23 March 2016

Home, Sweet Home

I know I haven't posted in ages. Lots of things have happened, and a lot of those things are not entirely happy. Some of them were really crappy. More on that later, maybe.

Right now, just a quick note to say I'm no longer in the woods of Nova Scotia. Instead, I'm halfway up a small mountain on British Columbia's Vancouver Island. I've come home. I'm resting, healing, figuring out what to do next.

What I do know is that there will be a lot of art. A lot of exploring nature. A lot of writing.

More soon.

28 August 2015

Flashback Friday: Pen & Ink

I started drawing with pen and ink, using a dip pen (usually a little Hunt 102, which is still my favourite) and india ink, sometime in junior high school (that would have been about 1985-1988--yes, I am old). My art teacher at the time thought I had a lot of good energy in my line work, and that was all the encouragement I needed to make pen and ink one of my main media for drawing for years afterward (which just shows the effect a teacher can have).

Obviously I wasn't especially good at it right away, but I liked the results enough to keep going. And while I was still drawing fantasy (a habit I have never broken and don't really care to), I was also starting to do fewer obviously Elfquest-inspired characters, and more things out of my own imagination.

Also of note, it was around this time I started trying to develop a little wordmark or monogram to use as a signature. I later abandoned "Nik" in favour of "Niko," but I've since come back to it (partly because, as indicated by the title of this blog, it's an anagram of "ink").

06 March 2015

Flashback Friday: Watercolour

Yes, sorry, it's another elf, and this time I pretty much re-drew it directly from a page of ElfQuest (I didn't trace, it though, but re-drew it freehand). What's significant about this picture, though (at least for me, is that it's one of the earliest examples I have of the pen & ink with watercolour combination I still use.

I obviously hadn't really got the hang of shading yet, except in a tentative way with the linework, but I can see the beginnings of more developed work than I had been doing. This is also the first piece of mine that my junior high art teacher thought was good enough to put in the display case outside the school office.

04 March 2015

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Character Opinion

Note: This exercise was originally written for About's (now defunct) Creative Writing for Teens website. Although it was aimed at teens wanting to get better at writing, I hope it will be useful for all writers.

Character Opinion: A Character Development Exercise

Instructions: If all your characters think exactly the same way you do, then they're not very well-rounded. Characters should appear to the reader to be real people, with their own histories, thoughts and opinions. In this exercise, we'll explore characters through their opinions of current events.

1. Choose a current event about which you have a strong opinion, or about which you've spent a lot of thinking.

2. Choose one of your characters. You might find it easiest to first do this exercise with a character whose opinion is very like your own, or with one whose opinion is very different. Or start with the character you know best.

3. Write a monologue or essay from that character's point of view, about your chosen current event. Write for as long as it takes for your character to express their opinion. Remember to write as if you were that character, or as if they were writing through you.

If they would be very straightforward about stating their thoughts, then be straightforward. If they would try to hide their real opinions, then do that. Let the character's voice take over.

4. Set what you've written aside for a few days (or longer, if you want). Read over it later. You should learn some interesting things about your character, which you may be able to use in a story.

5. Repeat the exercise as often as you like, with other characters. You could write one character each evening for a week, say, then read over them all when you've finished.

Notes: Even if your characters are in a fantasy world of your own construction, they can still have opinions on "real world" events. Write as if these characters were able to see into the real world--you can try pretending that our world is a television show, or play, or series of novels in their world, if you have trouble imagining them as aware of the real world as well as their own. In fact, you can even try this exercise if you are using real-life historical characters by imagining what they would have thought of life today.

Want more writing exercises?  Here's the list. Or sign up for my newsletter in the left sidebar.

27 February 2015

Flashback Friday: And Again...

Yes, another elf. By the time I drew this one, I was starting to do less copying and more trying to draw based on how I remembered faces/bodies/things fitting together. And I was getting a bit better at using colour. This is probably still junior-high era work. For some reason I seem to have more of that to hand than of high school or early university stuff.

There is still a lot of ElfQuest influence--as there probably will be for the rest of my life. Which reminds me, I think it's time I re-read the whole series and got caught up on the new books...

25 February 2015

Wednesday Writing Exercise: Creating Aliens and Fantastic Beings

Note: This exercise was originally written for About's (now defunct) Creative Writing for Teens website. Although it was aimed at teens wanting to get better at writing, I hope it will be useful for all writers.

Creating Aliens and Fantastic Beings: A Creature/Worldbuilding Exercise

Instructions: Try to do the entire exercise in one sitting. You may find this helps your thought processes or you may find it overwhelming; if the latter, take breaks between numbered sections, but don't let too much time pass before going on to the next. There are notes at the end that may help you better understand the focus and point of the exercise.

1. Write an essay about your alien/creature as if it really did exist. Make it the point of the essay to describe the being to someone who has perhaps heard of it, but does not know what it is. Hint: analogy is useful for description and perhaps also for some of the "how it works" stuff. Don't go into too much detail -- just enough to let the reader get a decent idea of the creature.

2. Make notes as if you were a scientist studying the creature. Point-form scientific observations on biology, habits, culture and so on work well. These are notes you are making for yourself -- other people don't need to comprehend them, but make sure you will later. Sketches and diagrams may be useful. Begin by ordering things logically or by category (physiology, appearance, etc.), but don't be too strict. New ideas will come to you later; just add them at the end.

3. Think about how this creature might fit into a story. Jot down some plot ideas. Is it a creature that will be discovered during the novel/story? Is it already an integral part of the setting that is well-known to your characters? Will your being be a main character? A secondary character? Just part of the scenery? Answering these questions will help you decide how detailed you must be in your creation.

4. Write down some thoughts/notes/descriptions on how this creature may have evolved (or been created). This can be just as useful for fantasy creatures as for science fictional aliens. How does the being interact with its environment today?

5. If the creature will play any kind of significant role in your story/novel, try writing a first-person passage -- perhaps a full scene (not necessarily one that will appear in the finished story/novel) -- from the point of view of a member of that species. Get inside your alien's head, see how it thinks as an individual, how its species thinks, how its perceptions differ from human ones and also how they are the same. Try to keep writing in character for a few pages.

Notes: One thing this exercise should do is get you thinking about your alien/creature in context rather than in isolation. Creatures exist in environments and co-exist with other creatures. So should yours. Different creatures think and act and live in different ways. Explore this and see how what you discover can affect your thinking about plot, setting and other characters.

Want more writing exercises?  Here's the list. Or sign up for my newsletter in the left sidebar.

20 February 2015

Flashback Friday: You Guessed It

Um, yes, it's another elf. Also very Elfquest-influenced, right down to the character's name. I'm not sure why I thought a lavender leather bikini would be good forest wear, though.

Pencil and pencil crayon, probably from sometime in the ... mid to late 80s, maybe.