Thursday, 27 December 2012

Sticky Rice

Daigoro, Ogami Itto's son and Lone Wolf's Cub. Gift art for Nout :).

It does not often happen when I paint, but this time round, I felt like I knew what I was doing. And *maybe* this also works well because the approach is kind of Japanese :). AND because hot-pressed Arches paper is pure love.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Today is Oscar Wilde's birthday.

Oscar Wilde is the man who proclaimed that what happens in the mind is far more interesting than anything that occurs in actual life. He valued art and the imagination above all else. For me, personally, he turned into a true Master, a sensei who shaped my views on many aspects of life and art.

Happy birthday, Oscar, despite the fact that the number 158 probably makes you shudder :).

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Shaggy Cloak

It's Dark Ages fashion: the multi-coloured shaggy cloak for posh Irish gentlemen... ;-)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

It's ... Gawain! ;)

The - so far - modest adventures of the future Ladies' Knight will start posting again soon... Work on the draft pages continues :-).

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Lord and Lady Stark

Finally got around to colouring this :). The texture is by Princess of Shadows @ dA; the letters were Photoshopped in.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire

So! I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire early May and have progressed to the fifth book in the meantime. Since I started reading this series, I haven't read a newspaper or a comic. It's All ASoIaF, All The Time XD. Yep, it's that engrossing. On the tram. In the train. In my bath. On the toilet. At the table. Even in the street on my way home from work, I'm reading. *sigh* My life is at a standstill because of the Starks, the Lannisters, the Tyrells, the Greyjoys and their ilk. This is really why I don't read a lot of novels anymore: if I don't like them, I can't finish them. But if I do like them, they swallow me whole.

"Why do you even read the books? Watch the tv series!", I have been told. But you see, a tv series can never be as engrossing as a book. I never fall in love with characters from tv. I cherish and adore characters from books. On tv, a character always gets an existing face. Tom Hiddleston. Benedict Cumberbatch. Alan Rickman. Sean Bean. Oh yes, they are excellent actors and they take me along for a fun ride. But they are real people in costumes. And much though I love Hiddleston's Loki, Cumberbatch's Sherlock, expect to love Sean Bean's Eddard Stark, and did, um, not love Rickman's Snape, I will never feel compelled to draw actors. I mean, there's no need. Turn the tv on and you can see them. They are already presenting an image of a character; there is no need for me to add to that. To be sure, I can be perfectly content with a tv series and enjoy it (a lot). I loved Boardwalk Empire. It was great! But do I feel the need to draw Nucky, one of the most enticing characters I have seen on tv lately? No.

Is 'wanting to draw' a quality measure? No! But if I want to draw something, that means my imagination has been engaged. I have been inspired to create something. Books engage my imagination far, far more than any film or tv series ever does. If a series or film is good, I do come away with a sense of something, with certain feelings that may inspire me. But I never live with characters from films like I do with book characters. Because I cannot make them mine. They are the actor's, the production designer's, the director's. And you cannot look into their heads. They are too much action and too little thought. And the best thing about books, for me, is that they allow you to look into people's heads. Plus, you get to give them a face all your own.

So, why read thousands and thousands of pages instead of watching tens of episodes? Because reading, and imagining, is so much more fun. And inspiration is such a wonderful feeling.

Now, forgive me, I have to end this post and continue reading...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Last page of my mini-Moleskine: Gawain!

Gawain, for once with a beard :). A knight without a beard is like - well, say, me without shoes. Because knights say things like, "By my beard!" Therefore they need to have beards.

Gawain remains the most difficult character to draw right. This is sad because he's also my main character, but kind of normal because I want him to be perfectly like the Gawain in my head, and perfection is by definition hard to reach. *sigh*

Monday, 30 April 2012


It's my favourite snarky lady, Kundry! This is an exercise, drawn/painted in my mini Moleskine watercolour notebook. It taught me that I actually like working with my good old Staedtler pens best, but for some reason I like the result of the brush pens better :/. Sometimes with my Staedtlers I drift towards a kind of half-baked realism, whereas I prefer a more stylised drawing style. I'm just no good at realism - of any kind.

