14 hours before Winter Solstice, my friend Mike Barkley took these photos of me in the Dress-That-Looks-Like-A-Tree, next to the Tree that looks like the Dress-That-Looks-Like-A-Tree, in the woods at Allerton Park. It was pretty freaking cold, just barely 40°F, and I had pedaled my velomobile 30 miles there in a headwind. We suffered for Art/Fashion!
This summer I was surprised by several out-of-the blue, generous gifts. One of them was from illustrator Nina Bunjevac, with whom I communicate occasionally on social media – we have a little Mutual Admiration Society going. She sent me a set of beautiful French tarot cards, which I received last week and promptly stared at for several hours.
Although we share a first name, I promise that doesn’t bias me. Bunjevac’s line art epitomizes what I’ve always thought line art should be. She’s a direct creative heir to one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Virgil Finlay, and maybe a more distant cousin of Gustave Doré. Her lines go all the right ways, in intricate, mesmerizing patterns, without getting “busy.” Meanwhile she has a brilliant sense of overall design, so her drawings satisfy my eyes on both macro and micro views.
On a long bike ride recently, I contemplated animating one of her cards. I chose the Wheel of Fortune, La Roue, because it looked like Nina had already animated the eyes opening and closing, and I wanted to see them blink.
The animation itself is pretty simple, a 16-frame cycle at 12 fps. On the other hand, cutting pieces of illustration out of their backgrounds in GIMP is a time-consuming PITA, but sometimes I just gotta see what it’ll look like.
Speaking of the Tarot, many of its images derive from the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation). The Wheel card, for example, depicts the 4 Heavenly Beasts or Living Creatures, which are also essentially the Seraphim of Ezekiel. Here’s my version from my stalled Apocalypse project:
It’s stalled because I’m just not feeling apocalyptic right now. The weather’s still decent, and I’m healthy and biking in the beautiful outdoors and getting swell gifts like Nina’s tarot cards. Life is good! Of course, this can and will change; the wheel of fortune keeps on turning. When it does, I’ll be back to animating the End of the World.
Available now at PaleGrayLabs.com.
I originally created these for my bike Titania, but got enough stuff to make extras, because selling merch is what made-up religion is all about. Comes with a signed & dated, hand-stapled, 8-page Velosophical prayer book so you can conduct your own bike exorcisms, call for supernatural help on the road, sing hymns, and more.
With this, I think I’m finally done with this obsessive bike side-project, and can get back to animating the Apocalypse.
Velocipe Cycladia is the Goddess of bicycles and cyclists.
I had to make her up, because Madonna del Ghisallo just wan’t cutting it: not enough imagery, not enough paraphernalia, and no exorcisms I could find.
My new-to-me bike Titania needs an exorcism. Sometimes, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself, so I am writing it. (On the other hand, if I want bike repair done right, I take it to the shop. That’s the mechanic’s expertise; mine is art and making up new religions.)
Although not before named – or perhaps under many names – Cycladia has appeared with the bicycle almost from its beginnings. Evidence is in numerous vintage posters:
I removed some of these figures from their backgrounds, for possible future use:
But the Lady Liberator, at the top of this post, is my favorite. The bat-winged helmet especially inspires awe. So she will appear again in my next post, accompanying the exorcism prayer I composed today.
Next step is to heat-set them with the iron, and sew them into a test mask.
My face is a little red because I rode my bike 67 miles today, including 10 miles in rain so heavy I couldn’t see and had to stop every few yards to wipe my eyes because OW rainwater stings, but I was sufficiently excited to come home to these masks to take these pix anyway.