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Animals Within, Spirit Animals

Wed Dec 17, 2014, 5:34 PM
71-img-00 by techgnotic

There has always been this obsession with the others we share this planet with.

We communicate with them on certain basic levels and yet they inhabit a plane so different from ours: savage, instinctive, a life of sheer survival. At the same time they can do things beyond human abilities: fly through the skies, swim the oceans, apply the physical strength of a dozen strong men. They survive and thrive where we would perish. Yet animals cannot tell tales of their experiences. When we speak of an animal, even our beloved pets and friends, we can only imagine their emotions, thoughts, and inner lives.

Is it then any surprise that from cave paintings to cereal mascots—animals and art are inseparable?

From the beginning of recorded time, animals have been immortalized in pottery, statues, been worshipped as gods, and had fables and myths created in their image. Seventeen thousand years ago, in a cave shielded from the sun, a Cro–Magnon artist raised her bundle of split reeds, dipped them into charred black soot, and began illustrating an opus of animal life: stags, cats, bears, birds. Five thousand years ago, Egyptians integrated animal features into creation myths, and used them as hieroglyphs, adapting the recognizable forms of vultures, bulls, cobras and lions (among others) into a communication system.

Today, in every culture across the globe, animals serve as mascots for sports teams and cereals. We have Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam. Anthropomorphized animals star in movies and comics. My Little Pony has amassed groups of Bronies. Animal cosplay is mainstreaming into mass culture. It all still begins with a child given that first crayon who immediately begins to sketch the familiar forms of cat and dog.

Animals are intrinsic to creativity and art—but why are they so satisfying to observe, mimic, and draw? What is the power they maintain over us to the extent that so many feel an actual spiritual connection with a particular species of their own extended family—cats, dogs, wolves, dolphins, raptors? While so many feel this connection, artists seem particularly sensitive to the presence of their animal spirit kindred and guides.

Why are artists so drawn to animals?

Visually, animals are beautiful and compelling subjects.

Animals are an efficient subject. Identifying characteristics can be drawn and recognized easily— cat eyes, elephant tails, butterfly wings, bunny ears: all unique visual traits. Powerful physical capabilities lend themselves to artistic expressions of motion. The long fluid moves of a deer, expressively captured with a few expert lines. Quick brushstrokes sketch a hyperactive monkey. Heavy pen lines suggest the static power of a stoic elephant. Physical similarities help artists develop a quick visual shorthand for a specific species—but unlike humans, animals that look alike often behave similarly. While anyone who’s ever lived with a pet knows animals have individual personalities, it’s not over–simplifying to state that each type of animal has its own range of specific behaviors and attitudes. It’s this species–by–species predictability that draw individuals to become fond of a particular animal. Just as an artist may prefer certain subjects or materials, so do artists become fascinated with the idiosyncrasies of a species.

Emotionally, animals express primal urges and desires.

Animal personalities are predictable. Tigers are fierce, squirrels are nervous, sharks are stealthy, hippos are lazy. Compared to the complexity of human behavior, animals are simpler beings. They behave according to instinct, not reason. As such, they serve artists well as ciphers for emotion. It’s not just art that allows us to connect spiritually with animals. It’s easy to observe, in ourselves and others, subconscious similarities between personal behaviors and the characteristics of a favorite animal. We’ll call a clever person a fox, or a stubborn child a donkey. A sweet guy is a puppy dog. A sexy lady is a minx. An angry, stubborn man is a bull. Animals serve as elements of our visual and written language.

Humans explore our own instincts through animal art.

Using animals in art, we recognize the most beautiful and terrifying parts of ourselves—our instincts. Society and language are important for humans, but when we feel urges or emotions beyond what is widely accepted or understood, both of these creations fail us.

When we talk about “spirit animals,” it can be in a magical sense, the idea that an essence we can’t see is guiding us through our lives. Or it can be an affinity for a species we find our instincts connecting with. Perhaps we have a fondness for the way they move, finding them fun to draw. Maybe we can imagine the world through their eyes, running, flying or swimming at top speed. But perhaps we see something more than the animal. We see ourselves.

Animals provide a bridge between the alien and familiar, allowing humans to recognize ourselves in strange forms. We can represent our fears and our desires expressed without reserve. Through animal eyes, we can acknowledge the oddness and the fallibility of humanity. Featuring animals in art, we can interpret many spiritual aspects: the primal and the innocent, the beautiful and mysterious. As long as we share a planet, artists will look to our Earth companions for inspiration and understanding of ourselves.

