Oct. 25th, 2014 10:36
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selenak: (Young Elizabeth by Misbegotten)
[personal profile] selenak
The latest entry in the Shardlake series, and one which could very well as a finale, were it not for the fact the ending makes me conclude Sansom will continue the series, which started with Dissolution.

Back then, the series hero, lawyer Matthew Shardlake, had been an eager Protestant and agent for Thomas Cromwell, and the time the novel was set were the months after Anne Boleyn's execution. The novel also was a pretty straightforward whodunit. By the time Lamentation comes along, we're in the last year of Henry VIII.'s life, Matthew Shardlake has been thoroughly disillusioned with both sides of the religious divide, the series gathered a vivid supporting part, and though there are two murders in Lamentation, their solution in both cases is just a minor subplot, while the main plot is more or less following the rules of the spy thriller. I.e. a McGuffin has been stolen, Shardlake must find out how, why, by whom, and who has it (and then either get it back of destroy it). Since the McGuffin in question is Catherine Parr's book Lamentation of a Sinner, the danger it poses is for the Queen to be seen as disloyal and heretic by her husband, Henry (who decides what's heretic and what's not in the new faith on a how-I-feel-at-the-moment basis), one of the not inconsiderable feats Sansom pulls off is to make this suspenseful even though readers with a cursory knowledge of the Tudor period know this is not how Catherine Parr will meet her maker, that on the contrary, she'll survive Henry.

Partly, he does it through the fact while Catherine is protected by history, Matthew Shardlake and his friends are not. The danger being involved with politics poses has been a constant theme through all the Shardlake novels, and he's had some close calls, but always was saved, as were his friends. This time, however, there really is a price paid for the fact Shardlake agrees to help the Queen, whom he's nursed a crush on for two novels now. Partly, it's because Sansom is a good writer, especially great in bringing home the paranoia rampant in Henry's England, where with the ever switching dominance between Traditionalists and Reformers you can find yourself denounced as a Papist or Heretic at any given moment. He also highlights aspects overlooked in much historical fiction set in the Tudor era - how Henry's French wars literally bankrupted the country, and the contrast between the increasing number of beggars in London and the growing palace of Whitehall is glaring. And he makes the catastrophes more than set pieces; living through the sinking of the Mary Rose in the last novel left Shardlake with an ongoing trauma. The burning of Anne Askew, which opens the novel, is reflected upon and remembered throughout.

But if you don't care about the characters, this doesn't matter, and Sansom has become good in making this reader care. (I say "has become" because in Dissolution, he wasn't quite there yet with part of them, and to me the first novel where he really hit his stride was Sovereign.) They also aren't subjected to unrelenting misery. The bullied servant girl Josephine is now happy and doing well, so are Jack Barak and Tamasin, and MYSTERY CHARACTER WHOSE EXISTENCE WOULD BE A SPOILER FOR THE NOVEL HEARTSTONE, whose further fate I was very curious about after that novel, is off stage due to being on the continent but still present in Shardlake's life and corresponding with him regularly. Shardlake's friend Guy (ex monk, doctor and apothocary), whom I missed in the last novel, is very present again in this book. Long time antagonists/villains from the entire series start to have fate catch up with them: Knealnap the sellout, Richard Rich (Shardlake's eternal arch nemesis), but most of all: the King himself.

Sansom kept Henry, as far as personal appearances go, off stage for most of the books, with the memorable exception of Sovereign where Matthew Shardlake meets him in person for the first time (and an awful experience it is, too). But every one of Shardlake's temporary patrons (Cromwell, Crammer, Catherine Parr) and foes (the Duke of Norfolk, Richard Rich) depends on Henry for power and survival. And Henry, of course, is the origin of all that paranoia, of the poverty. (And he's the one who also enabled reforms when it served his aims, the novels don't forget that, either.) So it's inevitable that in this novel, where things come full circle, Henry is an important factor. Still more often than not offstage. But much talked about. He's also an example of what I'd call the deep humanity of the Shardlake novels. The first time Matthew Shardlake spots him in this novel, a grotesque mass of fat and ulcers barely able to move without help, he's not only aware of Henry's physical decay but also of the fact the man must be in constant physical pain. Now Shardlake fears and at times hates the King (for both general and personal reasons), and the narrative agrees with him on Henry's culpability and monstrosity. But he also is able to see, and acknowledge, what that life in constant physical torment must mean for Henry (for any man, but especially one who once prided himself on his athleticism), and the courage those few public appearances must take where he's walking. Just as he sees what cancer does to a fictional minor foe of his, or how a very dislikable client has her own tragedy instead of being an inexplicable harridan. What I'm getting at: even the boo-hiss villains aren't caricatures. They're responsible for their crimes, and the narrative doesn't excuse them, but it also acknowledges their humanity.

(Well, other than Thomas Seymour, who so far is simply a boo-hiss idiot with good looks and cruel "jests", but hey, Shardlake is aware that the Queen loves him, and both he and his author think she could do so much better.)

There are a great many new characters introduced in this novel, both fictional and historical: most importantly a fellow lawyer whom Shardlake takes a liking to, Philip Coswelyn, another up and coming lawyer named William Cecil (the fact young Cecil plays a fairly prominent part in this book is one of the reasons why I don't think Sansom will end the series here), Mary Tudor (Shardlake met Elizabeth already in Heartstone and briefly meets her here again at her stepmother's) and her fool Jane, Shardlake's new pupil Nicholas (who gets a crash course in the art of detecting and surviving during the novel), William Paget, currently Henry's go to minister. But I never had the impression Sansom is overdoing it, I felt it was possible to keep a good overview.

Nitpicks: most of the novels have Shardlake simultanously solving a political case dumped on him by a powerful person and one that's due to a client he chooses to represent. Lamentation varies this in that he takes on the political case (which is the main one) due to his feelings for the Queen and tries to get rid of the client who ends up firing him first and then proceeding his life more miserable, but whose backstory mystery he eventually solves. The problem here is that her backstory mystery is glaringly obvious and consequently those passages drag a bit, though they do serve to introduce and then let Shardlake befriend the very likeable Philip Coswelyn.

Otoh: there is a great twist/ZOMG moment when Shardlake finds out who actually has the manuscript. Which I wouldn't want to spoil. It's a revelation in two steps - the first one makes you think, oh, that's lame, and then it turns out it isn't really SPOILER but SPOILER, which results in a fantastic scene. So what I'd call the spy novel plot does pay off.

Trivia: Sansom makes great use of some actually existing portraits from the era. Must reexamine the "Henry VIII. and his family" one with this in mind.

In conclusion: a good novel, but not one for readers unfamiliar with the (fictional) characters. As I said, it brings a lot of things full circle, and you need to have followed Shardlake & Co. until then.

Steakhouse Step-by-Step

Oct. 25th, 2014 11:20
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

Here's a step-by-step watercolor sequence. I'm standing on the corner of 24th and Main in Bryan, Texas, looking east across the railroad tracks to the Longhorn Steakhouse. 

The watercolor sketchbook is held up to standing height by a pochade easel on a fully extended tripod.

