explorations in limited palettes and fan mail

 Well, hello!

This is what working all the time and taking a class and trying to have a social life does to you. That, and the lack of sustained attention that unfortunately comes with the Internet. 

Here are some new(ish) things! The first three explore a limited color palette, using ink and a bit of watercolor. At the top we have a forest spirit of sorts, and evolution of Beastie. Lately I've been liking headdresses, and his has typically been the bones of small animals. He's also been clearly affected by the aesthetics of Sword & Sworcery, with his trigon. This was done using India ink, red watercolor and some black gel pen for the details. 

Below is a painting using much of the same materials, although I think there's some Payne's gray in there in addition to the red. The circles are vaguely Mucha-esque, and were created using a compass. The figures are a take on the medieval figures with their big black robes. 

Next is something I thought of while listening to Grimes' "Visiting Statue" off the (perhaps aptly named) album Visions. I actually had a whole music video mapped out, but as I lack the funding and the willing victims participants to make music videos, I had to make due with a still image. The challenge of this one was to lend a thick, opaque, sculptural look using water media, as well as working on a gray ground. I started by coating a piece of (white) paper with a mixture of white gouache and Payne's gray watercolor, and layering more of that mixture until I got a good ground. Then I painted in the figures and the landscape, and finished with a mixture of white gouache and yellow watercolor for the constellations and circle shapes. I also emailed a copy to Grimes' fan mail, just for fun. 

Finally, we have a painting with a more traditional palette. This came from the idea of the Manitou, an Algonquin concept of an innate spirit present in all things, including people, animals, plants, rocks and even machines. Specifically, it's a reference to Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron off the coast of Ontario, which means "spirit island." The image is just something that sort of popped into my head, of a big sleepy creature-island supporting lots of nature and people. It looks a bit sad, but it's really just sleepy. I'm really happy with this one, and I'd like to find a nice frame for it. 


Finally some oil paintings! Being separated from my oils is rough, I tells you. 

These two are painted on 4inX4in wood panels, which were coated in gloss medium so the grain of the wood is still visible. 

These are my Winterkins, created initially back when the weather was colder, and they're sort of like the embodiments of winter. I was inspired by the recent fashion trend that involves a lot of cultish, quasi-spiritual and occult elements, and the results have been sleeker, starker fashion choices for my figures. As well as a lot of triangles. It's a combination of ancient and medieval symbolism and designs, 1970s-style fantasy illustration, and the more naturalistic elements from my older work. The result is a lot of natural, complex details combined with larger areas of flat, geometric space, and is something I find really aesthetically pleasing. 

They're also portraits. The figures are the same as those in The Universe, and are basically me, in black, and Beastie, in white, along with the things I've come to associate with each of us: trees and crows for me, bones and rabbits for him. 

As for the process, painting on wood is fun. It's nice and smooth. The only downside is that because it's so smooth, it's easy to wipe the paint back off during the painting process if it gets built up too thickly. So these were made using a lot of thin layers and glazes. The other things about very smooth surfaces is that dust and debris show up really easily, so you have to be diligent about keeping them clean. 

I'd like to do another pair for summer (the Summerkins), but I still have to work out their details. They will remain with the same color schemes, though some of the elements may change. 

water media madness

 I was terribly, and pleasantly, surprised to find that THIS is what it looks like when you use water media on fabric. I had tried it before with some small pieces, but it works really well on a larger scale, too, and can be built up to a decent opacity. 

I was originally going to hang these on our closet doors at home, kind of a his'n'hers sort of thing, but the doors seem to be made of diamond and cannot be pierced by the pointy things of man. So they live on my desk. 

Up top is some beast boy creepiness, complete with blood and pointy claw fingers. And a hair bow. I used Mod Podge to seal the fabric on this one, and I'm not sure if it was that or if it was just not stretched properly, and so the fabric buckled slightly. It didn't effect the outcome, really, but was not as pleasant to paint on. This is primarily gouache, tinted with watercolor.

Below is some fashionable witchiness. This one was created using gouache and watercolor as well as India ink, acrylic paint and gel pen. REMEMBER GEL PENS??? I bought some bright pink gel pens a while ago on a whim because they transported me back to seventh grade, where the cool thing to do was to scrawl all over yourself and your friends with smeary opaque ink. They made the finer pink branches near the bottom, and were fun to use. 

