Thursday, October 30, 2008

Image Unrelated

Ok, this is just filler so I have something up here for today. It's not like I didn't do anything today... I just didn't do anything visual to share. Today was a web design day. My art site got updated with the recent paintings, as I had forgotten that posting them here only is only so helpful. The Precocious page now has my Obama sketch on its main page. I figure that's far more interesting than the sub-par Max strip that was up there. Still, it's mild progress on a day when I had a case if the fuckits.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I bet you'll vote this time, hippy!

Sketched this out while watching the Obama special.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Secret of Mania

Since I'm wasting time with a video game, I have to do some semi-related sketches as penance. (Click it to see the full-sized image, of course.)

Here are my kids playing with various deadly weapons available to Mana's adventurers. Bud is sporting the traditional sword and shield a la Legend of Zelda. This is not Zelda and Mana dude does not have a shield, but I'm willing to sacrifice integrity for style. Autumn is sporting the Xena-esque chakram, level two of the boomerang progression. In the background, we have a traditional domestic scene: Suzette, armed with the whip, is after the javelin-wielding Jacob. Aww.

Those troublesome gingers

I missed a day. I have no good excuse. Was I working too much to touch the computer? No. I was abusing the Wii's virtual console. Secret of Mana is the one game I wanted to pick up as soon it was available - I've coveted it ever since I had a Nintendo Power subscription while owning a woeful Sega Genesis - and this week it appeared. What kind of man would I be if I didn't follow my dreams?

Anyway, here's the Annelise painting as it stands. Like Moreh, the "shirt" is just a block of color for now. I think I'll tackle that last. The hair and knife are going to be far more fun. (By the way, the knife will be bigger in the end, but it's still of the tiny and decorative variety.) The hands, although not fun at all, are also vital. If I rock them, no one will care if I cut all corners possible with the top!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ice Queen

Aside from a few minor tweaks here and there, my Dania painting is done. I dunno if you like it, but those background windows are exactly what I wanted to paint. The end result is fairly successful when it comes to painting an intriguing freak of nature. w00t!

My other painting goal today was to salvage Millie, but I'm at the point where I think it's time to break out the gesso and cover up most of what's there. Like many of my recent paintings, the initial placement of the figure ended up conflicting with the pose I wanted. I should be able to salvage Moreh in an Ang Lee making Hulk point of way - that is, hide all the poorly-rendered details in shadow - but Millie's going to need a new pose.

I pulled out my old almost-classing Risk Key 70's temptress and began trying to tighten up the composition. The final, should I get this project going again, will likely never match the coolness of the first sketch, but I see potential.

On the plate for tonight: Trying to turn a photo of Andrew's furry paws holding scissors into Annelise's rosy fingers holding a pretty dagger. Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The joy of belt sanders?

Here's an almost finished Maggie for ya! She needs some touch-ups in the skin department, but otherwise things are going well. The painting is not exactly depicting the canonical Maggie, but that's a good thing as the story Maggie isn't nearly as cute. Yes, friends, I sanded down the Bai Ling "character" blockheaded and sharp features a bit too much. She also got fuller lips due to a gruesome painting accident in which I unknowingly nicked the black paint when I thought I only head maroon. The only solution was to give her a fuller, more seductive pout. Oh noes! Who would ever want to buy a cute chick painting? Answer: Still no one. :'-(

As always, the pic isn't the best due to crappy lighting, but you'll have to deal.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ok, fine... Ever see Friends?

Here's the other way I could interpret today's events, in network TV form!

Ever see Panic Room?

How about Inside Man? Either way, I'm referencing a break-in movie featuring Jodi Foster being awesome.

The noises have changed today. The loud banging on the floor has ceased as the new floor is down. Replacing it is the sounds of sawing and drilling... which seems to be moving down through the floor, closer and close to breaking through my ceiling. IT'S LIKE THEY'RE CRAWLING THROUGH MY WALLS! Hello, paranoia, my old friend! Dude, I just got rid of Super Mouse - and I still jump at every little sound, thinking she's come back to kill me! THIS IS NOT HELPING!

This stuff can royally fuck up a sleeping pattern. I've been spending my mornings in a restless daze, trying to get some sleep in between break-in sessions. This can cause weird dreams. Today's dream involved me grinding my hips against Josh. Ok, that wasn't salacious as it sounds - I was trying to scoot in between Josh and Maddy (!) while visiting her in New York. It was fun times, even if it reminded me that I am so dull that *all* my friends are far more interesting than me.

Continuing the dream, Josh and I had our fun, then had to leave and drive home. On the way out of the building, we got stuck at a light as endless (and increasingly innocent-looking) pedestrians kept moving through the crosswalk and preventing us from our GOD-GIVEN RIGHT to take left turns. With Josh cursing at little children for blocking our way, I began to edge up to take my turn. Just when it looked like the kids were finally out of the way, one angry schoolmarm type stood right in front of us. Flipping us off. Seems our edging up on the kids upset her, so she decided to make a stand against us savages! We blew by her, running a red light, with her flicking us off all the way. Welcome to New York!

On the drive back, Josh told me he had stop at regular intervals at designated areas because his trucker's union had rules he had to follow. The dream ended as we wandered around a mini mall/lecture hall combo trying to find Josh's union office. You know, vivid and detailed dreams only happen every so often, and instead of hanging out with Alicia Witt and Mila Kunis playing "naked philosophical twister" I spent it DEALING WITH A GODDAMN TRUCKERS UNION! I don't care if your tits are bigger, Josh, it's just not the same!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why finish something when you can just start something else?

So I had one last canvas to defile. One last wrapped piece of potential. How could I have overlooked it all this time? I am nothing if not thorough in my painterly destruction! A new Maquette girl must enter this world!

Besides, I was royally fouling up the other paintings. Fresh start!

This is Mi Magnolia, known as "Maggie" because of her stupid name. ("Who's that?" "Oh, that's Mi." "You wish!") In Audde, the capital of my fictional territory Ardille, there is a clear division between the classes. The higher ups get to dance around in the architectural wankery that is a city built over a mountain valley. Not in. Over. It's pure showing off! The Ardillian elite also have a hard-on for pompous names that seem to come from lame fantasy stories. (Getting into meta humor here.) They can (mostly) pull it off, but those lower-class people always seen the need to imitate their superiors and they are not always as successful. Mi Magnolia sounds catchy and looks pretty on the page, but it's more of a bad movie title than a name.

So Maggie is class struggle personified. Her ticket into the upper class is to work as a personal trainer in the senate's gym, where she can charm powerful men who can't help but fantasize about a younger woman. (She's not that young, at 36, but is technically younger!) There's no doubt she has aspirations of breaking into the upper class, but questions surround her in regards to how far she will go. Does she genuinely like the people she chats with, or is she winning them over in a more salacious way? Does she want power for herself, or is there something more malicious behind her. She keeps writing in that notebook when she thinks no one is watching - is she a spy?

On the painting front, I had initially dismissed doing a Maggie piece because I wasn't sure I could capture enough of her. Where was I going to find an Asian woman who is fit, sort of blockheaded, with bangs and a ponytail? That seems a lot to ask for in a random Google search. It's not like I could think of a well-known actress who would fit the - hold on.... BAI LING! Her cartoonish features and hair are a perfect base for a painting! Maggie as I picture her would look like Bai Ling, if Bai was a bit more compact and someone took a belt-sander to her. How did I not make this connection before today?

On the painting itself, I'm still in the process of figuring out the exact placement of features, but all of my first drafts have those flaws. (As well as many finals!) I was tempted to put her other hand in the picture holding a pen, as if she's jotting down a note and looking around to see if anyone spots her, but that would be hard so fuck it. Instead I'm positioning her left arm to imply she's looking back as she walks out of a room to check her notes.

On to the other paintings! Dania has been driving me nuts. She's really close to coming together, but I am flailing about to get the final touch in that will cement it all.

