Forward Momentum

Apparently taking a few days to mope around and be melodramatic helped shake some stuff loose in my head. I’ll write something a bit longer in a bit, but for now, well, I figured out what the Smol Monsters are (not knowing was upsetting me and making it hard to draw or paint them). I figured out that I need to draw more trees. I figured out that I need to draw more trees, and Smol Monsters, and BIGGER. Like, a lot bigger.

Yeah, it’s a good start. I also need to practice drawing larger, since I’m used to working much smaller, and I need to get new paper (that’s just a sketchpad, not Serious Paper). Looks like I’ll be heading to the craft store today, too, once I dig the truck out.

Oh, and I officially started working with a graphic designer yesterday to get a logo made so I can do things like get actual cards printed and things. Yes, I’m an artist, but logo work is what I refer to as “outside my scope of practice” (yes, I did used to work in a health care field, how can you tell?), so I’m being smart and paying someone else who has that skill set for it. I am SUPER EXCITING to see what he comes up with!

Right now, though, off to run errands.


“Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 50?”

“Picture your ideal life…what does it look like?”

“What’s your goal for your….everything?”

“What do you mean you didn’t have your entire life planned out in crystalline detail and scheduled to the minute by the time you graduated kindergarten?”

Excuse me, I have to go lie down on the floor and have an existential meltdown; I don’t know if I’m having a second cup of coffee this morning and this failure of basic organizational planning skills may cause calamitous financial and structural ruin. It might also be known to cause cancer in the State of California, and I don’t know if that’s just California specifically or if I need to be concerned about this in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and I’m not caffeinated enough to deal with that level of responsibility this early in the morning.

“Art Is Always Political! Art Is About Passion And Deep Feelings And Grand World-Changing Insights! Anything Less Isn’t Art. (also, don’t expect to get paid for bringing meaning to the world, freeloader, get a real job)”

Can’t art just be for the sake of being? Why does it have to be load-bearing and responsible for the course of the world and all of history? Look, I’m a small, anxious mammal who can barely manage to be the god of my own immediate biosphere. I just want to share the random shiny things my magpie heart thought were neat, not be responsible for saving the world. Or destroying it, either, for that matter, because I guess that’s something else that artists are supposed to do?

“What do you DO?!?”

I…I don’t know? I lie on the floor and stare at the ceiling a lot? I look out the window and watch the wind walk through the trees like a great, unseen being passing by the small, soft animals of the woods, uncaring of schedules or the shifting quicksand of societal expectations, and wish I had wings to fly alongside it, even for just a moment. Sometimes I make pictures with a paste made from water and crushed up rock powder, or string bits of glass or shiny stones together. Sometimes I scratch small tales onto a bit of bark that I found while following a moth down a moonlit road because they made me smile. Sometimes I keep them, and sometimes I leave them lying around for others to find, and hope they make them smile, too. Sometimes someone finds them and takes my offerings and goes on their way. Sometimes they pause and leave a piece of shiny metal or brightly dyed fabric that I can trade to someone else for food. Sometimes they tell others where the offerings are, and they come and see, and maybe also leave a bit of metal or cloth for me to trade for food.

Most of the time, though, I worry that I’m not really an artist because I don’t write Deep Social Commentary and my art isn’t about Big Important Feelings and I forget that I poured a second cup of coffee and now it’s sitting on the counter, cooled to that annoying temperature where it tastes like ashes and now I have to decide if I’m going to make another cup before I go stare at a blank piece of paper and hope that today is one of the days where I can ignore the voices that whisper and gibber in my ear that I’m Not Real Enough and should change my name and run away to be a cashier at a rest stop gas station in the middle of the night with the other ghosts and liminal creatures…

Well, That Took Longer Than Expected

Not an ideal workspace

*waves tiredly*

I’ve been mostly offline all week because what was expected to take maybe a day and a half, at most, ended up taking almost the entire week. This is the first time I’ve been at a real computer and not just on my phone since Saturday.

On the upside, Albatross House is 100% emptied out (seriously, the 1-800-got junk folks are awesome, or at least the ones on the NH Seacoast). It cost a bit more than I was expecting, but then, no one expected it was going to take as many dumpster loads as it did, so here we are*. I spent two days sitting in my truck while they dragged every scrap out of the place, trying (and failing) to work from the driver’s seat, but it was just the wrong angle and it was too damned cold. I had to keep turning the truck off and on to try and not freeze while also not wasting too much gas. Do not recommend. Today I met up with the real estate agent there to get her a key and go over a few things, and tomorrow will be filling out the couple pages of paperwork to get it listed and hopefully sold as quickly as possible.

While hunched over, trying to draw a straight line without a flat, rigid surface to put the sketchbook on, my resolve to one day be able to afford an RV van to use as a mobile studio was strengthened further. Also, having a bathroom and kitchen to use whenever I need them would be amazing. Major goal, there.

Tomorrow, aside from real estate forms, is dedicated to getting back to work. I have new metallic watercolors that should work the way I want, that the Coliro was not able to manage, and I want to play with them. If they do what the test page suggests, I’ll be able to do some really cool effects again, and I’m crossing all my fingers and toes.

Now, though, I go fall over so I can catch up on sleep before anything else. The last week has been a lot of Very Long Days, and I’m more than a little crispy right now.

*So tempting to get rid of all of my worldly possessions and become an ascetic after dealing with that catastrophe.

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.