Monday, August 21, 2017

Eclipse and Fan Art

Once upon a time there was light in my life
Now there's only love in the dark
There's nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the -

Whoops, wrong eclipse.

Yup, I love that joke. Almost as good as "don't tell Journey (that I stopped believing)!"

Music humor. Got to love it. (Name your son John or Bill or any old name but Sue!)

Eclipses aren't that unusual, though. I remember watching one as a kid, although I think that one's path was further north than this one's. They told me it was a once in a hundred years event, but I've realized in the years since then that it was only the latitude that is rare. I also promised myself that, if I ever happened to be in the right place for another, I would pay more attention to things other than the sun itself. Like, can I actually see stars? Do I notice anything different about the birdsong? That's the part that I'm interested in!

In other news, I finally went to the store and bought more white and blue paints. So, I can maybe finish the waterfalls and water motions in the various in-process painting going on.

So far, however, I've been more concerned with basic backgrounding and subject shape. The ice unicorn has a more full look to him now, although I still haven't given him his alicorn, due to the sea unicorn right behind him being unfinished. But, I do think I got the look and texture of ice just about right.

The biggest challenge with the glory of unicorns is that I don't know where I'm going to put them. It was supposed to be only a two-panel spread for the door, but it grew into three. If I were to make it five, I could put it along the biggest wall, but I don't think I want to bother with another several panels of oddly colored unicorns.

The smaller wall got two horizontal panels of dragons. That's fan art.

The characters come from the primary story of Wings of Fire. I made a list of all my favorites and was careful to check them off against the list. In some cases, that meant changing the identity of a character or two as I discovered that the colors were imbalanced, or something hadn't turned out as I'd hoped, or whatever.

So, in this first panel, we have Tamarin the blind Rainwing in the upper left, Winter the Icewing prince in the lower left. Ruby and her son Cliff, the red Skywing dragons facing Clay the Mudwing and Tsunami the blue Seawing. Overhead, Moonwatcher the Nightwing greets Quibli the Sandwing, while Kinkajou the Rainwing lurks in the corner.

In the second panel, Fatespeaker and Starflight sit in the grass underneath Princess Anemone (pink) and her brother Prince Turtle (green). Turtle is goofing off with Peril the firescales Skywing, while a trio of dragons - Deathbringer (who is smaller than I intended), Glory, and Sunny play beneath them.

I really like how Turtle, Clay and the twining tail Nightwings turned out. Sunny's color and dolphin-like head also please me, although I wish I were better able to replicate either.

Some time after fixing the background for the unicorns, I started prepping the next "canvas," aka one of the frames for my big posters. I accidentally mixed in white instead of light tan, and so ended up with a color that I didn't need. I decided to make the best of the mistake, and paint the beluga-mermaids I've been thinking about. I decided black would be the most striking color for the human portion. Whatcha think?

I think they look like they're doing some marine-life version of a ballet.

Thursday, August 17, 2017


Love will rule with a velvet touch!
And it will heal the wounds
That have hurt so much!

And those times it gets so cloudy and confused
Won't be so hazy
In the next world, baby...

He was the worship leader on one of our youth group's missions trips. I never saw him before or since, but mom bought his CD to support a startup artist. I think she was kinda horrified to listen to the CD and realize that it was a different music style than he'd used for worship, but I loved it. The words frequently echo beneath my conscious thought, and even more so at times like this.

I wonder, often, if I'm making the right choice, if I'm allowing fear to close off possibilities or false hope to keep things open when they should be allowed to close. Ultimately, though, I think I'm brave enough to face the truth and learn what it is, but I'm not brave enough to face a life of doubts and second-guessing.

Personal choice.

When the time is right for change, there won't be doubts. I've been through this often enough to be sure of that.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Something Worth Doing

The day after election last year, I purged my online accounts of all news sources. The way I saw it, Trump's presidency wasn't going to be any less annoying than his candidacy, and if I had to survive another four years of his mouth and twitter accounts running, I had better not pay close attention to it for the sake of my sanity.