There are two big changes here. First, I've given her a new dress. I decided to hit Google to see if I could find a dress similar to the one I had her wearing in my writing. One jumped out at me, as it was draping horribly on the mannequin and looking awkward. I am all about that! Of course, in adding that dress I was reminded why I chose to ignore the "ruffles" part of the dress description before. Blech.

The other change is the possible addition of the clipboard. On one hand, it activates more of the space in the painting. On the other hand, I'm not sure I could stylize a clipboard and make it look right. Thus, I panic and run away! Every time I work on Dania, so much white paint is lost!

The white paint thing is also causing me to screw up Moreh. When one has to mix colors, one cannot make enough for just a few brush strokes - yet I keep micromixing and running out with Moreh with my irrational need to ration. This means each new step needs me to mix the color just right or it looks terrible. Epic fail with that so far.

Her outfit is also causing problems. She appears too large on the canvas for me to show the table on which her hands are resting. This means my skill as a painter must somehow make the arm positions look correct. I'm fucked! Best I could do for now was to underpaint a block of green which seems in no way connected to either arm. Yay! The teacup is crap too, but that's because I haven't really focused on it yet.

See, this is why people love me. I'm so fucking positive about things!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hey look! Sketches!

Sadly, it feels like it's been years since I last did a page of sketches that didn't suck out loud. I am seriously out of rhythm here. As fun as painting has been, I've got to get back to the danged comic.

Don't mind me, it's just insanity at work! This is me prepping for the next strip, which kicks off the last batch of clunky stuff before things get enjoyably nutty. It's progress! In theory I'll be finishing *something* this week. In theory. It's easy to make these claims when the house isn't vibrating.

The Paulsen Wildlife Sanctuary


Such is life in plague-a-day land! So far we've dealt with the biblical onslaught of terrors such as cute vermin, construction workers, my brother and bees. What's next for God's wrath? My bet is ambitious raccoons making their home inside our walls.

Check it out: Exterminator dude found the queen! Her she is next to a minion for comparison. We've hit the colony with biological weapons, destroyed their infrastructure and paraded their dead leader about for our own amusement. HOW AMERICAN IS THAT? USA! USA! USA!

Exterminator dude said we had the largest nest he'd ever seen. This is not to be confused with the last times yellow jackets made a bold real-estate venture into our neighborhood. What does that say about my family that we ignore these problems until hundreds of bees begin to rain down upon us, coming from INSIDE THE HOUSE! We watched them zoom around all summer thinking, "Hey, cool! It's nature!" What could possibly go wrong?

I tried to sneak up next to the action and take some close-ups, but that venture was thwarted after my unrestrained hair became a net for buzzing bastards. It's the hip new accessory people! After getting my buddies to tag along, I backed down before disaster could strike.

Covering myself in bees for attempted bad photography = cute.
Getting stung repeatedly by bees for bad photography = stupid.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Headbanger's bawl


Wondering why I didn't get a post in yesterday? *THONK* *THONK* Maybe it has something to do with *BAM* *BAM* our ridiculous construction project shifting to the room ABOVE MY STUDIO! *WHIRRRRRRRR* It's amazing how one's concentration is shattered when one's environment *WHANG* *WHANG* *WHANG* is fulled with constant hammering and power tool usage. *BRRRRRRUNKUNKUNK* As I type this, three different people are hammering above my head - all at different rhythms. *KLONG* INSPIRATIONAL!


I wasn't completely unproductive, at least. Several paintings got some tweaks, but none were altered enough to merit a posting. I also did a buttload of work on my Maquette outline - which is great for my soul, if worthless on an art blog.


I am enduring this without medical assistance as well, having run out of ibuprofen a few weeks back. I can't even escape outside, as the sun has entered its fail phase. On that note, the cool weather and ripped-apart house means the upstairs is now filled with bees. They really add to the ambiance.


My fallback of putting on a movie and painting/sketching is also interrupted, since it's hard to listen/concentrate when *BANG* uh *BANG* It's hard to *BANG* to do *BANG* to uh *BANG* *BANG* concen- *BANG* con- *BANG* to *BANG*

Oh, fuck it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Moreh the merrier!

It was a pun that had to be made. Deal with it.

This is step 2 of my Moreh painting. It looks pretty good so far. (The image here is a bit too contrasty, making the face look splotchier than it actually is. It's a consequence of photographing without proper lighting.) The strange mass at the lower left will one day become the aforementioned hand with a teacup. One day. As of now, I'm scared to work on it further out of fear I'd screw it up.

FUCK Volunteering!

Only good thing to come from volunteering at the Mill: It allowed me to drop off Mousie in another town, ensuring she won't return this time. I hope. If she *does* manage to get back, I'm doomed.

Otherwise, the Mill was a completely unpleasant experience. The people running the place seemed to have their clique of volunteers, making a n00b like me a useless outsider. The artists around seemed to have their clique of barn-painters, making a contemporary artist like me a strange outsider. Most of my time was spent wandering from wall to wall, occasionally straightening a frame and slowly dying inside.

Sitting in the gallery was profoundly depressing. The economy is shit, so no one is buying. There's a giant festival across the road from the art show, including the police blocking off access to the mill from one location, so foot traffic is down. The reliable regulars to the mill are only there to buy traditional art, meaning I didn't see anyone give any of the interesting paintings a second look. Unless the art featured barns, horses, cuddly animals, birds, flowers, clouds or the mill itself, it was ignored. Watching person after person fawn over four very MEH paintings featuring two birch trees in each season killed more of my soul each time.

Today, one of the artists was in attendance, painting a large copy of one of his displayed paintings by request. The painting was of chickens. Chickens. The painting. Chickens. BY REQUEST! I tried to chat with him for a bit, but he was notably condescending and dismissive. I mentioned I had begun painting relatively recently. He responded that people must LEARN to paint over time. I told him I normally work in drawing. He responded that everyone can draw and it's purely learning of technique. I told him that his sketches would make good lithographs. He responded that he didn't like lithography and only liked etchings. This was all exacerbated by his snotty British accent. I looked through the catalog he brought, promoting his work as well as that of his pathetic, talentless, fairy-loving wide. I TRIED to say something positive, but I... I couldn't. Best I could do was say, "Oh, neat." Watching people fawn over him all day was excruciating. Chickens. Middleburg, Virginia can just go fuck itself. Next mill show, I am only submitting paintings of sunflowers and barns.

Not only was this agonizing, but it the temperature kept dropping until the circulation stopped in my toes. Oh, and I was missing the Redskins-Browns game! Thankfully, those two teams decided to wait until I showed up at halftime to start playing. THAT IS WHY I LOVE THOSE TEAMS!

And I had to come home to a house missing a kitchen, meaning my retard brother (WHO DOES NOT LIVE HERE, BUT SHOWS UP TO MOOCH FOOD THE MINUTE I BRING IT INTO THE HOUSE) was constantly in and out of my room. Dude is uncomfortably stupid, and unbearable to be around. The last thing I need after a day of visual stupidity is to have stupidity personified hanging around to violate my food and only leave once he was asked to clean up an unsanitary mess he'd created. Dude is more destructive and unsanitary than the mouse could ever hope to be.

In conclusion: If I ever find a genie in a bottle who grants me three wishes, one of them will be to create a disease that painfully kills the stupid while leaving the smart stronger.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Milling Around

This is the last weekend for Art at the Mill, and I have foolishly volunteered to do whatever Mill volunteers do for this closing. If anyone wants to visit me, I'll be there from 3-6 Saturday (today) and 2-5 on Sunday.

What was I thinking? Do I really need to impress a bunch of people who happily purchase paintings of the mill instead of my artwork? I only took the Sunday shift because it's the official end of the show and they told me I could take my unsold paintings home when I was done.

Also, I managed to volunteer DURING THE BROWNS-REDSKINS GAME! Could I have time it any better? Criminy!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dreaming of black death

Yes, I did actually have a dream where I got infected with what I assume was the bubonic plague. Gee, I wonder why?

Mousie is still staying at Hotel Chrispy. For those wishing to view my little celebrity, time is running out. Since she's come back every time I released her in my yard, I'm going to do the old "drop off the dog at the county line and speed away" method this weekend. Would it be uncouth to show up for my volunteer session at Art at the Mill with a mouse in hand?

