Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick 'n dirty update

I just crossed 34,000 words on 'Brake Fluid' and ended chapter 12 with the line:

“Oh shit,” I say, and drop the phone without erasing it.

At midnight tonight we're pulling 'the witch's hut' from the market., of course, I just got a showing request for 12:30pm today (must get to cleaning)

I've spent the last 2 days in the rain pulling ivy (which was fun, no really, I do like working in the rain)

Yesterday afternoon I had a pond-guy in to look at the dilapidated pool and give me his thoughts on turning it into a reflecting pond with plants/fish.

...due to his suggestions, I set 4 old hoses to siphon out the water overnight and now it's nearly empty!

(and looking even more like a cesspool)

Also, while we were in Seattle, 1/2 the lid on the septic tank collapsed in. Yeah. Perfect timing, eh? Gotta call someone about that...

So I'd say the witch's hut is in tip-top-witchy-viewing-condition for the showing today.

After the viewing, I figure the pool will be completely empty and I'll be able to get in there with the power washer, a big broom, and a shovel to clean out all the muck.

Yes, and maybe get some more writing done tonight ;)

(I'm feeling pretty good!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

First sighting of the new twins!

It's about 5:00pm here on the west coast, and I was outside pulling ivy for several hours and just starting to pack up when I heard a bit of crackle and crunching through the underbrush:

New twins, nursing. Maybe 20 yards from where I was working...

(as always, click to view full size)

Again, I only had my phone so when I zoomed in the quality wasn't great... but so cute, eh? You can't really see the second one, but it's on the other side. They're right on the border of our property and the nature reserve.

A neat welcome home

Last night I caught the 7pm ferry home, which meant I rolled into the driveway around 9:45pm.

Along one side of our driveway, there's this treed/grassy area between us and the neighbours. It's a favourite place for the deer to lay around in the shade and munch grass.

Well, as I parked and was getting my bags from the car, suddenly, who should scamper up? The yearling deer twins from our family of four (well, family of six now I guess). Seriously, they popped out and stood right at the very edge of the driveway scoping me out.

I was a little startled, so I said, "well, hello there you two." And they began to play with each other, mock charging and standing up on their back legs, not even ten feet from where I was standing.

This morning, they had found three other yearlings (who I guess also had mothers with new fawns) and all of them were standing in the garden (one of the ones I haven't cleaned up, so it's filled with 2' of grass) munching away and looking at me.'s like they've joined a gang and are getting pretty brazen...

I'm thinking, since they already recognize me as someone safe, could it be possible to train them to eat out of my hand?

...I think I may do a little Google research on what tasty treats I can tempt them with that are not bad for them...

Anyways, I snapped a picture on my phone through the window... to the left of the picture, that's the treed/grassy area I was talking about where they like to sleep in the shade. Sorry for the reflection from the glass... oh, the twins are the two in the raised garden closest to the edge. Yes, I can tell them apart from the others ;)

(click for full size)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sometimes good things happen when you're deliriously tired

...and being dyslexic, usually only bad things happen when I combine tired + writing.

I did a lot yesterday. Hardly any of it was writing.

Honestly, I could have just crashed/gone to bed I was so wiped, but instead I built an enormous fire* in the fireplace (one of the few good things about the witch's hut), hunkered down on the sofa with the evil black cat (who promptly fell asleep and began squeek-snoring), and I opened 'Brake Fluid'.

I... tore chapter 12 apart about three times, splitting up scenes, moving chunks around, re-wording confusing bits, and cleaning up/adding to the lean portions.

In two hours, I only added about 400 words.

Then, as I was wavering on the edge of too-tired-to-see-keyboard-clearly, I decided exactly where to split a scene, inserted the triple-stars (which, sadly, are included in word count), and before my brain could catch up and realize what it was doing... I'd written 111 words of a new scene.

Of a plot point that didn't previously exist.

Which is exactly what I needed 'cause I'd pretty much written to the end of what I knew and had no idea where this thing was headed**.

Well, other than the whole matter of dumping the body, but that's kind of a given. I'm so excited to keep writing that I'm temped to break one of the cardinal *rules* of going away (no laptops).

Now I need to rush around like crazy to catch a ferry off this island :)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! ...any exciting plans? how many of you are going to hole yourself up with your keyboard and write?

