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June 22, 2010
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Deep Ones in the Sanitarium by nightserpent Deep Ones in the Sanitarium by nightserpent
Illustration for Call of Cthulhu RPG acrylic 8-1/2x11" 2010
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:iconcosmic--chaos:
Cosmic--Chaos Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yikes, sanitariums are frightening enough without the likes of deep ones skulking around...

You pulled off such an eerie atmosphere in this picture- great work.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2014
:lol:  thank you!  Unlike a lot of my art, this one involved a good deal of preparations (using my deep one sculpture for reference, photos for other aspects) and I think my efforts paid me back in kind.
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:iconcosmic--chaos:
Cosmic--Chaos Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, it always helps to use any kind of references if you're trying something new (or from a different angle or style).

And I'll reiterate that it turned out well- very creepy!
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2014
I like this Deep One design. Clap Yes, as other commenters said, this specimen's big, but while this might be a bit of a handicap outside the water, he likely would be powerful when swimming underwater. I especially like how you designed the hands and feet--along with the hands and face of what I'm assuming is a hybrid at the door. You've made the Deep One aquatic while not making it just another version of the Creature of the Black Lagoon.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
Thanks for your input! :)  After illustrating the mythos for 20+ years I'd learned that unfortunately it is going to be impossible to please all of Lovecraft's fans.  In part I think this is due to his descriptions being so evocative that they let people's imaginations run wild, so there will be varying degrees of interpretations.  I also find his fans to be pretty bright people, and combined with their creativity they've come up with a lot of interesting and varying interpretations.    Early on I was criticized for depicting Cthulhu with eyes, because according to this person Cthulhu had no eyes because eyes were never mentioned.  I don't see this as an airtight argument, but it showed me that we're all going to formulate varying ideas and interpretations.  The best I can do is see my visions through, and hopefully others will enjoy them as well.

I based the hands and feet largely on those of snapping turtles (which I had as pets some years back) yet with an opposable thumb to hint at their human past.  Just like your comment, they are powerful swimmers but struggle a bit on land (and this is what gives them the 'grouchy' reputation, because they are in less control).  You're correct, that is a hybrid at the door, I thought it would suggest a bit more of a story- such as how the deep one gained access to the Sanitarium or found his target victim.

I tend to not like the spindly deep ones, they remind me a lot of the Sleestaks from the Land of the Lost TV series. 
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2014
You're welcome! I think you're right: Allowing the reader to exercise his/her imagination is one of Lovecraft's strengths as a storyteller. He offers suggestions about how a entity or place looked, but does not create a set in stone "correct" version. The fact we see so many versions of Cthulhu despite having a fairly complete description of one idol in "The Call of Cthulhu" is evidence of Lovecraft's technique. Each reader brings different life experiences along when a story is read, so we end up with many interpretations. I've seen a few eyeless Cthulhu idols, but they seem to lack personality to me; so many of our emotions are presented by the eyes.

I see how you based the Deep One's hands and feet on snapping turtles: I've seen those in the wild and at zoos. And adding the hybrid does suggest a story: it's certainly no chance encounter! That Deep One certainly looks like it could rip that guy apart, so what could it be doing with that fellow? Yes, probably an attack, but could it actually be helping him, too? There are so many ways you could read this picture.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014
I can also appreciate that some of Lovecraft's fans prefer some lack of definition in the artistic depiction of his characters, creatures and entities rather than depicting them in full and even light.  I think they may feel it robs them of their own imagination if there is nothing left to imagine.  I find some vagueness to be a powerful aspect of some of Lovecraft's descriptions, as the unknown remains and the unknown is what we often fear.  The movie Jaws was so effective because you don't see a lot of the shark, and this was by accident because the shark 'puppet' wasn't working well.  Neil Gaiman once said (in a documentary where my art also appeared) that he disliked any artistic representation of the Mythos, because it would permanently affect his imagination of this.  I was a bit saddened to hear this as I am a great admirer of his stories.  For me, personally, I enjoy both the vague and the clearly depicted on their own merits, and no one's depiction has ever set my imagination in stone. 