Anyway, as has become tradition, I did another mouse girl sketch. Check out that dynamic pose! She is not happy with her current situation.

Sending more women to their doom

This has not been the best day on the painting front. Maybe it has to do with HEAVY CONSTRUCTION GOING ON ABOVE MY HEAD! Anyway, I probably did more harm than good to my Dania and Millie paintings, so no sharing until I right those wrongs.

I did, however, start the other two paintings I've been planning. These have an increased difficulty level, meaning I am setting myself up for big time failure.

This is Moreh Serev. An argument can be mounted that she is *the* most important character of the first half of Maquette, so it's best that I don't fuck this up.

Obviously, Moreh is no spring chicken. She's 56, and that means she's been a power player for a good long time. And I do mean that literally: Powerful people are her playthings. Because of that, I wanted her to have a sly, "I own your ass," expression.

Making her rest her head in her hand is important for two reasons: If done right, it helps convey her casual amusement at her manipulations, and her hands are somewhat symbolically important in the story. If I had painted a pose showing off her palms I'd explain more, but making Moreh do the jazzhands thing would be ridiculous. As of now the pose looks ridiculous anyway, but I'm hoping that's more about how her pose and torso haven't been developed yet than about me sucking at this.

As for the exact scene I am depicting, I'm playing it safe with a fairly universal Moreh pose for now. If I get more hand-painting ambition, I might show her other hand holding a teacup, which would place the painting during her introductory scene - where she's getting under the skin of the two people you just don't fuck with in Maquette. Reach for the stars, Moreh!

This is Marilee Ruth Bishop. She usually goes by various nicknames, but I'm writing her full name here as I don't think I've done it anywhere else. (It may all be in my head, but it's not always in my notes.) She was the original subject of the painting that became Millie, but my grand idea forced me to a new canvas.

Marilee has a strange quirk about her: She kinda glows in the dark. There's a *really* awesome explanation that that, but I'll leave you guessing for now. For her introduction, she's standing at the back of a dark room and slowly lights up. Spooky! I want to see if I can make it work! That's why I'm including a negative of the first sketch, since it sorta resembles the goal of the painting.

Unfortunately, I sorta screwed up the pose. Initially, I wanted to show more of her body since her introduction has her standing farther back from "the camera." Then I decided my strength is in the face and hair, so I pulled it in a big tighter. The result: She's far enough away to lose detail in her face, but too close for me to work a dynamic pose. Awesome!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Absence of Vanilli

That is a horrible post title. I apologize to the world.

You know that mysterious third painting I refused to show with my Annelise and Dania paintings? It sucked. The character I wanted to depict was not coming out right at all, and fixing it seemed a daunting task. Finally, after deciding to try to depict actual scenes instead of just character portraits, the light bulb went off in my head about this third gal. I knew *exactly* how she should be painted - and this current work was not going to fit the new approach at all.

So it was time for feminine alchemy! The one chick had to become another from the Maquette story. You know, for a story with a hundred or so important characters, my tale is frighteningly short on sexy young ladies. In my defense: The story deals with how a major event affects power structures, and the big leaders tend not to be 20-something models. (I know... TV lied to you.)

There was only one choice for me: Millie! She is the sweet young nurse (she's 28, but in my story that counts as young) that causes more than a few guys to fall for her as she travels. How did I not select her for a painting before?

What you see is the results of a few hours spent reshaping the painting to my needs. A lot of the proportions are still off, but it's a million times better than what it was before.

For this scene, Millie is sitting in a makeshift bar. She's looking for a group of travelers to join, and this is the place for the "singles" to mingle. Instead of actively searching people out, she sits at the bar and slowly consumes her cocktail. What you see here is her lifting her glass and giving the bartender that "fill 'er up" look.

Had the painting been from scratch, she would have been looking down at the half-empty glass sitting on the bar. But it wasn't, so I had to improvise. Contrary to what is depicted, Millie's hand is not a bloody mangled mess. That is the result of me pulling in my brother and having him hold a glass for me while I did the best to paint it quickly. (He's unbearable to listen to, so getting him out of the room was a pressing need.) As noted before, I suck at hands, so any little bit helps. I still dread painting the damned thing.

Ahh, but that's all in the future. The face is still in need of massive cosmetic surgery, a far easier mangling for me.

Guess who's back... back again...

Mousie's back. Tell your friends!

This time I claim no responsibility in capturing her. She was smart enough to climb the shelf thing behind my desk to get to where I keep my downstairs food - kept there because, in theory, it would keep mice away - but dumb enough to get trapped in an old cereal box. For the record: The box wasn't closed properly because I had moved it aside to be tossed the next time I took out the garbage. I'm not a *complete* slob.

Anyway, I gave her a new habitat this time. The container is more transparent, allowing for enhanced cuteness viewing. It was also supposed to be a harder container for the mouse to chew through. Success was mixed. The structure does make it more difficult for gnawing, but I grabbed the lid with a crack by mistake - giving the mouse one spot in which she can wedge her teeth. Come morning, she had made a tiny hole. I clicked the cracked portion back into place, slowing her down, and stuck a straw through the hole. Now she sometimes swings on the straw. Aww!

So tell me, mousie, was the cereal worth it?

Another question: Is this really the same mouse? It's fun to think of it that way, but what about the evidence...

The picture on the right is of the "first" captured mouse, after my cat had nibbled on it a bit. The picture on the left is from my current captive. Granted, mice do tend to be chewed on at times, so this can't prove anything - but it *does* give me enough of a reason to claim I have a recidivist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Awkwardly painting is not the same as painting awkward

I am still slugging away at my genetic freak characters.

Annelise is coming along well enough. Every single thing in this painting need to be retouched, but that's in line with my earlier description of her character so I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm just happy to present a step with more accurate colors.

She is decidedly less blue for this step, which is a positive. Whenever I use blue for initial sketch, I am inviting disaster. Blue made sense for Dania and the other painting. Blue made NO sense for Annelise. Still, when doing the basic layers I use whatever paint I have at the time, so blue it was! With this painting, I am glad to see the blue almost entirely eradicated. Annelise's compliment color is GREEN. I felt the need to hammer that home by tossing in that bit of background. Green good. Blue bad.

When I abandoned the painting on the easel last night, her eye color was still blue and the one on the right was missing completely. When I woke up, the first thing I saw was a one-eyed chick looking directly at me. Creepy. The eyes have come a long way since, but they're going to look a bit disjointed until I go back to add more color to the face. More flesh tone will anchor them in place - particularly on the recently-added right eye - and the thick black line under her eye will be muted dramatically. When doing these touch-ups, I expect to make her lips a bit fuller as well.

Even with this progress, I may be tabling this painting for a bit. It's all because of that damn necklace. In the story, the necklace holds a great deal of significance. Once Annelise receives it, her character really takes off. And I mean that more literally than figuratively. There's another key item that comes into Annie's possession when she gets the necklace: An ornate jeweled knife.

Since I like where the painting is going, I am going to aim high and include that knife. To do so, it requires me painting a fairly complex pose with her hands - and my record with hands is not stellar. Anyone want to be a hand model for me?

Painting Dania, on the other hand, has been a struggle. It was only in the most recent pass when I finally started to think I could pull it off. Once her lips and the eye on right are pushed back, I think the real Dania will finally shine through.

The implant/crown-thing and dress are still on step one of treatment. Like the lace trimming on the dress? Dania's introduction has her wearing an ill-fitting babydoll/nightgown dress that only emphasizes her physical abnormalities. (Instead of lace the dress was ruffled, but I felt that wouldn't work with the composition.) I'm not going so far as to make it *really* awkward, as that would make the painting suck. I just want to *hint* at the real Dania (and Annelise, for that matter) while making a painting that can stand alone with its quality.

Edit: Because I'm too scared to continue with painting for now, I want to talk about backgrounds.

I've been looking over the paintings and contemplating my decision to depict the women based on events inside the story. If I wanted to be really accurate, I'd match up the backgrounds as well.

