Category Archives: paint

Ms. Kitty’s Heart

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You know what would have helped? If I had any idea how to paint. 

Well over a year ago Ms. Kitty was extolling the virtues of her heart collection–a series of paintings by various artists, which she’d acquired over the years, and which all featured prominently the image of a heart–and asked if I would contribute. But I don’t paint all that much (the last really big painting project I did was like 18 years ago) and I didn’t have any real canvas and it just kept getting bumped. But she had asked me again a little before Thanksgiving, and during Thanksgiving my sister was cleaning out her room at my parents’ house (my parents are retiring and threatened to throw all her stuff away, which is something they would totally do and had already started doing) and she was going to toss a painting she did in high school, so I just painted over it.

I know that’s not how you’re supposed to do it, but, as I said, I don’t know how to paint. Unlike me, my sister has taken painting classes, and she told me to cover the canvas in gesso, but I skipped that step and just laid the paint on thick enough to mostly obscure the original image, although you can still see a prominent line on the left side (through the wrist) and there are a couple places where her textures or colors peek through.

For all that, I think it came out decently, even though when I look at it all I see are its myriad flaws and I’d like to paint over it again and do it right this time. But Ms. Kitty seemed to like it. At this resolution, you can’t see the 6 ghost cats hidden on the bottom right.

The canvas itself is about 18″ x 24″ and the paints are acrylic, just the common stuff you can get at Michael’s or any art shop. I think the brand might even be called Basic. Most of the paints were fairly old but still seemed fine. I had to acquire 2 new brushes and 1 new paint. Even in acrylic, painting is a really expensive hobby.

This took me about a week, working between 2 and 5 hours every day. I imagine, if I knew how to paint, it could have gone faster.

Painting made me want to paint more, but I don’t have more canvas. I was actually thinking about trying that thing where you buy terrible landscapes at Goodwill and then paint monsters into them. I bet I could make a killing if I painted Pokemon into them. But actually, getting paintings at Goodwill is not as easy as you’d think.

In other news, The Man decided to give me an early Christmas present by teaching himself bookbinding and creating a hardcover version of The Hermit! I am astonished. It’s really remarkable work. If you’d like to see the step-by-step tutorial of his process, you can follow this Reddit link (and upvote if you’re a Redditor and you like me and you think his work is worthy, which, of course, it is). Now that the paperback version is available, the ebook will be offered, for a limited time, as a free download.

A Fish Is More Than Nothing

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You clean your brushes your way and I’ll  clean my brushes mine.

By doing the bare minimum with my thumb for a couple days, I have taken it from ~5% to maybe 50%, which is an improvement, but still not optimal, so I’m sticking by my resolution to draw no comics this week. What we have here, instead, is a quick painting of a fish I did last after I had painted all those origami fish and didn’t want to waste all the unused paint I had squeezed out on to my palette.

What I’d like to do is more drawing/painting from live models. Seems like the only way to improve. Most artists have a better connection between their memory and their art; I’m still more a writer than an artist, and I can hear/see words in my head much more clearly than I can see pictures, although apparently it’s possible to train oneself to understand things like light and shadows across 3-dimensional objects, even though they’re harder to grasp when you lack depth perception.

Delirium Fish Headpiece

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It’s the fully adjustable crown of fishies of my dreams, and yours too, I’m sure. 

The final piece for my Delirium cosplay: a cloud of fishes floating around my head. Turned out to be a good thing that I couldn’t find any prefabricated fish ornaments because these origami fish are banging and jamming and swimmingly wonderful, plus, you know, extra layer of surreality. Why is that person wearing a halo of origami fish on her head?

Learning to fold origami fish didn’t take all that long, surprisingly. They’re painted with acrylics to match the tutu. Start to finish making the fish only took a couple hours, and since I already had the paper from 1000 cranes and the paint from a few other projects, the fish cost nothing to make. The headband was 15 cents and the tiny barrettes were 10 cents each. The wire was the most expensive part.

Also made a set of cloisonné fish earrings from old charms, one of which was my mother’s, and the other of which was a gift from the Vampire Bat. Now, assuming that I can find my regular clothes required for the outfit–fishnet shirt, fishnet stockings, colored stockings, leather jacket–the cosplay is all ready to go. I’d search out the pieces now but The Man is sleeping.

 

More Magical Paintings from the Past

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The mythopoetic tree serpent ascends. 

Before all the webcomics, and the Trickster’s Hat, the first couple months of this blog were just scans of every piece of art I’d made prior to starting the blog. Not everything, of course, but everything I still had that I still liked, going back to when I was 11 years old. But still not everything, because I keep remembering, for example, this photograph of a painting I did when I lived in Israel, in the fall of 1997.