I like the colours in this one. About the rest I'm not so sure :p.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Scanner! :D

Double post because the new scanner has arrived and I've just made my first scan! :D That means I can share a better version of 'Bluebell Spring' - much brighter than the photo I posted last time. I have noticed that if I use the Photo Correction function on the scanner, the colours are much better. Yippee!


I finished Florie's outfit last weekend :-). She's turned out better than I expected!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Gawain, doll version :-)

Gawain, lacking only a belt. I have found some suitably-sized buckles yesterday, so I hope to make a belt soon. If he hasn't got any shoes, that is mostly because I love his feet so much that I don't want to cover them. Gawain's feet are sculpted in greater details than Morgana's or Little Gawain's, even though they were all made by the same company.

Bluebell Spring

I still haven't got a new scanner, so I tried to take a photograph of this drawing. The lady is Florie, daughter of the Carl of Carlisle in the eponymous romance. She is Gawain's second wife and one of my favourite characters in the (future of the) comic. Then again, I am ridiculously fond of every single one of my imaginary people. Even the villains are beloved.

I love drawing feet XD... Yay toes! Few things in art irritate me more than artists who can't be bothered to draw feet properly. Some seem to think that as long as the boobs and the hips look good, they have put down a proper human figure. Well, no. And I am the living proof that you don't need to be a great artist to draw nice feet, so 'too difficult' is not an excuse. There.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Arthurian Review, Issue 2

As I am preparing my essay about the supposedly sexist portrayal of Irene Adler in the BBC series Sherlock, I suddenly remembered my review of a novel that claims to offer a feminist view on Arthurian legend. I never published this review on my blog because I felt bad about calling the book one of the most irritating and worst-written novels I have ever read. After all, nobody forced me to read it, and why was I spending time saying snarky things about a silly novel by a best-selling author? But the whole discussion about Adler made me reconsider. I mean, I think it is right that men should be taken to task for writing lousy female characters. But since I am all for gender equality, I think that women guilty of the same sin should be chastised for it too. So I have decided to publish my review after all. Here goes.
Guenevere. The Queen of the Summer Country (1999)
Rosalind Miles

I confess: I am an ardent feminist. I am not the least bit ashamed about it either. I have a keen interest in gender roles, which has not only determined the direction of my academic work, but also tends to inform my fictional writing. That is why, against my better judgement, I sometimes pick up books like Guenevere. The Queen of the Summer Country. It is one of those novels that promises a feminist retelling of a favourite legend. The author, Rosalind Miles, kindly informs us on her website that she has a PhD in English literature, adores Shakespeare, and has written widely on gender-related subjects. Unfortunately, this only goes to show that love of Shakespeare, a fascination with gender issues and a literary doctorate do not a good novel make.

Miles’ heroine Guenevere is born the heir to the throne of the Summer Country. The Summer Country is a bit of an anomaly in Britain – being the only remaining kingdom that is still a matriarchy. Guenevere’s mother (whose name we don’t find out until Arthur suggests that Gwen could name her first-born daughter after her) is a mighty ruler who, like all the women of the Summer Country, can extend her “thigh-friendship” (I kid you not) to any man, and any number of men, she likes. She has a favourite consort/King who is her champion in battle (because the queens of the Summer Country are warriors, but they seem to leave the fighting to men these days). The Queen has a Round Table, at which all her knights/lovers have a seat. So that’s that. Lucky Gwen: she is going to inherit all this, and her mother’s lovers are already giving her Bambi eyes.

