pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
Crossposted to [community profile] 50books_poc.

Pierced by the Sun by Laura Esquivel

I thought I wasn't going to like this book. I'd rather read about a protagonist I admire, or at least one I might like as a person. There's not a lot to like about Lupita at the beginning of the story, and the first few chapters show all the signs of disintegrating into a preachy literary slice-of-life tale.

But Laura Esquivel surprised me. The seemingly random series of events surrounding the death of a local political figure start to shape up into a compelling mystery. As Lupita stumbles through her days, the reader gets a sense of a vivid social climate surrounding her, and the whole story is saturated with the cultural details of everyday life. It becomes clear she's in a lot of danger, and she barely escapes with her life on more than one occasion.

It's a murder mystery made of feeling as well as deduction. I've read a lot of detective fiction where the main character is coldly rational. Lupita is anything but rational, but she has a powerful intuition that serves her just as well. It was a breath of fresh air to realize that the author was deftly illustrating how it could be possible to solve a crime without high education or legal brilliance in an environment where the police are just as corrupt as the criminals. The character development is handled with grace and realism, and I really had to take back my initial judgements about Lupita's character.

Spoilery discussion of the ending )

Regardless, I really enjoyed the book and I'd recommend it to people who like mysteries with a dark or unusual bent.

Ace of Cups

Jul. 3rd, 2016 03:52 pm
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A young black boy struggling to hold aloft an overflowing ornate wood chest. Water is cascading out of the chest, leaving puddles in the sand at his feet. The boy is wearing a brightly coloured woven loincloth with geometric patterns. In the background is a mud brick building with a round roof and set of double doors.

Photoshop, Wacom and MotionComputing tablet

All my disclaimers )

Anyway, it's Sha, struggling to lift an overflowing kifu, in front of Masta Ua.

New game

Mar. 29th, 2016 10:22 pm
pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
We discovered a new game at GDC that's been my addiction for the past few evenings. It's Niche, a genetic survival game that's sort of a cross between SimLife and Watership Down. You start with Adam and Eve, a pair of little foxlike creatures that don't have an official name yet, and you have to breed your people into a whole tribe while exploring their territory, finding food, and fending off carnivores and illness.

It's made by a small group of people from Switzerland, an indie team, and it's still in the very early stages. They've been Steam greenlit but haven't started a Kickstarter yet, and the publically available build of the game is still a demo version that you can't save. I shut down my computer every night because it has a really loud fan, so I've been obsessively playing the beginning of the game every evening but rarely making it past generation 10 or so.

At GDC they had a little stall and they were running a contest where if you could breed your little tribe to ten members, you would get on the list for a free early access key when they get that far. We are on the list. :) If you join their Facebook playtester's group, you can get a bleeding-edge recent version of the build which is better balanced than the public demo.

The best part about it is it's turn-based. And it has nothing to do with war. It's rare to find a good turn-based strategy game that's not about nation vs nation.
pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
I'm procrastinating by playing Drawception.

It is a ridiculous cross between Pictionary and Telephone where someone makes a prompt, the next person does an awkward 10-minute sketch of it in a little app like Paint, the next person guesses what the sketch was, on and on for fifteen iterations until the end result in no way resembles the prompt. It is oddly hilarious and also addictive. I figure what the hell, at least it's drawing practice, right?

Three sets of three drawings and prompts.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
This one takes a bit of explanation. It's on Karn, but on a part of it that no one we know has explored before. Shashigai found a group of explorers who were venturing as far as the Last, which is the high mountain range out past keegrah (griff) territory where the keegrah go to die. This group of five made it through, and on the other side they came out into a deep rift heated by volcanic activity.

There were people there, who called the place the Kabo. There are huge twisted trees growing in the warmth of the hot springs, and the people make their homes up in their branches. But this picture is of an area out past them, on the other side of the rift, where a few have managed to make their homes in the bitter cold. And here's the part that the grehti can't hear of: some of their shapes are different. There are still tirothi and nethik, a few keegrah, and the taigh, who would be recognizable to Daria and her people. But there are also the woji, like the guy in this picture, and wolf-creatures who call themselves the sangh.

This picture was my Christmas present to Shashigai. The girl is Mikka, one of the people in his latest story.

A young woman with long black hair riding a creature that looks like a cross between a bear and a ferret, with fur the colour of fresh fallen snow. They're bounding across a winter landscape on a sunny day, surrounded by coniferous taiga trees.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
There's a meme going around Tumblr with palettes by someone called AskTheStarGazers. The idea is you pick a palette and a subject and request the person to make a drawing. I tried it - no I'm not posting the results - and discovered that while the palettes look pretty cool, they're infinitely frustrating to work with. No tonal range! So I fixed them. I hope. Possibly my hard work will be for nothing the moment they're seen on somebody else's monitor, since I know my calibration is way off.

Anyway I haven't tried drawing with any of these colours, so they might need iteration. But you never know till you try, right?

I'm open to requests, your characters or mine or something else entirely. I don't do external fandom characters, but worldstuff is a maybe, especially if it's Myst or Minecraft.

18 swatches of colour, six colours each, which could be used as palettes for painting.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A blond young man in a parka and wraparound knitted hatscarfshoelace is fishing through a hole in the ice. The viewpoint is from below, beneath the ice, and a strange half-fish half-spider is nibbling at the hook. It has eight legs with crab claws on the end and fluttery fins reminiscent of a jellyfish.

Evan Leda, from [profile] yonjuunana's comic-in-progress.

Blame Shashigai, who said it should be a spiderfish.

In other news, grr, the Mojang authentication server is down and I can't play Minecraft. I baked cookies instead but I need to decide what to do next.

Hey Jim!