So, I don't know much about what happened this weekend. I understand it involved a statue's relocation, a protest and counterprotest, tiki torches, and a terrorist attack with a deadly vehicle. I did watch the president's statement, but only because someone posted a video of it with "what he's really thinking" subtitles and I figured I could probably stand to listen to it if I took it with a generous dose of snark.

And... I got called out by name by a friend who was frustrated with people not commenting on the whole ordeal.


What, exactly, am I supposed to say about this? What haven't I already said? I campaigned hard against Trump in the election. I said I didn't trust him and that I didn't like the way his words emboldened a section of the population that has been discredited since the days of the Nazis. Am I supposed to be surprised that this has happened now? Am I supposed to yell in outrage? They didn't listen to me before, they're not going to listen now.

Aside from being disturbed and grieved, what am I supposed to do?

And, lately, the way I handle being disturbed and grieved isn't to write long diatribes or rants. I never wanted that to be my go-to emotional processing system in the first place. The way I handle it is to paint.

Painting is a way for me to accept how little I know. What is the name of the color of the light on the sea? How does a wave curl? What makes one petal look distinct from its fellows in the flower? How do colors interact to show muscles or scales or feathers?

Can you capture emotions by making something visibly itself and yet something else as well?

I have no idea what will stop the violence or bring peace to the various factions splitting America. I have no idea what the future holds and I suspect this pressure behind my eyes that keeps saying "go to sleep" is not actually helping me to deal with anything. Maybe if I knew the right words, I could make a difference. I could heal the wounds that have hurt so much.

But I don't know the words, and I'm weary. At least, with my paintbrush, I can make something beautiful. And if that's all I can do right now, isn't it still worth doing?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Church Hunting

I started attending Saint Pete's again just before Easter, and it was the best choice I could have made for myself. My spiritual roots grew deep and I found a peace that I had long been seeking without success.

But I believe that if I were to continue there, I would lose the peace I've found. A few weeks ago, when I made eye contact with someone I'd known from before, I saw him flinch away from me. I can't spend my Sundays always worried about balancing my needs and his, striving to avoid driving him away without allowing myself to feel a trespasser in my own church home.

And, ultimately, I don't want to drive so far every week. It's inconvenient.

I love Anglican litergy and the small church feel, so I'll look for a sister church closer to home. Seems like the right thing to do.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Capturing Beauty

So, here's the room now. This is the palm and rose garden, as well as my two bettas (Alexander and Tsunami). Just to the right of the frame is my new 20 gallon fish tank, which I plan to use for lilies and freshwater fish.

Next to the still-empty fish tank, there's the bonsai garden followed by the San Diego garden (cacti and succulents). Then, my twin desks - one for work and one for painting - and then my sitting chair, which I use far more often than the couch.

The Splendor Hyaline got some more details added today. The copper lines are striking, aren't they? I don't think I'll be added the fifth panel above the masts, as I'd contemplated earlier, but I will probably add a moon in the left upper corner.

The next project involves the bedroom door. I currently have a Star Wars poster hung on the one side, but I think it looks out of place surrounded by my own art, so I'm planning a two piece painting of a glory of unicorns galloping toward the viewer, over a fallen tree or a fence or something. I found several pictures of jumping horses to use for reference, and cut out much of the surrounding landscape to help focus on the relevant details.

All-in-all, it feels very cozy and yet very spacious. I love being able to pace in my own bedroom, without getting too dizzy from turning back around.

I really wish, though, that I could write a book review post here. Wings of Fire had its final installment in the second plot-arch and it nailed the landing as delightfully as the first plot-arch did. I look forward to the development of the third plot-arch, which I suspect involves the recontact with "the lost continent" and I hope includes the fate of Clearsight.