I'm attracted to the tight grouping of telephone poles and the gray light. The lay-in is drawn with a blue water-soluble colored pencil, which will partially dissolve. Note the eye level or vanishing point is below the level of the tracks.

I wet the entire sky, covering it with some overall warm color, then the light gray cloud shadows, and as it starts to dry up, the distant blue sky. Then I cover the big planes of the shadow, leaving a few white accents.

 The poles and small details go in with Payne's gray and a round brush.

The whole painting takes an hour and a half. I shot some video, too, so I'll edit that and upload it next week. to paint in Austin!
Homemade sketchbook pochade easel using adjustable torque hinges

72- Minute Instructional Video: "Watercolor in the Wild"
More info about the HD download at Sellfy (Paypal) or Gumroad (credit cards)

[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by D Palumbo

as usual, interpret this image however you please
David Palumbo

Last week, while recording an interview for an upcoming episode of Creative Trek, I was asked to share a piece of advice which has stayed with me over the years.  A few jumped to my mind at that moment and then later that day I kept thinking of others, so I thoughts I’d jot a few down here on Muddy Colors. 

1: Be prepared to pay your dues

I grew up in a family of artists, so it is inevitable that much of the good advice I’ve received over the years would come from my parents.  This was one that I heard again and again before I even began learning to paint.  Basically, be grateful for every job you can get because it takes a long time to climb the ladder.  Not every job is going to be fun and/or easy, so be ready to tackle the low rent and uninspired jobs with a professional attitude.  Looking back, I find this to be very much a tightrope.  On the one hand, you don’t want to be taken advantage of and there are plenty of people out there looking to exploit you as far as you will let them.  Opposite that, you need to be humble and know that, at least when starting out, you should be following up as many opportunities as possible.  Finding the balance is hard and I think most of us only get it after several stumbles, but a humble attitude will help a great deal.  I’ve seen several people with tremendous potential wash out because of their egos and an attitude that the world owed them some kind of special treatment.  This is not really a business for prima donnas. 

2: Don’t teach yourself the mistakes of others

Early on, I had some ideas about working as a comic artist and was fortunate to have a portfolio review by Joe Quesada.  After looking at my (in hindsight) very crude pages, he told me that he felt I was looking too much at other comic artists and not enough at real life.  He told me that, while you can learn a great deal by copying the work of those who inspire you, the vast majority of your study should be direct observation.  When you copy another artist, you are copying their mistakes and teaching yourself their bad habits.  Working from life, on the other hand, lets you train without that baggage clouding up the picture.  You are much more likely to develop your work into something unique if you learn from the world unfiltered.

3: Lead with the work

About the time that I graduated from PAFA, I was exploring fine art and had a meeting with Neil Zukerman who runs the CFM Gallery in Manhattan.  He was kind enough to talk with me not only about my work but about making contact with galleries cold.  Basically, when someone walks into a gallery off the street and requests a review of their work, the automatic assumption is that it will be either a poor fit for that gallery or just simply horrible.  To save everyone a lot of time (and to avoid the automatic brush-off), he told me to introduce myself while simultaneously handing the curator a sample (print, postcard, etc.) of my very best work.  Maybe they will be interested and maybe not, but it will get things right to the point and hopefully let you lead with a good first impression.

4: Don’t worry about being fast, just worry about being good

In my first (of several) portfolio reviews with Magic the Gathering art director Jeremy Jarvis, he wondered if I might be rushing my work.  Many aspects were sloppy and would have been much stronger if I’d simply slowed down and taken my time.  Speed comes from the confidence of experience and, if I wanted to be fast, I first had to learn how to slow down and get good.  Nobody is impressed that you turned out a bad piece quickly, but they are impressed when you turn out something really good.

5: Don’t forget to push the design

A year later, I sat down with Jeremy Jarvis again at that same convention for another review.  My new portfolio had all new work which I had taken my time with and paid close attention to strong technique.  What I’d failed to pay attention to was my character, costume, and environmental design.  Jeremy pointed out in piece after piece where I could have pushed things to be more interesting, more lived-in, more unexpected, and just MORE.

6: Don’t be scared to be different

As I was starting to get work more steadily, I began feeling frustrated in my process and technique.  I had always felt that, to be a fantasy artist, I should be working in a tightly rendered highly detailed and polished style.  After all, that is what fantasy art usually looks like, right?  My frustration was that I was growing more and more interested by painterly work along the lines of NC Wyeth and other early 20th century illustrators and this was at odds with the mainstream looks.  I was lamenting this to Greg Manchess, one of the few current fantasy artists I knew who did work outside of that tight render box.  After going on and on about how I wished I could work looser but was worried about this and that and the other thing, he just said something along the lines of “well, yeah, I don’t know, why don’t you just try it?”  I was struck by how simple that made it seem and how ridiculous it was to have not realized this myself.  It was a few years before I really changed my process, but in that time I was working on personal pieces and experiments which ultimately proved to me that I needed to shift direction.  The first and most important step was to stop worrying and just do something.

7: Make your work with purpose

This last one was not advice given specifically to me, but something which I’ve heard Rebecca Guay say to students many many times.  Whatever you make, you need to make it your own in some way.  Find something to love in every piece, find something personal to contribute to every assignment, and always know what you want for the viewer to feel when they look at your work.  If you don’t make your work with purpose, it will have no impact.
selenak: (Berowne by Cheesygirl)
[personal profile] selenak
While preparing another book review, I got sidetracked by musings which have nothing whatsoever to do with the novel in question or its plot, so they get their own entries. To wit: the differences in pop cuture memory/reputation/novelistic and tv use of two guys who were, at different times, Henry VIII.s brothers-in-law. In one corner we have Charles Brandon, later first Duke of Suffolk. Best remembered for marrying Henry's sister Mary (and getting away with it) after her brief stint as Queen of France, and for being the closest thing Henry had to a life long best buddy. Charles as far as I could see usually ends up as a romantic hero in Tudor era fiction.

In the other corner we have Thomas Seymour, brother of Jane (aka wife No.3 to Henry), married to Catherine Parr (Henry's widow, wife No.6 ), and probably best remembered for how he ended (messing with teenage Elizabeth, losing his head). While there have been attempts to turn Thomas Seymour into a romantic hero as well (Young Bess comes to mind, the film version of which starred Jean Simmons as Elizabeth, Deborah Kerr as Katherine Parr and Stewart Granger as Tom Seymour) by interpreting him as a man who can't help loving two women,these are rare, especially in recent years. His image both in biographies and pop culture these days is rather dark. At best, he's a a none too bright playboy who's just too sexy for his and everyone else's good (Susannah Dunn in both The Sixth Wife and The May Bride); at worst, he's an ambitious ruthless sexual abuser (with Elizabeth) and faithfless ambitious cad (with Katherine) who ruined Katherine Parr's well deserved happy ending against the odds, broke her heart and sent her to an early grave (Patricia Finney comes to mind).

