Crooked Elf

 There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.

He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

~ English Nursery Rhyme, There was a Crooked Man 

There once was a Crooked Elf who went by the name Kwissp E. Ceen. Not crooked in mind or deed, but in the spirit of the Bent, Slightly Twisted and Extremely Strange. He enjoyed many activities: walking crooked miles; finding crooked pennies to spend on smooshed glazed doughnuts or other irregular sweets; cataloging, archiving, and photographing all things crooked, bizarre and outlandish; getting lost in gardens and hothouses; and most especially playing hide-and-go-seek with his honorable friend, the most crooked and fluffy cat, Mimsy Poole.

Being a great appreciator of gardens, of course Kwissp tended to get lost in them. While rambling down some road or another he’d come across someone’s garden or hothouse and would be so enchanted by the sights and scents that he’d forget everything else. It always fell to Mimsy to find and bring him back home in order that he could get her supper and on occasion, a bit of catnap. This arrangement suited both of them. On one such day of rambles, Kwissp happened upon the garden belonging to Quentin the Vampire Botanist. And of course, he had never seen the like!

Magnificent flowers burst out of the ground in such a variety and a multitude of colors that Kwissp eyes crossed with delight. And what interesting flowers these were! Many of them had tiny vampire teeth or tiny vampire claws and some had both. How completely unexpected! How wonderfully, amazingly peculiar! And oh! He spotted a large conservatory. Imagine what might be growing in there! Like cream to pudding, he found himself deliciously drawn to the structure. Though he knew it was horribly impolite, he couldn’t help pressing his face to the glass and peering inside. Luckily Mimsy came to his rescue, for although she did share Kwissp’s admiration for gardens (what better place to take a well-deserved nap than under a lavender bush?), she couldn’t bear to see such an egregious breach of courtesy. Doing her cat best (which is infinitely better than a human’s), she urged him to knock on the owner’s door and gain permission to photograph, document, and classify each wondrous flora.

This could have turned out badly and may have even been the end of Kwissp. Quentin isn’t a social vampire, by any means. At best, he’s a recluse. At worse? Well, at worst let’s just say one should count themselves lucky indeed should they manage to even crawl away (with most body parts intact) from an encounter with Quentin. The only company he enjoys is that of his plants. Anyone or anything else is merely a nuisance…or lunch. Most fortunate for our crooked elf friend, it turned out that Quentin took a liking to him. This might be explained by their mutual affection and respect for plants. However, it didn’t hurt that the elf’s complexion was green as the leaves on the medicinal herb Groomwell. This could also mean that the Vampire Botanist may have devious (are there any other kind?) plans for Kwissp’s future.

I met Kwissp while sitting on a bench daydreaming in Quentin’s garden (I too, am allowed entry. Long story). He startled (nearly) the life out of me popping his little green face out of the orange, pink and golden tangle of some licorice vines (a new experiment of Quentin’s and exceptionally pretty). After I managed to get my heart out of my throat and back into my chest where it belongs, I asked if he minded that I sketch him. “Not a problem,” he says, “just so long as I can continue documenting these plants.” Since this bothered me not in the least, I sketched away. I think I captured his creepily soulful eyes quite well.

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Doodle Framed!

Be still your rapidly increasing pulse. My doodles have not been set up nor are they in trouble with the law. As far as I know no one even has it in for any of my doodles. The title of this post refers to the action of placing one of my doodles in a frame. Big whoop, eh? It IS a big whoop! I’ve never framed one of my doodles…ever. I’ve framed photos that I’ve taken, but never a doodle.

I even painted the frame. Oh get me!

Without further gibberish, here’s my Step-by-Step Tutorial of Framing My Doodle:

1) Start with a frame. So far, so good.

Unfinished and very inexpensive (sounds better than cheap) wood frame. Poor little frame. It had no idea what was going to happen to it.
Note: I think calling this frame “unfinished” is misleading. What exactly is unfinished about it? It’s not like it’s in pieces and I had to put it together. I believe that undressed is a better term. Without your clothes are you “unfinished”?? I think not.

2) Beat up the frame a bit. Let out some of your aggression and it will give your frame that cool, distressed look. Distressed=beat up. I (lightly) used a butter knife and the opposite end of my artist brush. Note: Photos of this process were edited due to the graphic violence. The frame was indeed harmed, but only slightly.

3) Get some paints. In this case I chose silver, black, and dark teal. I use airbrush inks. I like their translucent quality. Plus they were on the clearance table at my local art shop. $0.99 each! Whoo-hoo!

