Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Card Time

It's always been one of those debated subjects in my family when it comes to Christmas cards.  I remember as a little girl watching my Mom pull out the big box of cards, the roll-a-dex, pens, stamps and address labels.  She'd then proceed to use up an entire book or two of stamps (which back then were lick and stick so I got to help) as she wrote out each and every envelope, signed our names inside of the cards and then sent them off to various friends, neighbors, family members and everyone Mom could think of.

At first we'd get so many cards back that we'd have an entire door plastered with them, some hanging onto the wall next to it.  That was, of course, before the internet really caught on with the masses.

Then, people started to die and people just didn't do Christmas cards any more.  So when we received a card from someone, Mom put a little symbol next to their names in the address book (she got rid of the roll-a-dex), changing the symbol from year to year so the next year she'd know who to send Christmas cards.

After awhile, those numbers dwindled and I think Mom got by with just using cards from previous years and sending out a handful here and there as she received them.  And actually, shortly before I moved out, I was helping her with the few cards because I put in my friends and associates as well.

When I moved out of state, I was fired up!  Time to send out a bunch of Christmas cards so everyone knew where I lived and I'd print out pictures of me and my (at the time boyfriend) husband who I was living with.

I received about 10 cards that year.

The next year, only about 5.

This year, so far, only 1.

I'm debating on whether to send everyone Christmas cards this year since we just moved and yes, I have a new address that maybe not everyone knows about... but it's this personal debate of whether it's worth the time and effort.  Even in a technological age, much of my family doesn't keep in touch with me through the internet or even Facebook.  So you'd think that even once a year they'd want to hear from me through a card.  Say "hey, how you doin'?  We're still alive" or something to that extent.  But when we're only 15 days out from Christmas, just two short weeks think I'd have more to show for it.

It's not that I'm expecting presents, visits, fruitcakes, or even a phone call.  But a card?  Is it REALLY so hard to send cards now in this age of texts and emails?  Why is it so hard to WRITE more than two-three words?  People don't want to call when they can text, and they don't want to write because they can text...and yet if I don't get even a text, are you even alive out there?

Maybe that's why the Christmas spirit is so hard to come by anymore.  It's hard to receive it when no one is giving.

'Nuff said from Scrooge.  ^_^;

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Christmas Time Again

The holidays for me have changed a lot since I was a little kid.  Maybe I have to clarify that to the year 1999, just as the New Year had rolled in, because I remember very distinctly playing one of the Legend of Zelda games and fishing, showing my Dad how cool it was, very shortly before he died.

When you lose a parent at the age of 19, things can get pretty weird very fast.  Luckily I was still in college and even though I had an on-campus job, it wasn't a real job by any means so there wasn't a big disturbance from being gone for awhile.  My mom told me I needed to stay in college and that summer I picked up my first job where I'd put up a Christmas tree on Halloween, find myself in a mall on the day after Thanksgiving and find only one parking spot at the far edge of the property, and I had a Mom who didn't want to decorate for the holidays anymore.

My brother and I took it upon ourselves to pick up the holidays.  That was the first year that I made an effort (in the freezing cold and rain) to string lights up outside my house, to decorate the Christmas tree, and to get my Mom going when it came to making Thanksgiving dinner.  In fact, not too many years later, I'd started doing Thanksgiving all by myself (with a few helpful tips now and then) and eventually Mom even started decorating and getting into the spirit again.

But ever since that first Christmas in retail, I've been there, putting up trees around Halloween and not being able to enjoy a Christmas carol or tune because it's been played 50 Million times before December even hits.  Being one of the retail people can really suck any fun that Christmas once held for a person.  I try not to get into the spirit some years because I worry that I'll just wear out too quickly, and I usually do.  I wait until the last week or so before Christmas to shop, wrap presents, mail cards, etc. just so I don't get burned out.  It's hard being the numb one when everyone is having parties and exchanging gifts.  But I guess that's just the person I've turned out to be since my Dad died.

Maybe it would be different if we had a big family.  In fact, our family is so small now, at least the amount that can travel, we can sit around our little kitchen table.  I made Thanksgiving dinner in such a blur this year that I'm not sure how it all came together at exactly the same time, or how it was over so quickly.  I even got to watch the parade this year, albeit, mostly on the TiVo, fast-forwarding through commercials  Basically just my Mom, my husband's parent and grandmother, and besides a few aunts and uncles who all live out of state, it's a pretty small family, so holidays are rather brief I guess.

This year I decorated as I always do.  I think I get more enjoyment out of the process of decorating than I actually do enjoying the decorations.  Mind you, I do like looking at decorations I only see once a year, and maybe that's the reason I deck the walls like I do.  But we have very few people over to enjoy them, and when I mention 'oh, I should take a picture to show you', even my Mom shrugs and says, 'that's okay'.

But, even without people enjoying my decorations, at least I know that the cats are enjoying them.  They enjoy playing with the strings of lights in the windows...they enjoy chewing on the Christmas tree, they enjoy the copious amounts of treats that I've been giving them know, the Christmas spirit and all.  They even have a stocking of their own we're working on putting stuff in.  It's the little things that count you know.

Boy....this really makes me sound pathetic.

I guess I should go work on Christmas cards.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Princess Celestia Repaint

Even though I've done model work over the years, I've never undertaken completely modifying or painting an existing toy/figure before.  Of course, never before has there been a toy that is just so different from what it's supposed to look like that I've felt the need to do so.  If you've ever watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, you'll know that Princess Celestia is most definitely NOT pink like this picture to the left.  Apparently, I'm told, the color pink sells girls' toys.  So, instead of making the toy accurate to the cartoon, they chose to make Celestia pink.

I've seen a few different repaints over the last few months, some making the figure look like Luna, some coloring Celestia properly, and after a good long look at my own figure for a month or so, I decided to give her a repaint myself.  Unlike most of those pictures online, I decided to give you something of a step-by-step guide to doing it yourself (if you're so inclined) with very little money, but a whole lot of patience - be warned, it took me over a week to get her looking like the final picture and I've had quite a bit of experience with model painting in the past.

First off - start with a reference drawing.  I like this one especially since she has an extra swoosh of mane around her horn, the little curl around her cheek, and you can see most of her colors pretty well.  Of course, her mane and tail are always changing color slightly, so you have some artistic licence there, and of course in my version she won't have her necklace/collar, so there's something else we won't have to worry about.

We're almost ready to paint!  With my model painting experience I could have done this one of two ways - one, go to the hobby store and buy model paints, and I'm talking about the acrylics that you can by from Games Workshop (Warhammer paint) because that stuff is made for plastic and it holds up really good once you give it a final coat of sealant.  BUT...with the primer running $8 a can, and each little color running about $3 a bottle, it would probably cost around $30 or so.  Of course, going this route would mean a complete repaint, even the eyes and cutie mark, spraying her with a primer coat of white paint would probably be the fastest route, plus model paint dries pretty quick and goes on smooth.

