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It's a day late.

Last month at this time, I offered those who pay attention a full-size, quality line art which they can adapt to whatever color scheme they saw fit. Unfortunately, I got very few responses on this, to which I will acknowledge you all.

~Fragillimus335 provided two: One painted like an oriole, and one a lot more like a loon. I like the loon quite a bit, I must say.

~Orionide5 provided one with an extremely cassowary-like appearance, nice cryptic body plumage with a brilliant, display-oriented facial patterning.

~MommaCabbit gave us this detailed look, based on a cross between a sparrow, ptarmigan, prairie chicken and an ostrich; quite a lot of diversity there, suggestive of a secretive, camouflaged animal.

~PrimevalRaptor provided distinct accents in blueface with bright plumage contrast. Very nice.

*BrandonSPilcher provided a striking splash of golds and blues; this bird won't blend in.

I won't list amongst these those I would think are closer to the truth. Frankly, I wouldn't know where to start. All of them are very nice, and show off their skills and style equally for all that its based on something I drew that could have been much better drawn.

If I missed one of your submissions, please let me know! I do wish this had more entrants so as to provide a nice diversity. As is, MommaCabbit's definitely seems to me pretty close to what I'd imagine a desert animal to have, but the Nemegt fauna was fairly tropical, so we'd might see something more colorful.
  • Listening to: nothing
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: Surf's Up
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Air
  • Drinking: also Air
And Now For Something Completely Different by Qilong

I'm a very worldly, realistic sort of person; neither pessimistic nor really optimistic. I like keeping my options open, but understand bad things happens. "No plan survives contact with the enemy," as Helmut von Moltke wrote.

That said, I enjoy reading fantasy and sci-fi, especially the good authors such as LeGuin and Herbert, Williams, Jordan, Sanderson and Rawn, but also enjoy silly fantasy and the great classics like Tolkein (of course, everyone says that). When I was little, as I was getting into dinosaurs, I started thinking of making up my own universe to make stories in, but as an avid reader at 10, I didn't think of this as a world ot PLAY in, and so I set out to make it a practical thing. I never got far with the early stages of it, and various home problems, school problems, and family got in the way of things, plus I started developing an interest in paleontology, and the realism set aside the fantasy for a long while.

I'm still a scientist, and I will reflect this in the story (one of the characters is forensically inclined; genetics underlies the entire structure of the story) but a part of me worries about the reception. As a scientist, with aspersions to publication, I worry that if I were to do anything with this it might temper or ruin my reputation as a scientist, or vice versa. But there is a thing about getting something out of your head and not merely on paper and unseen --- that's not the point of a story: it must be told!

(The story is a long one, involves a few players, some bit characters ... and a rather well-detailed world. Really, this is Brian Sanderson level of detail and planning for characters and setting, but it hasn't been possible for me to really work on it. This map I produced is a way for me to place SOME of the intellectual work put into this world out there, especially as it exists in a 3D form in my head and it is rather hard to keep letting it percolate in there. There've been better maps, but I can't find them all anymore and suspect most have been destroyed, so this one is sort of a rehash of the first frame of context, the map you'd find on the inner matter of the book, but no detailed atlas. You needn't even see the map for some of the things that would occur, as the scope is small.

One major setback to this story is that I've realized that I do not want to let it follow the bad tropes, but I also don't want to just be a trope junkie, and I certainly don't want to be like George Martin and orgasmically subvert and avert tropes without any seeming rhyme or reason. Despite these, each of the main characters falls into the tropeverse: You've got your rebellious Princess; your disgraced Hero; your noble Warrior; your little Miss Snarker; your wise Outcast; and so forth. But the problem with these is that while these are the tropes, they need to be not obvious, and that's been a little problem. And they've got problems, and they don't get resolved at the end of the story, as that would be boring -- I HATE just "wrapping things up," a sense of realism that at least is one thing I agree with George Martin's "methodology" on. Things don't end, you just pull the camera back and turn the lights off.)

