Jul 312017

Collection of paintings from last week.

Lunch hour painting
Blue milk cap (lactarius indigo) mushroom and field mouse, above its burrow. I’d wondered about unusual blues in nature and discovered this mushroom, which is edible but its taste varies greatly.

Lunch hour painting
Attracted by the pancake breakfast, a mutant giant slug incidentally destroys the Depot Plaza, bringing a halt to many CFD activities and breaking the record for slowest destruction of a building. I was inspired y this giant snail meme:
Snail meme
… which I found hilarious.

Lunch hour painting
Reindeer, somewhat out of place in this part of the graveyard.

Lunch hour painting
What I saw on the shower door this morning. The condensation formed a leaf on a stem and a tiny mushroom floating above it. Was pleased to observe shapes in the droplets. They were crisp and distinct.

Jul 282017

The Captain, napping.
The Captain is the cutest napper. I love it when cats put their heads on pillows. Not only because I am amused by animals doing human things, but also because I feel, in some modest fashion, that something I did made a cat have a more comfortable life.

Jul 272017

Last Sunday I cleared out the center of our living room to lay out and pin the latest quilt.
Latest quilt
The upper right corner had direct sunlight on it and somehow the color vanished in the pic. That corner looks gray for some reason, but I assure you it is not.
It fit with just enough room for me to get around it. This picture shows it pinned, edges trimmed, about to be folded up and taken downstairs for quilting, which I finished last night. Now I only have to bind it and the rest is wash, dry, photograph.

This quilt is also a first for me. I usually piece my backings together from multiple pieces of fabric. This one with so many pieces on the front didn’t feel right do that for, so I (dah, dah, DAH!!) ordered a piece of backing fabric! Woot! This fabric is 108″ wide and made for this very purpose, especially for folks who quilt on a longarm machine – those big, room-eating monsters that allow you the possibility of quilting a king size in an hour. I don’t have one those, but I wanted to have a single piece on the back. This was a conflict to decide for me for a few reasons:
1. I have plenty of fabric. I likely have enough fabric to keep me stocked for the next 25-30 years, seriously. I could absolutely use some of that fabric to piece a back instead of buying more fabric.
2. One solid piece of fabric at that size calls out to me for a purposeful quilting design on it, since that is the only visual interest such a piece will have. This quilt front, however; does absolutely NOT support some free design dedicated to a back. The front is boxy, piece-y and demands quilting that furthers its composition, and deserves it.
3. After some fun, but significant expenditures this year, I am really trying NOT to spend money on things I don’t need. I don’t NEED this fabric.

Those are the biggies, but I did it anyway. In hindsight, I still think it was the right choice. And now I’m even more excited to do a wholecloth quilt one day. The back, being solid black with my quilting in black, looks enticing in a way only monochrome texture can. Yes, despite my love of color (passion?) I do like monochrome. I like the visual fabric interest in all its forms, I suppose. All black patchwork makes my heart race a bit.

Anyway, the backing piece goes down first and I’d started taping it down, but the masking tape I’d grabbed was one of the super-delicate painting tapes I bought so it wouldn’t rip up my watercolor paper. I chose it because I assumed it would still be sticky enough, but it seems their claims of gentle stick were true. Who knew, truth in advertising!?! Anyhow, I went back downstairs, grabbed the regular cheapo, crap masking tape and by the time I came back up, Friday was having a spree. She was taking running slides at the backing fabric, diving underneath it and looking around the new world there – same as cats do when you’re making a bed. I had to take a picture.

Friday on the quilt backing
By this time she’d somehow managed to get it accidentally flat again and laid on top of it to catch her breath. Silly cat.

That went well, after Friday and Oz lost interest with my yelling at them, and now the quilting is done, as mentioned. I will likely get the binding done this weekend and should have photos up next week. As for naming, there is word that fits this quilt very well, but I cannot bring it to mind. My second biggest problem with having a decent vocabulary is that I cannot always find the explicit one I want – similar to my trouble finding the perfect item in an overcrowded workshop!

Jul 252017

I’m posting this lunch hour painting out of order today so that all the locals who visit the blog can enjoy the visual while it is relevant.
Lunch hour painting
Attracted by the pancake breakfast, a mutant giant slug incidentally destroys the Depot Plaza, bringing a halt to many CFD activities and breaking the record for slowest destruction of a building.

Jul 252017

Lunch hour painting
Friday is our most independent and adventurous cat. The world is a grand fun time for her.

Lunch hour painting
Pine martens are adorable, scary creatures! I love these guys. This is one of my favorites.

Lunch hour painting
Mice, celebrating pizza. As one should.

Lunch hour painting
Thinking about existentialism.

I seem to be doing four paintings a week at work. One day always gets away from me. Last couple weeks are caught up now.

