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April 1, 2009


by sven at 7:00 am

micro-collage #1

I've developed a new collage form: micro-collages.

Here's how it works: Go online and use Google Images searches, Flickr, National Geographic's website, etc.… Collect lots and lots of images. Collect ones that appeal to you for whatever reason, based on gut instinct -- try to avoid searching for images based on preconception (e.g. "I need a picture of a tree here"). If you have a Mac, you can use "Preview" to print out 16 images per page, each the size of a postage stamp.

Most collage methods have you overlapping images… You could do that here, but because the pictures are so small, I found I wanted space between them so they remained legible. Even so, the juxtapositions created by putting images next to one another are plain.


Why this method?

a) to conserve space
When I took Sara Swink's Two Day Creative Process Workshop back in January, I decided to push my own limits and try making a "mega-collage." Rather than fill up the rectangle of a blank page, I just started in the middle and worked my way outward. The 6'x4' monstrosity that resulted is far richer with imagery than most collages I've done -- but there's no good way to store it. By using 1"x1" images to start with, I can put the same amount of visual information into a normal sketchbook spread.

micro-collage #2

b) to use the internet as an image resource
People who do collaging regularly tend to have stacks and stacks of magazines… But the good stuff starts getting thinned out over time. I figured there must be a way to make use of the internet to find new material. It's a little tricky to get truly random images via Google. I tried using random word generators to help with this; also just doing searches based on words that popped to mind. Flicker, I found, has better randomizing applications -- it's easy to surf from collection to collection.

A side benefit of doing image collection digitally: you get to keep your original image files and use them again in future collages if you find something you really like.

micro-collage #3

c) juxtapositions are the spark of creativity
It's hard to think of an original idea off the top of your head. Visual prompts really help get the juices flowing. What's more, when you you have a large selection of random materials to work with, you just can't help but make highly personal discoveries. It's like tarot cards: you start reading your own psyche into the unexpected juxtapositions.

Personally, I've found that this method is fantastic for helping me generate story ideas for playwriting and fiction. I wrote the play "The Astronaut & The Nude" based on micro-collage #1. Proof of concept. I'm eager to do more writing based on the other two pieces.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: other art, sketchbook

March 31, 2009

paintings from december

by sven at 7:00 am

up - Dec 31

Back in December I was doing a lot of paintings in my sketchbook. I've been meaning to post a sampling for a long while now.

troubled sky - Dec 6

I was finding that abstracts were a nice way to warm up the visual part of my brain. Lately, though, the painting energy's been getting spent on birthday cards.

green vortex - Dec 6

As you can probably tell, these are all improvised pieces. I only have the roughest idea of what I'm going to do when I start out.

Damocles - Dec 6

The text reads: "A long time waiting, waiting I've said so many times, but not now, the river flows and falls… All out of time, out of mind, then fall out, these words like swords on the tongue, long and dangling over the last man on Earth, we wait and our tongues hurt as we watch each last ear turned to hear the snap as it breaks and drops… So close your eyes and forget the name because there is no name… If we gave him a name the pain would multiply -- but no, we forget the words and let go -- we fall like knives. Damocles in the bull's-eye crosshairs, our planes drop downward to Pearl Harbor, thirsty for time to halt and tongues tied in knots."

It's stream-of-consciousness writing, largely there for texture. (Also a little shout out to Grant, whose film "The Sword of Damocles" popped to mind.)

own reward - Dec 7

Text: "Long time I waited -- does waiting ever pay? I waited but the river did not. So unhitched from my moorings now I'm falling downhill with water toward a fall. But in the meantime I sing along with the trouble of currents, a song of drowning stars. Look up through moving windows to a dark like sleep itself, yes dark close to me as my own eyes closed. Dreaming awake is its own reward."

Painting lettering is slower and feels more meditative than just using a colored pencil.

abstract - Dec 23

I keep imagining that some day I'm going to draw upon these abstract textures for painting a stopmo backdrop.

drowning - Dec 30

More use of text as texture.

devouring, chanting - Dec 30

The weirdest part about doing this painting was snipping off fingers from the photocopies of my hands. I've still got at least one hanging around, which I'd like to use in a future piece.

peacock fish seaweed - Dec 31

I did this one while staying up all night on New Year's Eve, waiting to see the first sunrise of the year. Contrary to what I'd thought, the loopiness of being sleep-deprived didn't make me feel looser and more creative… Rather, exhaustion poisoned the process, and sucked all the fun out of doing art that night.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: painting, sketchbook

September 10, 2008

#3 exchange sketchbook: brian prosser

by sven at 3:00 pm

wherein sven ponders

More sketchbook exchange pictures. These ones are for Brian Prosser up in Seattle.

Prosser labeled the first page of each participant's section with a ballpoint pen -- so I did an out-of-the-ordinary cover page. The colorful letters at the bottom are punched out; you're actually looking through to the next page.


