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!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Bit on Overeating

I said on the last post that the next one would be about overeating.  Well, the reason I'm going through all of these different topics is because they're all kind of close to home when it comes to personal problems that I have.  So... they say "write what you know" and that's exactly what I'm doing.

We start this discussion on overeating with a word of advice.  Don't.  Don't start.  Keep yourself from going to buffets because all you're going to do is convince yourself you need to eat enough to pay for the cost.  Don't go out to eat. Don't go out to fast food joints.  Do learn to cook at home.  Do grow your own vegetables and herbs.  Do eat small portions and do so 4-6 times a day, every few hours an apple here, a protein shake there, or a small salad here.  Do eat dessert when you're in the mood for it, but get one of those 100 calorie things and don't eat more than that.  Wait for a few hours before you eat anything more.  Wait until you feel a bit empty or your tummy starts to rumble.  Keep your metabolism high, whatever you do, you need to go number 2 at least once a day if not more.  If you start to get to the point where you don't, then there's something wrong with your body and you need to re-adjust something.

Okay... I'll climb off my soapbox for a moment and tell you what I've learned over the years.  It's EASY to be fat.  Especially when you have no idea that you're getting there until people start making fun of you and your friends feel sorry for you because you're the chubby one.  Maybe, like me, you don't even realize you're getting fat, or maybe you already are, because it seems like a completely acceptable way to be, because the people around you are fat as well.  Maybe you have a lot of skinny friends and you feel bad for them because they're mighty skinny, and don't they get enough to eat?

The reason I'm mentioning all of this, is because that is how I grew up.  My Dad loved to eat.  His days off consisted of going to restaurants.  I kid you not, that was his hobby, or at least the only other one besides the Bible study that he held at work.  I don't remember much else about my Dad but that he loved to eat, loved to travel to new places and see new things, and he loved to spoil his kids.  My brother wasn't really affected by this tendency to overeat until he got past his teenage growth spurt.  I'm not entirely sure what he looks like now (haven't seen him in a year) but he had to do a drastic eating change to be skinny and get fit before he moved to California.

Anyway, (sorry, I do tend to ramble, I think I've mentioned that before) I grew up thinking it was perfectly acceptable to be big.  My Mom was big (bless her heart she's working on losing weight now too) and my Dad had a large belly (and I'm sorry to say, died of a heart attack in '99, 50 years of age) and so when I started going up in adult sizes, I thought I was growing.  Why didn't anyone tell me that being a size 14 at 14 years old was a bad thing?  My Mom wore a 20 at the time (she's down to a 14 now) and so I just thought I was growing to be like her.  It's funny how easy it is for a fat kid to be picked on.  But I always thought it was just because they didn't like me, not because I was fat.  Later I thought it was just because I wore glasses (that was short lived, I got contacts soon after) and here I was, always thinking that these skinny people just didn't know what it was like to eat really good food, and that's why they were so skinny.

I think by the time I got to high school, the weight thing finally started to kick in.  Of course, by that time I was also wearing a size 20, and if it weren't for a late growth spurt putting me at about 5'6" (rather than the 5' 3" I'd been through most of Junior and High School) I would have looked rather like a watermelon.  And it showed on my face in photographs and my clothing options (which were surprisingly few, this was before the obesity thing really hit the USA, just before "Supersize me" became popular), and I vowed that I'd lose weight in college.

You have to understand that I was a kid that was dragged to every kind of buffet known to man.  We were a "eat meat and then vegetables" kind of family.  Pick your protein, maybe fried chicken for example, or what about a slab of roast beef?  Throw on two or three rolls (I love bread) and add to it some mashed potatoes, oh and that slice of cake, and oh, I guess I feel bad, maybe I should have a small salad to top it off?  Side that with Coke, two or three glasses at least, keep those refills coming!  Go back for one last dessert, because, I was good enough to eat a salad and that will cover the bad of the sugar, right?  Each meal was similar to this, go to a "Standard American Buffet" and then maybe a Chinese buffet later, or maybe we'll find somewhere that's having an all-you-can-eat deal (like Olive Garden, which is the one that I still do, but feel miserable afterwards) and in between all of those buffets there were plenty of fast food joints to have a 'small' meal.  Little did I know many of those were probably even more calorie packed than the buffet I'd just eaten at.

So, when in college my Dad died and I lost about 10 pounds (I was over 200lbs at my weightiest), I thought I was doing pretty good climbing all the stairs at college, and look at me, I was only eating a couple times a day, and that's gotta be pretty good, right?  But eating so rarely and such large portions basically kept me at the same weight for years to come, and it would be another 10 years before I'd fall even below 180lbs.  All of those diet fads, reading about things that I should and should not eat, and yet none of it really sank in.  Overeating is just a habit, just like smoking or drinking or anything that you do in excess.  If at any point just don't see yourself doing wrong, it just becomes a part of you, a bad part of you, but a part, nonetheless.

Maybe I should have titled these blogs the Seven Deadly Sins or something.... Today's topic was brought to you by the letter "G" for Gluttony.  Next time... *shrugs*  I'll come up with something interesting, I hope, and perhaps add pictures.  See you then!