Shameful Confession #261

I love Skelanimals.

I know, I know, they sell them at Hot Topic, it’s like Hello Kitty for goths, it is a cold and calculated marketing scheme designed seize my inner pre-teen girl by the wallet and shake until I rain quarters.

It works.

I’m not well.

They’re selling Skelanimals stuff at Target for Christmas. I CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO RESIST THIS.

There are magnets on my new car now. I am wearing pink fingerless gloves with little skeletal bats on them as I type this. There is a Skull Owl on my keychain, which is actually a Mayan messenger of the terrible lords of the dark underworld of Xilbalba, although technically I think his name is Oliver.


I had a bunch of people ask about the platypus. And all the e-mails arrived overnight, and most of them were through the contact form and some of them weren’t, so I’m just gonna e-bay him, because I can’t swear between timezones and anything else who asked first.

(Good thing I got that contact form fixed…THANK YOU, Fiawol!)


Vivid Platypus Auction

Brightly colored, stylized animals seems to be my theme lately…

Vivid Otter

This one taxed my ingenuity, and the result makes me look like a much better gradient painter than I really am. I can do a decent gradient at about the size of the Platypus, which is maybe half this big, (the small size allows me to work the ink while still wet, so I could slather red into the tail before the Indian Yellow was quite dry, and then smooth out the color with colored pencils) or I can go into pure megascribble mode, which has its own advantages, but gives a definite texture.

For the flat, pale yellow I kept seeing in my head for the otter, though, none of my usual methods were working. I shot myself in the foot on the first take by doing it much too large, and then I screwed up big time with the ink color on the second one. So for the third, I sat down and went "Why am I killing myself here when I’m printing the sketch out ANYWAY?" and printed the base yellow-to-orange out onto the paper as well as the extremely pale guidelines for the sketch. That saved me an infinite amount of grief on the coloration and let me just work the gradient with layers of Prismacolor and introduce pinks and peach and darker reds into the colors.

(It occurs to me that I’m making this sound rather more painless than it was, since if you’re using an inkjet printer as another painting tool, I swear it NEVER comes out right on the first try. Over the years, I’ve probably put a good thousand hours–and probably three or four thousand dollars!–into learning to make this one brand of printer do what I want them to, and even so, there’s four or five prints of the otter sketch with bits cut off or placed wrongly on the page or the wrong color littering the studio this morning. Still, if you’re comfortable with your printer–and using waterproof ink!–this is definitely a method worth trying.*)

*As a caveat, I would not recommend heavy-duty experimentation with any printer that you do not own. The ink I have wasted is measured in gallons by now, we could wallpaper a cathedral with misprints, and I know I killed at least one cheap Epson back in the day trying to make it do stuff it was not happy doing.

Sometimes I feel like my artistic career is a spiral. I don’t stay on the same thing for long, but I figure out a little more each time, and I get back to it eventually.

At least, I hope that’s true, because otherwise my art career looks like the flight of a deranged fruit-fly, which is less emotionally satisfying.

Vivid Platypus!

(God, I wish I could figure out a way to mass produce earrings or necklaces of some of these designs…)

In other happy news, I glanced out the window, saw a chickadee, looked away, paused, went "That didn’t look quite right somehow…" dug out the binoculars, and discovered that in fact the "chickadee" was none other than a Least Flycatcher. I have probably seen them before–there were a lot of flycatchers in Tennessee–but the Empidonax are notoriously hard to tell apart, and the only reason I’m fairly confident in its status as a Least is because they’re one of only two common in this neck of the woods, and the Willow is a little greener and more pale in the breast and likes the canopy instead of the undergrowth where mine was hanging out. So I’ll finally mark that one off the lifelist, and certainly a first for the yard list.

Contact Form Failure

Hey, Gang, if you tried to use the contact form on Red Wombat in the last month, it may not have gone through. The issue’s been fixed, but there’s a gap, and we have no way of retrieving it.

So! If you tried to use the contact form, please, resend! It wasn’t because I didn’t love you, I swear! I’m very sorry!

Whole Lotta…Fetuses?

So I had drawn this fetus, and I sat and stared at it and tried to figure out what to do with it, and god help me, it wanted to be a Christmas ornament.