Now here's what interests me: if you look at Charles Brandon's marital history, he comes across as easily one of the most ruthless go getters at Henry's court. There was:

1.) Anne Browne; Charles was engaged to her, which was binding, and it wasn't a platonic engagement, either, as it produced a daughter. However, she also had a very rich aunt. So.

2.) Margaret Neville. The aunt. Yes, one of those Nevilles, niece to the Kingmaker. Charles temporarily ditched Anne and married her. This did not make the Browne family happy, who went to court. Ultimately they won, the Neville marriage was dissolved, and Charles married Anne officially. They had another daughter, and then Anne died. Then there almost was:

3.) Elizabeth Grey, eight years old orphan and heiress of Lord Lisle. Also Charles' ward. (Buying wardships was immensely profitable in Tudor times and beyond.) (Keep the ward thing in mind, this isn't the last time this will happen.) Charles became engaged to her, at which point his good friend Henry VIII. transferred the title of Viscount Lisle to him. However, Elizabeth upon reaching the age where she could become legally married (which if I recall correctly in this era was 13) refused to marry Charles (good for her). (She later married Henry Courtenay.) Charles kept the title, though.

4.) And then there was Mary Tudor. Who got married by her brother to old Louis XII of France which she agreed to under the condition that she could pick her next husband by herself. At this point, she was already in love with Charles, who duly showed up as soon as Louis bit the dust. They had to pay fines to Henry (and Mary's entire dowery that she'd been given when marrying Louis), but otherwise, as mentioned, they got away with it. There were four children, two sons - who died young, more about one in a moment - and two daughters. Then Mary died. Which brings us to:

5.) Catherine Willoughby. This young girl would turn out to be one of the most colourful women of the Tudor era. Her mother had been Spanish, Maria de Salinas, Katherine of Aragon's best friend, but Catherine her daughter would turn into a fierce reformer who'd even go into exile when "Bloody" Mary Tudor came on the throne. But back to her youth. Catherine, a very rich heiress, was Charles' ward, grew up in his household with him and Mary as parent figures, and it was planned that she should marry his son Henry. Then, as soon as Charles was a widower again, either because young Henry was already sickly or simply because he wanted more direct access to the cash, Charles married Catherine himself. She was 13 or 14 (I've found both ages given), he was 49. The marriage seems to have been harmonious; at least, no scandal is known, and it resulted in two sons. (Catherine's previous intended having died in the first year of her marriage to his father, her oldest son was also called Henry.) Catherine survived Charles and would go on as the formidable Duchess of Suffolk.

Meanwhile, Thomas Seymour, despite his image as Tudor playboy extraordinaire (he's usually written as the Don Juan in contrast to his brother Edward who gets written as a prig), actually seems to have had no scandals with women attached to his name until he hit the big time. He wasn't married until then, either, which is interesting, because as the late Queen Jane's brother, he certainly should have had plenty of opportunities for profitable matches. Mind you, not that he wasn't also a go getter. No matter how much or little in love with Katherine Parr he was, when Henry showed interest he was prudent (and survival-oriented) enough to step back. And when Henry died, he first tried to marry either of Henry's daughters, Mary or Elizabeth, before proposing to Katherine. (This princess marrying idea was immediately rejected by his brother Edward the Lord Protector, not surprisingly.) He even indulged in the lucrative ward trade, getting young Lady Jane Grey (Charles Brandon's granddaughter, btw) as his ward, with an eye of arranging a marriage to her cousin, his nephw Edward the boy king later on. And whatever went down between him and Elizabeth, he certainly, at the very least, risked her reputation by overly familiar horseplay (waking her up in bed by tickling her, cutting her dress to bits while his wife the queen was holding her) before his wife died when as her stepfather he should have guarded it, and his scheme to marry her when he was a widower behind the council's back could have easily resulted into her dying with him if Elizabeth hadn't shown her survival skills for the first time.

But my point is: anything Thomas Seymour did, Charles Brandon did as well. Charles simply did it more efficiently, and hence died in bed in full possession of all he gained, in an age where most people close to Henry VIII didn't, with Henry even insisting Charles should be buried at Windsor in St. George's chapel (so they'd be together after death). Meanwhile, the nicest thing anything could find to say about Thomas Seymour was Sir Nicholas Throckmorton who described him as "hardy, wise and liberal, fierce in courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent, but somewhat empty of matter", though young Elizabeth's "today died a man of much wit and very little judgment" comment is better remembered. In other words, the guy lacked smarts, which certainly could be lethal in the Tudor age. But as to morals, I see no difference.

fic snippet: undercover

Oct. 24th, 2014 23:12
cofax7: Three women: Leia, Starbuck, Zoe (Three Women -- Body)
[personal profile] cofax7
What it is, is obvious. If you pay attention to various casting decisions...

They weren't going to find a body )

Yeah, so I don't read the comics, and I don't really know the character, but c'mon, you know I had to tell that story.
bluemeridian: Chloe from Smallville, with coffee and a sideways look. (Default)
[personal profile] bluemeridian
I could bitch about how my brain's being uncooperative, or I could just code a couple recs on autopilot. These were chosen with the highly scientific method best described as "Most Recent on the To Be Recced List" and "Bonus Random". Also I totally cop to my serious Bucky Barnes problem. I'll let you know if that ever abates. (God, I hope not.)

In Which I Demonstrate My Ongoing Bucky Barnes Problem )

Due South, DCU, GotG, Teen Wolf, and More Avengers )

Dear Author

Oct. 24th, 2014 19:54
pentapus: (Default)
[personal profile] pentapus
Dear Yuletide Author,

Before I say anything else (and I’m going to say a lot, it’s just my way), thank you for writing for me. Every fandom I requested this year is a fandom in which any story, of any shape or size will make me happy. So write the story that grabs you.

I am a sucker for world-building, plot, and fully-formed characters, even in small doses. Now, you could write from just that, but if you would like more info, what follows is an extended digression on likes, dislikes, and the wee, tiny fandoms I've requested.

More on that... the infamous optional details )

More optional details: The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells, The Element of Fire by Martha Wells, Scrapped Princess, Ronin Warriors/Yoroiden Samurai Troopers )

That’s all for my requests. I hope you found something in there that helps you. If not, go where your heart takes you. You are writing a story in a wee, tiny fandom of my heart. I already love it. Thank you!



Oct. 24th, 2014 21:10
kass: John and Rodney find home in each other! (home)
[personal profile] kass
Just finished A Death at the Dionysus Club by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold -- the second Lynes/Mathey book, magic and metaphysics and m/m romance -- and it made me SO happy. If I weren't posting via small touchscreen I would be overflowing with gleeful words. I so hope there is Yuletide fic, because omg, so delicious.

we all invent ourselves

Oct. 24th, 2014 21:02
musesfool: korra, looking hopeful (all that heaven will allow)
[personal profile] musesfool
As the deadline for yuletide signups approaches, I keep refining my offers, if by refining you mean "dropping things that don't have any letters or fiddling with characters so as not to get assigned to someone asking for something I can't/don't want to write." But I'm interested in a bunch of different requests for things that are still on the list, so I'm sure it will all work out. *deep breaths*


This morning, my iPod played "Follow You, Follow Me" and I got a little teary thinking about Steve and Bucky. *sniff* Someone should vid that. (Of course, I also suggested to [ profile] angelgazing that someone should vid them to "Stayin' Alive," so I'm not really a source of good ideas.)


