Quill Redux

Transcript of a conversation that occurred around 1:30 AM, in bed, last night.

Me: “Saaaaay, James?”
Him: “Gnnrf?”
Me: “Would you think it was weird if I got up to fix a painting right now?”
(long pause)
Him: “That might be considered obsessive, yes.”

So I waiting until morning to muck about with my porcupine more…and I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer really know if it’s better now or not. I gutted the back, replaced it with mostly empty space radiating around the bird, and expanded the quill fan on her head a bit. (Ironically, I know all kinds of ways that I might be able to fix it with color, but I shall not be swayed! Must–master–monochrome!) Critique and commentary and suggestions gladly accepted–this might actually be worse, compositionally, than the last version, but I’m at the I-can’t-tell stage, so other people’s advice is welcome. It may also not actually be salvageable in it’s current incarnation–if not, que sera, sera. You win some, you lose some, and better to lose a painting than the shreds of my sanity expended overworking it more!

Poor, Overworked Porcupine

So I wanted to try my hand at putting together a portfolio, particularly now that I seem to be able to generate black and white art without the sort of effort normally associated with sawing off a limb. The problem, as always, is too many ideas–and once I settle on one, too many more ideas!

I was thinking an “Amazon Amazons” kinda theme (I know, it’s so obvious…) something in a mild cheesecake mode–nudity, but nothing overtly sexual. I gots no problems with nudes, but I’d feel a bit weird drawing Hot Tree Sloth on Feathered Serpent Action. (No, no, don’t try to envision it.) A mix of black and white pieces and color–say, four color, and four to six black and white. Sounds like a plan. T’only problem, of course, is what to put in! I spent five minutes with my “Wildlife of the Latin American Rainforest” book, and I’ve already got enough species to get me through “Amazon Amazons vol 3” and that doesn’t even include the birds. (And you gotta include the birds, right?) I mean, margays and ocelots and jaguars and jaguarundis and bush dogs and capybaras and sloths and multiple anteater species and tapirs and Andean spectacled bears and little brocket deer and a zillion kinds of monkeys and tree sloths and river otters and kinkajous and tayras and all the bats…well, you see the embarassment of riches. Brazilian porcupines, for god’s sake! They’re adorable!

The mind boggles. Attempting to pull myself together, I figure that the color pieces have to be Relatively Charismatic Mammals (since I figure I’ll have the color ones available seperately) and I can get a little more wild with the black and whites. So four Charismatic Mammals outta that…well, jaguars, obviously, and feathered serpents are pretty rare, so that’d be cool and…well, that’s enough to start. All of which makes me think “Gee, it’s so hard to be an artist. My big struggle today was decided which seriously cool animal to paint. Life is SO hard.”

Actually my big struggle today was avoiding the landmines of dog turds that some idiot keeping a Big Dog in an apartment has been leaving all over the back yard, which are now buried in snow, right until your unsuspecting boot breaks the fragile white skin over them and you’re tread deep in frozen canine poo. But I mean, c’mon, if that’s the worst thing that happens to me this week, I got nothin’ to whine about at all.

Oh, and did this yesterday, still playing with this style because it’s so dang fun to do.
Bamboo Thicket

Ursula is an unhappy little squid today.

It appears that some unscrupulous individual–possibly with a skin condition–has acquired my debit card information, and ran up nearly two hundred bucks worth of debt on my account on–this is the peculiar bit–skin care products.

Fortunately–and the reason that I am merely a somewhat pissed off squid and not a frothing-at-the-mouth, killing-people-in-a-homicidal-fury squid–the nice people over at Wells Fargo said “WTF? This doesn’t look like something this cardholder does,” fraud protection kicked in, and they sent me a note saying “Whazzup wi’ dat?” Since I had no idea where these places were that I’d been supposedly buying from–she had to call them and ask what they sold–we quickly figured out that I’d been defrauded, cancelled the card, and they’re mailing me the neccessary claim forms to get my money back. Also fortunately, I had enough money in savings to make up the balance on the rent (and quick checking indicates that they did not, for example, drain my accounts dry.) Otherwise this would be a very bad day indeed.

Thank god for fraud prevention and what is presumably their tracking software–while I don’t like the fact the bank keeps track of my preferences and probably sells this information for all I know, I am very glad today that they did. Bless your privacy invadin’ little hearts, Wells-Fargo!

What miffs me most is–skin care products? C’mon. If someone had charged car repairs or food or medication or something, I would still be mad, but I would at least go “Yeah, well, I see why they did it.” Running up two hundred bucks in hand lotion, however, makes Ursula feel all mean and vindictive. I mean, it’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but sheesh! They better have lupus or leprosy or something, damnit.

My brain has officially melted.

I have hit some kind’ve art groove with this black and white stuff–a combination of delight at a new technique and what I am starting to suspect is another manifestation of my rare Creative PMS. I wish I could tap that stuff reliably, instead of as a potluck somewhere between Bitchy, Weepy, and Generally Maudlin. The end result is that all I’ve done all weekend is scribble like a psycho. I feel like I’m surfing some kind of hormonal art wave, and in about five minutes, it’s going to dash me onto sharp pointy rocks, bruised, battered, and artistically drained, possibly with a jellyfish on my head.

