Sunday 19 June 2022

Making art for yourself: the importance of selfish art

I finished a painting yesterday afternoon.  I called it The Blue Scissorknight.  

I sprayed it with sealer, I got an op shop frame to put it in.  It's not my best work, as it's a technique I'm experimenting with - and as a result a bit uncertain at - but it's art, it's art for me, and that's important.

But why is that important?  I doubt anybody will see it.  If I get my art into a gallery for a week or so (that's been a goal for a while now) then I highly doubt The Blue Scissorknight  would make the cut amongst my other work.  Why then did I make it at all?  Well, I'll tell you, and it's jolly important you understand this.

I made the painting because I wanted to.  I WANTED to.

"But why bother?"  The world asks unhelpfully, "If you can't show it, you can't sell it; why did you bother?"  First, I'll have to tell you that I lied - that wasn't the world speaking, that was consumerism.  A society with a short-lived attention span conditioned to consume spoonfuls of easily digestible media at lightning pace.  And it's consumerism that, nine times out of ten, has destroyed creativity.

Please don't misunderstand - I'm not writing from a butthurt perspective, nor from any place of failure!  I'm a selfish artist, which I believe is the best possible way an artist can be.

So let me let you in on a gloomy bit of fact:  New Zealand, far from the idyllic paradise land the travel brochures sell it as, likes to portray itself as an artistic people, a culture with time and resources enough to kick back and create.  That is a front every civilized country likes to adopt, as it makes the economy seem open enough to allow "unproductive" activities.  And it's a front not at all reflected by those maintaining that economy.

We Kiwis are farmers, not known for creative flair.  When an artist happens amongst us, they're misunderstood and considered bludging off the system.  Living in Northland, for example, I've heard some pretty nasty local stories about Hunderwasser (1928 - 2000), an Austrian artist whose design for an art gallery now stands on Whangerei's waterfront.  

Hundertwasser Art Centre

From what I've heard - entirely from people I've worked for/with over the past year we've been living in Northland - nobody wanted the art gallery built, nobody cared.  Someone dredged up a rumour of pedophilia and everyone ran with it.  Now notice that I specified "people I've worked for/with"; that's the tradies, the backbone of NZ's society, they're the ones with the figurative finger on the pulse of the unwashed masses.  And if the unwashed masses don't care for a multi-million dollar artistic venture (which I might add is FREE for the public), then why would they care about the daubings of one more mad artist?

That's why you, the artist, has to care.

You create art because you want to express yourself - or maybe just because you just WANT to.  You get a sense of achievement in getting what's in your head down on that canvas.  You want to tell a story, you want to portray a world, and you must do it for you.  Because while you might be your harshest critic, you also need to be your biggest fan.  Your only fan if need be!  And that's okay!  It might be seen as unproductive, it might be seen as a waste of time and resources...  But in this day and age, who cares?  Who, really?  Why should artists bother contorting themselves to the whims of others?

And do you buy thousands of dollars' worth of 40K, just to make a custom Astartes Chapter GW will never acknowledge?  Because in creating art it gives the artist joy.  And if the artist can't find joy in the art they create, then maybe they have to find another means of achieving their vision.  Maybe they need to realise that all those people telling them "You should make it like this" or "Oh, I'd do it like that" really have no say in their creativity.

Let the artist create art for themselves.  Let the artist be selfish in their art.  Because then the vision the artist produces will be more pure, unadulterated by the poking and prodding of companies trying to use their art like another soulless resource to haggle over.  So I'm going to put The Blue Scissorknight on a chair and look at it for a few days, then pop it away in a cupboard and paint something else.  Nobody can tell me otherwise.

Let the artist create.  Don't mind my rambling, I just needed to get this down somewhere.

Bye bye for now.

Monday 29 November 2021

First foray into Sculpting? Making a Veratican vicar

 Something I haven't done much of in the past is sculpting. I mean, I've done a bit here and there, a pelt on an Astartes' back or a bunch of purity seals. What I've always wanted to try is ac-tu-al sculpture, as in from a base, forming the whole from milliput or whatever is handy and usable.

The milliput is currently in the post. It'll be my first time with it, and I'm quite nervous/excited to give it a go.

So, who to make?