This made me laugh probably more than it should have: Martha Stewart’s newest party plan is punk as artisanal fuck. I guess she is pretty hardcore. She's been to prison, after all.


Ugh, work. Before leaving on her three week vacation, boss1 dropped a large, time-consuming project on me. So much for plans to read and write fic at work the whole time. Sigh.


Legend of Korra: The Calling
spoilers )

So it looks like the plot might start ramping up soon. I am excited to see where it goes!

dirty_diana: colored pencils sit in an empty latte cup. (Default)
[personal profile] dirty_diana posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Marvel Comics [Avengers, A-Babies vs. X-Babies, Hawkeye]
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Clint Barton, Steve Rogers, Bucky Bear, Pizza Dog
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: digital
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: [ profile] seventhstricture
Why this piece is awesome: Adorable blending of A-Babies and Hawkeye canon, and a pretty impressive stab at emulating Skottie Young's style (no matter what the artist thinks).

Link: untitled A-Babies art
dirty_diana: Hawkeye and Black Widow in Avengers film (clintasha)
[personal profile] dirty_diana posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Marvel Comics [Avengers, Black Widow, Captain America]
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Sharon Carter and Natasha Romanov
Content Notes/Warnings: n/a
Medium: digital
Artist on DW/LJ: n/a
Artist Website/Gallery: [ profile] wa10
Why this piece is awesome: Kickass Marvel ladies sharing a friendly moment, with cute, expressive faces despite the lack of text.

Link: Natasha and Sharon

Bottle 2

Oct. 24th, 2014 20:38
[syndicated profile] edwardbgordon_feed
The most profound obstacle while painting is the constant flow of uncontrolled thoughts coming in, while all one needs is to observe, the fewer thoughts the better…

Die größte Schwierigkeit beim Malen ist der konstante Fluss ungesteuerter Gedanken, alles was wirklich wichtig ist, ist die Beobachtung, je weniger Gedanken dabei stören umso besser…

5.9 x 5.9 inch / Oil on MDF board / 15cm x 15cm / Öl auf MDF Bord

The daily painting is no longer available.
Das Tagesbild ist nicht mehr erhältlich.

© Edward B. Gordon, all rights reserved.


Oct. 24th, 2014 11:32
otw_staff: Janita OTW Communications Staffer (Janita OTW Communications Staffer)
[personal profile] otw_staff posting in [community profile] otw_news
OTW Seven Wonders Advocacy Banner

What does it mean that OTW is an advocacy organization? If you think this helps fandom, help us continue our work!

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Sleep tight by Syllirium (SFW)

Oct. 24th, 2014 18:42
dancing_serpent: (Hannibal - Will - night sweats)
[personal profile] dancing_serpent posting in [community profile] fanart_recs
Fandom: Hannibal
Characters/Pairing/Other Subject: Hannibal Lecter/Will Graham
Content Notes/Warnings: none
Medium: digital drawing
Artist Website/Gallery: [ profile] Syllirium

Why this piece is awesome: A quiet moment for Hannibal and Will, gentle and peaceful. They both look so content in this picture, it makes me smile.

Link: Sleep tight by Syllirium

Nicolas Delort (update)

Oct. 24th, 2014 15:11
[syndicated profile] linesandcolors_feed

Posted by Charley Parker

Nicolas Delort, pen, ink and scratchboard illustration
Nicolas Delort is a Canadian/French illustrator who I wrote about in early 2013, and featured in the article on contemporary ink artists I wrote for the Spring 2014 issue of Drawing Magazine.

Since then, Delort has revised and updated his blog and website, adding a number of striking new images done in his beautiful ink and scratchboard style.

Among contemporary illustrators using scratchboard, Delort’s work stands out for its dramatic approach light and dark, made viscerally immediate by his adept use of texture. Delort employs his linear textures not only to suggest the character of surfaces, but to convey motion and lead your eye through the composition.

In the portfolio on his website, be sure to click through to the larger images to appreciate the textural character of the drawings, made even more compelling by the nature of scratchboard lines, different in their edges than those made with a pen (though I believe Delort combines some pen and ink with his scratchboard technique).

Scratchboard has wonderful qualities in common with both pen and ink drawing and traditional graphics processes, and Delort uses the range of the medium to advantage.

Delort’s approach shows an admiration for classic pen and ink illustrators like Franklin Booth, as well as the engravings of 19th century artists like Gustave Doré.

In addition to his website and blog, there is a portfolio of Delort’s work on Behance portfolio, Tumblr and the site of his U.S. artists’ representatives, Shannon Associates.

There is an article on the making of the “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” image above, second pair down, on Blurppy.

There is a brief interview with Delort on YouTheDesigner, and another on Hypocrite Design.

New Doctor Who fic!

Oct. 24th, 2014 10:26
kass: Twelve and Clara hold hands (hands)
[personal profile] kass
At the end of the most recent episode of Doctor Who (S8 x 09, "Flatline"), there was a teaser which showed Danny along with the Doctor and Clara on their next adventure. I wondered how exactly that's going to come to pass. Here's my theory! (Which I post today, knowing that tomorrow it will probably be jossed. :-) Thanks to [personal profile] sanj for reading!

Come Along
1382 words
set immediately after "Flatline"
Clara/Danny; there might be some Eleven/Amy/Rory implied if you squint

"You could try it too," Clara said, impulsively.
Danny looked startled. "What?"
Okay, she probably should have run this by the Doctor before offering it, but there was nothing she could do about that now.

The link above goes to the AO3; coming soon to my website; all feedback adored. ♥

Question for One Piece people

Oct. 24th, 2014 10:13
sholio: Colorful abstract tree art with "friendshipper" text on it (Default)
[personal profile] sholio
Is there a generally agreed-upon spelling for Iceberg's name? I notice AO3 has him "Iceburg" -- is that how it's normally romanized?

Not that I need to know for ... reasons or anything.

(We finished Water 7/Enies Lobby last night, up through episode 324, and HOLY MOLY. *____* Also, I really want to know why there is basically no fic on AO3 for Iceberg and Franky. .... well, okay, I know why, because Iceberg is a relatively minor character from a story arc in the mid-2000s, but I WANT IT ANYWAY. Most of the One Piece fic is hiding over on, isn't it?)

Sunset at the Super 8

Oct. 24th, 2014 09:23
[syndicated profile] gurneyjourney_feed

Posted by James Gurney

Jeanette and I painted the sunset from the parking lot of the Super 8.

Sunset at the Super 8, by James Gurney, gouache, 5x8 inches
A raucous flock of great-tailed grackles crossed the sky beyond the net of power lines. The day ended in a blaze of golden light.

