Up In the Sky!

It was Nerd Night tonight, but it was one of those nights where we didn't play so much as jabber for a few hours.  Whilst we were jabbering, I was doodling- and here is one of my doodles.

Fairly appropriate subject matter in light of our Nerdly Natures.


Pretty in Pink and Pearls

Okay, okay- probably we have heard enough about puppies for a while.  So here is something I drew today because I really wanted to draw something sweet and feminine and pink.

(Hey, it happens.)

Those shoes are patent leather platforms, oh yes they are.


Oh Sweet Puppies

First of all, I want you to know that I did not have the inappropriate reaction.  I managed to contain myself, and here is evidence of that:

Look carefully- there are FIVE of 'em in there, and every one of them climbed into our laps- we didn't put them there.

One of the puppies in one of our laps is our girl- I won't tell you which one, because you'll find out soon enough.  All you need to know is that she already has an awesome name all picked out for her, and that she will hopefully be coming to live with us by the end of the week (she needs to be spayed first).  I did a lot of doodles of her when I got home, but since I don't want to give it away I will just show you a light sketch that I started but did not finish- it captures my "I am definitely not getting too excited over puppies!" expression fairly well.

So...difficult...not...to squee...


Gone to the Kleenex Fields

We got some bad news today: Nathan's parents had to put the family dog to sleep today.  She was about fourteen years old, and it was her time- but of course that never makes it any easier.  We actually got the news while we were visiting my grandparents, talking about (appropriately enough) how hard it had been for them to put down their various dogs: Pasha, Willie, and Toby.  Three goods dogs that I am sure are happy to welcome Abby to the Great Beyond for lots of puppy games.  Yep, they're one giant pack now, along with Daisy, Baron, Nikto, Monster, Pepper, Snitch, Trudie, and Hondo (I can't go back beyond the grandparents' generation, but I know there are more).

After Nikto died we liked to imagine he was with my dad, eating all the Kleenex he wanted, and being petted and called a good dog for it.

They're all good dogs.

That is a fat dachshund puppy angel up top.  Because they're spherical before they turn into sausages...



We get to meet the puppies on Sunday!  Eee!

An Example of How Not to React
I am trying to get all of the "squee-y" excitement out of my system now, because you really should not go in to pick out your puppy in an excited state.  You're supposed to be calm, so they don't get all amped up off of your energy, and you can get an idea of what they're actually like.  Soooo.... I am running around yelling, "Puppies!" a lot this evening (and all of tomorrow, I'm sure), in the hopes that I'll be able to be a rational adult come Sunday.

We shall see.


Riddle Me This

Did you know that "sphinx" can be translated as "strangler"?  I did not.  But Wikipedia enlightened me, and the new knowledge made me think, "Well if this lady is going to be strangling people that aren't answering riddles properly, she probably needs some hands.  Also maybe a garrote, because hey- why not?"

This will definitely get colored.
An important thing to know about his heavily-Egyptian-influenced sphinx?  She is wearing a wig.  That's her natural hair up by her brow, but the rest of it?  Not so much.


Plans, Shmlans

In spite of the fact that Nathan and I had agreed to wait until March to get our dog, last night I saw a face on Petfinder that I could not resist... and Nathan agreed, so this morning we put in an application with Born Again Pit Bull Rescue.  And now?  Now we wait to hear back... and do a lot of doggie doodles...

(This bears very little resemblance either to myself or the dog, but that's alright...)


Wolf Nouveau

As promised, the "other design":

(As with the fish design, the intention is tri-color- but shades of gold and white)

I Can't Let You Do That, O

Computer is on the fritz, so I'm doing this via phone. It's been one of those days, anyway, so rather than subject you to the half-hearted doodles I turned out, here is a photo of the OTHER design I did yesterday:

Never mind, it won't let me do that. So. Obviously it's bedtime, and I can deal with all of this tomorrow.


