Friday, April 27, 2012

Fun Art Friday: The Art of Insects

Okay, technically, I guess this isn't an FAF proper. It's more like a "wow, those are fucking cool and I want to paint them" post.

An inspiration post, you could say. Because that's my next thing (for now)...Big Bug Paintings.

I mean, c'mon... how can you not find some inspiration in these? They're cool. They're pretty. Humans would be so much cooler if we came in ALL KINDS OF COLORS AND PATTERNS. Maybe if we had *more* color we'd be less obsessed *with* color.

But nope, we humans are stuck with varying shades of brown. (and yes, I consider caucasian/"white" to be a shade of brown. Just reallllly light brown) Of course, this loveliness below is "just" brown, and she manages to rock it. So maybe I need to add "and if we had multiple fold-out appendages" to my list of how humans could be cooler.

It's actually kind of funny. Not "Ha-ha funny," but funny. I'd already been planning on doing a bug series, but then I got a commission request for a large-ish (about 4ft) painting of a cockroach (working on it now) so it seems like a kick in the ass from the universe to get started on the series, as opposed to just planning it out for some unspecified future.

Of course, my artistic A.D.D. had me working on a vintage gay porn collage/painting combo yesterday. So who knows what the future holds. Some upcoming posts may not necessarily be SFW. Just so ya know.

  • Random Other Things:
  • This week our annual Beltaine gathering starts. Today, actually. Not sure I'll be attending that much of it this year. We're dog-sitting several dogs...5 left for a rescue in New England this morning, but there's still 4 at the house, which means I need to be home 2-3 times a day, minimum. Plus, there's going to be 600 or more crazy queers at the gathering for 9 days, and....well, that's just a lot of people for my hermit-self.
  • Charlie leaves for India Sunday for 2-3 weeks for work stuff. I'm a little envious of the "paid for by someone else" trip to Inda, but not too much. Mumbai is crowded (see last part of earlier Random Thing) and for the most part he's going to be stuck in an office 8-10 hours a day. Thankfully, he's going right before my birthday, so I'm guessing I'll get some Cool Indian Stuff as presents.
  • Speaking of birthdays....turning 40 on May 13th. How the hell did that happen? I sure don't feel 40. I'm currently alternating between feeling a little freaked out by it, and not freaked out by it at all. (and presents are welcomed, by the way... just let me know if you need my address)
  • Leaving for Phoenix, Arizona in about a month, probably. Kind of looking forward to it, as it's an area I'm completely unfamiliar with, and I have a fondness for desert areas.
  • Speaking of Arizona and insects, did you know that Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a potentially deadly disease, and is the most severe and most frequently reported rickettsial illness in the United States? And that it's spread by ticks? And that it's apparently increased by 530% this year? (yes, 530%) And guess where it's happening the most. Yup, Arizona. Woot, nature!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hungry for the Games

I'm sure many of you are tired of hearing about The Hunger Games, but tough patooties. We (Charlie and I and a few friends) finally got around to seeing it, so here's another round of it!

I have to confess to being a bit leery of the movie, after hearing several "meh" reviews of it. I'm quite a fan of the books, and the societal/class commentary contained within them. If, somehow, despite constant media bombardment, you're still unfamiliar with the books, the basis is (and here I click over and steal from Wikipedia):

"The Hunger Games takes place in a nation known as Panem after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts under the Capitol's hegemony. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia.[9]
As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or "tributes") must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The story is narrated by 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker's son whom Katniss knows from school" 

I wish I could say I had  different review than the "meh" one, sadly. Or not... actually, I liked the movie for the most part, though certain aspects of it left me wanting.

First and foremost, the editing and filming style were annoying. I can forgive the fact that they don't delve too deeply into the story, but the pacing of the movie was just off. It was like the Games on Xanax. You KNOW you're supposed to feel something, but you're not quite getting there.

The camera-work. Well, let me just say that if I had a Time Machine, I'd quite happily go back and remove from the gene pool whomever it was that introduced the "shake the camera around and maybe that'll produce tension" style. Seriously. Like, for real. It frequently makes it to where I literally can't watch a movie, as I'm getting nauseous. And enough with the extreme close-up constantly, as well.

Having earlier said that I can understand not going too deep into the backstory, a critical element of the books is classism, leaving it out of the movie altogether, or only *barely* mentioning it, does the series an extreme disservice, as that's THE ENTIRE THEME OF THE BOOKS. (okay, maybe not the entire theme, but a main one) When you "get" that children are putting their names into the drawing for tributes more than once in order to possibly win food/wealth for their families, it brings that class/poverty/social-strati thing right to the forefront. The kids from well-off families aren't in there but once. Yes, it's mentioned in passing, but it's not explained.

The sanitized violence... that's a big one for me, though, again, I understand why it was done that way for the movie as far as ratings. I don't feel that it needed to be gory, by any means, but cleaning it up again removes the point(s) of the books. It IS horrific, what they're being forced to do. Making it less so, well, makes it less so.  The books made me cringe and at times set them aside for a moment, not because they were gross or explicit (they're not) but because you still grasp how tragic/horrifying it is. Only a few scenes in the movie made me realize I had stopped breathing... one of which didn't even involve any fighting. (that one being the final 30 seconds before the Games began)

On the plus side!