Jeanette Gurney - Texas Avenue - 8x5 inches, watercolor
Jeanette faced across Texas Avenue, where construction cranes had been working all day building new apartments for the Texas A&M students. A few people driving by us on their way to and from the Sonic Drive-in stopped and rolled down their windows to say howdy.
selenak: (Norma Bates by Ciaimpala)
[personal profile] selenak
Reccommended to me as the best current Hitchcock biography around. Not having read the others - though of course I knew about Donald Spoto's The Dark Side of Genius (i.e. Spoto is to Hitchcock fans what Albert Goldmann is to Lennon fans) via pop culture osmosis, Spoto having been the one to launch the Director-as-Actress-Abusing-Monster interpretation -, I couldn't say whether or not it is the best, but it's certainly solid, if noticable biased on the pro-Hitchcock side. Some of McGilligan's points against Spoto are well earned, for example, this one about young Hitchcock's school days:

One notorious transgression was the dangerous practical joke presented by Donald Spoto as a tone-setting anecdote of his biography The Dark Side of Genius. As Spoto told the anecdote, Hitchock and an accomplice grabbed a younger student named Robert Goold and hauled him off to the boiler room, immobilizing him for a "carefully planned psychological torture", ending when the two depantsed Goold and pinned a string of lit firecrackers to his underwear. Goold told this story to Spoto and others over the years. Unfortunately, his recollection couldn't possibly be true; admission records show Goold entered St. Ignatius a full term after Hitchcock departed. Confronted with the contradiction in 1998, Goold realized that he was "wrong in ascribing the incident to him (Hitchcock)".

Game, set and match for McGilligan. At other times, though, his defense of Hitchcock isn't nearly as well founded, as when the biography gets to the wretched chapter(s) of Hitchcock's relationship with Tippi Hedren. "What if he was only joking" doesn't quite cut it. (Cunningly, McGilligan quotes previous Hitchcock leading lady Joan Fontaine on that one: "'I was with Tippi Hedren once on a CBS show', recalled actress Joan Fontaine, who could boast of surviving a similarly complicated relationship with Hitchcock, 'when she said he had propositioned her. Well, what he did was to see her Achilles' heel, and, knowing that pretty young actresses wanted to feel that he was a dirty old man, he would play it up. 'Yes, I must get into your bloomers, young lady', he would puff and growl. I can just see him leering at them in jest, but they never realized he was teasing them.' With all due respect to Ms. Fontaine, she wasn't present during the shooting of Marnie, and whether or not Hitchcock was teasing when she knew him, implying that Hedren (or anyone else) should have just handled it with a wink and an "oh that Hitch!" attitude is just wrong.)

What makes McGilligan's biography a great source, though, is that defensiveness of Hitchcock aside, he's thorough, especially with the collaborative process that is moviemaking, and very time, place and period evocative. Because this biography doesn't rush to to get to the point where our hero makes it to Hollywood but goes into great detail about his English youth and silent movie days, I learned a great deal that was new to me. As for example: the first film Hitchcock directed - after working his way upwards from advertising to script lettering to editing and set decorating to assistant director - on his own, The Pleasure Garden, was actually made mostly in Germany, in Munich, 1925, for the Emelka (a production company which tried to be a South German alternative to the Berlin based UFA), with young (as in: early 20s) Hitch, his future wife and life long collaborator Alma Reville (who came along as editor and assistant director, exactly the same age as himself - she was born one day after him, but had started working for the movies at age 15, five years before Hitchcock did) and a handfull others the only Brits involved. McGilligan is great in pointing out how international the silient movie era truly was (and could be because the actors weren't limited to the languages they could speak). So the Hitchcock/Reville team could work with a mostly German crew, Alma could take the actresses to Paris to buy their frocks, and once photography at the Geiselgasteig in Munich was done, everyone was off by train to Genoa, Italy for the outdoor shootings. Bear in mind here this was a first time director and his motley crew with not a big budget, not the later Hitchcock who could command millions from the studio. It must have been an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved, and it was followed up with another German film, The Mountain Eagle/Der Bergadler, where they got snowed in while working on the script in Obergurgl, Tyrolia. (Nice skiing area, btw, I've been there.)

McGilligan is very good throughout the biography in pointing out the importance of Alma's input, whether or not she was officially co-scriptwriting. (She stopped being credited after Capricorn, the failure of which gave her a crisis of confidence, but still mapped out, storyboarded and co-edited the later Hitchcock movies. McGilligan gives us some great examples of how that shared brainstorming of the Hitchcocks worked, because there were peope present to witness it for To Catch a Thief and the original plan for Frenzy, which wasn't the scenario Hitchcock filmed years later.) Which is why the ending for both of them is so heartbreaking to read - Alma suffered a series of strokes culminating in one when they were both 78 which crippled her, took away both her physical ability to move (and unlike her husband, she'd always kept fit) and some of her mind. He'd lost touch with the audience by then and only kidded himself, plotting movies that would never get made anymore, and Freeman with whom he plotted such a never-made-movie once observed them together when he and Hitchcock moved their plotting sessions from the studio to the director's home at Bellagio Road: 'He was showing off for her,' David Freeman recalled. 'Strutting his stuff. He was saying, 'Look, I can still do it. There's a future. There's going to be another movie. It's worth it to go on.'

But there never was, he drank more and more while sliding into senility, she was able to understand the world around her less and less, and then he died, with her surviving him for two more years and not knowing even that he was gone (according to their daughter, Alma would tell visitors "Hitch is at the studio. Don't worry, he'll be home soon".) I must admit that even bearing in mind how flawed Hitchcock was as a person, this made me maudlin and misty-eyed when I had finished the book.

With the decades that Hitchcock's career lasted, there is of course a very huge supporting cast in the book. McGilligan, on a mission to be anti-Spoto, points out that for every Vera Miles and Tippi Hedren, who got bullied and had to deal with a creepily possessive and vengeful director, there were Ingrid Bergmann (who adored him, stayed friends through the decades and was one of the last people to see him before he died), Grace Kelly (mutual adoration society) and Janet Leigh (found his pranks funny and remained fond of him post movie as well). (Also Anny Ondra, who was one of the first Hitchcock blondes and another case of "wow, it was a small movie world" for me because I know her name in completely a different context - she was an Austrian-Czech actress who later married Max Schmeling (he of the Louis/Schmeling boxing match); they were one of the few celebrity couples who never divorced and are in fact buried next to each other. Hitchcock was so fond of her that when the studio decided their next movie would be a sound one, which would have ordinarily cancelled her out because of her accent when speaking English, he insisted on Joan Barry dubbing her instead so he could keep Ondra as the star). Which is worth bearing in mind, but what McGilligan seems to ignore is that kindness to one person doesn't excuse or cancel out cruelty to another. Hitchcock's relationships with his male actors is also interesting to read about. He got along best with those playing villains (Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, and, against type, Joseph Cotten in Shadow of a Doubt) and classified a great deal of those playing heroes in his movies as "too weak" , with the notable exceptions of Cary Grant and James Stewart (not that he was best buddies with either, but he respected them); McGilligan points out, accurately, that Hitchcock got darker performances out of both Grant and Stewart than their usual screen persona allowed in other films. The famous "actors are cattle" quotation is duly examined (it's one of those quotes that everyone is sure the celebrity in question has said but nobody can trace down to a first use and source) and given context; what I hadn't known is that it was already (in)famous in Hitchcock's lfe time so he himself was asked whether or not he had said it, and believed it. With the result of Hitchcock writing an article - in 1940! - titled "Actors aren't really cattle": Silliest of all Hollywood arguments is between the school that claims to believe the actor is completely a puppet, putting into a role only the director's genius (I am, God forgive me, charged with belonging to that school) and the equally asinine school of 'natural acting' in which the player is supposed to wander through the scenes at will, a self-propelling, floating, free-wheeling, embodied inspiration.

