SparkleKevin!

This may require some explanation.

So Kevin does this…schtick at cons.

He goes up to an artist friend of ours (one who will appreciate it, generally) and says, in a nasal fanboy voice, “So, like, um, will you draw my character? He’s a sparkledog, right? And he shoots lasers out of his eyes! And he has fluorescent hindquarters, so if you could make them glow? And the lasers should glow too! And I don’t have any money, but I’ll tell everybody you drew the badge…”

By this point, artist in question has usually either begun giggling or weeping quietly into their hands, depending on how long a con it’s been. Frequently they suggest additions—“And I have to leave in an hour, so can you do it right now?”

The absolute winner, hands down, however, has been Skulldog, who said “I have glow-in-the-dark paint with me! I CAN DO THAT!” We are afeared.

At this last con, Tabbiewolf, having heard this schtick, actually took him up on it, and did a very small doodle, using a lot of fluorescent marker. I do not think I have seen Kevin so delighted in a long time.

Well, once the character design had been thus thrashed out, I could hardly allow the matter to rest…I mean, if he’s got a character, he needs a badge, right? RIGHT?

Clearly the greatest thing I have ever painted.

I shall make him wear it at least once. Also, eye lasers are hard.

AC2011

So another Anthrocon come and gone, and it was a pretty good one for me.

The days when you’d make expenses in the first three hours are, alas, gone with the Great Recession, but I did better than last year. Table sales for me were so-so, but the art show was great (which was the direct opposite of most of the people I talked to, who did okay at the table and badly in the art show.) A lot of that was because of one big piece that found a buyer, who told me, quite touchingly, that it reminded him of his childhood. I was delighted that he was able to take it home. (Me, I was just delighted to win this piece in the auction. I also got to take home one of Tyrrlin’s awesome instrument-birds, and a couple of pieces by an artist I really admire whose handle I cannot for the life of me spell.)

Meanwhile, I had a great time—got to go to the Aviary with Kevin, Diana, and Heather, where their friend Julia works, and we got to pet a penguin! (They are very soft under the chin. Who knew?) It nibbled on Kevin and nearly crapped on his shoes. Typical. I also learned that penguins are very horny little animals, and that video that went around of the penguin being tickled? Yeah, um. Let’s just say that the penguin in question was undoubtedly enjoying it, but probably not in the way that the legions of viewers quite thought. We live and learn. They had some great bird shows, too, and trainers who worked well in adversity when a couple of their stars started misbehaving. (I think we went through on the day that many of the birds got stage-jitters. Turns out that getting a Marshall eagle out of a tree is quite a job.)

Great con in general for hanging out—got to see Miss Monster, Miss Monster’s Hot Friend (who has a name, but who will forever be emblazoned in my mind as such) Laura and JT, Sue and Phil, the Sofawolf Crew, The Many Faces of Blotch, Dave & Diana, the cadre of artists we know and love, and many more. Spent a fun evening hanging with artists and laughing uproariously, met a really fascinating woman who was a crow behavioralist who told us all kinds of amazing and illusion-shredding things about crows.

Great to see the fans, as always, one of whom gave me a totally rockin’ Digger plushie that has gone on my bookcase. The final volume of Digger debuted at this con—it’ll be online soon, expect announcements. (Actually, I suspect that may have accounted for some of the reduced table sales on my end—even the most devoted fan will likely consider a full set of Digger to be more than enough cash spent on one artist at one time. I do not begrudge this in the slightest.) Did not get that many commissions, and it occurred to me finally that I don’t think anybody KNEW I was taking them, so we’ll fix the sign for next time.