So, they're not oils. Nothing is oils. But they were fun to make, and I got to play with lots of interesting ways to combine colors and materials. The only thing about this, which I discovered the last time I tried this, was that because of the primed surface, the paints will wipe right off if they get wet, so I might want to spray seal these sometime. Although, during the painting process, this feature actually came in handy as it served as an "eraser" of sorts. 

I really like bright pink and I need to use more of it. I've also found I really like designing costumes and painting fantastical clothing, and will be continuing this trend.

way down

So I've finally, finally been able to complete a new painting! This is Way Down in the Valley, a kind of spiritual successor to The Valley, which I completed a few years ago. It has the same elements, double portrait with skullheads, but this one is, um, better. 

These figures started off looking like this. Why would I create extremely detailed faces just to cover them with skull paint, you ask? Because I am quite out of my mind, obviously. But from a practical standpoint, it looks better. After all, if you apply face paint, you're applying it to a preexisting surface, full of color and texture, which will inform what the end result looks like. So that's what I did here. I created the faces, and then applied the makeup on top. Which I essentially explained in the last post. 

There's also glitter. I haven't used glitter in a while, which is a shame because glitter is singularly fantastic. 

The idea behind this painting is the same as the idea behind The Valley; it's about true love, and how loving someone truly means accepting the darker aspects of their person, going down into the valley with them and accepting the fullness of their personality and psyche, not just picking out the parts you're comfortable with.


So I'm shirking my "Artists You Should Know" habit, but my brain is somewhat fried and I already know what to say about this piece, which I banged out on a whim. Next time.

In the meantime, have this.

I'm calling it With A Knife With A Bigger Knife, which comes from one of my favorite moments in The Venture Bros. It's oil, leaves, pen and bloody tissue on canvas. Yes, it's real blood, but it's not mine. And yes, I know using bodily fluids in art is very "art school," but at least it's not period blood, so that's a start.

I used acrylic gloss medium to glue and seal the tissue down to the canvas, which caused it to bunch up and shred a bit, but creates an interesting texture. Unlike my actual paintings, I didn't have a set plan for this one, and frankly I'm surprised that I'm pleased with the result, because usually when I don't plan ahead, it's a disaster.

I sketched out the portraits of me and Blood Donor in Micron pen, and doodled in some atmosphere and vegetal forms with oil, and applied some dyed leaves, again with gloss medium. 

Honestly? I have no idea about this one. 

I like it, I'm sure of that, but it seems to serve as kind of a place holder between larger, more serious pieces. It's a fairly straightforward double portrait of me and the boyfriend. We like knives. It was admittedly kind of a throwaway piece. It's very small, only about maybe 9X9 inches, and served as something of an experiment.

It's also thematically related to a larger piece I have planned, which will use the brown and blue color scheme, the double portrait, and a sense of the cycle of life and death (though this one is more death-oriented) and of being two small people in the world. 

The sad thing is, this is pretty much all I've been able to do now that I have a Grown Up Job which requires forty hours of each week plus commuting. The upside is that my commute is really nice, and part of that is the ability to sleep through parts of it; I take the train. The commute was actually, in part, what inspired the larger piece I mentioned above, as well as some writing. I've also taken a position as a contributor with an online publication, and recently got my first article published with them. So everything is pretty peachy on the "being an adult" front, but the drawback is that it leaves me less time for painting. Also, the access I had to a digital camera was again shot down by shitty technology, and so this, unfortunately, had to be taken with my iPod, hence the less-than-ideal image quality. I'm hoping to either get one or both of the cameras repaired and, if that fails, get a new camera. Although the prospect of blowing yet another paycheck isn't a welcome one.

And despite the knives, the blood was not acquired through any violence on my part. Today's lesson: don't try to shave when you're drunk.

experiments in pencil

So I don't normally use just colored pencil. I've had a box of Crayolas sitting in my desk drawer forever, and they've been relegated, for the most part, to the foundations of water media pieces. A long time ago, like back in middle school (which was over a decade ago, giving you an idea of how infrequently these things were used), I think they were used to flatly color in some bullshit faux-anime-style fantasy characters. Yeah. We're not getting into that. 