Life Patterns

One of the things Nathan has been adamant about getting for the house is curtains.  He lacks my utter un-self-consciousness (some might say "exhibitionism") and desires a bit more privacy for the lower floor.  I have been stubbornly ignoring his requests because I like light, and as far as I was concerned curtains = death to light.  But finally this past weekend I gave in and got us some curtain rods, with the intention of sewing some curtains in the next few weeks.  I was feeling very petulant about it, too, informing him that the only sorts of curtains that don't make me utterly puke are sheers (because of the whole letting-light-in thing).  He was fine with that, so long as there was something.  So this morning I was looking up curtain-making tutorials and I saw... well, I saw some awfully cute curtains.  And I thought, "Hey, maybe curtains don't have to be ugly or blah.  Maybe I can use awesome fabric!" so I got on Etsy and started looking for awesome fabric.  And, do you know, I found some?  I found some I wanted so badly for curtains I could taste it- the only problem is that the particular fabric I had the poor taste to fall in love with is printed exclusively for a shop that uses it to make custom bags.  As in, I cannot get that fabric.  And so I sulked and said to myself, "Well how does one print fabric, anyway?"

And thus did I discover Spoonflower, where you can print your own textile designs.  And I nearly choked with excitement over the implications.  I could not just have cool curtains, I could have cool curtains featuring my own artwork!?  Yes freaking please.  And I immediately started designing patterns.

Here, have a taste:

Can you see this as a pattern against my bright orange wall?  Because I TOTALLY CAN.


Sketchy Accounts

I was recently came into possession of some old family documents- namely paternal grandfather's father's genealogical research he did in 1940, which just so happened to include the transcription of a Civil War era journal.  When I first discovered these items I was beside myself with wiggly glee; I am an obsessive journal-er, and the chance to delve into an ancestor's journal made me feel like a piece of that person's DNA was proudly expressing itself in my veins.

Which I suppose is still technically true, even tho', after several hours of untangling and re-organizing, I've come to realize that Matthew Owens was not a direct ancestor, but rather my great-grandfather's paternal uncle (died without issue, as far as I can tell).  Ah well.  Still, it was an interesting read, if only for the sheer glee of coming across the phrase, "...the Rebs skeedaddled..." (he was a Union volunteer), not to mention an amusing account of insults exchanged with an exceptionally drunken officer (because it seemed the thing to do?)  More sobering were his accounts of some of his comrades wounds- he visited the field hospital after a battle and remarked, "...it is not a place for the chicken-hearted..."  Matthew was killed in 1864, in the Second Battle of the Wilderness.

So what does all of this have to do with today's sketch?  Nothing whatsoever.

I could stand to brush up on my horse anatomy, I think.


Costume Update

I've laid down the flat colors for that costume I designed a few weeks back.  It was time-consuming as all get-out, and I've yet to lay in the shadows (obviously), but I'm pretty pleased with how it's coming along.

Pazhir (yeah, she has a name now)
And how here are a few fun facts about this character and her people:

Pazhir comes from a particularly wealthy family, which you can tell by the amount of pearls adorning her outfit (she even uses them as buttons- quite extravagant).  Her people live on the steppes, so pearls are hard to come by- the vast majority are posessed by those families that can trace their roots back to the tribe's migration from the Western Sea (that's what the image on her skirt panel references: she's from one of the Original Families).  The second tier families can trace their roots back to the migration from the mountains (in between the Western Sea and the steppes).  They've heard tell of another ocean far to the south, but the rumor is that it's bright blue (as opposed to the gray of the Western Sea).

When they're children both males and females keep their hair neatly braided in a single plait: once the females reach menarche they use a special paste which gives their hair a deeper orange tinge and allows them to form something like dreadlocks: the males shave their heads at age fourteen.

The indigo-dye used to mark married females will stay on the skin for about three months.  The women renew the mark every month on the new moon.  Allowing the mark to fade is how you divorce your husband: he has no say in the matter.  The priestesses of the tribe have permanently-stained fingers, because they use the dye for all sorts of rituals (in addition to performing marriages).