Thinking of offering badge commissions ahead of time in the future, but I’m not sure what to charge. They’d be digital because I can’t hand-letter to save my life. I kinda like the badge format—it’s so neat and compact and uncomplicated, but I’m never happy doing them on the spot because of the lettering and the poor paper and all that. Also tempted to try a couple of generic species badges—fox, otter, chicken, etc—and see if those sell. (This grew out of the idea to make a “Designated Sherpa” badge because Kevin is totally my sherpa, and it occurred to me that other artists have people to carry their heavy objects, and something like “Sherpa” or “Minion” might sell, except that “Sherpa” is obviously a yak, and if there are any yak-furries out there, I would like to meet them.

Mind you, I still want to do the yak badge…

Annnnyway. AC left me full of great ideas and completely devoid of the energy to do them, but it was wonderful to see everyone! And Kevin gets back from his trip to Seattle tomorrow morning and I miss him and will be glad he’s home.

 

There and Back Again

We return from DucKon! That gives us two days to do laundry and run prints, and then we hop in the car to Pittsburgh for Anthrocon, and then when we get back, Kevin gets about six hours of sleep and gets on a plane to Seattle, where he has a job interview (local office, but corporate’s in Washington.) So we are having an Exciting Couple Weeks.

DucKon was a nice little con. I kept telling people that if it was local, I’d totally come back—alas, with economy and all, not really cost-efficient to do it otherwise, but it was a fun little con, nice people, saw some long-time fans I don’t get to see too often, etc. There was a great piece of fan art which was a stained glass version of one of the winged phalloi—it was really marvelous, and I was so pleased to hear it won best in show—totally deserved it, wish I’d made enough money to buy the original! (And the creator gave me a decal version, AND a decal of Danny Dragonbreath—Danny goes on the car, but I think it’ll have to be a stoffice window overlooking the woods for the phalloi…*grin*)

Got to hang with Laura Garbedian and her booth buddy, JT, got to have sushi with Miss Monster, and Tamora Pierce has heard of Digger! And bought two of my books! And is a faithful reader of the Devil’s Panties, and we all got on like a house afire when we explained we were the people from the strip club. I died a little of squee. I mean…Tamora Pierce! EEEEE!

Ahem. Dignity. I has it.

Also, I swiped one of Kevin’s Utilikilts. Doesn’t fit him anymore, but fits me perfectly. I do not know where this article of clothing has been all my life. I may have to buy another one. Dude. The pockets!

Garden’s a little dry in my absence, but most of the plants are fine. A few by the pond are frying, and just plain need moving—too well drained and too sunny. On the other hand, I may finally have a spot that will grow coreopsis. I was thrilled that one of the con-goers ID’d most of the plants in the Prairie in a Teacup painting—the only ones she missed grow a little farther south than Zone 5. (She worked at a nursery.)

I was delighted to find that the bee balm was still flowering, and even more spectacular than when I left. Also, the American beautyberry is just about to flower. I hope it’ll last until I get back! Watered the back, will probably water the front before I go, since it’s looking like a week or two of nuthin’. We could sure use some rain…maybe one of these thunderstorms will finally dump.

Caught a spicebush swallowtail laying eggs on the spicebush potted on the deck. I was very happy. I have been growing that spicebush for YEARS in hopes of that happening, and finally! Woohoo! The spice must flow!

Now back to printing…

Major Art Dump

Spent a good chunk of yesterday transferring files from my virtual machine to my shiny new…err…non-virtual machine. Along the way I found a couple of things that either never got posted or which I’d completely forgotten about, which is almost as good! (You ever do a painting that  you have absolutely no memory of having done? Like, your name is on it and sure, that’s your signature, but you don’t remember having done it or that it existed at all?)

Anyway!

I actually just did this one, trying to work the kinks out of the scratchboard tool so that it would (*@#*&(*@!! behave....

Did this one for my buddy Mur’s April Fool’s joke last year…

The best bit was that she got Lore Sjoberg to do jacket quotes. "This is a...book."

She said that Larry looked like an earthworm. I sent her an extreme close-up of a tapeworm. She retracted the statement and told me to never, ever, ever do that again.

