This is one of those drawings that came out of left field. I don’t really know what inspired it — just that as I sat staring at the next blank page in my sketchbook, I had this vision of some kind of multi-legged creature climbing through tangled branches… and looking up, as if seeing some sight unusual to its eyes.

I still don’t know what the scale is — the creature could be the size of a large beetle, or the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. I don’t think it’s necessary to know how large or small it is (or is supposed to be).

As I was penciling this, I kind of got stuck about halfway through. I’d drawn the basic shape of the creature, and roughed in the branches that it was climbing on… but then it just started to seem really silly and awkward, and I put my pencil down, disheartened.

It was probably a week or so later that I returned to it, determined not to let it be stalled at that point. There was something about it that made me want to finish it, even if it came out looking as goofy as I feared it might. So I kept at it, and got it to a point where I was pretty happy with it. And it was near the end of the pencilling that I added a small detail which turned out to be one of the things that made the whole piece work for me — the thorns in the branches. Suddenly, the creature took on a life it hadn’t possessed before, as I imagined that it would take some special climbing skills and toughness to be able to walk around on a plant or tree or whatever it is which was liberally studded with nasty, sharp spikes.

(Here’s the penciled drawing as it looked just before I started to ink it.)

When I began to ink the drawing (with the #6 Sakura Pigma Sensei pen I carry in my left shirt pocket (along with several other pens, pencils and a screwdriver/pen/knife tool), it started to gel, to come together. Curiously, I think it was figuring out what I was going to do with its mouth that made it work for me. I was stuck on that — should it have sharp, pointy teeth? Flat herbivore teeth? No teeth at all?

What I finally decided on was an odd sort of "baleen" type thing, similar to what some whales have — more of a rough, bristly strainer than teeth per se. And when I drew that in, the creature suddenly became real for me (well, as REAL as something like this can get!). And the inking progressed from there.

(Here’s the inked version as it stands now. I was going to say "the final inked version", but I may play around with it a little more.)

I think I will be trying to do a color version of this piece, and possibly use it — along with a few other recent pieces — in a portfolio I would make in a limited edition, for sale at the "Paint and Pixel" event happening in April in Northampton that I was just invited to (haven’t decided if I am going yet… but I should tell them soon). It could be fun. But of course it means I have to get off my ass and actually break out the watercolors and do it! — PL 


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