For Annelise, there is only one possible moment when she would turn to someone, wearing the necklace, and show off the knife. It would be during her final goodbye after her resignation. She is given the necklace the morning of her departure, along with some important advice on how to use the necklace. Armed with that knowledge, Annelise would return to her boss' office and "borrow" the knife. As she exited the office, she would pass by the original owner of the necklace, stop and briefly flash the knife. This scene will not appear in the story, as it is redundant. We already know the motivations from the necklace scene. We know she went back from the knife because she pulls it out later. Still, the scene does happen, so I can paint it!

OK, so Annelise is in an office space at the time of the pose. The background already started is a textured green. That's a problem, right?

ACTUALLY, I managed to luck the fuck out! You know that office space? It's designed to resemble a forest glade. THE WALLS ARE PAINTED GREEN! Woohoo! Yay for prescient artistic choices! The idea for the forest-themed office was to have the walkways in the office space made of blue carpet to resemble a stream - implying those elite enough to enter the office actually walk on water. Incidentally, this means Annelise is facing southwest for this pose. The northern wall of the office is painted green. The southern side is a progression of windows with potted plants. I love that I know details like this!

For Dania, putting in an accurate background would require a change. The circle thing was meant to hint at the mandala-like discs she creates as part of her "summoning" - I won't bore you with details. Anyway, the scene I am depicting in the Dania painting is one of the few I've actually written out. Here it is:

On first impression, most who meet her find her to be striking—which is not always a compliment. Physically, she was extremely thin, which was only highlighted by her height. In truth, she was no taller than your average woman, but the width was simply not to scale. This disparity was quite apparent today, thanks to her high heels, periwinkle skirt and an ill-fitting sleeveless ruffled tan top. Her outfit provided a stark contrast to the administrator, who was wearing his long official rob, deep blue as a base and embroidered with maroon and gold. Reaching Gar, she stopped abruptly, causing her loose curls to bounce, and stood formally waiting for the administrator to turn from his window, looking like a very polite ghost.

With the angle shown in the painting, Dania's background would be the windows of the hallway. You know, those windows are very doable. Sweet!

This means Dania is facing northwest in the painting. It also means the scene takes place around 5:30-6pm. Heh. If the painting extended farther down, you'd see a loaded clipboard in her right hand resting against her skirt. Another note: When I first conceived of painting my characters, I was going to use this exact scene - but with Gar Strickland as my focus instead. Then I realized painting dudes was not as much fun.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just go ahead and skip this post - part 1

Alternate title: If I could have thought up a properly witty name, I would have set up a sports blog by now.

Seriously, go read my ramblings and whining about common artist frustration (made worse because an *artist* whining ups the douchebaggery quotient greatly) and look at the beginnings of potential pretty pictures in the post below.

This is just getting something out of my head. No, it's not about emotions. It's about sports. I love sports and I'm a complete and total BORE when talking about sports. Today I actually out-talked my jerkoff brother (known for rattling off so many empty statements on autopilot that he continues even when you leave the room) because his congratulations on my Browns winning led me to talk football. I have a LOT to say about football, and no one in their right mind would want to hear it.

The goal here is to go team-by-team and blather in an attempt to purge my football chatting desires. If you keep reading, you only have your dumb self to blame. Today's post is about the NFC, the conference of kings!

NOTE: Many of the football player/coach names are likely misspelled. I did no research at all for this post. Deal with it.

NFC East:

I was born and raised in DC. My family has rooted for the Redskins for generations. We bleed burgundy and gold. I grew up watching the first Joe Gibbs era when the Redskins won three super bowls. Guess how THESE statements are going to go!

Redskins: Gotta start with my 'Skins. Even after the soul-hurting loss, there is still optimism in DC. I think we all knew the Rams were the upset pick of last week. The Redskins had fought hard for four games, winning each time as the underdog and beating four great teams. Since football is such an emotional and momentum-based game, the worst team in the league coming to town was seen as a way to take a breather and relax from the extreme tension from the first quarter of the season. The Rams, on the other hand, were very hungry for a win and had everything to prove. Even with the 'Skins off-balance, they came very close to winning on a bad day. 100 things went wrong for them on Sunday. Had only 99 things gone wrong, the Redskins would have won.

When I was watching the Eagles game with the *other* side of my family - the side where my only connection to them is sports - I was doing the typical cynical Redskins fan thing. I was happy to see success, but steeling myself for the moment when it all falls apart. My preppy cousin then turned to me and told me not to act like an Eagles fan. They go to every game assuming the worst, ready to boo at the first incomplete pass. They seem to *like* being sad sacks, and because of that Philly teams *deserve* to lose in heartbreaking fashion. Good advice. I'm going to enjoy what I can from this Redskins season, because we're playing with house money at this point.

Eagles: See above. Because their fans suck, they should suck too. I blame the 49ers for not finishing the Eagles off, as that would have killed any Philly optimism remaining. Seriously, that city should not be allowed success. If the Phillies even get to the World Series, I will be sad.

Team-wise, I fear Deshawn Jackson. Fortunately, he is as stupid as he is talented. If the boy ever stops actively failing, I will be scared. Fortunately, that should be right about the time when Donovan McNabb finally explodes on field. We all know it's coming. His leg will snap off, he'll puke on the field, shudder a bit, briefly burst into flames and then go boom. Fans should consider all future Eagles games as potential Gallagher shows.

Giants: I've always admired Tom Coughlin, so I'm glad he's been vindicated. Still, I hate when a coach or player I like goes to a team I don't. I suppose if an NFC East team that is NOT the 'Skins should win a Super Bowl, I'd prefer it to be the Giants - but that's like me saying I'd prefer to have my leg amputated instead getting my head chopped off. Also, Eli Manning needs more Manning face. Like his damn brother, he has a media-driven Super Bowl MVP that is not deserved and a Super Bowl win that came from the other team mysteriously sucking come the playoffs. The last three Super Bowl winners have been painfully unfulfilling. It's one thing for having teams I hate winning because they're the best, but the Steelers, Colts and Giants just sort of won games when their better opponents failed to show up.

Cowboys: Fuck Dallas. They deserve all the misfortune they get for the soulless arrogance on which the franchise is built. Sometimes bad people are great athletes. All times those awful people seem to end up in Dallas. The entire team, coaching staff, ownership and fan base should die of pancreatic cancer. Don't look at me like that. I'm being merciful! That cancer kills you quickly, so they won't suffer long. The human race will benefit from the skimming of scum from the gene pool.

NFC South:

For many sports people, this is their least-liked division. There are no big-market, big history teams, so fuck 'em! The south is COLLEGE football country, so this division is unworthy due to the teams not commanding as much attention. You know what? FUCK THOSE PEOPLE! I love the NFC South! Artistically, they all have great logos and colors. Also: The hottest cheerleaders.

Panthers: This team is overdue for a Super Bowl. They need to win it to shut the big-market-loving talking heads the fuck up. Tom Brady goes down, and the Patriots get tons of pity. Jake Delhomme goes down and analysts rant about how sucky the team is and how John Fox should be fired. They had to get a shovel and dig up Vinny Testeverde, for Pete's sake! Worst still: They tried to let David "getting sacked gives me sexual pleasure" Carr play QB! People should be amazed they won seven games with those guys! C'mon, Panthers, win the Super Bowl and use the trophy to sodomize every sportscaster in America. They are way too inconsistent this year, but I am still hoping they pull it together.

Falcons: I've always had a fondness for the Falcons, even if they lost their favorite spot when the Panthers hit the league. Matt Ryan playing like a #3 draft pick should play is just awesome. This is a team that took a poor talent pool (thanks to the exciting-yet-failtastic roster built around Michael Vick) and rebuilt with shocking speed. Their new coach came from the Jaguars, a team I love, so I wish them the best of success. If tradition in this topsy-turvy division continues, then this is the Falcons' year! If anything, I want to see a dynasty created around Matt Ryan and a stellar offensive line. Postseason success isn't even necessary (yet) - just stringing together a few winning seasons in a row is what that city needs.