Sep. 12th, 2015 10:16 pm
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A cartoon of Jim Nightmare, a young robot guy with blue-dyed hair, exposed metal over all parts of his body but the face and lower right arm, and a t-shirt with a heart on it. He's dressed in badly fitting priest robes and raising his hands as if in blessing, but they look more like claws. He has a goofy grin and he's saying Bless you, my children.

Don't worry, it's not your art trade picture. That's coming soon.

For the uninitiated )
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
I tried making an ice cream cake for the first time this year. It was a bit of a disaster. The kind of sloppy disaster that still tastes pretty good in the end, but there's no way anybody's going to mistake it for a store-bought cake.

A very sloppy, small round ice cream cake with one slice cut out of it. The icing is oozing down the sizes, revealing bits of ice cream, and the top cake layer is slipping off. There's a very rough checkered pattern on top done with chocolate magic shell toppping and coloured sugar flakes.

Live and learn )
pyraxis: Pyraxis (Pyraxis)
Hey, so I created a new journal filter for posting more technical gaming stuff that's unlikely to interest anybody who doesn't actually play the game. Which currently is Minecraft, but in the past has been the Mass Effect series, Myst series, and who knows what else we'll get interested in enough to post about.

Shashigai, Vlad, Spacerobots, you're on it. Anyone else want on it, just say so!
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A pen and ink drawing of a fallen tree half-immersed in water, with rocks scattered at its base and a clump of tall wild grass behind it.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
As requested, I made a version of the Karn forest garden with colour. It came out a lot more fairytale-like than I was envisioning. I think part of that is just the nature of coloured pencils. I only have access to an old scanner at the moment as well, so a little of the subtlety of colour was lost.

Basically the same drawing as the last one I posted, but coloured in.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
Today's drawing of the day is for two days, yesterday and today. It's not done either because I want to add colour. Shashigai made a special request, for a drawing of the Karnese forest and the flowers you might expect to see there. It's for a story he's working on. He originally asked for a caricature, ie something simple, but I got carried away.

A pen and ink drawing of an overgrown forest with a lot of different types of plants and flowers. There are venus-flytrap-like flowers with long tongues hanging from branches. Vines creeping up the side of the tree that break open to reveal petals. Lumpy growths like a string of beads along the tops of rocks, with a flower growing out of each bead. Flowers growing from the ground like an ear of corn. Mushrooms of different shapes and sizes. A thorny bush with flowers that have long thin petals. Star-like tiny flowers sprinkling the ground and dangling from branches.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
Nettoyeur )

Sketchdump

Apr. 7th, 2015 10:40 pm
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
It's just a little one. I'm not keeping up with a drawing every day, but it's still more art than I was doing before. I think I'm going to be reclaiming life slowly, in and around all the remaining paperwork, and even the fun chores like installing shelves and organizing storage.

We're still unpacking boxes. I've built myself a desk now, of two masonite boards which I'd once meant to cut up and prime for paintings. They're braced across stacks of boxes. I could still use them for paintings in the distant future when I get a proper desk. There are a lot of things on the agenda first, like a mattress, and maybe a washer and dryer, because the laundromat is a pretty long walk away.

Meanwhile, have a few sketches.


Read more... )
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
The Spacerobots are starting an art challenge to draw something every day in the month of April. I decided to give it a try too. I really need to venture outside of the frantic motion of our move north and ground myself again in what I love to do.

I've been drawing nethik in the few moments I could grab between chores. Experimenting with their physiology. I'm not really happy with the earlier experiments. I've been capturing too much of the reference and not enough of the essence of what makes them nethik. I put an earlier one under the cut at the bottom of the post if anyone's curious, but here's one so far that I like.

Have a drawing inspired by jumping through too many bureaucratic hoops in order to be here in our new home.

A pen and ink drawing of a deerlike creature with a horn, looking straight out at the audience, with half-lidded narrow eyes. One ear is raised and the other is askew, both ragged and notched.

Read more... )
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
I've been working on this one for a while, but that's mainly because I started it before our move. Today I finally had the chance to put some finishing touches on it.

They are Auben and Amber, two of the people in the Water Song.

A young, well-built black man clasping in his arms a shorter blond woman with long braids pulled into a hairnet at the nape of her neck. She's wearing a simple vest over a light blouse and skirt billowing in the wind, and he's wearing a fine woven tunic with geometric tribal patterns and loose pants. Falling from her hand is a broken branch with an apple. Behind him is a desert with a dead tree and a small white-robed figure standing nearby. Behind her are lush tropical plants.

Photoshop and MotionComputing tablet

The Lovers is a card about pairs and duality. It's the sixth card of the Major Arcana. There's a sense of ambivalence about it - sometimes it features a man caught between two women instead of a man and a woman joined. The idea is that something else has to be given up, some sacrifice has to be made, in order to pursue the love that has come into the querent's life. Auben and Amber both turned away from major influences in their lives as they turned to each other. The card can mean falling in love with a person, but it can also mean coming to something which feels as if it completes you. It's a bond which is felt at a deeper level than the conscious mind.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A view looking towards a tree trunk as if the viewer was perched on one of the branches, with wooden platforms built over the branches in a rough circle, and a set of wooden steps suspended by ropes and leading up around the trunk.

Copic multiliner pens on paper

Another treehouse drawing in the style of the one I did a little over a year ago. I actually started this last summer and worked on it a little bit at a time until I finally went back to it last week and got it finished.
pyraxis: j-t as Sen from Spirited Away (j-t)
A pen and ink drawing of a fox, focused on the head and front paws as it snarls and pounces at the viewer.

Copic multiliner pens on paper

A drawing I did over the past few days. I'm not 100% sure it's a fox. It's from a reference photo I took of a taxidermy exhibit at the Burke Museum of Natural History in Seattle.
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