I Come Old Friend From Hell Tonight, Across The Rotting Sea

Soooooo it's slow going at the moment. It took a while to get my drawing down last week and I had a lot of stuff to do over the weekend so I didn't buckle down like I usually do (read: I went outside!). Here are a few in progress photos of the Bake-kujira:
The Bake-kujira is a ghost whale attended by strange fish and birds in Japanese folklore. I'm so-so on how it's coming out, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to draw something that had a visible skeleton. The link I provided above is to the Obakemono Project which is really cool and worth checking out. It's a series of little stylized illustrations and entries on yokai.

Hey, check it out, here's a show card:
Please come!

There are so many things I want to do for this show but as always I have limited time. I'm still thinking about doing Melusine, something about a sunken city either from Poe's "The City in the Sea" or an R.E.H. poem (he has a lot to say about Atlantis), something about sailors valentines, and maybe something about drowned sailors getting revenge (like from all those E.C. comics and the Fog, and this song which is so unbelievably stuck in my head right now). I'm also still mulling over how to do something related to the Flying Dutchman or Davy Jones even though those two bits of folklore got Disneyed to death with the Pirates of the Caribbean. Also still working my way through that William Hope Hodgson book.

I'm getting the winter crazies and hoping that this show being done will correspond with the beginning of spring. As much as I like snow and even sometimes the cold I'm getting pretty stir crazy and would like to be able to ride my bike without eating shit on the ice and so on.


Such Is The Way Of Demons, The Wont Of Devils

Soooooo I hated making this painting. Remember how I said there seemed to be something up with the paper I used for the last one? Well there's definitely something up. It's obviously my fault for using it again, but this time it was way worse, with any mixed paint I used separating and smearing on the paper (but working fine on other papers I tested it on). I had a mini meltdown Friday night and almost scrapped it but worked through the problems, making some color concessions to use premixed paints I had. Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
Wtf? It was basically like having someone slap your pencil as you write. Every time I put the brush down on the paper it got worse. The red in the purple I mixed was sinking into the paper while the blue was smearing around on top which meant anytime I brushed back over a spot the blue lifted off and magenta/purple smeared out from underneath.

Annnnyyyyway. This guy is a Devil Whale, or Aspidochelone, orrr Jasconius. It's a pretty pervasive idea in various folklore, but I first remember reading about it in the Voyages of Sinbad as a kid. It's a "whale", giant fish or giant sea turtle that, according to medieval bestiaries, lures sailors onto its back as it has the basic appearance of a small uninhabited island. When the sailors light a fire to cook food the monster awakens and pulls them and their ship to the bottom of the ocean. Here are a few old illustrations of some:The little seaweed fins on my guy where inspired by this totally weird Tassled Wobbegong a kind of "carpet shark":

I didn't make it a literal whale because so many things described as whales in maritime lore are not literal whales, and sometimes things called "devil whales" where further described as being giant sea turtles.

Doing all those tiny scales meant gripping a brush super hard for a full day so my hand is pretty brutalized at the moment. I took Monday to just lay around reading and sketching. I've been working my way through this book:
A collection of short ocean themed horror stories by William Hope Hodgson. Previously I had only read the Voice in the Dawn an extremely creepy fungus themed story which was adapted by Toho in the weirdest most psychedelic way ever into this movie, Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People which is also very entertaining on it's own merits:

All the stories I've read so far from this collection have been great, and Hodgson is particularly good at making the ships and the ocean itself sound like endlessly dark mysterious places, with horrible unseen things lurking in shadowy corners and snatching people away one by one. I recommend it!

Anyway, I'm slacking this week and really need to pick up the pace. Ow. My hand.


Red Sky At Night, Sailor's delight, Red Sky In Morning, Sailor's Warning

Still working at what I've determined is my maximum pace, I finished another week-long piece yesterday. The bulk of the progress was made Friday when Mike and I watched SEVEN movies, (five of which were John Carpenter) while our good for nothing cats^ slept blissfully on the radiator, not a care in their little pea brains.

The most intense but strangely hypnotic to work on part of this one was the water. I actually spent a long time wrestling with the sky, and had to make some (luckily positive) edits after finding I was having the same streaky paint problem I've had in the past. I'm pretty sure the problem is actually the particular paper I occasionally use, but both times I've had to rework the sky because of it it's come out better than I planned. Some close ups:
The image is based on an account I read in this really cool book:
Which is a collection of available information on the occult at the turn of the century (no new age junk). There's a Scottish story about the Macdonalds of Glencoe, who were transporting the chief of their clan to an island for burial when his body was lost in a storm at sea. From that point forward the phantom funeral skiff would appear to members of the clan as a portent of doom anytime something tragic was about to happen to them. It was said to be accompanied by ghostly female mourners loudly singing a dirge.

The candles are "fetch-lights" or "ghost candles" which supposedly appeared above an unburied body or at the place where a body was lost at sea, or as warnings of death. There's a bit of information on them in the Encyclopedia of occultism and even more in this book from the 70's, which has an incredibly cool cover:
The term fetch is generally applied to a vision of a doomed person's doppelganger before their death, which typically appears to a loved one or to the person themselves (terrifying!). Additionally the Irish and Scottish banshee (bean sidhe and bean shith respectively) is very much related to the tone of the phantom funeral skiff, as banshees are typically attached to a particular clan and appear before deaths of members until the clan has died out. Apparently if the banshee is the spirit of someone close to the family who loved them they appear calmly to escort the damned person like an angel, but if they are the spirit of someone who hated the family they appear to scream gleefully because another member of the family is dead.

Now is a good time to mention the fact that I grew up afraid of banshees and still think about what I would do if one showed up screaming at my window. Related to the fetch, my aunt on the Italian side of my family once told me about the superstition that family members see a vision of a person about to die and told me she saw her great uncle with whom she shared a birthday in a dream the night he died. Needless to say this was horrifying to me.

Incidentally the title of this post comes from a bit of fisherman's weather lore my grandfather told me about when I was a kid.

Anyway. Back to my perpetual panic. Up next will probably be a Devil Whale. I also still have one more bone to paint on but it's been impossible to sand down.