On the bright side, now when I get clients asking about black and white work, I don’t have to go “Well, I mostly work in color…” My phobia of monochrome hath ended! However, I still can’t get over how fast the black and white stuff goes, particularly since I’m not inking an existing line drawing, but just sort’ve mega-scribbling–these start with blobs and wireframes and get refined from there. I wish there was some way to achieve the same thing with real media–altering India ink and white out, maybe–but I’m still half convinced the paper would disintegrate. Anybody know anything about white ink? Does it cover well, or no?

Anyway, in case anyone wants to see these spasms of a crazed brain–all anthro stuff so far–here we have ’em. They’ve got a sort’ve woodcut look that I’m diggin’, although I have no idea whether it’ll sell, and being an art mercenary, that’s never too far from my mind. *grin*

Raj and Rajah
Zen Badger
Koala Sentry (colored)

On the snowy back step of my apartment at the moment, there are two things. One is a rather large pile of dog turds.

The other, for reasons I can’t even begin to guess, is a scattering of magnetic poetry flung free-form across the concrete, snow, and dog turds. It would be lovely if they formed some kind of sweeping lyrical statement, but in fact it’s just nonsensical, although I confess, I wasn’t getting too close to the pile to see if there were any poetic gems hidden therein.

Yeah.

In other news, I’ve been playing around with black and white lineart in Painter, following a random seizing of inspiration yesterday on a game illo, which came out way better than it had a right to. Have produced a couple of vaguely interesting things. I’m struck more than anything else by how fast and easy this sort of thing is–I use only two colors, black and white, and the scratchboard tool, and if something’s not quite right, I just scribble it out and try again. It’s the sort of thing that can only be done digitally, since paper would eventually dissolve under such abuse, but it’s kinda neat. I’ll have to try some soft color washes to go with ’em later, but since I never do black and white illos, I’m trying to do some to prove to myself that hey! It’s not that hard! I don’t need color as my crutch, damnit!

The Caterpillar and the Hookah (Better known as “Dave’s not heeere, man…”
Body Piercing This is at DeviantART, and is also rather disturbing, so be warned. Nipples AND a crappy interface! Aiii!

Evolutionary Ingrates

I love furries. Really, I do. I like animal people, I like drawing animal people, and I cherish the fact that there’s a huge fandom who appreciates and supports that sort’ve thing. Most of ’em are great people, geeks after my own heart, and I love ’em dearly.

Every now and then, I also get an overwhelming urge to smack some of ’em upside the head screaming incoherent obscenities.

Relatively Coherent Obscenities

Went to the used bookstore and picked up a few things on the recommended list–“If A Lion Could Talk,” “The Island of the Colorblind,” and “The Day The Universe Changed.” I already plowed through “Island” which was really interesting, even if I don’t get quite so enthusiastic about cycads as the author. (I mean, I like a good cycad as much as the next person, but…err…right.) Now I’m heading into the one about lions, which starts out promising, discussing the tendency towards anthromorphism as blinding us to the inherent coolness of animals on their own terms.

It’s a little ironic that, big fan of furries that I am, I get rather twitchy about tendencies to romanticize animals themselves. I get particularly worked up when people start talking about natural harmony, as if it were something achieved by restraint and cooperation, rather than by an amazing balancing act where everybody’s desire to eat and screw and so forth is played against everyone else’s, and somehow it all holds together. Which is amazing in and of itself, and does not require us to believe in the forebearance of predators or that bunnies are practicing conscious birth control or something. (I know, I know, bunnies will spontaneously reabsorb offspring in cases of overcrowding. But I think it’s a lot more likely that it’s a response to the particular stress of overcrowding, and not a bunny thinking “By Frith! I can’t bring another generation into a burrow this crowded! It’d be immoral!” or something.)

Ahem. That said, have an anthromorphic beast–other tadpoles may think Leroy is weird, but Gaucho Leroy, an Xmas present for my husband’s boss, who runs a company called Gaucho Games, thinks he’s cool in his new cowboy outfit. (He’s apparently going to appear as grafitti in their next game, which amuses me to no end…)

Leroy II

Recommended Reading

Okay, all you science-lovers out there (I know there’s at least a couple mixed in with and interchangeable with the artspawn) here’s a question for ya. Assuming that one’s a relatively intelligent lay person, what books would you recommend for people seeking interesting, readable, relatively solid science/natural history/etc? (A friend was looking for someplace to start, and it occurred to me to try to harness the vast power of the Livejournal for good instead of evil for once. And I’m bound to find something worth checking out myself!)

For example, off the top of my head, I’d probably recommend “The Selfish Gene” by Dawkins and “The Demon-Haunted World” by Sagan. (I recall enjoying Eldridge’s book on punctuated equilibrium, too, but it was years ago, and I was an evolution geek at the time–not sure if that’s easily accessible or if it was dense and dull and my memory is just playing tricks on me.) “Flight of the Iguana and other essays in Natural History” was also nifty, and while dated now, you still can’t beat Desmond Morris and “The Naked Ape” and “The Human Zoo” which I feel oughta be required reading as a sort’ve owner’s manual for the human body, and the out of print, occasionally wildly speculative, but riveting book “The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior” by Helen Fisher, which is nice to have on hand whenever somebody tries to tell you that monogamy is unnatural, look at the bonobos, so you wanna swing, baby? (In addition to it’s scientific weight, the hardcover edition can be used to bash the heads of the aforementioned.)

Heck, doesn’t neccesarily have to be science, so much as nonfiction–“How the Irish Saved Civilization” was pretty neat reading, too.

So hey, any others?