It’s been two weeks, as I write this, since I took the children to the gallery ^_^ I did prepare some exhibit notes, which I’m not sure how they’re going to be used; in any case I’m not going to go into concept here.
But with my Rogues’ gallery set to be unveiled toward the middle of next month, I thought I might do what I did this time last year and share the stories behind the monsters who were kind enough to sit for me.
In so doing, I’m sort of hoping that you’ll give them a chance or rather, give yourself a chance to get to know them better as persons who, like yourself, have feelings, personalities, issues, insecurities, idiosyncrasies, hopes, dreams~you know ^^
Anton belongs to the Tragelaphini tribe (or the Strepsicerotini, as some call them) which are distinguished by their magnificent spiral horns. The tribe gets its name from the Tragelaph, a monster said to have a goat’s head on a stag’s body.
I really wish I could’ve composed his portrait better to get all of his horns in; as it is, I was lucky he agreed to sit for me at all, because his people are shy and scare easily.
Tusk (not his real name) has a horn that is actually a tooth; some of his people have tusks that grow up to 10 feet long (and some of them have two). Humans don’t know what that tooth is for, really~some say they’re used for mating rituals, either for duelling or just showing off.
Tusk also belongs to a shy, retiring nation who have lived apart from most anybody else for millennia, although now, I hear, they’re having to figure out what to do about the oil and gas companies that have come to do some exploring in the area where they live.
Sol is a naiad, albeit one from a salt lake, and naiads have a reputation for being dangerous. One of them, for instance, blinded her boyfriend for cheating on her, while others have been said to just kidnap any dude who takes their fancy.
Miss Soliera Robusta isn’t anything like that, however, and could be the poster girl for ENFJs. Most other naiads live in fresh water and enjoy the worship of local humans, but Sol would much rather sit in the sun and dream of being a mermaid (!)
Kap (not his real name, either) is a kapre, also known as an agta, which is a sort of tree giant about seven to nine feet (2.1336 to 2.7432 metres) tall. They’re hairy, muscular, musky, smoke cigars, and live in acacias and mango trees or trees like them (Kap lives in a balete (banyan)~and they can become invisible (if they wear an invisi-belt).
Kap and his buddies have a really bad rep, but see the thing is, they’re not bad~at least, not more than the average human, any of whom may turn bad when done a bad turn. Like kapres might get hostile if you chop down the tree they live in (I mean come on, would you put someone who destroys your house on your Christmas list).
Although, yeah, they do prank people from time to time (but the worst that’ll happen to these people is to get lost, no bodily harm involved). But kapres actually make great friends, because once you befriend one, you’re friends for life, and he’ll never leave you. And usually, you’ll be the only one who can see him (unless you sit in his lap or something so your other friends can see him, too).
Tam and his buddies used to live all over Mindoro (indeed, they used to live all over the Philippines~until humans found out about them in the late 1800s). These days, no thanks to human loggers and hunters, they’re critically endangered with only some 30 to 200 of them left </3 Despite their similar, striking good looks, they’re not at all related to carataurs.
Tamataurs are so rare, you’ll be lucky these days if you meet more than one at a time~they don’t usually hang out in herds and just go it alone. They’re also shy and super reclusive, preferring to avoid humans~so much so that they’re nocturnal now (they didn’t use to be) just so they don’t run into people. The males can get aggressive though, so if I were you, I wouldn’t make them.
Bakunawa I have painted before~I’ve painted the people of Tusk, Kap and Tam before, too, but not like Baku himself, you understand. When I worked on him over 10 years ago I didn’t know he had a horn on his nose (or that his tail was looped), but I guess that’s what makes revisiting a subject so cool (for me, at least)~you learn more about whoever you’re painting.
In Philippine mythology, the Bakunawa is a sea dragon credited (or dis-) for causing lunar eclipses by swallowing the moon. He really only did that because some local humans killed his sister (who is said to take the shape of a sea turtle) for causing tides they were afraid would swallow up their island. Anyway the local deity taught them to make noise to make Baku cough the moon up again.
