returning to the spiral: new year 2016

posted in: Natter | 0

I’ve been inspired recently. Ellen Million and Alia Thabit are especially inspiring today, but last year there were many women that said or did something that made me go, “hey I could…” Or “I want to try…”

In 2016, I am resolving to act on some of those feelings of rendowed adventure- purpose. That means, today:

  • honoring my teachers here/in my blog(s) — they do not all know they are my teachers!
  • practicing / developing the practice — in the sense of getting better at and improving  habits — in several facets of my life (because they are interwoven: art, work, artwork, home, family, self, reflection, play)
  • setting smaller but clearer goals — clearer both in my definition of them to me and in having them have context, be part of a larger goal/plan.

I find this scary. And I haven’t even done much of it yet!

Inktober 2014-1 : Quick Doodles

posted in: Art, Sketches | 0

I was given a new ink pen in a *beautiful* wooden box to hold pens, nibs, ink, for our anniversary. Just in time for Inktober! Did several small doodles on various papers on Day 1. These two are a scrap of some handmade (maybe) rice (maybe) old-ivory-colored paper.

The black "writing ink" that came with the pen worked well once I changed to one of my nibs. It worked better on the handmade paper than on regular sketch paper.

The Parker reddish ink worked very well on that sketch book paper but not so well on the handmade paper.

Hibernating Mouse

posted in: Sketches | 0

Ink and watercolors on this smooth paper of some kind.

Done for Sketchfest #45 (December 2013) but the scans were terrible until May, when I borrowed a better one.  (You can see the bad scan at Sketchfest: http://www.ellenmilliongraphics.com/sketchfest/sketchfestart.php?id=13267.)

Submitted it for a comment by a Real Live Art Director on twitter (more out of curiosity than anything; I knew it was just a rough thing), and got back this feedback: be sure the underlying drawing is good.

Fair enough. Especially since the perspective is particularly off, but not purposefully/to good effect. And the shading.

Coloring the other and trying to not screw up

posted in: Advice Wanted, Art | 0

In the course of writing this, it occurs to me that I mostly need to find and follow more artists. Like here which I found while looking up something else: http://fantasyofcolor.tumblr.com/ But now that I’ve written this I think the questions at the end are still worth something, at least to me…

——————————————————————
So one thing that makes me irritable now (that did not used to, I confess) is that “all the pretty fairies are Caucasian”.  You know the thing: cheerful, whimsical, winged… No, of course I don’t actually believe that. But that’s what’s I see, mostly. I have not been looking hard enough? No doubt…

I don’t mind this when it’s Cecily Mary Parker, original painter of the Flower Fairies. She was English, and lived in the 20th century, and painted for (mostly/ad first) an English audience. That was her time, her space. Plus she was drawing on English and other European mythology, and to a large extent, that’s white people telling stories of and for each other. But Monarch butterflies migrate to/from Central America, have for millennia. Why would a fairy with Monarch wings be white-skinned?

I grew up in the whitest state of the USA in the 20th-21st, and I’ve of course got the blessings and the baggage of having done so. Many of the painters I follow online seem to also have grown up in white cultures. And yeah, a lot of our inspiration comes from English & other Euro fairy tales. And oh yeah, Disney (which has been inching towards being more diverse in the last 15 years, slowly). So pale fairies are –no, were– to some extent, default.

So now… I guess I wanna say “fuck that”. I also grew up reading myths from all over the world, thanks initially to Andrew Lang and Leo and Diane Dillon, and later to going to look for them (Copper Woman and Corn Mother myths were the first I met, I think). And I don’t live in a monochrome world, certainly not now. And when I paint something that *isn’t human* and doesn’t have a basis in, say, Grimm’s collection of European folktales, I can’t see any reason why I should make it white–especially not when it is an avatar for an animal, or seagoing, or plant-based, or elemental…

(Of course, nearly if not _all_ of my illustrations of fae folks were white too. But just ’cause I _was_ limited in scope before now need not imply I have to stay so blind.)

Obviously, thankfully, I’m not alone in this. Just look around (I remember seeing some lovely tumblr links about such things, and Froud’s groundbreaking work from the 1970s included gloriously nonhuman colors). On the other hand, there’s a lot of light-skinned interpretations of mythology that just seem…well… not thinking things through. (Why were *all* the images of Mother Earth, on Earth day, retweeted by Sketch Dailies on Twitter, white? Did I miss some or what?)

So. I’ve been reading some fascinating essays (mostly in blog-post style) by speculative fiction writers of various colors, inheritances, nationalities, and more. This teaches me a lot about listening and the issues that “writing the other” raise and some of the (astonishingly obvious in retrospect if you’re not trying to defend your work too) stumbling blocks.

That said: which of these issues apply to visual arts? How can I included a wider variety of skin colors in my faery-folk and not be an idiot, nor accidentally offend (if I offend, I would prefer to do it on purpose, with forethought, though in general that is not my style). What must I watch for? What stereotypes are helpful in communicating and what are just plain stupid? And in which context? What are your thoughts on the matter? Where have you stumbled, and grown, and redirected your own work?

I know it is no one’s obligation to answer these but me, but I’m always curious what others think.

