May 2003

Having just discovered that I’m broker than I thought–to the point where I may have a hard time getting out to Anthrocon–I’m gonna start putting up auctions–I’m unlikely to make enough to make it smooth sailing, but it never hurts to try! I’ve got tons of sketches lying around, some of which might be of interest to some people. For example, all that original “Irrational Fears” art is still kicking around–none of it in pages, alas, but contained in a few sketchbooks. Still not sure how, if at all, I should attempt to sell those.

However, I do have the original “Gothbat” sketches loose, and thus have put one up for auction, if anyone’s interested in a little bit of weird goth comic history.

I also have a slew of old sketchbooks lying around, but given that I mostly do weirdly scribbled thumbnails, I am unsure how much interest there might be. Possibly in a few days I will attempt to find out. Meanwhile, of course, there’s always commissions. The problem, of course, is that my recent month of downtime was a huge break in my flow of sales, so it’s taking a while to get back up to speed again.

Zoo Photos Part Deux!

Okay, boys and girls, went to the Phoenix Zoo today, which means–yes–photos! James insisted on coming along, on the premise that A) he likes animals too, if not quite as geekily as I do, and B) left to my own devices, I would stand out in the blazing sun with the camera trying to get photos of the elands for two hours, fry my brain, stagger groggily to the car and pass out in traffic, which would have been bad. And I can’t say that he’s wrong, either, since I wore myself out but good, and consumed quite a lot of overpriced water.

But it’s all good, ‘cos I got neat photos. And if you click the length below, and go fix yourself a drink while it loads, you can see some of the results. (Once again, if there’s any artists out there and you see a beasty you really really want to paint, and want a bigger photo of it for ref, just drop me a line–on a number of ’em I’ve got 1200 x 1600 shots, and I’m happy to share!)
Capybaras, cheetahs, and burrowing owls, oh my!

HA! Less than three hours, and the hummingbirds have discovered the feeder! They don’t seem at all dismayed by James sitting out there smoking, either–one came up, slurped, made a “Churk churck churck!” noise, and then chased off another bird who may have been looking at it funny. I feel warm and fuzzy. Now, to figure out how to rig the camera…

Went out today and did what I have been meaning to do for two weeks now…bought plants for the patio. Woot! I have lived so long without a yard space that I had given up–my early attempts at window boxes gradually gave way to a few houseplants, who, when we moved into my dark, dank, sporadically heated previous apartment, gave way to a few forlorn pots with mold growing in them and one lucky bamboo, which evidentally cannot be killed by gods or men.

But now I have a patio! I can container garden!

If I get adventuresome, the place is well enough lit that I may be able to manage houseplants again, particularly since what really killed the last ones was the frequent temperature fluctuations between 90+ (when the furnace was on) and 55 (when the furnace was off.) Starting small there, I acquired one pothos for the studio, since pothos are virtually unkillable.

On the patio, however, which has a northeast exposure–about the only exposure, happily enough, that does not result in burnt plants–I got to put in a gorgeous bouganvillea–one of the ones that are somewhere between orange and pink. I also put in a honeysuckle, which hasn’t flowered yet (not sure if it will this year or not) and a hardy purple verbena in a hanging pot. That’s enough for now–I lack the time at the moment to do anything dramatic with annuals–but even that’s a huge improvement over bare concrete, and everything but the verbena is drought and neglect tolerant, which is a Good Thing. I am happy. I put up my hummingbird feeder, too–I dunno if any of them will find it, but Arizona’s supposed to be lousy with ’em, so I can hope.

Other than that, not much today. Continuing to paint. A lot. I’ve got to produce stuff for Anthrocon and Trinoc Con, I’m sorta under the gun, and as a result, I am perilously close to burnout. I keep finding myself drawing fragments of figures, and abandoning them–everything seems like a good idea, and nothing, and I no longer have the neccessary braincells to sort it out. I am far too aware that Everything I Paint must be saleable, and it’s makin’ my brain go dry and itchy and chafe against the inside of my skull. Even for a diehard art mercenary like myself, used to shackling creativity in the pursuit of profit, it’s rough. This is a perilous state, not improved much by PMS, so I’m gonna take tomorrow off and go visit the Phoenix Zoo with the digital camera. Hopefully that’ll be enough to relax and inspire me, or at least let me paint a few I-don’t-care-if-it-sells, I’m-glad-I-did-it pieces.

It’s hard sometimes to remember–even though I KNOW–that creativity is WORK, and much as I love painting, it is a hard and difficult task that I am bending my brain on, and my brain needs downtime. Even wandering around going “What shall I paint?” and doodling thumbnails of bathing rhino women clutching bathtowels and giving the viewer the finger is work, and I shouldn’t feel guilty or like a slacker because it takes it out of me, and I can’t do it twenty-four hours a day. I think that’s the hardest mental adjustment–even when you’re doing a commission, it FEELS like work, but when you’re painting things without guidance, but with intent to sell, it feels like it shouldn’t be work, despite the fact that you’re milking your Muse like a Holstein trying to come up with things to sell.