Pazhir's favorite color is green, although she prefers it in accents rather than large swaths.  (You might just notice that only gemstone in all of her rings is green.)  Her bodice and gorget are made of boiled deer leather and function as a lightweight armor- her people have a very violent history, which still shows in some of their fashion, although they haven't had a systematic war in a very long time.  The wide embroidered hem of her skirt and on the sleeves of her short jacket are detachable: she changes them to change her outfit, as well as the trim on her skirt panel.  The one she's wearing in the picture is meant for spring (hence the pink flower).


Mistress of the Munchkins

This is the sort of thing that happens when one spends too much time thinking about Oz...

Wicked?  Or the victim of a Postmortem Defamation Campaign?
Truth be told, I didn't intend to put down as much color as I did.  Not tonight, anyway... but it's also not as detailed as I'd like it to be.  But I seriously have got to get ready for bed, no  matter how inspiring my music is...


Feeling Good About Feeling Sore

It's been a really good day so far.  I've been on track, and it has me feeling both physically and mentally satisfied.  I got up when my alarm went off (this is a pretty big accomplishment for me, so right away I was feeling like a winner), did my sun salutations (because I made a third-week-of-January-resolution to bring my stretching regimin back), made breakfast, took out the garbage and recyling, and made it to work on time.  While at work I made the meal plan for next week, ate a primal lunch, and did not let Lazy Self talk me out of going to the rock gym after work.  I was feeling sullen about it- I felt ugly (it is very hard for me to want to do anything when I don't feel attractive- I'm not sure if this is just a weird quirk of mine or if all people get this...), I felt irritable, I didn't want to walk through the rain... so many excuses, but I shut them all down and forced myself to go because I'd made a commitment.  And I'm so glad that I did, because after flailing around (and failing and falling down a few times) I made a new belaying friend who was oh-so-patient with me (he was flying up 5.11s with no discernible effort, so it really was kind of him to take me under his wing) and with his help I conquered another 5.9, so even though I'd spent the day feeling like a haggard... well, hag, after I completed that climb I felt awesome and gorgeous and The Best At Everything Always.  Which, as you know, is my natural state.

So Nathan picked me up at the designated time, and I was actually a little sad I hadn't set it half an hour later... which I suppose I'll do next time.  And now he's making dinner while I update this blog (taking breaks to rub my screaming forearms).  And now I present you with the fulfillment of my other commitment:

These are some doodles of Sazed, from Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series.  He is one of my all-time favorite characters, partially because his character arc is so compelling.  (Sazed is a eunuch, which is why I've drawn him with such androgynous features.)


Am I Your Mother?

Nathan and I have been giving much discussion to (and obsession over) getting a dog, and because we are both giant nerds we've been doing a bajillion times the amount of research any normal person might conceive of doing before getting a pet (cats are easy, man- you just find one and be done with it.  Dogs have... traits...)

Anyway, I did a quiz today about what dog might fit best into our family and lifestyle, and apparently the breed which most closely fits our needs/desires is the Black and Tan Coonhound.

Who's a good little corpse-tracker?  You are!  Yes you are!

Unfortunately the quiz did not ask about tolerance-for-baying, and so I disqualified Mr. Black-and-Tan for one of the runners up, the Canaan Dog.  Of course, this is all sort of a moot point since any dog we get will be a rescue from a shelter, but it is helping me figure out what physical clues to look for in those adorable mutts.


Creepy is the New Cool

If you're in the habit of drawing people from life (outside the context of a studio) you get very good about being sneaky.  "What?  Oh?  I'm not staring at you, my eyes are just gliding over you before coming to rest on that... um... that clock right there.  And now I flick my eyes around the room a little more as though I'm... awesome you've looked away again time to draw!"  I mean, you don't have to be sneaky, I guess- unless you want your subject to get up and leave which, in my experience, is what people tend to do if you stare at them too long- especially if they notice that you're drawing while you do it.

Which is why, gentle readers, you will find a great many drawings of sleeping people in my sketch books.  It's nice not to have to hide the creepy.

Some people nap in the terminal, some people draw people who nap.  It's like the circle of life.
Of course, that doesn't stop everyone else around you from being creeped out and giving you the appropriately scandalized looks of, "Is this behavior acceptable?", and which also makes the whole nonchalant, eyes-flicking-around-the-room thing a lot more difficult to make believable when you later move on to drawing them... but still.  At least napping guy still thinks I'm cool.


