Wednesday, December 28, 2011

With Heart and Hand and Voice

Merry Christmas! I've been terribly busy with projects, but managed to take off Christmas Eve and Day.

My biggest present was a dressmaker's dummy. Here she is dressed up for the Holiday in one of my blouses and a skirt I made.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Madonna and Child over the Stream

My Christmas card picture for this year.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Slew of Tiny Dolls!

I made ten tiny dolls for Christmas selling! Here are some of them. Click on their names to go where they can be bought.

There are more at my Etsy shop.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fairy Tale Novels t-shirts and more!

I've mentioned this picture being made into official Fairy Tale Novels t-shirts, and now they are available for online purchase here!

There are also posters and tote bags!

If you know a fan of Regina Doman's Fairy Tale Novels, especially of Waking Rose and the awesome characters of Rose and Fish, this could be a great Christmas present. They say if you order by December 15th, it will arrive by Christmas.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Marissa and Karissa

I dreamt I had these dolls.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Little things

I've been very busy lately with some professional jobs, which I will post about with great gusto when they come to completion. But for now, I don't have much time to draw for fun. The above is a doodle of a sunset lake that I did in the Memo function of Professor Layton and the Last Specter.

These are bodies of tiny dolls I'm making for a Christmas craft sale.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Miku bookmark

Quick ink painting with minimal sketching.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

little head

I made this doll head from polymer clay--my first without any molds.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Vocaloids and Transcendental Relationality

I have mentioned vocaloids here a few times, with the short explanation that they are personae of singing software programs. That definition may mystify more than elucidate, so let me explain further. A voice provider, a real live person, records all sorts of different vocal sounds. These are made into a voicebank and then through technology I don't understand, one can arrange these sounds in pitch and quality to sing any song one likes. So far, so simple. This seems at best a new kind of musical instrument and at worst a technocratic replacement of living talent. But there is something more, which makes vocaloids worthy of a more profound interest and gives them indeed a sort of life: the life of fictional characters.

Each voice is given a face, a character designed by an artist. This suggests personality enough that despite the countless people making the songs, there emerges an integral consistency. This creates a new form of storytelling, operating on several levels of subcreated reality: the characters tell stories, act as actors in stories, have "behind the scenes" stories, and play out their own stories. These levels mix and blur, (a powerful shift in one story is when, after making you think the characters were playing roles as actors, it is revealed that this is a prospective back-story for the vocaloids themselves.) making analysis both difficult and fascinating.

Most fascinating to me is how certain vocaloids express two fundamental, transcendent truths of human existence in a way no other medium could.

Right to left: Miku Hatsune, Rin Kagamine, Len Kagamine

Miku Hatsune and Rin and Len Kagamine are among the most popular vocaloids, with Miku being the most popular of all. While some may argue that this popularity arises from the combination of cute faces and short skirts, and sadly many songs and videos do not rise above exploitation of this aspect, on a far deeper level these characters strike a chord in the human heart because of their manifestation, expressed in the truly worthy songs and videos, of a deep reality of human existence: relationality.

As stated in Catholic theology from Bonaventure to Benedict XVI, the human person is relational by nature, in two distinct ways.

The form of relationality expressed by Miku is vertical relationality, the relation of the human individual with the transcendent, with God. Miku was one of the first female vocaloids without a male counterpart. In Christian mystical language, the human soul is female in relation to God, as the bride in the Song of Songs. Thus female characters can be figures of the soul in a particular way, and Miku is just such a Soul Figure. This is the symbolic function of many fairy tale princesses, a role that Miku often assumes.

Miku's best songs are often marked by longing and joy in a beloved, or cries of sorrow and for salvation of the self. This covers the aspects of the human soul in relation to God, as indeed expressed in the Song of Songs and especially in St. John of the Cross's reinterpretation thereof, Spiritual Canticle. It is true that love and pain are the subjects of most songs in general, and that is because this is fundamental to life. But Miku expresses this meaning more perfectly than most singers because of her simplicity and her isolation. Not a real person, her songs are her only being, her whole existence is to sing, to express this longing and joy. And while she is sometimes shown paired with other vocaloid characters such as Kaito, she has no program counterpart and more often her beloved is undefined and/or unseen. One of the most dramatic undefinitions is of a strikingly Christ-symbolic beloved, in a song for Christmas, when God "like a bridegroom" came to earth to die:

Shown variously as a fragile girl, a femme fatale*, a perfect woman, (all of these more possible because she is fictional,) expressing desire, misery, hope, Miku is a consummate figure of the soul in relation with God, vertical relationality.