I’ve got a month and a half. I should be able to come up with plenty of art. In theory.

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who said happy birthday! I feel loved. And thank you, also, to everyone who weighed in to say that I was not an arrogant boor for not liking dolphins-in-space-with-white-tigers-and-pastel-whales art and saying so. (I may be an arrogant boor for other reasons, but I’m not so worried about that.) I’m not sure why that particular comment bugged me–generally, being an internet artist, I am so jaded to weird and hostile commentary that I barely register such on the radar. Particularly at Elfwood, which is delightful and wonderful in many ways, but which occasionally attracts some real oddballs. Possibly it was my latent fear that I AM some kind of colossal jerk about art, which would be mortifying. I try not to be. The closest I get is a firm belief that some day, possibly a few decades hence, I will be good. And anyway, if I ever did get the idea that I was anywhere above “barely competent” at art, I would simply have to pull a book at random from my art library, take a brief look at Mucha’s layouts or Alma-Tadema’s delphinium or Olivia’s women or Brom’s…whatever the hell those things by Brom are, damned if I know, but they’re cool…and that would thoroughly disabuse me of such notions and leave me wandering around flapping my arms in the breeze going “GOD! Maybe I should’ve become an accountant!” (Actually, this is a vital part of my creative process.)

Possibly it was just late, and my blood sugar was a bit low. Yeah. That sounds plausible. So, as is my wont with all such imponderables, I will decide to ignore it and go paint.

To celebrate my birthday, allow me to present something wearing a party hat!
Armored Nallwug

I also just noticed that someone left me a long comment at Elfwood telling me that while I was very good, I was too flamboyant about identifying the weaknesses of other artists and had placed myself on a high horse. This baffled me a trifle–not that I’m surprised I’m on a high horse, I mean, c’mon, I’m a arrogant sod at the best of times!–but I am usually neurotic to the point of insanity about not saying ANYTHING bad about other artists, because–well, “I try to be a nice person” is a terribly pathetic thing to say, and I feel like I’m rolling over and exposing my throat to the cosmos with a sign saying “Rip Here” but there you are. In fact, so far as I can tell, the only artist I make a snide remark about in my entire gallery is…Chris Lassen. (You know the guy. Reefs packed with improbable fish, white tigers, whales, and pastel planets, all jammed together in squishy squishness.) Elsewhere I bemoan the brilliance of the pre-Raphaelites and my own unworthiness in relation, praise the coolness of Susan Seddon Boulet, drool over the Art Nouveau masters and mention in passing that Amara Telgemeier kicks major ass. So…err…yeah. A dozen droolings and I’m-not-worthyings evidentally don’t equal one expression of mild distaste. (Okay, okay, I might have expressed the desire for the man to be eaten by elephant seals for the irony, but for ME that’s an expression of mild distaste. Hyperbole would be my middle name, but my parents weren’t that cruel.)

Are artists just not allowed to express distaste for some artwork? Can we not say “Look, Picasso does nothing for me and Anne Geddes gives me the creepin’ heebie-jeebie-weebies and I don’t know what that thing there is, but if I had to live with it in the house, I’d go barking mad and put out my eyes with a dremel?” I mean, I know a smattering about anthropology and a teeny bit about art and I know enough about writing to know that I’m not qualified to have much of an opinion, but if I know about ANYTHING, it’s art. Not enough to be a critic, or give people clear, coherent, quality critiques without spending an hour twitching, but it’s the one field in which I have even a baseline competency. I know, I know, art is subjective. Very subjective. We’re not allowed to say something is bad, because someone might find deep meaning in it. Well, I would like to say, for the record, that you don’t get it both ways. If it’s so bloody subjective, we oughta be allowed to know what we like, and if we DON’T like it, that’s JUST as valid as somebody who has a religious experience in front of it. (Generally, of course, if it’s someone I actually know, and they’re standing there, I would sooner fake a seizure than express dislike, because courtesy is so ingrained in many of us that we would apologize for bleeding to death on someone’s nice clean carpet. But anyway.) For example, I don’t like “The Scream” or whatever that painting is that isn’t really called “The Scream” but that everybody calls “The Scream.” Doesn’t do a damn thing for me. I’m sure it’s a brilliant expression of the madness and despair of absinthe hallucinations, but it leaves me cold. I go “Meh.” Same with most of Van Gogh’s stuff. It may contain the seeds of greatness, it will probably be better than anything I will ever create if I live to be as old as the hills and paint until my dying breath, but it doesn’t do a damn thing for me. Possibly I’m a Philistine. I shrug and say “Okay, sure.” I know people who have practically met God looking at Van Gogh’s work, and I still go “Meh.” And if art is subjective, that ought to be just as valid as anything else.

So, uh, does not liking something automatically mean that I am an arrogant sod, then? Are artists required to be happy and appreciative of everything done by every other artist under the sun? Or is it just late, and I’m engaged it defensive bitching?

