This autumn, I’m hosting an artwork contest through Paper Palaces for any artists interested.
Here are the details:
Seeking the most engaging artistic interpretation of the fictional scene below. . .
Whether your a long-standing artist or simply building your portfolio, this is a contest for you!
- The winner and runner-ups will be featured on PaperPalacesBlog.com, CurtisWritesBooks.com, and/or across our social media, recognizing your skill as an artist. This is a great way for emerging artists to build an audience!
- The grand prize winner will earn an opportunity to engage in paid work for future projects.
- Submit an illustration, digital or otherwise, capturing imagery from the scene below (“A Cloud of Dark Birds”).
- Submissions should employ a pen and ink style.
- Color and other media are allowed. Digital illustrations are also allowed.
- Submissions will be accepted from September 1st, 2018 – November 31st, 2018
How to submit:
- Please email all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Use “2018 Pen and Ink Submission” in the subject email.
- Attach your image as a .PNG file.
Any artist, eighteen or older, is eligible to submit.
All submissions are judged on the artist’s ability to incorporate as much of the tone and imagery of the scene as possible in their illustration.
***Submissions will be reposted in original or as part of a gallery on a variety of sites, including but not limited to PaperPalacesBlog.com, CurtisWritesBooks.com, Patreon, Wattpad, Twitter, and Instagram.
If you share your artwork via Instagram, feel free to tag us (@curtiswritesbooks)!
A CLOUD OF DARK BIRDS
from The Witch’s Uprising by Curtis Teichert
Aurelia held her sword as lightly as she could. With any other thief, she would not be so cautious, but one look at the stranger assured her to take each step carefully. She let the grip on her sword stay loose and limber, ready to act. There would be no room for fear or even one misplaced swing; she prepared herself to act swiftly, carefully… softly. Every nerve in her body was electrified with awareness. She breathed deeply as she crept closer to him.
The moon unveiled itself, shedding light on a man just a head’s worth taller than Aurelia. In the dappled light of the forest, she could see her breath and his. She was closer now, at the edge of the clearing. Peering at a safe distance from this man she had followed from her village, yet he crouched – there… in the center of the everything, almost perfectly surrounded by three large prayer stones, as if no one was looking for him.
A filthy thief, she thought. She knew he was not after bread or meat, or mead. The air reeked of something which had been tossed away and neglected. He leaned over one stone altar, the furthest from Aurelia, and whispered to himself.
He cradled a small child wrapped in a purple blanket – a tiny girl not yet one year old. Flecks of gold from the blanket’s design glittered. He set the child on the altar so delicately that Aurelia was confused. Whose child was this? Not his.
It would take one stroke, but she would have to aim it correctly, or else she would bludgeon the child too. Aurelia remembered everything she had been taught – to be just so graceful with a sword, just as quiet as the spring wind rippling through grass. She stepped forward.
The townsfolk had talked of this: men like him had come before, years ago, when her mother was a little girl. They were just stories to Aurelia.
Does a story bleed? She knew the answer too well.
Every man bleeds.
When the twig snapped beneath her left foot, Aurelia felt the world shift. Her heart palpitated – the hoof-beat thump of a seasoned warrior filling her chest. Before she could make a decision before she could swing the sword, the wind blew across her face, and the man turned.
She had seconds to act – seconds!
The blade cut across the air, but it was too late.
She saw his face change first, and then his neck and shoulders. His torso seemed to compress and then shiver until every rumor she had heard was confirmed at that very moment.
Every story, every tale of his power or his ability – everything was as her mother had described. Most girls went their whole lives without seeing a shape-shifter, yet by Aurelia’s age, even most women had not seen what she had seen.
The child screamed, and Aurelia swung. The man unfolded and unfurled like smoke, and she heard what she knew to be the flutter of wings. All the stories were true, she thought. He has returned. The Madness had ended twenty years ago with his death, but now he has returned.
With that truth, she doubted if she would live to her twentieth year. And in the seconds that passed, her sword cut through nothing but air. There was no longer anyone where the man had stood. He was now, not one man, but hundreds of fluttering wings, hundreds of screeches flowing up into the sky and away. Her blade passed through a cloud of dark birds as they filled the thin night air. She hacked and hacked to no avail, and for a moment she caught the altar in the corner of her eye. The child was gone. The night was quiet as still water.