Sometimes as I’m working I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t mean that on a micro level. If I have a pen, pencil, marker, or paintbrush in my hand I know what I’m doing as I’m drawing or painting. It’s not the technique of how to do something that escapes me it’s the why of something that escapes me. It’s often a feeling that comes and goes though. I can have it while working on a piece but somewhere along the way I figure things out. I see the point and am able to articulate it to myself in a way that satisfies me. But every so often I make a piece that escapes me. I don’t understand what it is or why it exists. “The Acid Ram #9” is one of those.

“The Acid Ram” is the name of one of my faux comic book series that I draw covers of. It’s supposed to be a title that is extremely weird. Almost impenetrable. What is an Acid Ram you ask? I have no answer for you. When I cam up with the title years ago I was searching for a name that would sound like it means something far out and trippy but didn’t mean anything specific. After many tries “The Acid Ram” is what I came up with. Acid could have something to do with hallucinogenic drugs or something to do with chemicals that dissolve stuff. Ram can be an animal or an action. Anyway, the mix those four definitions is something weird and funky so that’s why I settled on it.

I’ve only made a handful of “The Acid Ram” covers but I didn’t make this one any different than the other ones. A few weeks ago I was working on the pencils for a few different faux comic book covers and this was one of them. Depending on my mood I’ll work on a few things at once. More than a few. At any one point in time I’ll have a dozen things at various stages of finish so that I can work on any one that I feel like. I think I have about five faux comic book covers all pencilled and at the stage where they are ready to be inked. So I decided to pick one to ink and I picked “The Acid Ram” #9.

Just this week I bought a new inking brush. A Raphael Number Three Sable brush. These are generally considered to be a little bit inferior to the Winsor Newton Series Seven Number Three brushes but with the Winsor ones running about $35 and the Raphael ones about $25 I decided to go the cheaper route. That and I think the Winsor ones have dropped in quality over the last decade. It’s the first new sable brush I’ve bought in a few years because there was a shortage of them in the US. I was excited to use it since I’ve been using some artificial hair brushes the last year or so and I was getting tired of them. They’ve made the artificial hair brushes better than ever but they’re still not the same as sable hair.

I inked the whole piece almost without incident. I did have a bit of a tough time figuring out what exactly I wanted to do with it though. All the various objects and spaces in the drawing weren’t as clear to me as they should be. Of course inking a piece is all about clarifying things so that wasn’t too much of a shock. But I still had to figure out what the heck was going on in this piece.

Another of my faux comic book series is “Dreams of Things.” I’ve made a lot of them this year and I developed them not only to ink but also to color right over the inks with markers. That makes them different from my other faux comic book covers that I was in the habit of only inking and not bringing to color. I don’t think I’ve colored any of “The Acid Ram” covers with markers which made my decision to color this one a bit odd.

I found it a little bit tough to color this piece. I think it came out well in the end, does the job, and looks fairly simple but along the way it was a tricky bit of business. First of all the space the drawing exists in is very odd. There are two overlapping figures that create a bit of depth and are fairly straight forward except when you get to the bottom of them. The back figure’s legs seem to blend into the from figure’s legs. The legs of the front figure is well defined but the back one’s aren’t. Add that to the top of the background also being well defined with its sky and pyramids yet the bottom being defined by a bunch of stuff in front of a diagonal wall makes the space even more confusing. It was all a puzzle.

I did my best to put the puzzle together. I made a picture frame out of that little landscape on the bottom right and some magical yellow energy on the diagonal. That flatness helps the space of the rest of the picture make sense. Almost. I think it also makes the back guy’s legs flatten out even more and that makes my brain confused.

Overall I think my color on this piece is less vibrant and focused than usual. I don’t think that’s bad but different. I kept trying to balance the color as I drew this and think I ended up with pretty good balance but in such a way that there is no sense of reality to the picture. Neither the color nor the drawing give me any clue as to who these two people are, what they are doing, or why they exist. Except for the pyramids and the sky the color makes no sense in defining any kind of world that I know. That’s what’s so weird about this piece.