So I wanted to try my hand at putting together a portfolio, particularly now that I seem to be able to generate black and white art without the sort of effort normally associated with sawing off a limb. The problem, as always, is too many ideas–and once I settle on one, too many more ideas!

I was thinking an “Amazon Amazons” kinda theme (I know, it’s so obvious…) something in a mild cheesecake mode–nudity, but nothing overtly sexual. I gots no problems with nudes, but I’d feel a bit weird drawing Hot Tree Sloth on Feathered Serpent Action. (No, no, don’t try to envision it.) A mix of black and white pieces and color–say, four color, and four to six black and white. Sounds like a plan. T’only problem, of course, is what to put in! I spent five minutes with my “Wildlife of the Latin American Rainforest” book, and I’ve already got enough species to get me through “Amazon Amazons vol 3” and that doesn’t even include the birds. (And you gotta include the birds, right?) I mean, margays and ocelots and jaguars and jaguarundis and bush dogs and capybaras and sloths and multiple anteater species and tapirs and Andean spectacled bears and little brocket deer and a zillion kinds of monkeys and tree sloths and river otters and kinkajous and tayras and all the bats…well, you see the embarassment of riches. Brazilian porcupines, for god’s sake! They’re adorable!

The mind boggles. Attempting to pull myself together, I figure that the color pieces have to be Relatively Charismatic Mammals (since I figure I’ll have the color ones available seperately) and I can get a little more wild with the black and whites. So four Charismatic Mammals outta that…well, jaguars, obviously, and feathered serpents are pretty rare, so that’d be cool and…well, that’s enough to start. All of which makes me think “Gee, it’s so hard to be an artist. My big struggle today was decided which seriously cool animal to paint. Life is SO hard.”

Actually my big struggle today was avoiding the landmines of dog turds that some idiot keeping a Big Dog in an apartment has been leaving all over the back yard, which are now buried in snow, right until your unsuspecting boot breaks the fragile white skin over them and you’re tread deep in frozen canine poo. But I mean, c’mon, if that’s the worst thing that happens to me this week, I got nothin’ to whine about at all.

Oh, and did this yesterday, still playing with this style because it’s so dang fun to do.
Bamboo Thicket

Ursula is an unhappy little squid today.

It appears that some unscrupulous individual–possibly with a skin condition–has acquired my debit card information, and ran up nearly two hundred bucks worth of debt on my account on–this is the peculiar bit–skin care products.

Fortunately–and the reason that I am merely a somewhat pissed off squid and not a frothing-at-the-mouth, killing-people-in-a-homicidal-fury squid–the nice people over at Wells Fargo said “WTF? This doesn’t look like something this cardholder does,” fraud protection kicked in, and they sent me a note saying “Whazzup wi’ dat?” Since I had no idea where these places were that I’d been supposedly buying from–she had to call them and ask what they sold–we quickly figured out that I’d been defrauded, cancelled the card, and they’re mailing me the neccessary claim forms to get my money back. Also fortunately, I had enough money in savings to make up the balance on the rent (and quick checking indicates that they did not, for example, drain my accounts dry.) Otherwise this would be a very bad day indeed.

Thank god for fraud prevention and what is presumably their tracking software–while I don’t like the fact the bank keeps track of my preferences and probably sells this information for all I know, I am very glad today that they did. Bless your privacy invadin’ little hearts, Wells-Fargo!

What miffs me most is–skin care products? C’mon. If someone had charged car repairs or food or medication or something, I would still be mad, but I would at least go “Yeah, well, I see why they did it.” Running up two hundred bucks in hand lotion, however, makes Ursula feel all mean and vindictive. I mean, it’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things, but sheesh! They better have lupus or leprosy or something, damnit.

My brain has officially melted.

I have hit some kind’ve art groove with this black and white stuff–a combination of delight at a new technique and what I am starting to suspect is another manifestation of my rare Creative PMS. I wish I could tap that stuff reliably, instead of as a potluck somewhere between Bitchy, Weepy, and Generally Maudlin. The end result is that all I’ve done all weekend is scribble like a psycho. I feel like I’m surfing some kind of hormonal art wave, and in about five minutes, it’s going to dash me onto sharp pointy rocks, bruised, battered, and artistically drained, possibly with a jellyfish on my head.

On the bright side, now when I get clients asking about black and white work, I don’t have to go “Well, I mostly work in color…” My phobia of monochrome hath ended! However, I still can’t get over how fast the black and white stuff goes, particularly since I’m not inking an existing line drawing, but just sort’ve mega-scribbling–these start with blobs and wireframes and get refined from there. I wish there was some way to achieve the same thing with real media–altering India ink and white out, maybe–but I’m still half convinced the paper would disintegrate. Anybody know anything about white ink? Does it cover well, or no?