 

Random doodle of a pigeon with goggles for every occasion.
This was my contribution to the 10th anniversary of Midwest Furfest, which was used on the T-shirt designs.
Card for "Black Sheep" a Reinier Knizia game from Final Flight. I think I can probably post this, it's been out for like four years now.
Pig card from "Black Sheep."
White Sheep card from "Black Sheep."
I built a little shrine to St. Frizzle, but was never happy enough with it to finish.
Had an idea...lord, must be five years ago now...for a comic with a squirrel druid. It got sidetracked by a parasitic wasp that laid eggs in people's nightmares and an insane antlered doe, but I remain hopeful that someday something will gel out of all that. Meanwhile, I did a bunch of doodles....
My agent tells me that the saga of Walrus and Radish may have to wait until I am sufficiently famous that editors are willing to take some seriously weird chances on a possibly delusional walrus. I cannot say that she is wrong. I am not sure if that kind of fame is in my future.

I am afeared.

So I got this new computer.

It is a Mac, as I have finally been persuaded that, in the last decade, Apples have advanced to a point where they are capable of running Painter at a speed that does not greatly resemble a dead frog in molasses. I would always have been a Mac person, because I have NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING and they seem to be geared to that kind of idiot-proofing, at least comparatively, but I had to be an illustrator too, and that was simply not doable on Macs for many years, all bullshit about Macs being the premier graphics platform notwithstanding.

But now I have a Mac, owing the confluence of two factors—A) a need to rack up some serious business expenses to compensate for a big-ass lump sum book payment, and B) my old PC grinding slowly to a halt. (It was state of the art in 2007, goddamnit!) So Kevin put together the Ursula-does-not-want-to-buy-a-computer-for-a-long-time computer for me, and because it is a Mac, if it breaks horribly, I have someplace to take it.*

It is big. It was very expensive. Numbers were involved that made me break into a cold sweat, even with a wonderful friend who works at an Apple Store and got me the big uber-discount. I mean, this cost more than my first car. (Okay, my first car wasn’t anything to write home about, but it’s the principle!)

Kevin took it out of the box and started doing esoteric things to it. Apparently all of my computers can now talk to each other, which he thinks is really neat, and which fills me with a deep suspicion that the machines will be plotting against me when my back is turned. The word “sync” has been throw around a lot. I think “propagate” and “migrate” might have been in there, too.

It’s very fast. And shiny. And the keyboard is one of those obnoxious little chrome jobbies that scream “LOOK AT YOU, LIVING IN THE FUTURE!” and it’s just so damn shiny and efficient and revolting that I want to eat Doritos over it and bring it down to my level. And also control is not command and command is not control and it takes me ten tries to copy and paste anything and now I am bitter.

The problem—and I know this sounds stupid, but some of you will undoubtedly understand—is that my computer desktop is…well…home. In the days when I was moving every ten minutes and fighting off a nervous breakdown and taking anti-depressants and couldn’t eat and couldn’t sleep and was surviving mostly on stubbornness and the fact I still had deadlines, what settled me the most was getting my computer set up, because that was the only familiar setting I had left.

To make matters worse, I now have a new version of both Photoshop AND Painter, rendering my usual workflow problematic at best. (Painter 7 to Painter 11, bit of a switch. Photoshop is slightly less frightful, but still.) Kevin is doing this thing whereby I can apparently make my old computer magically appear inside my new computer as a virtual image dealie, but I do not place a great deal of confidence in this working, and anyway none of that matters because what the hell did they do to my scratchboard tool?!

Kevin, to his eternal credit, eventually realized that this was a traumatic experience for me, and sent me out to get gin. When I came back, he had changed my desktop to the chibi Ganesh that I have on my laptop, and I felt better. Soon I will have gin, and then I will feel better yet.

Meanwhile, have some art.

