Dec 11 2011

#225 “Magical Forest”

From Elowyn in Chattanooga, Tennessee

The notion that wolves often reside in forests is nothing new to most of us, but something about this particular patch of woods depicted by 10-year-old Elowyn speaks to me in a way that is more powerful than I would have anticipated. There’s something almost Tolkien about the woods in which this complacent wolf finds itself, something magical, almost supernatural in certain ways. The trees and branches intertwine in a beautiful macrame of twisted wonder. Green shrubs sprout freely from the fertile soil of the enchanted ground. Birds and squirrels twitter and chirp in an innocent chorus of natural beauty. And in the midst of it all sits the majestic king of this charmed woodland, the lupine lord of the forest.

This is world so magical and so full of wonder that it could only be the brainchild of a young lady. Even her name, Elowyn, seems to represent her enchanted themes. Even though they are not pictured here, her work brings to mind scenes of knights and castles, elves and goblins, wizards and warriors. Ultimately, there is an endearing juxtaposition between the artist’s relative inexperience in life and her enduring themes of mystery and wonder. Although she is young, Elowyn has artistically produced a mystifying forest that seems older than time itself. In the end it all goes to show that perhaps those who have just recently entered this world have a more innate connection with the supernatural wonder of it. It makes one wonder where we came from, where our souls resided before they entered this material world. And all of this from the hand of a child, a hand that held Crayola crayons…


Nov 8 2011

#192 “Battle Ready”

From a stranger in Bend, Oregon.

She-Ra meets The NeverEnding Story and Link meets The Lord of the Rings in the unique fantasy ride of epic, wolfy proportions. If this work is an intentional reference to any particular story or fantasy saga, I am at a loss to identify it, but in some ways I believe the mystery makes this piece all the more appealing. With the backstory left unknown, the viewer is free to fantasize about this magical realm in which sword-wielding, battle ready Amazonian princesses gallop atop pink, vambrace-wearing wolves in a quest for righteousness. The confident gaze of the sovereign warrior and optimistic demeanor of her lupine steed indicate that this pair is surely fighting for the cause of all that is good and just and that they will ultimately succeed. And in the end, perhaps there is a great lesson to be taken from this. Perhaps all of this suggests that if we are assured in our own abilities and resources and have a stable confidence, then we have no need to fear no matter who or what our enemy might be. But then again, this is all speculation. It may be the case that just the opposite is true- that the message is simply an encouragement to indulge our imaginations in a short vacation of pure and utter fantasy without having to search for meaning. Regardless of which of these options is the case, however, this picture is still inspiring and causes the mind to churn with tantalizing possibilities.

But no commentary on this illustration would be complete without pointing out the immense skill that was called upon during the work’s creation. The lines of brush, pen and pastel are frenzied and hectic and give off vibrations that buzz with energy while the unique color palette causes the eyes to exercise their full potential and the mind to reel with wonder at the groundbreaking combination of hues. It’s truly a sight to be hold, and beyond all doubt, the artistry at work here is just as amazing as the unique subject matter.

Congratulations, stranger. You’ve pushed the limits of our expectations, and we have all been rewarded by your efforts. This is one battle with a clear and rightful victor.


Jun 8 2011

#39 “Red Eye”

From John, an MU student.

From the moment that I first laid eyes upon this malevolent lupine, I knew that it was evil. You might wonder how I recognized this so clearly or what told me so definitively that this wolf was one to be feared. Was it the black environment in which this wolf is steeped? Perhaps. The haunting luminescence of its fur? Maybe. The ominous crouching and foreboding body language? Possibly. But what really solidified this creature’s wicked nature lies in those deep red eyes.

To be honest, I’m not sure exactly why we often associate the color red with evil or anger, but I’ve noticed that there are lots of theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon and lots of contrasting claims that try to dismiss it. In the end, though, I find the implementation of the concept to be more interesting than its origins.

As a result, I wish to share with you a few examples of famous creatures and characters that display this interesting concept of the evil red eye. This information is taken from a website I discovered called “Red Eyes Take Warning: Television Tropes and Idioms.”

I have narrowed the website’s massive list of examples down to some of the most familiar, but you can check out this link for the full list.

