Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The last of their kind

The last of the Tar Phoenix creatures is now complete. I feel that I can now let the idea lay dormant in the ashes until inspiration kindles the flame once more.

This lone phoenix took on the character of a small falcon, with its short, sharp bill designed for tearing flesh from bone. With a wingspan of 11 inches, he is the smallest bird of the series.
The final two did not wish to be separated. They seem to be locked in an eternal dance as they soar in tandem, a study in shadow and light.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

One for the Frog Queen

I'm not easily startled, but I was just about to pick up this paint brush when I noticed it had a visitor.....

a visitor with tiny green eyes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Tar Phoenix: back to the ashes

Every so often a series of creatures will naturally run its course. It is as if the idea that once burned hot has fizzled to a small ember and threatens to go out entirely. Rather than force the idea and run the risk of extinguishing it forever, it becomes time to let the ember glow in it's bed of coals. Perhaps a new breath of life will uncover it in the future, fanning the flames of creativity until it burns white hot again. Perhaps it won't. Either way, I have learned that once an idea has gone cold, it is best to walk away. What will be will be.

I have three nearly finished Tar Phoenix sculpts currently on the bench. The final textures and painting will happen this weekend and then I am going to put the idea away for a while. I can't explain it any better than I have tried above. It just seems like time to allow the idea to rest in my subconscious once again until it decides to rise back up from the ashes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Charlatan. Fake. Trickster. This Pumpkin-headed Scarecrow has disguised himself as a witch and is trying his hand at a devious brew. Is he attempting to concoct a potion to do away with the crows once and for all, or does he by chance have a more sinister intent?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Two old friends need a good home

This has been a very bad week on the Shadow Farm. I am faced with several unforeseen bills due to catastrophic automotive failure (2 dead cars in a week) and must raise some money to pay the repairs. I have thought of selling these two characters for a while now, but just couldn't force myself to part with their company. Both were created in the spring of 2008, and stand as my favorite pieces to date. They have watched over my shop and inspired countless creepy minions. They are trusted friends that have shared some of my deepest secrets.

Times are hard. Tough decisions have been made. Icharus an Darwin are now up for adoption on Etsy.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Tar Phoenix returns

Two new Tar Phoenix's just finished and ready for new homes on Etsy.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Willowmite Revealed

A ghostly sobbing has long been reported within the overgrown and nearly forgotten Shadow Farm Cemetery. The ethereal moans have been part of the urban lore for as long as I can remember, creeping into the type of stories told by campfire light where the teller is lit from below by a single flashlight. I am here to tell you that these stories are true-
although the explanation is just as incredible as the stories of wandering souls roaming amongst the cold stones.

I have heard the cries with my own ears, but refused to believe in ghosts and spectres. I am here to tell of the creature known only as the Willowmite.

The night she first allowed herself to be seen, I was camped out in the back corner of the graveyard, recording equipment at the ready for any sign of the supernatural. I heard a soft sobbing, and turned my flashlight towards the noise. What first struck me about this remarkable creature were the eyes. Pupil-less pearl orbs embedded in a sea of black, they shone like nothing I have ever seen before. I was hypnotized as she slowly moved out of the small burrow at the edge of a lonely gravestone. My camera was ready, and I took the first clear shot of the creature nobody knew existed.
In the following nights, I became more familiar with her,and she more trustful in me. She allowed me to introduce a light for better photography.

Through careful observation I have learned several things of her behaviors. First the obvious. She is a small, nocturnal burrowing creature of unknown species approximately six inches in height. She has thick arms and two clumsy 'hands'. She also has eight insect-like appendages projected from her sides, presumably to aid in motivation throughout her system of tiny catacombs. She likes to gnaw on dry wood and lives her life entirely within the shady reaches of willow trees. I assume the willow bark is her sole source of food, but cannot do better than guess at what she may consume underground. An old cemetery with its elderly trees and shallow graves seems to be her perfect environment.
She sings a soft, sad song that is amplified and distorted by her tunnels, making her coos sound like a moaning ghost.
She collects shiny baubles from the caskets she gnaws through, and spends hours staring at these mementos of lost lives. Photographs, buttons, jewelry, and teeth seem to be her favorites. During our evening together, she produced quite an impressive cache of precious objects, and seemed almost eager to show them to me.