Airbrush ink: translucent black and dark teal, and opaque silver. Part of my scattered workspace lies behind. Aren’t you glad you don’t live here?

4) Make sure you have one of these. Although, painting with one’s fingers does have its merits.

Yeah, I use airbrush inks without an actual airbrush. Why not? They’re just acrylics.

5) After removing the backing and glass insert, I generously painted the entire frame with the silver and let it dry for about an hour or so. I then lightly applied the black, some of which I used at its full inky strength and some of it I thinned with a small amount of water.

While I was painting, I imagined that the frame was actually made of silver. Pirates stole it from a lovely lady’s cabin. Originally, it held a portrait of the lady’s fiancé, who she was sailing out to meet. Of course the pirates had no use for a sentimental portrait, and after cutting the portrait from the frame they took it and the lady aboard their vessel. Their plan was to ransom the lady off to her fiancé. Only they never had a chance to do so. Ironically, these pirates were attacked by another band of pirates. After the looting and pillaging, they burned and then sank the ship. This frame is small, only 5″x7,” and it was missed during their raid. Sadly, it ended up at the bottom of the sea for over three hundred years.*

To give it that its-been-sitting-at-the-bottom-of-the-sea-for-over-three-hundred-years look, I used the teal ink thinned with a little water and a tiny amount of the black ink. Overall, I’m pleased with the results and for me that is huge.

My dressed frame. Not to be confused with a dressed salad.
I like how I managed to get that somewhat charred look about it. This whole distressed (beat up) thing is cool. It’s sort of organic and real. Even though it’s completely fake.

6) Get to doodling! Yeah, some might advise creating your art first and then framing it. I’m sort of a build-it-and-he/she/it-will-come sort of gal. So, I did the frame first and then decided on what to doodle. Did this add to the pressure while I doodled, knowing that a frame was awaiting its completion? Sure, but if we don’t challenge ourselves, where’s the fun?

7) Ta-da! Finished product.

Ta-da!

This particular framed doodle will be added to the Halloween Artist Bazaar’s Trick or Treat Giveaway, coming soon for (duh) Halloween. Now that I’ve opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box, I’ll be venturing further into my madness and dressing up more frames, filling them with doodles, and finally posting them to my Etsy Shop, Cards for a Gloomy Day.

Thanks for tuning in. You may now return to your regular program.

*But how did the frame get here when it was at the bottom of the sea? Obviously someone found it, but who? And what happened to the lady?? I’m working on it.

Alyce…No Life Here

Alyce reached the top of hill and her tired, gray eyes surveyed the damage. The flames from countless tacbombs were out, but some areas still smoldered. Dirty, black smoke rose upwards, like thousands of tiny snakes, winding their way up to where she stood. A mere day ago the landscape was lush and bountiful, now it was pock marked and deeply gashed. Hundreds of her soldiers, their bodies strewn like rag dolls laid in unnatural positions.

“No life here, not even a flower remains,” she whispered. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“My lady?”

She could sense his desire to come to her side and quickly commanded without turning,

“Stay where you are, Nyles.”

The Weeping Stone ~ An Excerpt from “The Knight and Knymph”

Back in the Forest, Knight began to struggle with his thoughts. What was he going to say to Knymph? And after he admitted his lie, would she accept his words and know that he now told the truth?

He wandered as he thought, not really paying much attention to where he was headed, until he strode into puddle.

“Daft fool. That will teach me, walking while my head’s in the clouds.”

He looked up at large gray stone that stood in a pool of water. It seemed massive in height, though slender in width, with a stream of water trickling down its center. He could hear a soft moaning that sounded like weeping.  Then a whisper,

“You step in my tears.”

Startled, Knight could only sputter,

“P-pardon?”

“Never mind,” said the voice now in a normal tone. “I have a riddle for you.”

“A riddle?” Knight turned around to see if he could spot who spoke to him, but no one appeared to be here.

“Well, actually it’s more of a paradox. Riddles are a bit passé, don’t you think?”

“Indeed,” he agreed. Then said more firmly, “I certainly wish I knew who I am speaking with.”

“Keep wishing.”

“Hmm.” Knight responded, but his heart pounded heavily, because he was nearly certain that the voice was coming from the great stone in front of him.