If you're cheap, or if you don't want to go that route, you can do what I did and go with Ceramcoat craft paint.  Mind you, this is very time consuming because you have to do build up quite a few layers in order to cover up the pink.  The picture to the left has about three-four coats of paint built up over the course of a few days.  I used Magnolia White.  Be careful because at this stage the paint can scratch off so use a flat 'wash' brush and be careful to smooth out your strokes so you don't get noticeable brush strokes.  You can use a little bit of water if they get too thick.  I went over the crown about three times as well, but since it's not meant to be white, you can stop with just the 'primer'.

Once Celestia is almost completely white (I needed to do at least one more coat of white on her wings at this point) I started putting the metallic kim gold on her hooves and crown.  The metallic paint I used here was actually a discontinued color a few years ago that I bought on clearance, but I'm sure any metallic gold would do, providing you get it plenty of dry time and make multiple coats.  I believe it took three to four to get the color just right.  Use a liner brush for the details next to the white areas, and a flat wash brush for the smooth large areas.  Don't forget to paint the bottom of her raised leg since it will show, although I did paint most of them, I didn't put on too many layers of paint there since she had to be upside down and it wasn't very ladylike.  ^_^

At this point in the painting I'd finished all of the layers of white, all of the layers of metallic and had painted the small purple jewel on the crown which you can't see here.  I also used a pearl finish to all of the white parts of Celestia's body, wings and horn.

Because I wasn't brave enough to paint her eyes from scratch, I used a fingernail to scratch the paint from her already pre-painted eyes (so yes, she has a derpy look if you look at her directly from the front!) but it was easier to fix up the white around her eye lashes and add a little black here and there to let them stand out a bit more, rather than doing it all from scratch.  If you're talented enough you could just paint around the eyes and not worry about it, but I had debated doing them by hand myself.

At this point you can also start doing the coats of paint for her mane and tail.  I chose four different colors, one I mixed myself.  Aqua, Orchid, Periwinkle and I lightened Ultra Blue with white for the fourth color.  The toy only had three colors to her mane but there's a not-so-obvious fourth color if you really look closely at the cartoon.  In the picture above you'll see I've started on the aquamarine stripes.

Finally Celestia is starting to look like herself!  The striping is the hardest part of painting her, so here's a tip on order of painting.  Before you use any pearl coats or finishes, paint the inside of her tail by her legs and her mane between her wings and up by her cheek on her right side.  These areas are the hardest to get to and since you'll be doing at least three coats on each stripe, you'll need the leeway to cover up your mistakes with white before you do any finishing coats.  Once you've done these inner layers of hair striping, the outside layers will be a breeze.  Choose your striping carefully as you'll want all four colors to be seen on both sides of the figure.

 Now for finishing touches!  Princess Celestia always has sparkly hair so I used a sparkle glaze to finish out her mane, tail, wings and horn.  Probably shouldn't have put it on the wings but it just looks pretty, and I've seen her horn sparkle a few times so I thought it was appropriate.  You also need to paint in the cutie mark at this point unless you used the scratch technique like with her eyes, or you were just careful to paint around it.  If you do paint it from scratch I used a yellow paint dot in the center and then surrounded it with the same gold paint as her hooves and crown.  Of course, she'll still need a cutie mark on the opposite side if you're up to the challenge.  After this photo was taken I put a pearl finish over the cutie marks (you can see a bit of white touch-up paint if you look closely) and it blends quite nicely with the rest of her.

In the closeup of her face I made a bit of a mistake with her eyelashes (covered them in pearl finish and glitter glaze) but otherwize her eyes were left intact through the whole process.  Below are a back view and a view of her left side as well.  I completely repainted both cutie marks to make them more even.  Also I didn't mention the  jewel on the crown was painted with a darker purple to a lighter purple on the front of the jewel with two white 'light glints' since I felt a bit artistically inspired.

I'm pretty happy with how she turned out overall.  For a short time I had regretted starting the process (especially through the coat after coat after coat process with the white) but I think the time and effort paid off.  Looking back at it, I'm pretty sure I would have at least smoothed her mold marks out a bit with a x-acto knife first and primed her with a good model primer just because of how easily the first coats would scratch off with the tip of a fingernail or a sharp brush binding.  I probably would have taped off the eyes and cutie mark and then went to town, then used a better white to do a nice top finish coat and then worked on the rest with craft paint.  But what's done is done, and I think the end project turned out nicely.

Oh...and so you know, she's not for sale.  ^_^;

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Two-Cat House

I find it amusing how cats can look pretty angry at certain angles even if they're purring away and happy as can be.  Mina is pretty much always happy, except for when she doesn't want to go into the carrier to go to the vet, or when she's being picked up when she wants to be running around the house.  I've heard her growl a few times, but overall she's a pretty happy cat.  I wish sometimes that it would come through in her photographs, because she really is pretty sweet.

Having two cats in the house is a lot like having two kids.  They have two distinct personalities and two distinct schedules that they run on.  Mind you, both cats want to play first thing in the morning (maybe some cuddles if I'm lucky) and then food.  Then it doesn't matter what you do, unless they're in the mood to play.  Mina will play all by herself.  It's probably because she was a month older than Olivia and out on her own for at least awhile.  Olivia, on the other hand, spent much of her life in captivity with humans playing with her off and on, so she's pretty spoiled.  Olivia will tear up the couch merely because she wants someone to play with her.  She'll attack the blinds if she's feeling you're not giving her enough attention. The couch is taking the most wear, unfortunately, and I've debated the difference in cost between getting claws removed in comparison to getting a new couch.

The problem with Olivia wanting to play all the time is that she won't play when Mina is around.  In fact, she gets downright angry if Mina comes in after the string when she's been setting up for an attack for the past 20 seconds.  Olive is a huntress.  She will stalk string for minutes before pouncing, will come at it from different angles, hiding in different parts of the living room, until finally the right moment and....  Mina swoops in, gets it instead and Olivia makes a "MRAF" sound and walks out of the room, sitting with her back facing the situation as if to say, "Forget this!"
In the meantime, Mina doesn't care.  I don't think Mina really even pays any attention to Olivia most of the time.  Oh sure, she knows she's there, but she doesn't fall for the grumps and huffs that Olivia puts on.  She'll swoop in wherever to play with one toy or another and then swoop out again in order to find something else new to play with.  But...she'll drop whatever she's doing if someone tries to play with Olivia, wrecking the poor cat's concentration until Olivia finally gets angry and hits her with a well placed paw to the face.

Mina, meanwhile, really doesn't care.  She'll chase Olivia around until both of them are worn out, throwing themselves into little piles in the living room across from one another.  Then Olive goes back to scratch on the couch or the blinds and things start over again.

Squirt bottles don't work against this habit.  We even put deterrent on the couch, put a scratching post right next to where she scratches...she knows she's getting our attention and it doesn't matter if she actually won't play when we try to play with her, she's getting attention.

