artworks for Gembrook Retreat based around the seasons of the Christian liturgical year. The most recent one I’ve finished is for Ordinary Time (the season this blog is named after). For Ordinary Time they asked if I could do a picture of their property, showing some of the everyday work people do on the land.
Gembrook Retreat is a property out in the Dandenong Ranges, on the eastern outskirts of Melbourne, where folks can stay for spiritual retreat. You can find out more about them here.
This week I got a bit behind on the challenges because I was also working on miniatures for the penguin RPG I ran on Thursday and illustrations for an original roleplaying game a friend has been writing. So I did a lot of catching up today, and really enjoyed today’s challenges. I like running city-based adventures, so I enjoyed drawing the first of a number of urban creatures:
I also appreciated the vegepygmy challenge, because it meant I read about a monster that I wasn’t familiar with, and it turned out to be fairly interesting. (They basically start off as a brown mould that could infect an adventurer.)
Another monster that I hadn’t read much about, and appreciated the opportunity reflect on was the redcap, which I’ve already written about here.
I also enjoyed drawing the troll messhall cook, because I like drawing ‘monsters’ in incongruous ways that challenge us to think about them differently.
One thing I’ve realised so far is that it’s a lot more sustainable to be sticking to black-and-white line drawings – especially when I have other illustration projects I need to be working on. I think it’s also meant I’ve been able to be more reflective.
On day one I decided to draw the crab warrior as a crab lord. (Animal lords can be important in Planescape, so I’ve been keen to work out how to approach them. I’ve also got to come up with a sheep lord over the weekend.) I’ve also been working on stats for a crab lord on D&D Next, but I’ve been finding it difficult – the platform’s still got some problems. I’ll probably post what I’ve come up with here over the weekend.
On day two when I was thinking about how to approach the pirate’s mimic, the obvious approach was to portray it as a treasure chest. That’s how these monsters normally disguise themselves. But I wondered about drawing a mimic disguised as a boat? I imagined adventurers trying to escape a pirate ship and jumping into the lifeboat, only to realise it has sharp teeth. It should be no surprise that this also got me thinking about the fear Australian society seems to have about boats, hiding the fact that many of us came here by boat ourselves.
On day three I drew a wereshark, which I’ve already reflected on here.
On day four I drew an anemone monster, and came up with some thoughts about how to use it in an urban setting like Planescape’s Sigil. What I was thinking was that folks might be getting these creatures installed on their roofs to deter feral pigeons, but that they might also be up to something sinister…
On day five I did a search to see how other folks had approached kraken priests, and I ended up coming across China Miéville’s novel Kraken, which I’m now enjoying reading over the weekend.
I often move around between different places in carlton and the city as I work. On Friday morning I was working on some illustrations at the café in the National Gallery of Victoria. A bloke came up to me who had just been to see the David Hockney exhibition. He was saying that this was how David Hockney works. He’ll quickly draw something on his tablet or his phone and send it off to a friend as soon as it is finished.
That is certainly one of the things I like about drawing on a tablet. It’s really easy to share bits of work as I go. While i’m working on something I’ll often post snippets of the work in progress on my Instagram account. It’s also really easy to send finished pieces off to clients, or show them where I’m going with the work and get feedback.
Another thing I find drawing on a tablet is that I can do much cleaner work. I don’t have very steady hands. When I was drawing with paper and a pen I’d often do wobbly lines and ruin my work. On a tablet, using an app like Sketches Ink (which I use for my linework) I can generally undo mistakes as long as I don’t leave it too long.
The other thing is that I’m a terrible painter. I just can’t make paint behave as I want it to. But using Sketches Pro (the app I use for colouring) I can draw as though I’m painting with watercolours, and if I’m not able to paint within the lines I can erase the overflows.
The final reason why I love drawing in a tablet is because it’s incredibly cheap. After paying for the tablet itself I don’t need to pay for any art materials. The fact that it’s also really quick to draw with also means I don’t have to charge clients very much.
So how would you like to commission me? If you’d like me to work on something for you email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(This afternoon we went to see the David Hockney exhibition ourselves. I’ve been inspired to try out Brushes, the app that Hockney has been using in his recent work.)