For whatever reason, I wasn't in a collaging mood yesterday. So I did a lot more painting than usual.

glum tree

"Glum Tree" and "Ghost of Thought" are my favorites this time around. For "Glum Tree" I started very dark, and built up successive layers of lighter colors. I used some dry brush technique to give it a sense of texture.

twenty-six down

For "Twenty-Six Down" I laid down a base color, then scribbled in pencil. I used a sharpie to outline the images that popped out of the chaos at me. Then I painted the ones I liked most. There's some stream-of-consciousness text to the right just to fill the space. It reads:

twenty six down up again out the back door running hallways in hospitals where highways intersect noise and mosquitoes dropping a glass of water and forgetting the bird. the river falling twenty six down from the table to the floor, the fork hits standing up and water courses through its tines the refrigerator is a city of snails beware the frog living there, the king of a swamp beyond this particle board passage twenty six down

Do I know what it means? No.

black light cow demon

For this one, I laid down a basecoat of black acrylic. Then I scribbled with colored pencils -- which really stand out! I touched up the image with a few outlining strokes of paint. I was surprised at how much the image looks like it's being illuminated by black light.

ghost of thought

More stream-of-consciousness text, using four different pens, just to create texture. The skeleton was painted in india ink on tissue paper, then applied using a glue stick. I really dig the translucency: I can imagine how you'd do this using PhotoShop -- but no digital modification occurred.


"Illuminate": Brush and ink. The spaces are filled in with acrylic.

box door

"Box Door": Lots of layers of acrylic, piled one atop another, using a very scribbly hand. I was going to use this as a background for something else (I dunno what) -- but I liked it too much as-is, so left it. Jackson Pollock-y... But with structure hiding just below the surface.

collaboration page

Prosser has pages at the back of his sketchbook where he's hoping folks will do some collaborations. I figured I'd start one off by painting a gradient that implies sky and grass. I'll be curious to find out if anything ultimately comes of it.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook

July 27, 2008

#2 exchange sketchbook: mitchel hunt

by sven at 10:10 pm

thousand-legged spider

The sketchbook exchange continues. Whereas the last sketchbook will ultimately return to me, this one is for Mitchel Hunt in Ontario, California.

blue eye

It's going to be a little unnerving to let go of all these pictures. Some of them I like quite a lot. Oh well: training in the ephemeral nature of life.

(And I've got some mega-high-res scans. Heh.)

close my eyes, look in the mirror

For "close my eyes..." I photocopied my face, then re-photocopied that image onto acetate. I distressed the toner using a wire brush. Then I used acrylic gel medium to glue the acetate onto a text-based under-painting.

The surface of this page is as glossy as if I'd poured clear resin over the whole thing. Very apt for something that references a mirror.

crab mab

This one was originally titled "crab man" -- but I liked the typo better.

Wash of blue acrylic. Outline the mab in black acrylic. Fill in the negative space with white (a trick I picked up from Egon Schiele). Scribble shading with a pen.


And a straight painting of a tiny village underneath mile-tall blue fronds.

* * * * *

The first three sketches were loosely inspired by a poem I wrote this morning... So here it is:

the soul

close my eyes
and look in the mirror

the soul dissolves flesh
i am flower bulb
branching tendrils

ageless sexless
profoundly sensual

don’t mistake me for
inner sight and silent tongue

i am the whipping red threads
the bubbling swamp
lit by a watcher’s small candle

to be buried here
when the light goes out
when fragile roots dry brown

suspended in darkness
invisible intangible
open my eyes to a bright world

the other thousand-legged spiders here
clothe themselves in faces and skin
they become what they wear

and i feel so apart from my species
on the outside of a humanity
that lives with eyes wide open
that never seems to blink

July 27, 2008

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook, writing

July 22, 2008

names of the mighty

by sven at 4:16 pm


John Hankins (AKA castlegardener) has started a sketchbook exchange. And, much to my own surprise, I'm participating!

Ten people. Ten sketchbooks. Draw on five pages (ten, if you use both sides). Pass the sketchbook to the next person on the list. Ultimately, you get your book back with drawings from a bunch of cool artists.

My big secret: I mistakenly thought there would only be one sketchbook being passed around when I signed up for this. Oops. Oh well -- I'm committed now.

what a terrible thing to do

"What a terrible thing to do, to deface a perfectly serviceable painting -- especially with penmanship of dubious quality... And yet, I'm finding that the more layers I pile one atop another, the richer the visual texture I create. It's a technique I call "obliteration." I'm not sure what good will ultimately come of it -- but it's one of my best artistic insights of the past few years, so best to just keep going down this road and see where it leads me. Similarly, stream-of-consciousness text seems to have a place here. Promising."

black moonless night

I've been having a lot of fun with laminating pages with layers of different colored tissue paper. It's kind of like a doing a wash with paint -- but with potential for some really interesting textures.

blinding noon sun

I'm also having fun with black-on-black and white-on-white artwork. I'm really pleased that these scans turned out as well as they did. I expected them to be completely illegible.

disapproving elf

Heh. And because some folks in the exchange were joking around about inserting secret messages in their art... There's something hiding on the "hello" page if you look really closely.

Sorry, dear readers: I used a technique that can only be seen if you hold the book in your hands.

