Category Archives: Cephalopod

Happy Zombie Jesus Day!

Jesus Toucan

Jesus Toucan by Meg Lyman

Digital (vector art done in Inkscape)

Happy Zombie Jesus Day to all! In celebration of this widely-celebrated holiday, have a holy toucan. If you are disinclined to celebrate this day because of your religion, or lack thereof… then here! Have some satire.

This came about because of Jesus Squid. It’s all his fault, and I can see this potentially snowballing out of control, until cute little haloed animal silhouettes are running amok and requiring that we all pay them homage with various morsels of food and bits of our souls.

If you haven’t seen Jesus Squid, there’s a bit of a progression. First, I wanted something very simple; I’m a sucker for simple elegance. Jesus Squid #1 looks like this:

Jesus Squid 1

I got several comments saying “it looks like a bird!” and the response, when asked which, was overwhelmingly “toucan.” There was one crow. Anyway, I decided to refine it so nobody would mistake it for an avian:

Jesus Squid 2

Good. People liked this one better. It was unequivocally “squid.” Success!

Jesus Toucan has been lurking in the back of my brain since, so I finally got it out. The whole thing made me wonder, yet again, at the nearly infinite ways that viewers will interpret a piece of art. As an artist, you see what you want it to be. Sometimes you’ve been staring at it for so long that you can’t see obvious errors (which is why critique is so valuable), let alone an entirely different interpretation. It’s sort of like the optical illusion with the faces and vases – you see one immediately, and it takes some effort and brainpower to see the other. That the same thing happens with art is fascinating to me. It’s even more pronounced with abstract art, of course, but it’s amazing that it happens at all when the subject is fairly clear-cut.

As an artist, what different (or strange?) interpretations have viewers had of your art? As a viewer, what have you seen that the artist, or other viewers, didn’t?

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel

Guardian Angel by Meg Lyman

Mixed media on Canson


Sometimes life is so crazy that the only way things could possibly work out in our favor is to have a guardian octopus looking over us. With holy wings of protection, a halo, and an arm delicately raised in benediction, how can you go wrong?

I am still collecting answers for your previous tax questions. My excuse: I am having a bazillion* people over tonight for a party.

* well, like… 5.

Birthday Cards

Birthday Squid

Making birthday cards is way more fun than buying them. You don’t have to spend very long on them, because even if you make little mistakes, your friends and family will still love it more than all their other birthday cards because you made it. Even if it has a squid on it.


Nautilus Trap

Nautilus Trap by Meg Lyman

Ink on notecard


First, I updated my website with the three meager paintings I did in January. Go look! If you want to be on my mailing list and get notified when I update the site, send me a note.

Something fairly exciting happened this week. I got a call from someone writing a childrens’ book who said she and her partner saw my website and were interested in having me illustrate the book.

Cool, I thought. Let’s see what they have to say. They took me out to lunch and pitched their book to me. It seems like an awesome book, and is nearly finished. Their next step is getting art and a publisher. I’m on track to do some character design for them, and potentially illustrate the whole book.


The coolest thing about it (besides the characters being right down my alley) is that they found me in a fairly obscure local newspaper. The awesome artist who organized our participation in the boat show had us write blurbs about ourselves and got them into the local paper. Lesson: do as much as you can, even shows that may not mean a lot of sales, for the exposure. Never let an opportunity pass you by!

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!


Yarn Squid

Unraveling by Meg Lyman

8×10″ gouache and ink on Canson

Commission: SOLD

I’m not sure what happens when it runs out of yarn. A disembodied but cuddly yarn-squid head? A rip in the space-time continuum?

Actually, I don’t want to know.

A commission for a “yarn skein” squid, all nestled into a basket and knitting itself a new arm.

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.