Anyway, in case anyone wants to see these spasms of a crazed brain–all anthro stuff so far–here we have ’em. They’ve got a sort’ve woodcut look that I’m diggin’, although I have no idea whether it’ll sell, and being an art mercenary, that’s never too far from my mind. *grin*

Raj and Rajah
Zen Badger
Koala Sentry (colored)

On the snowy back step of my apartment at the moment, there are two things. One is a rather large pile of dog turds.

The other, for reasons I can’t even begin to guess, is a scattering of magnetic poetry flung free-form across the concrete, snow, and dog turds. It would be lovely if they formed some kind of sweeping lyrical statement, but in fact it’s just nonsensical, although I confess, I wasn’t getting too close to the pile to see if there were any poetic gems hidden therein.

Yeah.

In other news, I’ve been playing around with black and white lineart in Painter, following a random seizing of inspiration yesterday on a game illo, which came out way better than it had a right to. Have produced a couple of vaguely interesting things. I’m struck more than anything else by how fast and easy this sort of thing is–I use only two colors, black and white, and the scratchboard tool, and if something’s not quite right, I just scribble it out and try again. It’s the sort of thing that can only be done digitally, since paper would eventually dissolve under such abuse, but it’s kinda neat. I’ll have to try some soft color washes to go with ’em later, but since I never do black and white illos, I’m trying to do some to prove to myself that hey! It’s not that hard! I don’t need color as my crutch, damnit!

The Caterpillar and the Hookah (Better known as “Dave’s not heeere, man…”
Body Piercing This is at DeviantART, and is also rather disturbing, so be warned. Nipples AND a crappy interface! Aiii!

Evolutionary Ingrates

I love furries. Really, I do. I like animal people, I like drawing animal people, and I cherish the fact that there’s a huge fandom who appreciates and supports that sort’ve thing. Most of ’em are great people, geeks after my own heart, and I love ’em dearly.

Every now and then, I also get an overwhelming urge to smack some of ’em upside the head screaming incoherent obscenities.

Relatively Coherent Obscenities

Went to the used bookstore and picked up a few things on the recommended list–“If A Lion Could Talk,” “The Island of the Colorblind,” and “The Day The Universe Changed.” I already plowed through “Island” which was really interesting, even if I don’t get quite so enthusiastic about cycads as the author. (I mean, I like a good cycad as much as the next person, but…err…right.) Now I’m heading into the one about lions, which starts out promising, discussing the tendency towards anthromorphism as blinding us to the inherent coolness of animals on their own terms.

It’s a little ironic that, big fan of furries that I am, I get rather twitchy about tendencies to romanticize animals themselves. I get particularly worked up when people start talking about natural harmony, as if it were something achieved by restraint and cooperation, rather than by an amazing balancing act where everybody’s desire to eat and screw and so forth is played against everyone else’s, and somehow it all holds together. Which is amazing in and of itself, and does not require us to believe in the forebearance of predators or that bunnies are practicing conscious birth control or something. (I know, I know, bunnies will spontaneously reabsorb offspring in cases of overcrowding. But I think it’s a lot more likely that it’s a response to the particular stress of overcrowding, and not a bunny thinking “By Frith! I can’t bring another generation into a burrow this crowded! It’d be immoral!” or something.)

Ahem. That said, have an anthromorphic beast–other tadpoles may think Leroy is weird, but Gaucho Leroy, an Xmas present for my husband’s boss, who runs a company called Gaucho Games, thinks he’s cool in his new cowboy outfit. (He’s apparently going to appear as grafitti in their next game, which amuses me to no end…)

Leroy II

Recommended Reading

Okay, all you science-lovers out there (I know there’s at least a couple mixed in with and interchangeable with the artspawn) here’s a question for ya. Assuming that one’s a relatively intelligent lay person, what books would you recommend for people seeking interesting, readable, relatively solid science/natural history/etc? (A friend was looking for someplace to start, and it occurred to me to try to harness the vast power of the Livejournal for good instead of evil for once. And I’m bound to find something worth checking out myself!)

For example, off the top of my head, I’d probably recommend “The Selfish Gene” by Dawkins and “The Demon-Haunted World” by Sagan. (I recall enjoying Eldridge’s book on punctuated equilibrium, too, but it was years ago, and I was an evolution geek at the time–not sure if that’s easily accessible or if it was dense and dull and my memory is just playing tricks on me.) “Flight of the Iguana and other essays in Natural History” was also nifty, and while dated now, you still can’t beat Desmond Morris and “The Naked Ape” and “The Human Zoo” which I feel oughta be required reading as a sort’ve owner’s manual for the human body, and the out of print, occasionally wildly speculative, but riveting book “The Sex Contract: The Evolution of Human Behavior” by Helen Fisher, which is nice to have on hand whenever somebody tries to tell you that monogamy is unnatural, look at the bonobos, so you wanna swing, baby? (In addition to it’s scientific weight, the hardcover edition can be used to bash the heads of the aforementioned.)

