How To Train Your Dragon

totes adorbs

I did not expect to love How To Train Your Dragon. I really don’t remember why I watched it at all, who I watched it with, or anything like that. But wow, it was so good. The story, the music…

Oh, the music. I bought the Lord of the Rings Soundtracks because I adored the movies. I bought Prince of Egypt because who doesn’t want to crank up When You Believe or Jethro’s song? The Incredibles, Star Wars…classic soundtracks that I enjoyed listening to…But the soaring tones of HTTYD by John Powell are something else entirely. Rapturous. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so enthralled by music without words.

I was actually poised to dislike HTTYD. I was sort of braced for something like Shrek, which I only sort of enjoyed. I mean, the hero was named Hiccup and had a scraggly voice. I was prepared for a cynical story that was all about tearing down heroic ideals. That is definitely, completely, not what I got. Instead, it was a story about true heroism. An actually useful personal journey in understanding, true value, and sacrifice.

Hiccup’s name didn’t change. His voice didn’t change. But his perception of himself, his father, and of course dragons, did. Astrid’s perception changed. Stoic’s perception changed.

Love really did conquer all.

HTTYD2 was also excellent. Possibly even better than HTTYD. I loved how they built on the story, Hiccup coming to terms with how, though he has Toothless and Astrid, he’s still him, and still the chief’s son. I love the story of him learning that he doesn’t have to be exactly like his father to be a good chief–but being like his father in terms of love, forgiveness, and bravery–that is what makes a good chief. I loved that the story didn’t center on the romance between him an Astrid, you are just shown a real, loving, growing, relationship. The Stoic/Valka relationship so incredibly poignant in the few scenes they had together. I remember sitting in theaters with tears pouring down my face going “YOU DIDNT WARN ME DREAMWORKS! I DID NOT EXPECT TO BAWL AT THIS MOVIE.”

HTTYD3…somehow just wasn’t what I wanted. I think…it felt like they backtracked Hiccup’s emotional and character journey from the previous movie, and…it just…fell flat. I could forgive the antics and goofy humor clearly aimed at the younger audience–though Snotlout’s (right?) obsession with Valka was a little bizarre. Part way through Hiccup’s character arc was sort of designated as “who are you without Toothless, who has become your crutch?”

–except Toothless wasn’t a crutch in the other two movies, he was a catalyst. Did I miss something by not watching the kid’s show Race to the Edge?

We all know and love Toothless, but having the Light Fury resist Hiccup’s friendship so entirely, we don’t really get to befriend her either. Instead, it feels like we married off a dear friend to a harpy who hates us even though she doesn’t know us at all, and we’re left trying to understand why he loves her. I mean…we don’t even know her name. Who is this dragon? She…seems…nice? She’s…pretty?

It’s also really sad that the first movie’s conclusion that man and dragon can live together in peace is reversed in this film–that only SOME people can handle it, and because not everyone can, they don’t get to keep their pets. It might be realistic, but that isn’t what I wanted. I wanted hope for a better future.

A big pro to the story, though, is seeing Hiccup and Astrid continue their real relationship like real people. They grow up, get married, lead the clan, and have children together. Never flagging in their commitment to one another. Talk about relationship goals.

The music was great again, but since I loved the story less I have less of a connection with the music.

Anyway, I still love HTTYD. The characters, the story, and of course the dragons. In particular Toothless and Stormfly. I drew these for practice, working off a variety of images in Pinterest. I think they came out pretty adorable.

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Finley – dog portrait

I so enjoyed putting together this portrait. Finley is such an expressive doggo. He had a whole instagram for me to work off! He’s quirky and *bursting* with personality. He’s got a great smile, too.

He sometimes cosplays as Sirius Black, so I put the constellation of Canis Major, and the bright star Sirius, behind him. Orion is there, too, because the hunter loves his dog, and I worked in the hare so he’d have something to chase.

I might possibly have really enjoyed astronomy as a kid. Mostly the names of the stars and the myths they were named after. I can’t find hardly anything in the night sky. I’m sure it helps that I’ve never lived someplace with a really properly dark sky.

We went to a dark sky park one time, but there was too much cloud cover and moonlight to see stars.

Someday.

A new thing for me: Sip and Painting

I often sip wine while I paint or draw in the evenings. But I’ve never before tried to teach anyone anything about art. Ever. Before this summer.

I like teaching. When I learn how to do something, I always end up teaching it to someone else eventually. Mostly, though, I’ve taught things like basic understanding of laws. Not things like art, which is so much more instinctive.

