Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Doodle-a-Day 19-22

Missed another chunk of days.  I'm still working on a big project --which I will more than likely link to from here when it is complete-- that has been eating up a lot of my time.  Doodling has fallen by the wayside a bit.  But, I still have yet to miss 5 days in a row, which is the maximum I can miss.  So that's good.

Here are four doodles.

This is a charcoal drawing of Hogwarts.  Again, I still have no fixer, so this is a photograph.

Ink doodle of a hand.

And finally, a Huayangosaurus: a small chinese stegosaur.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 16 -18

Been working on a big project, so doodling has fallen by the wayside.  To make up for two missed days and also today, here's another three doodles.

It's my friend's birthday today, so she gets a doodle!

Here's a drawing of how I imagine Dobby in the Harry Potter series.  I loved the image in Order of the Phoenix of Dobby wearing so much clothes, and I thought it says something very awesome about his character and why he is so gash-derned lovable.  I was sad they had him wear a gross pillowcase in the Deathly Hallows film.

Finally, here is a quick ink drawing of Serenity.  I love this ship.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 13-15

Three today because I missed Sunday and Monday.

Today happens to be Bob Dylan's 70th birthday.

This is an ink drawing of a pelican.

And finally, this is my first ever attempt at drawing a person using charcoal pastels.  I'm not too happy with it, but it's a start.  The really tough thing is trying to get the skin tone right.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 12

Okay, in my defense, the doodle was drawn before midnight.  It was just photographing and uploading it that took longer.

That's right.  That's Spider-Man drawn on a cup that a few hours ago held a soy latte.  Comic book nerds will probably notice that I used a Mark Bagley drawing for reference.  I drew the basic shapes in pencil, then drew the big lines in Sharpie.  To do the webbing on his costume, I used a finer pen.  Finally, I colored it with marker.  I was scared that the color would ruin it, but I also wanted to try it, so I took a picture before I colored it.  I like the fact that it is very black and white.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 11

Went to the zoo today.  It was raining, so I didn't get as much opportunity to sketch as I would have liked, but I did get a few doodles.

The duck in particular seemed really eager to be sketched.  As soon as I started drawing it, it held really still, which was nice of it.

The zoo was actually really wonderful.  It was a cool spring day and the animals were very active.  In particular, I was impressed by the activity of the wolves, who came right up to my friend and we watched them for a good ten minutes or so.  I had never seen the wolves do anything other than lie in the shade during hot summer days, so it was nice getting to see them out and about.  They were so beautiful.  I really wanted to draw them, but unfortunately, the rain was not on my side and there was no conveniently shielded location.

The zoo I went to was Zoo Montana, which actually just recently lost its accreditation with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and will be losing many of its animals as a result.  This is mainly due to poor accounting and a lack of funds on the zoo's part.  This is a real shame.  It is a beautiful place and the people care deeply about wildlife conservation and education about the natural world.  It played an important role in my childhood learning, and no doubt had a strong impact on my decision to become a biology major.

If you live in the Billings area, or even if you just care about keeping wildlife and ecological education alive, there is a Donate button at the Zoo Montana website: zoomontana.org.  Also, if you live in the Billings area, I encourage you to stop by the zoo.  Spend a day there and really soak it in.  They will be losing many of their most beautiful animals soon, so see them while you can and support the zoo.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 10

Doodling late into the night and realized that the day had changed.  Seeing as I was pretty proud of this doodle, I decided to make it the doodle of the day.

It's an Oviraptor.

I found an old case of markers and happily discovered that they still worked.  I've been playing with color all day actually.  You can expect the next few doodles will probably have some color element to them.  I first drew a light sketch in pencil.  Then I went over the drawing with markers, starting with the brightest yellow of the head and getting darker the more I worked.  I liked the idea of using fire colors, which is especially apt if you know that Oviraptor mongoliensis is found in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.  I then outlined the drawing with a felt-tipped pen.  Finally I used a marker to add in the scales around the jaw and the hard edges of the skull.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 9

I was just listening to music and absent-mindedly sketching with a light pencil.  I drew these two people and liked the way it looked, so I outlined it in felt-tip pen.  Then I wanted to do more, so I decided to fill the negative space with the diagonal lines.  It was actually oddly fun.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 7 & 8

Dropped the ball yesterday, so here are two doodles.