Bakuneki you can see in the upper left in that first attempt (and many other paintings since then~see if you can spot her here). I confess, she’s not actually, traditionally called Bakuneki, my otaku self just called her that while I was working on her, and the name stuck (I mean come on, it was a lot shorter to say than ‘Bakunawa’s sister’).
She may have gotten a raw deal at the hands of humans, but, in a way I really rather envy her for having a brother who would go to such lengths to avenge her (I’m not saying x just saying).
Mana and her friends have an even worse rep than Kap, and sad thing is there are no *extenuating circumstances*. Manananggals get their name from the Filipino word tanggal (meaning ‘remove’) because their top halves literally separate from their bottom halves, which they hide away (like in a bush maybe somewheres) while they fly off to go hunting.
They have these long tongues they use to suck blood or the hearts of unborn babies </3, which I vaguely remember is why folks way back used to keep extra watch over expectant moms, like they never left their bedroom windows open or something. It’s also said that the female of the species likes to go after bridegrooms (because one ‘Mana’ had been stood up on her wedding day).
Mana here, though, is one of those Forever Knight-type bloodsuckers who would rather drink pig (or cow) than human~she walks into the market (both halves together) like anybody and tells them she’s making dinuguan or something. Fun fact: Her favourite flowers are myosotis (forget-me-nots AKA mouse ear), and her wings resemble those of a myotis (mouse-eared bat).
Bangsy is a bangungot, which is Filipino for ‘nightmare’. I have a soft spot for him because I painted him once I’m fairly sure, some time in my early twenties for a two-woman show~I tried to find the study I did for that but I couldn’t find it. But I have painted him over and over since then as I remembered that first interpretation I did~a big, dark-coloured (blue) furry creature with long claws.
See, bangungots kill you by sitting on your chest while you sleep, so you can’t breathe and you die (and if you’re male, more chances of it happening to you) (so why the claws, no idea).
Bangsy wouldn’t ever do that to you, though (whether you were male or not). He says there’s no real benefit to killing humans (by sitting on them or otherwise) and that others of his people probably just do it because humans expect them to.
Batsy is a batibat (Ilocano for ‘nightmare’), or the female of Bangsy’s species. She’s very big, very old and like Kap, she lives in balete trees and wouldn’t actually do anything to you unless you chop her tree down, or use her tree as a pillar to shore up your house or something. She won’t sit on you, but she would suffocate you in your dreams if you dreamt of her.
Fortunately, Batsy isn’t into that sort of thing even if batibats generally do that. Her bark is worse than her bite~Batsy just looks grumpy but she’s actually rather sweet in her own way once you get to know her better. Fun fact: She wears clothes made from the epiphytes of her tree because #sustainablefashion and she likes to bake lemon squares.
Mari is best described by our national hero:
‘She was a fantastic creature, half nymph, half sylph, born under the moonbeams of the Philippines, in the mystery of its ancient woods, to the murmur of the waves on the neighbouring shore…one can see her passing in the distance over the reed grass so lightly and airily that she did not even make the flexible blades bend.’
Well, I’m not about to attempt to write better than Rizal ^^; It’s just I feel sorry for her because in spite of all the good she’s done helping poor folk in trouble (turning ginger into gold for `em n’ all that), especially during natural disasters like typhoons (and heaven knows we got enough of those)~humans still blame her for people disappearing around Mount Makiling.
And her lousy human boyfriend dumped her, too~hooked up with a mortal just so he could get out of being drafted into the army (apparently they didn’t recruit married men). Honestly *tsk*
Nick, like Mari is yet another one of those things (lol sorry Nick) I had the gall but couldn’t resist to attempt knowing so many of the old masters had painted it before. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just full of himself x insufferable, that’s all. Plus we all know the donkey’s head was actually Puck’s fault.
He was a fun sitter, this guy. Only, I had trouble (obviously) capturing him because he looked so impish and I didn’t want for him to look devilish, you know? I guess it was wrong of me to try to make him look kind, because that wasn’t who he really was. And also I didn’t want to go the ‘crown of roses’ route. Even he didn’t want that. ‘Methinks I wouldst resemble yon bridesmaids of olde.’
