Category Archives: 100 Cephalopods

Mimic Octopus


Mimic Octopus by Meg Lyman

4×4″ gouache on board

$35 – e-mail me*

Here’s another of the 100 Cephalopods! The famous Mimic Octopus. It disguises itself, using its stripes and its arms’ ability to make cool shapes, as various poisonous sea critters, like snakes, lionfish, and stingrays. AMAZING

This was my first try with gouache on Aquabord and let me tell you, it’s like they’re made for each other. Great surface to work on with gouache/watercolors. Absorbent enough to *not* rub off (see my earlier posts re: gouache on Gessobord) and sturdy enough to scrub back to white if you make a mistake. I recommend!

*My e-mail was broken for a few days. I am in the process of updating my website, which is why it says “under construction” or something when you go to I was puttering around in FTP and deleted something by accident. I had to call my hosting provider and they charged me $75 for a backup restore. They only keep the tapes for 3 days. Lesson: BACK UP your website. ALL of it. I backed up the directory where my viewable files are stored. However, the thing I accidentally deleted was in the root directory. Important things live there. Back it up too.


Flamboyant Cuttlefish

Metasepia pfefferi, or the Flamboyant Cuttlefish, is one cool little cephalopod. It usually dresses in drab browns, but when threatened, it lights up like a carnival. Not only does it sport a cool color scheme, it also has poisonous flesh (probably related to color, right?), AND it sort of walks along the muddy bottoms of the Indo-Pacific using its fourth arms. And they’re tiny, rarely exceeding 3 inches. CUTENESS

6×8″ Gouache on Cradled Gessoboard


1Q2008 Review of Goals, and a Nautilus

Nautilus macromphalus

Nautilus macromphalus by Meg Lyman

11×14″ gouache on Pastelbord


I am beginning to think I set unrealistic goals at the beginning of the year. I underestimated the amount of time required for things like, say, putting my house on the market. It has been hugely time-consuming. However, having that list of goals has helped keep me motivated during the long, full days, even if I’m not perfectly on track to finish everything.

Nautilus macromphalus WIP 1

N. macromphalis WIP 1: Background. See this post for my laments about Pastelbord, the Magical Brush Eater. The cheap synthetic brush I used to complete the painting held up surprisingly well.

Here are the goals and my 1st Quarter commentary.

  • Register my business by March – Done. I want to frame the certificate.
  • Redo this blog to greatly expand its content and interactivity – Not done. I had hoped to finish this by now, but… yeah. Still in the works, and I’ve actually done some coding.
  • Trim my website into a portfolio – See above, re: coding.
  • Time all my projects with the new stopwatch Santa got for me – Doing. Doesn’t work nearly as well when I have 5 projects going at once…
  • Complete the 100 Cephalopods projectNo way is this going to happen. I have a grand total of 2 done. Commissions got in the way. Working for dollars is way better than working on spec, though, so I’m not bummed about missing this one.
  • Promote my art on MySpace, etc. – Slowly working on that. Check out my MySpace page if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Do 10 shows and/or conventions – Going to happen! I have done four already and the rest are planned out.

N macromphalus WIP 2

N. macromphalus WIP 2: Whites. I didn’t do much planning for this piece. For example, I hadn’t planned to push the boundaries of color. These are all supposed to be shades of white, but at this stage I kept thinking, “Looks like metal. Maybe I should change the name to Robo-nautlius.”

I have done something list-worthy that was never an explicit goal of mine: I’m getting faster. I knew this would come eventually with practice, but I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it’s already happening. It took a friend saying, “you’re getting faster” for me to notice. Duh.

N macromphalus WIP 3

N. macromphalus WIP 3: Almost done. The oranges really balanced the blues and made the whole thing look properly organic. Nautilus, check. But the background was distracting. I took a sponge to it, which did the trick. Pastelbord is also the Magical Sponge Eater, and I spent 15 minutes picking bits of sponge off the painting.

Another list-worthy mention: I’m making a conscious effort to work on my style. Maggie and Rita encouraged me, and I worked out a list of things that make my paintings “mine.” One of those things, which had never occurred to be before (and never would have without this exercise) is that I love to use warm browns and oranges and cool blues and greys in combination. This may or may not be related to my love of da Bears.

So, that’s where I am after the first quarter of 2008. How are y’all doing in terms of goals this year?

100 Cephalopods


This week has been a whirlwind, and I haven’t any new art to show you. I’m slightly ashamed. But here, have a cute cuttlefish instead!

I spent a few hours at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga this weekend, and it is one awesome aquarium. They have about a dozen young Sepia officinalis who had arrived earlier that week! Curious little buggers – you can see the intelligence in their eyes. They also had a giant pacific octopus named “Wonton.”

The 100 Cephalopods Project is something I contrived after seeing other artists take on similar projects with their favorite animals. The gist is to do 100 finished pieces of something – anything – in a genre you choose. For instance, one artist started on primates. I haven’t seen a completed set of 100 yet, but that’s understandable – it’s a huge project. That goal I had to complete the project this year may have been a tad bit ambitious. Considering that I’d have to paint a finished piece every three-and-a-half days, and I haven’t even done one yet, and I have other commissions to complete… well, I’m amending the goal to have at least some finished. Check back for developments! Demand them of me!

Also, props to Maggie Stiefvater for her awesome blog, and for her particularly awesome post about using complements. She used blog readers’ art to discuss the use of complementary colors, and chose one of mine. Thanks, Maggie!

Gouache on Pastelbord

N. macromphalus WIP

Nautilus macromphalus – work in progress by Meg Lyman

11×14 gouache on Pastelbord

I did a brief review of gouache on Pastelbord last year, and although I liked it, I hadn’t used it since. However, I am a spineless worm when it comes to art supply stores. Colorful sirens in the form of papers, paints, and other such paraphernalia call from the shelves… “Buy me! Buy me!” and I am loathe to resist. Therefore, I recently found myself with half a dozen large pieces of Pastelbord that need to be used.

My first gouache on Pastelbord was this, and then this last week and now this current WIP. I am in love with the stuff. I know artists who swear by it for colored pencils and pastels, too. It is slightly sandy from the marble dust they mix into the substrate (which is probably why it’s expensive). It is of course rigid and non-buckling. The tinted ones suck a bit of the life out of the colors, but not much – and I haven’t tried the bright red gouaches yet, which typically dominate any surface with unyielding authority. They go on boldly, lording it over the other colors until you notice holy cow that’s bright and glaze some green over it. We’ll see about them.

The delight of this surface is hard to describe. For me, it’s mostly in the pull of the brush across the texture, and the way you can smack paint around without worrying about pulling up the under-layers. Pastelbord is absorbent and textured, something which none of the other Claybord-type products (or even papers and illustration boards) pull off very well. I am going to try gouache on Wallis at some point, and I hope it’ll give me the same feeling.

One of the only downsides to Pastelbord is its brush-eating. I have used one particular brush for 3 paintings: the two previous Pastelbords mentioned above, both 5×7, and the underpainting of Felipe (on illustration board). This is how the new bristle brush looked and how mine looks now:

Brush Damage

It’s not a very high-quality brush, but man, two and a half paintings? That’s pretty bad. Oh well… it’s worth it. And maybe it’ll be nicer to the soft brushes I use for detail work. I’ll report back later.

p.s. This is the first of the 100 Cephalopods project. Details still forthcoming.