As I said to begin with, having two cats is like having two kids.  The smaller one always looks up to the larger one for how to act, what to do, things to get into, and the smaller ones tend to be the ones that we forgive faster than their older siblings.  It's just the way it is.  Or maybe it's just how Mina plops up in a lap, purring, looks at me with those big round eyes and says, "Hi, I'm cute, gotta love me!"  And Olivia has always been a princess since the day we brought her home.

I'm just glad they aren't real kids, otherwise I probably would have strangled one by now - you should know better!!  Kids push buttons but they have true intelligence.  Cats have smarts of their own but in a different way altogether.  It's all a matter of training I suppose.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Life 'n' Stuff

My husband had to go to work in it's almost midnight late and I've been sitting here going through the random "icanhascheezburger" sites, mostly the original and then bronies and my food looks funny.  Just what is it about these sites that are so appealing that I can sit here for literally hours staring at it when I should be doing something creative?  I'm not entirely sure.  I've chalked it up to being similar to watching hours of home improvement shows on TV or maybe re-watching all of the episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or something of the sort.  A year ago I was playing inane Facebook games like Cafe World and Farmville, but I've since stopped playing any of them because even though they were fun up to a point, they really didn't get me anywhere.

I miss the days when there wasn't anything to do on the internet.  Or at least, there was very little, maybe some news to read, some chat rooms to lurk in or perhaps a friend or two to AIM.  But nowadays there's all of this mindless stuff that draws me in and suddenly I don't feel like working on anything really creative.  Well, I take that back a bit, I DID do a pony drawing of the friend who helped me with the brony panel, although I felt kind of out of sorts after doing it because of his initial response to the drawing.  And no one else really seemed to like I wonder if I should have even spent the time to draw it?

His name's Greggo - he does game shows at conventions an on his YouTube channel - hence the microphone.  He'd mentioned that he'd just discovered recently that his cutie mark would probably be a microphone, and it inspired me to do a little bit of drawing.  This, by the way, is one of the very few completely cgi drawings I've ever done.  Usually I draw everything in pencil, ink it, scan it, clean it up and then color it, but I thought to myself 'you have a tablet, you should be able to do it all on the computer'.  So, I did, and overall, it didn't turn out too bad since I'm still new at drawing the FIM pony style.

But I felt a bit bad about it because when I was doing that, to very little results, I could have been working on story writing or drawing other original things, or perhaps even been writing letters to some important people that I should have written letters to.  Like my brother in California for instance whom I haven't even written since before his birthday in September.

Maybe it's not even the lack of creativity... maybe it's the lack of anyone enjoying the things I do.  I guess when I first started writing my novel with the Whatchers (again, where the namesake of this website comes from) I wrote it for myself.  It was a pretty crappy summer.  I'd just gotten out of my first year in Junior High, and if you've gone through it yourself, you know, it's pretty crappy to become a teenager because that's when you get crapped on from every angle.

Fortunately I was pretty naive about the whole thing, so even as I was being made fun of for being fat and being the tidy one, I was also the loner and even though I made a friend that year, I later found out she felt sorry for me.  Whether that was good or bad, I still haven't quite figured out, but we stayed friends for a long time, even through all of my other friends basically dumped me because I'd found a new best friend.  What is it exactly about jealousy anyway?  I thought I could have a bunch of friends, but new friends and old friends have a habit of not always working out together.  So that summer my old friends all hated me and my new friends were all in Girl Scouts and had camp to go to so I was pretty much alone that summer.

So I asked my aunt if I could borrow her typewriter and I learned to type that summer.  Then I asked for my own typewriter and I started to write my own novel.  It was mostly for me, and partially for my brother who was my only friend that summer.  He really was my best friend until things happened and he wound up in California without cellphone, job, etc... (long story for another time)  Anyway, I wrote it for us, or maybe just for me because I was lonely.  I came up with an imaginary friend and I was quite content to fall back on that novel all the way through school until I finished the novel upon graduating.

And then later I started writing stories for friends I met online.  "Mary Sue" stories were quite popular, although I didn't know it at the time, and I had three friends I wrote into stories for a good few years until we had a huge falling out and I lost all of them.  Those were my Highlander years.  Then I got into Trigun (anime) and started writing fanfiction with a friend for that series.  I still have to complete one of those stories, and it's partially that story that I keep moping about finishing while I'm busy reading about memes online.

But recently all of those fanfictions and fanarts that I used to do have fallen to the way side.  I wanted to do something original, but you have to be good for people to care about those.  Fan stuff is popular but when I pulled away from it I've found myself largely ignored by the online populace.  And now even when I do try to do some fan based stuff, I rarely get any comments on it.  Well, just the fact that I'm working on this blog and at this point I have a whole two followers and one is my husband, that kind of proves the point.  Of course the few of you who are actually reading this, thank you.  I'm trying to learn to write for myself again, but it's nice that you're here for the ride.

Tonight I was sitting reading Trigun Maximum and thought to myself, this is good stuff.  I remember how it made me feel when I was reading it for the first time.  And that's why I used to write fanfiction on it.  And maybe I'll do so again.  There's only just so much pony hairstyling one can do after all:

Rainbow Dash turned out pretty good, her hair looks a bit funny but I like it that way.  I even managed to get some of the orange into her bangs.

What's a bit funny for someone my age is the fact that I went into Hot Topic the other day and bought a "This shirt just got 20% cooler" and a Nyan cat shirt. I'm not quite sure what the gal at the counter thought of me, but then again she was pierced to the nines and still wearing flip flops when it was raining with a high of 50 degrees outside... but I don't care, I like the fact that I can wear a shirt about something I love.  

Then there's Pinkie Pie.  Her hair didn't turn out too badly either - her curl is a bit huge, but I like it that way.  It's starting to fall a bit since I didn't use any hair gel or other styling things, but the trick was definitely to cut her hair first before curling because otherwise the weight of all of that hair just pulls the curls into waves instead.

What in the world am I doing anyway?  I'm not sure why I'm this age and yet I still surround myself with toys and goofy things... they make me happy, mind you.  And maybe it's because when I work I get enough of the adult crap out of the way every single day, so the only way I can relax is to be goofy and young again.  Capture that childhood over again...who am I kidding, I've never stopped.

I can't have kids, I wouldn't be able to stand sharing my toys with them.  Heh heh heh.

Nights like this, staying up late and just wondering why the heck I should write stuff like this to post online... I guess once in awhile it's good to get it out and put it out there.  At least to do it for myself.  I need to be happy with myself first, right?

Monday, October 17, 2011

More on Ponies

I keep saying that I'm really not an expert on My Little Ponies.  In fact, I'm probably pretty far down on the totem pole when it comes to this series because I got into it kind of late in the game.  Actually, the first season was over and done, and THEN I got Hub and started watching it.  And then I started collecting the ponies as well because, well, they're cheap.  In comparison to how much I used to lay down on manga in one month, these are just a drop in the bucket.  I gave up five books and got this whole set.  Heh.

