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Natsunekko's Journal

2nd November, 2007. 7:09 am. Halloween

Living on a military base is wierd--they have rules for everything, including when you can celebrate holidays. Holidays are not allowed to take place during the week. The celebration of Halloween was permitted only between the hours of 6 and 9 on Saturday.  So my kids got to trick or treat twice, because my brother in law took them trick or treating in her neighborhood on Real Halloween, and I took them out on Military Halloween.

This painting went really fast, and I'm actually pretty happy with it. Her belly and hips look way too small, and her shoulder looks too big, and the background is really boring, but I like the overall painting. It looks pretty much how it looked in my head. Today, I need to get back to working on the Tam Lin triptych.





Current mood: calm.

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28th October, 2007. 7:58 pm.

 You'd think I'd be able to post more than once a month, but I keep kinda waiting for something important or good to happen, so I have something to say... but... Bleh. Nothing of either in this post. 

My artwork is not selling very well. Rumor has it that art isn't selling well for others too, so maybe it's just a recession or seasonal thing. It's depressing, though. Equally depressing, we can't quite live on my husband's income. I had to transfer the last of my savings into checking last week.

I was hours away from going back to work for MWR last week--waitressing or cooking, bleh!--when my sister had to go into the hospital again, and needed me to watch her kids while her husband was at work (he's doing the same 12 hour 6 day a week shifts my husband is doing). The whole situation is really lousy, it drives me nuts that they can't figure out what's really wrong with her, they only treat her symptoms--no attempt at a cure. She'll be away for a while longer (hopefully not a full week, but it's hard to guess how long it will be), and once she's home from the hospital, she'll need me to keep tending the youngest girl (the other two kids are in school). I'm happy to do it, I adore my niece and have wanted another child (particularly a girl!!). So, no MWR for me.

I finished a couple paintings that I'm quite happy with, and one that sucks rocks. 




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28th September, 2007. 10:09 pm. Phoenix Painting


 

I'd forgotten just how easy acrylics were. Particularly for painting little teeny highlights on jewelry. If I'd done it in watercolor, that would've taken me days. With acrylics, it took me one afternoon. Which is good, because I still hate this painting. I like how the jewelry came out, and the colors are as blindingly bright as I intended, but her face looks freaky and the composition still sucks rocks.



Current mood: cheerful.

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24th September, 2007. 5:15 pm. Dragon Con 2007

Bah. Dragoncon was disappointing. Last year I made a little over $500 with two panels, so this year I went crazy and reserved a whole bay all to myself. I sent my five best originals. The postage alone was $70 each way. In previous years, I'd sent two or three originals, and they have always sold.

So imagine my disappointment when I got back four of those originals and most of the prints in today's mail.

If everything that didn't return today was sold at minimum bid (which is likely), I made a small loss on the show.

I really wish I could have been there, or knew someone who was there, who could tell me what I did wrong. Or if I didn't do anything wrong, but it was just one of those unexplainable things, I want to know that too! Should I have sent different art? Should I be using brighter colors? Did my presentation suck? Are my new paintings just not as marketable as my old ones?

I guess the one good thing is that I got back all but one of the originals in good shape, so I can e-bay them. The frame on one broke, tearing a corner of one of the paintings. Fortunately, it's one that I've had up on ebay before, and it didn't sell, but I actually rather like it and don't mind keeping it for myself (it's the "Winter's Banishment" painting).

So... my ebay store is nicely stocked with originals. Um... and Christmas is coming up? http://stores.ebay.com/Wench-Works-Fantasy-Art

Current mood: content.

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21st September, 2007. 10:43 am. A Meme

I don't generally post these sorts of things, but I must admit I'm horribly curious about you all. Passing on the meme from J. Briggs.

1. Any not-typically-seen piercings?
2. How old are you?
3. Are you single or taken?
4. Fish?
5. Do you dream in color?
6. Ever seen a corpse?
7. Reds, blues or purples?
8. How did we meet?
9. What's your philosophy on life and death?
10. If you could take me anywhere for a day, where would we go?
11. Do you trust the police?
12. Do you like musicals?
13. What are you more public about - your sexual habits or your financial habits?
14. If you could change anything about yourself what would it be?
15. Would you cheat?
16. What are you wearing?
17. Favorite artist?
18. Would you hide evidence for me if I asked you to?
19. What would you chose to do on the last day or your life?
20. Which do you prefer - short or long hair?
21. What's your favorite day of the week?
22. What's your favorite color?
23. If you could bring back anyone who died before their time, who would it be?
24. Tell me one interesting/odd fact about you?
25. What was your first impression of me?
26. Have you ever done drugs?
27. Will you post this so I can fill it out for you?
28. John or Paul?
29. Favorite thing about your oldest child (or pet)?