The Cthulhu eye comment was just so strange to me, just because eyes weren't mentioned doesn't mean they didn't exist.  It's like saying I saw a pretty brunette the other day, and if I don't describe her nose it must imply that she didn't have one?  Lovecraft's own sketch of the idol has three eyes to a side, interestingly enough.

This painting is an illustration for the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, according to that book deep ones have some psychic ability, as do some insane people.  In this scene, the Deep one is actually reading the human's mind. 
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2014
I also like seeing renditions of the beings and places in Lovecraft's work, and I will admit they influence my own interpretations somewhat, but that's fine. In a way, I get a slightly different "picture" of a Lovecraft story or other literature every time I read it. Sometimes I incorporate things I've seen throughout my life into my interpretations. For instance, I've visited plenty of declining communities in the course of my work. The things I've seen, smelled, and heard combine with my few experiences of the seashore and become Lovecraft's town of Innsmouth. If you or another artist created an Innsmouth cityscape, I'd probably incorporate it into my vision of place, but it wouldn't replace my vision entirely.

I agree vagueness is a powerful tool. The late H.R. Giger's creature for "Alien" was at its most powerful when you couldn't see all of it, I believe.

And I've got to admit I find that Cthulhu eye comment odd, too. A writer shouldn't have to spell out every little detail.  I mean, I could describe a car, but if I don't mention the tires, it didn't have any? I've seen that Lovecraft Cthulhu sketch and models inspired by it, and it definitely has eyes. I'd have to day that Lovecraft credited his readers with having an imagination.

Your Deep One is a little heavier than I had imagined, but it's also much more formidable looking. Mind reading? That's a new facet to me.
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:iconnightserpent:
nightserpent Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2014
(been busy for a bit, sorry for the late reply). 

I thoroughly enjoy seeing other people's take on the Mythos, though I guess I must call myself fortunate for being able to edit out or forget the renditions which don't feel right to me while the ones I like I can add to my personal collective.  I appreciate how you can enjoy a different take each time, it makes sense to enjoy it from as many angles as one can.

I guess we still don't know for sure if Cthulhu just has three eyes on one side and none on the other, though, right? :lol:

The psychic abilities was for an expansion booklet, I think it touched on a number of races which may have some ability.  Kind of like Cthulhu's eyes, even though psychic ability wasn't mentioned in the story there could be some potential for it.  Lovecraft mentions very little about Deep Ones at all, really, though people who use them in games may want a fuller idea of them for use in various scenarios.  Otherwise, the way we can use these ideas is very limited (to just the brief sections of the stories).   It seems that after Lovecraft there was a circle of writers who expanded on his ideas for a while (Derleth, Howard, etc), but to me it seems like the gaming community is now the most active in exploring and expanding upon his ideas.  But, just like the visual interpretations, we're thankfully free to adopt and ignore as we see fit.
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:iconscorpionlover42:
scorpionlover42 Featured By Owner Nov 5, 2014
{I've been very busy, too, so I definitely understand.}

From everything I've read about Lovecraft, he encouraged other writers to borrow from his stories and build upon his ideas. I think this encouragement is one of the reasons why his work has endured. I'm writing my own steampunk/Cthulhu Mythos tales, a sort of alternate history, really. There are a few of what I call "test beds" in my page. Just click on the scorpion pictures: I'm still learning to present these properly. Your rendition of the "temporal" communication device has planted a seed for a story idea.

I've even read comedy that borrows from the Cthulhu Mythos. Have you ever read "Scream for Jeeves" by P.H. Cannon? In it, Cannon takes P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster and Jeeves and thrusts them into Lovecraftian adventures. The resulting pastiche is a lot of fun.:) (Smile)  He also wrote "Pulptime" in which Lovecraft meets Sherlock Holmes.:D (Big Grin) 

And I agree : gamers do seem to be the circle that is expanding Lovecraft's universe the most. You do end up with a lot of versions you can accept or ignore as you see fit.

 I'll have to go through your collection again, but I can't recall any artist that has done an interpretation of the "Outer Ones" Lovecraft described somewhat in "The Whisper in Darkness." I've always imaged an insectoid being of sorts. The containers they used for conveying disembodied human brains, and the devices that could be connected to the brains to give the senses and speech always sounded interesting, too. I don't think anybody's done an interpretation of those, either.
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