Anyway, the reason I'm posting this is just because even though I helped host a Brony meetup, I was kind of like the only one who didn't have a life altering experience from watching the show.  I'm too new at it.  I just happen to be older, with a good job and probably too much expendable income...not THAT much mind you, but you'd be surprised at how good of a saver I am.  (I even used coupons on the Celestia/Luna set and made sure I didn't buy one of these at more than $5 a piece, for example).  I felt really out of it during the whole thing, and far too embarrassed with the whole thing ever to watch the video of it, just knowing what I was thinking as I was speaking makes it unbearable.

Surprisingly though, I've met a few other people who are just as new to it as I am, or maybe newer.  That's what's weird about this show, that it's still collecting fans even though it's in the second season.  People are realizing that it's a pretty cool thing.  And they're buying the toys and styling the hair.  I got an message tonight asking about tips for making them 'show accurate' which is something I myself have been fiddling with this last week.  Take Fluttershy for instance:

I can't bear yet to trim her hair to the correct length of the show, but I did flatten it out quite a bit to get it to lay better.  She's so adorable.  I'd love for Fluttershy to be my favorite pony, but it's really Twilight Sparkle.  I'm most like her - in fact, when taking a "which pony are you like?" quiz I turned out to be Twilight Sparkle.  And why?  I have organization and leadership qualities.  If you've seen Winter Wrap Up, then you'll know a little of how I worked my magic to sit 300+ people at Tsubasacon's cosplay.  And really I could have done a lot more with a notepad and a quill!

But the real reason that I'm doing a blog on ponies today is that I started liking MLP since I was a little girl.  And when I say little, I mean LITTLE - 5 years old or maybe younger.  I have quite a few of the original mail order ponies and quite a few first generation ponies.  I later got a second generation (it's soooo ugly) and apparently I found one third generation and bought a second one about the time I moved in with my future husband.  I just remember a time when there weren't ponies, and also a time when they were everywhere.  I have dreams about finding that elusive pony in some shop that no one knows about.  MANY dreams of just that, you have no idea.  When ponies weren't being released there for a time I scoured flea markets and second hand shops so I could 'save' them.  My collection isn't huge, it's far from ever being complete, but it makes me happy.

What didn't make me happy, however, is finding out during the Brony meetup that there was a third generation and a "3.5" or what they call "Core 7" that I didn't have even one example of in my collection.  It was merely a fluke that I stumbled into a Rite Aid pharmacy on the Thursday before Tsubasacon and I found, of all things, a Gen3 Rainbow Dash.  I could NOT believe my eyes!  I picked it up and bought it. It had probably been in that store since 2007 like the copyright stated.  But alas, those ugly 3.5 ponies with the giant heads still alluded me.

It was last Friday I ran into my CVS just to pick up a prescription and in the back of my head I thought, 'You should just check the toy aisle,' and of course I'd already struck out at other pharmacies I'd been looking at in the area just because those are the hidden gems recently... and there was Pinkie Pie, Scootaloo and Rainbow Dash, all in their big-headed glory.
Mind you, I only bought Rainbow Dash, as both Pinkie Pie and Scootaloo actually had their names printed as part of their cutie marks and that was LAME.  But Rainbow Dash was cute even though it boggles my mind that Rainbow Dash went from being the stylish girly prissy one of the ponies to the boyish one of the group!  Of course she got wings and her cutie mark changed slightly, but the body color and hair remained pretty much the same (with the exception of making them all rainbow colors versus pastels).  I'm glad they made the change of course, but it's amazing to think that this particular character pretty much turned into Rarity (who has a very familiar looking shop if you look at the old pics of that cartoon) and now has a 20% cooler attitude (actually, make that 120%)  ^_^

So, that's what I wanted to share.  That I found all of these Rainbow Dashs by almost accident but isn't it cool ?  I think so anyway.... now off to style her hair!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Enter New Challenger: Mina-chan!

Sometime before Tsubasacon, my husband and I were debating about adopting a second cat so that our little Olivia would have someone to play with.  But we decided because we were so busy that we hardly had time to play with Olivia it would be best to just wait until Tsubasacon was over and done before attempting to find one.  It's kind of like having one child and trying to decide whether to have a second.  Sure, an only child gets spoiled rotten, but they're rather more lonely than a child with siblings, and there's always that possibility that just because we got her a friend Olivia might not be the same afterwards.  Lots to think about.

Well, Tsubasacon is a week past now, and we talked to one another just about the day we got back.  Should we go look for another one?  Should we wait?  And as we were laying down for bed one night I put my two cents in - if we get another cat, it'll have to just show up or fall in our laps.  Let's not go out and actively try to find another cat, because we might pick the wrong cat.

Now, if you don't know me very well, you might not know that I was born and raised as a Baptist and that even though I'm not the best Christian there is, I do believe strongly that God is out there and He watches over each and every one of us.  The more we trust in Him and the more we do things to honor Him, the better our lives will be.  Trust me, with the things I've seen over the years, I really believe in God.  And so I prayed about the whole thing.

That conversation between my husband I took place on Monday night after the convention.  I spent Tuesday at home doing catch up on chores and laundry, and then turned around and went to work on Wednesday.  On Thursday, a co-worker asked if I was still thinking about getting a pal for Olivia.  I kind of shrugged it off, that yes, sort of, we'd been pondering it but only if... "Well, we found a little kitty for you."


She described this little black ball of purring fur had been left out behind her house after being treated unkindly by a little girl.  Apparently she was seen being dragged around by this little girl, sometimes being put into a box and dropped.  Dropped!  Crazy stuff, but my co-worker saved her and had been feeding her over the weekend.  I didn't find out exactly when this happened, but it's a pretty short time frame to be a coincidence, you know?

Anyway, I called up my husband who said, "You're joking, right?  After you just said that the other night?"  I assured him that it was no lie (unlike him, I tend to tell the truth on things, it rarely occurs to me to lie or joke), and that my co-worker was going to bring in a picture the next day.

Yesterday I pretty much had made up my mind that we would take her so we made arrangements to go pick her up this morning.  The kitten was just as friendly as my co-worker had insisted, but definitely not a male like she had first assumed (although it would have been nice since we already have one female) and definitely had a lot longer hair as well.  Which, is okay, we have a cat hair brush already my husband bought on accident for longer haired cats.  We even had enough time to make arrangements with the vet to bring her in and get her checked up.

So as we drove back with the little one in the cat carrier, we discussed names.  By that time we'd pretty much felt the kitty was a she, so we started tossing around female names.  Astrid was out.  Mike thought about it since we'd named Olivia after the Fringe character.  Mike didn't like Nina (after Nina Sharp), so I started to dig into my vast collection of names since I wanted to be the one to name her this time (Mike had pretty much named Olivia.  We'd decided on the name for a different kitten and I think for a time Olivia wasn't Olivia, it was Elizabeth...both of us accidentally called her that, but I do believe she's settled into her name now).  Anyway, I threw out Mina.  The name comes from Getsumen Miina (look it up, it's a kind of random anime that spun off of Densha Otoko) - from the main character.  I like the name, plus it has the "meee" sound, and cats, I'm told, come better to names that sound more like "Meows/Nyao" since it's closer to the 'language' they speak.

