Saturday, October 10, 2015

Drawlloween So Far

Here are my ATCs for Drawlloween, the Halloween drawing challenge that I may or may not finish.  (I'm racing to catch up because blah blah blah reasons.)

Prompt 1 - Ghost

Prompt 2 - Devil

Prompt 3 - Goblin

Prompt 4 - Vampire
Prompt 5 - Werewolf (I made him a Luchadora b/c it was the only way)

Prompt 6 - Haunted House
Prompt 7 - Pumpkin

Prompt 8 - Zombie

Prompt 9 - Eyeball

Prompt 10 - Alien

Prompt 11 - Raven (American raven dressing up as French raven)
Prompt 12 - The Moon (touching the mountain lake)

Prompt 13 - Frankenstein (diptych)

Prompt 14: Bat (he hangs upside down, but this is the best way to see him)
And . . . I'm just sticking this here because I need it somewhere.  Nice, I know.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Family Pictures

This is for a swap on Illustrated ATCs, where some artists will be drawing portraits of my family.

AnnD and husband, Jason
AnnD's brother, Alex, and son, Orie

Ann and Jason again

Ann and, you know, Jason

Ann and Orie

Ann and Orie

Jason, Ann, Jason's mother, Orie

Red hair

Jason as a cat
Orie's future college?

Orie after tennis
Orie and Jason's mother, Margaret

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

10 Days of Trees - Days 1 and 2

Although the month-long challenges are great for skill development, they are brutal for life living, so I'm glad for shorter challenges  Here are my Day 1 and Day 2 trees, the first a magnolia and the second a Dragon's Blood, so known for its red sad.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Indiana RFRA - My POV

For the record, I am not a lawyer.  My father is, and he more or less promised me a parade and a lifetime supply of chocolate frosting if I would choose another career, ANY career, just please not the soul-sucking law.  Ever the dutiful daughter, I traded my dream of a JD for a couple of degrees in English.  I never got the parade or (far more tragically) the frosting.  I do, however, have a lingering fascination with Supreme Court decisions and any good, concise explanation of hearsay.  I wish I were kidding.

In any case, as a Hoosier, a liberal, and an LGBT ally, I have been clutching my tiny fists in frustration as I read various inaccurate statements about RFRA on Facebook.  This is my reply, intended mainly for my pals.

Although many commenters would like to suggest that the Indiana RFRA is just a parrot, squawking along with the old federal RFRA, that is a bit misleading.  Let's cover a bit of history by going back to meet Mr. Smith and Mr. Black, who hail from Oregon.
  • Around the time I was graduating from high school, Smith and Black were fired from their jobs after failing a drug test that revealed they had used peyote.  When they filed for unemployment, the State of Oregon said, "No unemployment for you!  Failing a drug test is misconduct."  Smith and Black argued that since they had used peyote as part of religious services at the Native American Church, the State of Oregon was violating their rights under the First Amendment.  
  • This case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which stated  in Employment Division v. Smith (1990) that "We have never held that an individual's religious beliefs . . . excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate."
  •  In sum, since the drug law in Oregon is valid, Smith and Black have to follow that law in the same way that everyone else has to follow that law, regardless of their religion.  You can learn more about all of that here.
  • In the wake of Smith, there was a mighty uproar.  Conservative religious groups didn't like it.  Liberal religious groups didn't like it.  Religious groups, on the whole, didn't like it.  From that uproar, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was born.  It said (I paraphrase), "Hey, man, even a law that is neutral - that is not aimed at religion - can violate someone's religious freedoms, and that's uncool.  We say the government can't violate those freedoms unless the government can show a compelling interest and lacks any better way to further that interest."  I'm pretty sure that's almost verbatim.
  • The legal community took RFRA as something of a slap on the face.  If you look at pictures of Scalia from the time, you can kind of see Congress' handprint on his cheek.
  • In 1997, however, the court struck back by ruling in City of Boerne v. Flores that Congress had exceeded its authority with RFRA.  After that, RFRA no longer applied to the states.  For more information on that, you can go here.
  • As you might guess - or know - that ruling precipitated the passage of RFRAs in individual states.  According to this site, "By mid-2000, religious freedom restoration acts had been enacted in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Texas."
  • Now let's flash forward.   The issue of today is not peyote, or anything as abstract as freedom in general, but same-sex marriage, along with the photographer(s), baker(s), and florist(s) who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.  Put another way, the perceived government overreach in 1993 was the Supreme Court's unilateral application of drug laws, without respect for religion.  The perceived government overreach today lies in the "persecution" (and prosecution) of business owners who refuse to serve same-sex couples.
  • I have read more than a dozen outraged defenses of business owners in the past several days, all based on the idea that you can do what you want in your own place, refusing service for any reason in the world, without even having to explain why.  It's simply not the case.  My husband and I are both self-employed, by the way, so we understand how hard it is, how endlessly long the days are, how ideas like "weekends" and "vacations" cease to apply as life becomes utterly dominated by work.  Still, all that hard work doesn't give anyone special rights.  If your business is open to the public, you have to serve the public.  You don't have any blanket "right" to  discriminate, because there are laws at both the Federal and the state level that prohibit discrimination against protected groups.  As a type, these are called "public accommodation" laws or statutes.  The Federally protected classes (for the purposes of public accommodation) are race, color, religion, and national origin.  At the state level, of course, it depends.  Here's a breakdown of that first wave of states to pass RFRA, as best I can gather:
    • Illinois has made sexual orientation a protected class, which means that it is not lawful to discriminate against someone on that basis.  (For more information, see here.)
    • Rhode Island has likewise made it unlawful to discriminate based on sexual orientation, as have Connecticut and New Mexico.
    • Florida and Alabama have no public accommodations protections for LGBT residents.  Neither do South Carolina or Texas OR Indiana, although some specific cities in each state do.  (Of course, there was that Texas Republican who wanted to make it impossible for cities in Texas to enforce any local ordinance that protects LGBT residents, but that's a whole other conversation.)
Okay, so with all of that said, why is the left flipping out when Indiana didn't extend state-level protections to LGBT residents anyway?  And why is Indiana's RFRA causing more uproar than all the RFRAs that preceded it?