Today, May 17th:

A shark-bird.

Yesterday, May 16th, was my good friend Kris's 20th birthday.  So, here is a doodle of him being an awesome karate-man.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 6

Interesting story behind this one.  I am intensely afraid of spiders.  This morning (and yesterday morning too, actually, but that's a different story), I caught this spider in my room.  Caught it in a jar, actually.  I'm a biology major and have a natural curiosity about living things.  So you can imagine the internal war between my arachnophobia and my scientific curiosity.  

So all day I've been in fear of this creature in this jar in my room.  This drawing is not so much conquering my arachnophobia, but exploring that irrational fear.  I forced myself to look at the spider long enough and closely enough to draw it.  As you can see, it came out as a pretty quick sketch.  While I was drawing it though, I did see it in a new perspective.  The spider had built a web in the jar and was waiting patiently for a meal that would never come.  I rendered this fearsome predator helpless.  So I was able to feel some sympathy for the spider, and felt some irony at the idea that its life was at the mercy of an arachnophobe.  Didn't change the fact that it still totally wigged me out (that's how irrational fears are), but it was an interesting perspective on the situation.  I hope that comes across in the doodle.

After I did the doodle, I took the jar outside, far away from my house, and let the spider free.  I considered it an act of mercy, and hope that the spider tells its friends to stay away from me.   

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 5

Coming in under the wire on this one, but with a whole half an hour to spare.  (For those who don't know, I am in Mountain Standard Time.)

Just watched Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (for the first time, don't judge me), and the high seas are on my mind.  Hence the following drawing, done in charcoal.

I apologize for the poor image quality.  I currently have nothing to fix the drawing with, and I didn't want to get charcoal in my scanner, so I had to resort to taking a picture with my laptop's webcam.  Hopefully I will be able to get a better image of this drawing.  In which case I will edit this post to include a higher quality image

Friday, May 13, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 3 & 4

This one is totally not my fault; blogger decided to stop working for most of yesterday and today.

May 12:
This is a drawing of a shoe.  Yeah, pretty boring.  I apologize.

May 13th:
The first incarnation of this guy was drawn during Chemistry class, where we were learning about the Nernst Equation, which is used to determine voltages in electrochemical cells as a function of concentration.  I've affectionately decided to name him Nernst as a result.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Doodle-A-Day 1

For the first Doodle-A-Day, I present a quick sketch of my dormroom.

The Doodle-A-Day Project

Alright.  Here we go.  This is something I've been planning on doing for a while, but I feel like it is finally the right time to start.  I call it The Doodle-A-Day Project.

Basically, I am going to do a doodle every day for a year, and post them all here on my blog.  Not a big deal, just a fun little project.  As life gets more an more complicated, sometimes it gets harder to justify spending time exercising your creativity muscles (especially for a science major like myself).  So forced doodling, every day, will be a nice way to guarantee that I have a nice healthy dose of art in my life.  And hopefully it will produce some pretty neat stuff.

Now down to the rules.  I'm purposefully making this very open-ended.  A "doodle" can constitute any 2-dimensional piece of artwork.  It will probably be mostly graphite drawings, maybe some charcoal or pastels.  I might try painting again, but no promises any of that will end up on here.  These drawings might be in any level of "finished."  They could be quick sketches or very refined and detailed.  I am anticipating that weekend-doodles will be more polished, while weekday-doodles will probably be more quick and dirty.

The doodles can be of any subject I feel like drawing that day.  People, places, things, abstract crap.  Whatever.  I might draw from life, or I might just make it up.  That's part of the fun.  I have no set time for when I do a doodle, but it will be sometime between the hours of 12am and 11:59pm, likely depending on whatever I have to do that day.

Also, I anticipate that life is unpredictable and there may well be days where I do not manage to do a doodle.  So, my policy with that is that I can go a maximum of 5 days without doing a doodle.  The day that I post again though, I must have a doodle for every day that I missed and try my hardest not to miss days again.  Regardless of how many days I don't doodle, I will end with 365 doodles and have gone no more than 5 days without updating on this blog.

I also have no intention to stop my regular posts on this blog.  Expect non-doodle-a-day-related posts at about the same frequency they are now.  (That is, about once every 2 weeks.)