Clearsight and Fathom are the two dragons who took down their best friend, Darkstalker, who was the most formidable dragon Pyrrhia had ever seen. He was an "animus," which is basically a magician-dragon, as well as a telepath and a seer. But he wasn't the kind of person who is willing to listen to others or to allow them to be different from how he prefers... and when you're talking about an enchanter who can see if his spells will work the way he intends, even before he casts them, and can also read his enemy's minds and see their plans before they start them, he's pretty much unstoppable. When Clearsight and Fathom realize he's not just using his magic on the tribe's foes, they decide something must be done to protect themselves and everyone they care about.

The thing is, Clearsight, Fathom, and Darkstalker are legends by the time of the main stories. Darkstalker: Wings of Fire: Legends covers everything that is relevant to the continent of Pyrrhia, hints at the existence of another continent, and suggests that Clearsight, the only seer with enough power to know the every possible consequence of every possible choice, might be very interested in attempting to find a place that no other dragon would survive to find. That could be why she disappeared. But was it?

Dun, dun, dun!

Of course, given that the third plot-arch opens two thousand years after Clearsight's disappearance, it might not prove relevant. But here's hoping anyway.

The Winter-Quibli-Moon love triangle seems to have been resolved, although the one I was rooting for didn't win. Too much yelling and criticism. He blew his own chance. I can't argue with the lady's choice, but I still identify more with the angry, abused dragon. Here's hoping he gets a happy ending too.

Good series. Very good series. The one drawback is that I don't have anyone to discuss them with. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NOT Eponine

I hated feeling like Eponine. She's got a beautiful song, but I did not want it to be my song. I'd much rather empathize with her from a distance than to identify with her. I'm not sacrificing myself as a bullet shield, thank you very much. I'm also not at all interested in manipulating my beloved into a barricade in which he'll need said bullet shield. Ugh, seriously! Who even does that? I don't care how awesome Marius is, there are other men available, and it's possible to live a fulfilling life without any man at all.

I don't care how despairing I seem, there is no freakin' way I want anyone comparing me to her. I don't even want me to be comparing me to her. Not gonna happen.

Never, no never, no never again
If I live to a hundred or a hundred and ten!
For I fell to the ground and I couldn't get up
After drinking a pint of that Johnny Jump up!

See, there's not much in the way of sappy, soapy music that can't be cured by a rousing chorus of an Irish Drinking Song.

In the meantime, I found a 20 gal fish tank online for the price of what a 10 gal would be in the store. Very exciting, yes? Of course, I then had to rearrange all my furniture to make way for it, but I kinda needed to do that anyway. The afternoon sun blazing in my window hurts my eyes if I leave the blinds open, but I can't very well deprive my plants of their sunlight if I want them to live and bloom.

When everything's all done, I'll post pictures, but my room is currently in a state of extreme upheaval. I will, however, enjoy having the full length of my room back. It makes it easier to dance or exercise or practice fencing.

I'm not who I was, but I like who I am. Lots of things in my life have changed, and I'm ready to take whatever adventure is to come.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Stable Summer

It's been four years since I moved to Virginia. In some sense, I feel as if there wasn't life before that. Everything revolves around my epic quest to rewrite my entire personality, emotions, and goals.

Except that its done now. My psychiatrist wrote a six month prescription, my counselor said to call her when I need her, my blog talks mostly about my art projects, not my feelings, and I don't send soul-searching emails anymore. Not even to my mentor. I've been stable all summer.

I'm still in love with the same person I've always been in love with. That hasn't changed. That point has always been the anchor, drawing me back to the things I valued most about myself. My faith, love of history and travel and stories... the memories of him, the things that he says... he has drawn me back from the fire more times than I can say.

If he's gone, I will always miss him. I will always regret that I couldn't remake myself faster or more quietly, or that I didn't start sooner, or that I despaired too often along the way.

Perhaps it's not really my fault. Perhaps it's that I'm blond or too short or generally underweight or that I still sit on my heels like a child no matter how formal the setting or that my shoulders always itch and I can't help scratching them. Not every lack of spark is personality-related. Sometimes things really just don't click.

But I guess I just wish I knew that for sure.