Legends of Lodila

So I have been working on streamlining Pallo’s origin story this semester, making sure to incorporate my personal goals into every project, and my Writing for Visual Media course final was a script treatment for a movie. That one project really helped me figure out how to choose which elements to include in Pallo’s part of the Lodila Valley/Land of Lo series.

I have definitely increased my focus and intention on manifesting my animated films, and learning how to animate – even just as a beginner – has brought so much more to the surface! As of now, my plan is to create “Legends of Lodila – Claviger of Flowers” as an introductory film for a series. Here is my final slideshow…I found a perfect name for the character-formerly-known-as Frances Greenbaum, Pallo’s best friend – Putri! I’ll share the story of her name in another post.

Practice animations and character designs abound during this two week break before summer semester starts!

Characters of Lodila Valley

Lodila Valley is nestled in the center of the Land of Lo, and is home to many creatures. Here are some profiles for some of them. Each of them have developed into much more complex characters as my writing continues, but here are the basics!

Characters and short bios

Art

I am realizing that, while this blog is titled, “The Art of…”, I have yet to really share any. So, without further adieu, my first share is the Cybele. In this piece, this extraordinary creature is giving consul to a traveler from another realm. What’s a Cybele, you ask?

Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo. It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, but cannot survive out of the water.

It has three stages of transformation –  pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted). Pods develop at each end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them.

This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod risks the fry being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise. Surviving, free-floating, Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more.

Mature Cybele end their journey after another 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl from the Claviger, Ko the Oyster Guardian of the Western Shores of Lake Chitali, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.

Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles, of sorts, and they are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in life.  At this time, they begin channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker.

Seekers must find and swallow a golden pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. The creature then absorbs the life experience of the seeker through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange. Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight.

For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele Oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time. That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is shown to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.

Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger for the first time, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on.  Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course. 

And then…

Sometimes, I have a hard time letting shit go. I think we can all say that there is likely some wound that has a difficult time healing completely – something that just fucking bothers you forever. At least, it seems like forever. And, sometimes, I don’t have a hard time at all.

I considered myself a pretty prolific writer, some years ago. I was always writing stories, poems, lyrics, to-do lists that would never get completed, and never thought twice to share what I created with people close to me. In fact, I used to get quite discouraged by the idea that my friends were more interested in our band’s guitar solos than my brilliant use of metaphor and rhyming in my lyrics. I have since realized that most people don’t digest lyrics at all, and even sing them – for their entire lives – without ever realizing exactly what they are saying. The words just aren’t important to everyone…I get it.

I shared. I got excited by my own work, and I showed, I read aloud, I sang the words out to whoever would listen. Then, people who were supposed to be listening for enjoyment, started listening for material. A-ha! The age old problem of plagiarism! I’m an amateur, right? A nobody! Who the fuck cares if someone steals my shit? NOBODY. So, I stopped sharing. It hurt terribly to be betrayed in such a way, and I went into my shell, collecting words like dust bunnies, hidden away under the bed.

Fuck ’em.

So, here I am. Doing my best to start sharing again. Yet, I filter myself with this paranoia – “maybe they’ll see…maybe they’ll know I’m talking about them…”. I’m working on that part, still. But, here I am.

Pallo and friends are next….

Acorns, Bees, and Cheddar Cheese

Such is the name of my rhyming book of ABCs. As a professional nanny, I read a shit ton of alphabet books. Lots of them rhymed, and most of them used the same words to represent each letter. A is for apple, B is for ball, and so on, got so monotonous, I started making up my own. As an artist who will automatically draw whatever I’m talking about with a child, I simply taught kids more words to alleviate my own boredom. “B is for balloon…banana…boat…anything but ball!” Drawing was a huge asset to being the caregiver and teacher to dozens of preschoolers over my career. Actually, when I was the supervisor for a bunch of grumpy, old insurance agents, they seemed to like my dry erase board art, too…despite themselves.

So, during those baby naptimes, I took it upon myself to draw up my own ABC book. I did make a point to choose more unusual words to represent each letter, but I didn’t realize really how unusual until I read it aloud to my now-wife for the first time.

“Yes, that giraffe has a girdle on.”