Heck, doesn’t neccesarily have to be science, so much as nonfiction–“How the Irish Saved Civilization” was pretty neat reading, too.

So hey, any others?

Today, I did layouts. Well, actually I drove in the snow on errands, which involved a lot of slipping and sliding and cursing and so forth, but once I got back from that trek into the Great White North, I did layouts. My husband is thinking that we might wind up moving to Arizona shortly, to be in-house at his game company. While I am not getting excited, since we’ve contemplated moving everywhere from Chicago to Pennsylvania in the last eight years, and are still in Minnesota, I confess that the notion of an area where you almost never have to drive on ice is appealing. Then again, it’s been about fifteen years since I lived in Arizona, and I know that my mind has glossed over how bad the heat was, so in the not-particularly-likely event that we did wind up moving there, I’m sure I’d be longing for the frozen waste soon enough.

Actually, most of what I remember is painfully sharp grass, a sort’ve spartanly beautiful scrub desert, and a searing, diamond hard sky. And lots of Southwestern kitch decor. You…will…learn…to…love…the…chile…pepper!

Annnnyway, like I said, still only a remote possibility, so don’t anybody go gettin’ excited or anything, since while I am not terribly superstitious, I do believe in jinxes. Even if there’s no overriding universal intelligence, I sneakingly suspect that one will come together out of the aether, organize itself spontaneously in violation of most of the laws of physics, and hold together just long enough to screw with me, before collapsing back into nothingness. It’d be my luck.
Less whine, more layout.

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I was talking with my mother about art. She said something encouraging about whatever I was doing at the time (which was dreadful, I’m sure, since this was years ago) and I, having something of a notion that it wasn’t very good, said “Come on, Mom, you’re just saying that because you’re my mother. You’re like, required to be supportive or something, no matter what.” To which she replied, “That’s not true! Have I ever once told you that you could sing?”
Sing a song of misplaced ambitions…

Damn those non-vampires!

Damnit! I love the show CSI with a passion, but tonight they let me down.

Basic, entertainingly gory premise–doctor with porphyria trains her Great Dane to attack joggers, harvests their organs and makes protein shakes out’ve ’em. Deprived of this sustenance, she’s guaranteed to die horribly in prison. Great premise. Just one problem.

Contrary to all those great theories about porphyria causing vampirism legends, drinking blood doesn’t do you jack all good–I mean, you get plenty of iron, sure, but you might as well just eat your Wheaties like the rest of us. Porphyria (there’s a couple of variants, but some of the really rare ones include photosensitivity and severe skin lesions) results from a genetic failure to make an enzyme that produces heme, which is needed for hemoglobin. To fix this, you can get transfusions, and blood products and all kinda good stuff to keep heme in your blood–there’s a slew of treatments in this day and age, it’s generally not fatal. Drinking other people’s blood won’t do you any good at all, because digestion breaks down any possible useful stuff to be had in the blood–you don’t get heme by drinking blood, you get some basic proteins, and probably any diseases your victim might’ve been carrying. You could guzzle the blood of the peasants by the bucket (and some of them probably did) and while it might feed your fetishes and your sadism, it won’t do a damn thing for the disease. On the other hand, in the Middle Ages, it probably wasn’t any more dangerous than drinking the water.

Many of us have doubtless heard the vampires-had-porphyria theory. It was a great theory. However, it probably ain’t so. A lot of the key elements to the theory, like vampires only going out at night, and the pallor and so forth are owed entirely to Bram Stoker and crew–prior to him, vampires could go abroad in daylight without a problem, weren’t disfigured to any great extent, and were believed to be red-faced from drinking stolen blood. Porphyria fits Count Dracula just fine, but not Vlad Dracul, nor any other legends. Some much better researched theories in a similiar disease vein were put forward in a book called “Food for the Dead” which explored deaths by “consumption” (generally believed to be tuberculosis, which was epidemic for many centuries) and some rather peculiar folk beliefs, such as that if someone died of consumption, they would come back from the grave and drain the blood of their relatives. Since tuberculosis is contaigous, other members of your family were indeed likely to get it, which fed the theory. (In case you’re ever in this situation, the folk solution is to dig up your dead relative and cut them open–if there’s blood in the heart or any other organs, or if they’re pink cheeked and rosy, they’ve been feeding on you, and the only way to survive is to burn the offending organ. Or you could try seeing a doctor.)

Damn CSI. They’ve failed me. *sob*

Oh, and my cat is currently fine–I won’t bore you with the details of his urine sample, since I can’t imagine anyone finds that thrilling (I mean, I’d like to think that I could make a urinalysis fascinating reading, but c’mon, I know my limits. I’d have to cast the whole thing as an epic poem between the Crystals and the White Blood Cell Count, and nobody wants that.) but it seems to be nothing that can’t be fixed with a specific diet and some antibiotics. Thanks to everyone who’s expressed concern–I appreciate it!