Wordless Wednesday…

Dead to the World

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Alan Mackenzie

We look before and after, and pine for what is not;

Our sincerest laughter with some pain is fraught; 

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

~ Percy Bysshe Shelly

Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.

~ Aristotle

His name is Alan Mackenzie and while still living his human life he faithfully served as Quentin the Vampire Botanist’s valet and butler. Later he was promoted to Estate Manager, but regardless of title, he was always and ever Quentin’s good and true friend.

Quentin’s parents were hardly ever around and when they were, they weren’t. His mother far too busy socializing, his father much too engaged in gambling, together their parental sense combined could not fill a buttercup. The lonely, odd, and somehow lost little boy was often left in the care of Alan. He was one of the very few people that could make Quentin laugh and became the only man that Quentin ever trusted.

As many of us can attest, Life can throw us bitter curves and wrench our hearts with twisted luck. We all have regrets or sadness to bear. Quentin’s deepest grief came from the fact that Alan Mackenzie saved his mortal life and lost his own while doing so. He wasn’t even given time enough with his friend to thank him or say good-bye. Yet to have become a Vampire he could do nothing to bring Alan’s sweet and brave, funny and smart soul back to this world. Like only we mere mortals can, helpless to do otherwise, he grieved the loss of his friend.

Many years later, when Quentin began conducting his plant experiments he knew that though his plants were fierce and each had their own special defense, he needed a protector for them. Someone he could trust. Someone not a vampire. Someone who would watch over them all day and all night. Someone or…something.

He could think of no one more valiant and trustworthy than Alan. He exhumed Alan’s body and in a macabre ceremony, removed the rotted, earth-bound flesh and imbued Alan’s bones with plant and Vampire essence.

Alan is glad to once again be of service to Quentin and now sits at the garden’s gate, watching over the PlantVampings and occasionally regaling them with stories of Quentin as a boy or entertaining them with his jokes, which are always of the most moldy and cornball variety. No one cares though and everyone always laughs, because somehow Mr. Mackenzie has a special way of making a bad joke sound very humorous, indeed.

It was a true delight to sketch Mr. Mackenzie. Running an estate as vast as Quentin’s can keep one very busy. Although from what Quentin imparted to me, no matter how busy he might be, Alan always had time create laughter. He’s even more lighthearted now. As did life, death suits him. It doesn’t suit everyone, you know.
I drew Mr. Mackenzie in pen, scanned and uploaded him onto my laptop. I then printed him out on 100% recycled stock (Quentin would approve) and painted him.

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How much do you love Halloween? It’s the no-pressure-just-fun-candy-and-costume holiday! Come check out the Halloween Artist Bazaar‘s Trick or Treat Giveaway. Sign up is free and painless. Click on the picture below and sign up today!

The Wintery End of Terrence

His name is Terrence. Terrence Mackenzie. Ringing any bells? No? He’s Alan Mackenzie’s younger brother.  Alan being the faithful valet and butler to Quentin the Vampire Botanist (and sometimes Fairy Gothfather…what can we say? Quentin is the wearer of many hats).

Younger siblings seem to excel at being thorns in their older siblings’ necks (or pains in their asses, whichever body part they can reach first). In the case of Terrence? He was what is politely referred to as a ne’er-do-well. Not a bad man, just not a very good one. He fancied himself to be a musician and he went off to the great City of Lost Dreams to make his fortune. Sadly, there was no fortune made; leastways, not by Terrence and certainly not in the City of Lost Dreams. Don’t waste any sympathy on him, as you’d be more likely find him tipping back a whiskey or two than picking up his fiddle.

Life never turns out well for ne’er-do-wells (the clue is in the expression) and Terrence was no exception in this regard. He hung out with all sorts of less-than-savory characters, but it wasn’t any of them who caused his accident. Jackie the barkeep warned him not to use the back door of The Scot’s Tide (which despite the name was no where near the ocean). Jackie knew that the lights in the alleyway were busted and no one had got around to replacing them, yet.

Unlike his brother, Terrence was a poor listener at best. Attempting to skip out on his tab, he went straight out the back door, slipped on a patch of ice and landed on his head. He lay in the alley until morning. This was nothing new for Terrence. He often passed out and slept in the alley; however, this time it was winter. The coldest winter the City of Lost Dreams had ever seen, before or since. Slowly freezing until his heart stopped, Terrence never woke up to a hangover again.

Although Quentin thought little of Terrence, he knew that he was Alan’s soft spot. After they received word of his death, he traveled to the City and brought his body back with him. Once safely back home, Quentin went to work using his Vampire magic and Botanist science, melting flesh off bone and imbuing Terrence’s skull with plant and vampire essence. This is not a pleasant process, but the end result is impressive.

Off the booze, Terrence has become quite responsible. You’ll often find him patrolling the estate’s perimeter and thoroughly enjoying giving a fright to anyone foolish enough that gets too close.

It was quite difficult to get Terrence to hold still for his portrait. Perhaps he has ADD. That would explain a lot, actually. Eventually I decided to jog along with him while he patrolled. I’m proud to report that I only ran into a tree once (it wasn’t hurt).

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How much do you love Halloween? It’s the no-pressure-just-fun-candy-and-costume holiday! Come check out the Halloween Artist Bazaar‘s Trick or Treat Giveaway. Sign up is free and painless. Click on the picture below and sign up today!