Of a Feather

I love the ocean, and I love approximately 95% of the creatures involved with the ocean (that percentage is higher if you only count vertebrates, or if I could somehow reconcile my horror of/fascination with jellyfish).  One of the most entertaining denizens of the coast I'm currently on (and most coasts, I guess) is the always hilarious sandpiper.  I mean really.  Those legs!  Ridiculous!  And awesome!  Anyway, have some coastal bird drawings.

(with an exotic pigeon and a partial night jar face thrown in for good measure)


Rediscovering Old Friends

Remember when my Katie got me a copic pen?  Sure you do.  Anyway I found it in the bottom of my purse the other day, and decided I'd better give it a good workout.  As I waited for my aunt to get ready this morning I filled up a page with doodles of her dog- and many, many other things.

(Okay mostly crows and trees/veins.  Whatever.)

I'm  not sure what it is, exactly, about a brush pen that compels me to really fill up the space, but there must be something because I sure do seem to do it... maybe because I get so enamored with playing with line width... anyway...


I Will Hang Out With You, Mindy Kaling

Today I spent the vast majority of my day on a plane, and, as is my habit whilst so engaged, I passed the time by reading.  Nathan had gotten me Mindy Kaling's book for my e-reader, and I was super excited to read it, because let's face it- Mindy Kaling is pretty effin' funny.

I really enjoyed the book, and not just because it was funny- also because it was such a joy to read about the exploits of a fellow nerdy-girl-with-parents-who-had-expectations-without-being-psycho-who-enjoys-comedy-but-doesn't-find-cruelty-funny-and-what's-wrong-with-being-polite-anyway?

Did I lose you there?  I think I lost me.  Anyway, my point is that I had only one complaint about Mindy's book:

(See, sometimes I do hasty sketches, too)


I Have an Uncle

And that Uncle occasionally introduces me to Excellent Things.  One of the more recent excellent things he sent my way was Neal Stephenson's Anathem.  Readers, I loved that book so much I wanted to roll around in it.  Science fiction at its best, I tell you (which is to say, heavy on the philosophy).  At any rate, here is my drawing of the main character, Erasmus, in the happy days before his world gets turned hypotenuse over angle:

Oh Erasmus... you deserve more diligence than I have given this piece....

You may have noticed that I made the beginner mistake of not placing my subject properly, which has resulted in poor Raz losing his feet.  All I can say to that is... well, I got lazy.  And moreover my headache/nausea/joint aches have declared that I remain that way.  I am not particularly looking forward to tomorrow's flight.  ::sigh::

Yep, flight.  I'll be gone for a few days (four at most), and as such there will be a hiatus on updates- but I'll catch it up all proper when I get back.  Expect to see a great many pen doodles from my journal.  Maybe I'll even get crazy and use my special brush pen.  We shall see...


Blasted Petticoats

One of my wonderful brothers-in-law got me the Monster Blood Trilogy for Christmas, and I have started reading it.  I'm enjoying it quite a bit, and I thought I might do a little doodle of one of the characters.  Now, there are two problems with this decision: the first is that it's never wise to draw a character before you've finished the book, because a few pages after you've done your doodle you come across the word "petticoats" and immediately kick yourself for leaving that out of the drawing.  Ah well.  The second problem is that the author is himself an artist, and as such has put his own illustrations into the book.  I had to very firmly ignore them in order to make my own drawing- which, I assure you, was difficult to do, because his drawings are quite good (as you will see if you go to that link I so kindly provided).

Europe is a Fulgar, which means she uses electricity to fight monsters.


That Doodle She Does Do

Ask any of my former bosses and they will tell you- I am a doodler.  I doodle during meetings.  Believe it or not, it helps me stay focused- some of my best notes from college are absolutely covered in relevant doodles (my art history notes were especially good for that).  Anyway, I had a business meeting today, and thus did some doodles... which I then cut out and taped into my sketch book:

As you can see, I was revisiting my character from yesterday, and also trying my hand at the male version of the garb.  I'm not particularly satisfied with it, so I'm sure there will be more iterations in the future.  What's nice is that the more I doodle of them, the more their culture (and eventually stories) take shape in my brain... (which is how I can be pretty sure that, among their people, the adult males shave their heads, which is part of what's so wrong with that doodle...)