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21st September, 2007. 6:16 am. Just Stuff

I broke all of my rules and have six paintings going on right now, in various stages. I have a hard time finishing art, so I've always (well, since college, anyway) forced myself not to start a new painting until the last one was finished (with the exception of a couple overly large paintings). I must not allow myself to start another until I've finished all these!

I seem to be going through another period wherein I think everything I draw is utter crap. I MUST learn to draw better than this! It's so very frustrating!! Every drawing I finish, I look back at it and think, "I can do better than this! What's wrong with me?!" but usually when I erase and start over, the drawing gets worse instead of better. So I'm starting to wonder if this is just all in my head... Maybe I'm heading into another depression. I haven't had any nightmares, though, which is my usual signal that a depression has set in.

  
This lady and phoenix started out as an entirely different picture, wherein the girl was holding a lantern from which she was freeing some fairies. I re-drew it twice and then decided that the real problem was that the image was not sufficiently clear in my head, and the layout was crap, so I erased all but her face, which I was really happy with. So then I'm left with a face floating in the upper 3/4 of a drawing... I stewed about it for a day, and then drew in a body for her and a phoenix. I was so disappointed with how it came out that I was going to chuck it, but my sister told me that the picture was quite marketable and I was being silly. So... I stlll rather hate this drawing, but will finish it.


I'm feeling basically "Bleh" about this picture. I think I can still pull it off, but there is something about the dragon that is bothering me--but I don't know what.



This is a triptych, with each panel being 15 x 19. It's one of those pictures that's been in my head for years, just waiting for me to have the guts and skills to tackle it. It's illustrating the middle of the poem, "Tam Lin," where the fairy court is going out for a midnight ride on Halloween. Tam Lin's human lover is up in a tree, waiting for Tam Lin to pass under her so that she can grab him and free him from the fairy queen's clutches. 

I have no idea how I'm going to sell prints of this thing. I'm trying to make each panel sufficiently independant of the others that it can be sold individually. The original, of course, will be mounted to wooden panels and hinged.

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Things are actually going rather well on the art career front. I think I'm on the cusp of a big step forward in my career. I have three contracts ongoing, and if this all works, I hope to spend more time painting and less time trying to sell art (heh, or less time stressing because I'm NOT selling art)! The one I'm most excited about is with an agent, who will take care of all the convention art shows for me. This step will probably take my profits from conventions down to 0, but really, they've been 0 for the last two years anyway, because I have done so few shows. This way, at least my artwork will be out there being seen! The other two are tiny little liscencing contracts--probably won't make much money, but it's a step forward that I'm excited about. 

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My personal life continues to be stressful, but not totally unpleasant. Dear Husband is working ten hours a day, six days a week, and has been doing this for over a year now. He's totally stressed out, and spends most of his at-home time sleeping. His current schedule is particularly challenging, because he's on "swing" shift. 

The boys are settling sorta into school. Kyle is not fighting so much any more. Both boys are in middle school now, and so it's taking a lot more time and energy to teach them. We used to be able to get through the lessons in about four hours. Now it's taking close to six, and we're still not quite finishing all of the day's assignments. I really wish that Kyle would work independantly, but I guess that's too much to ask of him right now. I think I might have to send his teacher a video of our day, because I don't think she "gets" how much work it takes to get Kyle to finish assignments. She was pushing for me to set the semester goal of getting Kyle to work independantly for an hour each day, but I'm still struggling to get Kyle to go from one question to the next without prompting/reminding/nagging--there's no way he can go from one assignment to the next without me hovering!

Tad has been making all manner of strange lego inventions. I really want to get him the Mindstorms lego sets--you can program the engines and sensors on the computer!--but they're way too expensive. So instead, he's hooking up gears and rubber bands and engines to the lego bricks to create his "minions."

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28th August, 2007. 6:04 am. Still Alive

Still alive, still painting... Since I last posted, I finished several unremarkable pieces of art and one that I'm actually proud of. My web host, however, is (for unknown reasons) not allowing me upload, so I'm afraid that this is an art-free posting. Any suggestions for a good web host? I'm looking at GoDaddy, but am rather terrified of being charged insane amounts of money for bandwidth overages.

Over the summer, my scanner and printer have both broken--simple wear and tear, I think. The Tax Return Fairy visited on Friday of last week, though, so I am now the proud mommy of one of the new six ink Epson printers & scanners! We get quite sizable returns because Dear Husband decided not to file for exemptions, even the ones we ought to have.

Today, if all goes as planned, I will be spending the rest of the tax return on getting a car WITH AIR CONDITIONING!!!! Wooooo!!!! We don't "do" debt. So, only being able to drive what we could afford to pay cash for, we've been stuck with an ancient Bronco SUV with no AC for the last four years or so. One of my sisters decided to get a new car, and VERY generously offered to let us buy her old one for the price that they were offered for trade-in (well below the car's value!). 