In which I have a fight with Firefox and almost lose

posted in: Natter, Webbish Workings | 0

If you are (perhaps wisely) not a webgeek, you can ignore this. Or read the note at the end.


So I learned today that Firefox has this security thing about iframes and their sources.The gist is, when the iframes go to the same domain, (preferably the one where your page already is), life is copacetic. If you (like me) want to embed content from two different domains (say, google calendar and an indiegogo project), it looks like it’s going to be easy. Both sites have this simple “embed this” feature: you click an embed button, it gives you a bit of code, you add that to your own page’s code, and it all works well.

Well, if you are using Opera. Or Chrome. Not so, Firefox! (I usually save testing IE and Safari and mobile ’til the easy three are sorted).***

And for whatever reason, although I could easily find both jQuery and javascript solutions, I (embarrassingly) could not make them work.

But lo! I am not blathering on just to tell you my failings! I came across a tiny reference to essentially making fake-frame pages. I hope you never need to know this or you have better solutions and they all take you less time. But it goes likes this:

On the page with two frames, I sourced two files on the same domain as the one that wanted to show them:

<iframe src="file1.html"></iframe>
<iframe src=file2.html"></iframe>

Then in file1.html I used the provided code from clicking those embed buttons (in a regular HTML5 page with as little stuff in head and body as I could manage):

<iframe src="src="https://www.google.com/calendar/embed?show..."></iframe>

and in file2:

<iframe src="http://www.indiegogo.com/project/monkton-road-wildlife-crossing/widget"></iframe>

Plus the usual styling and whatnot both within file1 and file2, and on the original page. Which one leaves as an exercise for the reader.

This is clearly slower than scripts. And someday, when I have more time, I hope to revisit this and do it much more elegantly.


* For those my readers who are perhaps wisely not webgeeks, some web pages have blocks (inline frames subwindows, or iframes) in which some or all of other web pages are shown You see these _all_ the time in one way or another, and when everything is rolling well, you barely notice they are bits of different sites owned, operated,managed and so one by completely different people.

** Popups are like the spices you don’t like. Very occasionally they can be used sparingly to nice effect.

*** Safari was fine. IE had its own issues. This particular client site just will never bee great on mobile until they get a grant to redo the whole architecture from the ground up…

I never had my art on the wall of a coffee shop before

posted in: Art, Shows | 0

Little art, big wall. I forgot that I hadn’t framed one, so might add it later.

I put up “Winter Wizard“, a sketch of a frog, “Unexpected“, “Bombardier“, “Coffee, Coffee, Everywhere and Not A Drop To Drink“, “Stone Window“, “Snow Fleas“, and “Have Frog, Will Travel“. “Wren Voyage” lost its hanging thing, and I ran out of frames, so “Voina“, “Love Is Love“, and a few others aren’t up after all. Didn’t finish the mermaid one yet and decided I just don’t like “Birthday Candles” enough. (It was fine when it was just ink…) …

Most is for sale; prices are posted at the bakery or email me.

I did make this (Little Mouse, Big Habit)

posted in: Art, Shameless Commerce, Sketches | 0

…before Sketchfest. And you probably already saw it. But hey.  Even small rodents can have obsessions. Perhaps this one is working towards a Big Year!

Graphite on smooth piccadilly paper, about 4″ x 7 ” (I didn’t measure it).

I actually scanned this and tweaked it a bit but it was the GodAwful Scanner Of Doom, so …

Insanely optimistic as well, I put it on Stuff at metasilk prints plus at deviantArt, at metasilk at RedBubble, Critters with Gear Zazzle, and Critters with Gear CafePress. Not society6, though, I guess because I am thinking that’s for watercolors. (Like redbuble is sketches maybe with a touch of color.)

If you notice something looks odd on one of those items, do please tell me so I can fix it! It’s entirely likely…

gifts in time

posted in: Natter | 0

My sisters and mom pooled together and sent me (with one of the sisters; another lives near there) to Kripalu. Lovely. (I did miss Sketchfest, which is sad, but I was offline, which is nearly unheard of for me, and thus surprisingly helpful.) The detox session was too basic for where I am so far; the yoga varied from easy/restful to wow! glory!; the mini-intro to mediation techniques was just what I needed. And two walks in the snow with 2 sisters and 1 dog. Plus I read 1 whole book (A Boy and A Bear in a Boat), almost finished another (The Unreal and the Real, vol. 1), and the first part of Inside of a Dog. And a massage, with extra help for my hip-that-feels-like-it-has-shinsplits. Plus really superbly yummy food and good conversations.

And yet somehow none of that intense richness felt rushed.

Am back. Now wrestling with SSL, hosting, access to domains. Projects/tasks also on the plate: the sortable tables, the twice-delayed branding, the completion of a set of pages (which may or may not need design changes), the far too overdue new-design/rebuild, the large pile of data entry, my own bookkeeping, membership renewals/datakeeping, Fledgling program planning, and various small changes and additions (several other sites). Not counting the site I had to turn down but did not want to turn down. Or the hour-and-half I donated to a silent auction, which, in fact, was bid on and now I must find a mutually compatible meeting time. Also family to play with and care for. Art show at a coffee shop in a week or so. And more trips coming.

This is a little bit of a contrast, all in all.

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