Community Thoughts

I personally have been drawn to animals my whole life and my earliest pictures were always of wildlife. I think artists see the world through different eyes than most and the things that fascinate us speak to us on a deeper level. Animals are an enigma, they have intelligence and their own means of communication and yet we can only hope to understand and be a part of their world. If you've seen my gallery you know I clearly have a fondness for big cats, I find everything about them to be beautiful and awe inspiring. My art is a way for me to get close to these animals in the only way possible, I’ll never be a zoo keeper (because I know myself and I wouldn’t be able to respect the boundaries they do and I’d get eaten—that’s a fact) and I’ll never own one because it goes against everything in their nature to held in captivity as a pet. It can be a very intimate experience to draw an animal in detail and it makes me feel close to them and privileged to show a side of them that others may not see. Any great animal art in my opinion has to come from a deep love and respect for the subject first and foremost by the artist, and what follows is their tribute.”

:iconheatherzart: Heatherzart

I think people gravitate toward depicting animals in art because they are simply aesthetically stunning to look at. Humans are very visual beings and we have always enjoyed striking colors, beautiful patterns, flowing lines and powerful forms. All animals have something which can be appreciated. Like for example dramatic plumage, or the intricate silver and black patchwork that is the coat of a snow leopard. To capture that on canvas is something many artists find alluring.”

:iconailah: ailah

Your Thoughts

  1. What animal do you find yourself drawn to in your art? What about this subject is so ennobling that you would seek to emulate?
  2. What personal qualities do you possess that drive you to feel a shared connection with a particular animal?
  3. Do you have vivid dreams in which you become, or run with, your “spirit animal”?
  4. Over time, how has your understanding of this animal evolved? Has your perception of the creature changed?
  5. What are some challenges you’ve experienced in terms of drawing animals, and how have you solved them?
  6. How does drawing an animal compare to drawing a human?
  7. Who are your favorite animal-focused artists in the DeviantArt community?

Paul Tobin's Scavenger Hunt Part 2

Wed Dec 17, 2014, 5:33 PM
72-img-00 by techgnotic

Avatar & Narnia: Inspirational Tutorials

Masterful Resources on DeviantArt


PaulTobin is a conceptual designer, illustrator and graphic designer who has worked at Weta Workshop of New Zealand since 2003.

He has worked on films such as Andrew Adamson’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, Peter Jackson’s King Kong and James Cameron’s Avatar and most recently The Hobbit.

A master illustrator who has had gallery showings of his own original fantasy and sci–fi art, he has become a spokesman and advocate for other New Zealand fantasy and sci–fi artists. White Cloud Worlds was the 2010 “coffee table” anthology edited by Paul featuring the works of 27 of his amazing fellow NZ fantasy artists.

Paul has recently been the subject of a series of DeviantArt tutorial videos in which he outlines his work as a conceptual designer in film production and describes his methods at Weta Workshop for developing the best original concepts for the prehistoric or alien inhabitants of other worlds of the artist’s imagination. These tutorials should prove an invaluable resource for deviants interested in pursuing careers as studio graphic designers and illustrators in fantasy films.

Read the full interview

Paul Tobin There and Back Again

White Cloud Worlds Volumes 1 & 2

With forewords and introductions from Guillermo Del Toro, Richard Taylor, Iain Craig and Wayne Barlow, these two lavish volumes represent the finest fantasy artwork from New Zealand.

Paul Tobin has graciously given us 20 copies of his books for a DeviantArt competition.

What you need to do

All you need to do for a chance to grab one of his books is to post in the comments below a link to a piece of art from the community that you think might inspire Paul for his own personal upcoming project about the lost city of Atlantis. Paul will then select 10 of the pieces and the deviant posting the piece will get a copy of one of the books as well as the deviant who produced the piece.

Paul will select his favorites on December 31st and we’ll post a wrap–up shortly after.

View the rest here

Paul Tobin's Scavenger Hunt Series

Leave your selections for Paul in the comments below

50-img-00 by techgnotic

Spots fascinate the human mind. It’s as if we’re born “knowing” on some molecular level that we’re not really “solid” but an electronically glued together quivering system of particles. Aristotle surmised as much by simply walking on the beach and lifting up a handful of that solid beach, only to have the countless grains of sand flow through his fingers.

Spots arranged in patterns represent order—and order creates life. Spots and circles are arranged by the artist or craftsman. The eye is fascinated. The mind is pleased.