Every law has a context, and the context here - both locally and nationally - is one of increasing acceptance for gay marriage.  Courts are overturning or upholding decisions, almost always in favor of gay marriage.  At least in the secular set, the tide has turned.

I have read dozens, perhaps even scores of comments on Facebook, insisting that RFRA is "just" designed to protect religious liberty, and that there is no connection whatosever to gay marriage.  In that case, it seems odd that this is Advance America's marketing pitch for support of Indiana SB101:

SB 101 will help protect religious freedom in Indiana by providing protection for individuals with sincerely held religious beliefs, along with Christian businesses and churches.

SB 101 will help protect individuals, Christian businesses and churches from those supporting homosexual marriages and those supporting government recognition and approval of gender identity (male cross-dressers).
Here are just 3 examples:
  • Christian bakers, florists and photographers should not be punished for refusing to participate in a homosexual marriage!
  • A Christian business should not be punished for refusing to allow a man to use the women’s restroom!
  • A church should not be punished because they refuse to let the church be used for a homosexual wedding!
Forget that this last point is largely alarmist and pertains (as far as I can tell) to one (1) for-profit wedding chapel in Idaho, which (since it is a business) must abide by public accommodation laws.  Stories about the baker in Colorado, the photographer in New Mexico, and the florist in Washington are disproportionately hyped in the media and woven into a narrative of wide-scale Christan persecution, which has a lot of states rushing to pass RFRAs this year.  Indiana just happened to be first in line.  It's not that Indiana's RFRA is so shockingly different from those in every other state, although I did appreciate this discussion of how the Indiana description of "religion" is exceptionally broad.  Instead, it's that this RFRA feels like a backlash, a direct response to advances in marriage equality, or even (to borrow their term) a punishment.  On top of all that, of course, RFRA is not necessary.  Even in a state without a RFRA, it is possible to claim that providing services would violate your First Amendment rights.

Let's take the case of that baker in Colorado, Jack Phillips, who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding.  Colorado's statute on this subject says, "It is a discriminatory practice and unlawful for a person, directly or indirectly, to refuse, withhold from, or deny to an individual or a group, because of disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry, the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation" (emphasis mine).  You can see the statute here.

Phillips claimed that he was not discriminating against the couple on the basis of their sexual orientation; he was following his religious convictions regarding same-sex weddings and exercising his First Amendment rights.  The judge shot down the first claim - i.e. that Phillips was not discriminating against same-sex individuals - on the grounds that only same-sex individuals have a same-sex wedding (or union, or commitment ceremony, for which Phillips agreed he would also refuse to bake a cake, illustrating that his objection was not solely to same-sex weddings).  As for the First Amendment claims, "The undisputed evidence is that Phillips categorically refused to prepare a cake for Complainants’ same-sex wedding before there was any discussion about what that cake would look like.  Phillips was not asked to apply any message or symbol to the cake, or to construct the cake in any fashion that could be reasonably understood as advocating same-sex marriage.  After being refused, Complainants immediately left the shop.  For all Phillips knew at the time, Complainants might have wanted a nondescript cake that would have been suitable for consumption at any wedding. Therefore, Respondents’ claim that they refused to provide a cake because it would convey a message supporting same-sex marriage is specious."