There is another form of relationality integral to human existence, horizontal relationality. This is the relation of a human person with another human person. This is expressed by Rin and Len Kagamine. As said, many female vocaloids have a male counterpart, but the Kagamines are the only pair who come in one program package. They are often seen as twins, but the company that made them left their relationship undefined so that they could have different relations in diferent songs. Thus they express fraternal, romantic, friendship, or even filial love. Some perverse videos attempt a certain two at a time, but while the best express one form of love, the fact that there is potential for others deepens their power to express human relation universally. While there are excellent solo Rin or Len songs that have nothing to do with the other and thus do not show this radical relationality, the most iconic of their stories involve both. One character is not complete without the other, and they show how human relation brings both richness and pain, through forms of love so various that some do not even exist outside fiction:

Rin and Len embody the human need to reach out, communicate and give oneself to another. This need, source of great joy and achievement, carries with it inevitable tragedy due to the finitude of both human expression and human life.

The fact that one is male and one is female makes romantic love possible and also means that they can better signify all of humanity (while Miku's femaleness means she more symbolizes man's soul), as St. Augustine says of Jesus and Mary's maleness and femaleness respectively meaning both halves of humanity participate in the Redemption.

So Miku expresses vertical relationality and the Kagamines express horizontal relationality. But it is not as simple as to designate these and separate them. Relation with God and relation with fellow man are mingled in human existence, and linked also in these vocaloid expressions thereof.

As the bride's desire for her Beloved in the Song of Songs shows the relation of Christ and the soul, human loves, particularly romantic, mirror the spiritual marriage of salvation. As fairy tale princesses are often Soul Figures, the princes are often Christ Figures, and St. Paul tells husbands to "love their wives as Christ loved the Church, and gave His life for her." The male is particularly called to mirror Christ through sacrifice. (This is not to say females aren't called to sacrifice in love, but the form it takes is different--it more often mirrors Mary, the Co-Redemptrix.) The male among these characters is Len Kagamine, and in the best stories he fits this role exceptionally.

It is sometimes a subject of mirth how frequently Len dies in songs, but I hold that this is a manifestation of this truth. In one of the greatest vocaloid song stories ever (which I do not embed here because one should watch and listen to it with attention undivided, but I link it in the endnotes. I won't tell which it is so that the following won't spoil it) Len sacrifices his life to save Rin, which leads her to repentance. Also, this comes about because of circumstances related to Miku, with whom, in this story, Len is in love. In many stories Len sacrifices himself, in still more he faces death. In another story, Rin sacrifices herself to save him, and this enables him to redeem a broken world. Thus the Kagamines show human relation as a figure of human-divine relation, and especially as above when Miku too is beloved, connect the two. As I believe Bl. John Paul II said, the horizontal and vertical together make the Cross.

Here are some good songs and videos which further exemplify what I am saying:

No you, No me
Rolling Girl
Clock Lock Works

Rin and Len:
Story of Evil - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Skeleton Life
Prisoner (part 1) and Paper Plane (part 2)
Utopia (part 1,) Faint Wish (part 2,) New Millennium (part 3)
Synchronity - Part 1, Part 2

* I think a deal of interesting poetic theology could be written on the human soul as a sort of femme fatale--God became incarnate, which meant His terrible death, for love of her.

Videos and pictures copyright their respective creators. Pictures are from Piapro, the vocaloid art site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Becky and Birtheve in the garden - lineart

I always scan pieces I've worked hard on before coloring, in case I mess them up. I have to color this one with colored pencils, which I haven't used for a long time, so I made doubly sure.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What's this thing?

Very rough study for... something. ^_^

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Maggie complete

Finally finished! She's getting married in October, and I'm going to try to send it as a gift. It may seem weird since I've only met her once that I can remember, but it would seem weirder without an occasion!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rocky coast revisited

I added alot of detail to this and redid some areas to make it suitable for sale. I think there's a big improvement.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

String gel gems

Acrylic string gel medium is amazing. It's very transparent, so mixing it with ink I made these little gems, all different colors on all different backgrounds to test the results. These may be useful for halos and raiment of icon-like-style religious pictures. They also look like candy.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Miku oil doodle

Quick oil of Miku Hatsune, the vocaloid (a singing software program,) that I did to relax in the midst of two big paintings I've got to finish by the end of the month and some very stressful ink-drawing speculation work.

A thing about traditional art is, to represent it on the internet, you have to convert it into a digital file. With digital art, the file contains everything that you put into the art piece, every color, every mark. But the digital representations of traditional art pieces can never get everything. The colors that monitors can show are limited, and the devices used to convert images into files break things down. As an example, the picture above I converted using my digital camera, the below using my scanner.

Neither captures the whole range of color. But we can see, each device has its prejudices. Interesting, no?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gloomy Purple Lady

Using up leftover paint on a board where I had been playing with string gel. String gel is awesome!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Maggie progress

She looks somewhat crossed-eyed at present. Must keep working!