Collection: Good Luck Charms

Tue Dec 16, 2014, 6:18 PM
luck on a stick by rudib

Lucky Charms

The first “lucky charms” may have been items like personal rosaries and crucifixes blessed by priests. Over time, the blessing became less important than the object itself. It seems there are lucky charms endemic to all peoples in all places on Earth, from four-leaf clovers to a rabbit's paw. One such talisman would be the lucky horseshoe, nailed above thresholds with points up – to catch good luck floating by. If you have any coin, button, medallion or other trinket in your pocket when you experience good luck, then voila! – you have a lucky charm as good as any!

Img-01 by techgnotic

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

—Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

The opening line of Jane Austen’s most popular novel, Pride and Prejudice (1813), readily reflects the established view of the early 19th century English gentry and the main theme of every single one of her stories—the pursuit of marriage and through it salvation from spinsterhood and dire financial straits. This was the reality of Austen’s world where being a woman meant having limited options in life.  A respectable middle or upper class lady would never have the option of working and had no means of supporting herself outside of the economic institution of marriage.

Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honourable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.”

—Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Austen was born on Dec. 16, 1775 in Steventon, England into a large family of eight children.  She was the youngest girl.  Alongside her sister Cassandra, she was educated at home by her parents, growing with and immersing herself in her father’s library, as well as enjoying comedic plays staged by family and friends. At a time when being a “lady” meant almost universal disapproval of her pursuing a career as a professional writer, Austen was fully encouraged and supported by her family to continue her course towards becoming a published novelist.

A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”

—Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

By the age of 23 Austen had already written the first manuscripts for Elinor and Marianne (later to become Sense and Sensibility), First Impressions (now Pride and Prejudice), and Susan (eventually Northanger Abbey) with her father trying but failing to get her initial works published. It was ultimately her brother Henry Austen who successfully secured publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811.  The novel’s emergence and popularity within the fashionable circles of society ensured the future publication of Austen’s work.

Her novels seem to draw from events and situations in her own life.  Holding “the mirror up to nature,” Austen used her comedies to reflect the truth in society as she had experienced it. Similar to the theater, society required every lady to play a certain role, one which unfortunately had been assigned to her since the moment of birth. By staying within established social theatrics in her novels, Austen gained the freedom to innocently introduce ladies who rebelled against convention, were confident, spirited, determined, and proved equal in intellect to any man. Her leading ladies raised no objections from readers because to everyone’s satisfaction and approval all the “loose ends” were tied up with her protagonists ending the show properly attired in wedding gowns on their way towards living happily ever after.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”

—Persuasion, Jane Austen

Over 200 years ago the world read Austen’s first published novel, though no one outside her family (and eventually members of the aristocracy) knew she was the author, as the byline read “By a Lady.”  It was not uncommon at the time for female authors to go by other names or, as in this case, even uncredited. Austen’s books continued to be well-received and her earnings provided her some financial freedom, though never sufficient to enjoying a comfortable lifestyle independent of her brother’s support. It was only after her death in 1817 that her brother Henry finally revealed the author’s true identity in the preface to Austen’s final published novel, Persuasion.

Today Austen is one of the most read authors in English literature

Her novels, and even her life story, have been adapted for film (Clueless; Becoming Jane), for television (BBC’s 1995 Pride and Prejudice; Lost in Austen) and most recently re-imagined through today’s technology (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries; Emma Approved), with each production recreating Austen for her current day audience. Even zombies have made their way to Pemberley (in the mash-up parody, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). From gracing the Bank of England’s £10 note to her latest honor of having Dec. 16 declared worldwide Jane Austen Day by The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, the beloved novelist’s popularity only seems to grow with each generation. Legions of devoted fans, some called Janeites and others Austenites, continue to demand all things Austen, finding in her strong female characters the early echoes of today’s cries for gender equality. It seems the times have finally caught up with Jane Austen, a writer whose words were generations ahead of their time, but always speaking to her readers, especially women, as promises of a more egalitarian society to come.

It is only a novel ... or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”

—Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

Your Thoughts

  1. When reading an Austen novel (or watching a faithfully-adapted movie version) are you surprised by how contemporary the situations and heartaches her characters faced two centuries ago seem, compared with our own?
  2. Does it anger or depress you that the life decision conundrums faced by Jane Austen’s female characters 200 years ago are so much unchanged for so many women living today?
  3. Have you ever felt you had become a Jane Austen character in your own life?
  4. Which authors today are exploring the same subjects in women’s lives (e.g., marriage vs. career; financial expediency vs. romance) on a similar level of acuity, nuance and wit as Jane Austen?

