If you haven’t noticed yet, most of the titles for my stories are one word. “Sensu Learns a Lesson” is actually an aberration for me. Why do I chose such simple titles? Well, in most cases you will find that the titles are far more complex than the single word expresses and has a profound connection to the underlying theme of the story.
For example, “Sanity” is a story about creatures that can manipulate people’s minds. In fact, they can reach into their minds and bring forth their deepest fears, pushing them until the person hits the point of breaking into insanity. Thus, “Sanity” is used as a counterpoint to what actually happens in the story. Also, one of the creatures says “We have returned your sanity”. The whole story is based on the choices made that lead us down dark roads that can end in insanity borne from sanity.
“Lepidoptera” on the other hand is a symbolic title. Lepidoptera is the class name for butterflies and moths. Yes, butterflies actually appear in the story but they are representations of art, beauty, and peace. War is represented by crows killing butterflies, while peace is represented by being embraced by butterflies. Artists are marked by butterflies.
Basically, I like to use very simple titles that seem un-complex until after you have read the story. Then the title turns out to be much deeper than the simple word suggests and cuts to the root of the entire story. Please consider reading one of my stories to see how their titles resonate throughout them. For only $1 a month you will get a every month at my Patreon page.
I just uploaded some new color pencil images I did some time ago. Two were planning images I used to paint an image onto a friends drag bike. The bike was done in acrylics and not professional since I did not know how to use an airbrush; thus, it was actually hand painted onto the body. In addition, the body was only primed, which meant that it was very porous fiberglass with primer on it. Basically, I had to paint tons of layers because the surface would suck up the paint and make the image transparent. Would have been great if that was what I was going for.
The last image was a picture done for a friend of my ex-fiance’s who had asked her to paint him something for his fantasy football program. She had recently taken up painting because of me and thought she could do it but when she asked me for help, instead of trying to teach her, I just did it. Yes, I can be a bit callous. Anyway, the image was a play on Fantasy and football. Enjoy.
Yes, I said that. Just a wild thought, but some techniques used to accentuate areas in a painting could be considered like adjectives in writing. For instance, using a very dark hued palate for a painting to depict a somber, sad, or evil image is similar to using adjectives like black, stark, or malignant. On the opposite end, a bright-colored palate for a happier subject can resonate as lively, sunny, or cheery.
Using a painters knife to cut in thick, defined texture to rocky areas is a visual means (one I have not mastered) of showing rough, angular, and solid stone. Airbrush painting is a popular method of achieving soft, smooth effects in paintings such as silky, glassy, and gentle are for writing. Basically, artistic techniques are visual means of enhancing the meaning of a subject much similar to using adjectives to enhance the meaning of literature.
I thought I would give you a taste of the story I uploaded to Patreon this month. Remember, if you sign up for just $1 a month, you will get the full story plus all the ones that have already been uploaded. In addition, I will continue uploading stories from my collection Mystics and Misfits. You cancan sign up here my Patreon page.
Lepidoptera (excert) by Robert Garbin
With a look of determination, Maia followed Diocles along the winding paths of the sacred groves. Diocles was twenty now and two years older than her but he never spoke down to Maia, even though next year would be his time to enter the Wood of Calling and find his place among the Sindain people. To Maia’s dismay a new seriousness had put distance between them where they had been inseparable before. Today they were going to the Shrine of Memory to see the great works the ancestors had created before the thousand year war with the Hadar. The costs had been great for both peoples, yet the Hadar refused to relent; all entreaties were answered with weapons.
