Inktober 2019: A Drawing Exercise

In keeping with last year, I am once again trying Inktober with the goal of drawing more than I otherwise would have. I also used it to explore my tools again. My hope is I will find the tool that clicks and be able to make drawing part of my general existence because it makes me happy. But, I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to that point. Part of the problem is I don’t have the patience to draw well, so finding a tool that will achieve the patience is unlikely.

Anyway, October began without my knowledge or permission. It was several days into it before I even realized this was the Inktober month (I saw mention of it on one of my writing forums). This means I’m struggling to incorporate drawing and likely to have very few to show for the month, especially since my energy has been low this year. However, I completed two “drawings” so far, one I like and one I don’t hate. I’m showing them in reverse order because I know which one I want the sharing to pick up.

Inktober 2-2019-traced from a photo with finger using GIMP One of my science fiction and fantasy discussion groups on Facebook asked about aliens, which made me think about a book (or books) I want to release at some point called Shadows of the Sun. The first version was 100% in the alien perspective, and the inspiration for one of the two alien species was Sri Lankan Loris. I’ve been fascinated with them since my mother helped run a conference there when I was a kid (and got to meet Arthur C. Clarke — much jealousy here). When Kyrnie, the lead in Shadows of the Sun, appeared in my dreams, she came as a cross between a spider monkey and a lori with mottled green and blue fur.

That’s the inspiration. On the technical side, this drawing is the one to prompt the quotes above. It’s a trace of a photo rather than raw drawing, done with my finger on a convertible laptop in tablet mode using GIMP. I’ve been trying to find a good drawing stylus for years, but getting the level of precision (even for my drawing) along with a software that allows me to export in layers I can manipulate has been difficult. My finger was a test rather than a solution, but I will get an active pen soon because my finger was better than the other pinpoint stylus I own, which isn’t saying much. You can admire the photo I traced here.

This one is my first drawing, a random inspiration grown from the thistle in front. I used the Jot Flip stylus with little success as it kept skipping. My frustration was enough to know I needed to find a better solution or end up scratching my laptop screen. You can see the difficulty in the jagged lines that are not typical of my style.

Inktober 1-2019-drawn with circle stylus using GIMP
As with last year, you can find many examples far superior to mine on Twitter, but it’s the attempt that’s important to me.

Note: Click either image for a larger version.

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5 Interesting Links for 10-04-2019

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Art (Cats)

Any cat parent knows there’s no way around cat hair…unless you have a Sphinx…but this creative couple makes treasure out of shed.

For Fun (Creativity)

Creativity can be expressed in many ways, but this one is almost as much scary as fun :). Just kidding, though the reaper-like sacrifice makes me nervous. Otherwise known as things dads do, here’s an art car to start the Mad Max fans out young.

Psychology (Language)

A personal perspective on the difference between the terms queer and gay.

Health (Outdoors)

Spending time in nature, otherwise known as forest bathing, is good for both physical and mental health, especially for seniors as this article describes. (Via David Bridger)

Accessibility (Voting)

I have long been an advocate for voting. I don’t care what your politics are. You have the right to go vote and should exercise that right for this to be considered a democracy (representative republic). But what if circumstances, deliberate or unrelated, make the act of voting too difficult? This article looks at the complexity of voting as part of the disabled population. (Via Ehlers Danlos Education Network (EDEN))

Becoming Home, Foster's Way Book 1

Posted in Art, Music, Crafts, etc., Health, Interesting Links, Just for Fun, Kids and Cats, Language, Life, Psychology | Leave a comment

Her Viking Warrior by Gina Conkle

Her Viking Warrior by Gina ConkleI chose this title because I had a craving to return to my roots where reading romances is concerned, but what I’d expected to be a quick, candy-bar read turned out to be much more. The story speaks to the parts of me that are traditional, and those wanting to see growth and change. This is far from the “love blooms in reluctant couples” theme that many historical romances use. Rather, it’s a story of growing respect and understanding during dangerous, tumultuous times.