(Three guesses as to what Hitchcock's reaction was once method acting got popular.)

Voluminous as it is, the book still leaves open questions, but I think in a fair way, i.e. the author acknowledges they are there but doesn't pretend to have the answers. Alma's whole pov on her marriage, for starters. She only gave a very few interviews in her life, and those almost exclusively dealing with her husband's films. Now, Hitchcock through the decades kept telling all and sunder that not only was their pre-marital relationship chaste (during their first German film, he didn't even know what menustration was until an actress told him she couldn't do a scene in the water because it was her time of the month - apparantly they didn't teach female biology at St. Ignatius) but that once their daughter Pat was born so was their post marital relationship due to him being impotent. ("Hitch without the cock" was a favourite pun.) (Most people McGilligan quotes seem to agree he got his jollies the voyeuristic and gossiping way instead, with the occasional tongue kiss launched at an embarrassed actress thrown in.) But, as McGilligan writes, If Hitchcock was sexually impotent, what about Alma? He could make wisecracks about his impotence, his lack of sexual activity, but what how did Alma feel? He could flirt with or try to kiss an actress, but what about Alma? Wasn't she a perfectly normal woman with a sexual appetite that wasn't satisfied?. In lack of any statement from Alma, McGilligan can only offer her co-writer Whitfield Cook's account who says they had an almost-affair, with their one and only attempt at making love interrupted, true movie style fashion, by a phone call from her husband. As to what she thought about her husband's relationships with actresses, full stop: no quotes exist, and thus McGilligan leaves it at "we don't know".

Other observations: actresses aside, McGilligan's partisanship is also noticable in any Hitch versus writers dispute. Hitchcock filmed a great many books but usually considered them just a springboard on which he build his movie, and the biography gives you the impression that the first thing he and Alma did was to take a few ideas from the book in question and then rewrite the story an dcharacterisations entirely. And McGilligan, being a fan of the end result, always considers whoever objected to this - be it David O. Selznick re: Rebecca where his memos frequently had the refrain of "go back to the book!" , John Steinbeck who wrote an unpublished novella that was to be the basis for Lifeboat (bye, bye, novella) or Raymond Chandler (who was supposed to adopt Patricia Highsmith's Strangers in a Train with Hitchcock; he and Hitchcock ended up developing such an hate/hate relationship that his treatments literally landed in the dustbin while Hitchcock went back to Alma, Joan Harrison and some more of his regular staff writers for the script) as in the wrong and not thinking cinematically enough. In this reader, this evoked a "Yes, but" reaction. I mean, I can see McGilligan's point - a book is not a movie, etc. But speaking as someone who often experienced a favourite book turned into a non favourite movie (not by Hitchcock, though), a little more empathy for the writerly side of things wouldn't have gone amiss!

Lastly, first a quote that amuses me and might you: Cary Grant didn't requite Hitchcock to pick out his wardrobe. Cary Grant gave grooming tips, and Hitchcock usually told him just to "dress like Cary Grant'.

And a favourite bit of trivia: Hitchcock loved the US, loved living there. But he also stood by his inner Englishman: Years later in Hollywood, when the slate board reading 24-1 went up, Hitchcock would murmur, "Hampstead Heath to Victoria", that being the route of the 24 bus in those days.

And with a whistle of "in spite of all temptations, to belong to other nations", I conclude this review.

Fringe <3

Oct. 24th, 2014 07:20
kass: Image of Walter and Peter Bishop and Olivia Dunham. (Bishops)
[personal profile] kass
Last night in our ongoing slow (re)watch (rewatch for me, first-time watch for [personal profile] kouredios) of Fringe we watched two episodes from S2 which I really love -- "Snakehead" and "Grey Matters."

Spoilers, I guess? for something that aired in 2009? )

In sum: JOHN NOBLE ♥

The ART and the ARTIST

Oct. 24th, 2014 06:00
[syndicated profile] muddycolors_feed

Posted by Greg Ruth

by Greg Ruth
MYSELF collaboration with Alan Amato

Whether we like it or not we all live in the age of the selfie, and along with this codified narcissism comes a public desire and duty to not just behold the work of a creative, but to place that creative's self alongside in a way unheard of before now. Whether we like it or not, we have and must be smarter about how we present ourselves as creators, alongside our creations or otherwise.

The artist must now pass as a figure on the landscape as well as his or her work. Even hiding from it can create a public persona that can affect this. There really is no way of getting around it. We live in a time where it's harmful to not recognize and comsider this as artists. Better to know this going and have a hand in shaping your public persona because if you don't, someone else will, and you may not always like what gets crafted. For what is usually a class of malcontents and privacy protectives, facing forward to the public and taking the initiative is a hard sell. And the better you do, the more successful you are at your work, the more difficult this will be. The stakes get higher and as the circle widens and widens, you'll begin to have less and less control over your public self, no matter what you do. Below is a guide to just a few of the essentials to consider.

Nail Down Your Purpose.

Decide not just that you like to make work, but why and to what end. Now if you're in a rarified position where money isn't an issue, this gets cloudier, but for the rest of us coming to see and understand clearly what our purpose is as artists is the best way to manage how we present ourselves as artists. This is likely the hardest part and the one that's going to come only after you need it. It comes down to having a clear and cogent understanding of your work, and where it's center lies, and I confess I am still trying to sharpen focus on that one after twenty years of professional work. Even so, the sooner you get a solid sense of what the trunk of your tree is, the branches and all that business with leaves and fruit will come later and more easily. You'll be able to spot what is a proper venue to put a public face on your art, and what isn't. You'll develop the keen and enviable sense to detect a bad move or a wrong kind of interview before it gets out of hand. And when speaking publicly, whether it's a simple Q&A, or a long form podcast interview, you'll keep to your task, and get in front of your skis- whether that means not disclosing a pre-publication secret, or getting overly smug or inappropriately jokey in a public forum that can rebound back to you and how your work is seen in a negative light. In all fairness this should be last on this list, but given it's the most important bit... well here it is at top.

It's different for men and women.

