Whew, busy day! Well, the art challenge seems to be garnering a lot of response…we’ll see if people still enjoy participating when we get a little more technical, but I think a silly start-off is a good thing. Maybe I can alternate style vs. theme challenges, since theme is usually more general fun. We’ll see.

In other news, a very straightforward day spent painting Cerberus for a commission. He’s lookin’ groovy so far, I’m pleased. And while it kept me very busy, there is just not much more to say other than that–didn’t have any deep thoughts today to inflict upon y’all, since I was too busy trying to get broken instruments painted correctly. I mean, y’think about it–Cerberus can’t be that stupid. After a few millenia, he’s gonna notice that every time someone comes up to him they start tootling on an instrument, and he falls asleep and then Hades hits him in the noses with a rolled up newspaper. Sooner or later, the smartest of the heads is gonna start attacking anything that even remotely resembles a musical instrument, and pretty soon the ground’ll be littered with deflated bagpipes and busted mandolins. And skulls, of course. And femurs. Femurs are the easiest to paint.

Sweet Mother of Little Chickens!

Okay, I was NOT expecting the kind’ve outpouring of interest I got–I wrote that post and took a nap, fer cryin’ out loud, and I came back and there were 26 entries! Holy wombats!

You people are so awesome.

A biiiiig thanks to peganthyrus for setting up the community at and to everybody else who offered to donate codes and so forth! So! We’re gonna give this a shot! Everybody just point yourself over to that aforementioned community, and I’ll try to have your first art challenge up and running, in just a minute or two!

Everybody complains about the weather…

…but, as the truism goes, nobody does anything about it.

This actually has nothing to do with the weather, since I use my monitor as a sun-lamp and try to stay out’ve the light as much as possible. Just remember, it’s not pasty, it’s alabaster. However, today as I was wandering aimlessly around Yerf, I found myself reading a thread about how everything is often same old, same old, and found myself replying that it would be nice if there was a way to offer art challenges or whatever to encourage people to try new things.

Then the nagging little voice in the back of my brain stopped in the middle of a really vile limerick about a turkey baster and said “Hey! You! Quit whining and do something! A number of people actually read your shit, god knows why, so what’re you waiting for?!”

Weeeelll….

Herein lies the question. I know that something like 150+ people are supposedly reading this thing, and many of you are artists and aspiring artists. And also busy as sin, I’m sure. Soooo…would any of y’all be interested in a sort’ve “art challenge” once every week or two? I’m not thinking Deathless Art For The Ages, but just stuff that we wouldn’t ordinarily try–a variety, from exercises like “Do something without using any lines, just blocks of shading,” to “Do a tree sloth however you want, because nobody ever does tree sloths, and it’s time they had their moment in the sun” or “Today’s exercise will be on working with backgrounds” or “Do something Art Nouveau,” although of course, I’ll expand on each one with possible suggestions and so forth, and those are just off the top of my head. I’ll draw whatever it is too, of course–we could link to ‘em here and critique each other’s, or whatever, (at the very least, I’d try to offer some kind of critique on each one myself, given that I’m unlikely to get fifty bizillion responses) and I could post the finals over at my webpage at www.metalandmagic.com, if anyone wants some kind of tenuous web immortality. The point wouldn’t be to make Something Great, neccessarily–scribbled pencil sketches are fine, the result could be totally crappy, and I guarantee some of mine will be, but just to get us trying radically different stuff, because we might learn something that could be useful in other work.

The other alternative is that I could run it as some sort of contest, with…I dunno, prints for prizes or something…but I think it’d be more useful as a casual kinda workshop, and way less likely to get people mad at me.

So hey–if anybody’d be interested, leave a message below, and if I get enough of a response that I don’t think I’ll be wandering around listening to the non-mole crickets chirp, I’ll toss out a general thought. (Resident mole crickets are, of course, welcome to chirp all they like.) It may not get far–I know we’re all busy as sin, so if a leaden silence meets this proposal, we can let it drop into the pond of other Dead Ideas–but hey, at least this way I feel like I’m not just complaining about the weather.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Unnngghhh.