If I were to tell this story then, the ramifications and function it has might backlash. Is it deserved in the end? Don't know.
  • Listening to: Good Riddance
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: N/A
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Air
  • Drinking: also Air
I am opening my resources up for commissions, if any one is interested.

My art, as anyone can plainly see, lends itself well to detailed graphite work in a fairly modest style, very naturalistic, but can lean cartoonish if that is what you desire. I also do a pointilist ink style, and have been known to design a tattoo here and there (there are people who wear my work on their bodies, for which I am exceedingly proud). The style of my work doesn't depend on what my gallery shows: I have and can do styles and subjects not apparent in the gallery. I also do some digital work, though everything starts as a pencil or ink piece first.

My payment options tend to go by the hour, depending on the subject and size, and I tend to work quickly. You may have to give me some time when it comes to a inked drawing, and again if you want color, but it can be done. I am setting my rates here pretty squarely, regardless of what I may have charged anyone in particular in the past:

For a basic, small illustration in pencil (half-page), $30. Adding color adds $10.
For a larger, full-page illustration in pencil, $60. Adding color adds $20.
For a small, half-page ink illustration, $75. Adding color is $15.
For a larger, full-page ink illustration, $150. Adding color is $30.

Increasing page-size or virtual size, such as double page size, doubles the cost, so a double page pencil piece will cost $120, while a double page ink will cost $300. Ink is, as I can't imagine telling YOU double work, double time, and in many cases much more material-intensive than pencil.

All work goes through a series of roughs which involve input from the commisioner; you are not out of the picture once you tell me what you want. If you leave your work in my hands alone, beware what you get back!!!! BWAHAHAHAHAH! That said, I request half up front, and half on completion, when satisfied. I usually give about a week for completion of the work, less if it is simple such as a half-page. If you want two commissions, such as two figures or renderings of whatever you wish, I can compose these as a single illustration, in which case it operates under the full-size criteria, or as two separate illustrations; two smaller figures for a half-page does take longer to compose, and depending on size and medium adds extra to the piece:

For additional figures, characters, creatures, etc. -
$5 for half-page pencil, $10 for full-page, $20 for double.
$8 for half-page ink, $16 for full-page, and $32 for double.

You may communicate with me here via a note (keep it private!) or via email: qi_leong AT hotmail DOT com. I am usually available throughout the morning or evening.
  • Listening to: Something beautiful
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: N/A
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Cheetos. I'm SOO FAAAT!!!
  • Drinking: Water.
Some people here are aware of my blog, some are not. I spend most of my time posting crap there, and shunting some of the illustrations I prepare here and there.

The Bite Stuff:

If you care to follow, you will know that I've also been spending some time trying to answer the question about whether dinosaurs had "lips" or "cheeks," a common feature of illustrators and reconstructors for paleontology. Lately, scientifically informed illustrators like Crash McCreedy and Tyler Keillor have been rendering their dinosaurs without "cheeks" and without "lips" in the mammal sense, but rather with "lips" in the lizard and snake sense, structures that have no muscles in them, and were thus immobile.

I've gone into quite a lot of detail about this on my blog, beginning with

"Making Lip of It"… , then

"Support for a Lipless, Cheekless Dinosaur World"… , then most recently

"Cheeky Commentary on Ornithischians"… ,

where I specifically talk about taking the cheeks off ornithischian dinosaurs, which makes them look a little funny. I am not the first person, nor the only one doing this generally, but I'm making a public stink about it because there is real important need in getting our artists informed about the biology. You're all smart enough to do it! Anatomy is an important first step to dealing with dinosaur art, because it is the only way you will know to tell you that that dino "looks real." You need to know WHY. Part of that is knowing also that we don't have all the answers now, but there are several philosophical techniques that help us approach the data, and scientific methods in discriminating "true" from "false" with that information.
  • Listening to: Something beautiful
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: N/A
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Cheetos. I'm SOO FAAAT!!!
  • Drinking: Water.
So I've had something of an opinion on whether some fossil animals had lips, specifically some theropod dinosaurs.

