You remember when I confessed to loving Bigfoot? Well there may have been more to that story. OK, there is more to that story.
I love Cryptids period.
Cryptozoology is fun. I not only enjoy it, cryptozoology and anthropomorphized animals probably make up half of my sketches. If nothing else, the two of them have a huge Venn overlap with old world religions….so they are a space I relish.
One of the most famous creatures that falls into both categories is the mermaid.
It is also one of the most frequently drawn.
But it is all too often drawn as a very attractive woman with a fish tail.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to draw tittays as much as the next guy… but there really aren’t a lot of legends where mermaids actually are fish tailed hotties.
Almost all of the seafaring stories of mermaids and sirens involves sailors hearing beautiful voices or thinking they see beautiful fish girls… only to find that it was a bunch of gnarly old hags luring them on to the rocks.
But that is a bit of digression.
One of the coolest mermaids was made famous by none other than the greatest Humbug (aka con man) of all time. P.T. Barnum.
That would be the one known as the FeeJee Mermaid. I won’t go into a ton of detail about it here, because that isn’t what this site is…and there are already tons of references online if you want to check it out.
What I will do is share a marker drawing I did of it.
Not a great drawing, but it sure was fun to draw…and I liked it in concept enough that I reworked it digitally and designed a Tee Shirt of it in honor of PT Barnum’s show and museum.
I feel like I have been putting up a lot of serious stuff lately, so for my Saturday post I want to share a fun drawing I did.
This one started out just sketching an eyeball. When the orb of the eye started filling out it morphed into a beholder.
Like I mentioned in the first Dungeons and Dragons picture I posted, I could not just draw a beholder the same as they have been portrayed by everyone else. So I gave it more pronounced pincers and some tentacles to give it a floaty feel.
One of my friends pointed out that it looked like my beholder was a mutation with another DnD monster called the Eye of the Deep, which is completely fair.
Either way, this drawing is a pen and ink with watercolor brush pens for color on bristol.
Some of my most emotional paintings and drawings have very little and sometimes nothing to do with me. They are expressions of empathy.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am an “empath” or some kind of weird woo woo shit. But I do believe that there is a bit of a collective energy in whatever space you are in.
During the pandemic, I think we all got caught up in a bit of an emotional feedback loop. And it was not overwhelmingly positive.
For me the key to dealing with it was expression. I found ways of burrowing into my mind and channeling whatever I found onto paper. Then end result of that was that I have been as creative in the last year as I have ever been in my life.
The mid range result of that is I created a lot of dark images.
Which brings us to todays work. I saw a lot of people pushed to the breaking point over the last year and that too found its way onto paper…
This piece is done with sharpies, brush pens, and of course a white gel pen.
I have the original and it is for sale for $150.
You can also get a print of “Shattered” in 5×7 or 8×10 at my etsy store.
The drawing I am posting about today is a true pen and ink, done as a full on black and white.
This is a style that I struggle with, but have always wanted to improve at (more than I was willing to work at it or I would have haha).
It also harkens back to my love of comic strips and especially the drawings of R Crumb whom I was trying really hard to channel while drawing this.
This drawing also dives head first into my exploration of old religions (a constant theme in my art), paganism, and everyone’s favorite, Pan.
It doesn’t matter if you call him Pan, Cernunnos, the Green Man, the Horned God, or Lord of the Wilds; he was of great importance to European culture before the Rise of Rome and then Christianity which of course destroyed and rooted out that culture like it has every other one it has encountered.
At any rate historical geopolitics and religious wars aside, Pan makes an interesting subject, especially when drawing in a woodland bacchanalia with a bunch of naked nymphs dancing around him.
The original of this piece belongs to a dear friend of mine and is no for sale.
If you have looked around this blog, and you don’t already know me; you have probably wondered what TSOTA means. Well it is an acronym for The Sickest of them ALL.
Like most nicknames it wasn’t chosen by me, but I didn’t shy from it either.
As for the origin, while I generally know the sources, I don’t know the specifics…because they never told me. I do know that it had something to do with the fact that I find a lot of things that other people are grossed out or offended by to be humorous…and because I am a paranoid freak I assume that it wasn’t entirely a compliment. It is not a problem, because I do know myself and frankly I am very comfortable in my weirdo skin. It is when I am in my “stupid human suit” (Still love Donnie Darko, watch it if you haven’t) that I am least comfortable…but I can wear it to make the interactions necessary to live a productive life.
That said, if I keep doing this and you continue to explore my art, you will absolutely find that I live up to the name.
The example of that I am sharing today is entitled “Still would”.
Still would is water based brush pens on bristol. It is not for sale because unfortunately it is on the back of another piece (don’t ask how I managed that), that is very important to its owner. Of course if there is demand, I can arrange to have prints made and I may do that just to get this one out there.
For those of you looking at this and asking “why?”, because its funny.