I may or may not be working on a miniature-based tabletop game, set in the Apocalyptican fairytales. One of the pieces I know to be present is a vicar, a frail old half-corpse in a robe with a sword and shield. Or a hammer, not sure what I'll send up making? Either way, theirs is a rather particular look.

Mostly, the attire of the parish shepherds is based on that of Tay Tumbel, a vicar who was known for his many adventures. A pleated surplice over a long coat of mail, wth layers and hoods and even a bit of plate-iron over to of everything.

So there we are; many textures, many layers to work on. it'll be an informative project and most importantly it'll be fun! And hard too I expect.

Putting a flame to that everpresent empty sprue we can never seem to dispose of, I made a body to work from. The general shape of the skirt and the baggy outer robe is all I've defined.

I imagined the head would be the most finicky part to make, so I had to give this one a good bit of thought. Eventually I dug up a bit of clear ABS plastic which had paper gummed on one side; this I drew on to give me a visual thing to work from.

You can just about see it through the other side. Anyway, the shiny surface is much easier to scrape the finished product away from.

For his nose, the stump of a chaos chainsword has just the right shape to it; I'll sculpt the rest of the nose later.
The rest of the head is made from a bead, cut and spaced with bits of 25mm base.

S here's what the handsome fellow looks like so far. He even has arms... Just. This is where I have to leave him until the milliput arrives, and I learn how to use it! 


I want to say this explicitly, before anything else happens. Please understand, I need to make this statement for future reasons.

While this vicar is based on the character of Tay Tumbel, it is not meant to represent the character. That is not the way of the fairytale, to focus on one tale more than others. This will be a general representation of a particular kind of vicar, and not a template.

All good? All good, thanks for understanding. Well, here's hoping the milliput arrives soon.

Bye bye for now.

Friday 19 November 2021

Characters and OCs - is there a difference?

A question has been on my mind for some time and I'd like to try and straighten it out here: Is there a difference between a character and an OC?

Now, this might not be the sort of content you are used to on this blog; correct, it's not the usual thing. But it's something I've been mulling over for a while now and I wanted to get it down.

Also, you'll be able to see a side of my art you might never have seen before - clean!

I believe there is, at least to my mind there is. On the left of the picture above is Djn of Tenbridge, a character from my trilogy. On the right, Kerindra and Fréki, two of my OCs. Now, the first differentiation might be style, but that's got nothing to do with it - I believe it's to do with the reason for their creation.

An original illustration I did for the first book, framed.

His relationship with Rygnir, the main character, was planned from the start of the story, what would happen and how they would interact. I may never mention this couple again in another Fairytale because their story has been told.


On the other hand, I drew K and Fréki to practice elements of their particular design, i.e plush bodies. I simply drew them the way they are, because they have elements I like to draw. The fact that they're a couple is actually because my wife said they'd be cute together, not because it was planned at all.

This is my art. Don't ask how, I just CAN do less grim, okay?

OCs, in my interpretation, can be created for myriad reasons. I have OCs I made to experiment with relationship dynamics or character interaction. In practicing art or testing certain traits, I've come upon something I've really liked and made an OC out of it. I even have some who originally were sprite edits!
OCs can be a refuge in a way, a means of getting the toxicity of the world out of your head. That's the reason almost all of my OCs are queer, in fact.

Men is too headache. Also yes, this is my art too.

Many of them have backstories in one way or another, but nothing much in the way of actual narratives in which they play a part. However, I am currently working on an urban fantasy alongside my usual stuff, in which a particularly special OC is the protagonist. They are based largely on my own experiences as a kid; things I wanted to do or be (I always wanted to fly, talk to faeries, be a girl - you know, all those mythical things) but never could.

And yes, the dynamic duo Kerry & Fréki will be making a passing appearence too; a tiny window into their own little world, and a step on the road to becoming "characters" in the more regimented way I've described.

Characters, I feel cannot be experimented with or placed into situations outside their established body of work, while OCs potentially can. My wife and I are currently engaged in an ongoing DnD-esque narrative with some of our OCs in a vaguely fantastical setting. I would not be comfortable using a character in this setting.

This was a commission piece I made for a private client

I must have hundreds of characters by now. If you were to include every person I mention over the course of the trilogy you might say I had millions. However, I've only got about twenty OCs, in the sense of the word I've detailed; the people who appear in their stories I would consider characters, because they have a set reason to be there, a role to fulfill.