After the vet visit where we were assured she was a she and not a he, we brought Mina home to see her new house.  Only a part of it, I'm afraid, she's got ear mites and fleas, and even though we introduced her briefly to Olivia, they'll have to stay mostly separated until Halloween.  Surprisingly it wasn't Olivia who first started hissing.  It was Mina!  I'm very surprised the little one has so much spunk.  Olivia was actually pretty timid.  So I'll be curious to find out which one becomes the fat cat and which one is the more shy, skinnier cat.

For now, however, it's going to be like I'm living two separate lives.  One with the little kitten in her room, and another with Olivia.  Ah, more to do and just after we had stopped having to worry about all of the convention stuff for awhile!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hidden Messages

To those of you who have never heard of an anime convention, let me sum it up as briefly as I can.  Anime is "Japanese animation", and it's a bit different than American cartoons because it's prettier, for one thing, usually has a well-rounded story-line, is usually made for adults, though there are many made for children as well, and except for a few of the better known series, usually consist of about 12-26 episodes.  If you've heard of Pokemon, Sailormoon, Naruto, One Piece or Bleach, you've heard of an anime.  An anime convention, therefore, is for fans of this genre.  They can come together to meet for a day or a weekend, buy things that have something to do with anime or Japan, watch anime, talk about it, and also play games and dress up like their favorite characters.  Anime conventions are a lot like Star Trek conventions, but they tend to cover a whole lot more than one or two series, and each year people will concentrate on a new series rather than the same one year after year.

Okay, at least I tried to make that short!  I'm sure many of you who are reading this, knowing who I am, also know about anime and all things goofy and childish.  Okay, maybe not.  Maybe you just know that I'm pretty goofy and childish when I'm not being all managerial at work.  During this time of year, especially, I'm working on all different parts of an anime convention that my husband runs.  Not two months after he was given the reins of Tsubasacon, he met me at Ohayocon (Columbus, OH) and before I knew it I was going to all sorts of conventions with him, giving him ideas of what conventions were like and how things ran and what to concentrate on to make it 'just right'.

A short history of Tsubasacon - started, I believe in 2004 by someone else, it started to a tiny little crowd, didn't even have an artist alley (although the one artist who randomly showed up made a killing I'm told) and the next year the con-chair basically screwed up big time, they got kicked out of the Charleston, WV civic center and the name was given to my husband to dig out of the ashes.  He even had to salvage website rights and I'm told had to put a lot of bandages on different things in order to get it to run again.  Plus he had to borrow money from his parents and grandparents to even start the thing.  He went on and began again in 2006, this time in Huntington, WV, with a handful of friends who basically knew very little about anime or conventions.

Shortly after his first successful convention that I was unable to attend since they had it the weekend after Thanksgiving (and if you know how retail works, no one gets those days off!), we moved in together the very next year and I've been helping ever since.  It's only been getting bigger and bigger ever since.

I'm not saying I had anything directly to do with that, but I will say that I've been that little shadow in behind everyone since 2006 when I was suggesting ideas to the guy who ran main events (who introduced me to my future husband) some of the stuff that we still run today.  

"So," you might be wondering, "What does any of this have to do with the picture at the top of your blog and with your title 'Hidden Messages'?"

Namely this - since 2007 I've been doing the programs for our convention.  It's pretty cool.  I like having control over this publication once a year, and even though it is a huge pain in the butt... I still get some satisfaction with saying "I did this."  This year the cover art was mine, since I had such a hard time getting people to give me artwork to do the cover.  AND...maybe just a bit because I've been putting my own artwork on the cover for a few years now and it's kind of a special thing for me.

The character you see above is named "Mitsuki."  She got her name...two years ago I believe, probably 2008.  She first appeared on the 2006 cover, drawn by Tiffany Grant (different last name now, maybe, she just got married).  I think her very first sketch was very rough, but shortly thereafter appeared a logo that we only later discovered had an uncanny resemblance to a Japanese drawing.  That character appeared on both 2006 and 2007, then by 2008 I put my own artwork on the cover.  Only 2010 had Jen Lee Quick's artwork.  "My" Mitsuki has purple eyes rather than the original Mitsuki which was more maroon.  If you ever search up information about the character or you ever look at various drawings of her, you can see the difference.

Again you ask "so what about the title?"

This year, our game show host Greggo announced that there will be hints of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in his game shows.  Apparently, we found out just about a month ago, he's a Brony.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's basically what male fans of the series call themselves.  I didn't know what the whole hoopla was about, quite frankly - I'd seen little clips of MLP:FIM and thought it really silly (that was when you could watch it any time you wanted on YouTube, but they've since locked much of it down) and suddenly my husband said, "I think one of my co-workers is a Brony."  

I blame my husband, and also Time Warner cable for giving us the Hub - because of those two things I have the entire cast of My Little Pony on my desk at present.

Finally I've come to the reason for this huge blog today.  Number one - the theme of this year's Tsubasacon is balloons.... if you've seen any of this My Little Pony series you'll know the bounciest, funniest, off-the-wallest pony is named Pinkie Pie, and her 'cutie mark' (the mark on her flank) are balloons.  Pinkie Pie is my husband's favorite pony (if he has one, he's not a real fan of the series, but has been forced to watch a few with me.)  There is also another pony named Rainbow Dash - and if you notice behind Mitsuki at the top, the rainbow behind her is in honor of her.  The stars in the background are for Twilight Sparkle (also Mitsuki's dress which is purple and pink).  Two orange balloons are in honor of AppleJack.  The glittery dress is in for Rarity and her glittering outfits.  And the gentle sweeping wings are for Fluttershy.

Also hidden within the pages of the program is the "Mitsuki Pony" I posted last month.

So...if you've a pony fan, or a Brony - we're also having a Brony meetup on Saturday at the convention.  And there will be buttons with the Mitsuki pony on them.

Now you know what the "Hidden Messages" title means.

And now you're either that little bit smarter for it...or you think I'm really insane.  And that's okay, I like it that way.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cat Nap

A good 'face plant.'

I wish I could just lay down anywhere I pleased and take a nap, but I can't.  In fact, the only time I nap is when I'm sick and I really just can't get up to do much of anything else.  Even when I was a baby my mother told me that I wouldn't fall asleep in cars, wouldn't take afternoon naps and I would fight and fuss to be put down at night.  What's weird is that I LIKE to sleep now, but not naps.  I feel weird after taking a nap.  But it would be handy to do it, much like Olivia who can settle down pretty much wherever.

Lately my mind has been filled with too many things.  Work, making things for Tsubasacon, working on publications, balancing all of the artists that I've got coming, trying to get a cosplay going (for those of you who don't know it's "costume-play" shortened which means I am planning on dressing up as something else and not for Halloween) and finally there's house guests and keeping things tidy so I don't have a huge enormous mess to return home to when all of the conventions and guests and 'fun' is done and over with.

