January 2006

Man, this has been a crappy month for sales.

It’s not just me, I learned last night–a fellow artist was saying that yeah, it’s been the worst month for her in a long time, too. I’m not sure what it is–January is always fairly slow, and being right up against Further Confusion doesn’t help for people like me with one foot in the furry art market, but even with that in mind, I think I’m at about half the income of last year this time, and arguably the worst month overall in two years. (The month is not over, of course, and somebody could snag up a pricy original in the next week and salvage the month–it’s been known to happen–but still, slow, slow, slow.)

Obviously, when one is dependant on sales, as I am, there’s a lot of flex to one’s income from month to month, and I did well enough at Christmas not to be suffering outright financial pain from this, but it’s still kind’ve a drag. There’s a certain degree to which one can’t help but measure one’s artistic worth by one’s artistic income, after all–I know, art is supposed to be pure and unfettered by surly bonds of finance, but…well…art may be a meritocracy, but somebody still has to pay for the drinks.

I am hoping primarily that this is not the sign of an economic downturn this year, either in broad scale or in personal sales, because as soon as I start thinking this, my brain goes “AAGGH! And then we’ll have to get a job at Wal-Mart!” and…well…y’know.

So I just got home from a friend’s party–similiar to a Tupperware party in some basic regards, but featuring a highly specific line of items (it is perhaps worth noting that this was a girl’s only affair)–which was quite entertaining. I got home, and acting on some vague impulse, was gazing out the back into the dark.

The dark appeared to be wigglin’ a bit.

More sensitive souls would perhaps begin to harbor terrible suspicions about half-remembered fragments of forbidden tomes involving the Crawling Darkness and the Hunter of the Dark and whatever they would totally have read if the librarian hadn’t shown up and chewed them out for using the R’lyeh Text as a coaster, but bein’ me, I just flipped on the light.

And there he was, nonchalantly chewing on my finch sock, Procyon lotor, the common raccoon. (His name in my head is actually Procyon lotor. He must be Latin or something.) Here I’ve been blaming the squirrels for gnawing those huge holes in my finch sock, when they don’t even eat the thistle seed–but nope, it was their far more massive cohort.

He continued to gnaw idily at the sock for a minute–by standing on the railing, he can reach it easily with his hands–and then seemed to notice that there was a light at his back, and turned around. What he thought of the woman standing inside is a mystery. She, however, was thinking “Okay, charging the squirrels is one thing, charging that goddamn cat is one thing–charging a raccoon is a whole ‘nother bucket of chum…”

Fortunately, Procyon lotor instead heaved a sigh and got down, then went headfirst over the railing, in a sort of bored hand-over-hand down one of the posts, and waddled into the gloom. I turned off the light. He probably came back five minutes later, for all I know.

The real question, of course, is why on an evening when I just got home from a mini sex toy expo, I’m blogging about raccoons eating my finch sock. I will chalk this up to deeply misguided priorities on my

Update: Yup, five minutes later, he returned. This time I actually had to open the door. If this escalates, I will eventually have to do my screaming banshee charge, and I just don’t know if I’m ready to do that on a wet, birdseed-slicked deck after a creature known to occasionally carry rabies…

Giant food and small cute animals!

Still foolin’ with the technique. Didn’t quite get it in this one, but it’s still kinda cute.


And now there’s a squirrel orgy.

This differs from the usual raunchy rodent romp in one key element. There’s a branch that hangs suspected over my deck, which was originally rather more horizontal, but which split in half where it meets the tree during a storm some months back. It’s too firmly attached to get down–we tried–so it dangles there, swaying madly in every breeze. It’s a full sized, many-splitting branch full of long whippy twigs and whatnot, with the end, where the thinnest twigs are, perhaps six feet above the deck.

A male squirrel was doing the usual roll-and-crawl over a female squirrel, and she was not really happy with it, so she jumped onto the thin twigs of this branch, perhaps thinking that he wouldn’t follow. Foolish female squirrel! I coulda told her better. The male was not even remotely daunted, and leapt onto the thin branches. Branch swaying madly with their movements, they careened around, clinging to twigs much too small to balance on, falling off, catching themselves, swarming back up, usually upside down, with the male trying to groom the female into acceptance and the female trying to shove him off the branch.

Then another male gets the whiff of “Ooh! Receptive female!” and comes running. And HE leaps onto the branch.

At this point, it resembles an orgy being attempted in the rigging of a ship designed by Dali. The female is now shoving two of them, they’re alternating between trying to groom her and trying to kick each other’s tails. It’s like a writhing ball of stubby grey snakes, as they all fight for balance, lose it, fall, catch themselves with their feet, come charging back (for a value of “charging” that involves an abortive leap, some determined inching, and some slithering that looks like a miniature anaconda climbing a rope ladder) etc.

Then a third male shows up.

The other two are having none of this. He’s on the tree trunk making “Hey, baby!” noises, and the two original males turn and lunge at him. No ogling from the tree trunk! You don’t want to make an idiot of yourself on this twiggy jungle gym, you don’t get any nookie! So they’re chasing him around the tree trunk four or five times and off, while the bereft female clings to her slender twig and tries to catch her breath, swaying in a manner that makes me practically seasick to watch. But lo! Back they come, our two Casanovas, and you can practically see the female squirrel roll her eyes, and the ball of squirrel attempted lovin’/fightin’ is remade.

