Word, Wire, Paper, Bone Redux

A bright pink and yellow stuffed animal in the shape of a moth examines a hand-painted cylindrical bead wrapped in dark gold and bronze colored wire.
Sylvie Investigates A Moth-Proof Bead. Neener, Sylvie.

Well, this week sure was A Lot. On top of everything else, we finally got a phone call last night from the shelter that was going to be helping us out with the cost of the Goblin Boys neutering (Puca, in particular, because hooray cryptorchidism), only to find that the new vet that we’d have to use (the original one they had recommended turned out not being comfortable doing his surgery, and directed us to someone else, so we had to go back around for the approval from the shelter) doesn’t do ultrasounds first, but does it the old-fashioned way of “just open him up and poke around to find the MIA organ”, and yeah, that’s a deal-breaker for me. Our vet is expensive, and I appreciate so much that the shelter was willing to help, but we’re not going to be doing major, invasive, exploratory surgery on him when there’s an option not to. With ultrasound, they can locate the missing nut and go in with a small incision; without it, they have to basically go fish around because there are multiple locations it could be.

Needless to say, I now have even less time to come up with a couple of grand, because the biological clock is ticking down on puberty. There’s a small chance that we won’t have to redo their bloodwork again, at least?

In the meantime, I’ve got the studio rearranged into a more functional manner. Still needs some straightening up, but that’s always the case. Working out how to navigate Mothpocalypse damage and prevent further depredation. (Seriously, I’ve never had fucking clothes moths eat paper before, and while I’m glad they seem to have only gotten the one piece, and it was a minor one, having the little bastards eating my work is wildly unacceptable.) Today I’m working on jewelry, since gesso, paint, wire, and stone aren’t particularly edible to anything short of a Rock Biter. If I get one of those in here, well, I’ve got bigger problems to worry about than some gnawed-on artwork.

Always an adventure…

*Endless Screaming*

Went to put a piece away and found this. This piece had been listed in the shop, and now it’s not, because, just…

If anyone needs me, I’ll be somewhere in the woods, screaming. I just…I don’t know what else I can do at this point.

Dancing Around With Nervous Excitement

Tomorrow evening I’m going to look at the studio space with the other folks that I’m going in on this little adventure with, and I’m so exciting I can hardly sit still. I’m nervous, because this will involve being indoors with other people more, and well, *gestures at ongoing pandemic*, but I’m vaccinated up to the gills, have no problems wearing a mask for hours at a time (just ordered a couple packs of KN95s), and honestly need access to the kind of resources that I can only get by being in a studio group.

In general, though, I’m really, really excited and hope that this works out. I’ve got several pieces of art that aren’t on the site for a variety of reasons ranging from being difficult to photograph, to being outside my current shipping capabilities that will have a place to go that those issues evaporate. I’ve got many more pieces that live only in my head right now simply because my spare bedroom doesn’t have the space to work on them, and my house doesn’t have the space to store them until I can find a physical space to sell them out of. On a personal level, being able to share a workspace with friends and be around other artists in person (the Pocket Friend Collective is wonderful, and I adore y’all, but sometimes I need to be around folks in meatspace, too, and that area of my life has been sorely lacking for too long).

Hell, just getting to see a dear friend (who started this whole idea) that I haven’t seen since 2019, alone, is so exciting I can barely even. The idea of getting to see her on a regular basis?!? Utter glee!

So looking forward to tomorrow.

A Small Grotesquery and Helpful Kitties

The best part about autumn really is being able to cook the things I love to cook again. Last night I made a pot of sausage and kale soup for dinner, with enough left over for lunch for the next couple of days. Tonight I’m planning to bake a pear crisp, using the rest of the pears a friend gave me from her pear tree. The household cooking is generally divided by season around here, so Himself does most of the cooking in the warm months on the grill, and I do most of the cooking in the cold months, and it works pretty well. The cats do their best to help us both year-round, which is to say that Púca nearly made a successful attempt to jump into the soup kettle last night while I was stirring it.

Slowly but surely figuring out a new household pattern that lets me get some serious work done, and as a result I’ve got a new painting finished! Turns out that some of my monsters make excellent grotesques when combined with medieval illuminated manuscript techniques and stylizing. Planning to see if I can find a frame for it this afternoon so I can get it formally listed in the shop, and then get another one started later on.

I spent some time earlier in the week reconfiguring my Ko-fi membership tiers, so now monthly subscribers will have exclusive sneak peeks at whatever I’m working on that I won’t be posting elsewhere online, as well as the ever-popular cat pictures (since subscription donations go toward helping keep them fed and housed by providing a steady source of income), in addition to the discounts that the two high tiers already get. With shifting away from Patreon, it’s so much easier to manage perks, which frees up a lot of mental bandwidth to make sure I can reliably follow through on them. I’m hoping to add more as I go, but for right now, it’s a good start.

Now, though, I’m off to the store to see about a small frame for the newest Smol Monster and maybe a couple of extra to have on hand for it’s upcoming siblings.

Catawampuses, Moths, and Moonroads

image via The Carterhaugh School

But if there is to be no modus vivendi, if the battle between the crocodile of Realism and the catawampus of Romance is to be fought out to the bitter end–why, in that Ragnaruk, I am on the side of the catawampus.” ~Andrew Lang

I have been out of sorts, to say the least, lately. Adventures in Prehistoric Epidemiology is an ongoing battle to clear Bodach and Púca of giardia, and then Oisín developed an eye issue (it’s been cleared, he’s fine), and we had to change vet practices in the middle of everything, and it’s just been marrow-deep exhausting. 0/10, do not recommend.

