February 2011

Pollinator Shrine

I haven’t managed to successfully photograph the Box of Doom from Michael DeMeng’s workshop, but it’s coming. (Kevin is helping.)

He did get this one photographed nicely, though!

7 x 7.5, assemblage

Bombus is the Latin for the genus that includes all our lovely bumblebees, many of which have declined substantially in recent years. (It’s not just honeybees, alas.)

This is the first thing I’ve built since getting back from the workshop, and I was delighted to make use of many of my snazzy new skills, like Dremel-handling and caulk-wielding!* It was hard to do, but hard in a different way than 2-d art is hard, which I think is what I really enjoy about assemblage.

Anyway, original is for sale, drop a line, I, uh, haven’t a clue what to price these at, I confess, so you might get a bargain, or it might go to e-bay, or I might wind up with five hundred of these on my wall. (I don’t want that. I mean, I’ll probably keep making them, I enjoy the process, it makes me feel all competent and power-tool-y, but the disadvantage to 3-d work is that you can’t store it flat in a file, so if they don’t sell, I’ll start running out of shelf space before long. I don’t know how potters do it.)

*Go ahead, say it, get it out of your system, I’ll wait…

Second Stripe

More like that, yes.

I worked on this painting off and on for rather longer than I can usually manage to keep a painting alive–generally a painting dies after three or four days. But this one lived! And…this is sort of more where I was going in my head with the Stripejack Forest painting, except that this guy clearly lives in the Stripewrack Forest. Go figure.

Prints available as always!

Anyway, we’re about to head to New Orleans! The beagle-sitters have been summoned, the bags have been packed, and my next update will come from the French Quarter!


So next week, I’m attending an assemblage art workshop taught by Michael DeMeng, one of the coolest assemblage artists working today, a guy who does really weird rusty grimy sculptural stuff, all of which is generally devoid of cupids, babies wearing crowns, grumpy small girls with pasted on angel wings, and the word “dream” and “imagine” applied at random intervals.

(This is why we’re going to New Orleans—days not in-workshop are full of tours, including the classic Voodoo Museum, Haunted House, and Cemetery Tours. Yes, it’s touristy. No, I’m not bothered by that. I AM a tourist, no point in pretending otherwise…)

The workshop revolves around putting together an assemblage “apothecary kit” so we’re all bringing art supplies and various bottles, and a box to alter. (Or maybe altar.) I found a nifty little box for $2 at the flea market, one of those tacky wooden decorative boxes you generally find in the back aisles of TJ Maxx. (Given what’s going to happen to it, I’m not laying out large sums.)

It is covered in truly horrific art of cardinals.

Now, all of this will be altered, of course, but since I knew the cardinals were getting covered up, and I didn’t want to waste two hours of a workshop waiting for matte medium to dry, I went ahead and covered the majority of the offending cardinals with my go-to surface—torn paperback pages from one of the worst horror novels I have ever started and not bothered to finish.  (“Prey” by an author who shall remain nameless because nobody deserves to google themselves and then discover that their book was so bad somebody views it as only suitable for a painting surface.) I have a certain horror of defacing books, as so many of us do, so I had to find a really BAD book to shred for art, and this was that book. I have used it many times, and it’s about half the length it was to begin with.

So I was happily yanking out pages and slathering them down, when my eye happened to land on a page that had just been sealed to the box and the phrase the moist beckoning lips of her vulva assailed my eyeballs, and I realized that I had just decoupaged the graphic and mediocre sex scene from somewhere around chapter six onto my box.


I turned the box a few times, learned a bit more about the narrator’s genitals, caught a fragment of a discussion of birth-control, saw the heroine’s tongue compared to a porpoise, (I know nothing gets me in the mood like having my body parts compared to small whales!) and set the box down to go make a cup of tea and settle my nerves.

Um. Well, then.

This surface exists only as a painting ground, and surely it will all be covered over by…err…faux grime and grunk and so forth. And only I—and now you, O Best Beloved!—will know the secret of the apothecary’s kit.

As long as nobody at the workshop looks too closely.

Gaming with Kids

So Kevin’s been trying for awhile to find a way to get his kids interested in RPGs—like many a nerd, he was about the age of his oldest (twelve) when he started, so it’s traditional. But they aren’t readers in the way that he or I were, and since one’s nine and one’s twelve, he’d been hunting an alternative that had the D&D ethos with easier rules and catering to a shorter attention span.

Gamma World seemed like a good choice. It’s fast-paced, the rules are D&D Light, and there are cards, which will hopefully activate the Pokemon and YuGiOh centers of their brains in some fashion. We picked up the box awhile ago, and there has been a great deal of begging, nagging, and passive-aggressive hinting from the offspring since, until such time as we adults had a block of free time and energy to devote to printing out all the character sheets and whatnot and actually playing a session.

