topiary cats

topiary cats

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dusky Clouds

Here are some dusky clouds.
pastel on colorfix primed bristol

Friday, April 29, 2016

Goodwill or Contempt

"The way to love someone is to lightly run your finger 
over that person’s soul until you find a crack, 
and then gently pour your love into that crack."
                                                                                            - Keith Miller

Goodwill or contempt.
This is something I practice a lot. Very, very consciously.

Mostly with strangers.

I believe that a vital part of spiritual practice is to cultivate peace and goodwill towards others no matter how we may be feeling personally. And it takes constant awareness and practice.
It's not easy at first but it does get easier with practice.

It is done by observing how you react to strangers you encounter in normal ordinary situations.  Your thoughts. How you regard them, especially knowing absolutely nothing about them. If you offer more contempt than goodwill, remind yourself gently to offer goodwill instead.  

It does work, and it does change your approach and attitude towards others.
In turn you will find yourself less stressed or annoyed.

We all know the phrase "peace on earth and goodwill to men."
It is a daily spiritual practice in the small mundane moments.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This is True

There will likely be times in your life 
when your soul evolves more quickly
than your circumstances.
                                           -Daily OM

Yeah, This is true and I have felt like this for a very long time.
I honestly feel like my current life circumstance isn't teaching me anything and it hasn't for a while. I have mentioned this before.  Actually, I think at this point it is a hindrance.

But it doesn't change no matter what I do or do not do, and I cannot figure out why and it is extremely frustrating.

Mostly, it is just exhausting and I feel incredibly worn down.

I was speaking with a friend the other day about something she is dealing with concerning her son. Hard stuff.  Really hard stuff.
She has tried everything and then some.
It didn't work.
She just has to let the situation be what it is, and that's hard.

I can relate to that.

There comes a point when, after everything has been done that could be done, people don't need advice. They don't need or want other people giving them "answers" or suggestions. They don't need people judging them. Evaluating. Analyzing. Trying to fix.  Others thinking they know your life better than you do. That they know something you don't already know. That they have the answers you don't have. That if you would do what they say, think what they think, it would get better.

What is needed in these circumstances is just listening and acknowledging. Empathy. Acknowledging that it's hard, too hard- and there's just nothing else to be done and that really sucks and it hurts.

If you break your arm, no one is going to tell you that you can choose whether or not it hurts.
It is the same with our spirits, feelings, and hearts.

As with physical injuries, emotional injuries are greater and lesser degrees.

It is true that some people want to wallow and be victime but most don't- they are really trying to move forward. They might not know how to, and if that is the case they will look for help. But sometimes nothing works, despite trying everything. And you just have to endure whether or not you want to.

We can certainly choose how we deal with it in the sense of whether we become bitter and take it out on others (or ourselves), or if we maintain a kind heart and an open, gentle spirit.

But either way, the situation is still crappy and it's absolutely ok to just call it what it is.
Without being judged.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mad... ! ...Gradient

The theme this week is my fault.
I chose it because I wanted to finish my lobster, and he has a nice gradient.
But I did not finish my lobster, or even work on him.

Since I finished my cloud trees I'm ok with that though.

Instead, here is a door in a tree with..... a gradient!
This is 4"x4" black paper....those "Artist Tile" thingies.  It's really just pre-cut 4x4 black paper.
Derwent Colorsoft pencils

I like working on black and I like Derwent Colorsofts. They are super smooth.
They show up on black much better than Inktense, and they are not water-soluble.
You could probably use a little solvent with them though, but I didn't.

Carey has gradients, I bet they are really nice, too. Carey makes great gradients.

** When it is my turn to pick a theme again, I have the BEST THEME already picked out!
And you'll just have to wait!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Finished Painting! Whoa!

It's finished!

This painting just wasn't working which was why I avoided it for so long.
It started out really ugly and stayed that way for a long time.

Yesterday I said I was going to finish this thing no matter what.
I brought out the vintage WN pastels from Dru...