I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for all of this.  At first it wasn't too bad, Tsubasacon work is basically just a passive thing during most of the year, and then it kicks into high-gear about August or September when guests start calling off and programs need to be written, badges need to be laminated (I'll probably get off of that this year since I'll be working) and this year merchandise needed to be made, displayed and sold.  I'm currently making a bunch of different kinds of jewelry and buttons for the table:

There is this little problem with having to share the table's credit with someone else.  See, it's kind of weird but we've got a guy who's a bit too...gung-ho about everything, and I mean everything.  He started off as merely a volunteer who said, okay, I'll do advertising.  Hundreds of dollars later, we couldn't understand why he was sending fliers to Canada.  Okay, we'd really like to have a fan-base in Canada, but we're talking West Virginia here... Most people think WV has some kind of strange stigma attached to it that siblings marry and everyone is overweight (thanks to Jamie Oliver who visited Huntington a couple of years ago..which is where the convention is being held, btw).  So, we tried to ask him to maybe scale it back a bit.  He mysteriously had to work on the day of the convention last year, so we thought maybe he didn't know how to scale it back.  Either all or nothing, perhaps?

So when he came back we thought maybe we should put him on merchandise, and then suddenly realized that if we gave him the reigns to that little gem (or should I say funds) he might go overboard again and so I've been working on the table stuff.  But it's a LOT of work.  Button making requires skill at artwork and also layout, then printing, cutting, punching, etc.  Voila!  And that's just for the buttons, little lone the keychains, earrings, necklaces, bumper stickers (thank goodness I didn't have to design something) and t-shirts (I did, but last year, so I didn't have to do it again this year)...  Oh and wing head-pieces.

PLUS I had to get the program together without anyone voluntarily sending me their information.  There's nothing like telling everyone at a meeting to please send me your stuff, then having to email them multiple times over the next week to actually get them to send it.  And then finding out that there was stuff I didn't even get in there since people changed their minds at the last minute after it went to print.  Ahhhh... oh little maneki neko cupu on my desk, give me good luck in these trying times!

By the way, the little maneki neko on my desk says "shiawase koikoi yatte koi".  It means:  Happiness come come, do come!

Maybe a little sleep is in order.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Cats and Ponies

Ever get that feeling that a cat might be judging you?

This is my cat Olivia.  She's not quite 8 months old, but as cats go, she's already taken over the house.  Cats have quirks you know.  People say cats have staff, dogs have owners (actually I've heard the opposite saying once after watching a rather old program, but that's for a different discussion) and I do agree that sometimes when a cat looks at you, you just know they're judging you.

Maybe they aren't judging your character, but rather, judging what you're going to do next, if you're going to get up, go out, feed them, play with them, do something that would be of interest or maybe there isn't a thing in the world that you could do that they'd care about.  Whatever it is, they're constantly weighing options and calculating.

Unless, of course, you have a dumb cat.  There are those too.  Not to say my cat is dumb, but I have met a share of them with those glassed over looks that you can tell they're never quite in this dimension.

Olivia is a calculating cat.  She figured out that if the toy goes behind you on one side, it might come out on the other.  She knows that if she scratches at the litter long enough, someone will wake up to play with her first thing in the morning.  She knows that the shower means fresh water.  She knows that climbing the back of the couch will prompt someone to get up and if she hides at the end of her tunnel then maybe someone might play with her.  She also knows that if she jumps up on my computer desk and meows around a lot that eventually I'll grab her, unless of course I'm blogging, and then the picture above happens where she sits there, looking pretty smug about the fact that at any moment she could start chewing on one of my ponies and I'll have to pay attention to her because I don't want them gnawed on.

She hasn't, for her own health, destroyed anything by chewing, scratching, or otherwise killing it.  If she did, I think she knows that there would be certain penalties.  She does things for attention, and that's it.  As for the ponies...I'm not quite sure why I had to run out to the store to pick them up, but I did.  And I have to TiVo the show too, and I blame my husband for getting me into it after the curiosity of "Bro-nies" and wondering if he too could become one (nope).

I've loved ponies since I was...five?  I've got quite the collection you see...
Over 60.... hrm...yeah...I'm not quite sure if I should be proud of that number or not.  I've only bought four more I bought a year or two ago before the new cartoon came out and the style changed.  I'm rather surprised how much smaller the new ponies are in comparison to the old ones.  The original style are in the bottom center, and to the bottom right are the brand new ones.  They look more like baby ponies by their size.  But I guess they have to shrink in order to keep them the same price after all of these years.

I'm not going to rant and rave over the pony thing, but to say that I'm a fan of collecting a lot of things, and ponies are one, cat things are another, Trigun things another...and all of which makes me feel a LOT younger than I really am.  Or maybe that means I'm a lot older because I am certainly not acting my age.  Is that so wrong?

Stop judging me!  LOL

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Ponies...

Did I mention that I was reading this article in some magazine in the break table at work the other day and it said something to the extent of, "have fun like you would have as a 10 year old"?  Well, if I didn't, then I guess I should mention it now because lately I've been hooked on drawing My Little Pony since quite a few people at the anime conventions I go to have been drawing them.  I guess if they do it then so can I, right?  Even if I'm over 30?  Hrm... okay, well, someone has to be drawing them to make them into cartoons on HUB right?  Not all of them can be under 30...I hope.

Anyway, what really made me want to start drawing them was a webcomic: who started charging people a few bucks to draw them as a pony.  My friend Jon decided he wanted to get one done for himself in order to support the artist and when we got back to the house he said he'd like to color it.  But I said we should scan it first before he touched the original so once I got it scanned I thought to myself, 'how about I color it?'  So I did:

The original drawing was done by Alex but I completely redid the line art and colored it for Jon since it was fun to do and then before I knew it, I had decided to try drawing that first Mitsuki pony that I posted the other day.  Now today I took out my pencil and paper again and did the new version.  It's a bit sloppier than I'd like.  I was rushing but I think the main reason for that was because it just wasn't quite good enough yet to do the full ink and color... if you're an artist you'll probably notice things that are a bit off.  If you aren't an artist... I hope you like it and don't notice the problems!  ^_^;

I decided to record My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic with my TiVo...I'm currently waiting for them to replay the first season so I can watch the entirety.  I'd really like to see the episode about "cutie marks" - if you don't know what that is, it's basically the butt markings.  Well...dur.  But what's interesting is that when they're little they don't have them, but, well something happens for them to get them but I haven't watched that episode yet to find out!  >_<;  I'll get back with you on it.

What is interesting to me, is that growing up as a kid in the 80's I had a few ponies and over the 90's I collected over 40 of the buggers, which is pretty good since for a time there they didn't even make ponies and I thought they'd stop and I had dreams about finding them in some shop or garage sale and it was just the one I wanted or something.  Heh.  Anyway, when I was a kid when the pony craze was just new they had "horseshoe points" and if you collected so many you could get discounts on special ponies by mail order.  The very first baby I got...I think it was "baby bluebell" or something of that nature (I'll have to look it up someday) and as the very first baby pony made, it was completely bare of any such cutie mark.  So, to me, for that to roll back around and for them to make mention of it on this new cartoon, it's kind of cool to me.