It's taken some time, but after rendering a piece of art (…) and painting Joker's lipstick all over it (…), I've set down my argument in regards to lips (here:…).

  • Listening to: Something beautiful
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: N/A
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Cheetos. I'm SOO FAAAT!!!
  • Drinking: Water.
Over on my blog, The Bite Stuff, I sat down to make a short statement (for me) about what is ... and isn't ... Oviraptor philoceratops:…. This is because a lot of artists who draw oviraptorids literally have no idea what is and isn't one or the other, and the actions of some particularly vocal and prolific artists have obscured, rather than elaborated, the details involved. There is only one known Oviraptor specimen, and if you draw something that doesn't look like it, chances are it's something else.

So just to let you guys know what I'm talking about -- this is Oviraptor philoceratops:…

This is not Oviraptor philoceratops:…

It should be no more plain than that. Despite this, the latter specimen is treated as more Oviraptor-y than the first, and it's only popularly known based on the skull.

Hopefuly whoever reads this journal here will pass the word, and we can start getting a little better at labeling our pictures. It's only going to confuse new artists and enthusiasts.
  • Listening to: Something beautiful
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: N/A
  • Playing: N/A
  • Eating: Cheetos. I'm SOO FAAAT!!!
  • Drinking: Water.
Time spent away, now gone. I am back, if however briefly, and my artist's block has returned, pausing anything remotely like an upload from occurring (that and my sibling crushing my scanner by accident). Maybe at some point I will get this fixed, when time presents itself.

Vacation soon! A whole week away from the weary, soul-sucking and numb drudgery of my customer service job.
  • Listening to: Something beautiful
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: My shame prevents me from telling you.
  • Playing: The Void.
  • Eating: Air.
  • Drinking: Mountain DEW. Eww, I know.
I've alwasy been fascinated by the psychology of series. Every series is a breakdown of a personality to its minutest degrees, and in Astrology, this is exemplified in the Zodiac. While the eastern zodiac, with its fully animalistic aspects, is fascinating in and of itself, the western world is more familiar with the Euro-centric one (despite having its origins in Asia's Babylon).

Symbolism abounds in the Zodiac, and thus I figured I'd make a stab at doing this. This is actually my second attempt at this (the previous ones were given as gifts to particular people, so you'll never see them), but here I am attempting to be particular.

This series will be done in order, beginning with Aries and ending with Pisces. You may expect some patterns, I know I sure have; for example, some of the signs are concerned with pairs or couplets of ideas, and in many cases this has been continued, but in order to be unique I am abandoning some of them. I have been looking into why and how people depict certain signs, and it amazes me how many time the same images or ideas are expressed in the same way, differing largely only in style and setting (Virgo and Gemini have very common and repeated themes). In this series, I chose two features for each sign, and the entire composition is being worked around that, with an underlying third theme (less a part of the structure than of the presentation).

1. Quality. Each sign is depicted based on a characteristic, sometimes referred to as a positive or a negative trait; in my opinion, these traits are psychologically neutral, and in their application, can be negative or positive. I will leave it to the reader to figure out which quality has been chosen, and how it's been presented.

2. Weapon. This has been done by others, using a prop as a feature to embody the sign, or as a quality benefiting it in some way. Libra is almost always shown with a set of scales of some sort, some more nuanced than others. In this case, each of the warriors will be a warrior of some sort (some subtle, some blatant) and will have a prop (almost always a weapon, but in a few cases it will be very different), and be presented in such a way as to be seemingly effective in an actual combat scenario.

Finally, 3. History. An historical setting or costume is woven into the image, to complement the figure or pose, or to draw attention to the mythology of the sign. The one thing I will definitely not be doing here is describing the sign for you, just what I am doing in the image. I will not be talking about astrology, ruling planets (or other bodies), or houses, or plants, parts, humours, etc. This is not because I disbelieve in astrology (I don't believe in it, as an agnostic) but because the piece has nothing to do with the astrology of the piece. There are some perfectly gorgeous pieces that have done just that and far better than I (such as puimon's work) that I wholly recommend to others.