The original’s probably long gone. When I left the kibbutz, I gave it to the volunteer coordinator because he had admired it once, and I was going to bum around Europe and didn’t want to carry it, but about 6 hours after I gave it to him, this guy I knew told me about a terribly racist thing the volunteer coordinator had done and I wished I hadn’t. He probably didn’t want it anyway. For my purposes, the photo is probably sufficient.

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The Fabulous Butterfly Screen

This butterfly screen is definitely the biggest thing I ever painted, and the most complex. Actually, paint costing what it does, I’ve done very little painting in my life, and this is the only piece that took me more than an hour or two to finish. I think it took close to a month, actually, but it was a labor of love, a gift for an old friend. This is Christmas 2000, I think. Maybe 1999. Wonder if this screen still exists.

It’s hard to imagine painting this by hand. How much more righteous would it have been if it were done in Photoshop?

No one ever goes back to the beginning of this blog but it’s still nice to have everything uploaded to one place. Although if I could go back and do it again, I would have made this blog a Tumblr.

 

The Hermit: First Glance

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Well, here goes something.

There will be a bigger deal made about this in the next week or so, but: my adult-fairy-tale-with-elements-of-horror-and-romance novel will be coming out through Brother Wolf Press (e-pub available in the Kindle store), exact date TBA, and here’s the cover!

Unlike some of my art projects, I was able to create to something that almost exactly matched what my brain visualized. Actually, in this case, the cover is better than I imagined it, because I hadn’t figure out how wonderful the sky would be. But it is wonderful.

I wanted it, first of all, to look like a tarot card from the Rider-Waite deck, at which task it seems to succeed admirably. The coyote is crazy adorable; her design is based on the wolf from The Moon card. The Hermit is, of course The Hermit, but her face is more the Queen of Cups, except less constipated looking, and she is disarmingly unassuming. The landscape also takes cues from other cards, although the sky is kind of improvised. Even the font turned out spot-on.  And then there’s the gallon jug full of magical water. Intrigued at all? I even had a lot of fun with the little sigil/signature in the bottom right, which, at first glance, looks a fair amount like the artist’s mark on the Rider-Waite deck, but is actually comprised of my initials.

My instinct is to always keep tinkering with it, but of course the Rider-Waite deck is hand drawn and imperfect, and anyway, my whole thing now is letting it be imperfect. Perfectly imperfect.

Love it.

 

My Most Popular Sticker Ever

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Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014

Why is “Johnny the Australian Shepherd Paddleboards Roosevelt Lake, October 2014” my most popular sticker design? I literally have no idea. I don’t know why anyone does anything on the Internet. I don’t understand why I keep selling stickers of this dog that doesn’t even have a fandom but nobody wants to buy Princess Sealestia, Ruler of Aquastria merchandise. I mean, it was a cool dog, and his best friend, Mr. Macho Bush Pilot, is not difficult to look at, but really? If anything was going to sell stickers, you’d think it would be the fabulous Blue Morpho Butterfly. Nope, people want notecards of that. And nobody, but NOBODY wants “Vanity Has a Thousand Eyes” even though that thing took me like 3 months to finish and is absolutely the most complicated digital paint thing I’ve ever done.

If I knew then what I know know (i.e., how to use more features Photoshop) I guess I would have made the dude’s muscles a little less ropy and pronounced. Or maybe he really looked like that. Who remembers?

Johnny the Australian Shepherd it is. These stickers are available in 3 sizes: 4″x2.2″, 5.5″x3″, and 8.5″x4.7″. Prices range from $2.32 for the small ones to $5.66 for the medium ones and $9.80 for the big ones. It all seems totally random. I also sell this design on a huge range of clothing, bags, cups, prints, and other completely random things that you can have your designs printed on. But if you want it, you’ll no doubt want it on a sticker. It’s $2.32 of pure sporting canine goodness.

I have a headache and now you can have one too

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

Alien world or weird filter? You be the judge.

One of the hardest parts of drawing webcomics, for me, is the constant staring into the screen. My eyes, as I’ve written before, do not work all that well. They certainly don’t work like normal people’s eyes, and sometimes they betray me. Migraines, nausea, that sort of thing. When I was just writing 4 or 6 hours a day, it didn’t bother me, because I touch type, and by and large I don’t look at the monitor anyway, but I’m a much better typist than artist, and drawing a hand, or something like that, means squinting at the pixels and erasing and redrawing and shifting perspective, zooming in and out and erasing and redrawing again.

I’ve got a big analog project I want to tackle, which I will share when it’s ready, and tonight seems like a good time to start. No webcomic, no eye strain. There will be tiny scraps of fancy paper involved, but they won’t be backlit.

Instead, feel free to enjoy this weird portentous beach scene I painted about a year ago. My painting always looks pretty rough and experimental, because it is. I know nothing about painting. If I could afford it, I would take a class, at least something basic about technique, because I’d love to paint more, but it’s an incredibly expensive past time.

For that reason, I’ll probably be sticking to my Wacom tablet. You can have any size canvas, and any color paint, and it’s free.