And yes....I went out and bought three of them the other day...  for artistic reference.  Yeah, yeah, that's it.  Applejack, Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle.  I'm trying my hardest not to go get Fluttershy since she reminds me a lot of a pony named Posey that I have being yellow and pink (but she was a earth pony) and one of my all-time favorites.

BOY....I'm kinda pathetic.  When I thought I'd get into another series I didn't think it would be something I was originally into as a 10 year old!!  Ah...but it would make my 10-year old self proud to know I can actually draw them. LOL

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Quick Pony Sketch

Why yes...I HAVE gotten back into the My Little Pony craze... why?  You might ask?  Because, truth be told I've NEVER gotten out of the craze since I was about 5 years old when I got some of the first ones from my Mom for my birthday.  I still have every single one I've ever gotten since day one.  Probably 50+.

Anyway, this one is based on the character from Tsubasacon, our convention in Huntington, West Virginia, her name is "Mitsuki" - this is a quick sketch for now, I'm thinking about changing her cutie mark a bit later and re-designing it to do it CGI style.

Enjoy the silliness!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You Can Never Go Home Again

I always thought that the phrase "You can never go home again" was kind of silly.  Of course you can go home again, provided certain criteria still existed; for example the building existed, the people still exist there, etc.  My Mom still lives at home, she still lives in the same house and thus, I could always go home again if the need arose, and I have visited home a couple weekends ago.  But that's not really what that saying means.  Because once you leave home, it'll never be the same home again.

Oh, I'm sure many of you who might read this have realized it before, and I'm pretty sure on some level from time to time I have as well.  But as I was finishing up a book today, it took on a different meaning to me.  The book was by Alan Dean Foster, who is one of my favorite authors, and I collect nearly every book that he's got out there I can find.  This time I found his "Taken Trilogy" which is about a fellow who gets kidnapped off of Earth by a bunch of aliens and then has to find his way back home, light-years away with no one to come get him, because obviously we humans don't have faster-than-light travel.  Spoiler alert, but after years of being away from Earth, when he finally gets a chance to come back, he realizes he doesn't want to because the universe is now open to him.

Imagine going back to live with your parents and they're still changing your diapers and spoon feeding you; kinda like that.

They've been talking a lot on the radio this week about how all of these college students are leaving home for the first time and how things will never be the same again.  A couple were in tears over remembering the first time that they left home and how it felt because they never went back to live with their parents again.  I don't think people ever think about it when they finally leave, because there are so many things going on during the leaving - packing, classes, weddings, etc.  Only later we reflect about the things that have changed and how our worlds have expanded into something so much bigger and better that even if we did go back to the physical location of home, it will never be the same home ever again.  We can't just settle back into things with the way our worlds have expanded.

My own personal world has expanded very un-noticeably until I headed home again a few weekends ago.  Going home, everything was familiar, but there were so many other things that I have come to take for granted, that home seemed oddly lacking.  Of course, the city I've moved to recently seems kind of lacking too, although just a 20 minute drive will take me to where my old apartment was located and all of the stuff that was there, it seems like I went from having everything conveniently located to having something taken away again.  That's when it really struck me this afternoon and why I haven't been feeling entirely like myself these past few months.  I can't go home again, I can't go back to the place I first called home since I'd left my original home.

We've been making this place more and more like home since we moved here, but it's still not completely home.  There are familiar pictures on the walls and things everywhere, but when I come home I still feel as if I'm not completely home yet.  A home is not only a place where you live, where you hang your hat, where you keep your stuff, but where you come home to family, or even where others know where to find you.  Mind you I have a few friends who have come over, but all of those people I used to know when I lived in the original house I grew up in, none of those people (besides my Mom) have been over.  None of my other relatives like Aunts and Uncles will probably ever visit because they have no interest in coming into town.  My brother has gone off across country and will probably never see this house.  None of my friends from then will ever visit because, again, they have no interest in making a trip to come see me.  I keep up my flower gardens and I enjoy keeping my house tidy and decorated by the seasons, but only a few local people, my Mom and my In-Laws will probably ever step foot here.

How can this place be called a "home" without people stopping by to say hello?  Without people saying, "Oh!  Congrats on your house, I'd love to see it!"  And then actually following through?  I had one co-worker of 20+ who actually came over when I invited all of them to my house warming party.  Maybe I'm just being bitter again about the whole ordeal, but in fact, it's true.  I don't feel like I live here completely.  I rarely venture out of this house without my husband, and even though I know I could, I don't feel like I want to either.

So what truly constitutes "coming home again"?  Being greeted by family and friends?  Having pets greet you after years away?  Moving your stuff back?  I guess it would be different for all of us, but it wouldn't be the same for we've all expanded our horizons and pushed back the curtains that originally surrounded our lives at home.  Maybe I'm not satisfied with my own living conditions because I remember having people stop by unexpectedly.  I remember having family and friends want to come over and see where I'm living and what I'm doing.  I remember going out and having fun on my own, taking trips and enjoying the view, only to return home and it felt like home.

So maybe that is what I truly need: to come home and feel like it's home, to want it to be home every time I return to it.  Maybe that's why when we move away from our childhood homes, we can't do that anymore, because we want to come home to our own houses, not those of our parents.  Perhaps it's the lack of that which makes it harder for some people to leave their parents.  They feel like they are home too much, and that they could never make another place feel as much like home.  That fear, that their house/apartment/flat will never be just like the home their parents have made for them, and thus they never try, they never leave, and they never expand their horizons to the full potential that they could.  There is so much out there to see, to do, to feel, to experience, and maybe it's just easier to imagine having that home anchor somewhere you've always been.

As for me, that home anchor is still a fleeting thing.  I've experienced so many things and been places that have somehow made it harder to feel at ease even here in my own chair, in front of my own computer, in my own house that I painted top to bottom, cleaned and decorated to suit my own tastes.  What will make it a home? What will make it the home that I want to return to?  I'm not sure, but I'm waiting to find out.

For those of you who might try going out there on your own for the first time, whether it be for college, just moving out to get married, or whatever, you'll never go home again.  It'll be different every time you return, and the only hope you have is to make whatever place you next live in the next home.  And then you can return to that one, the new one, because there are endless possibilities of home.  You might not be able to go home again but you can sure as hell create home with each new place you live.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whatcher Beginnings

"Blacky" Early Paint Version

After working on some graphics for Tsubasacon this evening I thought maybe I should try actually posting an image in a blog like I keep talking about doing.  So here's number 1.  At least, this is the first whatcher that I scanned in digitally and colored in Paint of all things.  That's before I put money into Paintshop, Photoshop and the Wacom pads and the like.  This was me scanning an image that I drew in pencil into the computer and then reversing the colors and adding a bit of color to the eyes and ears.  I still use the same color scheme for Blacky today since I've always loved how the pink and green stood out on a black critter.