Warriors of the Zodiac

Aries --…
Taurus --…
Gemini --…
Cancer --…
Leo -- Coming soon (it's finished, I just need to scan it)
  • Listening to: Nothing
  • Reading: This journal entry's edit box
  • Watching: ... none of your business ...
  • Playing: The Keypad
Well, it's been a year, and that means it's time for a journal update!

(Seriously though, it's not my intention to write one of these just once a year...)

I might be drawing again. And by that, not doing technical art, which I do not consider to be drawing, but by actually creating from whole cloth. Expect to see something in the near future.
  • Listening to: Sheryl Crows's "If It Makes You Happy"
  • Eating: Flesh of Virgins (that's what they said they were)
  • Drinking: Blood of Virgins…

I'm feeling moody, so some exposition is ultimately required, and it's about time I added something to my journal.

I do not think it is possible to describe to anyone what it feels like to be raped. There is such a sense of violation and helplessness and many other things that even being wordy and expositional about it is impossible. To describe it is to clinicalize it, yet it is a violation of such intimate action that to do so is to ignore it, to put up a wall atound oneself. I do not know what it feels like, but I think I have come close for other reasons.

The first thing that happens is revulsion and fear ... followed not so quickly but swiftly by shock. It's generally the first wall of defense, that to do nothing means you do not have to be there, pay attention, be aware of anything. Better to just not be.

After that, slowly stewing, is hatred and -- almost certainly above all else -- anger. It is the driving force in the life of anyone who has had something like this done to them, be they male or female. It is because the act is so anathematic to life, to freedom, that the easiest way to purge the feeling of the meory of what happened to to strike back, strike out, to just strike.

Even the feeling of comforting is met with a reaction of hatred and anger, and this is because others only see the outward pain, but cannot fathom the inward one. There is a sense of internal being that is destroyed, a fragility and innocence that can no longer be regained.

I have spent almost 15 years like this, and I know it could only be worse for those who have had mworse done to them. To them, to all of you ... this picture (my most emotionally personal piece here) ... this piece is made. I almost destroyed it when I made it, one of the few times I have felt the needf to destroy something. It is rare for me to be emotional in creation of my art, but this piece does exemplify this. This character was raped, and her story is deeper and more painful than I would wish on anyone, and her daggers are her skin of steel. They keep anyone and anything at arm's length, and it is a shell that people cannot conceive of to penetrate, made all the harder by the sense of loneliness it creates, as there is still a portion that desires to be held, to be comforted, to be told "It's all better now," because there's that defensive part of you that says "Then how could that happen?"

So the anger perpetuates itself....
Looking through my art, one can probably find a major theme: Most of what I work on deals with a particular group of theropod dinosaurs, the Oviraptorosauria. What is presented currently on DA is a subset of the totality that has been available online for the last, oh say 10 years in which I have been producing material for public consumption. Since much of that is outdated, it is never exposed, and this includes work I have done on human (both male and female) anatomy, landscapes, storyline-based work, abstract imagery not having to do with exploring of human form, and the nature and subject of dinosaur paleontology.

As a graphite artist in a digital medium, my preferred form of artistic expression has been to render the structure of the visual world texturally, so this has limited me in the color medium. I actually no longer have available much of the color work I've done, where I've used the strength of use of color to imply texture through the nature of shading with darker tones, etc. These invariably went to figuring out how to make some dinosaurs "look", test out evolutionary novelties (Feathers on dinosaurs? Preposterous eye colors? Oooh, wattles....) and just express myself, this despite the fact that I can't tell greys from light blues from pinks (partial color blindness), and thus confused on the medium shades used to accent flesh tones, etc.