And then I asked Kevin, who I think sort of wonders how he came to a point in his life where "Do you think I should make this fetus into a Christmas ornament?" is normal conversation.*

"The problem," I said, "is that the fetus as imagery has been completely comandeered by pro-lifers. You see a fetus, it’s on some idiotic billboard, or it’s been chopped up for protest signs."


"They’ve completely co-opted fetal imagery, and I want no more of it!"



He put his head in his hands. "So I’m going to come home, and you’ll be wearing a jacket with "FETUS" written on the back in duct tape, and when I say something, you’re gonna say, "It’s okay, I’m taking it back"?"

I applauded this Clerks 2 reference and drew a couple more vaguely fetal things, because for some reason, I like drawing fetuses, despite the fact that I absolutely positively do not want one of my own under any circumstances whatsoever. Then again, I kinda like drawing dinosaurs, and I don’t want one of those either, so I don’t think it actually means anything…

Fetal Christmas Ornament
Fetal Faun ACEO
Fetal Faun ACEO 2
Fetal Faun Painting

As is sadly often the case, the little thumbnails worked much better than the painting for me, so I’ll wind up framing them at ACEO size, I suspect–those I really like. The painting came out okay, but it loses something in translation. Grrrrr. It’s just…not…grrr. I don’t know. Maybe these little guys just don’t want to be in color…

*Our buddy Dave Stein had the best response to that. "Welcome to my world! Except in my house, it’s "Is his penis thick enough?" and I say "Thick enough for WHAT?"

How We Amuse Ourselves Around Here

It’s cold out, so Kevin got the fireplace going, which involved a lot of fooling around with the thing (it’s a gas fireplace, and it wasn’t lighting or something arcane like that. I am still a little unsure of the gas fireplace concept, but I have to admit, it beats chopping wood.)

With it finally running, Kevin stood proudly before it and said "Og make fire!"

"Og manly," I conceded, wandering through with my hot-cider-and-butterscotch-schnapps.. "But can Og kill mammoth?"

"…only if mammoth no step on Og."

Knowing Og Kevin as I do, I put a hand on his shoulder and gazed deep into his eyes. "Will Og be bringing mammoth home, naming mammoth, and attempting to rehabilitate mammoth?"

He hung his head. "Welllll….only if not clean kill…."

"Would not have Og any other way."

Kevin pointed out last night that it’s only a month and some change to Midwest Furfest. Apparently this flipped some weird inspiration switch in my head, because until about 2 AM, I was turning on the light every few minutes and scribbling thumbnail sketches.  This is MUCH BETTER than "Oh god, I have no idea what to paint, oh god" but harder on both our sleep schedules. He takes this all with remarkably good humor, which I appreciate. Anybody who lives with an artist has to adapt to the fact that inspiration hits when it hits, or else…well, I don’t know what the other option is*, but anyway, he’s quite pleasant about it, and doesn’t even have the excuse of artist parents to have informed one’s upbringing.

So I have sketches. This is good. A couple of them are even good this morning, and a couple more will become perfectly acceptable when the deadline is starting to loom.

*Anyone who wishes to live with me adapts, anyway, because the alternative would be like trying to turn a stampede of water oxen with paintbrushes, and would simply result in trampling, not out of malice but because The Herd Is Going This Way Now And Goodness I Had No Idea Your Bones Were So Fragile I Promise I Will Call An Ambulance WhenThe Sketch Is Finished. Presumably there’s a non-adaption option, but I’ve never witnessed it, since nobody who couldn’t adapt to life with an artist would be fool enough to get mixed up with me. Kevin, to his infinite credit, goes the extra mile and usually carries extra pencils and paper on his person in case I need to get an idea down Right This Minute and there are no napkins.**

**He should probably just carry around a drawing of echidna penises, too, since I always wind up drawing that at parties.

God, I need to not read discussions of parenting on the internet.

It’s not something I seek out. Ever. Under any circumstances. I got there completely accidentally–I was roaming blogs, reading about abortion and feminism and fashion week, which are all things I understand and have opinions on. Well, except fashion. I don’t actually understand fashion. I have, through brutal trial and error, more or less managed to figure out what looks good on me, sometimes. (Cowl necks, deep cleavage, and nothing tight around the throat. The fashion world is not kind to short-necked, short-waisted hourglass women…)

Which is neither here nor there.