(But if you ask nicely, I'll tell you a cute story about how I originally happened upon said technique. ;-D)

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook

February 13, 2007

visual journaling

by gl. at 11:54 pm

on monday i went to a free visual journalling group at collage. i thought it would be a small, meditative group, but it turned out to be over 15 people packed into collage's back room making soul collage cards. that really threw me for a loop: i didn't sign up for soul collage! i was also a little miffed because i had asked if we should bring anything and they said "no," so i packed oil pastels and watercolor pencils just in case -- but scissors and glue were sort of necessary! it also turns out their version of visual journaling is more akin to art journals & altered books than the technique i'm more familiar with.

later they told me they do a different technique each week, and i ended up liking what i got, so i'll go back. i met some new people, made art i'm fond of, and it's conveniently located on my way home from ppcw. :)

[trapped between two worlds]

"i am the one who is trapped between two worlds. i am the one with the weight of the world on her hollow bird shoulders. i am the one who sees stars inside and out. i am the one who wonders what's out there."

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: other art, sketchbook

November 25, 2006

pencil holder

by sven at 3:31 pm

pencil holder

Just got back from Thanksgiving in Phoenix yesterday. Tackled a nice little project in the evening: making a new holder for my colored pencils.

(Or rather, my "pencils of color," as I affectionately refer to them.)

The top piece is 1/4" thick hardboard, the bottom is a scrap of MDF. The side supports are just attached with hot glue. There are 160 holes, all 5/16" in diameter, spaced 1/2" apart.

To get the holes evenly spaced, I taped a piece of graph paper on top of the hardboard, and then pressed a sculptor's needle tool in at all the appropriate points. The pin-point marks were all I needed to guide the battery-powered handheld drill.

The whole thing took about 3 hours to make.

The design was inspired by a drill bit index that I've been looking at... But it leaves a lot to be desired:

My holder's a step up from the tin that the pencils came in. The way they came, the pencils lay in four plastic trays, stored in a tin box. You couldn't see them all at the same time unless you put all four trays out on the floor.

I have an idea for a revised design that I may attempt. If/when I get around to making it, I'll be sure to post about the pencil holder's second incarnation.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: miscellany, sketchbook

October 31, 2006

monster month - 22

by sven at 8:00 am

These are the final sketches for Monster Month 2006. Once again, I'd like to thank my friend Jeffrey Roche for proposing this wonderful event! I've tried to put a little extra oomf into these final critters... Happy Halloween, everyone!

the Disappearing Drax

The Disappearing Drax stands nearly twelve feet tall -- bumping up against the ceiling, and smashing your dining room table out of its way.

...What is worse? To see its hideous fangs, set into blue gums, gnashing -- and to see that bioluminescent tongue obscenely thrusting in and out with bloodlust for you, the intended prey? ...Or is it worse watching as color drains from the giant's flesh, and the firefly-like abdomen extinguishes its light, and the huge predator disappears into thin air? Either sight turns blood to ice.

The ability to become invisible must be a precious asset to such a large animal in the wild... However, it's difficult to conceive of what alien dimension this thing must come from, as it invades a muggle's suburban bungalow. The killer's color and substance may drain away into nothingness -- but the impact of its terrible clawed feet rending the shag carpet, and of its wide shoulders bursting through sheetrock -- these effects betray its destructive presence.

We can only guess that the Drax's four sets of eyes must be attuned to parts of the spectrum beyond humans' abilitities of perception. Infrared, ultraviolet, sound waves and cosmic radiation -- what unfathomable realities does this king of monstrosities survey?

The Thing That Ate The Moon

From beyond the stars, a serpentine collosus swirls and swims, cutting through the ether of space toward our unsuspecting eden. This royal, interstellar dragon fills half the horizon as we collectively watch in stunned disbelief...

No mere eclipse, the gaping maw opens wide to swallow loyal Luna. What will the nights be without our silver mirror dancing along with us through our eternal ballet of intertwining orbits? Perhaps we won't have long to grieve, the planet-killer's hunger unabated, attention now turning to the silent chorus of eyes below.

This is the end of the world: To all be wiped out in an instant, falling though the cavernous esophogus tunnel, disintegrating in the digestive apocalypse of The Dragon...


posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 30, 2006

monster month - 21

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

the squat, spotted gulf coast forg

A distant relative of the polycephalic forg-man, the squat, spotted forg is native to the U.S. gulf coast, particularly in the shallows off of Louisiana. Some xenobiologists -- notably the esteemed Professor Ichbonnsen -- have postulated that forg-men may have actually evolved from the marine forgs, after they were swept up by prehistoric hurricanes and deposited inland, whole schools of the amphibians falling from the sky like a squalid rain.

Up until recently, it was thought that this species was entirely extinct. However, in 2005 several intact specimens were washed ashore during the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. While of great interest to the scientific community, news of the discovery of living forgs seems to have been largely superceded by human-interest stories in the American media. Curiously, at the same time, squat, spotted forg-fever has overtaken Japan. A plush version of the amphibian, forg-shaped backpacks, and forg-squonk cell phone ring tones are currently all the rage among the Japanese school girl set.

blue war martian

The blue martians -- unlike their green or orange cousins -- live in a profoundly stratefied society, under a complex system of castes and hereditary professions. The "war martians" (as they've come to be known) are noted for grafting helmets and other sorts of armor-plating directly onto their bodies, anchoring them within chitonous protuberances that seem strangely well-suited for this purpose.