This evening I started laying down colors on yesterday's picture, but it's going to take several more hours to get to a point even resembling "finished".  Still, it's exciting to see what's in my brain start to appear on the screen.


Costume Design

You may have noticed that, for the most part, I am not what one might call a "fussy" illustrator.  I like simple, clean lines, and so that is how I draw.  But every once in a while I get an urge to do a lot of tiny details, and when that happens it leads to incidents like me passing on going inside Westminster Abbey in favor of drawing its outsides.

Also this happens:

She doesn't have a name yet, but that mark on her brow means she's married.

(I very much look forward to laying in the color on this one, because you guys- it's going to be so cool.)

The inspiration for this little doodle, by the way, came from the manga I was reading today, called A Bride's Story, by Kaoru Mori.  The artwork is some of the most gorgeous I've ever encountered.  That woman draws sheep like nobody's business, I tell you what, and the costumes the people are wearing in the comic made me say to myself, "Hmm, Self- normally we draw our characters in very simple things like slip dresses or maybe jeans and a t-shirt.  What if we were to try our hand at something more elaborate?"  What if, indeed...


Games With Girls

(a transcribed conversation with Nathan, on the topic of me once again dominating at a game of Scattegories)

"Man, don't play word games with Jenny, that's all I'm sayin'."
"Is that what you've learned?"
"Maybe games of strength are in order."

(It's true that all the men in my life can totally own me physically.  Super annoying.)


Young Heroine

Once upon a time I started a story that I called Blue Menagerie.  I got stuck on it, so it's sort of been languishing in my brain for two years, but it's still there- and I still think about it, and the characters.  One such character is the protagonist, Salome Thoris (aka Sallie), and she makes appearances in my sketch books from time to time.  This drawing of her is actually based on a photograph of my niece Quail, but since Quail is growing up to look an awful lot like Sallie, it works out pretty well:

(I will come back to this story eventually.  Probably just rewrite the whole thing...)


Eating Habits

(this is me with wet hair, in case you were wondering)


Tool or Toy?

When Nathan and I got home this afternoon we found that our littlest cat, Krumpet (aka Krumps) had left us a present...

Not as disgusting as originally feared.


On Levels of Commitment

I was listening to an interview today, by Terry Gross of Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen (of Portlandia fame- amongst other projects), and the subject of tattoos came up, which in turn led to Terry asking whether or not they'd ever met anyone with a tattoo of, well them.  And Carrie had, and when Terry asked her what that was like, she said this:

"It's one of those things, because of course the reaction is to be flattered, do you know what I mean?  It's like you just think, 'That is a level of commitment that I've never made to anyone.  And you've made that to me, and we're strangers.'  So there's a real disconnect there.  And you are grateful, but also a little weirded out, I will say.  And you're thinking, "Wow, that picture of me.  That version of me.'  You want to just slowly update it.  You're like, 'Oh gosh, you got the hair wrong.'  Just go in there and take a little pen and change it."

Now, as a person with tattoos (no famous people, sorry), and as an artist, and as a highly self-involved individual who spends way too much time philosophizing to myself, this got me thinking about... me.  And my level of commitment to things- specifically myself- and the "version[s] of me".  Which led to an idea, which led to a sketch, which led to this...

Underneath My Skin

...which will, in turn, lead to a better version of that.  Eventually.

I mean, there's just so much to unpack here... I get excited just thinking about the symbolism of self and self-perception, of what we choose to permanently mark ourselves with- and what we don't.  The list goes on and on, and if I get into it right now I won't get to bed, and so I'm just going to have to cut it short and say: discuss amongst yourselves.  (even if, like me, that means amongst your Selves)


Climb On

 There was more I'd intended to do with this (you know- like actually put in the rest of the damn climbing holds) but it's waaaaaay past time for me to get ready for bed, sooo.... maybe you'll see a properly done version this weekend.  (Maybe.)