I visited Colorado briefly. It was very nice to see Jenn and Chris and my mother, even if for just a short time. I'd hoped to come and stay for a month, but finances and school wouldn't allow it. 

I'm homeschooling both boys again this year, and we've had a rocky start. Oldest Son is having a very hard time accepting that we ARE going to do this. I expect it will be at least another month before he stops acting (every single morning) like school is some horrible new surprize I've sprung on him. Ah, the joys of autism... I really should have kept school up over the summer, so we wouldn't have this adjustment. He does NOT like changes to our schedule! 

Susan and her kids are back from thier year in England. YAY! There is talk of re-starting our gaming group next week (Susan's husband is our GM), and I'm rediculously excited about it.

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27th July, 2007. 7:44 am.

A Viking and a siren, with a border of sea monsters. Not much to say about this painting, other than that I think it's too dark. I actually (for once) like how the guy came out, though, so I'm basically happy with this painting!



And yesterday, at the pool, I drew a little pirate wench. It's rediculously hot here, typically around 110 (which is actually cooler than last summer, which hit 120 almost all of July), so I can't just send the kids outside when they get spazzy. I hate them running in the house, so we go to the pool almost every afternoon. I like swimming, but get bored pretty quickly, so usually I just do a couple laps and then get out and paint or draw by the side of the pool for a couple hours, till the kids get tired. Lately, though, it's been so hot that I can't stand to be out of the water for more than about a 1/2 hr, so I haven't gotten as much done.

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22nd July, 2007. 8:53 am. Acrylics as Oils

Well... I can't call my first attempts at using acrylics with a gloss medium as a success, but they do work as "proof of concept." The paintings do indeed look like oil paintings. BAD oil paintings...



The top two attempts were me trying to use the Mische method. It's how Van Dyke painted, and the directions I had were for egg tempura, so it's possible that this method simply does not work in acrylics. It's also possible that I just did it wrong. :P You start out with a glaze of venetian red, then use titanium white opaque to make a red & white version of your painting. Then you put a glaze of yellow over it, then paint the titanium white again. Then a glaze of blue, and then another hightlights of titanium white. You're supposed to end up with a beautiful "optical gray" painting, that you would then glaze with the colors you wanted. The second attempt is the same method, but using much thinner glazes.

I gave up on Mische, and decided to do the next one as if it were a watercolor painting. I painted in all the shadows in blue, and then added red and yellow glazes to get the right colors. As it turns out, I could not get the colors I wanted, so I then use guache mixed with acrylic medium to correct some of the colors.

The fourth attempt was just trying to get optical gray without using the titanium white. Super thin glazes. I got the optical gray in a few spots, so it IS possible, I'm just not doing it right.

I think the overall problem is that my glazes are not consistant enough, my paintings all look really splotchy. Acrylic is really unforgiving--or, at least, I do not know the tricks to correct mistakes & bad brush marks.

I'll continue to work with this. I think I can do acrylic glazes to make the paintings look like I want them to, I just need to train myself to apply the paint nicely.





I'm really, really disappointed about how this picture came out, so I'd better not say much about it. I like the wench herself, but the rest looks totally crummy. I re-drew the background twice before painting, and I still don't like it at all. :(



I have very similar feelings about this painting. It doesn't look the way it looked in my head. :(

All in all, it's been a very frustrating week!!

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13th July, 2007. 7:11 am. Luminous Glaze with Acrylics

I have been very lazy about scanning artwork, so I have nothing new to show.

My non-painting time has been spend in research. I am a big geek, I ADORE research. Nothing is quite as relaxing and stimulating than searching for information. I've been trying to absorb as much info as I can about oil painting, specifically about how to do that wonderful luminous Gen-u-ine Oil Painting effect. (It appears to be all about layers & glazing). I was all excited--glazing is how I've always worked, and the venetian method looks like a perfect fit for me--until I discovered that one has to wait 48 hours for the Quick Dry oils to dry--a week or so for regular oils--and I really can't do that.. The key to glazing is to let each layer dry, of course, so that there's no bleed between layers. With kids and hairy pets and the desert dust, there's no way a painting could survive out here with wet paint for a month or two! I was about to give up in dispair when I found an article from Golden about how it's possible to get the same luminous effect using acrylic suspended in medium. (http://www.goldenpaints.com/justpaint/jp12article2.php ).

Very excited, I spent two days searching the web for more information, but the only sources I could find were on websites where they were selling acrylic medium, which makes the information suspect. Has anyone tried to achieve the luminous oil painting look with acrylics? Did it work? What medium did you use?

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