But I saw some colored pencil work online, namely this piece by a deviantART buddy (which is like, way, way more accomplished than mine here), and started to get interested. It helped that the figure pictured looks like Boyfriend. 

So what I've found after working with pencils is that they're just like watercolors! Just without the water. This is because with both media, you start with the lightest colors and build up to the darkest, with the paper itself serving as your white. It's basically the opposite of oils, where white and light colors are added last, as highlights. You can do that because oils are opaque, while pencils and watercolors are transparent. Make sense? Good. 

(Full disclosure: I cheat at water media by using white gouache for highlights, which is opaque. I can't help it. I'm an oil-painter at heart.)

The other thing is that I've been working on leftover scraps of Arches watercolor paper, which is wonderful for water media, but a bit rough for pencil, making it hard to get very fine detail. I'd like to try out a smoother paper and see what happens. I don't dislike the roughness, but I think I could get more out of a picture on a smoother surface. I have two other pencil pieces, but they were purely experimental and frankly kind of suck, so I'm not going to show them.

So yeah, I decided that for this piece I'd use my fallback subject of Boyfriend/Beast Boy and all his teeth. Yes, the size of his mouth and teeth are exaggerated for effect. But it's more about capturing the murderous rage personality. I've also been really into eyeballs lately, and capturing the correct shine. I've yet to hone the wet-shine look with pencils, as I'm used to just glopping on some white pigment.

Isn't he cute?

experiments in fabric

This is the newest in the larger-scale oil paintings I've been procrastinating working diligently on. This one is the largest, at 4 by 3 feet, and represents a few experiments. 

For one thing, it's painted on silk. Normally I work on printed cotton--stuff that I can find for fairly cheap at the local sewing supply store. I bought this piece at Mood Fabrics in the city and loved the pattern. Unfortunately, it's not smooth but has a sort of crinkled texture, which means that the painting has vertical lines running through it. Lesson learned: Buy untextured fabric. 

Silk, at least this silk, is also way more delicate than cotton, and so stretching it was kind of a pain because I was constantly afraid of tearing it, resulting in kind of a loose canvas. The texture also caused a it of a problem here because it allowed the fabric to stretch, but not quite evenly. 

This painting also features a collage in fabric. I had a bunch of oddly-shaped scraps lying around and thought to put them to good use. I think it turned out okay for a first attempt, though I think if I were to do this again I'd try to integrate them a little more into the composition. 

So as far as the painting itself is concerned, it's sort of a sequel to Big Wind, which I already think is positive in terms of its meaning, but this one is even more so. Look, renewable energy! And plump birds! Life is obviously good here. I was inspired to do something with wind turbines after looking at/reading about/writing about them so much for work, I decided I really liked them. They're so white and streamlined and smooth, so seemingly at odds with natural forms, and yet they manage to fit into natural settings so well. NIMBY might beg to differ with me on this, but I like them.

I've also noticed I'm becoming more atmospheric lately when it comes to skies. This isn't a great example, though, as I didn't want to cover up the fabric too much.  

(...also I don't like this new layout very much, Blogger. Why the small font so unreasonably small? Why are there enormous spaces between paragraphs?)

of wolves and foxes

I had some trouble classifying this painting (and I do so love to classify), because its attributes fall into both the Home and the Medieval categories of my painting. It's on fabric, and features the painting style that I usually use for the Home pictures, but the clothing and composition, as well as the inspiration, are more in keeping with the Medieval style.

The title, Ai Vis Lo Lop, is Old Provencal and translates to "I saw the wolf." It's also the title of a song, which was the inspiration for this piece. Here are the wolf and the fox, meeting under the tree. There's also a rabbit mentioned in the song, but I think they ate it. Fun fact: the term "seeing the wolf" was also a slang term for losing one's virginity. So take that as you will.

I had a lot of fun painting this one, and I'm very happy with how the faces came out in particular, and I tried to keep them as close to the sketch as possible. I really like using pink in faces. That's me on the left as a little black fox, and Beastie on the right as a gray wolf. This was also the first time since I was about six that I've drawn anybody with animal ears, and I was a bit apprehensive about it, especially after seeing all the furry/anthro/neko-neko-kawaii bullshit the Internet has to offer. I like them, though, and I was thinking of it in terms more of medieval-style pageantry than literal anthropomorphism.

tales from the sketchpad, part 6

The time has come to end the sketchpad series. It's sad, I know, but my poor pens are suffering from exhaustion and quite frankly, I'm tired of the sketchpad. Like, really tired.

