Jul 26 2011

#87 “Freki”

From Heather

In some ways I have always felt that one of the prerequisites for living in this world is the belief in another world of pure fantasy. For no matter how exciting or how dreary this tangible world may be that we all reside in together, it seems that most of us are pulled to create in our minds an alternate sphere of existence in which everything that we wish was possible actually is possible. I’ve never been much of a role player myself (the closest I ever came was with the Lone Wolf book series as a child), but I have always been intrigued by the concept of such things. WarHammer, Dungeons and Dragons, WOW… They are all fascinating and wondrous in their own unique ways, and I think they can teach us a little something about human nature and the need for freedom, escape, creative outlets and imagination.

As a child I had a cousin (his name is David), who was very active in these fantasy circles. I have vague and distant memory of sitting with him at a family gathering and watching in wonder as he showed me all of the books and devices that accompanied the game that was his latest obsession. Specifically, I was enamored with some multi-sided dice that my brain had never before imagined.  I can’t for the life of me remember now what this specific game or series was, but I do remember that David offered to draw a character for me, an avatar, if you will. I was speechless, breathless with anticipation; David has always been a talented artist. The question was… What would I choose? An elf? A dwarf? A barbarian warrior? A wizened wizard? In the end I can’t even remember what form I decided upon, and I have no idea where that illustration is today, but I still remember the wonder associated with that idea of creating a character and residing in a whole new universe that is outside of our own. It’s quite an amazing feeling.

This brings us to the fantastic artwork that is on display today by Heather Sheppard. After seeing the Project Spotlight onCreaturemag.com, Heather emailed this picture and some accompanying information about this interesting wolven creature named Freki. As it turns out, Heather just happens to be an avid player of a roleplaying game called Changeling: The Lost (which just happens to be published by White Wolf, Inc.), and Freki is a Beast Kith character of hers.

The background that Heather offered for this amazing creature was very interesting and instantly drew me into this wonderful world of pure fantasy, but what I feel is even more amazing is the skill with which Heather was able to create this painting. There is a sense of drama that is present in this picture which shines through triumphantly, creating a work of art that is exciting and moving. You can almost hear Freki’s howl as she stands defiantly in the soft glow of the moonlight.

Incidentally, Heather has a number of other fantastic pieces which you can access at her website. Check out more of her work at dinobotillustration.com and prepare to be amazed.

Jul 18 2011

#79 “The Mutant”

From Johanna in Sweden

I received this illustration from Johanna several days ago, and ever since that time, my mind has been reeling with the possibilities of what to say about this very unique picture. In her email, Johanna informed me that this mutant wolf and small anthropomorphic kitten are characters from a roleplaying game called Mutant: Undergångens Arvtagare. So, I know that these creatures exist in a world that is outside of our reality, and as a result, I’m not necessarily surprised to see a 4-armed wolf with regenerative powers playing catch with a kitten wearing a dress and a cardigan. I accept these elements of this picture without question.

However, beyond these obviously strange and intriguing elements, there is still something about this picture that sends chills down my spine. This scene is very artfully rendered and displays a great deal of skill, but… there is something unsettling here. Something unnerving that causes my heartbeat to quicken ever so slightly and the small hairs on the back of my neck to stand at attention. In the end I can’t quite put my finger on this mysterious element that has evoked such an intense reaction from me, but I believe it is related to the physical environment in which these creatures are portrayed. Here we have these two being playing together, but the landscape that I can see appears somewhat dark and almost barren. On the one side of the illustration is a lone hill, darkened with overhanging clouds. And to the left there appears to be a city, but the feeling it gives me is a cold and impersonal one, almost as if it exists in some post-apocalyptic world. And where are the characters in relation to these other elements of setting? I’m not sure… but they appear to be in some gray, ashen field. And yet there are smiles upon their faces.

Perhaps this is where the strange feeling inside me arises from: in a world that appears so dark and foreign, so scary and mysterious, so filled with creatures beyond my understanding, there is still a sense of joy and even innocence. Perhaps the juxtaposition of these elements is simply too much for my brain to comprehend.

Thank you Johanna for this wonderful illustration. It is both beautiful as well as intriguing and it certainly set my mind to work.

To see more Johanna’s skilled artwork, visit her deviantart page here.