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Breakfast with the Skulls…

I scurried up to the garden today,

Afraid I’d receive a surprise.

Don’t bother to follow me,

You’ll surely seal your demise.

For every skull that ever I’d drawn will gather there for purpose unknown,

Because today’s the day for pancakes and crumbs, it’s Breakfast with the Skulls.

 For entire lyrics, please click here.

~ To be sung to the tune of “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”

It’s not as strange as it sounds, and it ended up to be far more genteel than I’d ever imagined.

The skulls of friends long past, the Guardians of the Garden, decided it was time for a meeting…with me. As soon as I received the invitation, the heart palpitations began. Yes, I had been hanging around Quentin’s estate for the last few months, but my manners are impeccable, aren’t they? I’d either been introduced or introduced myself  to everyone. I never drew portraits without asking permission, and so far, no one had turned me down. Was there rivalry among the skull ranks? Had I spent more time with one or the other? Did they dislike their likenesses? I had tried to explain that I’m not a fine artist. Was it the boxes I’d begun to paint? I got a notion in my head to paint their portraits on boxes. Do they disapprove? I should have asked. Why didn’t I ask?

I realize how this all sounds. None of them had actually given me any reason to think I’d offended or angered any one of them. That doesn’t stop me from making up reasons. Guilty conscience, I suppose.

Turns out they want to make me an honorary member of the Guardian Garden Skulls. At least I hope it’s only “honorary.” I am pleased, of course. I had no idea that they thought this highly of me and I’m touched.

My only concern now is the Swearing-In Ceremony. I have no problem swearing. I can do that from dawn to dusk and barely have to stop to take a breath. It’s the ceremony part that has me anxious. I just hope I get to keep my hair. None of them have any, you see. Hmm…perhaps I should be more concerned about keeping my skin? There really are drawbacks to being the lone human in household filled with immortal (and dangerous) creatures.

In preparation for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, I’m actually painting skull boxes for breakfast and lunch (and sometimes dinner). The idea of being invited to Breakfast with the Skulls wouldn’t leave me in peace (so to speak) and I had to write it down. One of my Demon pals has been calling for me, too. What can I say? It’s Grand Central Weird around here.

Unscaredy Cat

Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.

~Mark Twain

Penelope the Cat once lived in dread of nearly everything. Especially high on her list were: giant spiders, trees with faces, dangling Jack ‘O Lanterns, and cat-eating flowers. As illogical as her fears may have seemed to others, she spent every waking moment and many sleepless nights living with a terrible anxiety that started like a hard ball in her small belly and seemed to shoot out her paws, tail, and whiskers. The fears were so big, that she wasn’t able to enjoy the wonderful people and treats when they came her way: Colleen, the nice old lady who always gave her lovely bits of cheese or fish, Danny, the neighborhood boy who delivered the papers and made a point of scratching Penelope in just the right spot, right behind her ears, and Lopsing, the Owl who watched over her, so she could try to sleep without worry.  Colleen, Danny, and Lopsing always had a kind word or a cookie for her. And they all told her that she needed to let go of her fears. Lopsing said to her on many occasions, “Enjoy what life offers, rather than worry over what may never be.”

We can’t ever seem to learn from what others say, even when it’s your best friends who say it, though can we? Penelope stubbornly continued hold onto her fears, refusing to attend parties with neighbors or go anywhere with anyone. She even began to avoid her best friends, believing that she was right and that someday her fears would be realized. “Then they’ll believe me,” she thought to herself. “Then they’ll know I was right.”

Not-so-strangely, one day it happened. While rushing to avoid one of her neighbors (who carried yet another invitation to yet another party) Penelope was so busy stealing looks behind her that she didn’t notice where she was going. She headed straight into the Big-Bad-Forest that lurks behind the fair and fog of every neighborhood. By the time she realized where she was, of course it was far too late! Running quickly can make one clumsy and directionless and she found herself smacking into a giant spider that hung from a very large tree with a face that had Jack ‘O Lanterns dangling from her branches and was surrounded by cat-eating flowers! Except…the flowers, though they did have amazingly sharp teeth didn’t want to eat her. The Jack O’ Lanterns, only smiled while dancing and dangling. The tree’s face was quite large, but also quite friendly. And the giant spider? Well, she only wished to have a chat. After all, cats didn’t drop into her lap every day.

Now if Penelope isn’t found entertaining at home you’ll find her attending a party at one of her neighbor’s homes. Otherwise? She’ll be in the Big-Bad-Forest having a gabfest with her newly found friends.

As is often the case for every one of us, Penelope’s fears turned out to be nothing more than whispers from dark, unused corners. Although at times those whispers can get terribly loud…

Titled “Unscaredy Cat,” I hand doodled the scene, scanned to my computer then using GIMP, added one of my photos of some dark clouds as the background.

Our doors are open!

Finally, finally our Cards for a Gloomy Day e-stores are open. Can you believe it? Don’t answer that. I know, I know, I’ve been working on this endeavor since December 2011! Starting a business is the ultimate roller coaster. Guess it’s a good thing that I love roller coasters…roller coasters riddled with cans of worms and an assortment of other challenges.

If you have a moment, please check out our e-stores and let me know what you think (be gentle).

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