Now, much of my old work is still available to me (I retain the hardcopy of virtually everything I draw), so in the next few days, you will see a lot more of it, and most of it will be oviraptorosaurs, so don't be surprised. There is a reason for this, but that's kinda convoluted.
One day, a man realized that the ascetism of the mystics was an act of depriving oneself of the world, and the world from oneself. This was in contrast to the act where one immerses onself into the world, and through it putting the world into himself as an act of indulgence. To starve or feed oneself endlessly is no success, and he realized, in a way like most of us do, that truth cannot be explained, but must be realized.

To indulge, one is so filled with sensation and objectification, that one can never truly see the void which intersperses each pleasure, sin, gratification, hope, or joy. On the other hand, one is so full of nothing that one can never see the flower, the love, the murder, the moments of time that divide the void with perceptions.

Neither one nor the other can truly capture the sense of object and void together. In a way, these mark the paths of human endeavor: the light path is the path of unknowing, and is austere, seeking only to remove from the void objects, including oneself -- by so doing, it is deemed, you become void; the dark path is the path of seeking, to try to discover the new thing, the "everything," and in so doing, you become part of everything.

Right between them, razor thin, is a grey path, an edge between both. It is a path some have walked, but it cannot be walked forever, nor can anyone truly start on this path. To see light and dark, it is reasoned, you must be in one to see the other. But to walk the grey path, you see both. No individual should truely remove themselve from the void, nor should they immerse themselves in its opposite: to do so would be to remove yourself from the whole AND the nothing, both which are part of us equally, it is reasoned. To succeed in all things, then, one must be al things and nothing, and only by recognizing this can one be said to walk the grey path.

The Buddha called this the middle way. Through the conduct learned from dark and light paths, one can learn the path to walk, but this path cannot be pointed out, dictated, directed. It is a path where every step is equally right, and equally wrong, and at any mpoint one can walk backwards, but even then you are progressing since there is, again, no direction.

The truth of things, in my experience, has been that my way is the middle way, and this is not true of others; I cannot determine whose path is true, or correct, even my own, and to argue about the rightness of action is to argue against nature itself. In this way, perhaps, I am both a Buddhist, and not one. I consider myself to be non-practicing, but a believer in reciprocal action and though, aka the "karmic" principle, as I feel that each action, as Newton put it, has an equal and opposite action, and each thought or lack thereof leads to action, or the lack thereof, and thus are one and the same. Thus can karma in a way be tied to the principles of physical (i.e., of physics) behavior. But that's a corner belief. I know my actions have consequences, and many, many people hold this true as well, with either experience or religious teaching to back them up.

The unknowingness but seeking has led me to defined myself, however inappropriate a label may be, as an agnostic. It is not such that I profess to know not, but that I do not know. I used to say: Possibilities abound, too numerous to count. This may or may not be true, but it has been part of my development since I realized it when I was 12. This is when I started to walk this path.

To search for what can be truth, this I see as the grey path; but that truth must be for me, and me alone. If others see this path as something they would like, then I welcome them; also, should you walk this path and want off, then I welcome them as well.
  • Listening to: U2
  • Reading: A computer monitor (the nerve!)
  • Watching: A computer monitor (I know!)
  • Drinking: The Dew
I once convinced a guy I was clinically insane. It wasn't my intention, but I "needed," in my OCD way, to show a guy that a given point of view doesn't exist. I have since learned to keep my concepts of actuality and existence to myself, since debating people when you cannot consider their point of view from their perspective, and likewise they cannot from yours, it really is pointless. Unless it matters in a visceral, tangible way that a person see something from a particular point of view:

  A mole breathing with its gills
  Is a monkey swimming through dirt.

I think that's why I shifted towards a Buddhist philosophy to life. Compelling someone to believe what you do, even if you think this is "real" and not a demonstrable fact, it is still a belief. You can muster evidence after fact after datum, and I have found in my verious debates, that people have a strength to their belief that such expounding cannot shift. Some of these people know this, and know of the facts. This does not compel them. I have argued with several very reasonable religous and even atheist people, and realized a fundamental truth in MY experience: You are trying to get THEM to believe what YOU want them to believe. This is like the koan above.