To address another point I've heard, here's this additional quote: "Finally, Respondents argue that if they are compelled to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, then a black baker could not refuse to make a cake bearing a white-supremacist message for a member of the Aryan Nation; and an Islamic baker could not refuse to make a cake denigrating the Koran for the Westboro Baptist Church. However, neither of these fanciful hypothetical situations proves Respondents’point. In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where Respondents refused to bake any cake for Complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech."

I think it's well worth it to read the entire document, myself, but I am kind of a nerd that way.  If you do read it, you'll find that it contains a well-reasoned legal argument, and that it is at no time dismissive of Phillips' faith, only the use of that faith to try to excuse discrimination.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 27-28

Before I present my final face for the month of February, here's the one I forgot.  I painted this last week, several days before Leonard Nimoy left us.  Sniff.

#27: Spock
And now, finally, #28, which is problematic in at LEAST 28 ways, but hey.  This is an angry feminist.  The face is modeled on that of an early Canadian feminst, but I'm sure she wouldn't have been holding any such sign, so I'll leave her name out of it.

This would totally have been me, if I'd been born in the 19th century

Friday, February 27, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 22-26

I think I am going to pull this out, but barely!

22 & 23: peg dolls on commission
24 and 25: Walter and The Dude from The Big Lebowski
26: A goat

Saturday, February 21, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 21

This is a special secret surprise for someone who likes artwork that features feminists.  Sh!

Friday, February 20, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 20

This was done by request.  I had a ton of fun making it!

Monday, February 16, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 17-19

Someone requested that I make two Star Wars cards and a self-portrait for a private ATC trade.  The self-portrait was a little traumatic, but I'm trying to move on.

Couldn't I be the one with the buns?  Or the torture droid???

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Saturday, February 7, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 7

Here is Ice Queen #2.  Her face is also pretty tiny.

Friday, February 6, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 6

My next three faces are from a series of Ice Queens that I just made for an ATC swap.  Their faces are TEEEEEEENY teeny tiny.

Here's the first of the three Queens:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 5

For Day 5 of the challenge, I tried my best to do a faithful likeness of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with her scythe.  This is for a trade on Illustrated ATCs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 4

This is the fourth and final Awkward Yearbook Photo:

Most Likely to Throw Away His Yearbook (Because Who Wants Evidence of Sporting a Mullet?)

Here's the set together:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 3

Here's another "Awkward Yearbook Photo."  Hint: Tomorrow there will be one more.

Most Likely to Shoplift Something She Can Easily Afford

Monday, February 2, 2015

29 Faces: Feb 2

After just finishing 30 Paintings in 30 Days, I was reluctant to commit here, but what sort of adventure is life if we don't demand that it be so, right?

Here are two "Awkward Yearbook Photo" faces that I created yesterday:

Most Likely to Disapprove of You Throughout Life

Most Likely to Form a "Cure" Cover Band

There will be two more of these tomorrow, then more normal faces - or as normal as I get, anyway!

Friday, January 30, 2015

30 Paintings in 30 Days: Summing It All Up

I have had a few people tell me (discretely, in private messages) that they would be interested to know what I've learned over the course of this challenge. and by "a few," I mean "two."  Statistically speaking, it's not the biggest number in existence, but I'm pretty sure it's the second biggest.  And who am I to deny the second biggest number of people?


1.  Light.

Many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, I thought about making art in terms of making lines and shapes.   Here, you can tell young Elizabeth I has a nose because I drew a little line.

Hello.  They call me Princess Tiny Nose
During this challenge, it really sank in that successful painting is all about light.  Where is light reflecting, and in what degree?  That's it.  That's the whole thing.

For example, here's David Tennant's nose.  There's not a single line on it.

The one and only reason it appears to protrude (like a nose) is that I used lighter and darker shades of paint to indicate where light reflects and where it doesn't.  Our eyes recognize that combination of lights and shadows as a nose.

To drive the point home, here's a little slice of The Wife of Bath  Pay special attention to her breasts.

Nice, right?  She likes them, too.
Sadly, those breasts are not really there.  It's all lights and shadows.  If you take away the lights and shadows, she has no breasts.

Seriously, stop mentally giving her breasts and look at what is here.  Nothing.  Unvaried color = flat surface.