Collection: Alternative Universe

Mon Dec 15, 2014, 5:07 PM
44-img-00 by techgnotic

Alternative Universe

The “alternative universe” has long been a sci–fi trope, usually simply a good–guy bad–guy heroes and villains reversal. Like the Star Trek episode (“Mirror, Mirror”) in which a transporter glitch lands Kirk on an evil pirate “parallel universe” Enterprise where Spock is a goateed murderer with mutiny on his agenda. But real scientists have complicated things considerably, with “string theory” positing at least eleven (and possibly an infinite number) of “alternative/parallel universes.”

Once upon a time, we pondered our relative insignificance as single individuals on a world teeming with over 7 billion people. Now we face the possibility of being “one” in a reality of 7 billion separate universes (well, at least eleven). A bit overwhelming, but it does afford endless opportunities for artists’ imaginings of how different these worlds might be.

Project Porkchop Vol. 300

Mon Dec 15, 2014, 5:03 PM
V300-img-00 by techgnotic

About Project Porkchop

The DeviantArt Experience can sometimes quickly become the quintessential example of that most frustrating problem: too much of a good thing. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to peruse the thousands of submissions and postings of artistic innovation, creativity and sheer beauty that are generated everyday.

So thank you for ProjectPorkchop!

Astralseed, an Icelandic deviant artist with a penchant for equines, including Quirlicorns (a breed of unicorns), has made our busy lives so much easier with ProjectPorkchop, a feature she started on her DeviantArt page. Project Porkchop’s fine eye for the best of the newly submitted artworks of virtually unknown artists, the incredible art that slips past us, unseen and denied its due, day after day, has meant so very much for these artists trying to create a presence in the art world, beginning on DeviantArt. By spotlighting these skilled artists  and connecting creative art and creative art lovers, this group is doing the arts universe an immeasurable service.

About the Artist

J. W. Pippen (JWPippen) is a professional traditional artist who exhibits his work through several art galleries on the West coast of the United States. He works in several different mediums with a strong Asian influence both in style and subject matter while never losing site of his own origins.

View More of jwpippen’s Gallery

About the Artist

Andrey Vasilchenko (Allnamesinuse) is a digital artist from Russia. He works in mobile games producing environments and backgrounds as well as illustrating children’s books. You can find an interview with him here.

About the Artist

Sebastien Rousseau (pixogene) is an artist from Canada working in photography, mixed media and digital. His nature photography is amazing and focuses heavily on the cold but beautiful Canadian landscape.

View More of pixogene’s Gallery

About the Artist

Jed (jedgraph) is an independent graphic designer specializing in science fiction from Poland. His digital work will take you across the universe and back again transversing several different dimensions along the way. Don’t forget to take a look at his nature photography as well when you drop be to visit.

View More of jedgraph’s Gallery

About the Artists

OneSpeechless is an artist from Russia focusing on digital art. He’s always looking to improve himself so please comment on his work when you visit his page and follow his progress.

Spread the Word

If you enjoyed this article please be sure to :+fav: it, as this helps these artists get even more exposure. If you would like to suggest someone for a future ProjectPorkchop article please send a note to our group.

Collection: In The Shadow of Dragon

Mon Dec 15, 2014, 5:02 PM
49-img-00 by techgnotic

"Is the time of daring deeds forgotten, and spent the fire of men? The bravery sheathed, the proud hearts withered? In the scorched trails of our foes’ fury, even wizards’ spells knelt and warriors’ will bent; yet Dawn’s struggle beneath the burning clouds, within the shadow of dragons, has won her the eastern sky. Shall battle drums thunder once more, and mithril–clad soldiers brave again the terrors of the skies?"

HtBlack of theWrittenRevolution

About Realm-of-Fantasy

Fantasy, by it's core definition is: the free play of creative imagination. At Realm-of-Fantasy you are welcome to explore your imagination. From Fantasy to Science Fiction, Horror to Steampunk, Superheroes to the Surreal; it's all there just waiting to be discovered.

Also read:

Fan Art Friday: It's Adventure Time!

Fri Dec 12, 2014, 2:50 PM
Img-01 by techgnotic

Welcome to the enchanted Land of Ooo, where Finn and his magical dog, Jake, spend their days fighting evil and making things right in the world while having a blast. They prove that there are still good guys out there ready to help those in need and through their adventures take us to the many fantastical and far off corners of their world.