So here are the last two pages of the sketchpad. My .01 pen was fading fast, so as you can see, I resorted to using a .08 for the backgrounds of both of these. I don't like the heavier line quite as much as I do building up layers of finer lines, but it's passable.

Up top we have another Jeff. Seriously I am the sickest fangirl for him, because I have a thing for long-haired guys with crazy eyes, toothy smiles and big knives. I don't know what that says about me, exactly, but I'm okay with it. He's seen here after a long and productive night cleaning his knife off. Pasta-monsters have a pass when it comes to blood-borne diseases. Jeff's .08 background actually came from necessity, as there was some Prismacolor marker bleed-though from the other side of his page that had to be covered. And you always have to cover up the bleed-through, right Jeff?

Next is a portrait of me and Beasty. I'm not 100% thrilled with this one, but I wanted a picture of the two of us and here it is. I struggled with this for a long time, going through about a thousand pencil versions--the remnants of which you can still make out in the white areas of the image--before settling on this one. I was originally going for something a little sexier, but it never quite worked the way I wanted.

I salute you, Sketchpad. You will be missed. Kind of.

little watercolors

Here are some watercolors I had kicking around because I am tired of talking about the Sketchpad. (There will be one more sketchpad entry, and then we're done. Done, I tell you.)

First we have a very, very civilized portrait of Beasty, where he is looking very proper and wearing clothes. He looks nice in blue. The subject however, was critical of this piece. His critique was WHY DID YOU MAKE ME A BLOND WOMAN?

The second piece was done for a Hitchcock-themed group show. This is inspired by Rope, which is not one of the movies everyone thinks of when they think of Hitchcock, but is really quite good. This piece now belongs to my friend. It's a bit more cartoony than I usually go, but I think it works. I also think I got the expressions of the characters right: reluctant follower on the left, smug douche on the right.

I have a bunch of big oils paintings in the works, but I have to figure out a way to photograph them since the autofocus on my camera is still auto-fucked. I will likely borrow my mom's camera, but I really dislike that camera. Oh well. It will have to do.

tales from the sketchpad, part 5

Two posts in one day? What is this?

So there aren't many pages left in the old sketchpad, and so our tales will be winding down soonish. But here are some more lovely pictures of Boyfriend. Isn't he the cutest?

The first one is what would happen if you crossed Jeff the Killer with The Rake. Because you know what you get? The Jake. Get it?
It's funny because that's his name. And because he really looks like this. Shortly after I drew the first image, he was chasing me around, as usual, and then he stopped and said thoughtfully, "You know, I finally get why you always draw me as a creepy animal."

I was like, wow, took you long enough.

Shortly thereafter he requested another portrait where he looked a little more dignified. He said he wanted to be shown wrapped in his dead animal blanket (it's fur, I don't know what kind) with some kind of bone decoration. So here he is relaxing in the evening. I like to think he's saying, "Hi there, why don't you sit down and relax and have some wine. Of course it's not really wine, it's the blood of your loved ones for I am The Jake." It's hard to see but his necklace is a human hand.

He's so great.

(Also, I've been reading a lot of Creepypasta lately. I really like Jeff the Killer, he's adorable, but his backstory blows. It makes like zero sense. I wrote him a new one over on deviantART and he'd better fucking appreciate it.)

tales from the sketchpad, part 4

So I really dislike Twilight. Like, a lot. For a variety of reasons, most of which can be echoed on a certain Tumblr blog I frequent.

And after completing the "Bella Sucks" meme that I found on deviantART and having a lot of fun, I decided to elaborate on a particular image on page 2 of the meme that filled me with glee. Out came the sketchpad.

So here's Beast Boy in all his feral glory upon discovering the invasive activities of one of our newer, more sparkling pop-culture figures (because I cannot, in good conscience, call him a "literary" one) and taking action.


tales from the sketchpad, part 3

The sketchpad returns!