Technically, today is the first day of Doodle-a-Day, seeing as it's past midnight, but I think I will wait until morning to actually do the first doodle.  So, look out for that.

I'm sure this will be a fun year, and I hope that you all come along with me for it.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Well, I went to the midnight premiere of Thor last night.  It was a very enjoyable experience and I had a great time.  But, as with all things in my life, I can't just enjoy it.  I have to take all the joy out of it by picking it apart until it has no soul left.  So, with that intent clearly laid out before us, I hereby present my thoughts on Thor.

Also, be warned that this will contain major spoilers for the film.  If you care about those kinds of things (I do) don't read on.  Also, and this is less discussed but perhaps more critical, this will be a review.  Which means that I will be giving you my opinion on quite a lot of things.  If you do not want to be biased when/if you do see it and want time to formulate your own opinion on the film, I would advise you to not read this.

Alright then.  Moving on.

Thor.  The God of Thunder.  The Son of Odin.  These are big titles for a big character.  Larger than life in fact.  One of the greatest challenges facing any film starring Thor is to get past his larger-than-life existence and find the human personality that we can all relate to.  I would say that this movie succeeds with some success, but it is by no means perfect.

Chris Hemsworth's portrayal is very well done, and I did find myself liking Thor almost immediately upon seeing him.  Hemsworth brings that human quality to the God of Thunder early and often throughout the movie.  Hemsworth was able to sell me the humanity of each moment.  Of course, the actual script is another matter.  A lot of cheating is done to take Thor through the character journey that is integral to the story.  While Hemsworth may be able to sell the emotion of the character, the script is unable to sell me on the actual source of that emotion, resulting in a hollow feeling throughout the pivotal moments of the film.

As will be blatantly obvious to anyone who has been paying attention to my blog, I am a character man.  A movie can have the most astonishing special affects, the greatest action sequences, and the most epic scope, but if it lacks characters that are interesting, that grow and change, and that I care about, I will not like the movie.  Unfortunately, the character of Thor does not pass this test for me.  The main problem is that his development is not earned.  By the end of the movie, Thor is clearly a different person.  However, looking back on the events of the film, it is extremely difficult to say exactly WHY he is a different person.  It seems as though he just sort of fell ass-backwards into character development.  While this may provide superficial satisfaction, it is ultimately lacking in substance.

But wait, you say!  He fell in love!  That's what changed him!  Which is precisely my problem.  Why did Thor fall in love exactly?  What reason was ever given for him and Jane Foster to be in love other than he was the male lead and she the female lead?  She hits him with a car, realizes he is integral to her research, finds out he is a very peculiar and out of place man and they fall in love.  This sounds like a bad romantic comedy, not a realistically developed romantic relationship.  Their relationship did not grow organically from the events of the story; rather, it was forced into place by a necessity for a character-change catalyst.  As a result, Thor's promise to return to Jane and her single-minded determination to find him once the Bifrost Bridge has been destroyed do not come across as a grand romantic tragedy between two separated souls, but a hollow, superficial, and unearned ending.  While I can still feel the emotion of their scenes together, due mainly to the acting abilities of both Hemsworth and Natalie Portman (who is absolutely adorable through this whole film), I have trouble buying it or finding it in any way organic.

Another argument could be made that the catalyst for Thor's character growth not being a result of his romance with Jane but the moment when he finds he cannot lift the hammer.  By casting the spell on the hammer to make it only liftable by someone worthy, Odin also forces Thor to grow up in order to claim his true power.  This argument does hold a little bit more weight, I'll admit.  Being unable to lift his own hammer is a powerful symbol of having lost his identity.  But Thor must learn that power is not a birthright.  It must be earned.  Unfortunately, this doesn't really solve the problem of HOW Thor learns the virtues of wisdom and compassion.  While the moment Thor fails to lift the hammer is a fantastic start for his character journey, ultimately it is just that.  A start.  It brings him down to rock bottom, so that he may be built up again.  But, this building up doesn't happen naturally, it is contrived into being.  The moment the hammer returns to Thor after his self-sacrifice comes across as the exact opposite of what was intended.  It was supposed to be the earning of power, but considering there is no justification for the process through which he became worthy of that power, the moment is the exact opposite of earned.