Saints: Basically, I want the Falcons to win this division and the Panthers and Saints to get both NFC wild cards. The Saints have been raped by officiating this year. They should have won against the Broncos and Vikings. They did not deserve to get Hochuli'd. How much crazy misfortune can a good team weather? This is another team that deserves a Super Bowl soon. (How about this: Panthers this year, Seahawks next year, then Browns, then the Saints. THEN the Redskins for the next five decades. Sound good?)

Drew Brees is a savior to franchises that deserve a good turn, so yay him. Toss in a *healthy* bruiser running back (Hurry back, Deuce!) to compliment Reggie Bush's evasive talents and you've got an exciting team to watch. Oh, and someone kill their kicker. Even WITH all the officiating blunders, the Saints would have won if not for the Grammaticasualty. If only Grammatica hadn't tried his new technique of kicking with a broomstick shoved up his ass. If the season doesn't end with Grammatica and Hochuli dead via suicide, then the season is a failure.

One more thing, Saints. I've given you four seasons to do something novel: Get a defense. When the best you can do is signing a guy who was the third-best CB on the Patriots, meaning he was outranked by a scarecrow propped up at the goal line, you might want to reassess your defensive perspective.

Buccaneers: You know, it was cute when they were the lovable losers. Everyone likes the story of a team turning itself around, right? You know what? No. Fuck them in their Fuckaneers.

At first I was excited. They decided to toss out their creamsicle colors and go with a kickass logo, awesome pirate ship stadium and win the war of aesthetics. This is something I can get behind. The problem is the rebranding was not stylish, but a symptom of throwing tons of money at the team to win a championship NOW. They gave away tons of draft picks, threw piles of money at players, brought in all the elements needed to win... and fucking won. MAN, THE REDSKINS HAD BEEN DOING THAT FOR YEARS AND IT NEVER WORKED FOR US! (Note: I HATED Snyder for that ploy when they did it then and have found a renewed love for the 'Skins because they are building a team through coaching and drafting - AND SUCCEEDING WILDLY SO FAR!) Even worse: Turns out all those picks and dollars spent on coach Gruden were totally worth it. That guy keeps resurrecting a team that has no right in staying afloat considering its deficit spending. I also hate them for sending Tony Dungheap to the Colts.

NFC North:

The day this division stops becoming largely irrelevant is a day I greatly fear.

Vikings: I'm really not sure why I don't root for the Vikings. I'm not *against* them, but they're never more than neutral. For me, their job is to hand the Bears two losses every year. They have not been doing that enough. (Not that I've checked the stats to see how they've performed.)

My grandfather, the Dane, loves his Viking heritage. That means I should root for them out of Danish obligation. So what do I do? I root for the Packers. Sorry, Vikings.

Also: The Vikings this year have only avoiding epic failure (they are just regular failures for now) due to bad officiating. I can't respect that.

Packers: I know he's gone, but I want to talk Brett Favre anyway. Why do I root for him? Yeah, I know... He's overexposed, his "gunslinger" label is just a spin job to cover for his occasional sloppy play, he had a painkiller addiction and his blue jeans adds are a plague. Still, think about it... THIS IS ALL I WANT FROM MY LIFE!

I want to be universally, and sometimes unjustifiably, worshiped by the media. I want to have my quirks, down the the worst aspects of me, become a beloved identity and positive thing. (See also: "Manny being Manny.") I want to have a life where everything I do (save one instance) is quite respectable AT WORST! Remember: Favre has only had one losing season EVER! Even when he sucked, he was better than most in the industry. Fuck, I'm even down for the painkiller addiction. It seems like a fun way to pass the time for a while - not to mention it gives my biography some padding! I want to be the artistic Brett Favre. That is my dream.

Now, for the *current* team - there's still a lot to respect. The Packers - ironically, in an stupid effort to drive AWAY Favre - have managed to build a young and crazy-talented team. Even the token "fine, Brett, you can have a late-round WR in the draft" picks have been spectacular. I suppose I can respect it in hindsight - but only because that reckless strategy worked. Hey, Packers, you know who *else* had a reckless strategy that worked...?

Oh, and Aaron Rodgers' nose is a gigantic triangle. That amuses me.

Bears: I never liked this team. I never really hated them always. To me, the Bears were that obstacle team one couldn't keep down. They would suck for two seasons, then jump up and knock a team you liked out of the playoffs for a while. It was a regular cycle. As much as I disliked that they kept returning to greatness every few years, I could deal with it because they'd return to sucking soon enough.

And then I started reading Fark sports discussions. Not only are the Chicago sports fans douchbags in the extreme, but they are aggressive douchebags. They take over every sports thread and will not relent. Watching a bunch of people in a competition to say the funniest comment on the day's games is quite enjoyable - but those Chicago fans became unbearable. (No pun intended.) Every time the Bears - or any Chicago sports team - wins, I hate it because it means awful people are happy.

And that's what made the Falcons' amazing miracle win this week so much more satisfying.

Lions: FIRE MILLEN! Oh, wait, you did. Well, good luck with that. Like the Vikings, your guys are tasked with beating the Bears twice a year. I'll even allow you to have a playoff appearance or two in return.

Eventually this team is going to be coached by someone competent, who will coach players drafter by someone competent. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing. Just beat the Bear, ok?

NFC West:

Many dislike this division because it is the weakest in football. As a Seahawks fan, I DON'T CARE! Hooray for cream puffs!


I've come to terms that Holmgren, a couch I've always admired, will go out on a low note. It's a real shame, because this is the man who turned a team I have loved through so many awful seasons into a perennial contender. There's only one team in the NFC that's won a playoff game in each of the last few seasons: The never-respected Seahawks. This was supposed to be THE year for them. I could feel it!

Then the entire team died. Every single wide receiver got hurt. The backup QB moved to WR and got hurt. One of their duo of dynamic running backs got hurt. Matt Hasselbeck got hurt. CHARLIE "I AM SYSTEMATICALLY DESTROYING ALL OF CHRISPY'S FAVORITE TEAMS" FRYE IS THEIR QUARTERBACK! KOREN "I SANK CHRISPY'S FANTASY TEAM EVERY YEAR BECAUSE I PLAYED DRUNK OFF MY ASS" ROBINSON IS BACK! It was suppose to just be the end of an era - instead it's THE END OF TIMES!

While I'm a big fan of coach-in-waiting Jim Mora Jr., I'm still worried the Super Bowl window is closing. The great players are getting older and the young ones can't stop snapping in two. It would also help if the young players were great, but the Seahawks' top-notch managers keep getting hired away to teams like the Titans. (The only remaining undefeated team right now. Coincidence?)

I want the Seahawks to win a Super Bowl. I mean, they WON a Super Bowl... but the history books are only going to reflect that ridiculously fixed game as a Steelers "win." After the Panthers win their Super Bowl and sodomize all deserving sports people, it'll be time for the Mora-led Seahawks to win theirs and repeat the process. You may think I'm being excessively vindictive here, but keep in mind my targets are sports writers and personalities. Advocating trophy rape is downright benevolent.

Cardinals: I really enjoyed Deadspin when it was under the reign of Will Leitch. His favorite teams rarely conflicted with my interests and thus I was allowed to share in his joy on the rare occasion such teams did well. His posts were entertaining and beautifully written. Dude could make a case for joining him in cheering his beloved Cardinals (in any sport) to victory. When the baseball Cardinals became the worst team ever to win the World Series, I was pleased because the guy actually got to BE there to see his favorite team of all time take home a championship against all odds! When this bullshit happened in football over the last three years, I felt it was a crime against humanity.

Because Leitch loved his Cardinals, giving the enduring "Buzzsaw" nickname, I was able to appreciate them more - although I was often actively rooting against them. Leitch's fandom was so "aww shucks" likable that a Seahawks choke job was almost made bearable.

The current Deadspin head is from Philadelphia. Scroll back up to my first two team entries for a reminder of what I think about that. To make matters worse, the new supporting editor is a fan of the Tennessee Titans, a team I despise, *and* of southern college football, the reason the NFC South is so disrespected. If it wasn't for Rick Chandler's continued excellence (he's in San Francisco, and thus not a sports threat) I might have abandoned Deadspin completely.

