Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All Hail Me!

Because it's my birthday. Well, ok, not yet.But soon! August 3rd, actually! My 4th annual 27th birthday, a fairly significant one, at that.

My birthday and my Etsy birthday coincide pretty neatly, so I want to do something cool, shop-wise. So I turn to you, blog-people, for advice-- what should I do for my loyal and semi-loyal patrons? Free shipping? Percent off? What do you like to see going on in a shop?

Send me your ideas, leave a comment, whatever-- because I'm doing another giveaway here, right now, and I'll be drawing my winners on the day itself! What's the prize?'ll see. But if you like my art,you'll want it.

Meantime, I am off to conquer the world like a pinata full of chocolate and paint. Meaning, I guess, I'll miss a lot and end up winded and falling over. Still: fun!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hot Dog Time!

There are many things I would not know if not for the internet. Blogging, in particular, has brought me news of a great many things that anyone not desperate for material would find inconsequential to an almost staggering degree. I feel like a newspaper columnist!

For instance, did you know right now we're having some sort of hotdog..awareness...thing? It appears to be true! Now, I have nothing against hotdogs. I do not hold with the baffling snobbery that says it's great to eat the ass-end of a pig, but not the lips. And since I can actually read an ingredients list, I know that most hotdogs contain exactly what an average pork meal would anyway, i.e., pigmeat, spices, maybe a little starchy binder. The Jungle was a long time ago, folks, we get meat in our meat these days. At least in America.

In fact, hotdogs were an essential part of my path to culinary maturity. Tis true! Hotdogs, you see, are safe to trust to a young child who might not have entirely grasped the concept of heat-based hygiene yet. While most people eat them straight or on a bun, I was taught the wide legacy of hot-dog based white trash foods, like beans-n-wieners, hot dog pasta, and the never-again-to-be-spoken-of hot dog salad. Hot dogs broadened my horizons and kept me off the streets.

Yes, there are those who sneer at hot dogs--even those who would ban them-- because they're a cheap and commonly popular protein source, and we can't have that. But to heck with them--when they've eliminated the evils of school-lunch "salisbury steak", then perhaps we can talk. Until then, step away from the dogs. For without hot dogs, what would we eat at spectator sporting events? What could we grill on a moment's notice on sweltering hot summer days? What would be embedded in Jello Salad in old cookbooks, causing us all to have momentary but severe concerns about the existence of just and loving gods?

And most importantly, without hotdogs, how could the Texas State Fair have been the birthplace of that most perfect stick-food, the corndog? Answer: it couldn't. And then the Texas State Fair would not be maniacally devoted to promoting fried madness. And we would probably have had to cede the most lunatic food competition to Minnesota or some forsaken land where "lutefisk" is a concept. As it is, we can claim to deep fry Coke, so we're at least in the running. Thanks, hot dogs!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Impossible Time

There is an old pendulum wall clock in our living room that has never, in my twelve years of residence, ticked, tocked, or struck. There is a good reason for this; it's broken. Like, seriously broken. Pieces are missing; springs are spring. It is pining for the fjords. It is an ex-clock.

And then yesterday, I ran into it with my elbow. It swung wild for a minute on the wall. I caught it, steadied it, set it back not quite straight.

And then, with a great ratcheting whirring noise of gears, the clock started to tick. The pendulum began to swing.

And an hour later, it rang time.

A full day later, it's still going.

Now, the clock is not accurate; it rings whatever hour it darn well feels like, when it feels like it; and the pendulum loses and gains time arbitrarily; and the hands seem to regress and advance at whim. That is not the point. This clock shouldn't be working at all. It is not possible for this clock to even simulate function. And yet it is doing so.

Much as I'd like to maintain my rationality, here, a lifetime of fiction addiction and subsequent genre awareness prevents me. Clearly, this is a portent of some great sort. I choose to believe it signals that this is the time to achieve impossible things-- write a novel! Win the lottery! Clean all the dishes and have a clean sink for an entire day!

And, of course, pack a bag for traveling in an alternate universe. Because if this baby strikes thirteen, it's go time. I've read the books.


Seriously, it's weird. Tell me of weirdness in your world! Or what impossible things you want to do! A very nosy person wants to know!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Walk Through: Season Girls, with Watercolor!

Hello, my poor neglected blog! How are you today?

Yes, I've been away. I could explain why, but it's complicated and involves terms like "neurovascular", so let's skip it, shall we? I want to get to blather!

I have a lot to blather about,certainly. There's the Etsy blogger o' the month (seriously, check out Lazy T Crochet on Etsy), the looming Akon update (I am now to the Editing Scythe phase of that post. Gyeek. Anyone know how to do a Blog Cut here?) and the fact that I have become Carapace, Queen of Giveaways this month, and need to gloat on my swag with supervillainess cackling.

First I need an Idea. If I've got a good solid one, I'll sometimes just start drawing on the Cintiq; but I wanna break out the paints today,so I go experimenting on a good ol' paper sketchbook. Hmm, no particular idea in mind. When I don't know what way to, how about Art Nouveau?

Ok, so I'm not totally content with them. But if I wait until I'm totally content with any idea,I will not only fail to get anything done, I will enter some weird alternate state where the work other people do is actually undone by my entropy.

Anyway, I love this part, when the idea is still new and innocent and full of possibilities. Look at those sketches, they could be anything! Time to start corrupting them! I can't show you the next bit, because it's where I put draw a new clean version on watercolor paper with non-photo blue pencil, and that, well, doesn't scan so well. That's sort of the point.

But I can show you the next step! Using what's sometimes called "dry on dry"- that is, watercolor with hardly any water on dry paper-- I paint my outlines. I use midrange-price brushes, Ebony brand; I like the level of spring they've got better than the supposedly awesome expensive brushes I've tried. Which is good, since a ten-brush set of Ebony costs less than a single expensive brush. Anyway, I digress. For this set, I'm doing the outlines in matching colors to the fill, at least at this level. Here we go:

At this point, if you know me well enough, you might notice that these are a familiar couple of faces. To you I say: yes, very good, and also Hesh, no one else needs to know about that. Yet.
I LIKE these outlines; they're pretty much where I want them to be. I especially like the winter woman, and the way her scarf and the curves of her hair interact. You'll notice I've flipped the sunflower girl; that's an old trick to make the eye see proportion issues it might have missed. Dont' worry, she'll be back to normal in the next one.
I pause to note here that I'm told some people find watercolor very challenging. It's actually a very forgiving medium! I and my shaky hands love the heck out of it. It allows lots of color to go down fast, and certain level of fluidity that I can never get with ink. It's also really easy to blend colors on the page. There's not the endless forgiveness of acrylics, but there is a level of speed and ease that no other coloring method, not even computer, offers.
However, watercolor shares with ink the potential to totally ruin any amount of previous work as you go along. So, since I like my outlines, now it gets scary. Now, I have something I can seriously screw up! Yay! Better lay down some color while I'm still on my high:

Oooh, the pants are turning out niiiiiiice. Winter is a very hard season to represent; in really cold places it's "white, with white bits" and here it's "like the rest of the year, but desaturated". Winter is actually shades of gold and pale blue here; the grass is all sunburnt and dry but not dead, and the light has that quality that only comes from being angled uncomfortably far from the sun. Watercolor's really the only media that works for it.

Summer, though, is actually pretty tricky. I think the summer picture might have benefited from some more accessories, but I got caught up in the Swoopy. Something to keep in mind when I redo these on computer. On the other hand, it'll probably look just fine at postcard size. I'll see; maybe I can redeem it in later stages with some interesting paintwork. Thoughts?