See, this is why it works…

At some point in the small hours of the morning, Kevin was getting dressed for work and I woke up enough to open one eye.

Kevin: Hey.
Ursula: I had a dream that I had a fortune cookie, and the fortune said "Love is the best suit, but a chrysanthemum suit keeps you drier."
Kevin: ….
Kevin: (to the cat) You better not go cuddle with her, Angus. She’s obviously lost her mind.
Ursula: Shut up, it’s genius….zzzzzz…..

A few minutes later, he finished pulling his boots on, sighed, and said "Once more into the breach!"

Ursula: Hrrrzzzgh.
Kevin:  I love you.
Ursula: zzzrgghh…Love you….
Kevin: Have a good day. I hope you find a chrysanthemum suit.
Ursula: I hope you don’t meet the same fate as the Light Brigade.
Kevin: …
Ursula: zzzzzzzzzzzzz

I’m pretty sure all that really happened, but I wasn’t completely awake, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Annual Christmas Warning

So there I was, in the shower, and Kevin walks in with a live rooster under one arm and–

*bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttt*

We interrupt this transmission for our yearly scheduled Christmas warning! Do not adjust your monitor!

*             *            *           *          *

Hey, gang!

Well, it’s that time of year again…we are closing in on Christmas, and I’m delivering my annual plug. Prints make great Christmas presents, they’re inexpensive, (and with the economy at the moment, that’s important, god knows…) they’re signed, they’re pretty, and if you’re an overachiever, they can even be popped into a pre-made mat available at any art supply shop and look positively spendy while still costing you under $20. Virtually all of my art is available in print form–if you’re wondering about a specific piece, ask, but most of ’em should be available.

However! If you want a print (and I hope you do) you need to order SOON. I can only guarantee orders will arrive by Christmas if you order between now and the first week of December. (End of November for international orders.) Otherwise you’re at the mercy of the postal system, and remember, they are backed up hard in December. (If you intend to get custom framing for a print…err…you should probably have ordered last month, given my experience with frame shops….so we won’t worry about that.)

Prints are generally $10 for an 8.5 x 11, $20 for a 13 x 19, (limited editions excepted) shipping varies depending on location, but we combine shipping for orders of multiple prints and whatnot. Orders of over $100 get free domestic shipping, and if you order multiple prints, I tend to start cutting deals out of gratitude combined with lackadaisical math skills.

So! Get those orders in soon! Send an e-mail to ursulav (at) metalandmagic.com with what you’re interested in, we can get you a quote, we take checks or money order or Paypal (and remember to factor the time it takes you to mail a check into your ordering time…) and life is good.

Thus concludes our Annual Christmas Warning. And now, back to your regularly scheduled program…

*         *         *          *         *

*bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttt*

—-and after all that, the last I saw, it went off into the sunset with the Domo-kun puppet on its back, and really, what else was there to say?

So I’ve been kicking around some painting ideas and needed specific pose references, of the variety that are damn hard to get drawing in front of the mirror, (i.e. anything involving both hands) and which I did not have in my archive of vintage nude postcards (which I prefer to anything in the last fifty years, since the women have, y’know, curves. And also tend to not be in "Look at me! I’m a pin-up!" poses.) I needed a model, and as many an artist has done before me, I fell back on the one I knew that was immediately available and would work for free.

"Kevin!" sez I. "I need you to take a set of nude photos of me."

Kevin blinked once or twice and then said "…I could probably do that for you," in a tone somewhat higher and weaker than usual.*

Alas, he discovered, as many before him, that the process of taking artist reference photos contains all the sensual thrill of a root canal. "Okay, I need photos of the feet in this pose from four different angles…right now I need the elbows at this angle, with and without the sheet draping over the forearm…okay, now the other side…let me see how those came out…okay, top of hand, bottom of hand…okay, get a torso shot, try to get from the chin to mid-thigh…okay, now from this angle…"

"This is the least erotic experience I have ever had with your breasts," he muttered, as I wrestled with the age old dilemma of what the heck you do with the things when you are attempting to cross your arms across your chest. (Imagine your arms, folded at the elbow, wrists crossed at the sternum. Now imagine you’re a D cup. You’ve basically got the choice of A) have them squeeze out to the sides, which gets you the Random Distorted Nipples Of Doom, or B) flatten the buggers under your forearms, which is ultimately the more visually appealing, but when they’re already succumbing to gravity a bit, winds up giving you cleavage clear to the elbow.)

"Yup. Now get a shot of the feet." 

And, after about forty shots of the feet:

"This would be a lot more fun if I was a foot fetishist."

"Tell me about it."

It didn’t help that the camera we were using is merciless (and that’s how I wanted it.) While Kevin has dabbled in photography in the past, he preferred to take pictures that are…well…artistic. There is nothing artistic about artist reference material. I do not want it to look pretty, I want it to look like the thing I’m photographing so that I can draw it. Every ingrown hair, every dollop of cellulite, every stretch mark** and extra pound is quite stark. No vasoline on the lens, no attractive play of shadows, no elegant lighting, just reality chewed up and spit out in jpg format. (Obviously I do a lot of heavy editing for the actual painting.) 

Never let it be said, however, that Kevin is not a trooper. He was vastly patient despite the fact that it is a VERY tedious business (and as always, I forget how obnoxious modelling is until I have to actually do it.) and did quite a good job. (I am quite difficult to photograph in many regards, and I tend to photograph quite badly. A friend of mind accuses me of being entirely too kinetic. I do know that I look a lot better in video, so he’s probably right.)