So, yeah, Cardinals.

You guys have won enough that no one feels that bad that you're team is a heaping pile of suck right now. That's bad for you, but I'm fine with it. Take as long as yon in getting back on your feet. My Seahawks are going to need to rely on the incompetence of others if they want to stay in the playoffs race in the immediate future.


I'd like to think of the painful defeat the Redskins had to the Rams this week like this: Maybe the Rams weren't that bad after all! They have tons of talent on offense and some promising players on defense. Sure, statistically they were one of the worst teams ever this season... but it all seemed to change this week. Well, on defense. As soon as defensive coordinator Jim Hasslett, a very likable guy, got promoted the defense went from worst in the league to singlehandedly beating the Redskins. Al Saunders, the man responsible for hurting Jason Campbell's self-esteem and game play for the past few years is the Rams' offensive coordinator. Al Saunders' playbook is 700 pages worth of fail. Al Saunders could be given Techmo Bowl Bo Jackson personified and still find a way to never score an offensive touchdown again.

Josh Brown, the Rams' kicker, joins the list with Tom Coughlin and the Seahawks' former personal guy as greatly-skilled people who are now lending their talents to teams I hate. I'm happy for their success, but I wish they had all congregated in Jacksonville instead. This may be awkward, as that's where Coughlin came from and Jack Del Rio is doing a great job, but I love the Jags because they are staffed with coaches I really respect. Consolidate the greatness!

There, that was fun. For me. Not you. Fuck you.

Coming soon: Part II - The AFC.

Preview: Fuck the AFC! Every team except for the Browns, Jags, Pats, Chargers, Ravens and Jets \should be lined up against a wall and shot. I only included the Jets in the saved due to Favre, so if Mangini "accidentally" finds himself in front of the firing squad...oops!

Back to the easel

For some reason, I'm on a painting kick. When this happens, one must not fight it!

These paintings, while still consisting of chicks, makes a new direction that, frankly, scares the bejeebus out of me. I am painting fictional characters. MY fictional characters.

One of my long-term goals in life is to get my act together as a writer. I have stories of all sorts in my head - even in several formats! I have movies, novels, short story collections, graphic novels, plays and TV shows all bouncing about inside my brain. (Oh, and a comic strip, but you might have known that already.) Scariest part: If given the chance, I could tell you everything about them. My problem is that I never learned how to write. In hindsight, it makes sense due to my broken brain - but even with medication the best I can do is write a few pages before I wander off to pace around the room/yard/whatever. My writing folder is filled with documents that are a page and a half (10-point font, single spaced) and often end mid-sentence. How pathetic is that?

I'm a verbal creator. I talk to myself as I pace. I work things out this way. When I sit in front of a computer, the best I can do is throw out whatever I have on the surface-level of my brain and write until something distracts me. (Sometimes, like in this post, I write my distraction and hope the point eventually gets in there.) The problem isn't the same with art, as I am free to get up and bounce around the room as I work. I can flip the canvas/paper, move myself around to work from a different angle or even sprint around the studio to get out excess energy - while keeping my work in the corner of my eye. Writing is...sitting down and just writing. Weird.

Let me tell you that these posts often go through several revisions. (You'll when I *don't* go back to revise because the post is full of typos and makes little sense.) The joy of blogger is that editing doesn't show in the timestamp. Woohoo! Also, blogs tend to favor unfocused rambling. You'll note everything I've written outside of the first four sentences was not something I intended to write. I do this all the time. Only sometimes do I have the proper sense of shame to make me delete the blather.

Anyway! With me and writing, I know my stories inside and out. My tendency is to juggle several fully-formed characters, allowing their personalities to move the plot. This means that, if allowed, I can talk for HOURS on end about some hundred or so characters. Yeah.

My grand piece of writing is my most ambitious: Maquette, a story I call my opera! The characters in the paint sketches below all hail from Maquette. While they will hardly be definitive portraits - as with my painting the style is the main thing - I will do my best to capture what I can of these gals. It's weird to not that the first two characters I decided to take on are both noted for having physical abnormalities. Guess I just like to make things hard for myself.

You can also see more of how my paintings develop, as each painting is at a different stage. The first has had three passes to start figuring out the details. The second is on its second pass, starting to tweak the weakness from the initial sketch. It's still raw as hell and makes me cringe to share it. The last is the very first pass, showing how awkward and awful these things can look when I start 'em. You know what, I'm not going to show that last painting! It's not looking good, it may be scrapped, the character isn't a physical freak like the other two and - most importantly - showing that this character exists would be a *major* spoiler for my story. Those close to me already know the gal, but I have to think of future readers here.

This is Annelise Ellen Rose. Yes, she *does* introduce herself to people using her full name. In her defense, the Rose surname in insanely common in her area. She lives in the city of Rostelmain, in the territory of the same name. Rostelmain's name came from the merging of three towns: Tellersburg, Main Crossing and Roseton. A third of the territory is called Roseland. If you're a Rose - heh, A. Rose - you've got to do *something* to be memorable!

As noted several months ago on this blog (I'm sure you remember) I always want to put librarians into my stories. Annelise is my librarian on steroids - she runs the Maquette Archives, home of just about every bit of information the land has to offer.

Increasing the pressure: She's one of my all-time favorite characters. The woman is a force of nature. She is aggressive, ambitious and unrelenting in her pursuits - with a sharp sense of humor and no patience for weakness. When describing her personality, most characters would liken her to a wild animal. One would think a fox would appropriate, given that she's a striking redhead - but the general consensus is that a more vicious class of wild dog is needed. You know, she's a bitch. I love her. Underneath her tough exterior, she's... well, she's still a bitch - But a complex and deep character nonetheless!

Annelise is loosely modeled on Julianne Moore with a heavy dose of Kate Walsh. (I imagine Annelise speaking with the same cadence as Walsh's Addison on Grey's Anatomy.) As for the aforementioned physical abnormalities, the common description of Annelise is that every physical attribute of hers is out of proportion - but since it's all out of whack it somehow evens out! She has a slightly larger frame than normal women - just enough to be noticeable - with a strong bone structure supporting her. Her shoulders and hips are too broad. Her arms are more muscular than they should be. Her face is slightly out of sync, but not in a way one can explain. She wears giant, clunky corrective shoes that throws off her gait. Still, what could be a Frankenstein's monster thing still leaves her fairly attractive, if somewhat awkward. She has big honkin' glasses, yet they seem to be the key to make everything come together and look normal. This type of description gets imaginations going when put in novels. When I put MYSELF on the line to depict it? Fuck me, I'll do the best I can.

Next is Dania Koren, director of the Wizards School. (Yes, my characters are magical. Shut up!) In my world, on of the great saints, Charlotte Maquin, is quoted in the scripture as saying the more power a human has, the less human they become. The more ability a person has, the less humanity they exhibit. Dania seems to be a living example of this.

To an outsider, one would not believe Dania is a real person. She looks like a doll; with oversized eyes, porcelain skin and a disturbingly-thin frame. To add to the artificial look, she has a cranial implant that wraps around her hairline, looking somewhat like a permanent (if modest) crown bolted in place. She talks in a soft voice, almost in monotone. She *never* shows emotion, and her huge eyes seem to look right through you. It's like she has so much magic inside her that no room remains for humanity. And yet, she's loved by most around her. What gives?

Just because it's muted, doesn't mean her personality isn't there. Once people get to know her, they are no longer frustrated with her flat nature. Instead, they savor every hint of personality Dania can offer. Eliciting a slight smile is a victory. If she raises her voice at you, it's terrifying. The day she confirmed her place as a beloved figure was the day she embraced the students' nickname of her - "The Ice Queen" - and showed up to work with her white hair dyed ice blue. On her most recent birthday (she's 44) a large group of students dyed their hair to match. (I should note that in my stories there is a genetic quirk with some mages that causes some or all of their hair to grow in without pigment - so students often dye their "silvered" patches various wild colors.)

