Character Art

It was a joy (and probably therapeutic) to create some new character art for my Vree Erickson books. Below are the characters in the Green Crystal stories and the Luminary Magic ones.

The art is mostly graphite drawings that I ran through some computer programs to enhance the images. I did this because the gray-scale scans from my scanner often ended up dark and “muddy” looking. Brightening them via the scanner destroyed a lot of high-value detail, so I experimented with some art/photo enhancement programs until my copies passed muster and weren’t storage hogs.

First up is Vree.

Vree Erickson character drawings
Vree Erickson is the main protagonist of the Luminary Magic series of books

Next is her friend Nick from the Green Crystal series of books.

Nick Corwin character drawings
Nick Corwin is a main protagonist in the Green Crystal series of books

If you follow this blog, Lenny needs no introduction.

Lenny Avery character drawings
Lenny’s appearance has changed a lot since his creation 50 years ago

His twin sister Gaylene is Vree’s best friend. I think Devil’s Advocate is the best 2-word description of her.

Gaylene Avery character drawings
Gaylene is smart and musically inclined and deserves to be more than a minor character

Gwynessa is a Fae who becomes trapped in a green crystal pendant in the Green Crystal series of books.

Gwynessa Liriel character drawings
Gwynessa is the offspring of an Enwen Aili and a Rivvik Hiora, two kinds of Fae creatures that dwell in the woods and forests of Ridgewood

Last but not least is Vree’s cousin Whitney. She plays a major role in the Luminary Magic series of books.

Whitney Clark character drawings
Whitney is a Luminary witch and lives on Russell Ridge, next door to Lenny and Gaylene Avery

Thanks for joining me.

Conroy’s Corner Comic Strips from the Archives

I began drawing comic strips when I was in high school. I mentioned The Klutz in my last post. I featured it in my notebooks, notes to friends, and on chalkboards when teachers weren’t around. The Burgess Bros. came next and became a common feature on many unattended chalkboards at my school. Fifi was a French girl from Montreal, Canada who had a passion for watching the Expos play baseball on TV. Her boyfriend, Carl Burgess, was a Navy recruiter stationed in a city I called Big City. (Hey, I was 15.) His brother was a brainiac inventor whose inventions caused crazy adventures that took place in many of my school notebooks.

Super Cluck was my rendition of Super Chicken, a feature on the TV cartoon, George of the Jungle. He was also a klutzy version of Big Bird from TVs Sesame Street, and a member of the Harkem Glove Trompers basketball team, though he rarely played because he hated wearing gloves and was so busy fighting crime. He used to wear a cape but almost hanged himself when he leapt from a rooftop, causing the bad guy (Evil McWeasel) to get away.

The Bullpen was a mature comic strip about a baseball farm team’s group of pitchers that tended to get into trouble with their coach and manager. Think Bad News Bears for grownups crossed with Catch 22 and M*A*S*H without the military locale. Or, imagine all your pitchers behaving like Ty Cobb or the way Babe Ruth did when he was out of the news public’s eye. Even Coach, who was like a father to the guys in the bullpen, had a lot of Pete Rose in him.

The Adventures of Moses featured a high school track star named Moses who was a health nut and an all-American clean-cut kid and his nemesis Flash’t (short for Flash Itt, his name) who was better than Moses was but didn’t take care of himself, like smoking a cigarette and pounding down a beer for warmups before running a track event.

After high school and six years later, I drew Louie and Bruce (a comic strip featured in my last post). I had finished a six-year enlistment in the Navy and had the means to attend college. Conroy’s Corner was born from that venture.

The early strips were 3-panel gags for a monthly newsletter addressed to the “adult students”—a title the college gave students who weren’t fresh out of high school and a way for college officials to segregate them from school activities. I drew many strips about the injustices at that school and the “us and them” attitude there. Most students ignored my protests. I tamed the later strips and eventually only featured sports gags.

The main character, Bruce Conroy, was really Bruce from Louie and Bruce in disguise.

I based the next strip on a true event.

After I graduated college with a BA in art, a local newspaper printed these strips and more. Some of them, yellowed by age, are still on refrigerator doors. I still get a kick when people ask, “Are you the person who drew Louie and Bruce and Conroy’s Corner? Those comics made me laugh.”

And I always grin. It’s fun to laugh. We need to do it more often.

Back To the “Drawing” Drawing Board

If I were able to go back in time and relive my childhood while keeping the knowledge I have now, I would choose again to be an artist first and a writer second.

I was an early and avid reader when I was a child. But I was also and moreover an art lover. Art, especially picture art, is what I first saw when I stepped inside someone’s home … beyond the mudroom, of course. Drawings and paintings on people’s walls captivated me and made me want to be an artist. So I worked long and hard to be one.

When I’m introduced to people, I’m announced with the title “artist.” I earned that distinction long ago.

“You’re an artist,” friends remind me when I struggle to write my stories. “Draw something. Paint a picture.” And I do, just to get away from whatever writing problem I’m dealing with.

And it comes so easily, drawing and painting. If only writing were so easygoing for me.

So, for a change of pace after a long bout wrestling with my next novel, I took up my drawing pencils and drew a portrait for a friend and co-worker. Below are displayed the fun I had creating the art.

First came the photo to work from.

It was the only photo she had of the couple together. Photos are limiting. And this one had many lost values in the edges, especially around the woman’s hair because of the busy and cluttered background.

I didn’t like the arrangement of her and the man she’s with—they are too far away from each other—so I rearranged them and brought them closer. They are married, after all.

I began with black marker and sketched a black and white composition that I call a cartoon. It gave me a reference of white space and something very important to composition, a something artists call “eye flow.”

I found the upper right and bottom left white space threw the composition off balance, so I trimmed it out and brought the couple closer together. When I was satisfied, I took new drawing paper and began sketching in what became the final drawing.

After it was done and I framed it behind glass, a friend photographed it and gave me a copy. It’s the only photo I have of the finished art.

My co-worker was pleased with the drawing and so was I.

I love drawing. I wish I could do it every day instead of working at the job I have now. But making art doesn’t put a roof over one’s head or food on the table for everyone who can do it.

Still, if I were able to go back in time, I would still choose to be an artist first.

New Heroine Sketch for Character Development

Vree, graphite, charcoal and chalk

Yesterday I wrote about creating characters, putting them on the story stage, and watching them act. In that post, I included a sketch of my current main character, Vree Erickson. I draw with all sorts of pencils, including charcoal and chalk pencils. I like using watercolor paper to draw on because it allows me to scratch into it using knives and razor blades. This technique is great for rendering hair.

You can read about Vree in my Night of the Hellhounds e-novel (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble).

NotH