War martians vie for ownership of drone male harems through violent head-butting rituals. Indeed, the thunderous cracking of skull against skull has been known to set off small avalanches in the polar regions, where members of the war caste are most common. While the soldiers' thick helmets do provide some amount of protection, significant brain damage is innevitable. Wreckless military offensives initiated by the elder war martian generals, often strategically dubious in the extreme, may be directly attributed to their more enthusiastic displays of cranial fortitude in earlier years.

(Were it not for this self-defeating behavior, Earth likely would have fallen to the technologically-superior martians long ago!)

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 29, 2006

monster month - 20

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

wax-bottomed skree

The skree buries its four long eyestalks and many anemone-like legs in the ground, leaving only its waxy posterior protruding in the air. Ugly little mutant babies come and sit on the faux sitting stone -- only to discover moments later that their own posteriors are stuck and sinking into the wax-bottomed skree's trap.

Populations of skrees in disparate locales have evolved several variations on this same tar-baby snare. Some work as a team, presenting themselves as safe stepping stones across a dangerous pit of quicksand (oh the irony!). The ugly babies become encapsulated in the wax like insects trapped in amber; the skrees deposit their baby sacs back in their subterranean nests, where they are stored like gruesome fruit preserves for later devourment. Following a capture, skrees are able to grow their earwax-yellow snares back within a matter of days.

clockwork rasputin

Rah! Rah! Rasputin -- lover of the Russian queen...
Rah! Rah! Rasputin -- Russia's greatest love machine...

(from the album Antler Dance, by Boiled In Lead)

Yes, it's a robotic Rasputin. Perhaps this explains why he could be stabbed, poisoned, shot -- and still live. Ah, but to throw him into the river...? Truly, 'twas a short-circuit that killed the beast.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 28, 2006

monster month - 19

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


Sure, it looks like a bumbly bee... But did I mention that the buzgah is the size of a raccoon? And that a human head looks an awful lot like a flower to this guy? ("Mmmmmm... Nectar!") And that as he flies from head to head, setting down like a big furry hat, he provides running commentary about what fine, fine flowers he's found? ("Yezzz, quite a tasty treat! A brunette flower for buzzzgah to sip and sup from!")

...I didn't mention? I think you must have just not heard me, over the roar of those two vibrating wings. How does the bumblebee lift its own weight with those, anyway?

head mutant

It must have started off as a severed human head. But then genetic modifications and glowing mutagenic serums produced: The Abomination. Many black, multi-faceted eyes erupting from the cranium like bubbles... Like bubbles made by some mad scientist blowing through the bendy straw in his crazy milk. But still with one human eye. (Because the contrast makes it all seem weirder.) A torso that begins from immediately beneath the vestigial nose, shaped like a squat bell pepper, ending in four skittery legs.

This is the sort of thing where you open the door to a darkened lab room and hear something scrabbling across the floor, tipping over metal trays, but you can't see it... And you think to yourself: "Oh, no... I've fallen into a sci fi/horror genre B movie! This is waaay too stereotypical to actually be happening..."

And yet, you can't help but call out (for the sake of irony, if nothing else), "Hello? Is someone there?"

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 27, 2006

monster month - 18

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


Tall trunk like a tree. Something like the skull of an elephant for a head... But with two elephantine trunks, each ending in a beach-ball-sized eye. Several more enormous eyes sway and twist on prehensile stalks down the sides of the beast. Two long snakes of muscle serve as legs.

This alien intelligence is diplomatic in character... Amenable to joint ventures, should they be in the common interest. Its appearance is tremendously unnerving to human explorers, however, as the over-sized eyes are the only (nightmarishly) familiar aspect of its body. Astronauts encountering the "eye-tree" are apt to act rashly.

(Based on an illustration I did for a short story back in junior high.)

spider-legged cellblock

A box with legs. A prison cell... A cell block. The cramped space inside this box traps a single person at a time. The prisoner is transported hither and thither by the thing's surreal spider legs.

Where are the prisoners taken? Are the blocks stacked one upon another, in tall, forgotten aisles of the damned? Are the poor souls deposited in the presence of some higher power? Face and hands pressed against glass, the person inside anxiously calls out for help as they're transported to who-knows-where...

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 26, 2006

monster month - 17

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


This is the larva of malice. It finds its way into the bully or the "mean girl" on the playground, and slowly wriggles its way into their heart.

At first, perhaps, the bully merely apes the sarcasm of his own parents... Or obliviously delights in the power of taunting his victims, unable to connect to the reality of their hurt... But as he works his misdeeds, an alien force progressively possesses his body. The larva feeds off of his malignant acts, and contributes back an addictive adrenalin-cocktail high. The potential for any other future for the child is inexorably erased.

Over the years, the insect hollows out the child... Growing and growing until, in the human host's maturity, you can almost see its form rippling and writhing, just beneath the surface. Waiting to tear open its false skin.

mother of tentacles

Dozens of jet black eyes. Two facial tentacles (tongues?) that lick in and out laterally from a tube-shaped proboscis (somewhat reminiscent of a gas-mask). Six breasts, each with two separate nipples, for feeding her innumerable young. Gill slits at the top of the creature's belly, indicating that the majority of the thing's life cycle must be spent underwater. Many small toe-like tentacles at the ends of the legs, providing excellent ability to grip slippery, seaweed-covered rocks. The arms drape down longer than the entire body's length, each rubbery arm ending in two prehensile tongs.