HOWEVER. One day, at a tournament, the powerful Queen of the Summer Country is happily flitting about and flirting, when she is kicked to death by a horse possessed by the evil Merlin. Merlin, you see, hates women. Why, I have no idea. He is a Druid and supposedly in favour of the Old Religon. In any case, the Queen Without a Name is dead and so the throne passes on to young Guenevere. It is at that moment that we discover that the Great Queen has never bothered to teach her daughter anything except how to dress well. This is particularly unfortunate as all the men of the court (besides the queen, no other woman holds any function of importance whatsoever), apart from one bard and one particularly good-looking knight, immediately start conspiring to rid the kingdom of its matriarchal system. Guenevere’s father, Leogrance [sic], wishes her to marry her Evil Uncle Malgaunt (what's in a name?), who declares he will teach her a woman’s proper place.

HOWEVER. This dastardly scheme is interrupted by a Knight in Shining Armour who whisks the swaying princess away and marries her. It is Arthur, the young, square-jawed, golden-haired, immaculately-dressed High King of Britain. And all is well.

But is it really? Well, no, because Golden Boy Arthur is under the sway of Merlin, who hates women, especially “viragos” like Guenevere; and Britain is also swarming with Christians – a slimy, greedy, hypocritical, sadistic group of religious fanatics who claim that thigh-friendship is improper and who offend Guenevere’s sense of aesthetics. And we must not forget the band of insane witches, members of a coven that Arthur’s perverse sister Morgan Le Fay has established in a convent.

Poor Gwen. Is it any surprise she calls upon her “Goddess! Mother!” all the time and sheds copious amounts of tears?

Maybe not. But what does surprise this reader is that the author keeps telling me how strong and independent this woman is. All I see her do is whimper and sigh and pout and dream of a Golden Husband. (Okay, she pulls a sword out once, but since she’s never learnt how to use one, she was unlikely to hurt anyone with it except herself. And the sword is never seen again.) If Merlin calls this childish, suffering lily a virago, you wonder what word he’d invent for a woman who dares to draw a line and knows how to formulate an opinion.

The problem is that Miles wants to have her cake and eat it. Of course it is pretty eyeroll-inducing that people still call a man who sleeps around “a ladies’ man” and a woman who sleeps around “a slut”. If Miles wants to prove a point by giving her queens a harem, fine with me. If she wants to dig up the old matriarchy fantasy, why not. But her “great queen” is an airhead who doesn’t seem to use her power for anything else than attracting new boyfriends. It made me think that the lady never taught her daughter anything about states(wo)manship because she thought Gwen would manage just fine with “thigh-friendship” alone. Although – even though the women of the Summer Country are quite alone in retaining this precious right of “thigh-friendship”, the queen advises her daughter to stick to one man only, because that thing with the round table full of lovers is going “out of fashion”. Tsk, Gwen – if you had listened to your mum, the whole Lancelot scandal wouldn’t have happened. Because I suspect that this is why the thigh-thingy gets introduced in the first place: to give Guenevere every right to take a lover. No moral dilemmas for our Golden Gwen. What’s Arthur balking at? She doesn’t owe him anything. Especially because he molests her when he has been listening to Merlin. He’s a man, after all. He may have a great sense of dress, but that cannot hide the fact that he is a spineless jelly – and another case of a ruler holding a kingdom together despite being a complete nitwit.

It’s sad, but I really can’t find anything positive to say about this book, except that it hasn’t been able to destroy my love for its source material. The stupid, it hurts. It’s in details, such as names: one of Gwen’s mum’s lovers is called Sir Niamh. Last time I looked, Niamh was an Irish woman’s name. It’s in what Miles’ own site calls the “rich historical detail”: there are jousts and knights in full harness and people speaking French, but at the same time the Romans seem to have just disappeared over the horizon, the Church is young, and there is pseudo-Celtic stuff going on, including people fighting from chariots. “Gaul” lies just north of the Kingdom of France. It’s in the characters and the plot: how stupid does Gwen’s father have to be to want to marry her to Wicked Uncle Malgaunt to gain power, when all he has to do is to keep his silly, clueless daughter happy and rule, himself, through her? The same goes for the knights: instead of opposing Gwen, they should be wooing her and try to become her consort. At least that would make sense. Also: making Arthur a weepy, slave-y, pawn-y, wife-raping imbecile? Greatness, UR DOIN IT WRONG. If Arthur the Weakling served a purpose, I wouldn’t mind so much, but if there is a point I didn’t discover what it was. His character has certainly not been diminished to let Guenevere take charge, because she does no such thing.