For me, anyway.

I’m not really sure how to teach drawing. I learned from books, and copying and tracing and drawing relentlessly. I know some words and principles that might help people draw better, or at least….help them even TRY to draw…but I don’t really know what anyone could possibly do beyond that. You learn to draw by practicing, and learning a few principles about how to draw what you actually see, not what you think you see.

With the sip and paints, a sketch is provided. So I’m mostly trying to convince people to let go of their inhibitions and let the pigments play. That’s the point of watercolors, really.

I myself painted the same rose 3x before the event (4, actually, but I only brought 3) and 2x during, different every time, to encourage people to think outside the box and let go of the pigment.

My mother in law will laugh if she reads that, because I had a hard time letting go, myself.

The blue rose was my final piece.

It was fun, I have a better idea for how I would arrange the table, how I would talk people through some of the techniques a bit better. It seemed to really help them to watch me paint, and this time I’d set myself up behind a pitcher of water and a vertical display of the color wheel–which literally no one looked at. Next time, I’ll forgo the vertical color wheel, put the pitcher somewhere else, and make sure to show people things before I unleash them to dip their brushes in pigment.

I think everyone had fun, and they definitely came up with some great combinations and turned out some very nice work. Best of all, they smiled a lot and talked about how relaxing it was. Creating art has, of course, been proven to relieve stress. One of its many benefits!

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Space. Sci Fi. And Covers.

I’m *always* diddling around cover ideas for my epic fantasy projects. Always. But, for the first time ever, I designed a cover for someone else. I’m pretty thrilled about it, actually. A college buddy started publishing these awesome sci fi short stories on Kindle, Stories of the Human Ship, and I got the opportunity to make a cover for story 3 which comes out this month!

Are you ready? Here’s the book blurb:

When most of Earth was destroyed in a nuclear war, the alien races arrived to auction off what was left. Now, a band of escaped humans in a stolen alien ship struggle to survive in an unfriendly galaxy. The stars are within reach, but there are no safe harbors.

If you like sci fi, or just good stories, you should go check them out. Story one is The Human Ship. They are free, too, which is pretty crazy.

This story is going places, be in the know early and help it spread!

New short story available on Kindle from Jordan Estrada!

The Dappled Purple Horse

Gorgeous Purple Dappled Original Watercolor horse

When I was a kid, I would spend hours reading my three horse encyclopedias. I bookmarked favorite breeds, and diligently soaked up any and all information I could about horses. One of my absolute favorite books, which I read and re-read, was King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry. If you haven’t read it (or just, weren’t obsessed) it’s the story of the Godolphin Arabian, one of the three stallions credited with the emergence of the modern Thoroughbred. It’s fictionalized, of course, and fills in considerably huge gaps in known fact and smooths others for a better story: But the story goes that the Sheik of Morocco gave six stallions to the King of France, who didn’t appreciate the gift as he ought. One of these stallions found himself a cart horse, and one thing led to another and he was later shipped to England, where he wound up retired in a field belonging to the Earl of Godolphin. Being a stallion, he managed to get to one of the prize mares, Lady Roxanna, and the colt, Lath, turned out to be kind of a big deal on the race track.

Like I said, that’s not 100% in line with the known facts, but close enough! And it’s not like I cared as a kid, it was a great story, and is likely responsible for my undying affection for Arabian horses.

This was one of those pieces that just….came out…exactly how I wanted it to. I used Daniel Smith watercolors, as usual, but focused on letting go, and the color purple (you all know I’m obsessed with blue). I used some amethyst, some bloodstone, and I think some Quinacridone rose, probably French Ultramarine, too, but just a touch. Then I lined her haunches and neck with big chunks of salt and hoped for the best. I have a vague memory of being pretty sure it wouldn’t come out, but giving it a shot for science.

I’m so glad I did. I darkened her muzzle and ears with bloodstone, and did her eye with pen and paint…and here she is. Looking fresh, sweet, but spunky, just like so many Arabians do.

This little beauty is a 5×7, and available for sale below if anyone is interested–yeah, the original. I’ve got prints and other cool things (t-shirts, zipper pouches) up on Redbubble, too, of course.

Dreamy the Purple Dapple

This is a 5x7 original watercolor painting of a spectacular purple horse. Ships Free in the US. Perfect for a horse lovers bedroom, office, kitchen, tack room...basically perfect for horse lovers. Ships within 3-5 business days. First Class. International folks, message me and I'll figure out what shipping would be for you.

$50.00

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