She fashions a shawl out of rotted pieces of burial shroud. A thick yellowish liquid seems to run constantly from her eyes like tears, adding to her mournful demeanor.
I have found no record of any similar creature anywhere on earth which leads me to wonder if she is the last of her kind.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

More thoughts on names

It has been nearly agonizing to me over the past day or so struggling to find a name for my new creature. Those of you who follow me on twitter have some idea of what I have been going thru. I have been obsessed. During this time I have come to the following conclusions, which relate to my own experience only. Other artists will certainly have different opinions and experiences than this.
  1. I enjoy developing a story to go with my characters. I feel it gives them a feeling of authenticity, and helps to explain and define some of their unique quirks. It is a process of exploration that I sometimes leave behind, but is very satisfying when I give it my all.
  2. A name is important, but sometimes a general description can suffice. This advice was given to me by Ghoul Friday. Sometimes giving a creature a "scientific name" is more effective than a formal surname. For example, I feed the squirrels in my backyard, but I don't have individual names for each squirrel. calling an animal 'squirrel' defines what it should look like and how it should act. Sometimes that is enough.
  3. There are times when leaving details out allow for the viewer to fill in the blanks and build stories of their own. A backstory can be helpful to a character, but an outline is usually enough....now if a character really speaks to me and has alot to say, then it is my duty to tell the story.
  4. I have been obsessing over this issue, but that is ok. I feel like It has been a good experience and has stirred up some of the old creativity.
So without further ado, I present the first photograph of the mysterious Willowmite. A proper introduction to this creature will be unveiled this weekend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's in a Name?

Naming a character that I create is a very personal experience for me. I have had many comments on how unusual the names are that I give some of my creations and thought it is time to jot some of my thoughts down. Please forgive me if this post makes no sense whatsoever. I have no formula for assigning a name and therein lies much of the fun. In my experience, the name is sometimes as critical to the character as the sculpting details.

While I sculpt, I find that there are two distinct scenarios that come in to play. The first is when I know the name from the beginning. There are times when the perfect name comes to me, and I just know that I have to create a character to go with the name. In these cases, the sculpting process is usually a mad dash to the finish line where I have a clear and distinct vision to follow. I already have the character's life framed in my mind, so I already know what he looks like, how he moves, lives, thinks, and breathes. Sculpting is simply a matter of giving all these notions a physical form. It can be frustrating when the form doesn't seem to cooperate with the concept, but for the most part the process is already deeply rooted in my mind and I just have to follow what I already know. ( If that makes any sense)

The second scenario is when I start to sculpt without a clear idea of the character. I will have a general idea of where I want to go with a piece, starting with a shape, pattern, or texture that caught my attention somewhere as I daydreamed, and I use a very loose 'stream of consciousness' style to my sculpting process. I allow my imagination to wander while I sculpt, sometimes wandering far off the initial rough concept into uncharted territory. When this happens, it is almost as if I am being introduced to a stranger. I have to observe the creature and get to know it before a name is given. As the creature develops before my eyes, I discover things I never knew...where does this thing live, what does it like, how does it go about its day to day functions? Normally at some point when I have learned enough through the very act of creating, the perfect name will just pop into my head.

So why all this introspection? Well, it is because I have a piece that is giving me trouble. The sculpting is nearly done and no name has come. I am beginning to panic as I fear I have missed the magic moment. I feel like I know a few things about this new piece. She is quiet. She is slow. She has a very ancient feel to her and most likely would smell of dry dirt. She has an affinity to dry-rotted wood, and very much likes to chew it into a fine paste. She is of the earth. I do not yet know if she is a threat to have around or if she is a blessing...I prefer the latter as I look into her eyes. She has a sadness and calmness about her. She is maternal.

But still no name. So what next? I will most likely study her and think about her for a period of time until the name comes. Then I will finish her painting and offer her up for adoption. I hope whoever purchases her does so because she calls to them in the same deep way as she is being created.