Thursday, January 24, 2008

Roads and Inspirations

Sometimes I feel lost by the path before me, and I think of this quote from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:

“Remember what Bilbo used to say: It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

And so I know that adventures may await me, even in my most mundane tasks in life. There are many dull things we have to do to get through the day so we can lose ourselves in adventures each night. Cleaning and paperwork are my least favorite things, but when they're done, the day goes quicker and the evening with it's books or TV shows comes. There is a satisfaction that follows a job well done or an organized desktop. That may be all the adventure I have for today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Binge Reading

I am officially on a binge when it comes to my fantasy reading this month. This is a very good thing, as the TV is staying off more often than not. My sister Jane is responsible for this, as she's the one who gave me all those yummy books to read. The latest intellectual gorging is happening as a result of the writing of one Kelly McCullough, whom I have seen at many local SF&F conventions, and may even had dinner with once at Jerusalem's Restaurant along with a large group of us hungry for hummus and bellydancing.

Whatever the case, it was nice to see a familiar name on one of the slew of titles. Then I took a look at it and I just HAD to read this one next. As a sometimes web designer/fantasy artist/geek girl this was definitely a Must Read for me. I'm still in the first half of the book, but it is really witty and action-packed for those of you who like that sort of thing. Here is a quote so you can get a sample of Kelly's linguistic flair:

"Here Boss. Drink this. The troll says it will help with the pain."

"The troll?" I sat bolt upright, adrenaline overriding pain.

"Calm down," Melchior said. "Ahllan's not that kind of troll. She's a vegetarian."

"Where did you find a vegetarian troll healer?" I said, beginning to relax.

"We're under the hill in the picture. She made the beer-can faerie ring. We're an awfully long way from the primary course of reality. It's a weird version of faerie, oriented around the detritus of urban sprawl and pollution instead of sylvan idyllicism. I don't know what goes on in the head of the artist who painted this gate, but I'd rather not meet his subconscious in a dark alley."

"It sounds bizarre," I said, taking the bowl.

So far, so good. I like this one, and it's good to know that it's sequel is out already as well, though that wasn't part of the holiday box of goodies. Maybe I'll pick up a copy at Marscon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Oh this one is really choice. One of the boxful of slightly used books I got from my sister for Christmas/Yule, I have to say this is a lovely read, if rather quick, and I enjoyed it completely. Here is a bit of a teaser:
"They have brought back the Tithe, the sacrifice of a beautiful and talented mortal. In the Seelie Court they may steal away a poet to join their company, but the Unseelie Court requires blood. In exchange, those who dwell in the Unseelie lands must bind themselves into service."

So the story unfolds, and there even is a character named Janet, though her part is a supporting character. Written by Holly Black, this was her first novel. Her more recent claim to fame is the Spiderwick Chronicles, which she co-created with artist Tony DeTerlizzi. I finished and ended the book today, and I must say that I love her voice, and am looking forward to reading more of her work. It is technically a young adult novel, but entertaining to old folks like me anyway. I'll add tony's blog to the blogroll, just cause I met him at GenCon many years ago when the Spiderwick Chronicles were first released.

The rest of today will be spent getting supplies and sanding walls to prepare for painting. I've gotta get this house up to full fantasy art snuff! What's the point in having a house that's over 90 years old, has original woodwork, but looks like a dump? Never liked it in all the "fan" houses, and I won't tolerate it in mine either!

Monday, January 7, 2008

On Faeries

Since I wrote about my relationship with dragons briefly, I think it's time to discuss the faerie situation. I painted my first oil painting of a faerie way back in 1991, before the internet was connecting everyone to everything. A friend posed for me, and it turned out fairly well. I liked the results so much that I took the original down to WorldCon in Orlando, Florida. It was my first time on a plane, my first time to a national science fiction and fantasy convention, and I was all by myself there and back again. The sale of another painting to a friend paid for my plane ticket down there, but I chose to show as an amateur at the time.

While I was down there I got reaquainted with some of my fellow artists including Erin McKee and David Cherry, and met many more including Fantasy and Science Fiction art Icons Real and Muff Musgrave, Keith Parkinson, and Frank Kelly Freas. All of the artists were kind enough to review my artwork and gave me good advice and encouragement. The one fairy I brought with me I painted over from top to bottom, and was later sold via the internet. One thing about fairies, they change shape often, so it's impossible to capture them completely. Brian Froud understands that. In his book "Brian Froud's World of Faerie" he explores his inspiration and relationship to the faerie realm in all it's forms. I received this book as a yule gift this year, and it was an unexpected and welcome surprise.

As I turn the pages I'm drawn further into this vision of faerie, one that is earthy and true. The spirit of the Earth herself seems to come alive with all her children dancing to the same tune. This is why I was drawn to paint fairies, because they are real and ancient, silly and wise, dangerous and miraculous. I feel sorry for all the people who see them only as sweetness and light, because it is in the shadows that the truth holds the mystery of what they mean to us. Of the artists I met at WorldCon those many years ago, two have passed from this mortal life. They left behind their art for us to wonder at, and that is a very good thing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

On Dragons

I have a unique relationship with dragons. The first piece of art I ever sold was a charcoal sketch of Smaug that I drew from the Rankin & Bass animated film of The Hobbit. When I started showing at SF&F cons, some of my earliest pen & ink pieces were of dragons. I love dragons, I think they're really beautiful and they play a part in mythologies all over the world. A couple of my earliest paintings had dragons in them as well, but they're very time consuming and detailed in the extreme, so I haven't painted very many of them.

The two largest paintings I did of dragons turned out very nicely, and I'm quite pleased with them. When one of my collectors contacted me and asked to buy both originals, I was delighted to know that they would be going to a good home. But what happened next wasn't so delightful - they were lost during shipping. By lost I mean there was a good chance they were stolen. Luckily I shipped them insured, and my collector was reimbursed, but they're out there somewhere with someone who did a dreadful thing to get them. It made me pretty unhappy, and I'll be very careful about how I ship my originals in the future.

Right now I'm reading His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik and I'm almost done with it. Luckily I already have the next book in the series to jump into right away, they were Christmas gifts to me from my sister. I love what this author has done with the dragons and it's a really cool re-telling of history, only this time there's dragons. This is why I'm still a fan after all these years, because there's no end to how tall a tale can be and still capture my imagination. I can see the dragons in my mind and go along with the well-crafted story of it all. This is a delightful historical fantasy series set in the Napoleonic era, and as the author is working on Book 5 right now, I have hours and hours of adventurous reading to look forward to. Just not all at once...well sometimes all at once...oh wait, I only have a chapter left of this one...