My Nephew Goes Wading, Take 2

My brother emailed me asking if I could send him a high-res version of “My Nephew Goes Wading,” the little doodle I scrawled out a while back when I was working on “My Sister and Brother-in-Law Look to the Future.” I sent him the files but really, it was just a scribble. I always meant to paint it. He wanted an art print or something! It was just a few lines. So, the last few days have been dedicated to fleshing it out.

It's hard to capture the joy on her face.

It’s hard to  accurately capture the joy on his face.

It’s not quite 100% satisfactory yet. In small format it looks good but for a blown up version it’s not quite there. Maybe in the next day or so.

Digital paint has a lot of advantages over real paint; it’s less messy, and it’s easier to take back, paint over, or adjust mistakes. It’s cheaper. It smells better. But…it’s still nice to have real materials (which I can’t afford right now so whatever). Painting is for the wealthy, or for people with patrons.

Anyway, “My Nephew Goes Wading, Redux.” I can get better with practice. I know I can.

Paint It Whatever Color

Papier-mâché is an interesting looking word if you spell it with the French accents. There’s something both gratifying and disgusting about the process of creating it, though. Although I am far from fastidious in my personal habits, I despise being actively, tackily sticky or dirty, particularly when it involves my hands and arms. But for certain things, like baking bread or making papier-mâché, I’m willing to make an exception.

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

The 9-year-old came home a couple weeks back with an assignment to build an ancient Indian dwelling based on the design of some group of people who lived in Arizona, and her first choice of dwelling was Montezuma Castle, the most striking ruins site we visited on our recent tour of Arizona. Immediately, my brain started kicking the idea around. How could this idea come to fruition?

Papier-mâché was the answer.

I can’t really count this piece as my art. I designed it, and I told the kid how to make it, and I made her do most of the work—say, about 90%—without my interference, although I did come to her rescue when something was beyond her ability, and I stepped in for some of the fine detail work: cutting windows out with a scalpel, the parts that entailed using India ink, and placing the buildings in the cave. I also mixed her paint colors. Otherwise, she was in charge of creating this thing.

This seems like a pretty successful project to my eyes!

Montezuma Castle, executed in paper and paste: probably the best ancient Indian dwelling in all of 4th grade.

 

I confess that she was having so much fun painting that I couldn’t stop myself from helping. Anyway, it was getting late and she’s so meticulous and I needed to clean up and make dinner. I especially love the little accents I did on the front when she pointed out the real cliff had a lot more texture. I love painting and am certain that I would not suck at it if given half a chance.

Later that night, after the kids went to their mom’s, The Man was fooling around with the leftover materials, specifically the other half of the balloon shape we used to create the cave.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

“It fits perfectly on your head,” he declared after determining that it was too small for his gigantic noggin. Then he stuck it on my head. In fact, it did fit perfectly.

Now, if you’re like me, in the sense that you really like dragons, and art, and the Internet, and have a lot of friends, you have probably seen/been sent this time lapse video of papier-mâché dragon being built. While I am not as good as the professional guy in the video (yet), I am not bad either, and after the second time the video appeared on my Facebook feed, and after wearing this paper hat around for a while, I decided to create a dragon hat. Yesterday I started the horns; today I hope to finish them and affix them, and then turn my attention to the problem of building something to fit over my head when I haven’t got a mold of my face and I’m not willing to get flour paste in my hair.

Of course, now the girl wants a Maleficent headdress  executed in the same style.

Since I didn’t really show you any of my actual work today, here’s another picture from earlier in the year, which was a request from some good friends who were getting married and wanted an agave sign for outside the venue. Aside from the Trickster’s Hat stuff, it’s really the only painting I’ve done in a long time. I’d love to learn more about the craft.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink. It was windy on the hill; here we see the “ring bear” affixing the sign to the easel to keep it from blowing away.

 

Another Day, Another Dragon

Specifically, another day, another dragon painted on a wineglass at a rollicking good time Yelp event.

 

The head of the wyrm.

The head of the wyrm.

Technically, the Dragon painted on this wineglass is an amphithere: a winged, legless beast. The amphithere is a New World dragon. Purple mountains majesty!

The landscape is painted on the reverse side of the glass.

The landscape is painted on the reverse side of the glass.

The Yelp event at which I painted this glass was the Winter Zootacular, an event to benefit gibbons, according to the invitation. The glass painting table was hosted by a company whose name I immediately forgot. Not only can you paint wineglasses there, they will also give you wine to drink while you paint them. That is the business model.

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Closeup on the wing. Amphitheres are distinguished from European and Asian dragons by their feathery wings.

I’m interested in spending a lot more time painting. The Fox was with me at this event, and wasn’t interested in painting wineglasses, and I didn’t want to make him hang around. Plus, it was dark, and there were 50 other women crowded around me. I bet I could paint a way better dragon on a wineglass in more favorable circumstances.