I glance out the window and discover squirrels copulating while standing in the platform birdfeeder. Sigh. At such times, the only possible refuge is haiku.

Squirrel sex among seeds–
The artist thinks: “Perhaps I
should get out the hose.”

Meanwhile I am trying to comprehend the vast mystery of the website set-up James has chosen. It involves PHP. A lot of it. It’s a morass of…stuff. I don’t think I’ve drowned in completely alien phrases so dramatically since that section of the SATs that had trig.* The end result will be a website that’s VERY easy to update, and hopefully easy to navigate, but it’s just not gonna be pretty–it’s gonna look like an on-line art archive, not like some carefully composed web jewel. Sleek may be the most I can hope for, and even that’s probably a long shot. I may be stuck with utilitarian.

But I am resigning myself to this. As long as I don’t choose particularly nauseating colors, I think it’ll be okay. As people have been agreeing with emphatically in the last post, graphical doodads are all well and good, but people only care for the first thirty seconds. They’re coming for the paintings, not the web design, and as long as it’s easy to find the art, that’s the important thing.

I would love to have a really lovely website–I’ve had a few in the past that were wonderful little things–but I am simply too prolific. I can have a pretty site, or I can have a current one.

I keep telling myself this because what I’ve got so far is UGLY, and as you might have guessed from the slightly desperate tone of self-convincing, this is causing me some emotional anguish. But I know I CAN fix it. I have seen sites done this way, and while they’re still not pretty, they aren’t nearly as bad as the template I am tearing my hair out over. I just have to figure out how to do it, and it’ll be fine.

‘Cos it’s not going up until it’s no longer making me weep with despair, damnit.

*Just because it hasn’t mattered in over a decade, and I suspect it will never matter again, I am going to milk the very last drop of glee out of this–I got 1480 on my SATs, and I was proud, damnit. Okay. I can move on with my life now.

So I keep planning to update the website. Not just update, but overhaul, change around, redesign, all that stuff. James has some program he likes, which would auto-generate the thumbnails and take care of all the links and so forth, which would be a helluva lot easier for me and mean that I actually keep the site current, so that’s something to hope for. (It’ll be a bit before we implement all this, mind you, but I’m hoping to at least start myself thinking about it.) Mostly, I find myself wondering what to do with all my old art–I have SO MUCH ART that keeping it all in the main gallery is sort of absurdly unwieldy, but if I take art down, people start sending me e-mails asking where their favorite painting is.

Simply adding gallery page after gallery page is one option, but the sidebar listing the galleries, even with collapsible bits, is gonna be measured in yards, the way I keep going. So would some kind of “Older Work” archive for stuff over, say, two or three years old work? My webpage is not meant as a portfolio site by any means so much as a fairly exhaustive archive for casual browsers (I have a lean ‘n mean web portfolio for art directors) and place where people can browse art for sale, so I don’t mind keeping it around, but making people slog through the entire history of my painting career every time they look at a gallery seems cruel. (My originals page works okay at the moment, I think, although it isn’t updated often enough. The print system is unwieldy as hell. If I’m lucky, James can figure out how to rig the shopping cart thing, which would be pure madness!)

I’m not one for lots of fancy graphical doodads, since I figure people think that’s cute once and then get pissed off by it–and NO FLASH WHATSOEVER. I know I need a mailing list. People keep asking for a mailing list.

The standard Ursula Rambling Commentary of Doom will stay. I realize that’s at least half the draw, possibly more. No worries there.

Am I missing anything? Do people have any other thoughts?

Yrrgh…had a helluva hypnogogic hallucination just now…

Hypnogogic hallucinations occur on the edge of sleep, to explain–they’re the ones where you believe that you’re awake, getting up, moving around, and so forth, but you’re not. Sleep paralysis is keeping you from doing any of these things, but you’re still trying to, and your brain, in a desperate effort to oblige, is feeding you the sensory input (often extremely vividly) of actually getting up and doing these things. They’re supposedly more common when falling asleep than when waking up, but I tend to get them more on waking. Lots of the classic out of body experiences–including the ones with phrases like “but it was so real!” and “I knew I wasn’t dreaming!” are actually classic hypnogogic hallucinations. Many people experience the sensation of floating while having them, and if you don’t know what they are, it can be pretty woo-woo-riffic.

Hell, even knowing what they are, they’re pretty neat.
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Painting gnarled trees for a cover. Gnarled trees are one of the things that I developed a technique for early on, so I can do it pretty much on autopilot these days. And they’re in mist! I can disconnect my brain completely! (I suppose this sounds a little unprofessional, but it’s one of those things where my brain showing up would not significantly impact things. Sort of like throwing a pot–either your hindbrain knows what to do or it doesn’t, and sitting there thinking “Okay…now pull up…and don’t chokedontchokedontchokedontchoke…” is not gonna help.)

Back still hurts a bit. The inversion rack helped, it’s nothing as bad as it was, more a dull constant ache. As people who have thrown their back out know, it’s a weird sensation, it’ll almost not hurt for a bit, and then you’ll move a millimeter, or it’ll just get bored, and everything suddenly seizes up and the world does a kind of breathless wobble-and-flop around you, and for a brief, bright moment there is nothing in the universe but you and the God of Back Pain. That’s much worse. A low, perpetual ache is peanuts.

Ordered some books off Amazon. Man. Michael Parkes collections are NOT cheap. The one I wanted started at $349. Used. Not. Gonna. Happen. The cheapest of the lot, and the one I went for, was $45. Oy. I can respect book collectors, certainly, they’re not terribly distant kin to art collectors, but it was still a shocker to someone like me, who’s usually waiting for the paperback to come out.

Another quick little study, this one left rather pastel because, dangit, I just felt that way.


Also, I suspect that my art career may be crippled forever by the fact that my earliest aesthetic influences all had to happen in the 80s. Can naked mole rats in leg warmers be too far away?

Also, for some reason the phrase “The Muffin of Despair” has been kicking around my head. This would worry me if I wasn’t used to this sort of thing by now.

Futility Quest — Update

For the fifth year in a row, to my not-particularly-great-surprise I did not get into the Spectrum Annual.

The first few times out, I bought into the whole “Take it as a challenge and do better next time!” blah blah I’m-so-well-adjusted thing.

Screw that. I am PAST that. Now I just wanna get IN the fucking thing.

Que sera, sera…

Slice of Life — Maternal Division

Was talking to my mother yesterday, and she was telling me about her latest painting, which is based on that photo I took of the bluebird’s butt. (I am delighted that my mother, who is, like, a Real Artist in every sense of the word, is turning her fearfully honed talents to this vital subject.)

“I love this bird’s butt,” she said. “It’s so…fluffy!”

“Great!” I said.

“It is really cute, though.”

“Well….” (“Cute” in fine art circles, as most of us know, is a Bad Thing. My mother’s probably already risking excommunication by painting wildlife in the first place.)

“But it’s okay that it’s cute,” she said.

“It is?”

“Because cute is the new shocking!”


God help us. God help us all.

Visit their website or something. http://www.mcruddart.com I wrote most of the commentary. The images all need to be a lot bigger, which I’ve told ’em about, but they haven’t fixed it yet–they don’t do justice to some of these huge, psychotically detailed paintings of tree roots at all. But it’s still worth looking at!

A really quick little piece–started as a figure study, and then the chickens came…

Not high art, but hey, it keeps me amused.