Of course, that is not to say that all of the character work in this movie is bad.  Far from it, in fact.  Where the characterization of Thor may have fallen flat, Loki's character never failed to be interesting, dynamic, and compelling.  There is a risk when doing a comic book movie that you will make your villain a comic book villain: someone who has no character depth to speak of and only cares about doing evil for evil's sake or because they are crazy.  This is not Loki.  Every step of the way in this film, I can understand and even sympathize with Loki's actions.  Unregarded by his father, constantly in the shadow of his more loved brother, Loki's natural jealousy turned sour in a way that can only be described as Shakespearian. (I wonder why they picked Kenneth Branagh to direct?)

Loki is not evil. He performs some evil actions, not the least of which is the murder/attempted murder of innocents and even his own brother.  But each of these actions is motivated by a desire to impress his father: to get the love and respect from Odin that he always deserved but was always given to Thor.  The fact that Loki is actually the son of Laufey the Frost Giant is merely a plot contrivance and a brilliant mislead as to Loki's true intentions.  He even says himself, upon killing Laufey, that he considers himself the son of Odin.  No, Loki's evil actions are not due to his heritage.  They are the twisted expression of a need to gain the love and respect of his father.  This is what good characterization is.

So, while the characterization of Thor was lacking in substance, the story of the two brothers was not.  Every scene Loki and Thor had together was among the film's best.  The weight and emotion of these scenes felt real in every way the Thor/Jane scenes did not.  Tom Hiddleston's performance as Loki was exceptionally nuanced and only made me want to see more of him.

Ultimately, despite its flaws, this was an enjoyable film.  It was a prodigal son story with a mythological twist.  The visuals were simply stunning and the world-creation was absolutely fantastic.  The action was legitimately thrilling, and I was very caught up in the story of the movie.  Considering just how much fun I had watching the film, and the exceptional storytelling involved in the story of Thor and Loki, I give this film a thumbs up.  Chris Hemsworth played a fantastic Thor that was sympathetic and easy to root for (as Hawkeye points out in the second act.)  I cannot wait to see what he can do with the character when he is given a good script.  And with Joss Whedon both writing and directing The Avengers, I'm not too concerned about that.

Final Thoughts:

  • Favorite Scene:  This is tough, but I think I'm going to have to go with the scene where Loki visits Thor on earth in the SHIELD base to tell him that Odin is dead and he cannot come back to Asgard.  The distraught look on Thor's face really makes me feel for the guy.  He's at his lowest point here: he cannot wield his hammer, cannot go back to Asgard, and believes himself responsible for his father's death.  I love that he naively trusts what Loki tells him.  Loki can lie like nobody's business, but I also feel like there was a twinge of true regret in Loki's power play.  I think that, in the end, it is clear that the two brothers do indeed love each other, which serves to only amplify the tragedy
  • Ooh!  Ooh!  That bit where Loki tries to wield Thor's hammer and finds himself unworthy is absolutely fantastic.  You can tell that he tries almost nonchalantly out of curiosity, but once he finds he cannot lift it, the true weight of what that means to him is written all over his face.  No matter how hard he tries, he can never seem to be as good as his brother.
  • I didn't care for Thor's remark at the end to Odin about how there could be no better father.  Considering that if Odin had been a better father and not shown clear favoritism towards Thor over Loki, much of the nastiness of the story could have been avoided, this comment seemed particularly odd to me.  I've decided to chalk it up to Thor's naivety.
  • I appreciated that the movie followed the long tradition from the comics of having Odin go into Odinsleep whenever the plot demanded he not be around and wake up only when it was story-convenient.
  • I was annoyed with all of the shots that had the horizon line going diagonally across the screen, especially during the first act.  In my opinion, such shots are best used sparingly, if at all.
  • Best Stan Lee cameo yet!
  • The idea that all of the Marvel Studios exist in the same universe is really fun.  There was a subtle Hulk reference, a more obvious Iron Man reference, and an appearance by Hawkeye, who will no doubt get more attention in The Avengers.  Also, who could forget Nick Fury revealing the friggin' cosmic cube after the credits!?
  • Comic book fans will of course know that Dr. Donald Blake was originally Thor's alter ego before it was decided that it would be better just to have him be Thor all the time.  Clever shoutout.
  • I was impressed with how many times this movie made me laugh out loud.  "Another!"  Classic.
  • Heimdall was a badass.  'Nuff said.