Today in the world of sketchpad, we'll be looking at my three most recent drawings. This is what I've been doing instead of working on my Sketchbook Project, which is supposed to be postmarked tomorrow in order to be part of the tour. Trouble is, I hate the sketchbook and everything in it because the paper is horrid quality and makes everything suck. I just can't send it in. I just can't. It looks like crap.

So I've been drawing instead on some actual paper and I came up with these little beasties. I used an 01 Sakura Micron pen, and the paper is 80 lb. Strathmore, and I'm really happy with how they came out.

Top one is Lost Girls, who are skullheads, and began as a possible painting sketch about girls who disappear. Next is Sea Beast, which is essentially a self-portrait. At least, that's what my hair looks like after a day at the beach. Finally we have Land Beast, who is like Boyfriend if Boyfriend was the Rake.

He's so cute.

Overall, I'd say I'm pleased with how my pen use is evolving, as opposed to the last times I've used this sketchpad. It's become more painterly, in a way, and less dependent on clean linear forms, less controlled. I'm liking the depth I've been able to create with these, as well as the variations in tone.

I already have some more of these planned!

things to come

So my camera is still broken.

So here we have some images from my Instagram account (Earlybird filter FTW), of some of the sketches for projects I've been working on. The top two are from the same piece, and the bottom one is a second piece. Both are oil on patterned fabric, and both are coming along nicely. It's been a while since I've painted on fabric and it's a lot of fun. The first piece is looking good (I started it today), and I actually really like the sketch. Normally my sketches are just maps, but I really like how the faces turned out, and will be attempting to recreate them in the final painting. The second piece is quite an experimental one, and I'm happy so far with the results.

More soon!

the fifth dimension makeover episode

It was apparently a time for re-doing things. Sometimes spending some time apart from a piece of work allows you to see more clearly the problem areas, and then you can go back in and make the necessary adjustments. First up was Caligula Rape Face and his non PC title. Which is still the same, mind you. The original image, which I've uploaded here, was completed some time last summer (I think), and I was only partially pleased with it. But after spending so much time together, I couldn't think critically about it. So recently I gave him some major reconstructive surgery and I'm liking how he turned out. I fixed the face to better resemble the person it's based on, added detail to the face and hand, made the hair fluffier and added a yellow color, and made the body stand out more by adding white and blue glazes to the preexisting pink ones. I also fancied up his cross necklace a bit, and changed the bird skull into a rabbit skull. And of course I added MOAR glitter and some cute little pink heart sequins to the bottom. And yes, I'm still using Martha. I'm really happy with the face now, and the original looks totally crappy by comparison. This is also the first oil painting I've (re)completed in a while, which is a nice feeling. The next image isn't so much a re-do as a different version of a sketch. The original Sepsis, Sugarplums and Blood is a simple pencil sketch from my sketchbook (there's my curly little handwriting at the bottom), and was drawn after a weird night with some friends. I later developed it into a water media piece, using watercolor, ink, watercolor pencil and gouache on Arches paper. I didn't originally intend for them to have neon hair like that, but I like how it turned out. Also, I once did have purple hair like that. What I like about the two of these when seen side by side is the facial expressions, which are all different, but equally likeable. Each picture communicates a distinct mood, with the pencil sketch being somewhat sadder and more nihilistic (which was kind of how I was feeling after said night with friends), and the water media one is happier. I also thought the fly on the orange-haired one was a nice addition. That was Beast Boy's idea.

this isn't nice

Actually, I think this picture is really nice. I like it a lot. I'm calling it Rabbit Eater II, and I have a few more rabbit eaters planned. The first official Rabbit Eater can be seen here, but I think that the original concept actually dates back to the Woods series, with images of my rather toothy significant other. In a way, I think it hearkens back to the Woods series very much, with the branch patterning and the coloration. Here he's looking a bit blonder, and he's thoroughly enjoying his meal of rabbit. The idea of him eating rabbits stems from his penchant for chasing rabbits in the yard. Really. This was done with the usual mix of watercolor pencils, watercolors, gouache, and some inks on Arches paper (the most awesome paper ever that I got on sale for added awesomeness). The blood was fun to paint. Blood usually is.

This brings me, however, to something that's been bothering me lately. For the record, I really like this painting. I think it came out really nicely in terms of technique and how it captures the subject, and I therefore think it's a nice picture.