Jul 242017

Three weeks have passed? Dammit! I am going to have to share these weekly or I’ll never keep up.
Lunch hour painting
Testing out some small paper samples with identical paintings. This is a six-spotted burnet, a day-flying moth with vivid red spots against black wings. I like the Legion Stonehenge paper on the right better.

Lunch hour painting
This didn’t turn out well. I was done with lines and just starting watercolor when something at work got a lot of drama and I had to click buttons and reassure people. It went horribly awry (nothing to do with me) and I only had a few minutes to slap some color on and shove everything into the file cabinet. Oh well. They can’t all be good.

Lunch hour painting
This one was inspired by my echinacea plant that has only one bloom now. I like how that flower turned out; will probably make a badge from it.

Lunch hour painting
Heavy heart, fast painting.

More soon.

Jul 212017

The Captain, sunning his belly.
Evening summer sun to be enjoyed.

The Captain, sunning his belly.
That drowsy look up and the tiny peek of fangs. He kills me with cuteness. I die!

See how his foot is against the door? This door has a slight tendency to drift closed. Not much, but if I halfway close it the drift often takes it to almost touching the frame by the time I look at it again. There is a magnet stopper on the wall that holds it completely open; however, this day I was about to shut the door and saw The Captain headed towards it. I thought I’d give him a few minutes in the sun and left it halfway open. I often find the door about six inches open and a cat inside the space, enjoying the view for a bit. Apparently this time he didn’t want to be crowded, he wanted to stretch out in the sun, so he pushed it all the way open and left his foot there to keep it from drifting towards him. I don’t think he knows about the magnet stopper – or, maybe he does. He is a clever cat. Maybe he was so engrossed in the sun enjoyment that he couldn’t be bothered to move his foot once the door stopped.

Jul 202017

Not a lot of progress lately, mostly because this quilt is taking forever. The struggle is partly because I didn’t have a clear idea of what it was going to be or look like when I started, so there was a lot of time spent staring and thinking, but the bigger part of time is because the damn thing is big. The flimsy (top) is finished which puts this at halfway done.
Finished flimsy.
At 60″ x 100″ it is taking up a lot of my workspace. I prefer smaller items, for many reasons, but sometimes things need to be big and I let them. I hope to get it actually quilted this weekend, but that is probably a vain hope. Merely basting the layers together is going to require moving furniture out of the living room for layout space.

We’ll see. I am eager to work on other things.

Jul 182017

Bombus ternarius (AKA orange-belted bumblebee, or red-banded bumblebee) are bees common in Cheyenne, despite our harsh weather. They are single season (colony) bees, so a colony thrives in our hot summer and the new queen(s) hibernates through the winter. They are ground dwellers, so I’m sure that helps here.
Bombus Ternarius on echinacea.
This worker was on my single echinacea plant shortly after I found the other plants eaten. Should I say that? I mean, the remains of the asters told the tale, but the seedlings were gone, so I couldn’t have found them. They were conspicuous in their absence and I concluded what had happened to them. I could be wrong. They could have been abducted my aliens.


Some success has been had! One bee, one flower – good start.

Jul 172017

We still have two baby bunnies living in our yard. They are almost done looking like young bunnies and more like rabbits. The chances of them being around for very long are slim, so I’m enjoying them while I can.
Baby bunny
Bunny 1.

Baby bunny
Bunny 2. I can be sure they are different since they were out at the same time.

And finally, a short video of Bunny 1 eating in the yard, before the mailman comes up the walk.
Same video on YouTube.

The bunnies have thwarted my gardening efforts in the backyard. They’ve eaten all the little seedlings I planted and gnawed half the asters down to nubs. Fortunately, the echinacea is tall enough that they’re not bothering it (or they don’t like it) so I still have something to show for all that dirt and sweat.

Jul 132017

Echinacea blooming
Now the echinacea has a proper bloom.
The original plant had two promising buds. The second, lower and smaller one was bitten off, I saw this morning. Ambitious bunny? Busy squirrel? I will never know since our security cameras don’t cover the plant area. Will have to arrange for a flora and fauna cam.

Jul 122017

After a couple years’ break, Slick and I went to DCC again this year. We had a great time, probably in part because we spent less time at the actual convention than previous visits. In times before we’d hit every panel we were interested in and stay the whole day in the building, only getting free at night. This time, we decided that many of the panels were simply not worth the fuss. It is difficult to tell which ones will suck ahead of time, but our experience in the past gave us a decent suck-to-not-suck meter of judgement. We spent more time sleeping in, hanging out, looking at costumes, and wandering around the Denver downtown area. Between that, the fast moving lines, and some delicious and delightful detours, we have our system down pat.

Here are some photos, mostly in order.
Denver Comic Convention, 2017
Final Fantasy mage. Thought I was going to miss this guy, but he turned around, in pose, looking right at my raised camera right before I gave up.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
An adorable Squirrel Girl, and she held her photo pose like a pro!