Jennifer Lawrence. She nailed it. I'm not sure what it says about her as a person, but she's good at playing the emotionally-detached young woman. (See: her character in Winters Bone, as well as her role as Mystique in X-Men: First Class) She manages an excellent likeable, but somewhat removed, personality. She has a heart, but there are walls around it, and lord help you if you fuck with her.

Effie Trinket. Oh, Effie. I'm not sure why, since I've never had aspirations to live in a bustling metropolis, nor for glamour, exactly the opposite in fact... but she was one of my favorite side characters, both in the books and in the movie.

And visually, she was spot-on... especially at The Reaping, where she somehow combined clueless and menacing, which is perfect for where she's at in the first book.
(She may also be my new drag role-model)

While my dislikes may seem to outweigh my likes, that really isn't the case. I *did* enjoy it, I just had a few issues with it. Which is entirely to be expected when dealing with excellent source material. It did exceptionally well in the theatres, which means the next ones will be made (yes, there was some doubt)... and they've already started looking for a different director, the short-list for which is quite intriguing, which can (probably) only help them as a franchise. And as they go further into the books, they'll have to start bringing up and dealing with some of the larger themes dealt with in the books.

So, if you haven't seen it, go see it.... but read the books first. Or don't! My friend Jen saw it, not having read the books, and loved it... but once she heard some of the discussions about it, and realized what she was missing, is now going to read the books.

your choice, I suppose!


I haven't had a whole lot of art time recently (though I guess building a home counts as an art, right?)... I was starting to get a bit nostalgic for my old art-swap days. For several years, I ran two art groups. One, ArtDollz, had close to 700 members, and was dedicated to art dolls and figurative sculpture entirely. While I definitely enjoyed that group, my heart and love lay with FreakWerx, which had all of 40 people at it's peak.

FreakWerx was (and is again now) an online art group I started in 2003, with an aim towards sharing...and creating...artwork that was a little askew...a little weird...a little, well, freaky sometimes. Mostly just not the run-of-the-mill that we saw in the book store magazine racks. *cough* Somerset Studios *cough* Pointy hats. A random word stamped on it. Etc, etc. We hosted regular monthly swaps, with the occasional "special event" thrown in there every now and then. Round Robins, special-themed exchanges, the annual Holidaze Exchange (one of my favorites)...but what made FreakWerx it's own special creature, and I think anyone who was part of it would agree, was that more than just the artwork, we created a family of like-minded individuals (most of whom are still in regular contact) who were welcome to share their stories, their day-to-day lives, as well as create artwork together. We chatted, we bull-shitted, we made art together. We saw each other through good times and some bad... it really was a close circle of friends, and we encouraged one another to stretch our comfort levels, creatively. Around 2008 or so, Freakwerx wound it's way down. The days of Yahoo groups seemd to be waning, with the advent of LJ and its ilk.

Enter the previously-mentioned nostalgia.

On a whim, and with a little prompting from, I decided to start it back up.

Whoa! It makes me quite happy to say that it's hit the ground running, with several swaps having happened already, and multiple ones happening right now. Like, right this very moment, which is why I'll be signing off soon so I can get jiggy with my needles and thread.

It's nice to have these little prompts... these creative spurs in the ass.

On the project table for tonight: Working on an altered stuffed-animal (I hit the thrift store and cleaned out their $.50 bin... even snatched one from the hands of a little girl)

The other that I've signed on for is for a book of self-portraits, which I've already mostly completed. They're printed up (I adore you, and ready to go, I just need to decide A) which one I'm using, and B) What they're going on....fabric, paper, etc.

Option #1: "Incarne"


Option #2: "Birth of the Darkened Son"

Birth of the Darkened Sun

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Still Here!

I think that should be my new standard title for this blog, given how neglectful I've been of it lately. Can't offer up any excuses other than the standard "we been reallll busy around here."

Projects accomplished so far:

Completion of the bead-board ceiling.
New ceiling!!

Painting the floor...
New Blue Floor!

Of course, a blue floor calls for a few koi...

april 027

It only got a few (three) since most of the floor ends up being covered, anyways...
april 019

The garden is also keeping us quite busy this year. At the end of March, the plants were already at the stage of growth they're not normally at until early May. Nice, but it means that the mowing and weeding and general garden care has advanced as well!
Hostas and Daffodils

We welcomed a new addition to our household... Decimal, the cat that thinks he's a dog. Seriously. He runs around in the rain, plays in puddles, wrestles the dogs... he's crazy.
THE spot.

Speaking of critters, it's that time of year when the fosters start pouring in. Right now we have 5 yellow lab pups that came to stay with us on the day they were supposed to be euthanized. (Rutherford, Ranger, Radcliff, Rose and Rascal)

The poor things were terrified at first (with the exception of Ranger), but as you can see, they quickly got over that.

Well, so that's what I've been up to lately!
I'm going to be making a concerted effort to be more active here, I swear!