This is also why I now no longer allow myself to be compelled to debate. Instead, I just ask questions, since it is to my advantage to learn more about others' points of view. And by not being compelled to debate, I don't NOT engage in debate ... this I do for the love of it. I do not pretend I am smart, since to be such is a demonstration of my actions. Wisdom is derived through experience of past actions, and I hope through time I can arrive at a level of wisdom where I may not even need to do this.
  • Listening to: La Festin
  • Watching: Outlaw Star (uncensored)
  • Drinking: The Dew
I have not drawn for over a year, and I do not know why.

For the last year, nearly all submissions have been either technical, or have been Photoshop manipulations, but none of the things that I have produced in this period were original, pen and/or graphical pieces.

How do I explain this? I don't know.

I'd blame it on depression, if I were depressed, but this has not been the case. In this time, my presence online has been moot, and my time out with friends has been moot. I have a home life, effectively raising my brother and caring for another while he works on getting a job. I am a "dad" in this sense, I guess. I have no relationship outside a few work friends and my brothers. But I drew at the beginning of the last year, and the current situation is no different from that time. Indeed, I make more money than I did then.

I wish I could recover from this slump, yet I do not know why I am here....
Something has come up of some interest to me in the last week. Here on DA, some artists have decided to push the line when it comes to DA's apparent taboo against male sexuality when it involves either other men -- and the kicker -- or not. It doesn't seem to matter that some explicit female arm is considered okay, but male is not. There is a ban on showing excitement, fondling, sex, or the aftermath of sexual arousal. However, in women, this is not hard to depict without showing much of anything; for men, it is a different story. When men become excited in an explicit way, it's OBVIOUS.

But the taboo is not just on DA ... it's everywhere.

Somewhere out there is an essay on how people think the female form is more beautiful than the male form, so its only natural that they depict men less than women. They try to use concepts (largely from straight folk) to dignify this perspective, such as the prevalence of the art itself, or the terms people use to describe a feminine versus a masculine body. The problem is that the addage proves true: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Anyone depicting female art, however, is doing so out of an appreciation for female beauty; but when male art is depicted, is it not done so for this purpose? While men classically may dispose themselves to more aggressive acts, and be all macho about the lack of "pretty boy" or "cute" or "curvy" involved in describing them, it does not hold true that these terms canot be applied. We are simply ill-disposed to use them, as it is "safe", perhaps, to depict women than men. There are more magazines showing near- and half-nude women, on TV, more frequent lesbian that male-gay kisses, and a nearly cruel depiction of gay men as fruity effeminate types, while gay men who are "macho" or more "straight-acting" are thus safer. They can be "rugged", "bulging", "strong", "powerful." Apply these terms to women and you invariably describe she-men like Janet Reno or Grace Jones, or lesbians like Birgitte Nielsen, Martina Navratilova. Seldom do we get dykes like Ellen (for all intents and purposes, a WOMAN'S woman), and Oprah? Who knows WHAT fence she straddles, if any. Powerful, but probably straight.

So male nudity is a taboo, one very hard to break. DA's daily features almost always depict a woman in the nude, every day, and sometimes more than one. For the last year, I've seen maybe 3 pics of nude men. Tells you something about the taboo, or the selectors, and DA's reaction only seems to feed this, just as TV invariably, thanks to the large "moral majority" that ends up at the helm, shows more straight-friendly lesbians than gay-friendly programming. No girly stuff on prime time (that's when men come home), and no hard-line stuff during the afternoon (that's when women are home alone). Bigotry? Who knows. I say push the line, force a realization.
I think ink is on it's way to becoming a lost art, and the skills at writing with it dying in a digital age. Bring back the ink of imagery, not just tattooing in it. Write on paper, or scraps of flesh, or whatever, but WRITE, not just digitally render and loose your skills at finger and wrist....