Sabrina is best described by John Milton:
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassy cool translucent wave
In twisted braids of lilies knitting the loose train of thy amber-dropping hair
Listen for dear honour’s sake
Goddess of the silver lake
Listen and save!’
Unfortunately, given my fondness for that Harrison Ford movie, I couldn’t resist this, either. Luckily, she agreed to sit~she’s nice, you know, I mean, she saves people. I mean, really, where do people get their ideas about water creatures being all about death and drowning, eh? (Not all, if you please, not all.)
Pio joins the list of ‘things a jillamonster could not resist painting’, long contemplated (with the recent release of that super plumber movie a supreme coincidence, honest ^^)
Pio was somewhat reluctant to pose for me. ‘I’m actually poisonous, you know.’ ‘It’s cool,’ I told him. ‘I’m not going to eat you.’ ‘But you do eat others of my kind?’ ‘Not gonna lie, kid. I just love you guys, especially in soup.’ In the end he agreed, because he said he appreciated my honesty XD
Madiehare is a follow up to the Madiehorse, the Madie in question having grown considerably since then. As much as I like to plan things, being the control freak that I am, I had, to some extent, also figured out who I was going to paint next as I went along, and she was one of them. It’s nice to paint things on impulse, sometimes ^^
As you might know I am fond of painting horses, and if you knew me better, you would also know I am obsessively fond of rabbitkind. And, if we were related, you would’ve also known I was fond of Madie. It only occurred to me later that harebairns were a farmer’s bane, but only if a lot of them get together and decide to do mischief. As Cyrano Jones put it, ‘One little Madiehare isn’t, harmful.’
Tuffy and his people suffer loads of discrimination (Peter Parker notwithstanding) which might be totally understandable for those of us who still have nightmares (not from Bangsy or Batsy) like Sam versus Shelob. And let’s face it, his species really bites (and their venom has killed humans before).
Tuffy doesn’t, however, I promise you~or at least, he didn't bite me. He’s a very quiet, unassuming guy, goes skateboarding in the park in the evening. And, he’s cute, actually, in the same way bunnies, hammies, puppies and kitties are, because of all the FUR. And those spider paws? To DIE for <3
Fun fact: I did have two pet spiders (sort of~they lived in my room when I was a kid and I figured I might as well make the best of it lol): Eight Legs (hey, Buttercup named her horse, Horse) and Jimmy Olsen. And they never bit me, either.
Acerica I insisted upon even though I said I wouldn’t do any botanicals, avians or mermaids (except Tusk, I couldn’t resist). But I had done Tusk (a sort of debt I had to pay) and I figured Pio could use a friend. He and Acerica are the youngest of my Rogues~Pio isn’t more than 10 years old, and Rikki here is only about three years old in human years.
You know that thing about never hugging a cactoid? (Unless pulling glochids or spines out of your skin is your cup of tea lol) Humans shun them for that~like it’s their fault they were born with spiny skin. Well, humans who do are missing out, and if you got to know *Acerikki*, you’d want to hug her, too. (But maybe don’t ^^ Just be nice to her and give her a lollipop or something ^^)
Quita I owed the same way I did Tusk ~ I had painted their people before and not very well, and I wanted to make it good, this time (or at least better). We talked about it a bit before she sat for me, and she said ‘maybe we could make it with my wings open, so it’s different this time. I mean, everybody sees us as these little red drops with black spots’.
I saw the justice in that and went with her suggestion, and I’d like to think I did do a better job this time, although like Anton I rather wished I had been able to get more of her lovely wings into the picture.
Anyhow I’m glad I was able to get Quita here alone, because it turns out she and her squad can be a pretty big homeowner’s headache if, like harebairns, they decide to organise. If. If is good. ^^
So that’s all of them and I hope, if you happen to be in the neighbourhood of Kapitolyo in Pasig in the late afternoon of 12th August, you’ll drop by and see my Rogues in full detail (or at least have a drink or two~might make them look better XD). If you have any queries about Rogues or my work in general, just drop me a line.