Trying to find time, energy, and maybe half a spoon to work with while dealing with 6 solid weeks (and counting) of feline medical drama has been challenging, to say the least. I figured out a portable set up for working outside the studio, but dredging up an idea of any kind has felt like trying to pull a mammoth out of a tar pit with broken chopsticks and a piece of thread.

To be honest, everything has felt like that, lately, not just creatively. Yesterday I hit the point where I was so tired, in pain, and just plain miserable from wrestling with the crocodile of reality (yes, I’m taking liberties with Lang’s quote) that I wanted to cry. So, I pulled out my tarot deck and asked for some directions.

It told me to go take a drive and clear my head and I’d feel better, for the love of little orange pumpkins. Yes, I listened. It was right, too. I got a good 50 miles of sun and wind and movement, and I saw an old house that was growing pumpkins along its white picket fence and there was a big, beautiful, bright orange pumpkin right there next to the road, and it was exactly what I needed to scrape some of the sludge off my brain.

While driving, I started thinking about a post from The Carterhaugh School I’d read a while back, and when I got home I dug it out. I got thinking about catawampuses, and cheshire cats, and roads made of moonlight, and moths, and pumpkins, and the way that the smells of caramel apples, fried dough, sun-baked midway dust, and autumn leaves combine into one of the best smells in the world, and….

and then I remembered why I am, and will always be, Team Catawampus. Reality (and Realism) is so often harsh and exhausting and leaves one drowning in tar. Give me the catawampus, and it’s grinning tabby cousin, any day.

The Littlest Watcher

Recently we went to a local botanical garden with some friends, which was glorious. I took a million photos of plants and flowers for references, and maaaay have gotten an idea for a new Watcher painting from them. Finished it a week or so ago, and am in the process of getting it matted and ready for sale as soon as I can get the store up and running.

I also gave in to the inevitable and subscribed to Adobe for Photoshop/Fresco for digital art. The other programs I looked at all, while less expensive, all had interface issues that were going to bug the crap out of me in the long run and also have the small problem that pretty much every print site is geared for Photoshop’s formatting options. Maybe someday, when I get better at digital artwork, I’ll switch to something else, but for now here we are. C’est la vie, I guess.

An Assortment Of Inks

I started working on a new Smol Monster/Watcher painting this week, and came to the point in the process where I have to start thinking about whether I’m going to use watercolor pencils or paint, whether I’m going to outline in black or brown ink, or something else. I decided that I wanted to do a nice sepia outline, but realized that many of the details on this piece are particularly small and I don’t have a Micron pen in size 005 (extremely fine point). So, off to the craft store I hied myself to see if I could find one, or if I would have to order one.

I, um, came back with rather more than a single pen.

Oops.

In my defense, the india ink and dip pens were *right there* and I’ve wanted to use them again for a while, and my old ink was drying out and well, then I needed cleaning solution, and something to use for an inkwell until I can get a real one, and then I needed storage for all of this, and….

I can’t be trusted around art supplies.

Reshuffling The Cards

The last week has been BUSY.  The studio moved across the house (we swapped the master bedroom and the studio because I needed more workspace and better light, and we didn’t need a gigantic room just for sleeping), and while it’s about half unpacked still, it’s also already worlds’ more functional than the old room.  

The cats are slowly forgiving us for the the upheaval.  Slowly. 

I set up a separate bank account just for business things!  I set up a Square account so that I could take credit cards wherever I go and have an online shop and “buy it now!” buttons that I could use on my website and elsewhere!  I sold a Watcher painting the same day I listed it! 

I also discovered in the process of that last part that Square’s partner, Weebly, who they run the shop segment through, requires you to include an address and telephone number on receipt emails.  While the address is doable, since I’m planning on getting a mailbox to have an address to ship from (I don’t like giving out my home address), I have phone-triggered PTSD from a couple of old jobs, and that’s a total dealbreaker for me.  I have an email address that I use for communication and a screaming refusal to give a third-party organization money to let them tell me how to run my own business and life.  If I wanted a company telling me how to do something, they have to pay me, not the other way around.

Still, I should be able to use Square itself for credit cards, though I’ll have to test it.  I still have PayPal and, as annoying as they are, they do have the ability to create “buy it now” buttons, so I’ll probably be using that, instead.  We’ll see.

In the meantime, I’m also working on some Smol Monster portrait miniatures, which I think are cute, at least.  I hope other people do, too.   They’re on 3 x 3 in. squares, and are in 2 inch boxes, so they are little.  They’re fun, and I love them.

(The smallest one is the first one, and I messed it up, but I’ll let y’all see it, anyway.)

I am absolutely not thinking about doing these for a Sponsor-A-Monster program AT ALL.  Nope.  Definitely not.  (I totally am.)

Still haven’t been able to get on the road. The weather has been “I had to turn the heat back on, for the love of gods!” grade miserable – cold, pouring rain, all that – but it looks like it should be hot and sunny for at least the next week, and once that sun comes back out, I am grabbing some road snacks and my camera and getting out there to see what I can find.  I require a pilgrimage to find an obscure roadside god or weird place or SOMETHING.  It’s been far too long.

The Watchers In The Woods

I was right about there being more to the strange figures in the woods a few weeks ago.

After that first sighting

there was another. This time, there were more of them, these strangers Watchers.

Now, it seems that the Watchers seem to be getting curious about the Smol Monsters, and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting curious to see where this all goes…