Sad but true and not to be forgotten. Men are seen with a far less critical lens and must carry even less baggage when it comes to how they choose to present themselves with their work to a public audience. It's easier for men and it's kinder. It's not fair and it's getting better, but painfully slowly and never fast enough in my opinion. The objectification brambles are real and they are serious and it's a good idea to know this going in- not to dissuade any women artists for going in, (in fact I'd love to see the exact opposite), but to know the landscape and its laws before they hit you in the face. Women know this already for the most part having to live with it their whole lives, but we men need to be better aware of it so we can know how to speak to it intelligently and defend our fellow artists when they need it. Honestly the differences and peculiarities of how a male and a female artist's experiences differ deserves an entire post. And it'd still not be enough. There's a long history of ugliness that can be entirely seen as cause for this kind of interaction to be fraught and tricky. It doesn't have to be, and the backwards facing types that haven't moved passed the gender restrictions of the last century are sometimes best combatted by being dismissed or ignored outright. Never let another tell you who you are and what you should be doing, especially with your art.

Don't blur the lines between the artist and the work.

Unless that's kind of the point. Assuming it's not, as an artist it is a terribly intimate act being put out into the world by showing your work. Remember that for the most part, the work is not you and any negative or positive comments or reviews aren't so much about you but about what you did. It's little comfort I know. These are after all, our babies and seeing them in jeopardy at the hands of negativity gets our fur up. Getting too drunk on positive comments can be even more dangerous, even though it doesn't feel like it is. Thing is, a scathing negative, or even more so, one repeated, can be a fount of help in terms of seeing areas that need improvement. This is one of the main reasons for showing your work to others at all: it's hard to see one's own missteps. Sometimes it's just not nice and there's nothing to glean, but really often enough, you can improve your craft a great deal by learning to stand up to negativity or criticism. It's a talent I would argue that is second only to the talent of making work itself. We as a species learn little from our successes, but learn tremendously from failures. It's an ancient hard wired part of our biology and it can be of great service to our art if tamed and directed properly.

Don't confuse your ego with your art. 

SELFIES cover from the story
Which is really an extension of the previous paragraph. Separating yourself from your art is really about separating your ego from your art more than anything else. Whatever you do, however much you push it away and stovepipe it on the outside, on the inside it is of you and from you and that is unbreakable. Making art as personal therapy doesn't really work- not for me. It's poor therapy and tends to produce myopic, indulgent, and even maudlin work. The discovering of yourself in making art is more electric from the discoveries of your hidden self as opposed to being overly conscious of what your doing. Sometimes it can take many years to then look back and start noticing themes and patterns. Putting yourself and your art out into the world can speed this up a lot. The key is to make sure, even in the process of making the work, you maintain enough distance to identify when you're doing it for the wrong reasons. Ray Bradbury once said "If you find that, when sitting down at your typewriter, you begin to think about how great and successful your story will be or make you, stop. Get up and do something else. Never write until you're ready to focus on the story". It's hard not to get excited about what you're working on and the imagination sometimes loves to pay act scenarios where you take over the world with your work. Art is an act of supreme arrogance by its very nature, so dreams grandiose and ridiculous are bound to spring up. Nevertheless, these are not relevant to the work or to you, and if taken too often or too seriously, can harm both how you present yourself to the worl and what you should expect from it.

Choose how much you want to be out there, and stick to your guns.

DEADLINES from The 52 Weeks Project
 More can be better at times as much as less can be. No presence means someone else is writing your biography, and that's rarely a good thing. In fact at best it tends to be wrong a lot more than is fair, and at worst, is a disaster of misinformation. If you're going to social network, give interviews etc... do them well and only up to the point you will want them to be. Meaning, set your boundaries and defend the hell out of them. The more popular your work gets the more demanding the publicity aspect of your outward persona will be called out to play. Learn to say no when it goes to far and make sure to be smart about where you go. Sometimes it can be too much, you go out to far and can start drowning. We see it a thousand times over, and it is the midwife of the meltdown or flame-out. Thing is as your work gains more traction with its audience you will find both opportunities and a need to present yourself to that audience more. I've done five interviews this last week alone, not including the radio spot thursday, the book tour for Coming Home and the various articles I've been tasked to write over the next month. It's all lovely but really exhausting and everything a mixed bag can be. It's far and away a different animal than the one I came in on, and though important overall no doubt, keeps me from spending as much time in the studio as I prefer. Part of me still considers that work, and this other stuff... I don't know... not work. But it is. It's all of it the voice through which others can be brought into the work, and those already familiar can be given more to digest. So I find I myself am moving these goal posts a lot more often recently. It may or may not last, and as much of a disruption it may all be, it is a rare and essential opportunity that needs to be taken advantage of while it's happening. The dividends of a concentrated public face were proven to me completely in the success of The Lost Boy, and it's a lesson I plan on learning. So even if this stuff starts to overwhelm, it's important to be able to say no when you must and when you can't, know that it's a finite thing. Next season they'll be interested in someone else and you can get back to what you love to do. But when you do, if you do it right, more will be paying attention, and the next time a project comes out, there'll be that many more to digest it.

Beware the pigeon hole and the siren song of success too early. 

Sample art for THE SEA SCARF 
This can happen by the had of the artist but is more often a consequence of the artist as being so popular at a given time they become married to that time. We can all look back on certain periods of time in our culture and point to artistic styles or icons. Peter Maxx would not at all have the same experience if he came out now as he is, than when he did in the 1960's and 1970's. An artist that becomes too much a creature of the period in which they live, are endangering their relevancy down the road. Sometimes this is unavoidable, and sometime sit's so huge it doesn't matter: I call this "The Spock Effect". Nimoy is more than Mr. Spock and in the past has railed against being seen as anything else. However, he has also come to realize the value and benefit of being so married to one ethos, and has learned to hug it. In some ways you're lucky to be blessed with such problems, but it runs counter to the destruction/invention cycle that makes good are, and if you lose yourself to it, then your work will undoubtedly suffer. Like most things that will come to you via your art, you will serve yourself and your work best by keeping a clear head and using that incoming stuff to your advantage. But you have to stay sharp, and occupy a measure of distance so you can make proper choices. That's where the trick is. So being an art star rising like a firework can seem exciting, but it can also exact a terrible price on your future. Don't wish for early super success, and pity the artist that experiences this. Without the firmament of self and of the work that only time and experience can bestow, the raging storm of success can tear you apart. Or at the very least leave you a misguided egotistical jerk, oblivious to how out of touch and lost you really are. It's not always the result but it wants to be, so be careful and mind your speed.

The pitfalls and successes of social networking are real and lasting.

Our current digital and informational age means we as artists can be closer and in touch with our audience in ways impossible to imagine even as recently as when I was just starting out. It can make us feel a bond we would be lacking, can provide a resource for advice and wisdom, and it can be a terrible distraction to the making of the work. Generally the benefits for oneself far outstrip the consequences. Make time for it, get on a schedule and you'll have a much easier time of it overall. The larger your circle gets in the social media world, the busier it will get. You'll not be as available and that will only get worse. If handled properly, social networking can make a paltry showing at a book launch a crowded success. It can bring attention to work otherwise lost int he minute-to-minute recycling of work and art. More people can see and share your work. Even just some silly banter or some quick advice or conversation with a reader or follower can have seriously important practical effects. Learn to be patient, and succinct and you'll do fine. Know and identify what each of the venues provide, and make sure they're a good fit.