And it went pretty well. Gamma World lends itself to raw creativity without much in the way of numeric punishments–the twelve-year-old wanted his primary weapon to be a green onion and the nine-year-old wanted to be a robot dog, all of which the system lends itself to well. (As twelve-year-olds are what they are, there was a Daddy-GM veto on the use of fart rockets as a ranged attack, on the principle that We Would Not Be Doing That, Thank You.)  I got the pyrokinetic plant character sheet, so I decided to be a sentient giant hogweed and spray my burning sap on my foes.

The twelve-year-old was pretty into it. The nine-year-old is a little too young still, but wants to be doing it because his brother is, and finds his father doing the melodramatic monster death scenes hysterical.  We had to do a certain amount of herding—“If you don’t volunteer to go on the mission, nothing will happen. You will sit in town all day. You probably want to volunteer…”—but in fairness, I’ve known PCs played by ostensible adults that resisted the Call To Adventure because “It’s not something my character would dooooo!” too.  They figured out the basics of attacking without too many repetitions, nobody died (impressive for Gamma World!) and fits of the sulks when the nine-year-old’s ranged attack kept missing were averted when he managed to deliver the coup de grace to our last baddy.

They aren’t good at thinking through the various options yet–Frontal Assault is their default setting, unless, say, the giant hogweed points out that they could sneak around back, or try to negotiate, or whatever, but that’s sort of learned gamer knowledge, and you do have to be introduced to the idea that you really can try ANYTHING, not just the most obvious. The twelve-year-old at least is pretty good at working out how his powers work and the best place to move to make the powers most effective, and even the nine-year-old decided that since his laser pistol kept missing, he was going to pull the pickaxe out of his climbing kit and throw it at the enemy (and how many times have adult players gone “Screw this! I’m picking up a rock and throwing THAT!” when the dice weren’t going our way?)

The only problematic kid moment came at the end of the encounter, when Kevin handed out the Omega Tech rewards cards.

“I got a music box!”

“I got a neural jack!”

Said the nine-year-old, “I got an inflatable friend!”

There was a brief silence at the table while the twelve-year-old giggled (he had no idea, he’d giggle at anything) and I could hear Kevin’s thought processes hitting a brick wall.

“I guess I could use it as a human shield…” the kid said dubiously.

“Great way to use it,” I said “Think of a–a giant balloon animal! That you can use as a shield!

“Yes,” said Kevin gratefully. “That’s a GREAT way to picture it!”

And disaster was averted, until next time.

Stripejack Forest

I kinda wanted to paint stripes.

Then it turned into this whole…thing…

9 x 11.5, mixed media on paper sealed to paperboard

The funny thing is that I actually may have to do a digital take on this because I couldn’t get the textural effect I wanted, and the thing in my head was much creepier and weirder and the rabbit design was actually rather more deformed, but somewhere in the course of the painting it became rounder and less freaky and the whole thing became rather less alarming and more straightforwardly cute.

Some people try to do cute and it gets creepy. (ANNE GEDDES, I AM LOOKING IN YOUR DIRECTION) I try to do creepy and it goes cute. We all have our crosses to bear, I suppose…

Anyway, original is for sale!

Random Arty Bits

Went to pick up some unsold art from the local gallery after their holiday show. There’s two weird little small pieces, which honestly I didn’t expect to sell–they were too odd for the random gallery passer-by, I suspect. It’s a nice little gallery, but it’s mostly wildlife art and photography and carousel horses and things, so my work is kinda the Odd Art Out.

5 x 7 mixed media on deep edge canvas
6 x 8, collaged paper on board

Sadly, said gallery will be closing in a month or two. I can’t say they were a big source of sales, but they tried hard and meant well, so I’m sad to see them go. One of the other local galleries–Davenport and Winkleperry–will be carrying my stuff in the near future, and I suspect it’ll be a rather better aesthetic fit.

Anyway, these two little oddities are both for sale, drop a line if interested–they’re small and fairly cheap as such things go…

Another Letter From Elijuh

Dearest mother,

The barge finally arrived, and we have begun the trip downriver. It is very slow, and I think it would probably be faster to walk, except for the thickness of the jungle. It has taken us over a day to reach the first settlement, which has the regrettable name of Plotch.

There is an astonishing variety of birds and insects out here. The dawn chorus on the river this morning lasted for over an hour and was impossible to sleep through, containing both shrill screaming and trilling and a low rumbling that did not sound at all bird-like. One of the native oarsmen said it was a djat, but I was unable to tell from his hand gestures just what sort of creature that might be, although it is either very round, somehow inflatable, or lays very large eggs.

Our captain says that the natives believe that the dawn birds are the souls of women who die without husbands. I asked him what becomes of the men who die without wives, and he said “They die happy!” and stomped off. I begin to suspect that our good captain has been somewhat unlucky in love.

Plotch is very small, consisting of a cluster of native huts and the dock station, which is also the post office, the town hall, and the doctor’s office. There’s a souvenir stand directly outside, selling mug-nuts and raffia hats. I am sending you a jar of a local delicacy called “Grub Chutney” which I am assured is an anti-oxidant, vitamin-rich, boosts the immune system, and cures all manner of diseases, in hopes that it may prove helpful for your gout.

If not, you can give it Sonjia.

Your loving son,


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