Animated Idiom

The world makes us all feel a little like falling apart at the seams from time to time. It’s important to remember who is really in charge of everything in your life. Take a moment and listen to the echoes of those who came before, and remember who you are, and what you need to do.

The Golden Gap

As a “gap” project for my portfolio, I’ve decided to start on new character designs for my future holiday special, “The Golden Pinecone”.

Poppet Character sheet
Grampy Character sheet

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. 

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.