To give her back her breasts, I basically give her an oval of light blue with a half moon of darker blue underneath.  To bridge the two, I put a layer of the middle color in between.

And that's the deal.

2.  Value Scale

Because these changes in color do all the work, take the time in the beginning to make a value scale.  I want to say that five more times because it's that important, but I won't.  I will only say this: Don't be a lazy eyeball licker.  Take the time.  Make a value scale.

What am I talking about?

That's a 9-point value scale I made by mixing black and white a few months back.  Think of it a little like a set of color stairs, which you climb one step at a time.

How do you make a value scale?  Here's an example using the paint that dried on my thingermadoo last night.  Pile 1 is my original color.  I pulled 50% of that pile to the side and lightly shaded it (i.e. made it darker by adding a bit of Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold, like pile 2 below).  Then I pulled 50% of pile 2 to the side and shaded it again (i.e. added more QNAG, like pile 3 below).  Then I pulled 50% of pile 3 to the side and shaded it again.  I kept going until I reached the darkest shadow  needed (pile 5).

Then I did again in the opposite direction (i.e. added white to make my original color lighter, like pile -1).
Once you have value scale like that, you can paint anything.  A breast.  A nose.  A dog. Anything.

The more varieties of light and shadow in a reference photo, the more points you need in your scale.  This face (and hand) in this painting, for example, required more than the six points on my thingermadoo.

3.  Glaze

If you paint with acrylics, just buy the biggest jug of glaze you can find.  I add glaze to every point on my value scale.  What glaze lets me do is build up to my brightest highlights and darkest shadows, one layer at a time.  This makes it much easier to achieve gradation between colors.

To get that sense of gradation, I used to use water, as I did in this ATC (2.5" x 3.5") from January 2014.  Notice the shading on the tooth crown.  That shading doesn't successfully convey the idea of curved surfaces ending in a point.  I needed some kind of minimal value scale, and for sheer control in that tiny space, I needed glaze.

 How do I use glaze specifically, though?  Look at this shoulder.

That shoulder began as the original flesh color.  After that dried, I added two layers of the -1 pile from the picture above, each one a little smaller.  Once that dried, I pulled aside a bit of the -1 pile and added some white glaze.  Then I added two layers of that, again, each reducing in size.  And after that dried, I added a very thin, scant layer or two of white glaze to the smallest area of all.

I have to thank my friend Sal for encouraging me to get off my arse and buy more glaze medium, which I'd run out of.  I get by with a little help from my friends.

4.  Reference Photos

Don't trust your brain to remember where lights and shadows fall.  Your brain is an idiot on that subject, besides which, it can't possibly remember what things look like in every angle of light.  Unlike your brain, reference photos have five PhDs in lights and shadows and a letter of recommendation from Einstein.

 5.  Seeing is Believing

At least 60% of my problems were caused by not looking at the reference photo - and I mean REALLY LOOKING at it, studying it, looking at the shapes of things, noticing where things fall in relation to other things.

You also have to study the hell out of a reference photo to see ALL the lights.  While painting this, I didn't see the lights on either side of the jawline (below the ear) until I'd been working - and staring at my reference photo - for about two hours.

6.  Big Jumps; Also, Avoid Them

Another 20% of my problems were caused by being lazy and not mixing a value scale.  Hence #2.  When I didn't mix a value scale, I tended to have big jumps in between points.  It is not a good look.  It is instead a "painted" look, which is to say that it looks like a painting of a thing instead of the thing itself, rendered in paint.  Make the bloody value scale.  (That was me yelling at myself, many times over the course of this challenge.)

7.  Model

A live model is even better than a reference photo, if you can get one. An object is better than a picture of an object.

8.  Persistence; Also, Having It

If you're unhappy, keep painting.  Don't give up.  YOU are the boss of your canvas.  Stay at it until it looks the way you want, even if that means panting over the arm you spent an hour and a half on that no longer looks right since you changed the design on the sweater.

9. Perspective

Pick your canvas up and hold it out away from you every few minutes to gain some perspective. For serious coming to Jesus, hold your canvas up to a mirror.  I got that tip from Sal, too.  It helps you see things that you don't catch, even at arm's length.

Like this.  When I held the image on the right up to the mirror, I thought I was finished.  I didn't realize how much I had eaten up her neck while working on her chin and jawline earlier.

Scrunchy, scrunchy neck
An hour later, her neck and his arm corrected
10.  Paint Dries Too Fast, Even with Glaze

Pee before you mix the value scale. 

I'm sure there are other things that will pop into my head, so I reserve the right to add them here: