And another thing…

You know, just once I’d like to post a painting without someone on DeviantArt saying “Hey, that reminds me of “Labyrinth!”

I mean, once or twice, fine, high praise, it was the only fantasy flick a lot of people have seen, that’s cool. But Every Single Painting? Come ON! They can’t ALL look like Labyrinth! I can count on the fingers of one pancreas the number of times David Bowie in vinyl has shown up in a painting!

I’m not one of those people who insists that my work be an absurd originality devoid of any other influence–there is nothing new under the sun, and I am nothing if not the sum of my influences–but this is starting to wear on me, and a groove the thickness of a runty bucky ball is being slowly worn in the enormous basalt slab of the foundation of my confidence.*

And the worst part is that I haven’t seen the movie in ten years, but because I keep hearing “It reminds me of “Labryinth!” I’m terrified to go rent it, for fear that I’ll cement some kind of Hensonesque doom and never paint anything that doesn’t remind people of Labryinth again.

*Don’t get me wrong, I’ll die before it’s undermined at that rate, but still!

Fair Warning

Today’s Sinfest made me chuckle.

http://sinfest.net/

Now, people will say this is alarmist. They’re right. I will be assured by terrible reasonable sounding people that this is silly. And they will indeed sound very reasonable. And I will give better than even odds that there will be no draft, certainly. Don’t feel a need to convince me. I’m not gonna argue with you, and I’m not all that worried. I’m certainly not going to quote chapter and verse about why there might be a draft–you believe whatever you wish to believe, and ‘das cool wi’ me.

However.

Foremost among my flaws–and I have many, many flaws, but this is one I’ll cop to–I am a gloater. I say “I told you so.” I nurse a grudge with the tender and loving passion that a gardener will nurse the rarest and most fragile of orchids. I will get up in the night and prepare a heated bottle ‘o bile to make sure my grudge grows big and strong. I do not forget, and while I have been known to forgive, there have to be hellaciously mitigating circumstances, or else a total and abject apology and admission of fault, or else a really shiny object. (Really, really, REALLY, shiny.)

This makes me a less than stellar person, I realize, but in my defense, I am quite aware of this flaw, which may not mitigate it, but at least allows me to work around it a little bit, which is why I am issuing this blanket warning.

If you’re a Bush-supporter, and Bush wins, and there’s a draft (or an all-out civil war in Iraq, for that matter) I suggest that you unfriend my blog for at least a week,* and possibly unplug the phone. Because I am gonna gloat. I am gonna gloat in ways that will make Achilles dragging the corpse of Hector, Tamer of Horses, three times ’round the walls of Troy look like the very model of restraint. I will dance. I will utter the phrase “I TOLD YOU SO,” and “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, HUH?” and I may just program my oft-threatened giant flaming dancing earthworm font in which to do it. I will mock. I will gloat. I will be absolutely, positively insufferable, I will be so terrible that even I will hardly be able to stand me.

And because of that, and because I try to work around my flaws when I can, consider this a warning. Because I like a lot of you guys, even if I find your political views occasionally misguided, and I’d prefer not to annhilate any otherwise cordial relationships with my 2 point Gloating Geas flaw. Many a friendship has been destroyed by politics, and I don’t want to do that, but I will no more be able to not gloat than I could fly. So just be aware–if that happens, the bridge to Ursula’s rationality with be rained out, and brief detours are suggested.

Thank you, that is all.

*Actually, if we’re being realistic, my attention span for outrage only lasts about three days, and it should revert back to art and entertaining encounters with urban wildlife shortly after that.

At some point in the night, in between the dreams of being attacked by the flying razor-clawed doll from the Dreamcast version of Genma Onimusha,* I appear to have gotten up, found my sketchbook, and scrawled “king–thugwhumps–“Ooodlegoiter”–Baby dragon w/stuffed knight–“Mr Higgins.”

Whether this was a painting idea or a menu suggestion, I’m not entirely certain, although I will say that “Ooodlegoiter” is a great name for just about anything.

*I was scarred, okay!? The stupid thing was invincible!

Slaved over a painting for days, and at the end…meh. Not impressed. I learned some stuff, so it wasn’t a loss, but it just wasn’t…whatever.

This, on the other hand, I whipped out in about two hours, and was pleased with.
http://www.deviantart.com/deviation/11008149/

Why is it always the simple, silly, fast stuff that I wind up happy with?

The male goldfinches appear to be molting, or else I have been beset by the rare Mottled Calico Finch. Rather more surely than the leaves (mostly still green) in this climate, it would seem that this indicates the end of summer.

This has been a fabulous summer. I’ve done nothing but work, but I’ve made a LOT of art, and (for me) a lot of money from the art. Slowly came to the realization that my ultimate goals of doing high-end commissions for big companies were not something that would make me all that happy–I like doing my own stuff too much. Now my ultimate goal is to do my own stuff, get paid, and take the occasional commission for more money and exposure.

Better to learn these things now.

I also think that a lot of the reason I’ve been very happy this summer is because I’ve been frustrated artistically.

What the hell, you say? You’re doing your own stuff, and you’re frustrated?

Indeed! At least, I am frustrated by real media. Digital stuff–well, call me an arrogant sod if you wish, but I’m pretty good digitally. I have problems with composition and anatomy and whatnot, my drawing skills are adequate, but I’m no da Vinci, but the media itself gives me no problems, hasn’t for awhile now. Any given thing I’m likely to paint, I know how to go about painting it digitally.

Which is both great and boring as hell.

But real media…phew. I am still mucking my way through understanding watercolor, and trying to work out the sort of idea combination of mixed media to make me happy, and how to get the effects that I need to get. So any painting more complex than, say, a doodle of a mouse in a poncho, is still a how-the-heck-do-I-do-this experience. And while I worry a bit–my paintings are flat out not as good as my best digital work yet–I still don’t get bored. (And it pays better, of course.)

And hell, by the time I am a great master of watercolor and acrylics, I’ll have my own house and I’ll buy a set of oil paints and put myself back to square one with a glad heart.

Woot! Finally got my Anthrocon check.

Not bad at all. Everything went for minimum bid, (everything almost always goes for minimum bid, it seems) except for “The Grape” which went for three times the minimum bid, cracked a hundred bucks and blew my tiny little mind. It’s always the ones that you toss off in a fit of pre-con panic…

So that’s a good thing.

Sales numbers this month are solidly average, practically identical to last month, although the commission numbers are way, way up from usual, having gotten paid for the Weeks of Happy Frogdom. However, if you discount that one–great when it happens, but you get that sort of gig once a year if you’re lucky–commission numbers are also identical to last month, at around a third of the sales numbers. However, this month has been spent shifting a little more time to straight painting, (not through any great lessening of work load, but mostly in mental self-defense) and this shift will probably show up in later months as a decrease in commissions and an increase in sales. Maybe.

I know I spend a lot more money on art supplies now that I’m doing a lot more originals, though, but it’ll take until the end of the year and the ancient and ceremonial Tallying Of The Reciepts to see how that affects the numbers. While doing originals SEEMS like it has been profitable in the last three or four months, I suspect the supply cost will take a meaty chunk out of my bottom line.

Crimony, I’m actually contemplating sales figures, and I’m about ten minutes and a good excuse from a graph. When I embarked on a career in art, I had no idea I’d spend so much time doing so much capitalist math…

http://yerf.com/vernursu/smallrus.jpg

This is so James’s fault.

He was wandering around singing “I am the smallrus!”

“How big is a smallrus?” I asked.

“Very, very tiny.”

“Awww.”

“They’re bred as sock warmers. You can put your socks on the smallri to keep warm.”

“AWWWWW!”

“They purr.”

“AWWWWWWWWWWW!”

And just when I was thinking that I had misjudged this man for ten whole years, that he was capable of great depths of adorableness, that his capacity for cuteness was far beyond anything I’d guessed, and he’d merely been hiding it behind a facade of mild pervesion and non-sequitor–

“And they’re great with honey-mustard sauce!”

*sigh*

As my friend Kathy said, “He is capable of great flights of whimsy, you just can’t listen all the way to the end.”

Hmm.

Saw a bird. Not sure what the heck it was–possibly a slightly weird House Finch. It was a Little Brown Nondescript Thingy, had black feathers with some striping, but not a full out bar, just some paler edges, but it had a bright, flamingly pink butt (or at least lower back, a distinct bright red-pink strip between where the folded wings lay) and a little reddish pink cap. The red-pink on the head was just the cap, not a full noggin job like I’m used to with the house finches, although the color was similiar, but the butt was VIVID red-pink. Beak was small–either finch-like or warbler like, but definitely not long and pointy. It was the standard finch/sparrowish size, a little on the larger side.

E-nature has failed me, and I really need a better bird guide. Have not been able to find this guy online. If any of my cadre of Alert Readers can locate it, or tell me it’s just a freak mutant with a plucked butt, my gratitude.

Had a dream last night. Long and complicated, Us against Them, being pursued by enemy forces. Was at some kind of mansion, as a servant, and this idiot boy had a miniature kitten, no larger than…err…*casts about for size comparison*…the plastic ear on the armadillo miniature on top of my monitor is not very scientific…no larger than a medium sized ant, say, in a styrafoam cup of water. It needed water to live, it was some kind of amphibious kitten, but it could also drown, which it did. I took the kitten away, pumped it’s lungs out (it was unbelievably tiny) and gave it mouth-to-snout (how this worked on a creature with a mouth smaller than the period at the end of this sentance, I dunno) and it recovered. Had to do this two or three times. Then I wound up with a bunch of frogs in a jar, which I was taking through a really nasty part of town. (It was a “protect the small animal!” dream, evidentally. But I was successful, which probably says healthier things about my psyche than the ones where all the small animals are dying that my mother used to have.) There was something else about a jukebox and wrestling, but I’ve sort of lost it. I wound up in an antique store run by flaming transvestites. I was trying to buy a glass vase–one of the old ones that look like bubble wrap, opaque white at the top, transparent greenish-turquoise at the bottom, with round, regular bubble-wrappy nubs on the outside. Then the lights went out, and I was bumbling around in the dark in this antique store. It was one of those dark-but-just-enough-light-to-see-vague-shapes things, and I was seeing all these hot-dog sized things with racing stripes skittering around, congregating on the light switches. I asked Dave Weinstein (who was being used as sweatshop labor in the antique store for some reason) what the hell they were, and he said “Oh, they’re addapedes.”

Right as I had finished tearing around the store shrieking in horror, and was going to have to figure out something productive to do, James grabbed my shoulder and said “Wake time for wibblies!” for which I was wretchedly grateful.

http://yerf.com/vernursu/littleredgulo.jpg
Once upon a time, there was a fetching young wolverine who, wearing her favorite red hood, went skipping through the fields, on the way to her grandmother’s house, carrying a basket of tasty goodies.*

A wolf, who was lurking at the edge of the woods, descended upon the young wolverine and said “Hello, little red riding wolverine, and where are you going in such a hurry?”

“To visit my grandmother,” said the young wolverine, as demure and maidenly as a gravelly wolverine baritone can be.

“To visit your…to…grand…to..my goodness, what big teeth you have…” said the wolf, who seemed to have lost his train of thought somewhere.

The wolverine nodded.

“And what…big…claws…you have…” said the wolf, in much the same tone as General Custer commenting on the surprising number of locals at Little Bighorn.

The wolverine nodded.

“I’ll just bugger off, shall I?” said the wolf.

The wolverine nodded.

The wolf slunk gratefully back into the trees and hyperventilated quietly, and the little red riding wolverine skipped merrily through the woods to her grandmother’s house and they ate assorted rodents and watched cartoons and baked cookies happily ever after.

(Trying out some new illo board, the Strathmore instead of Crescent. Had I realized how the paint would behave, would have gone for denser woods instead of the thin tree trunks, but hey, there’s always next painting…)

*Pepperidge Farms’ Mixed Rodent Party Assortment, to be precise, a pretty good value for the money, although everybody always picks through and eats the gerbils first.

Gaming day!

Session two, and I’m settling into being a paladin. The function of a paladin, in virtually all RPG combat, is to function as a wall (as evidenced by the dialogue in various on-line RPGs, i.e. “I’m going to fight trolls!” “Need a wall?”) The paladin stands in front, takes the headlong charge from the monster, and tries to hold its attention, secure in the knowledge that she’s got more armor, more health, and almost certainly more inherent altruism than anybody else in the party. Then everybody else tries to whack it.

This is almost like being a samurai, except you get a shield and the headlong berserker rush is discouraged unless you’re throwing yourself in front of the innocent. Also, you get to yell “Drop your weapons and you won’t be hurt!” whenever you see anybody, which worked on the new PC, if not any of the monsters. Yet. (I’m gonna keep trying until it does, damnit.)

In a charmingly hentai-esque scene, we were set upon by nasty aberrations with flailing tentacles and screaming eyesockets, which mostly shrugged off our puny unmagical weapons. Our rogue, thinking quickly, set one on fire. Unfortunately, fire was not the answer, but it did cook me nicely when, in my function as party wall, I was picked up and grappled by a burning tentacle monster. Having botched my breaking free rolls badly, I decided that my none-too-bright paladin was trying to bear-hug a flaming tentacle to death. There was a lot more thumping and flailing and draining of constitution, and very un-paladinly obscenities from the heart of the tentacly inferno, but all’s well that ends with nobody dead.

Since in the Eberron campaign, there is a feat that allows paladins to multi-class without penalty, my dream of a paladin/rogue is still alive in full force. (I might not even have to become a fallen paladin! I may anyway, simply because of my questionable grasp of morality, but y’know.) Our current rogue, alas, is not too great at finding traps or picking locks yet, which meant that the whole session was basically an endless march of breaking down doors with either the Paladin’s Lockpick* or the psionic warrior’s shoulder. (She’s a little impatient.) Together, paladin and psionic are the Sisterhood of Stupidity, which means that they burst through every door together with courage in their hearts and vacuum between their ears. We fell in two pit traps and walked through razor wire. We are thuggin’.

Also, we got to dangle the dwarf from a rope for hours on end. Really, who can ask for more?

*A crowbar. Never go anywhere in an RPG without a crowbar.