But that's apparently not the case.

When my mom saw this, she was quite vocal about the gore, and complained that it was "not nice." I'm like, yeah, Mom, biting the head off a rabbit usually isn't. (Our dog, as a side note, would disagree, as one of her favorite hobbies is snapping the necks of the bunnies that live in our yard.) This isn't the first time she's complained that the subject matter of my work isn't "nice," but rather "creepy," or "disturbing." Confounding this was the incident where my grandmother (my mother's mother) found an unfinished piece of a skullhead character, and basically said, "Why? Why would you make something so UGLY? Why can't you make something NICE? Art is supposed to INSPIRE." I was like, thanks, Nanna, you think my work is ugly, that's awesome. Luckily for both of us I intercepted her before she found Rabbit Eater II here.

But this is what bothers me. For one thing, art is supposed to cause a reaction in the viewer. It's supposed to make you feel something on a visceral level. It doesn't matter if the reaction is one of adoration or repugnance, it's supposed to cause a reaction. When my grandmother said that art was supposed to inspire, she was absolutely right, but what she didn't realize was that my unfinished skullhead had done just that; it inspired in her a strong reaction. Maybe not the reaction she wanted, but a reaction nonetheless. Simply looking at something and thinking, oh, that's pretty, isn't enough. You won't remember something you think is merely good-looking on a cosmetic level because it offers no real stimulus.

The other part of this is that I can't help but feel insulted by comments like these. Not because I need constant praise or that I want everyone to like everything I make, but rather on a deeper level. I don't always make "nice" images because the things that go through my head aren't always nice. They have to do with anger, fear, hatred, selfishness, and sadness sometimes, because these are things we all have to deal with on a daily basis. The things I think about are not always nice things, but they are real things, and they are worthy of exploration. To me, demanding that I only create "nice" imagery is like telling me that the less pleasant aspects of my psyche are not worth recognizing. It also suggests that my art is solely for the benefit of others, and not for myself. I understand that this is likely not the intent of my mom or grandmother, but that's how it feels. Making a less-than-nice image is cathartic, it helps me come to terms with the darker and scarier aspects of myself, and comes from a deep and intimate place. I can't help but feel that by deriding these pieces, they are deriding parts of me. And that kind of hurts.

I think that it's easy to want someone to always create "nice" images because that seems to communicate that the creator of those images is always happy. And of course we want our loved ones to be happy for the majority of the time. But you can't be happy without being unhappy. You need both, and we all need to accept the less-than-nice aspects of one another, because those are the aspects that make us human. Being able to recognize and express our own dark sides, through art or in other constructive ways, takes enormous strength, and makes us better people in the long run. Instead of demanding nicety, we should celebrate the not-so-nice, because it is just as important.

trashback 3: politically incorrect

So here's another Trash item that was supposed to have a mate that I never got around to finishing. It's full of Martha Stewart glitter and religious imagery and general debauchery. If I don't upload it now it'll never get uploaded, so here you go.

This is Caligula Rape Face. At least, that's been its working title for a while now. It's not terribly politically correct of me, is it? I'll often come up with shitty names for paintings while I'm working on them, usually out of sheer annoyance, and they either will or won't stick after the painting process is complete. This one stuck, perhaps unfortunately. I don't know what to tell you.

Anyway, this is a stand-oil painting made with like an entire tube of alizarin crimson and Martha Stewart glitter in Tourmaline (which is a mineral and actually comes in a variety of colors, but Martha is referencing the dark pink kind, I guess). Collaged into the top corners are Jesus, left, from the Godescalc Lectionary, and Shiva.

You'll notice that the figure, which was derived from a photograph, is wearing pearls. This painting taught me something: painting pearls is annoying. The bird skull, however, was a lot of fun. On the whole, the painting, part of the underrepresented Trash body, is about holy debauchery and general sacrilege.

I don't know how much I like this painting really, and there's an off chance that I may return to work on it, making improvements here and there, refining it a bit, but I felt for honesty's sake that its current form should be shown. Maybe one day I'll even get around to finishing its partner painting. Stranger things could happen.

actually, i'm still alive.

Welly, welly well, it's been a while. That's okay though, because that means I have a job and can't sit around on my computer all day.