In an ego-crushing move today, as if the gods themselves had finally noticed my hubris and one of them was getting up to get a snack anyway and so decided to kick my computer on the way out, just as I put the last touch on an elaborate commission, in the middle of signing my name no less, my computer froze.

It happens. I was asking too much of it anyway, juggling files and printing and so forth. I restarted, expecting a brief check for integrity, and then normal functionality. And was instead greeted with strange happenings, and finally, that digital bugbear, the Blue Screen. And then another Blue Screen. And then it could no longer find my hard drives. And then it could no longer boot at all.

The Bluebird of Happiness departed, and the Blue Screen of Death because my companion for the next nine or ten hours, as my husband tried increasingly elaborate methods of salvaging my machine, and eventually just took the hard drive out, installed it in his machine to save my files (The important thing, thank god!) and then reinstalled Windows on mine. So I have spent much of the day, when I had planned to do some work, maybe send off some vital e-mail, and then lounge about playing games, first in a state of low-grade panic over my files, and then finally running through more wizards than a D&D marathon with a keg in the basement.

The irony is that my husband was gonna quit smoking today. I made him start again in order to get my computer functional. I love him dearly and don’t want him to die a horrid gurgling death, but finding my tech guy in fetal position going “I can’t think straight. I don’t know.” does not get the machine fixed, and half an American Spirit will get him tearing into my computer’s guts with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. This probably makes me a bad person, but I don’t care–he would’ve started again at GDC anyhow, and this way I get my files back. Later this month, perhaps, armed with copious amounts of gum, he can tackle quitting again. God willing, the computer will not pick that day to explode again.

I love the guys at Five-Star.

Well, specifically the art director who I work with–he called me up today to request some more cover art, one of which should be rather similiar to my painting “Crazing” sans alien fetus, and for the cover of a chick book. “So no alien fetus, then?” I asked. “Well, we’re still waiting on the rewrite, so if they add an alien fetus, then sure. I suppose it could happen. But until then, let’s assume it’s just a romance novel.” “Awwww…”

Darn, nobody ever wants an alien fetus. If I didn’t already have so many irons in the fire that I’m hitting myself in the head with ’em, I’d write a book with an alien fetus solely for the purpose of having one on the cover. (And then, of course, even assuming that I, Alien Fetus attained print, I would not be allowed to illustrate it, because my impression is that unless you’re doing children’s books or comics, wanting to illustrate your own story is dreadfully gauche.) Actually, the truism that it’s hard to make a living just on sci-fi/fantasy has proven true for me–a small but significant chunk ‘o fundage for me comes from doing covers, mostly for library editions, for these guys, which are as likely to be murder mysteries and romance/drama/whatever as swashbuckling fantasy. But that’s all good–they’re pleasant, they pay, and it’s a good stepping stone to stuff that might actually appear in book stores.

Having played “Longest Journey” last night, I realized to my delight that I have, indeed, forgotten most of the puzzly bits, and only vaguely recall what object to click on any other object, so it’s fun and somewhat challenging again. Rather like re-reading a good book from years past, I keep re-discovering forgotten bits, and it’s fun, and distracted me from the woeful lack of mammoths in That Other Game. (Lousy mammoth teases…)

Okay, now I’m pissed.

Yesterday, at approximately 7:30 pm, I trundled out of the car, threaded my way past ice and doggiedoo, my copy of “Syberia” clutched in my hot little hand. I installed it. And thus, at about eightish, I began to play.

At roughly 2 AM, I went to bed, slept until 10ish, did a little putzing around with various projects, walked to the store, came home, played Syberia.

It was fun. There was a lot about mammoths. I like mammoths. There’s a mystery race of people that ride mammoths on a deserted island somewhere in Siberia. Cool by me.

At right around 7 pm, not quite twenty-four hours from when I got out of the car, I talk to an NPC whom I assume will take me off to the island of mammoths. I sit through a lengthy cutscene, Coke in hand, awaiting hot click-object-on-mammoth adventure game action.

I get the end credits. Nary a mammoth in sight.