Denver Comic Convention, 2017

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
Very nice.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
I have no idea.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
Walking back to the hotel after the first after-party (so many parties all over!) we found ourselves behind a couple carrying a kitten each. Somehow, amongst the good music, tasty food, way too strong drinks (I am such a lightweight anymore) and general exhaustion from assorted merriment, this is the only photo I have from the night. Sometimes I find myself having so much fun and being broadly overwhelmed that I forget to take photos to remember what I was doing.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
While in a line.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
This guy was on two sets of stilts, hands and feet to pull of this costume. He was working hard, I saw him catch rest breaks, balanced on the stilts, between shooting sessions.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
Gender-bent Daenerys and crew, complete with baby dragons.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
What a mohawk!

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
Minotaur. If you can’t tell, the eyes are LEDs lit up. The victim cosplayer had a monopod stool to sit on for long shoots (like this one) and a Minotaur assistant (seriously, she was wearing a shirt with her title on it) to hold that big sword and manage the line of people who wanted photos with him. This photo was taken while in between guests.

Denver Comic Convention, 2017
This guy I saw while waiting in line at Starbucks, so pre-coffee obviously. I know I was tired from the night before because I found a part of my brain idly wondering why this guy wasn’t holding his box and what was he doing with this wrapped box in a Starbucks line that was so crowded. That was enough to actually make me look and see this was a dick-in-a-box costume. Hah.

This was a good mini-break for us. And thanks to our steadfast friend, Shplink for the daily cat care while we were away. With five spoiled cats, it was a necessary favor to ask and Shplink is a minor cat hero. Hero to us, just another human assistant/servant to the cats.

Jul 112017

The other night in the workshop, my two snuggle kitties did this:

The Captain and Friday.
Video was a requirement to capture this sweet moment.
They are my most constant workshop cat companions, although The Captain prefers short visits with a lot of window watching, while Friday is a die-hard PEST who must have attention or she’ll manage to tangle herself in cords and pull an iron onto her head.

Same video on YouTube.

Jul 102017

Echinacea blooming
The backyard revamping is coming along. Above you can see the echinacea plant blooming. I was worried about it because for almost a week after I put it in the ground the lower leaves turned yellow. They weren’t crispy or soggy, so I didn’t take action. That worked out, apparently, because it finally came out of bud mode and into flower mode. The lower leaves are slowly returning to green. The asters are still iffy; three seem like they’ll survive, one of them is shriveling up leaves like it is rebelling against life – or my debased and nugatory dirt. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I had two types of sunflowers started from seeds and they went gangbusters in the starter tray. Had to take them out early as they outgrew the cover and were bending over. Also started from seeds were some dwarf convolvulus (morning glory), which seem to be eager to grow, despite their delicacy. My fourth seed efforts were lavender, which I have a personal history of disaster with. They declined to sprout at all, so we’re both spared the heartbreak of their inevitable failure to thrive under my care. The viable (hopefully?) seedlings all got put in the ground on Sunday and there was still green out there when I peeked through the window on the way out this morning. Their environment looks inhospitable, but that is how it’s going to be. No coddling these backyard plants. If they can’t make it, I’ll find tougher ones.

Jul 062017

Wanted to paint something other than cute animals in amusing settings.
the galaxy in my heart
My heart burns stars for fuel. I’ve painted this subject in a more symbolic way; thought I’d try leaning towards realism. Went terribly awry and I had to bring in some color pencils to get it to this “okay” status. I really worked that paper – it started to pill and shred in the middle.

I’ve switched to a Stillman Birn in Beta series instead of Zeta as previously discussed. Reasons and photos of why are still to come. I need to bring this sketchbook home and do some microscope photos so you can see some of my consideration points and I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I have so many things I want to do!

Anglien, a toothy creature
This creature is born from my desire to paint a monster. So, I made a monster. It is heavily influenced by anglerfish (teeth, eyes), snakes (jaw), telepathy (brain and skull arrangement), Abe Sapien from Hellboy (general), and the Gorn from Star Trek OS (general). The last two references I didn’t notice until it was done, but they are in my brain, so they must provide some influence to my creations. Of course, that is true of every single thing ever in my existence; it is exactly the monster I would come up with. I’m listing them as influences anyway, despite not actually thinking of them at all until afterwards. I call it an Anglien (anglerfish + alien = Anglien).

Toothy creature
This one wasn’t a lunchtime/work painting, but a quick sketch at home to play with the latest (July) ArtSnacks box contents. Whenever I get art supply boxes with colors that stump me, I find there is always some kind of bird happily flaunting those same colors in nature. This is meant to be a blue-gray tanager, a South American songbird. Birds are at the bottom of my list for painting subjects. I like them, like painting them, but they become monotonous quickly for me. I keep them as a backup subject when I can’t settle on anything else.

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