It also means I've been shamefully remiss about painting, though things are under way and I'm hoping to complete them before the sun becomes a red giant and swallows the earth. (Although at that point, who cares?) I haven't even really been doing any watercolors, having been feeling rather uninspired lately. Here, however, are some pieces I put on my deviantART account but not here.

Up first is a group shot of me and most of my alter-egos. One more came out of the woodwork after this picture was completed, but you'll get to meet her soon. From left to right is an exterminator, a skullhead (a sugar skullhead, to be precise), me, a skullhoodie, and a surgeon.

Next is Beast Boy and his new necklace, because even Beast Boys need to feel pretty sometimes. I really enjoy painting teeth like that.

Both were done with the usual mix of watercolors, watercolor pencils, gouache, ink and colored pencil.


I very much like ovals. They're instantly decorative and pretty, and there's something charmingly old-fashioned about them. They make me think of cameos and lockets and old photographs. I think it's a lovely format. Oval stretchers and canvases, however, can be quite expensive and hard to stretch.

So instead of buying oval canvases, which cost $25 each, I decided to experiment and bought a package of six wooden embroidery hoops of the same size (6 by 12 in. diameter) for about $13 in total from Create For Less, which is a pretty cool crafting site. Many hoops are plastic these days, but they still make wood ones. Embroidery hoops are simple to use, and for painting I recommend tightening the screw with pliers to keep the fabric as taut as possible. Even with this extra tightening, though, expect the fabric to buckle slightly, especially after priming. There isn't really a way around it.

I originally only planned five of these oval paintings, though I do have an extra hoop kicking around, so I may do another in the future. These are made with scraps of fabric from other paintings and projects (like that dress I said I'd make like two years ago). Being small, they were rather painstaking, but they are easily portable and very lightweight--they can be hung on a tack.

I find the embroidery hoops to go well with the concepts I've been working with in the Home body of work--domesticity, tradition, and safety, as well as a nod to children's book illustrations. I also got to give each figure a carefully planned-out set of clothing and accessories.

From the top:
Father's Daughter was the first one I thought of, and is admittedly a bit hipster-ish. But I like it anyway. The deer refers to my dad again, but I think I'm beginning to separate deer into Dad deer and Me deer.

Next is Rabbit Eater, the only male in the bunch. So called because he's going to eat that rabbit. This is the same subject known in other works as "Beast Boy."

Of A Feather is a double self-portrait, and while it would be nice and simple to say that each figure represents a side of myself, that is not the case. Two aspects, maybe, but even then, that's not quite accurate. I think it's really just a nice tea party of narcissism.

Everything Must Someday Die features a cute little skullhead. I kind of picture her in the "goldengrove" of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Spring & Fall" , except that instead of weeping for the passing of time and the concept of death, she's joyfully part of it.

Finally comes The Smell of Decay, with an exterminator, looking grim and destructive. As exterminators do.

I plan to hang these as a set--they look better together than alone. More big paintings coming soon!

bathtime derangement

I seriously have to stop making these. I have a whole list of actual paintings to do, and I'm doing these, usually while watching episodes of Intervention or L.A. Ink on YouTube. Which is, I know, really, really lame of me. People seem to like my little stuff, though, which is both nice and frustrating. I can spend a month on a large oil painting and about twenty minutes on a small drawing, and everyone goes ape over the small drawing, which usually segues into a conversation about why I don't I make comics/cartoons/graphic novels.

People suck like that.

Anyway, here are some more creepy water media things, both having a bathing theme. First is a rather ominous bath. That's me in there. I don't like baths. I always feel the need to take a shower afterward, to wash off all the dirty water and soap residue, which doesn't make sense when you can just take a shower. But if I took baths I feel like I would be ominous about it, so there we are.

The second is darling Beast Boy again, here shown having bathed and looking all fishy. We had a roommate once who introduced us to the joys of drinking beer in the shower. It's, like, the best thing ever. I highly recommend it to any and all people who are physically and/or legally capable of drinking beer. It's very relaxing. I messed up the label, but he's drinking Lagunitas IPA. On realizing my mistake, I immediately went out and bought a six-pack of it so I would be sure to remember the label correctly for any future artistic endeavors. Oh, and his tattoo is an onion with knives.