Well, I think that's everything laid out for my argument. I'm not exactly sure why I felt the need to write this down, but there we are. Have you any thoughts on the matter?

By the way, I wanted to apologise for moderating comments. Blogger seems to have become filled with spam bots.

Bye bye for now.

Thursday 11 November 2021


 I see a shadow in my dreams. From whence, I cannot tell, do not press me so! Merciful Throne, how it devours...


If Him on Terra had but one flaw to speak of (and oh, but how many there are to course from!) then it is His towering inability to admit fault. To his sons He imparted this gift, however unwillingly received, to perhaps all twenty of His children, letting them do as they would with it.

Arrogance. Perfectionism. Self-doubt, self-hatred. These four things, and these things alone sculpted the Primarchs into the men they became. And these things consumed them.

We see the Prætorian as a mind forsaken, alone in a sea of doubt and hatred who could turn to no-one for comfort, for arrogance rendered him incapable of it. Human emotions were said to not apply to Dorn - a lie altogether blind! - for it was impossible for him to exhibit them, even hate, even love. What then, I ask, could become of such a godlike creation as he, when faced with the absolute horror of betrayal at the master of mankind's death? How could something become so inhuman relate emotions he was disallowed from touching?

He fell back into a dream. It was all he could do. Fall back into dream of consuming darkness.

If the pitiable state of the Primarchs was an unknowable taboo, then that of their sons would be all the more so, especially as they are humanity's only bulwark against the night. We do not want to think of our saviours as fallible, but so they are! So they are, and it terrifies the mind to understand the true depth of this psychosis! I speak largely of the VIIth legion and all who came therefrom. Oh yes! Perfect, staunch, unmovable, who would believe the consuming dark that eats away at their souls?

It begins first as dreams, nightmare visions of an empty Throne, a carcass in gold devoured by chittering, wormy, claw-fisted alien maggots. Long hallways of twisted darkness seep from their sleeping minds to press against their waking eyes, then the dream takes a hold of their body.

So subtly - so subtly! - the dark, seeping hallways manifest as a pit on the flesh of the Astartes, broadening with insatiable hunger as humanity and emotion leaks out. Darkness consumes the Astartes in his every thought and action until he cannot even summon enough reason to let his hearts beat. His dreams of hallways become so real to him that he would rather never leave them, for there is pain there, and pain means life - doesn't it? Pain is there where pain is not here, here in a waking world turned all to ash and darkness absolute...

When next the Astartes wakes, he finds himself walking down those halls, with the inhuman screams of every living thing blending into a distant, almost mechanical chugging, creaking, breathing. The halls are alive - he is alive - the devouring dark is alive, and he is alone against it, naked and afraid.

Hark, but not naked.


Well, that's the general opening to a terminator project that I've been working on for the past year or so. Next time I'll explain what my plan is, but for now that's the flavour text.

Bye bye for now.

Thursday 4 November 2021

Once more into the fray

So here we are again. It's been a long time since I last made use of this blog. It feels like the reopening of an ancient spellbook used by an equally ancient wizard, of whom I am a reincarnation with only shreds of memory left.

Blogging is an outdated, longhand kind of content very few people use nowadays. For this reason, I feel more comfortable with discussing past events - and generally, everything else - in a more longhand format, as only those genuinely interested will spend the extra effort in reading.

I have changed. I've changed a lot.

I will not overlook the fact that I am still quite mad these days. However, compared to the unsocial, suicidal creature I was during this blog's initial use, I'm nowhere near to that destructive or depressed.

I've published two books now, with a third on it's way. I'm married, and we have a beautiful blue/grey cat child. From a place of utter desperation and darkness, I've begun to heal, to learn how to be human. To love. To be who I truly was meant to be.

The views I had of Games Workshop haven't changed since the last post - hell, to be honest I think the company has become all the more worse - however, this blog will continue, for the most part, to be focused on my 40k kitbashing work, and any commissions if they come along; but I won't push it out there. If you find this blog, it won't be because I made you go look at it.

As much of the original content as there could be is still present, but you aren't obliged to trawl back through; it's here mostly as a testament to the past, to what I was, to what my kitbashing was.

Let's see what the future will bring, eh?

Bye bye for now.