Jeff Mack and myself at a school event
and signing
As much as a vibrant online society can be, it doesn't hold a candle to actually meeting these folk, or showing up at an event, opening or book signing. The impact you have in person is a million times deeper than the one you may have online, even at its best. Looking your audience int he eye, seeing how they look at your work, all of it... there really is no substitute for it. It's not easy for a lot of us, but we need to learn to swallow hard and dive in. The tale of the hideaway genius makes for good copy, but doesn't really work in the real world. Again, know your boundaries, but don't run from them. Push right up to the edge, and meet your folk. Conventions, book signings, in store appearances, hell even just going out with colleagues for a beer... these all count and they all of them conspire to help work and learn how to stand alongside the work you do as an artist, without getting in its way.

Don't be a jerk. 

The Torment of Saint Anthony
by Michaelangelo
Seriously. Some of us are natural jerks, but that doesn't mean we can't learn to be kind civilized human shaped creatures. You don't have to be everyone's best friend, but everyone deserves your respect. Even the jerks. Especially the jerks, because when you're dressing them down, you'll likely be doing it in front of others and that is not a pretty sight. Here's a thought exercise to prove the point: Think about how you feel when some troll starts tearing into a perfectly nice person and that person continues to be nice despite the trolling. Now think about the troll who gets the person to troll back so you get to see a muddy troll war unfold. Which person do you respect more? This really comes down to being able to keep the emotional heat in check, recognize when it's getting a bit far and choosing the right way to cool that down before you start going nuts. Try not to speak ill of others, or talk down other people's work in interviews because everyone is someone's favorite artist. It's perfectly acceptable to state simply it isn't your thing, but you can always find something to compliment. This is especially true in portfolio reviews and even more so in online correspondence. Basically the core rules of polite behavior you learned in first grade still apply. Actually they apply more than ever. We all still have high regards for Picasso even though the by all accounts, the guy was a jerk. This is not a success for Pablo. He is who he is and maybe that personality is what fed the work... who knows? I have never met a pain in the ass artist whose work was made better by their unpleasant personality. When you speak you represent your work and what you make in some way. Be a friendly positive person and people will actually be more interested in your work as a result. A painting that doesn't change can be loved more by this. The opposite can happen too.

Learn how to speak cogently about what you do.

A buddy of mine just saw a movie at a premier he thought was incredible. He called me to tell me all about how blown away he was while watching it, thinking it was easily the best thing he'd seen in years. Then the actor (drunk) and director came out to do a Q&A and by degrees, he said his appreciation of the film shrunk with every word they uttered. ALl the deep meaning seen in the film was just being imported, or even if not, the speakers were so inane and feckless in how they talked about it, they made their work seem feckless and inane. You can spoil a perfectly great piece of art, book, story, or song by not knowing how to speak about it in a way that adds to its value. It's a lot easier to blow a good thing like this than not, and really this is a skill that can only be learned from doing it over and over. Learn to listen and fold the perspectives of your audience into how you speak to them about the work your making. Don't get caught up in your own self loathing and shoot down compliments and mistake that for being humble. If you feel like you have a hard time with this, default to the Hippocratic Oath: Do No Harm. Meaning say less than more. Better to seem enigmatic than idiotic.

SIX WORD TALES collaboration
with Stiles White
Overall each of us must face our own audience in our own way. I wouldn't want it any other way actually. It's what makes our community so vibrant and rich. But it is a skill and one even those blessed with a talent for it, must learn to hone and use properly. We're past the age where as an artist you can hide away and hope success finds you. There's so much good work out there, so many qualified and accomplished visionaries making their work and sharing it, you'll just get lost in the noise if you don't stand up and participate. Whether you like it or not, whether you think you're capable of it or not, you must and should do this. If you can't represent and celebrate your own work, how can you expect anyone else to? Sure it's scary, sometimes utterly breath-stealing terrifying. But that's a reason to do it if for no other reason. Good art is made by seeking out what scares you and learning how to overcome and ride it to new and surprising places. A lot of this stuff is really just common sense. Some of us just have that and are set, others of us, like me, have to learn it and oftentimes learn it the hard way. Ultimately the most important lessons are learned by doing, so consider this post a kind of basic map, rather than a cure. You may well have to go through some of this yourself no matter how much advice you digest. So... Be bold, be brave, speak your heart and be nice and you'll only aid your cause and make for yourself a better and happier career. You are best served by being your own best advocate. These are your children, so learn to speak up for them, defend them and make them grow into something fantastic.

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[personal profile] gwyn
When I arrived in Washington DC, it was torrentially raining, and when I arrived home in Seattle, it was torrentially raining. We hates it. Yesterday it rained here so hard I actually couldn't hear the TV at one point.

The rest of my trip was fun, if tiring. On Sunday, we took the train back to DC and then wandered over to Georgetown to get some dinner before calling it an earlier night than normal. Monday morning, [personal profile] kerithwyn drove over from Baltimore to spend the day with me, and we walked all the way down to the Spy Museum, past the White House and the lunatics in front. the Spy Museum was fun, and I wished I hadn't been quite as tired as I was by then, because I probably could have spent at least another hour there if I'd been feeling a bit stronger. On the way we stumbled on a grilled cheese bar, which was rather spectacular, and then afterward we went back to my hotel, which had a tea cellar -- yes, curated teas much like a good wine cellar. That was fun.

Then we met up with [personal profile] dorinda and my friend for dinner at Founding Farmers, which was good but I confess I liked the other places I ate at in DC more. But we had a lot of fun, good conversation and drinks and just very pleasant all the way around, and after 'rith took off for home, dorinda hung around and we talked for a couple hours, which made a super pleasant end to my trip. I met up Tuesday with Keith for a quick tea break before walking back to my hotel, where I waited a few hours to go to the airport. It was a gorgeous day out despite them saying it was going to be rainy, but by the time I was almost at the airport, I saw the rain coming in. Looking at the Washington Monument out the window made me sad, because I have this feeling I might never get back there again. I mean, I don't know that for sure, but if Keith moves back here, it's probably more likely that I wouldn't. Although I know the city pretty well, so I suppose there's nothing to stop me, especially if I get obsessed with another movie fandom where they film something in the city. ;-)

I now have too much work to do and I want to write, too, because all the ideas I had rattling around in my head for Winter Soldier stories got even more compelling by rattling around in both the cities Steve is attached to. I don't know how I'm going to carve out this time, but I feel like I have to -- and then there's also Festivids and Yuletide coming up, so I'm stressing, that's for sure.

Speaking of Yuletide, I have a question I can't seem to find an answer to. Last year, I noticed quite a few stories where the YT-eligible fandom was crossed over with a huge fandom that wasn't eligible. I remember being surprised, but I wonder if that's actually legal or not. It may be for all I know. I can't seem to find it being addressed, but I'd love to know -- can you in fact cross over characters in an eligible fandom with characters from an ineligible one?

October 2014

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