Friday, September 2, 2011

I like using colored outlines and drawing fancy paneling without worrying about making it perfectly lined up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Maggie with background

And in another photo I took the light made the color all weird and not like it really is, but I think it looks kind of neat:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 27, 2011

lake water - attempt 1

This summer I only had one chance to paint the lake from life. But I still want to achieve realistic lake water in oil. This attempt was done purely from memory without any references, photo or otherwise. It doesn't look quite right, but I think I'm learning and getting closer.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Using a brush pen and skewed perspective to focus attention and make dramatic contrast in this sketchy drawing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Enclosed is a Puzzle- Spoilers

Today's piece is fanart for Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, and it gives away an important revelation, so in case any of you will someday play that game and don't want it given away, the picture is down at the bottom of the post. If you have played the game, I recommend also looking at the picture in my Deviantart Gallery, where I wax theological about the story's merits and meaning.

I post it here because I am so very pleased and proud of how the wall turned out. I did it through a multi-layered process of ink painting. First I masked the window and the direct light falling on the wall. I mixed a grey with yellow in it and a grey with blue in it and used these to wash broadly the general distribution of light. When that had dried, I masked the highlights on the bricks and layered deeper shadows. Finally I put in the small shadows on the bricks. I am very happy with the results. Often I cannot do justice to the picture I conceive in my mind. This time, I surpassed it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

something from Life Drawing

Ink and chalk.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Flowers in different lights

Photos I took of the same flower arrangement under different lights; sometime I want to try drawing them both together in pastels or oil.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New characters

Character sketches for another, shorter comic I'm working on. This one's called Thy Brother's Wife.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Figure-drawing Saints: St. Margaret of Cortona

This one I actually modernized a bit, including the model's corset, skirt, and high heels, to express the life Margaret of Cartona lived before her conversion. I tried to keep it somewhat timeless, though, with the drapery and archway. I like this one the best of my life-drawing class saints.

Black Ice Choker

I was teaching my sister to make ribbon roses, and a black one I made turned out pretty well. So I made a choker around it, with silver and black beads, snowflake gears, and a cool watch-face. It's for sale here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cedar Lake on a cloudy day

On the Minnesota trip this year I wanted to paint the lake lots of times, but I ended up only having the time to do it once. And I only had an hour to do it in. The water is so incredible, and I couldn't really capture it... I will keep working on that though.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Figure-drawing Saints: St. Flocellus

Acrylic, conte, and Copic marker.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Figure-drawing Saints: St. John Gualbert

Last semester of Life Drawing class, I started drawing the models as certain saints, with excerpts from a dictionary thereof. This was the first one. Acrylic, chalk, and conte.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hoc Erit Enim Corpus Meum

 Mixed media painting with oil paint applied over collage, which I did for Theology of Creation class. The collage is both paper with quotes from the class readings and other sources printed on them, and leaves collected from the location where I spent my field studies. That place is what is portrayed in the oil paint dimension of this picture, though not utterly realistically. Things such as the five-lobed seed pod, the lily pad flower, the turtle, and the snake are portrayed larger than they would be in their spatial positions to show their detail. The combination of quotes about spiritual realities and creation and representation of a very specific, certain natural place is meant to convey the potential of the concrete things we experience to be joined in Christ.

The largest quote, "Hoc erit enim Corpus Meum," I take also as the title of the painting, and it is from the words of consecration at Mass, with an alteration: "Est" is replaced with "Erit," turning present to future tense, "This will be My Body" rather than "This is My Body." This is to mean the potential for all organic matter and all water to become the Body of Christ through the bodies of the faithful or, more dramatically, through the Eucharist. Organic material and water is what a wetland is made of. The creation of man was an extraordinary thing: matter gained a conscious spiritual being. The Incarnation is even more incredible: God became matter. While Judaism was never duallistic, it always decried idolatry's worship of material things. But now God is a material thing. This was also the reasoning behind the orthodox side in the Iconoclastic controversy; because God had become a material being, perceptible to the senses, the Old Testament prohibition on images had passed away.

Something not "natural" is included in the painting, another work of man besides the words of man (and God): the wooden walkway in the lower left. The slightly skewed perspective on it is to highlight this difference. Yet it is built of wood and the image thereof is painted on the collaged leaves, showing the natural source of everything we make. It is a bridge of sorts, and this fits well with man's place as the bridge between God and matter, and Christ as the bridge between God and man. His Vicar the Pope's title of "pontifex" means "bridge-builder." Thus my handprint on this walkway, my way of signing this piece, signifies the signature of man (a phrase G.K. Chesterton used to define art.) The red in the center of the hand evokes the wounds of Christ, to Whose Passion we are to be united, and the white at the center evokes a hole, like the wounds again, through which light can come and also the Eucharist Host as in a monstrance. We are to be monstrances to the world through the work of our hands, bearing and being the Body of Christ and uniting all reality to It. By using my own hand to portray this I do not claim I am any sort of example of it, but they are the only hands I have and so I pray I may use them thus. In the end, this painting is an effort to do so, by communicating the concept of the universe we perceive in its beauty to be joined with and through us to God.