The "mother of tentacles" is ancient, having seen eons come and go. Standing more than ten feet tall, the creature moves far slower than one would expect -- giving it a statuesque bearing. Behind unreadable eyes, the thoughts of this unearthly god permute like the passage of uncaring glaciers.

After birthing a litter of its (almost exclusively male) children, the beast pays no heed to them -- rather, letting the infants suckle and crawl about her body without heed. Only once every few centuries does she venture from her midnight crypt in the Atlantic depths... Coming ashore but briefly, the heavy, quick-moving adolescent offspring are traumatized by exposure to the atmosphere, and drop to the ground, where she leaves them convulsing, to fend for themselves.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 25, 2006

monster month - 16

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


Playful Weeble pirouettes, leaps, twirls. Ever since he saw "Swan Lake," he just hasn't been the same. Not all of his bones actually connect into their sockets at any particular moment... But that's to his benefit. He's rather clumsy sometimes, and would likely hurt himself, were he not so rubbery.

carne asada

There's a forest you've walked through in your dreams, where all of the trees are you. You -- after you've died, and all your limbs have been flayed into dry, stringy tendrils of meat. These blind tree-beings shuffle about in a crowd, silhouettes in the misty light just before dawn.

Stumbling between them, just below the level of their knees, you wonder how many times you've died before... Or how many times you're going to die yet. Are these of a long series of past lives here? Or, maybe, a collection of all the moments when you've forgotten who you are, during this lifetime?

There must be some way to make them take root... To water them, and watch them turn green again. In your imagination, you can see your own face grow back, large and balloon-like, at the tops of all these giants. They would open their mouths in unison... And with a collectively sigh, inhale.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 24, 2006

monster month - 15

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

the maggot in his heart

Over dinner, you wondered why you tolerate this arrogant, cruel, racist and sexist man... An uncle you only see once a year? A co-worker or superior from the cube farm? As he drinks, his tongue gets looser -- and your teeth get sorer, gritting, keeping your own tongue in place. A maggot of malice has incubated in this man's heart for so many years... It's grown huge, and writhes just beneath his skin.

No one is really surprised when he flops over -- nearly in half. The back of his spendy coat splits, and the putrid maggot rears up from inside its meat shell. Ironically, everyone in the room breathes a sigh of relief, ugliness at last revealed for what it is. Finally, we can relax and stop pretending.

Candy Man

Big lollipop smile. Torso of Halloween candies all melted into a mass. Taffy arms that stretch, and stretch, out to embrace all his happy, smiling friends. With sugar-fueled enthusiasm, Candy Man is delighted to see you!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 23, 2006

monster month - 14

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

Mr. Punch

"Huzzah huzzah, I've killed the Devil!"

...Oh! It's that wicked man, Mr. Punch! Whatever has he done with his wife Judy? Where is their tender little baby gone to? And what terrible thing is he contriving to do next?

the craboon

A large Old World ground-dwelling crustacean with a long doglike snout, large teeth, and naked callosities on the buttocks. The species is abundant on many shores, esp. in the tropics, where some have become fully adapted to land. Craboons are social animals and live in troops.

Bastardized from the Mac "came-with-the-computer" dictionary.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 22, 2006

monster month - 13

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

the Sluthering Vag

The Sluthering Vag fights vigorously against gravity to raise his eyelids and peek through the cascading folds of flab. The descendent of inbred royalty, this spherical mountain of flesh has remained in power generation after generation by swallowing whole his siblings, grandchildren, and political rivals. With a particular liking for gold rings, this blubberous man (?) has amassed an enormous fortune... Which he has used repeatedly to purchase fresh new legs -- and the transplanting services of unconscionably libertine doctors.

Bee-boy a lula

Bee-boy a lula
That horrid monstrosity's my baby
Bee-boy a lula
I don't mean maybe
Bee-boy a lula
It's my baby doll my scabied troll my rabies-infected fall

Let's rock!

My profuse apologies to Gene Vincent...

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 21, 2006

monster month - 12

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

Harlequin Vinny

Harlequin Vinny recites Shakespeare and French poetry. He bounces and bounds along at your side during your adventures, a wannabe sidekick. A whimsical little thing, his endearing mask conceals fifteen lidless eyes, and a round maw of one thousand needle-point teeth. Be wary.

the eyeflit

An eyeflit's most alarming feature is the ability to eject all of its six eyeballs from their sockets like projectiles -- whipping them around in several directions at once on long, elastic optic nerves. Were it not for this peculiar and disturbing ability, one might think the beast almost comic in appearance: it bends in the middle as a catepillar does, moving first its front forward, then bringing its rear legs up to the fore. Its stubby tail wags like that of an eager puppy dog.

Another odd feature of the eyeflit is its lack of a defined mouth. Nutrients, apparently, are absorbed through its semi-porous fingertips. With no vocal instruments for grunting or barking like other animals, it is notoriously quiet... It has taken many an unsuspecting zoologist -- including the author -- by surprise when it wanders into their camp. The beast is not entirely silent, however. If one listens carefully, there is a distinctive flitting sound as the eyes shoot in and out -- a sound from which the beast takes its name.