  • The evil robot AUTO from WALL-E
  • Emperor Zurg in Toy Story 2
  • Mrs. Jumbo from Dumbo normally has Blue Eyes like her son, but they turn red during the scene where she goes crazy as a result of several children making fun of Dumbo, resulting in her being tied up by several circus workers and subsequently being dragged away to be locked up in solitary confinement as punishment for being a “mad elephant.”
  • Disney’s Aladdin. While Aladdin and the Genie are in the cave, Aladdin taunts the Genie about the limitations on his wish granting abilities to trick him into getting everyone out of the cave without using up a wish. When the Genie gets angry and starts giving a speech, his eyes turn red momentarily.
  • As well as Sauron in The Lord of the Rings being a flaming red eyeball himself, the black horses of the Ringwraiths have glowing red eyes.
  • In Dreamscape, the wolves chasing the heroes in the final dream sequence.
  • Black Swan: Natalie Portman’s Baleful Polymorph
  • The Terminator machines from The Terminator series
  • Star Wars: The “Sith eyes” seen on Darths Maul, Sidious, and Vader in the prequels.
  • Big Bad, Dorian Tyrell, in The Mask, while wearing the title item.
  • In Judge Dredd the deadly ABC robot controlled by Rico has glowing red eyes.
  • The HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey uses cameras with glowing red lenses to watch the crew of the Discovery.
  • Grendel in the Old English epic poem Beowulf
  • Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs is depicted with maroon (brownish-red) eyes in the books.
  • In the Twilight novel series, the vampires who drink only human blood have red eyes.
  • Chillingworth from The Scarlet Letter
  • The Castlevania series usually depicts Dracula as having red eyes
  • In Left 4 Dead the Witch is distinctive (and sometimes visible only) by her glowing red eyes.
  • Nearly all the Decepticons of the original Transformers
  • Skeletor, nemesis of He-Man from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

May 31 2011

#31 “Wild Fantasy”

From Rudi at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri

This wolf is undeniably interesting. The unorthodox facial features, unique coloring, and the mysterious nature of the text at the bottom of the illustration all work together to create a masterpiece of wild imagination. In many ways this picture is so weird and bizarre that I didn’t think any words I could offer would complement it appropriately (I hope the artist takes no offense to this); and although it may not be entirely applicable, I have decided that such a ‘fantastical’ picture might be better served if it were paired with the work of one of the greatest ‘fantasy’ writers of all time: J.R.R. Tolkien.

And with that, I will leave you with this short section from Tolkien’s The Hobbit which picks up shortly after Bilbo, Gandalf, and the thirteen dwarves escape from goblins in the Misty Mountains.

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After what seemed ages further they came suddenly to an opening where no trees grew. The moon was up and was shining into the clearing. Somehow it struck all of them as not at all a nice place, although there was nothing wrong to see.

All of a sudden they heard a howl away down hill, a long shuddering howl. It was answered by another away to the right and a good deal nearer to them; then by another not far away to the left. It was wolves howling at the moon, wolves gathering together!

There were no wolves near Mr. Baggins’ hole at home, but he knew that noise. He had had it described to him often enough in tales. One of his elder cousins (on the Took side), who had been a great traveller used to imitate it to frighten him. To hear it out in the forest under the moon was too much for Bilbo. Even magic rings are not much use against wolves – especially the evil packs that lived under the shadow of the goblin-infested mountains, over the Edge of the Wild on the borders of the unknown. Wolves of that sort smell keener than goblins, and do not need to see you to catch you!

“What shall we do, what shall we do!” he cried. “Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!” he said, and it became a proverb, though how we say “out of the frying pan and into the fire” in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.

“Up the trees, quick!” cried Gandalf; and they ran to the trees at the edge of the glade, hunting for those that had branches fairly low…. And Bilbo? He could not get into any tree, and was scuttling from trunk to trunk…. So Dori actually climbed out of the tree and let Bilbo scramble up and stand on his back.

Just at that moment the wolves trotted howling into the clearing. All of a sudden there were hundreds of eyes looking at them. Still Dori did not let Bilbo down. He waited till he had clambered off his shoulders and into the branches, and then he jumped for the branches himself. Only just in time! A wolf snapped at his cloak as he swung up and nearly got him. In a minute there was a whole pack of them yelping all round the tree and leaping up at the trunk, with eyes blazing and tongues hanging out.