I'm getting a bit confused by what I put on my previous incarnation of this website and the new one, so forgive me if I repeat myself, but the whatcher critter came from a book I worked on when I was a teenager.  I never managed to get it published, although I sent it out to a dozen publishers.  Most of them sent back the copies without even looking at them (many of them stamping it with 'not interested') and I wonder just how many of those they go through a day, someone there in the basement sorting through the mail using that stamp on all of these books, one after another.  I'd even made sure to get the address from the most recent authors publications.  But what I realize now was that the book wasn't even that good, and I have yet to re-read the whole thing myself once it was finished.  I don't think anyone else has ever read the thing in its entirety, not even my husband or any of my friends have asked for it.  I probably wouldn't give it to them at this point anyway, because I did start a re-write of it at one point, and perhaps this is where I'll share it.  If I ever get the book finished, then maybe I'll self-publish it since that's so easy to do nowadays.

Back to Blacky and this sketch.  Originally the whatcher creature was a small hamster-sized critter with black bat wings, short hamster ears and a long mouse-like tail.  The first sketch looked like this:

I believe the drawing was done somewhere around 1993/1994.  The whatcher evolved very quickly from this sketch to look more like the one at the top of this blog.  It later evolved into what you see at the top of this site, a more finished specimen that looks somewhat more like Ryo Oki (Tenshi Muyo!) but with wings.  This wasn't really on purpose, although I did watch the show when I was growing up, I had forgotten about the character and decided there was some very obvious differences from whatchers and that Ryo Oki... after all, these critters were telepathic and some of them could even talk.

The fun thing about drawing these little buggers is much like the trend right now of drawing My Little Ponies to look like any and every television, video game, and movie character - when you have a cute critter that can talk, you can give them any personality imaginable.  The critter above is named Cleveland and is Native American in origin (hence the turquoise beads).  Cleveland started out at a little ink sketch that I later colored using Paintshop and it's still a rather early piece of artwork from my collection, but I still like his expression.

You may have noticed by now that whatchers don't get mouths drawn in very often (if at all, only when they're eating something).  It's just a style choice that I made early on.  They also aren't entirely anatomically correct, some people comparing their back legs to that more like a horse (so sue me, I used to draw unicorns religiously until my teens) and they only have two toes on each foot.  The reason for this is mainly because they have wings which they use the majority of the time as well as a somewhat prehensile tail for balance, so why would they need more toes?  Heh.  

More recently I've been working through ideas of children's books talking about the whatchers rather than the novel idea that I had to begin with.  Whatchers were, afterall, just minor players in the original story line.  Later on they took on a larger life than the other characters and since I draw them better than I do the more human main get the point.  They're just easy to draw, and that's the reason the studio is named as it is.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Having problems with the change over.  My husband was helping me get things moved but then deleted the page...restored it...but apparently the delete overrode the restore and thus we're working on getting things up and running again.  Hardest hit at present are the photos, and I'm not sure whether I'll have to play with something else before I can get those working again or if they'll just work on their own.  *crosses fingers*

Anywho, bare with us as we get things sorted out.  Once it's all working again I'll post my most recent sketch since I just uploaded it.  Although, it'll probably be more toward the weekend since I'm heading to see my Mom this weekend for a few days.

The good news for me is that I've actually pulled the tablet out of storage. It's been packed away since before I moved, and that was months ago....I haven't really drawn much at all since then, so it's a slow improvement.  Hopefully it means things are going to get better for me now that the heat has finally broken and summer is winding down slightly.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Whatcher Studios is Live!

With the help of my husband, this is now the NEW Whatcher Studios!  Welcome everyone!  Thank you for dropping by!  Hopefully soon I'll be updating with actually pictures rather than just my long-winded blogs.  I'm hoping to show a bit of what I'll be working on for my upcoming Anime Convention Artist Alley appearance (I only get one a year so it needs to be capitalized - heh heh) at Tsubasacon.   For those of you who do not know, check out and come to the Huntington, West Virginia convention.  The only perk I get for working my butt off on publications staff and running the artist alley is my chance to get a table in order to attempt to sell things.  Some years I've done really good, last few years though, not too great.  Most of my money comes from stalkers and my family members.  ^_^;

Since I happen to be on the topic of websites going live, I thought I'd tell you a little bit about myself and my world in the website "business".  No, I don't make any money for website stuff, although sometimes I wish that I'd gotten into web design back when I first started teaching myself HTML back in 1999 or so.  Back then there was Geocities and there was a pretty straight-forward editor where you could make a title, place a picture, and write some text and put some kind of obnoxious backgrounds in.  It took me awhile to learn all of the fancy text in order to get more pictures on there and before I knew it I had created a Highlander: The Television Series website.  It had quite a few incarnations until finally it became "Ricki's Immortalisque".  During that time I played with multiple other websites, and had one that was very pretty and floral-ly that basically hinged on my interest of Paris at the time ("A Walk in Paris" was the name I believe) and then another little website I posted artwork on (long before I discovered deviantART) and later on one that I started to dabble with anime stuff.

That website, which was under the unassuming name "whatcher_2" with a geocities prefix, became waaaay more popular than my Highlander site ever was (although at the peak of that site I had some 2,000 visitors a year).  My second huge website hit was Ricki's Anime Planet.  That name eventually was changed to "Ricki's Trigun Planet" because at first I talked about all sorts of anime, but by that point had basically become obsessed with Trigun and thus was later born when Geocities announced it was closing down.  By that time I wrote all of my own HTML, designed most of my own graphics, and I still update it when I can, although back in the day I had a LOT more information to post because Trigun Maximum the manga was still being published in Japan and I got it hot off the presses a week after its release every month.  That basically dwarfed my measly Highlander site when I would get some 2,000 hits a week, sometimes over 200 a day.  Not to say that's anything like what Facebook or heck, many blogs get out there, and I'm not tooting my own horn.  But, for a hand-made little website with information on one subject which not a lot of people look for, it did pretty good for awhile.  I think I get only a hit or two a day now on that site, but I do get an occasional email and since the Trigun: Badlands Rumble movie is still playing in theaters and is set to come out on Blu-Ray later this year, I'm keeping the website around.

Meanwhile, that's when I decided that I should start a blog site for myself.  This site was to have nothing to do with any fan stuff.  Just me, my writing, my blabbering, my artwork and just some random things here and there that make me happy.  If I only get a few hits here and there from a friend on Facebook or two, that will make me happy.  It's not for you, dear reader, whoever you are, this one is for me.  Although, I will admit that it would bring me additional joy if you happen to comment and say something from time to time in response to what I write.  That'll be nice too.  ^_^

So, here I am, writing what I know and getting down to the nitty-gritty of what Whatcher Studios is all about. I'm all about pointing out my own personal flaws, laying some things out on the table, and making peace with myself during the trying times of my 30's.  I'll try not to bring my work into it, nor will I bring a bunch of friends or point fingers or anything like that.  It's about me, what I'm thinking about, what I'm doing, and if you're interested, I'm glad to share.

Meanwhile - it's live!  Whoot!