I really struggled to find a model for Dania. Trial and error has shown that launching into painting without *some* picture reference tends to end in horror. The final painting might not look at all like the picture - in fact it shouldn't, since the work has to be my own - but it's nice to have a reference for proportions. To find my model, I scoured the internet for over an hour. I looked for skinny models. I looked for porcelain dolls. I looked at anime characters, since Dania definitely has an anime look. No good. Nothing had Dania's signature ringlets hair style.

And then I smacked myself in the face. You know whose hair is similar to the style I want for Dania? NUMBER SIX FROM BATTLESTAR GALACTICA! You know, the show that has consumed my life for the past few weeks. Shesh, Chrispy! The model was right in front of me the whole time.

Damn, I can yammer on. I know I've said it before, but blogging is like having a conversation without have the other person there to tell you to shut the fuck up because no one cares.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The last chance for progress

My coffee house fantasy girl painting is now complete. I no longer have any excuse for not working on my comic. Fuck.

Chrispy 2, Mouse 0

As predicted, my pet mouse returned a few nights ago for more adorable action. This time, she was even more brazen about making this room her home. In addition to the usual scamper-bounce thing, she took up climbing. She would scale the busted ask speaker and run back down. She'd climb a bookcase, jump into a bag and climb back out for more exploring. She'd climb right up next to me and sit on my computer! Should I turn and speak to her, she'd bound back under the bed - but five minutes later she was again forging new frontiers.

As the cycle continued, it was time again for me to catch it! Earlier in the night, I had placed a peanut on the ground beside to see if she'd come up and take it. I turned away to do something else and looked back a minute or two later. The peanut was gone. So I placed a *second* peanut down. Again, she grabbed it so fast I missed her. OK then! My mouse loves her nuts!

It was time for a trap! While Chipotle had failed me so hard earlier, I still had the bag. In went a few peanuts and onto the floor it went. It took a while for the mouse to emerge again, but sure enough she went for the bag. She climbed it, ran around it, went under it - had I been a cat, the tip of my tail would have been twitching like a blender blade with the anticipation. Finally, she jumped in, grabbed her peanut and ran before I could get the bag. Curses!

But the *second* time she got greedy! Mouse - mine! like a good pet owner, I gave her a lovely place to live. I took my box of files (use: holding papers I probably need, but will never look at again) and emptied it to give her a home. She even got a water dish, some food and a cardboard tube for shelter. She enjoyed her new home for about five minutes. Then, just like in all relationships, the bitch went crazy!

A nimble gal, she would climb the sides of the box and crawl around the top, trying to find an escape route. Then, in a non-nimble way, she'd slip and fall. Into the water dish. She's scramble around, making a mess of the good home I gave her, before settling in her tube to hide in shame. Realizing there was no way out, she did the typical mouse thing and tried to gnaw her way through the hard plastic.

As it was 5am at this point (I took my sleeping pill at 1am, but sometimes it just doesn't work) I decided to let my mouse enjoy her home as I slept. By morning (my definition) she had made significant progress in her escape route, but had a long way to go. She had also made a huge mess of things by falling off the wall so many times, and that's when I decided to have mercy - but not before putting her in a clear plastic bottle to take photos! I think I earned a medal of freedom for that act of compassion.

Anyway, so ends the latest saga of the mouse. Check back in a few days, since I'm sure she will return.

Just for fun, I tried another mouse girl sketch. It should be noted that I did not use my mouse photos to help in drawing. This is because I'm a damned fool.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's time to declare Sundays non-canon

First: Here's the Roddy sketch I hinted at before. The expression is kinda blah, but I've been mindlessly crafting this sketch for two days now so I figured it deserved to be finished and posted.

Now, the ranting: What do you do when you've got massive momentum, have played all the hardest games on your schedule with great success, have not yet committed a turnover on offense and have one of the worst teams in history coming into your home stadium this week? If you're the Redskins, you MAKE MY SOUL HURT! I am too involved in football, man. This stuff can ruin my whole day.

Today was a "fuck it" day from the start. I had a dream in which I was visiting Andrew in some random place he was living while I was doing some cross-country trip, or something like that. Most notable: Dude had giant collection of candy! Wherever he was working used to sell candy but decided the demand wasn't high enough and let him take home the full candy rack. Dude was being sort of a dick in not letting me take all the candy I wanted. Listen, bro, if you have a bin of PEACH RINGS there will be no stopping me!

So I woke up with a a natural peach ring craving. Feeling like shit, and without any available drugs to go for a Hollywood style personal downfall, I decided to play the pitiful self-destructive role via food. I went back to Martins to grad my peach rings - in you FACE, Andrew! - and some TV dinners, since cooking for myself is a bitch due to my kitchen being gutted. As is is my habit, I hit up Chipotle for the scrumptious and waist-widening goodness. On the way I had to drive by two crosswalks. Each time the shopper decided to let me go instead, which is incorrect. The second time, I waved a woman through. She gestured for me to go, as she was waiting for her meandering child to get back to her. Naturally, the kid returned as soon as I went forward and dove into the crosswalk. Criminy. In line at Chipotle, a chattering couple in front of me really confused the staff, meaning their normally-efficient machine was working slightly off pace. I finished this up with an embarrassing verbal flub. Whatever, at least I had a "BURRITO!" and peach rings. Once home, self-destructive indulgences were a go!

THEY FOLDED MY BURRITO WRONG! This meant that when I got home I bit into my burrito to find a level of veggies, then a level of chicken, then a level of rice and finally a level of sour cream. Seriously, that's just cruel to a shut-in who is scared to leave his house like me. I may never leave home again after this disappointment.

Oh yeah... My "guaranteed fresh" peach rings were stale as well.

As I move to post this, I am about to lose my football consolation prize thanks to the Cardinals defense decided to take a nap with two minutes to go. There's still time for the Cowboys to lose, but today...

You know what, let's do a play by play:

-Dallas completes a long pass and clocks the ball with three seconds left just out of FG range.
-But wait! A Cardinal was INJURED AND UNABLE TO GET OFF THE FIELD! This means an offsides penalty by default!
-But wait! The Cardinals coach called a time out to ice the kicker, blowing his own team's victory.
-The kick is good! Overtime!
-Cowboys win the coin toss, of course.
-Oh, and I just noticed the 49ers collapsed, giving the Eagles a win. Fuck.
-Back to the game: SACK! FUMBLE! Romo recovers, so fuck him.
-Romo throws to the receiver in the first row in the stands for a while, so they must punt.
-But wait! There's a penalty!
-It's on the... COWBOYS?! Holy shit. The win stands! FUCK YOU, DALLAS!

I still won't be happy until the Giants get destroyed by my Browns. (HA!) Hey, the game is on Monday, so today's fuckly nature might not affect it!

One more complaint: The makers of iTunes need to be raped with cacti in every orifice. The "upgrade" seems to have been designed to force PC uses to switch over by MAKING ITUNES NEXT TO USELESS!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Finishing" the latest paintings

The goal today was to get the paintings done. Goals are supposed to be met. Well, fuck that.

I got one completed! The current title for this is "The War Wife" - meant to evoke the Asian bride some soldiers bring home. Yeah, I'm still clinging onto the theme of temptations through time.

Despite encouragement from others, I am not satisfied with how this one is going yet. The theme was sort of the "edgy" chick you spot across the coffee house and can't help but fantasize about. Is she entirely self-centered and tragically hipster, or is wonderfully wild and exuberant?

The question now is...where to go with it? I am totally lost with the idea of a background. Maybe if I look at it fresh tomorrow something will click on in my brain. Who knows.

Friday, October 10, 2008


This was the only scanned sketch I had not yet posted. It's Autumn in a ponytail. Woo. Today I failed to do anything artful, so filler it is!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Personal Foul - Unneccessary football blathering. 15 yards. Replay down.

I can't stop with the football! These drawings now adorn my wall. They're signed, dated and everything!