So like every other nerd who likes to draw, enjoys fantasy writing, and has been known to roll a 20 sided die to see how well I performed a common action…
I will occasionally draw a Dungeons and Dragons monster or scene.
Because I do not have the talent that a real artist friend of mine refers to as “being a human xerox machine”, I do not typically even try to copy images from the Monster Manual or whatever cool compendium the kids are using these days. No, I take ideas from those, with a pinch of what I have come across in fiction, and a dash of the crazy shit that bounces around my brain and make them my own.
The image in that space that I am sharing today is a great example of that.
A great example of this is the drider. For the uninitiated, Driders are Drow elves who serve the Goddess Lolth (Demon queen of spiders). These Drow failed a test of faith to her and were transformed into half spider/half drow elves as punishment.
They are feared and hated by the drow and live solitary lives and are magical menaces that your dungeon master may torment you with anytime you spend a lengthy period in caves or dark forests.
At any rate, what makes them a good example of my bastardization of DnD monster drawings, is that they are almost always drawn as all black with white hair, with armor, and elven facial features.
I had to ditch the all black for two reasons. First, I suck at monochromatic shading. So I avoid it whenever I can. Working on improvement in the background, but I catch myself adding color to things all the time to avoid ruining an image I like. Second, spiders always have some color to them, and the cooler ones are usually super colorful. So I kept it dark, but it needed some color.
I ditched the armor because it wouldn’t fit right and frankly I think it is funny to sexualize gross and scary things. Exposing the tits on an evil and magical spider elf is totally on brand for me.
As for the facial features, elves and drow both are usually portrayed as elegant and beautiful creatures. I figure if Lolth is going to punish a drow with this level of disfigurement, she would go whole hog and give them a spider face. So I went with that.
This was done with water based brush pens, a white gel pen and it is on 9×12 bristol. I have entertained printing this for sale, but it is not going to be in the ARTbyTSOTA etsy shops grand opening. The original, like all things is for sale.
Like most artists of various stripes, I have favorite subjects.
One of my very favorite things to do is Madonnas.
This is strange for me, because as you will see as this blog fills out and continues on, most of the things I like to draw are weird, non representational, and dark.
Madonnas are also about the only time I draw specific people and to date I have not drawn a non representational Madonna. They are also the most joyous and “light” subjects I draw. So they are a real niche inside of my artistic spectrum.
Currently I have completed 4 Madonnas. I will discuss each under their image.
What makes Lamore d’Madonna interesting and especially endearing to me is the subject of it.
It started out as me working from a black and white picture of my mother holding me. During the process of painting it, some kind of Oedipal lizard brain shit took over and the painting turned into my wife holding my youngest son who was a toddler at the time.
The pose and the dress are so obviously from the image that my mother of course recognized it, an I feel like she was probably offended by the change.
But when I look at it, this painting encompasses everything that a non religious Madonna should. A mothers love for her child. And frankly I don’t think that could be captured better than through a morphing of those two women.
For the technical minded, this is oil paint on 20×30 inch canvas board and while I don’t have great records was somewhere between my 25th and 30th oil attempt.
I am guessing that there are 12-15 of those that you will never see here. If you have self taught with oil, or worked with it you will understand. Some of my of my oils are good, none are great masterpieces, but several of them are terrible.
At any rate, the second Madonna I did is next.
L’Enfant Madonna was one of the last oil paintings I did, is representative of my best technical work with oil, and is one of my very favorite paintings from my work.
The mother is my oldest daughter and her first born. The title reflects that she had this beautiful little girl a teenager.
This oil is also on a 20×30 canvas board.
The third Madonna that I did is a pencil drawing of one of my grandsons being held by his mother.
Madonna Schizzinosa is the accurately named and the image is mainly focused on the look of content that my grandson had in this image.
It is drawn on 9×12 bristol board with water based colored pencils (dry).
The most recent Madonna I have done currently is another favorite.
Premier Sourire de Madonna was a truly precious moment, and I am happy we captured the sheer power of the love between a mother and her son.
This young lady has struggled with depression and anxiety most of her life, and prior to this moment I don’t think we had seen a real smile from her in years.
I can still remember the hope for her I felt when we got to see her come back to life as this little guy joined all of ours.
Don’t get me wrong, babies don’t cure depression and she still struggles. But new life can be extremely inspirational, and in this case it provide a foundation to build a new life on.
This got a little more personal than I intended, but I suppose any honest conversation about ones artwork will do that.
At any rate that is my current body of work with Madonnas. I am sure there will be more as time moves on.
This particular subject is one of the very few that I will accept direct commissions for. Just so we don’t waste each others time. Pricing will be based on the media I am working with at the time and the size of the image desired. Payment will be in advance and there will be no refunds or reworks. If you commission me to paint your Madonna image you will buying my interpretation…not whatever image you thought you wanted.
Currently the best way to contact me will be via Facebook. Facebook.com/rlsii
Eventually I will create and assign an email to this site and endeavor.