I loved the individual illustrations, but am not a fan of the formatting I did on for the book itself. I created my own font with my handwriting, and – while it was a good idea – the end result wasn’t satisfying for me. I won’t be re-doing this one, but it was great practice, and I sold all 100 copies I ordered, so it wasn’t a loss.

The Golden Pinecone

The Golden Pinecone is a story about a little girl, named Poppet (my own childhood nickname), who finds a pinecone on a walk in the woods, and loves it until magic turns it into gold – just in time for Christmas. I created the illustrations to echo certain simplistic styles of the ’50s and ’60s, with black lines and basic colors lain just outside the lines. I had visions of screenprinting the copies myself, using gold paint for all of the yellow parts (I actually still want to do this, someday), but I went in for CreateSpace – a site that provided a free ISBN and distribution on Kindle and Amazon, in exchange for holding your book file hostage. Here is the cover art:

Poppet learned that love can create a special kind of magic. This book exemplifies a typical, feel-good children’s story, with a dash of fantasy. I was working as a nanny for four children under 4 at the time, and wrote and illustrated the solid black line drawings while the babies napped. I found a beautiful font, and did the layout with Photoshop. The whole project came together like a twinkling waterfall of moments, falling into place perfectly.

I had moderate DIY success with this book, locally, selling over 200 copies at various events, shops, and just word-of-mouth networking. I got great feedback, and even had a woman who owns a dance studio in Topsham design her winter recital around the book’s story – complete with 4 year-olds dressed like dancing autumn leaves and squirrels. It was an honor, and totally adorable. I have an unfinished script for a children’s play based on the book, as well.

My plans are to completely recreate the illustrations, and publish a second edition. I would love to have this completed in time for the 2020 holiday season, but time is squeezy, and we shall see. I’ve had that goal for a few years now. I definitely don’t want to let the story die, having so much potential. It is only available for sale through Kindle right now, as CreateSpace was sold to Amazon/Kindle, and the edition they have for printing on file is flawed.

“Resume”

In eighth grade, I was at Lake Region Middle School, right on the border of Naples & Bridgton, Maine. My art was definitely taking on an identifiable look, when it came to the cartoon-y characters I would draw – specifically, lopsided googly eyes were a “thing”. I explored in all kinds of other art forms, but sketching cute, quirky anthropomorphic or imaginary creatures was my specialty.

The class was given a project in English class, to write and illustrate a book. I’m sure there was a page minimum, but I think we were given freedom to choose the content. It was supposed to be a group project, but I was the odd person out, and worked alone. I think that was one situation in which I was totally cool with that, since it meant I had complete creative control. Typical.

Chester the Cow was born. Never mind that this animal was clearly gender fluid, being a cow named Chester sans udder. This cow was on a diet. (No influence from my environment there, no…) So, I created a silly cow who decided “he” was too fat, and had to eat salad and exercise. I still have this masterpiece, and it was officially the first complete book I had written and illustrated. If I find it in my things, I’ll update this post with a sample page.

There were some other experiences throughout school of being asked to draw things for people, including an unfinished set of illustrations for a book my Western Civ teacher wrote, in high school. As an adult, I chose debauchery and rebellion as my art form, and my creativity was intensely sporadic. I tried wrangling myself into responsibility here and there, but really just flopped around like a sad, whacked-out hippie fish until the new millenium. There are a bunch of wooden boxes and pieces of furniture with my paint on them, still floating around out there, I’m sure.

I got my first paying gig as a illustrator when a friend’s mother, who had self-published several books already, hired me to draw a lighthouse book for kids. Heddy the Lighthouse was not only my first opportunity to draw every page, it was also my first experience in working for a client. My ADHD package has a nice bow on top called “Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria”, which adds a little spice to any criticism – regardless of how constructive it is. I ended up rushing to finish, and I was unhappy with the end product. But, I got paid, and got a case of copies to distribute as a I wished. I still have some, almost 20 years later.

That experience taught me many things, but most importantly – I could do this all on my own. Within the next few years, I started really forming whole stories. It wasn’t until 2010 that I completed an entire book, with illustrations, and decided to self-publish it. Life happens, and I didn’t get it made until late 2011. It does deserve its own post, so…to be continued….