Let me explain my football-watching philosophy first:

I am allowed to root for eight teams. This seems odd at first, as sports fan usually have THEIR team while the rest are rivals. Well, I justify my "cloud of favorites" (as one person politely put it) by pointing out how the NFL has eight divisions. If I have one team I root for per division, that means EVERY game played now has some value to me as a fan. I'm not saying my favorites are all created equal. I was born and raised a Washington Redskins fan, so they'll always be tops in my heart. In a virtual tie with the 'Skins are the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks, two teams I adopted and followed when I was very young. At the time, I chose them because I thought their logos (or lack thereof) were badass - I'm such an artist - but 20 years of actively following them should be enough to make me hardcore no matter the origin. (Woe to the Atlanta Falcons, who rock on the logo and color front but managed to fall from my favorites list over time. I remain fond of them, though.)

To roughly rank my favorites: Redskins, Browns, Seahawks, Jaguars, Patriots, Panthers, Chargers and Packers. You may find it cheap, but I think of it as a potential joy come playoff time if all make it! If I had to pick wild card teams, I'll go with Falcons, Saints, Ravens and... Jets? That would be my perfect playoff set, I guess.

Point is, I got to thinking... "Hey, I have eight main characters and eight favorite NFL teams!" Can I make more football reaction pics? Let's go down the roster! I edited the new two into the old pic to remind you of the picture two posts down, SINCE I CAN'T COUNT ON YOU TO REMEMBER!

Autumn - Redskins. I suppose in the Precocious world, "Redskins" is likely still a racist term... but against foxes! Autumn's a red fox, so there you go! Her Redskins pose is happy and proud!

Bud - Browns. As Bud is the me representative in the strip, he also has my futile devotion to the Browns. That's all. His Browns pose is the deflated look that comes from watching the finally-promising Browns revert to the same old failures.

Jacob - Jaguars. The good team that tries hard and always fall short. Jacob roots for the solid team that's always under appreciated. His Jaguars pose is him so shocked to see the Jags fail - when *everyone* thought this was finally their year - he dropped his game snacks.

Tiffany - Seahawks. This is simple; both Tiffany and 'Hawks are "out there." No one pays attention to the Seahawks because they're off in the (rain)clouds. Her Seahawks pose is the only reaction to watching the "final year" storyline play out in absolute tragedy: Suicidal.

Dionne - Patriots. She chooses a proven winner with some questionable ethics. What a shocker. She doesn't have much of a Patriots fan pose, as I thought I was going to scrap the sketch at first. Oh well, let's just call her cautiously optimistic.

Suzette - Packers. She's adopted the "working class" team, so in touch with the people that the fans actually own part of the team! That's definitely up Suzette's alley. Her Packers pose is simply this: "What the fuck is this shit?" Aaron Rodgers is injured already, just in time for a losing streak. Sheesh!

Roddy - Hmm. I'm down to Panthers and Chargers. Both are good choices for Roddy. Both are quality teams that seem to under perform year after year. The Chargers are known for their recent stint of Martyball, which is a guaranteed exit from their first playoff game. The Panthers are more of a team that underachieves via injury more than anything, which is not Roddy's brand of failure. Still, making Roddy a black panther would be hilariously racist. Should I draw a Roddy, he'll probably be a devastated Charger fan. I may just drop it all, though, because shading a black cat in pencil is tedious. Such is my dedication to art.

Max - And here is where it all breaks down. Max wouldn't be a rabid fan of any team. Instead, he'd happily root for the local team, but be happy to see each team play. He doesn't judge! Since Precocious is based on a school in DC, I suppose his home team would be the already-taken Redskins. Oh well, Max would never wear a team shirt anyway, since it would be mean to all its rivals.

The power of hot chicks

How lazy am I? To draw the next comic, I have to trace some stuff on the light table. As today's goal was to catch up on TV I missed and netflix, the light table would have taken me out of viewing range. Result: Fuck the comic!

HOWEVER, the thing I do best when going though TV I don't care that much about is painting. If you are a good reader of this blog and not just someone checking it only before seeing me so you can make me feel appreciated, you'll remember I mentioned two paintings I started in DC that sucked. (Not that blog-cramming is a bad thing. I'll take a token effort over no effort any day.) Tonight, the goal was to fix those ugly things!

The original paint sketch was of a angry girl with her arms crossed. She was loosely based on my image of one of my characters, Meret, who is half-Asian. As that sketch was a proportional nightmare, I decided I needed a model. After a Google search for Ziyi Zhang, I was set!

So far, this painting is looking rather nice. It doesn't come across due to crappy photography, but I'll still take the time to say I love her lips. I got the sexy puffiness while still using expressive strokes - as opposed to my normal fallback of forced black outlines. Go me! Now the bad news: The heck will I do for a background? As of now I'm thinking a very gentle pale blue to keep the high contrast look I've got so for. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate them.

The original painting sketch for this one wasn't that bad, really. It was just boring. This began as a wide-eyed gal in a hood looking all fantasy mysterious. At first, I tried to give it a push to see if it could be turned into something decent, but I managed to wreck it completely about five paint strokes. Oh well. I flipped the canvas over and went back to find a babe for inspiration. (You can still see some now-inverted parts of the first sketch behind the current.) Since I'm still on the Neko Case kick, she seemed a fitting target. The only big Neko image I liked enough to save was one of her in braids. There we go. Still, aside from the pose and hair, the features came more from the Top Model I was watching on DVR than Neko.

Hey, it's progress of some sort. Whether these paintings ever get *finished* is another thing...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat.

(click on the image to see it full-size)

For a true football fanatic, every Sunday is a brutal emotional roller coaster. This year has been particularly painful, as my teams have mostly been suckpiles while those I hate the most are excelling - often with back-breaking wins. Even when teams I hate are only mediocre, they are back-breakingly mediocre. The Colts have lost every game they've played, only to be handed an even record by mind-boggling choking by their opponents. Denver had two games handed to them, all but ensuring they have their division locked up. Fucking team sold its soul to the devil to get the string of luck they've had. Pittsburgh and Tennessee both shut down by plucky underdog Baltimore - with the exception of one drive, allowing them to win after being outplayed. The fucking Dolphins have knocked out two teams I like so far. The NFC east is a goddamn beast, meaning the one team I like that is doing well (Redskins) is going to have to fight like hell to keep pace.

And my top four teams? The Redskins are the lone bright spot, as they've surprised everyone by playing a four-quarter football game. This is a striking upgrade from the "play three, then choke" ball Washington fans are used to seeing. As thrilling as it was to see them win, the joy was tempered by watching all those despised teams make stunning last-minute comebacks to destroy my faith in a just a caring universe.

Otherwise, we have the Jags who have taken up the old Redskins' mantra (and old Redskins defensive coordinator...hmm) to choke in the fourth quarter over and over. The Browns I almost gave a pass due to the second-most brutal schedule in the league, but they've been *so* bad my optimism has gone and died. As for the Seahawks... yeah. I realize everyone is hurt, but this is no way to give a great coach like Holmgren a fond farewell in his last year. Suicide is painless - being a sports fan is agony!

It's like those Star Wars DVDs...

It's the same old material but NEWLY RESTORED for HIGHER QUALITY! I took my webcam-shot sketches and gave them the proper scanner treatment. Just be glad I'm not Photoshopping Hayden freakin' Christensen as a ghost in the background.

Recycled material can be very enriching if done right. A good director's commentary or extra production notes can make a rehash a great thing! What I'm saying here is... I got nothin' new to say about this particular sketch.

I did the best I could to shorten Tiffany's legs with Photoshop. It's still not enough, but a moral victory.

I really should salvage this sketch and turn it into a t-shirt design in the future. The caption will be the "Unrestrained Creativity" title I used for the post. Photoshop was handy for making the paint look better. That's something that will be much easier to do with India ink. And a brush. Fuck, I need to learn how to ink with a brush!

This is also a potential t-shirt design. Heck, if I actually succeed with this damn comic strip, it would make a great first book title!

This sketch is still crap. Ahh well, I tried.

Oh, and I'm not scanning the bear sketch. Fuck that bear!