Being not much larger than the domestic cat, an eyeflit might make a fine pet -- for someone with a rather morbid sense of humor. Keeping an eyeflit would be economical; as it subsists off of decaying matter, the animal could easily be fed from a family's household compost pile. For those hoping to bring an eyeflit into their own home, however, it is sad fact that no eyeflit has yet survived long in captivity. Furthermore, recent changes in U.S. law about what may be imported from foreign nations pose a further challenge to the cause of eyeflit enthusiasts. Whether or not breeders can successfully introduce eyeflits into the American pet market, therefore, remains to be seen.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 20, 2006

monster month - 11

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


Fairy wings, but a rubbery lizard body. Bug-eyed and toothy, these nasty pixies, the "frogella", are a dangerous lot. The size of small fruit bats, a swarm of the vermin armed with their customary scythes and axes are likely to lop off a grown man's ears, pluck off his nose, and steal all his buttons -- all out of simple mean-spiritedness. While their honey is considered a delicacy by some, it is probably best for the non-expert to avoid their hives entirely.

the slube

This tube-like entity drags itself forward using two sticky-ended pseudopods. Multiple, nested mouths may indicate a gill-like respiratory system, allowing the thing to inhabit oxygen-deficient environments for long periods. Indeed, it has been suggested that the four opaque white eyes indicate that the slube is most accustomed to dark, subterranean places -- although this has never been proven.

When slubes have made their way into human cities, their route of entry has generally been traced back down into the sewer systems. It is unclear whether this means that they originate from deeper in the Earth, or whether they have used the man-made tunnels to migrate inward from the Ocean bottom. A radical alternative view, advanced by one Professor Ichbonnsen, holds that this is perhaps an entirely new species, arising due to the influence of mutagenic industrial sewage. The supposed similarities between slube and human DNA have been hotly contested by the scientific mainstream... Which, for the most part, is hypothesizing that the slube is an ancient species only coming to light now due to global climate changes associated with the greenhouse effect.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 19, 2006

monster month - 10

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

polycephalic forg-man

The polycephalic forg-man most likely evolved from the common pond forg. Scientists initially believed there to be several subspecies of forg-man: single-headed, two-headed, three-headed, four-headed... But no. As it turns out, the creature is constantly growing new heads, which it periodically sheds. A clutch of heads has often been mistaken for a nest of eggs by the incautious birdwatcher. Once on the decline, forg populations seem to be on the rise again, following the resedimentation of their native wetland habitats by Hurricane Katrina last year.

the skulking dragoon

Skull-like face floating atop a cloak of black rags... It skulks, it follows, it stares. Nightmare armies of these silent killers rally in the collective unconscious. As if they were marching through small European countries, they invade our minds while we sleep. During your dreamless nights, you hide with the lights out in your childhood home, hoping not to be caught. The only hope for our waking world lies with the few small cells of guerilla dreamers -- an unconscious underground -- that struggles to resist the enemy's iron grip upon our minds.

(Another character I've been drawing for years.)

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 18, 2006

monster month - 9

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

Bonus sketches today... A series of four monster-ridden heads.

head #1

Perhaps an intelligent, parasitic tumor? As it first asserts its independence and reaches out some spaghetti tentacles from the ear?

head #2

I'm melting! Oh, what a world...

head #3

The creature living inside of my head... It sorta tickles.

head #4

I've got a splitting headache...


posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 17, 2006

monster month - 8

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

grinning pig cootie

The grinning pig cootie has a bulbous and pink head, too large for its face. A body stolen from swine wags its stubby tail with glee. Improbably spindly legs look too thin to support its weight -- yet propel the nasty thing with speedy strength as it skitters frantically about the room. What sort of unholy union produced this mad abomination?

the tragedy of fish-girl

Poor little fish-girl. Her tongue is too big. It is bloated and long, like a giant sea cucumber. It makes her jaw ache, and she weeps piteous tears, in which she swims. The entire world tastes like her own briney sadness.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 16, 2006

monster month - 7

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

bloated spider queen

The bloated spider queen is ancient, worshipped by her thousands of progeny, the countless spiderlings that have sucked from her pendulous, poison-filled breasts. She sits at the center of a towering translucent cathedral made entirely from web. Legs having atrophied long ago, she depends upon sacrifices from her army for sustenance.

fly-headed mer-man

Think of Magritte's mermaid ("Collective Invention," 1934). Think of that classic horror flick with Vincent Price, "The Fly" (1958) -- and the remake with Jeff Goldblum (1986). Just cross a fly and a guy, and you get... EW!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 15, 2006

monster month - 6

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


Another favorite...

Black plated armor, inky lidless eyes that encircle an anemone-like maw, elegant insectoid legs that sway like reeds in the wind. Sort of like a milipede crossed with a horse -- but with radial symetry, which allows it to whirl and dance in battle.

Gregor Samsa's cousin

An enormous flea, with the face of a man. 'Nuff said.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 14, 2006

monster month - 5

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.


He's a thin man, lop-sided. One arm longer than the other. An eye off-kilter from its mate. An over-large head, difficult to support atop his spindly frame. And in this man's chest, the blackened and cracking hole where his heart has rotted out.