With its mix of funny, smart, fiery, wacky, dramatic and at times dysfunctional characters Adventure Time has won the hearts of both young and old alike. Princess Bubblegum, the brainy ruler of the Candy Kingdom, the half demon/half vampire, full-time rockstar Marceline, the princess snatching Ice King, the volatile and intense Flame Princess, and the attention seeking, current hobo Lumpy Space Princess are only a few of the personalities that inhabit Ooo.

This magical realm boogles time, space, and reality along with the minds of all the deviants who have been inspired to create and share their interpretations of the colorful cast of characters for all to enjoy.

Now’s the Time to join the Adventure!

Cosplay Friday: Harry Potter

Fri Dec 12, 2014, 2:42 PM
70-img-00-v2 by techgnotic

Nothing says happy holidays like the magic of Harry Potter!

Witches, wizards, and muggles alike grab your wands and get ready for the Sorting ceremony! We’re heading to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where deviants have mixed up batches of Polyjuice Potion to transform into their favorite characters from the beloved Harry Potter series.

Whether you’re a student from Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw or a follower of ‘He Who Shall Not Be Named,’ these crafty cosplayers are sure to cast a spell on you.

Expecto Patronum!

Your Thoughts

  1. If you could choose, what house would you be in at Hogwarts?

Gravity And Your Cosmic Journey

Thu Dec 11, 2014, 8:02 PM
01-img-00 by techgnotic

What if you could follow your own gravity field & travel millions of miles?

Writer Gabriel Harper pondered the mystery of our gravitational fields in an online essay. He explained a mind-bending concept: how your personal gravitational field grows over your lifetime and spreads into space. “Our gravity field weakens over distance, but never reaches zero,” he explained. In the essay, he calculated the stunning distances that your gravitational field travels during your lifetime:

By the time we’re 30 years old, our gravitational field extends some 300 trillion miles around us into space. Still feel small? But the really crazy part is that when we die, our gravity will continue to exist forever, infinitely stretching out into the universe, passing through Andromeda millions of years from now, and beyond. Everyone you have ever known, alive or not, is traveling right now through the depths of space.”

— Gabriel Harper

Harper concluded his meditation on gravity with some inspiring speculation:

The gravity of our most distant ancestors, and everyone that has ever existed in the history of the world, faithfully hurtling out into the universe, eternally diminishing into nothingness but never truly disappearing. Like a glass of water that you pour, and pour, and pour but it still always has just one drop left to give. I’d like to think when we go, our souls might hitch a ride on that wave of gravity and we can all spend eternity cruising the cosmos together.”

— Gabriel Harper

Your Thoughts

  1. If our souls could hitchhike across the universe would you make that journey?

Untitled-1 by techgnotic

Light and airy, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone delivers a solid and smooth story against a sweeping world full of charming magic.

It’s not hard to see why it's a tale many have watched and loved, for it’s a classic story of a boy with humble and sad beginnings quickly lifted into a fantasy where everything is possible. We experience the world alongside Harry, brought into a fantastical world the same way he is, and we feel the depth and breadth of a world he never knew existed until, "You’re a wizard, Harry!"

The tale is simple, but the true magic lies in the details. Things like Muggles (non-magic folks) and Quidditch (a magical sport played on broomsticks) and running to catch the Hogwart’s Express on Platform 9 3/4 are all the magical bricks that build the wizarding world. It’s these small pieces that cobble together the greater story to make it so worthwhile.

A tale of friends navigating the corridors of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and pulling together to overcome a great evil, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone resonates with humanity. The hints of darkness and destiny woven into the story between Harry and Lord Voldemort allow us to see the road ahead without pulling us too far into the future or lingering in the past. This is a tale of finding the ability to rise above and conquer combined with the fantasy of having another life, one that’s more adventurous—one where the possibilities are endless.

Facing this movie, the first of eight, may seem a daunting task, but denying yourself layers of enchantment is foolish, especially when the tales to come are even more rewarding.

Collection: Once Upon A Time

Thu Dec 11, 2014, 7:34 PM
48-img-00 by techgnotic

Fairy tales usually begin once upon a time—a time that need not be identified because the tale, and its meaning, are of a timeless nature. The landscape of a fairy tale is often dreamlike, as if to tell us trying to apply normal logic to the story will only confuse the point that the storyteller is trying to make. Fairy tales usually involve dangerous journeys, often following after or searching for a wayward loved one, and entail a getting lost in the mists of time and space. The climax is almost always the discovery of a heretofore unknown inner store of courage in the face of evil and imminent death. Fairy tales tell our children that no matter the magnitude of the terrifying situations in this world that they are just beginning to become aware of, they will have the courage to survive those situations when the time comes.