And then I accidentally clicked into a discussion of spanking bans, which I read with vague astonishment, consisting as it did of people who thought it was a horrible abuse and people who thought it was totally normal and people who took the moderate position that there’s a vast difference between a serious beating and a swat on the butt and all things are a matter of individual circumstance and people hating on the anti-child contingent, who hadn’t actually put on an appearance, but presumably were somewhere in a dark basement putting out pro-child-cannibalism propaganda on an ancient hand-cranked mimeograph and people who came out okay and people who came out not at all okay and people who cannot even see okay from where they are sitting, for reasons that one sneakingly suspects have very little to do with spanking or its lack.

Some people are so far over the edge that you could see the curvature of the earth reflected in their eyes.

The problem is that when I walk into this sort of thing, I Cannot Look Away, but I start to feel like I’ve wandered into some horrible internet house of mirrors, and if I grab the wrong doorknob, it’ll pitch me headlong into a discussion of breastfeeding and childhood anti-vaxxers and I’ll never get out and my boyfriend will find me in the morning, crouched under the desk, gibbering, with a gnawed stump where my mouse hand used to be and "YOG-SOTHOTH USES COMMERCIAL FORMULA" scrawled on the wall in my own blood.

(Seriously, something about breastfeeding seems to bring out the serious crazy, and I’ve never figured out why, nor wished to delve into the subject deeply enough to find out. I’m sure it’s a good idea if you can do it, undoubtedly there are health benefits, but then you get people screaming that if you don’t breastfeed until college, you’re an unfit parent, and that using formula is equivalent to child abuse, and you find yourself staring into space wondering idily how the species manages to reproduce at all and whether people had this problem in the days with mammoths.)

Actually, I wonder about the mammoth thing a lot. The species went on for thousands of years with everybody just going on as best they could–humans, not mammoths, although I suppose the mammoths were also probably going along as best they could, mammoths seem like a creature with a work ethic–and we seem to have done okay. I mean, we died a lot younger, but I don’t think that had much to do with spanking, and a lot more to do with tooth decay and getting stepped on by mammoths. It seems to me that no matter how you raise people–within certain ranges, obviously–people just come out like people. The history of the world is people coming out like people. Even in cultures where people do Very Very Weird Things by our standards, they come out astonishingly people-like, which either means that humans can get used to anything or that we’re all going to be screwed up by SOMETHING, and we should just work on avoiding the big things like wars and sex slavery and lead poisoning.

I don’t know, maybe if we were all breastfeeding and nobody got spanked and nobody was fed refined sugar before they were eighty, we’d be able to stop global warming telepathically and all have pet narwhals. I would dig a pet narwhal, although I’m not sure if they can be litter-box trained.

Kevin’s theory is that parenting is one of those things where people doing it have to feel like they’re doing it RIGHT, because nobody wants to feel like they’re doing it WRONG. So if I’m RIGHT and you’re doing it differently, you must be doing it WRONG, and I must defend my RIGHTness loudly and vigorously and occasionally irrationally, because A) children are involved, won’t somebody think of the children, etc and B) probably a majority of parents, at various points, are secretly convinced that they have no idea what they’re doing and some of us don’t want to admit that, and thus are stridently RIGHT. (And of course, if you are WRONG, then you are an unfit parent, and if you don’t recognize that you are WRONG, you must be told it, loudly, and if possible compared to Hitler.) Kevin may well be correct. This is one I don’t intend to find out on my own. 

Sigh. I don’t know.

We are all entitled to our own traumas and lunacies, we are none of us well-equipped to judge one another’s pain, nobody gets out of life alive, and I genuinely believe that most of us in life are doing what we can with what we’ve got. Nevertheless, when I see discussions populated by people who seem to make a hobby out of honing their personal miseries, I still occasionally get the urge to grab the world by the shoulders, shake vigorously, and scream "FOR THE LOVE OF BUNNIES, GET OVER IT!" 

Probably this makes me a bad person, and undoubtedly it would make me an unfit parent, so it’s good that I stick to cats, whose response to most trauma is "I meant to do that, and it looked cool. Now feed me, bitch."