You see him walking toward you in a dream... Then look down in horror to see the front of your shirt bursting into flame, as your own heart erupts. As if pushing through the weight of water, he draws nearer.

diseased huggies

Happy goofy baby things. Oh! They wanna hug. Hug hug hug hug hug! ...How unfortunate for you that they seem to be covered with slimy diseased masses. As if they had been pelted with giant, vomitous spit-wads during some vile and unholy game of dodge ball. Not that they've seemed to notice -- the unstoppably affectionate little buggers.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 13, 2006

monster month - 4

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

the killing jar

Nubbly plant-thing, wandering on wobbly stubs of legs. Delicate string-tentacles capture its prey, which are then fed -- screaming -- to the writhing maw. From within the stout carapace, muffled screams persist.

old young

A favorite of mine...

Is it a baby? Or is it ancient? The eyes, peeking through lizard-slit lids, are unreadable. And is its skin still wrinkled from having just slipped out of an amniotic bath? Or are those burn scars from many years ago that mark its moist skin? Either way, the patches of gnarled flesh seem wrong, contrasting with the rest of its frog-soft anatomy. The infant-ancient betrays no secrets by its gait -- rather, it hovers in mid-air, still, a few feet above the ground. An enigma.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 12, 2006

monster month - 3

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

the arrogant slug

It is a putrescent slug, wallowing within its own mass. Opaque white eyes puncture the slimy surface sporadically. And yet, there are traces of the human in it... An ear, a toothy grin worthy of a Cheshire Cat... Waxy spikes protruding from its "head" in an obscene imitation of hair. My, but the arrogant, unblinking thing seems pleased with itself!

the bull-devil butcher

The bull-devil butcher brandishes a meat cleaver and commands its damned wards to the chopping block. Beneath a crown of burly horns, the unreadable face is minimalist: dimly glowing eyes pasted to an anonymous sphere. That, and what might be a nose, or a beak -- the sharpened point of an abstract sculpture. It walks on hooves, and has long rubbery forearms like neoprene gloves. The executioner is all the more unnerving for its lack of details... The sense that this being was summarily created by some other more potent force, which animated the servant without granting even the small mercy of animal features.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 11, 2006

monster month - 2

by sven at 8:00 am

Further sketches, contributing to Jeffrey Roche's "Monster Month" event.

brainstem a go-go

Perhaps some sort of brain that has escaped from its owner, taking one eye with it in the process? Or perhaps an alien species that just happens to have its primary wad of neurons located in a head-reminiscent part of the body? ...Beware those rear feelers -- I suspect they sting!

gelatinous lurker

This creature seems to be largely composed of a gelatinous substance, as I'm clearly able to make out organs floating within... Organs that look somewhat like mitochondria. The head is mushroom shaped, and has three eyes waving on spaghetti stalks. The chest seems to be covered with a fine coat of cilia. There don't appear to be feet, but rather pointed pseudopods that stretch and recede as needed. The arm -- that hideous arm -- snaps outward elastically, providing a reach several times the length of the thing's main body.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

October 10, 2006

october is monster month!

by sven at 4:28 pm

Stopmo buddy Jeffrey Roche has declared October "Monster Month!" 'Tis the season to draw many horrible things and then share them on your blog. The thought brings a big goofy grin to my face. :-D

The past few weeks have been insanely busy, what with building armatures at Bent Image Lab and then attending the H.P. Lovecraft Filmfest... But I've been doing my part to celebrate Jeffrey's vision. I've drawn dozens of creepy critters in my sketchbook so far -- and have many more yet to birth unto an unsuspecting world.

Today I uploaded the first 20. They're scheduled to appear two at a time on the Scarlet Letters blog, at 8:00am each morning for the next ten days. Enjoy!

Spikey - variation

This is a variation on a monster I've been drawing for years: "Spikey." He has knives for legs, praying mantis scythes for arms, a chicken-with-its-head-cut-off neck stump, a barrel-chested ribcage, and an emaciated belly/pelvis. In the center of the chest -- where his heart should be -- there's usually a gaping hole. Sometimes there's a window where you can see someone trapped inside. This time I put a red velvet-lined cell in the chest, where an unhappy prisoner resides.


This ghoulish beastie has tiny black eyes set into a bulbous head, a severe under-bite, double-jointed arms, a frame that seems to be stretched twice as wide as a human's, and a scar on its belly where its mother tore off the umbilical cord in terror.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: bestiary, sketchbook

January 24, 2006

scrap workshop: art journaling

by gl. at 12:45 am

on saturday sven & i attended an art journaling workshop at scrap taught by none other than fellow portland artist's way meetup member melanie sage. dayna & her daughter also came, so half the class was artist's way folks!


i got this altered book at first impression while i was flyering earlier in the month: it was definitely one of those purchases i knew i would regret not getting, even though it took me a while to figure out why it was cut in such an odd shape...