Also, I’m proud of myself. Generally when I resort to this for modelling, I wind up feeling terrible about my body afterwards. This time, it’s like–yup. Lotta bumps, lotta lumps, lotta woggy cellulite, yeah, the underside of my chin will be soft and squishy until I die, yeah, I’ve got an hourglass figure and the hour is not as early as it used to be, but y’know, screw it. My self-image is tougher than it used to be, and furthermore, corsetry hides a myriad of sins.

And before people start demanding photos, A) it’s not going to happen, B) you don’t want to see these, trust me and C) most of them are of my feet or close-ups of my hands, anyway.

And, perhaps most importantly, D) it’s a camera that burns directly to mini-DVD, the only copy of which was removed from the camera and handed directly to me. Because I’m not an idiot.

So I am referenced up and pleased. Although life being what it is, I will probably be working on projects that need to be worked on for several days before I get to any of those, but hey, at least the stuff is there when I need it.

*Maybe I shouldn’t have sprung that while we were moving tables into the local Boy Scout Hut.

**Losing fifty pounds in about six months did a lot for me, but the side-effect is that the skin over my hipbones looks like a dance floor for sidewinders.

Had a dream last night. It’s a recurring dream, no less.

It’s the old classic–back in school, late for something, can’t remember what room the class is in, etc, etc. The problem is that at some point, somewhere, it finally clicked over in my brain that I’m thirty-one years old. I have had a bachelor’s degree for over a decade. On some level, I no longer accept the premise. My self-image, for whatever reason, is rock-solid clear on the fact that I am not in school any more, that I am as old as some of my teachers were, and that we’re really past all this.

So now, I have a recurring dream that they have discovered that I failed a grade in grade school, and now I have to go back and re-take it or it negates all my transcripts and my degree will be retroactively stripped from me.* (Which grade skips erratically. Sometimes I’m in high school or junior high. Same premise, though.)

Oddly, no one can tell that I’m an adult in the dream, but I occasionally have to explain to other students that no, I’m not going on after graduation, I have graduated already, I just have to fix this one thing.

It’s the same damn late-for-class dream, it’s just that for whatever reason, there is this recurring layer of justification in it.

*Why the hell I would CARE is another question that goes unaddressed…while I have no regrets about getting my B.A. in anthropology, and various tidbits from classes get used a lot (mostly in Digger) the degree itself has been of no particular use in my career.

Okay. Back to reality. Time to paint. And write Dragonbreath Two. And paint. Mostly paint.

The sun is blazing, the leaves are glorious, and just to add the final fillip to the whole thing, a sunflower has bloomed from the spill under the birdseed feeder. I can see the bright flower head from my window. It received no care and was at one point run over by a moving truck.

That’s probably a metaphor for something, but I should be painting.

Morning After

It probably says something about the world that my first question to Kevin this morning was "Did you look at the internet?" 

"Yes…"

"There weren’t any headlines like "McCain pulls eleventh hour victory," were there?"

"Nope."

"Yay!"

North Carolina is too close to call. Still. Obama is up by a few thousand, but it’s going to go to provisional ballots and absentee and whatnot. This isn’t important to the election, obviously, but it’s important for two reasons–first of all, it means we’re now a swing state, instead of a reliable red gimme for the Republican party, which means a lot of things about demographics and future campaigns and how proud I am of my state right now.

Second of all, if anybody ever tells me, for the rest of my life, that my vote is insignificant, I can look back at this election, and tell them where to go. We are at a point where a handful of votes really will change the perception of the state and the electorate therein. Will it change the whole world? Oh, probably not. The world is big and it rolls along with fine disregard for most of us. But it’ll sure as hell change my corner of it.

More importantly–maybe most importantly–as many, many people have said far more eloquently, we now have a black president-elect.

Lots of people have been saying they never thought it would happen in their lifetime. I’m not in that camp. I always thought it would happen in my lifetime–my third grade teacher told me it would, and I wasn’t going to doubt her–but I always thought I’d be old. I thought I’d probably be one of those eighty-year-old women they show at the conventions with tears streaming down their faces. I thought that there would be interviews with the last ancient survivors who marched with Martin Luther King. I never thought for a minute that it would happen when I was thirty-one years old, and not even in my prime.

I am a bad patriot, for the most part. I tend to view it as the last refuge of a scoundrel. I am snarky and cynical and frequently bitter. "My country, right or wrong," strikes me as unnuanced at best and dangerous at worst. For all the good we do, we also do a lot of things that make me cringe and want to go ’round to other people’s countries and apologize for mine not using its company manners in public.

But I am so damn proud of us right now for doing this. We were better than I expected us to be. I can’t say my faith in my country is utterly restored–politics tends to leave scar tissue, god knows–but god, we did so good.

NPR reports that McCain just called Obama to concede.

Excuse me a moment.

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOYAAAAAHHHHH!

I could wish that North Carolina would go blue–we’re awful close, but I don’t think we’ll quite tip–but it doesn’t matter.

I love you all, have I mentioned that? (I’m drunk, have I mentioned THAT?)

Yes, we did.
Yes, we did.
Yes, we did.

Goodnight, blog.

Race being called in Ohio.

If this is true–and I barely dare hope, I’ve been screwed before–then it’s over, and the Great Pumpkin has finally come.

And Dole is out down here, so life is–possibly–hopefully–ohpleaseohplease–glorious.

Also, I’m quite drunk.

Jesus H. Christ, is he president yet!?

How about now?

I am getting a mindless scribble painting done, but that’s the extent of my ability…trying to do anything that requires major brain power is just NOT happening…

(Now?)