(Click to embiggen)



Tonight was Nerd Night, so here I present you with a doodle of one of my fellow nerds, and a choice exchange of the evening:

"If blowing something up doesn't work the first time, blow it up again!"
"That's right!  Because quitters never win, and winners never quit!  And winners blow shit up."

The Madame McWilskyton


F Bomb

There is a certain word that begins with an F that a lot of women (and men, for that matter) seem uncomfortable using, especially as it applies to them.  I  have a difficult time understanding this discomfort, and I can only attribute it to an imperfect understanding of the word's meaning.  In fact, it was my reading an interview of a young starlet that prompted me to write this.  Her grasp of the F word was... well, the nicest thing I can say about it was that at least it was benign.

That F word, by the way, is "Feminism".  And for the purpose of my blog entry today, that word is "Feminist".

I am a feminist.  And no, unlike so many celebrities who, when asked point blank whether or not they are, I have absolutely no qualifiers to that statement.  I am a feminist.

But what does that mean?  Well, here's the actual definition of the word:

...which is all well and good, as far as it goes, but as we all know, a word is more than its denotation.  There is also connotation to consider.  So when I say I'm a feminist, I'm saying the following:

I have the right to choose.

And no, I'm not talking about the abortion debate (in this entry).  I'm talking about the right to choose what I do with my life, with myself.  I'm talking about the right to work any job I'm physically and mentally qualified for, and get paid a fair wage for it, and not be harassed while I'm at it.  I'm talking about the right to leave my (theoretical) children with caregivers so I can do that job- and not be guilt-tripped for doing so.  But I'm also talking about the right to stay at home with those children and be a full-time parent, and not be told I'm "squandering opportunities".  And I'm talking about the right to choose not have any kids at all, and not be made to feel any less of a female.

I'm talking about the right to burn a bra- or to wear a push-up.  I'm talking about the right to dress in a mini-skirt or a hijab, as my own conscience dictates, and not be hassled for it either way.  I'm talking about the right to use all the tools in one's personal arsenal: intellect, humor, physical strength, and yeah- physical attractiveness.  I'm talking about the right to make my own decisions, and to have an equal say in the decisions that affect my family unit.

But do you know what else I'm talking about?  I'm talking about men being able to make those choices for themselves, too.  This isn't about "us vs. them", because when I say I'm a feminist, I'm saying that I believe in equal rights- be they civil, economic, social, or cultural- for all people, regardless of gender.


New Year, New(ly Re-established) Habits

I (like many people, I suppose) have a Certain Superstition about New Year's.  Which is to say, I believe that whatever it is that I do on the first day of the year is a reflection of my behavior for the coming year.  That being said, I do my best to make sure that the behaviors I exhibit are behaviors which I'd like to see kept up throughout the year.  This year said behaviors included things like making sure my house was clean, making brunch for my bestest friend, and doing art.  And now I'm writing, just to round things out (although I  may have to go write some fiction after this, just to make certain I cover all my bases...)

We were going to go for a hike this afternoon, but since my knee is still complaining about the abuse it suffered during the flights home from Birmingham, that has been tabled for a while.  Instead I laid down color on the afore-mentioned art, and assisted Nathan with his newest 365 project.  That's right: he's doing it again.  This year he's going to focus on portraits, and rather than be locked into one per day he's decided to go the route of seven per week.  And I, in my best Supportive Wifey Mode, have started my own new project.  It's basically a re-working of 2011's abandoned project, which was to draw every day.  This year?  Oh this year I'm going to make a return to the little comics I used to draw, once upon a time... my goal is to update at least once a week, with the higher goal of six black-and-white updates and one color update, and a more realistic higher goal of three times a week (once in color).  We shall see what we shall see...

In the meantime, here is the fruits of today's labor, a mostly-accurate representation of our New Year's Eve Celebration:

(The plan was to have a LotR marathon: we didn't quite make it to Lothlorien...)