Ahead, Diocles turned and waved impatiently. Sensing the tension in her beloved bother, Maia quickened her pace as the paths shifted with the magical pull of the Wood of Calling. She recalled the fear of her first encounter with the shifting pathways of the shrines that circled the great Wood at the center of Sindain life. Falling to her knees, Maia had cried in terror as the shifting landscape confused her senses, leaving her feeling lost. Her brother had calmly lifted her up and firmly held her hand as he demonstrated how to follow the flows surrounding the Woods. Maia now moved with the ease of a sailor plying the great seas she had once heard about. Catching her brother, she slipped her small hand into his powerful grip, a grip that was firm yet gentle
The paths seemed longer than usual today and by the time they reached the Shrine of Memory Maia needed to catch her breath, which felt wrong to her. She felt something was trying to draw her attention to something important. Her mother had told her to always be aware of the paths between the Groves and Temples since Sky Father spoke to the Sindain in subtle ways, a path may take longer to remind you to have patience or to strengthen your body. The sight of a wounded animal may guide you to a healer’s life or a hunter’s existence. As Maia climbed the steps to the Shrine of Memory, she could not shake the feeling that Sky Father had taken personal notice of her, drawing out the paths to get her attention.
As I have said before, I am a huge fan of Michael Whelan’s art. The main reason is that his artwork is always the whole package. He is not just good at creatures, dragons, or technology but everything else as well. I have seen many covers where the backgrounds were cheesy compared to the foreground elements or a reference item, such as a space ship, obviously came from another franchise. Some covers depict scenes incorrectly or scenes that never took place in the story. Michael Whelan’s covers; however, almost always show his grasp of the story and are usually technically correct.
Another reason I feel his work is the whole package is that he is a talented landscape artist. His images not only show strange and wonderful aliens, robots, and creatures but does so with believable background land or city-scapes. The subjects do not come off as being slapped onto a background at random or of little effort. Finally, even his signature is done well. One of the fun things a friend and I would do whenever we found a new Whelan cover would be to search for the symbol that was his signature on most of his painting. In most cases, he would incorporate it into some part of the image. Sometimes carved into a stone in the background, at others part of an electric circuit of a robot. The challenge was to see who found it first. I encourage you to visit his website and explore his many amazing works. I have a link to the site on the left hand site of this blog.
Okay, time for me to turn the tables. I have spent much of the last few months telling you the things that get me excited about being an artist and an author of science fiction and fantasy. Now I want to know what draws you to the genre? Many of us know how it is in most cases to love science fiction and fantasy. You are looked upon as if you have some disease you should see a doctor about, which is strange given how popular science fiction and fantasy is in media these days. TV series like Game of Thrones, Agents of Shield, and The Arrow have strong followings while Marvel’s movie franchise is a money-making juggernaut. So, all the silly snobbery aside, what makes SFF so important to you, the amazing vistas, crazy creatures and cultures, or the thought-provoking ideas? Or better yet, all of it. Go ahead, fill up my comments.
Have you ever watched a hawk flying against a cloudy sky with the wind blowing past your ears and felt a connection, as if you were there too? Maybe it was flying a kite on a windy day with the tug of the string and the clouds for a backdrop. Your thoughts become filled with magic transcending the silly ideas of duty, responsibility, and life. You feel like you have stepped into a realm between heaven and earth and for that period of time the world is fine. This is what it was like for me so often when I was younger. Too bad life seems to take such magic away from you as you age, because I think the world would be a better place if we could hold onto it.
Although much of my writing seems to be about moralistic problems, the descriptiveness of the scenes and magic comes purely from flying with hawks. I want to have my readers step away from this world and fly with a raptor somewhere just short of heaven. I want to unfetter their imagination as I had in mine in my youth. Making them able to see the magic in a simple bit of reflected light or drifting bit of fog is the goal of my stories. My readers should enjoy savoring all the nuisances of my tales from the imagery to the word play. That is what I have always enjoyed in my reading, savoring the emotions and visuals other authors have given me.
Being able to step outside of the cares of everyday life and yet delve into deep issues is one of the amazing abilities that science fiction and fantasy writing has over non-fiction literature. Even though the main characters can deal with issues as bad as, or worse than, a true person’s past, the uniqueness of the invented world can help readers overcome their preset attitude toward the subject. The flight of their imagination allows them to see it from a different point of view.
So, the next time you read a story, stop and think for a second. Did this author every watch a hawk flying against the clouds and imagine being with it? Did the pull of a taut kite string send them scurrying down some imaginary path? Finally, can you still remember how to fly?