I don’t think either of the males ever did succeed, but they did manage to wear themselver out pretty good…

Cruel, Cruel Brain

I took a nap this afternoon, and had the usual struggle with hypnogogic hallucinations and false wakings on the backend of it.

In one of them, I was looking outside, and there were three or four indigo buntings there.

“YES!” I thought–and then “CRAP! Am I dreaming?” So I kept closing my eyes and thinking really hard about waking up, and opening them again–and it was the same landscape as before, so I thought “Hey! I must be awake! Those are really indigo buntings! Wow!” This thrilled me to no end. I was glued to the glass watching the feeder. “And another bunting! And another one! And a wood thrush! And a…kildeer…wearing…aviator goggles…”


I woke up for real a moment later, bitterly disappointed, and was so miffed about there not being indigo buntings on the feeder that the fact I was completely paralyzed and my usual trick of inhaling deeply wasn’t snapping me out of it only served to piss me off further, rather than making me panic. Eventually the paralysis broke, but the sulk did not.

My brain has both an astounding ability to generate bird sightings in my dreams, a profound sense of cute, and a really nasty sense of humor.

Suddenly Sparrows

There are sparrows hopping around the platform feeder.

This may seem like an absurdly common occurance, but for me, it isn’t. For whatever reason, sparrows are generally completely uninterested in my feeders. They may occasionally prowl around the ground under my landlady’s feeder, but they come up on my deck once in a blue moon, and leave quickly.

And yet, suddenly, these last few days, not having changed the food at all, the sparrows are appearing, tiny little brown shapes hopping in among the hulking doves.

I would suspect the new jury-rigged dripping birdbath (i.e. a bottle with a hole in it dripping into a trough) was attracting them, but they aren’t using the birdbath at all. (Hardly anything is. Perhaps it’s too cold, or perhaps they just hate it.)

But there they are, sparrows. Huh.

I really want to keep playing with that technique I was foolin’ with yesterday.

I also have six sketches to finalize and nine and a half zodiac animal paintings to do before the end of the month, plus Digger.

Carrot, meet stick. (Hi, stick.) Stick, say hello to Carrot. (Pleasure to be working with you, carrot.)

Okay. If I can get a zodiac painting completed and a Digger done today, I get to fool around in the studio. If I don’t…um….well, sucks to be me, I guess.

And now, to chase the carrot!

Update: Digger done! Go carrot! Go carrot!

I have sooooo much work to do…

And of course, because of that, I get this great idea for a technique experiment. I did a loose pencil sketch, inked it very sloppily with a black brush pen (PITT acrylic, if you haven’t been using them, go buy them NOW NOW NOW, they are wonderful things) and then laid increasingly thick washes of acrylic and layers of colored pencil on top of that. At the end, I cleaned up the lines with the brush pen again (the glory of this pen is how beautifully it will cover acrylic paint or anything else) and was really rather surprised at how well it came out. I can see using this technique in the future.


And now, back to the Ox.


I am doing a set of illustrations of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, as I might’ve mentioned, or not, I dunno. Can’t put ’em up ’til the game is published, in any event, so the art itself is somewhat moot to this post.


In the last week, I have done a great many sketches of Rooster, Pig, and Ox. I have painted paintings of Rooster and I’m working on Ox, and Pig is on the horizon, and I just started the sketches for Rabbit, and Dog and Sheep will probably be forthcoming here shortly.

Combined with the recent Transcendant Pig updates, my brain has become a muddle of barnyard animals. Now, I like barnyard animals just fine, I can and do derive just as much pleasure from painting Rooster as I can from Dragon. They’re both brilliantly colored and vaguely reptilian around the eyes, and the crests of dragons have nothin’ on the combs of roosters.

Nevertheless, I can feel my fingernail grip on sanity starting to slip. My Little Piggy was only the first warning sign. (The pigs are the worst. Pigs are beginning to haunt my dreams.) I am starting to have visions of piggogryphs, noble chicken/swine hybrids bred for their deliciously bacon-flavored eggs. And how many nipples would a pigtaur have, anyway? (I don’t know, and I don’t WANT to know…) If a warrior rooster rides a boar into battle, does he have stirrups or a perch?

It’s probably just as well that I’m working on an uber-tight deadline and have to get the whole zodiac done by the end of the month, and thus have no time for realizing such visions just yet.

Slice of Life — Porcine Division

Man, I’ve been painting a LOT of pigs lately. For some reason, for the last couple weeks, it’s just been pig central. I’m working on a revised sketch of yet ANOTHER pig, and ranting to James about my pig-heavy workload lately. (I mean, I love piggies, but I’m in some kind of weird Swine-Space at the moment…)

J: “Well, it’s like the old saying. You can dress a pig up…”

U: (waits for it)

J: “But you can’t marry him!”

U: …

J: “You can’t take him to dinner?”

U: (head in hands)

J: “No! I’ve got it! You can dress a pig up, but you can’t expect him to do your taxes!”

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