Sunday, August 2, 2015

Messenger for the Dead

Herman pushed through the crowd of spirits, seeking out his target so he could get the message, get out of the Light, and pay his rent on time. It didn't promise to be an easy day on the job.

"The hand of God is coming."

The spirit shouted at him. A woman, but not the one he needed to find. She stood so close he would have felt her breath on his face, had she still breathed. She wore a robe of pure white, the same as the other spirits of the Light, and had appeared in front of him from out of nowhere (which was almost as common as the robe).

None of this was unusual in Herman's years as a messenger. It was the shouting that caught him by surprise. The dead were generally more peaceful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Big Book of Everything

The Smithsonian's Natural History is easily one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen. I posted recently on the inspiration to be found in a good museum, and this book is nothing less than a museum you can hold in your hands.

I had never seen this book until Ben Hatke mentioned it in a Q&A on Goodreads. Ben is one of my favorite author/artists out there (his website is an excellent mix of entertainment, adventure, and inspiration), so I ran straight to my library to check out the book for myself. I had it only a few days before I knew I had to order one for myself.

Collected inside are beautifully detailed images spanning the natural world from animals to minerals, and from the largest of whales to the most microscopic life. There's a great deal of information included, with most pictures captioned with at least a small tidbit of knowledge.

For me, this book immediately became a go-to source of inspiration. It's an excellent guide to get story descriptions just right, or to find that one little detail that adds an added layer of believably to a story's world. It's also great as a visual reference to incorporate nature into your art, or if you want to have fantastical fun, mix and match the images to create something straight out of another world.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Museum of Inspiration

How would you like to meet this guy in battle?
Inspiration is all around us, but it sure doesn't hurt to live in a place like Houston. We have several excellent museums and I was lucky enough to spend my Sunday morning at one: the Houston Museum of Natural Science. HMNS is currently hosting an awesome Samurai exhibit, and I wanted to make sure and catch it before it leaves town in a couple of months. Today was my chance.

A loooooong scroll thought to depict
The Procession of 1000 Warriors
Museums are amazing places to find inspiration both for writing and art. In fact, I took just over 300 pictures today in the few exhibits I explored (there are several other exhibits where I plan to spend my next free day). My photography skills are lacking, so a lot of pictures came out blurry in the dim lighting with no flash, but that wasn't why I went. I went for ideas, for inspiration, and to learn about an amazing culture. The exhibit may not translate exactly into my work, but its influence will seep into my thoughts and bring an added richness to my ideas.

I took the time to go through a few other exhibits (mummies and dinosaur skeletons are hard to resist!), but I spent most of my time today in the Samurai section. I've long been a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, among others, so seeing an exhibit on such an integral piece of Japanese history was a ton of fun. The detail in their armor, the traditions and codes they lived by, and, well, just everything was so completely awesome.

TIL: Samurai Women were no joke!
Thanks to pop culture, I had a general knowledge of the Samurai heading into the exhibit. I was very pleasantly surprised to see this poster on samurai women, though. As the proud father of a very strong-willed and adventurous daughter, it's always nice to see the examples of strong women through history. While there were still some unfair rules placed on them, I was happy to learn that these samurai women were trained with knives to protect their homes and families, and also wielded great behind-the-scenes power. Seeing this also reminded me of Avatar's Kyoshi Warriors, which were always a family favorite. It also reminded me that we haven't watched the series with my son...yet.

All in all, it was a highly inspiring morning. I sometimes have trouble thinking of what I want to sketch or write about, but I don't think I'll have that issue for a while...