Today is my birthday, a fact I didn’t remember until I was doodling a monster in a party hat yesterday, and James came up and said “Is this some kind of hint about your birthday?” and I said “Whuh…OH! Hey, tomorrow’s the 28th!” I knew it was somewhere around here, since my Mom sent me some poseable artists’s model things–the “Art S. Buck” figures–for it, and I was shopping for toys for Max, who’s birthday is right around mine, but the actual day sort’ve escaped me.

This is not unusual. Birthdays fell somewhat by the wayside for me a few years back, since I’m not really a party animal, and presents from family far-flung across the country don’t usually arrive on the day in question. One year, I was working in an office, which of course involves writing the date approximately once a nanosecond, and spent half the day wondering why I kept wanting to write “5/28/77” instead of “5/28/99” until, sometime after lunch, the light dawned. (Hey, I never said I was bright.) And, of course, once you pass about 21, birthdays are no longer quite so milestoneish–at 25 you get to rent a car, and your insurance rates go down. Woot. At 26, my current age, I don’t know if anything exciting happens, but I’ve learned to make my own fun–James is taking me out to the art supply store to get an easel, something I’ve always needed and never had room for. No more balancing art on the couch!

It turns out, amusingly enough, that my birthday coincides with a few other people on my Livejournal, and falls a day after the talented Cara Mitten’s. Were I inclined to astrology, I’d say something about Geminis and creativity, but as has been pointed out, the gravitational influence of the delivering obstetrician is significantly greater than that of any distant stars, so I’ll chalk it up to coincidence and statistics.

Art, links, pluggery…

Well, in case anyone’s interested, the piece of which I spoke yesterday–a quick and silly little pin-up for Anthrocon–can be viewed over here. I had originally planned to go with standard piratical red, but I liked the black-and-cream so much I stuck with it. I know, I know, you don’t wear white in a world of scurvy and flogging and keelhauling and tar and salt pork and all that. I don’t care. She lives in that strange world inhabited by pin-ups and high fantasy heroes, wherein no one ever needs to do laundry and you can wear stiletto heels and plate mail to the beach. (Come on, did Elric ever ONCE take time out of the smiting and swashbuckling to beat his clothes on a wet rock? I didn’t think so.)

It’s a funny world where nobody questions that a husky can stroll around on two legs with a sword and an attitude, but I get all bent out of shape by the uberclean pirate gear. Sigh. (“You have to keelhaul the first mate. It’s messy.” “No matter, I have my blessed jacket of protection from stains +4!”) On the other hand, when I stop and think that my JOB consists of wondering about stain resistant pirate clothes and frog boobs and how many body piercings a gun dealer oughta have, etc, I realize that yeah, I like my life.
More art, and thoughts on bathing suits

Technology Good.

Did a sketch last night, loved it, wanted to do a watercolor of it. Despaired of getting sketch from Bristol to decent watercolor paper. Can’t really lighttable onto anything heavy enough to withstand my abuse, like Crescent board. Never had much luck with transfer paper. (I’m wiggly.) Have spent the last few years painstakingly redrawing everything when I wanted to paint it. Sick of it. We can put a man on the moon, etc, so why am I redrawing like a technologically defunct peasant? Might as well be scribbling on cave walls, for god’s sake. This stage adds nothing whatsoever to the piece, and usually detracts, as I’m a fairly imperfect Xerox machine and it mostly just loses spontenaiety.

Stream of Consciousness

Well, we’ve been here a week, and are slowly learning the ways of this strange land called Arizona.

For example, “Find a parking spot in the shade, if at all possible. It is worth walking across a mile of hot blacktop not to have to sit in a car that has been baking in the desert sun.” Or “Nothing is urgent enough to go out at noon.” “Carry bottled water at all times, even down to the store to buy bottled water.” “Don’t run red lights–they have those little camera dealies EVERYWHERE.” “Turn signals are a sign of weakness.” “Heat stroke is real, and faster than you think.”

Those seem a little harsh, so I’ll also add that I’m quite enjoying it–in addition to the MUCH bigger apartment, there are a lot of perks. The plant life is really quite lush–bouganvilleas everywhere. I want one for the balcony. And birds, everywhere, many of which are strangers. I know house sparrows and doves and I vaguely recall they have juncoes down here, and even I know a crow when it grawks by, but there’s all these completely foreign little guys–things that look and act like grackles, but are matte chocolate instead of iridescent navy; woodpeckers that hang out on palm trees (how alien is THAT?!); gray birds with white patched wings that I think might be mockingbirds or catbirds or something; and one weird little visitor the other day, a nondescript little pale brown sparrowy thing with a streaky white-brown breast, but which had enormous tufted eyebrows like a Marx brother.

It’s wild stuff. I can’t wait until I get plantlife on the patio suited to the environment, and then I’ll put up a hummingbird feeder and see if I can’t attract some of those ferocious little darlings. And paint them!

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