8 x 10 mixed media

I recall people talking about sphinxes in the comments…anyway. This is honestly the sort of human face I feel most comfortable painting, possibly because the first artist I really really really wanted to be when I grew up was Susan Seddon Boulet, much to the eventual detriment of my ability to draw noses.

Anyway! 8 x 10, mixed media, lots of clear gesso and watercolor pencil and whatnot. Prints available, original for sale or will go to cons, you guys know the drill by now.

And now, to try and locate my fonts…

 

*This became really really important after my divorce, because I kinda married my tech support. At one point, Carlota called up another dear friend and said “YOU are going to make sure that Ursula never calls her ex-husband for tech support again!” To his infinite and eternal credit, he did so, until I got in a relationship with another tech guy. I hope to grow old and die with him, of course, but just in case, it’s nice to have Apple Care.

Site Update!

Hi gang, Kevin here. I know I don’t post here often (and, I admit, Ursula doesn’t often enough, but I digress…)

I’ve made an update to the site today, namely a new FAQ Page! It’s a lot prettier and easier to update, and I hope you like it.

Also, Ursula and I are preparing for DucKon 2011, where she will be Artist GoH, and our annual trip to Pittsburgh for AnthroCon! We are, as always, excited to hang out with friends and fans at both conventions, and hope to see you there.

Art and Sad Beagles

6 x 12 mixed media on print on hotpress watercolor paper sealed to board

Careful crossbreeding between the Flemish Giant rabbit and a species of pygmy reindeer eventually produced the Lapp Giant, a formidably antlered breed of jackalope sturdy enough to be used as a pack animal.

Still fooling around with technique and all. Original for sale or will go to con, drop a note to inquire, and prints available.

8 x 8 mixed media on hotpress watercolor print sealed to board

Cute pensive manticore is pensive! And cute!

Scanner did not do justice to this one…not sure if photos will help much either. Damn you, clear gesso! *shakes tiny fist* But there’s nothing else quite like it…anyway, original for sale, prints available, will go to con if not sold before then.

Meanwhile, in addition to art, we had to take Gir into the vet, as he suddenly came down with a serious limp and was The Saddest Beagle In The World.  (Then he got in the car with the window down and was The Happiest Beagle In The World, except for bits when he remembered that his foot hurt and was Sad again.) An X-ray and three hundred dollars later, we have a beagle with a day-glo orange cast, as he somehow dislocated his toe last night, and a great many medications, because his allergies and weird yeast problems means that he will probably get a horrible skin condition under the cast, so he now he’s on anti-fungals, which is good anyway because he’s got Yet Another yeast infection in the giant floppy ears.

Awful, awful dogs, beagles. I mean, I love Gir, but I would never, ever, EVER get a beagle willingly. Seriously, you held a gun to my head and handed me an adorable wiggly beagle puppy, I would hand it back and tell you to go ahead and pull the trigger. Never. Again.

Three Tails

8 x 8 mixed media on print sealed to board

So this was the second run at this particular painting.

The first was looking great, coming out a lot like the Black Jackalope and then I tried to fix a particular bit,  overworked the paper, and tore it off in a great soggy strip, an act which makes the art gods weep or point and laugh, depending on their particular bent. (I have never quite figured out the art gods—Our Lady of Photoshop is the only one I have any notion of, but I assume there’s a great many of them somewhere…probably Our Lady of Grackles is also involved, but maybe that’s just me.)

After this grim experience, I started over again—the sketch appealed to me too much—and then I got this far and the one art voice that actually knows what it’s taking about rose up from the back of my skull and said “Stop. Now.” So I did, immediately, because if I have learned anything about art, it is that a surprisingly large percentage of it is knowing when to stop screwing with something.

Anyway, 8 x 8, watercolor pencil and clear gesso on top of print on hot-press watercolor paper sealed to board.*  Original is for sale or will go to con, prints are available!

 

*I am always amazed how medium grows organically into a complicated morass of stuff that gets harder and harder to explain to people…