...but it's a star when it opens up! how could i resist?

what you're seeing here is the first exercise we did in the workshop, where we were told to pick out 10 things from the benevolence of the scrap warehouse -- and then immediately trade them w/ the next table (meh!). we then had five minutes to add items to the pages (memo to self: always bring your own glue stick to an art workshop, and if you're hosting the workshop, carry twice as many as you think could possibly be needed :). it was very similar to the exuberant collage excercise i do the first day of artist's way: don't think, just DO! then we wrote about "letting go" and added acrylic paint.

this piece needs more work to add depth & texture -- even though we wrote, hardly any of it shows through. of course, the great thing about art journaling is that you can completely paint over any pages you don't like (which is, in fact, what sven did on one of his pieces, and it worked!).

as these pages dried we got to pass around several yummy art journals melanie brought: i wish i could have had more time w/ them. her work is personal and vulnerable w/ layers & doors & hidden bits. you know i can't resist the hidden bits! :)


this was the second exercise, where we picked up three different colors from peerless watercolor cards (i've loved those for years and it was nice to see someone else in love w/ them, too!), then added words & phrases we had cut from old book pages. alas, the star book pages are so thin they were easily saturated with water and stayed so wet so long the words wouldn't stick. so instead, i added the shiny metallic dots and tried playing with a hinged door. i also punched out a big hole in several pages in the lower leftmost corner and collaged a spiral & star beneath it. i was trying to use the eyelet setter, too, but the paper was still too wet and it just ended up tearing a hole (right tip of star).

so alas, as you can tell, this awesome star-shaped book doesn't have very much usable page room and the pages are so thin water tears them up pretty easily, so i see some book alterations in my future. melanie suggested gesso (which will also help cover the text: half-visible text would ordinarily be cool, but this is apparently a diet book and a whole journal of it will drive me nuts), gluing several pages together for strength, and possibly tearing some out to allow for thicker pages.

it was good to meet melanie & i see possibilities for the star journal. you can't beat scrap's price & they have a pretty good working space for individuals -- but it wasn't a good setup for 8 people. four people, yes; 8 people doing messy collage work, definitely not. but i sure am glad i wore art clothes! sven brought an apron. :)

afterwards, dayna walked away with a load of great found paint & stamping supplies; i left with some fabric samples and a tiny green carpet square that said "grass!" to me; and sven walked away w/ a million dollars worth of foam core & colored sand & colored grass/raffia & plastic tubs for, like, $5. hooray for scrap!

posted by gl. | permalink | categories: classes & workshops, sketchbook

September 23, 2005

sketchbook collages

by sven at 5:35 pm

Ah, it's been a while since I posted new art -- and I've been crazy with making!


After watching the movie "bodysong", I really wanted to do some art of my own, but didn't have any clear images in my head. So, to try something new, I used the Google "images" function to find some pictures to collage with.

"Where does it hurt?" uses a police diagram for where to look for concealed weapons. I misread it at first, thinking it was pain points used to incapacitate a person -- that's where the title came from. The image of the police was photocopied onto a transparency, and then I painted blue acrylics behind the faces.


I started this one the same night, but didn't finish it til the next day. I was interested in doing more superimposed images, so I tried sending pieces of paper through the photocopier twice. You've got a nude with music notation on her, and a newborn with a police squad on top of it. The composition didn't quite fit the page, so I did some doodles in acrylics to fill the space and give it some life.


This one marks a bit of a turning point -- I started getting a sense of this new style that I want to explore more. You've got the moon with two sides of my face, and then a whole bunch of fish with dead bodies superimposed. For that bit, I took a magazine page and photocopied on top of it.

Very cool synchronicity: On the same day that I made this, our friend Joanne wrote a poem about hurricane Katrina that mentions a "watery grave". I hadn't read it yet, and I really didn't have anything in mind when I made this -- I was just throwing things together -- but clearly it's a picture of a "watery grave". Neat!


This one was difficult to get a decent photo of. On the left hand page you have a blown-up photocopy of my face. On the right hand page is the same image reversed, photocopied onto a piece of transparency, which is attached to a piece of black paper with cardstock using gromits. Frustratingly, you can see reflections of the camera and the diningroom light fixture on the slick transparency. ...Sort of Andy Warhol-esque, to my mind.


Ah, now here I'm getting back to this new style I'm pursuing. Started it the night before, finished it the next day. I liked the image of the moon with two faces enough that I photocopied it and used it once again. Gluing the yarn in was somewhat daring for me: I haven't really ever put anything so 3D into one of my sketchbooks before.


I did this one our Open Studios collage night. Gretchin wanted a title, so I dubbed this it "nature god" (for no special reason). The "world" the character is standing on is actually a human egg, which I found on the cover of a magazine -- not that it's supposed to mean anything. The leaf is photocopied and tinted with acrylics. The horns are little tin snippings I had hanging around. Once again, getting daring and gluing in 3D bits.

...That's it for now, for new sketchbook work!

posted by sven | permalink | categories: sketchbook

August 26, 2005

LSGL painting

by sven at 5:31 pm

Fridays this fall are tentatively "studio days"... So to the studio I went. I was thinking about trying to do a little comic book version of "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" (painted then photocopied) -- but nothing came of it. Instead I got this painting... Which has some nice moments.

It's 10.5" x 13.5", acrylics, in a basic Canson sketch book. I've been trying to get more comfortable with acrylics... I feel like I made some progress today; still haven't found my own voice in the medium, though.

posted by sven | permalink | categories: let sleeping gods lie, painting, sketchbook