I really like these pastels.
So I worked and re-worked with my kneaded eraser and now it is finished and I feel very relieved.
The painting is also relieved to be finished. It was worried about its sorry existence there for a while.

Cloud Trees
pastel on Mi Tientes

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cool Books From My Library

I have a lot of books.

There are many people with a lot more living space who have larger libraries than mine, but I still have a lot of books. Easily in the thousands.

I do have a very excellent art book collection.

These days my fiction-reading is all on kindle (I had to go electronic to save space, no regrets) but I get all my art books in physical copy.  (Cookbooks too.)

Here are five cool art books.

Herbs for the Medieval Household
I got this book back when I worked at the Met in college.  it came with a companion book about medieval households, which is also on my shelf, right next to this one.

This is an art book of a game. 
The art is just awesome.

I happen to love concept art, and I tend to pick up art books for games, films, etc if I like the art style.
This one is one of my favorites.

Harold Speed.
Enough said.

This is a book which deals with visual storytelling through composition.


I have yet to see another book which deals with non-verbal communication through two-dimensional composition as in-depth as this one does.

I had this book when I was in elementary school.  It was one of my first drawing books. The copy in my library is not the same copy I had-- but I found it a few years ago, happily!
I LOVED this book (still do) and spent many hours with it as a child.

The dimetrodon was always my favorite.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pebbles Says...

Afternoons are made for napping.

Friday, April 22, 2016

MAC Cosmetics Resumed Animal Testing

Ok, so I just found out that MAC cosmetics has resumed testing on animals.

Because of China.
I am so angry.
Principles melt away in the face of $$$$$$$$.

In order for these atrocities to change, they must not be supported.

I'm sorry MAC, I liked you (Though I love Urban Decay more) but I am done with you.
Animals are more important than my makeup.

Urban Decay made the decision to not sell in China because of animal testing.  They stood by their beliefs when the time came to prove it.

ALL animal testing MUST stop.

You can check your products here (2016).

A comparison graphic here (2016).

I found some surprises and I'm pretty mad about it.
Boscia, Origins, Fresh.......excellent products I really love. CRAP.

I am going to use what I have because it is here already but I will NOT repurchase until these companies change.

Many brands that did NOT test on animals 
quietly started again.

And it is all because of Chinese laws and $$$$$$$$$$.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


If I could say the words
Everything would be broken still
                                        -Amy Lee

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

We Gel Well

I am SO into gel mediums for oils these days.

Simply put, it doesn't change the consistency of the paint.
That means I can add dryer/ extend the paint without a change in consistency, which I prefer to control with solvent. This is really important when you are laying wet paint over wet paint.

Essentially, it is clear oil paint. And it is extremely useful.

It started with Oleogel (Rublev).
I was smitten.

Then it progressed to galkyd gel. (Gamblin)
And THEN I needed Gamblin Tack Reducer (for printmaking but fine for oils too), which is just like oleogel but in a bigger tube. In the stores, it used to be hidden in the printmaking section but now it is also with the oil paint.

And they also have solvent-free gel which is also alkyd so I had to get that, too.

And THEN Carey said she likes Liquin impasto.

Let's pause here for a moment and discuss Liquin.
It is an alkyd dryer.  A standard.  Winsor Newton. It comes in a bottle.
It stinks but will dry your paint really fast, like 24 hours, making it an illustrator's bff.
So I had to get Liquin Impasto.
And THEN i noticed WN has another gel too... Liquin Oleopasto.
So I had to get that as well.

I'm not compulsive or anything.

1. Rublev Oleogel.  Linseed oil, fumed silica and wax.  I LOVE OLEOGEL.  Does not contain dryers.  Soooo silky and smooth! No smell.

2. Gamblin Tack Reducer- also linseed oil and fumed silica. No dryers. Pretty much the same thing as Oleogel but in a bigger tube. No smell. I like it. There are many times I don't want any dryers in the paint.

3. Gamblin Solvent-free gel- has a dryer. Dries the paint moderately fast. Silky and wonderful. No smell. Great stuff.

4. Gamblin Galkyd Gel. Gel with dryer. I LOVE GALKYD GEL. Handles the same as Oleogel and the other Gamblins. No smell/not much smell.

