"A broken bent tree branch, bleached from sun and rain, makes me think of weathered bones: fingers, legs, backbone, and hip bone. Old stained strips of cloth act like bandages and clothing, hiding and holding it all together. Sculpted wax covers the frame and joints of wood. Found and lost objects assembled into curious and evocative shapes is what excites me.
When I am making objects, I think of model airplanes made of balsa wood, then covered in thin transparent paper. Or I see decoys and shapes made to attract wild animals. I visited a museum in Alaska that had drawers filled with toys that had been put together, used and collected from previous cultures. I also think of a forest of tall, dark trees covered in moss and moisture, a silent, meditative place.”
I would like to make art like this when I grow up.
One of the centerpieces of Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar, Lydia and her Trained Zucchini thrilled and astounded crowds the world over (or at least the crowds on the circuit the Circus of the Moderately Peculiar traveled.) The zucchini, a veritable vegetable polymath, could accept commands in six languages* and while few of the other performers would describe Lydia as warm or friendly, even her worst detractors would admit that she could certainly train a vegetable.
When Lord Maggothaunch’s Carnival of the Un-ordinary headlined an act involving sequin-clad twins with performing eggplants, it threw both Lydia and the zucchini into a depression that lasted weeks, and it was only the intervention of her fellow performers that convinced them that the show must go on. - Ursula Vernon
*Well, five and Pig Latin.
Sister Mary Chagnon, the “teacup nun,” is one of the more popular attractions Sister Rosemary’s Curious Convent, the largest sideshow act in Miss Tansybaum’s Circus of the Moderately Peculiar.
What few viewers know is that Sister Mary Chagnon had a long and checkered career in the carnival before joining the Traveling Order of St. Barnaby. She was Trixie the Pixie for many years, a much racier act involving several sequins, two bits of dental floss, and a single high-heeled shoe.
While Sister Mary has supposedly renounced all of that, it is worth noting that she keeps several of Trixie’s posters in her trailer and will reminisce about the good old days at the drop of a shotglass.* - Ursula Vernon
*In her case, a ceramic thimble with pansies painted on it.
The rusted metal trees make this one for me. I suspect I’ll have to paint more. I know this scene takes place in a courtyard of sorts, and sometimes it snows. This would not be remarkable, except that it’s underground. Very large rooms sometimes have their own weather, in a limited fashion, although I don’t know if they go so far as to get flurries. I suspect she will need to go through that door eventually, and I know she didn’t come out of it, but that’s about all I know. Except that I have to paint more metal trees.
The perspective in this one is slightly out of true. I tried. I did all the stuff with grids and vanishing points and horizon lines that you’re supposed to do. But as often happens, over the course of three days of working, despite every trick and leaving the linework on seperate layers to refer back to, it inched out of alignment, or proved to never really be IN alignment, despite my best efforts. If I were less honest, I’d try to explain it away as the fact that this is an unreal sort of space and you’re meant to have a sort of visual unease, but the fact is, the tiles simply defeated me. (The wall’s okay. It’s the pesky tiles.) Oh, well—as they say, no work of art is ever finished, only abandoned. And I am still enamored of the trees. It was worth it just to concieve of the steampipe trees. - Ursula Vernon
I believe most artists have felt this way at some point. The sad thing is, throwing more art supplies at it works JUST OFTEN ENOUGH to keep hope alive.
6 x 9, and in the interests of living up to the theme, this includes digital, cut paper, acrylic, ink, colored pencil, pen, metallic pigment, mica, stamping, stenciling, and acrylic matte medium. - Ursula Vernon
Sings-to-Trees was the sort of elf that the other elves find a little embarassing in their dedication to nature. He loved all earth’s creatures, even the stinky and vicious ones. He could wax eloquent about the majestic buzzard, the worthy slime mold, the noble carrion fly. He used every part of the buffalo, including bits that the buffalo might have preferred he throw away. He knew things about compost that compost itself was previously unaware of.
Even he, however, had to admit there was something unloveable—maybe the foul odor, maybe the low IQ, quite possibly the tendency to bite its own head off as a defensive response*—about the festering dodochicken. - Ursula Vernon
*Its somewhat novel reasoning was that nothing could possibly hurt it if it took itself out first.
…And that was how Snuggles the hamster learned that yes, things COULD always get worse.
I am so not responsible for this. I was doodling at the coffee shop with some friends, and this was their idea. (Okay, okay, I might have been partially responsible for the hamster…) And since I should totally have been working on all the other stuff that really needed to get done, it was inevitable that I’d be seized with inspiration. I can’t look at this piece without hearing the 80’s hair band monster saying “Say hello to my leetle friend!” I enjoy doing the occasionally really weird monster, and I don’t do it nearly enough. But look at him! One look, and you know that A) he’s a real bastard, and B) he probably spends truly insane amounts on hair gel. And he has huge ankles. If I had ankles like that, I would get murals tattooed on them. - Ursula Vernon
Ursula Vernon has released ‘Nine Goblins’ (AKA: ‘The Thing with the Goblins’) as an e-book under the name ‘T. Kingfisher’
SINGS-TO-TREES IS IN THE SECOND CHAPTER
One of the hard truths of evolution is that it’s an arms race. Every time something evolves to exploit a niche, something else evolves to compete with it.
The evolution of such creatures as the mudskipper and the lungfish, who could escape their aquatic predators by heaving themselves into the inhospitable environment known as dry land, seemed an insurmountable barrier. Eventually, however, the walking oscar evolved, a streamlined wading fish capable of picking its way along the beach and, in extreme cases, running down its startled prey on foot.
The sight of an entire school of walking oscars out for a jog is one of the most magnificent—and arguably most surreal—in the animal kingdom. - Ursula Vernon
A page from the permanently unfinished children’s book, “Walrus & Radish.” Walrus and Radish are best friends. They fight crime! They climb mountains! Nobody can tell if Radish really does anything, or if Walrus is cheerfully delusional!
My agent informed me that this one might need to wait until I got so famous editors would take bizarre risks on my work. Apparently the pathos of a demented walrus is not conventional children’s book material. I could not disagree. - Ursula Vernon