Allowing for sleep and putzing, I defeated this game in about twelve hours. And we’re not talking walkthrough-in-hand defeat, either. I draw the line at believing that I am some kind of amazing Adventure Game Guru. This was just appallingly short. I mean, I lay out thirty bucks for a game, I expect a few more hours of gameplay out of it–it’s not like the movies!

Gmmmnfrrrf. I’m gonna go reinstall “Longest Journey”–it’s been a couple of years and hopefully I’ve forgotten most of the puzzles. My adventure game fix hasn’t been anything like satisfied…I need some more clicking.

Playing “Syberia.” It’s an adventure game. I am back in the wonderful world of applying objects to other objects and talking to NPCs about a gloriously predetermined range of topics. While the adventure game has passed it’s heyday, and I will probably never again feel the great love that Hero’s Quest and Monkey Island awoke beneath my sternum, I do get occasional flashbacks. “The Longest Journey” made me happy for at least a week and a half. On t’other hand, despite years and Zen, I still haven’t forgiven the last Monkey Island for not having mouse support, and thus being completely unplayable. What the hell? I mean, what the hell?! No mouse support? What were they THINKING?!

Right. I am accomplishing nothing this weekend, the few minor touchups I needed to do are languishing untouched…there is only “Ask NPC about Automaton.” Ah, glory.

Okay, I lied–I did accomplish this. But since it only took me about half an hour, and his little fangs are a bit lopsided, I feel like it doesn’t count.
Sabertoothed Toad

It’s done.

At long last.

Actually, it was done at about 1 AM last night, but my brain still hasn’t wrapped around it.

I speak, of course, of the “Monsters Under The Bed” story arc of my comic “Irrational Fears” which spanned approximately six months of my life–waaaay longer than I had planned to devote to any one story. I dunno. I feel sort’ve drained now–working on this thing has been part of my life for so long that I can’t comprehend the fact it’s done, and I can move on to other fears and other comics. It was a hard story to keep up with, mostly because I think I knew what was going to happen for too long, and so the enthusiasm got blunted. But in the end, I’m proud of it. I still don’t know where the balance should be struck between knowing what should happen (and thus being able to plan ahead–given the nature of webcomics, I have to keep leaving myself loose ends. If a gun’s gonna get fired on page thirty, I need to plant it in the desk on page two, after all–once a page has flown into the public view, there isn’t really a mechanism for saying “Whoops! I needed to do something else!”) and not knowing what happens so that I’m still excited to find out. This story went on so long, and I knew by the end of the first month what would happen, so I lost some of that hectic enthusiasm, which I think was detrimental to the speed of getting them out, if not the overall quality.

On t’other hand, I’m just one lowly piranha trying to skeletonize a cow all by myself, so given my workload, it’s not like I could turn them out that much faster and still have time for personal art.

Annnnnyway. Now that this story’s done, I had planned to get some Gothbats done and figure out what Bob and Squeak do with their severed dinosaur brain–so of course, as I was trying to sleep last night, half of a story best titled “Chupacabra In Wonderland” started oozing through my brain, probably because I saw this 80’s live-action version of Alice in Wonderland when I was ten and it scared the snot outta me. Chu vs. the Jabberwock might be kinda fun…but no! I have vowed to at least get that brain in a jar before I start on more Irrational Fears! And anyway, I wanted to do some chupacabra merchandise–people keep asking me for posters and for that “I Heart Goats” shirt, although I still maintain that people are gonna look at you seriously weird if you’re wandering around wearing that. Maybe with a little Chu logo…

So many ideas…so little time.

The Last Monsters Under The Bed

I like poetry.

I like poetry pretty much the way I like music, in a sporadic, shot-gun method, where the individual poets may bear no relation to one another whatsoever beyond the fact that it appeals to me on some level. I don’t go looking for poems, I don’t read them often, and by the same token, I don’t research music, I buy it rarely, and I usually only throw it on when I’m working and want something to occupy the linguistic part of my brain while the rest of me gets around to the important nonverbal part of painting. Every now and then, however, roughly once a year, probably in response to changes in temperature or the alignment of distant wombats, I get this poetic twitch, and go wandering around the internet or the used book store, looking for a poem and a poet. And then I find one, and I am happy again.

A bunch of random poems and links to more poems. I’m just in one of those moods.