5. Liquin Impasto.  Dries the paint the fastest.  Smells kinda bad. Dries faster than Galkyd gel. It's silky. I'll use it but after this tube I won't buy more. Partially because I prefer to support Gamblin with my purchase decisions. It's thick Liquin. Better than the stuff in the jar.

6. Liquin Oleopasto- funny thing about this, I couldn't find it in the stores.  It was always out of stock. And I went around looking until I finally just got it on Amazon. It is THICK.  Really, really THICK. This is not something I would normally use. I'm glad I have it around because one day in the future I'll likely need's always good to have options.  Oleopasto REALLY STINKS. Did i mention it is super-thick?

GEEK NOTE: proper use of dryer vs drier.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mad!! Under the Sea

Once a long, long time ago there was a large salty sea. 
Over the ages, the sea dried up, leaving barrenness behind, 
and a few salty puddles.

All this land used to be under the sea, but now it's not. 
The salt and residual minerals cause a foggy iridescence.

5x7 mixed media.
oil pastel then an acrylic iridescent coat, then finished off with oil pastels. Matte and iridescent.
This is something I started earlier this year and I'm really trying to finish stuff before starting new stuff.

I'm really curious to see what was under Carey's sea, because the painting-start she showed me earlier ... well, I'd like to see what was under her sea.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Much Matcha

Matcha is a kind of Japanese green tea powder, traditionally used in tea ceremony.  It is also used to flavor sweet things and it is WONDERFUL. I wish I could find matcha kit-kats here.  Even the Japanese groceries don't have them.

Matcha has become trendy here, but I have been seriously into it for over 10 years. It is very healthy for you, too. Fine grade matcha is very expensive. It is prized for its gorgeous emerald color, its health benefits, and its taste.

When I get it in the local Japanese grocery, I pay about $7 an ounce which is pretty good.  As a tea, there are certain ways to prepare it- it is not like regular tea steeped in boiling water.  Anyhow.

They go together.

Melissa from Kiss & Make-Up and I were talking about matcha, and our love of things green, and her trip to Japan (I am insanely jealous). So we decided to do a matcha beauty inspired blog post together.

So here are my matcha-inspired favorites and a matcha-inspired makeup look.

Elizabeth Arden Green Tea and Green Tea Lavender fragrances
Green Tea has been my favorite Spring/Summer fragrance for several years.  It is lovely.  I think it is also discontinued...but the lavender green tea (I just got this last week) is pretty close.

Most people who know me are aware that I have a really stupid amount of Urban Decay.
It is ridiculous.
I LOVE Urban Decay.

My UD matcha colors:

Kush                    Lounge

I would be terribly remiss if I did not put OIL PAINT in my products list.  Gamblin's pthalo emerald (PG 36) is a great warm-leaning green, for those times when you are not mixing your own. PG 36 is non-toxic and is likely in your green eyeshadow formula.

I chose Kush for my matcha makeup look. Kush is part of their permanent collection and it is a great color.

I used Kush with these colors from UD Naked Smoky.
1. crease
2. top highlight
3. outer corner
4. inner corner

UD 24/7 pencil in Lucky (lower lash line) - discontinued unfortunately
Kat von D tattoo liner (the black one) upper lash line
UD Perversion mascara
Lippie is UD 1993

I don't know how Melissa does this selfie thing all the time.  It's hard.

My pet rat Q-Tip wanted to be in the matcha blog post because he can rock green like nobody's business.

....and then.....
My cat Isis came over, kissed the rat, and gave me the stink-eye until I told her she could be in the blog post too.  Because she is a cat and that's what they do.

kitty-rattie kiss

matcha stink-eye

Saturday, April 16, 2016


We got through another week
I am so wiped out from this week.
It's been so strange. I definitely need a weekend.

Here are some supercute ratlets Branwen has been fostering and socializing.

Even if you don't like supercute ratlets....remember we are all God's creatures.