This book just drove me crazy. It is full of inner monologues in italics, black-and-white characterisations, boring goodies and predictable baddies, your typical badmouthing of Christians while managing to make pagans look bad too, and the whole thing doesn’t contain a single likeable character. I don’t easily not finish a novel, but I gave up at page 316 (of 600) because I really couldn’t take any more. And I slapped myself for having spent €10 on this second-hand paperback and its no doubt equally insipid sequel. Thank goodness I didn’t get the third volume as well.


Now  for the Gawain-o-meter.

Which Gawain?

Sir Gawain

Big, rough and beefy. Forms a nice contrast with Elegant Arthur. When Gawain has fought a battle, he drips with blood and sweat. Arthur, on the other hand, manages to remain fresh and pristine. Gawain wonders how he does that. So do I.

Mid-level. When Arthur calls, some people have to show up, and Gawain is usually one of them. Sometimes we get to look through his eyes and see how dashing Arthur is.

Writing this, I am beginning to think that maybe I should have seen some slashy potential there, which might have made my reading a little more enjoyable.

Gawain is a good and a reliable bloke, a staunch ally, though clearly an inveterate barbarian. He is the perfect onlooker in the Guenevere & Arthur Show, marvelling at their beauty and superiority and perfectly at peace with the knowledge that he will never attain their level of splendour. He is also a good soldier and likes to kill, because “to a son of the Orkneys, it wasn’t a fight without a good show of blood, well-hacked bodies piled around the walls, and a few heads to kick around the courtyard as footballs when all was done”. That kind of thing.
I don’t know where he goes from there, as I have never finished the book. All I can say is that I have seen this kind of characterisation of Gawain (and other story elements, including details like Arthur's "Pendragon tattoos" - sorry, Ms Miles, these are not in Malory, only in Bradley) before in Mists of Avalon. And though I managed not to finish Mists of Avalon twice (!), I still think it's a better book than this one.

One of these days, I will review an excellent Guinevere novel. Because it actually can be done right.

Other issues of the Arthurian Review:

Sunday, 4 March 2012


I *would* be posting pictures if only I had a scanner -_-. I won't be able to post any until I have a found a new scanner - one that renders colours acceptably. If anyone knows which types are good, please let me know! It's kind of important to me.

Saturday, 25 February 2012


This is about a year from where we are now in the comic... Little Gawain looks more serious than usual because of ... stuff that has happened in the meantime. 

I guess I'm exploring all sorts of future storylines because I'm still stuck on the present one :p. It's mostly because I need some action scenes with fighting and I haven't a clue on how to picture it in a way that makes Arthur and his men look like, you know, competent warriors. Maybe I should just throw in some messy doodles and get on with the story instead of being fussed about a fight :/.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


(click for a large view)

Mary Johnson commissioned this illustration for her children's book-in-progress, A Drive of Dragons. Her request was a rather ambitious one for me, what with there being four characters in it, one of which is a dragon - but it was great fun to work on and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I was amazed at just how much more 'lived in' and lively the picture became when I thought of adding the saddle, sword, branches and blanket. I tend to forget about these things completely, which is kind of bad. But hey, I thought of them this time! That means I'm improving.

This scene was pencilled, then transferred to Arches Hot-Pressed using a lightbox, then inked with Staedtler pens, and finally painted with Winsor & Newton watercolours. To prove that I can be a leeettle bit professional about art sometimes, I had done a watercolour sketch first to determine the colours before I started painting the final version. Go me! ;)