Ilsa and Bjorn follow a path strewn with hard choices and unwanted losses. Their ways have never been easy, nor have they sat back and let fate make choices for them. This is especially true for Ilsa because she stretches the boundaries of her gender to address the needs of those who depend on her. She has many secrets, some of which she keeps even from the reader for a bit, but the small details add up so when Ilsa reveals the secret to us, it’s not a shock. Before you think this is the modern world crammed into Viking history, however, know the original understanding of Viking life had many flaws. More recent discoveries are changing those assumptions. The author includes a note at the end referencing a historical Viking woman whose life followed a similar pattern.

Bjorn’s concerns are more personal. He fights a craving to reclaim the home that cast him out as a boy of twelve almost as strong as the one to punish those who remain for not stopping his father. It’s a measure of the man he has become that Bjorn can see and learn about the conditions in his old home despite the filters of his anger and confusion. Ilsa offers a different form of distraction and makes keeping to the rules of his brother warrior band harder than Bjorn would have thought possible.

The parallels to modern times in this story are strong. Several themes, while true to the book’s period, echo strongly in the modern world with lessons to teach those willing to listen. Don’t expect a pause to educate, however. The themes are woven tight into the story, and cause trouble for Ilsa and Bjorn whether or not the reader sees a greater significance as I did.

The rules of that time might be different, but the needs and weaknesses of the characters are relatable. They struggle between what is right, the promises they’ve made, and who they want to be. I was completely absorbed…so much so I forgot to make notes for this review a good part of the time. While I knew what I wanted to happen, the characters were just unpredictable enough to leave me startled a time or two, making the book stronger and more complicated.

There is an open-door love scene and the passion burning between the main characters is tangible even before they’re willing to act on it. Passion is not the only strong emotion though. The story is far from simple and has darkness as well as light. The warring is not painted with a heroic sheen nor are the battles waged closer to home glossed over. This could easily have been a banished son returns a conquering hero to save the day. Instead, there’s a multi-layered tale full of challenges about personal and societal beliefs where the characters must face their own demons as well as ones imposed from others. There’s an important theme played out in the background, but the story of two childhood friends torn apart then reunited in the worse circumstances is enough to satisfy the romantic heart.

I enjoyed the sharp and layered banter between two mature protagonists who had seen much of life and stayed strong despite it. Viking words are introduced with a skillful hand so the context makes the meaning clear while the writing itself is evocative. People develop distinct personalities (except for those mostly in the background where similar names sometimes tripped me up), and the Earth itself comes alive in its trees, land, and waters. The wind has a voice, but more than that, the variety of beliefs add another depth where who a person turns to for blessings shows in their outlook.

I cannot say more without spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this: the ending is fascinating. It’s not what I’d come to expect, and yet it is appropriate for this book with all the questions it raises and explores.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Things That Make Me Smile No.183: Gold Rush

Here is a beautifully haunting tale of the gold rush in song form with steel guitar and a flute bridge. This is why I listen to country. There are many of these powerful songs, as many as the stereotypical kind.

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5 Interesting Links for 09-27-2019

Note: Videos may auto start with sound so be prepared.

Just for Fun (Dogs)

This happens to be an author I enjoy, or rather an author team (Ilona Andrews), but I’m sharing it because of the chuckles…and warnings about allowing a German Shepherd into your life ;).

Health (Reading)

A study out of Yale found reading can lengthen life expectancy and stave off dementia. Have you picked up a book today? (Via Laurence O’Bryan)

Safety (Schools)

A study of Canadian schools found gays and other bullying targets were much less likely to suicide in a school that had a gay-straight alliance. This influence grows the longer the alliance has been supported by the school. (Via Cliff Winnig)

Habitats (Space)

NASA is exploring many habitat designs before deciding what the requirements will be. This one has some unique features, the main one being it is inflatable, so the size leaving Earth and the liveable space are very different.

History (Textiles)

A quick look at the textile arts that predate knitting but serve a similar purpose. There are additional links for more detail as well.

Curve of Her Claw Twitter Sharable

Posted in Culture, Education, Health, History, Interesting Links, Just for Fun, Life, Reading, Space | Leave a comment