You could meet a woman more organized and practical, neater and a much better housekeeper than Knymph. You could meet a better cook, one with a better memory, a craftier woman, and a far superior and more experienced lover. You probably already know a woman who is younger, has longer hair, and material wealth. There are many women who know how to handle money and men much more successfully than she. You can definitely find someone who is less stubborn…someone safer…someone less in need of protection…someone who dresses more fashionably…and someone with a lighter past. Of course you have already met women much prettier and beautiful physically. A female less of a maze and more of a woman, less vulnerable, less of a smart ass, and less of a pain in the ass surely can be found. But this I can promise you…you will never meet anyone with a Heart like Knymph’s. Her Heart is what her friends love best about her…yet it is what they most fear. They fear she will end up hurt again. Devastated. And perhaps, next time, Knymph will be unable to rise from the ashes and they will never see her again. Knymph does not wish to protect her heart, but her friends? Well, they do wish it all the time…

It makes Knymph sad that her friends feel this way…sad for them…and a bit sad for herself. She isn’t angry though, no matter how harsh their words may be at times. Knymph listens with her Heart and the Heart always hears what is beneath words. Beneath the harshness lies fear, and beneath the fear, love can always be found.

The best traps laid are the ones laid by ourselves. And why ever would we do such a thing? Good question.

All she noticed at first was the heat. A burn that came from the inside out. Had she swallowed a sun? If so, did it have to be such a big one? She tried to sit up, but cried out. A pricking sensation danced around her forehead and a piercing pain shot through her belly. Then came the dread…a demon had escaped the Weeping Stone. A tear rolled down her cheek. ‘Not again,’ she thought.

“I don’t have time for this!” Knymph said aloud.

Suddenly, she knew something else. Knight is back in the Forest. But…he left. He said he would never return. She could feel his presence though, and the demon. How did a demon get loose (again)?

Sadness is a tricky matter. And in fact all emotions are quite tricky. Anger, disappointment, jealousies, grief, and worn out resentments, these can all turn inward or outward to destroy. That’s why Knymph placed all these feelings in the Weeping Stone. This worked out very well, most of the time. When a sensation became too overwhelming to shoulder, Knymph walked straight to the Weeping Stone, released that anger or sadness into the rock and moved on.

The problem was that the Stone grew. Rough textured and salt and peppery in hues, the stone stood well over twenty feet in height. A pool of gray tears lay at its base. Through the years, the salt of the tears had eaten away at the soil around it. Nothing grew here, except the Stone. The Weeping Stone had two important functions. One, to hold Knymph’s murkiest musings. Second, guard the entrance and exit of the Dark Forest…Knymph’s other world. A place of secrets past, haunting memories, and where monsters trolled…

Gadgets to Sooth Hearts

Arc is always creating a gadget of one kind or another. Though a mystery to me, he seems to find his gadgets fun and even relaxing. I am not into gadgets, but I love my Arc and while he fiddles away I can certainly occupy myself otherwise. At one time, when I was much younger, I thought that these inventions (machines!) would cause a gap in our relationship. Not the machines/gadgets/inventions, per se, the idea of them. I’m into nature. The natural.  What feels, smells, and tastes genuine. This is so important to me. Machines, gadgets and the like, these do not feel natural to me. My fear was that this difference between Arc and me, this gap would widen, turning into a chasm until we were so far apart from one another that we would no longer be able to see each other at all. This happens in so many relationships…including a few of my own. Turns out, I was quite wrong about it causing a problem between us. My fear turned to puzzlement, my puzzlement to interest, and my interest finally turned into acceptance…and a fascination.

Arc invented the Communicator Crystal years and years ago. Interestingly enough, it was one of the first things he invented that I did not fear. Hold this beautiful, spherical crystal in your palm, picture the person you wish to speak with and either leave a message (if their crystal is switched off) or see them before you as if you are standing together. And you can converse anywhere you choose! This was a addition Arc made later on. Meet up at lovely beach, a mysterious forest, or the local sweet shop. He’s so clever. No idea how he does what he does, but what does that matter? Curiosity adds spice to a relationship.

Arc knows how much I love surprises and secretly he’s been working a new modification to his Communicator Crystal: a locater setting. Up until now, the CC could only be used to contact someone if they also have a CC. It doesn’t work if the other person doesn’t have one, but with this new locater setting, you’ll be able you to find someone…anywhere. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to try it! Arc returns home tonight and promises that we’ll work on it together.

Whether it works or not to find our daughters, I know that Arc spent many nights working on this project. It’s not possible for me to love him more, yet I do! He’s told me not to get my hopes up too high, that it could take a while for him to work out all the ins and outs of this device, but I know we’ll make it work. Together. We’ll just keep at it until it does work! And now I finally have a balm of hope, enough, to soothe this heart of mine.

The CC is so beautiful, this drawing doesn't do it justice!