*I have a... slightly unhealthy love of fire. Thankfully, I've also got common sense and a fire extinguisher.

**Don't panic. I rarely know where things are going, in writing, and in life. Let's just blame it on the blonde hair, okay?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Butter-knife, baseball, and a few good lines

Wow, this timeline is difficult...

BUT, I was pleased to hit 32,500 words (exactly) yesterday, and I'm now officially working on chapter 12, even though chapter 10 is still shorter than it should be (only 1,722 words). But hey, this is still a first-draft, so there's plenty of time to rectify that later.

For those of you who've been hanging around for a while (and read some of the earliest first-draft chunks that I pre-posted to go up while I was in New York...), I finally got to 'the butter-knife scene'.

Yup, the one mentioned in my blurb/practice query. The event that finishes off the night of 'the party' six months previous where everything went horribly wrong.

...and I was surprised to find there were actually some good lines in there!

Out of all the new words that I wrote yesterday, I think this was my favourite line:

In that moment of paralyzed silence before the next song cuts in.

I know it doesn't make much sense out of context ;)

Chapter 12 is only about 1,000 words long right now, but when it ends, it also ends one of the time-lines... the night of the party six months back. From there, it'll just swap between the present-day and the night Jackson died.

OH! And y'know how music wasn't previously planned for, but keeps showing up and rounding everything out? is doing the same thing.

I always knew Jackson died from getting whacked in the head with a Louisville Slugger, but baseball jargon/references seem pop up more than I thought. Like, 'batter', and 'catcher', how the players in their twisted bet are being 'warmed-up'... things like that.

Small spoiler? The very last thing Jackson says before he dies is, "It was a home-run."

Sorry, but I'm not giving you the context for that line either :)

...and speaking of baseball, the husband and I are taking off to Seattle this weekend for another baseball game :) I think they're playing LA on Saturday night...

Sunday, instead of heading directly home, I'm going to drive into Vancouver to spend a belated Mothers' Day with my parents, sister & cute little nephew since they're all back from Mexico now. I should also try to pack up the rest of the porcelain-painting supplies, since most of what's still at my parents' house is all the killer-expensive stuff... Roman gold & lustres.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Procrastination? Just a little...

While resting my poor, weary brain from the overly-complex-'Brake Fluid'-timeline, I found this:

An author who writes about Ancient Egypt! Go check out her contest (and my hideous attempt at poetry about Pliny the elder...)

...and, since I'm an incredible nerd in some ways, I've got... probably more books on ancient Egypt than is healthy...

So here's another demonstration of my nerdishness:

In one university class, as a small, fun project, we had to research/translate just our first name (phonetically) into hieroglyphs.

...and y'know, since I'm a tiny bit of an overachiever... and I'll use any excuse to draw cartoons...

...this is what I turned in:

(click for full size)
...which, as you can see, my over-achieving-ways ensured I didn't get to actually finish it. I really wanted to fully decorate the walls with more hieroglyphs and stack more dead-goods in the room, but yeah, I ran out of time :)

Curious what it says?

The first mummy says:
"Who then is it?"

The second mummy says:
"It is the sarcophagus of Thoth's scribe <myname>"

The coffin says (with correct female designations, in the traditional style of what was put on coffins):
"<myname>, the scribe of Thoth said: I am the keeper of the book of that which is, and of that which shall be."*

Above the door are two phrases from the Egyptian Book of the Dead**:
"Give thou to me my mouth [that] I may speak with it"
"May I follow my heart at its season of fire and night."

*Technically, the sentence says: "Saith Thoth, scribe <myname>: I am the keeper of the book of that which is, and of that which shall be." I used four different sentences from different books, took them apart and mashed them together again, always trying to keep the original/correct syntax/composition/etc.

**Yes I own this book 'cause I'm strange. What's stranger is I bought it when I was about 13 or 14. About the same time I was buying books like, 'In Search of Schrodinger's Cat', by John Gribbon, and 'Fermat's Enigma', by Simon Singh

Okay, that was exhausting

In 'Brake Fluid', I use the spectacularly common triple-star to indicate a scene break


Which also indicates a swap between timelines.

The present timeline takes place in present tense, the party six months previously takes place in past tense.

...and so does the night Jackson died.

Most chapters swap between one and three times, and usually just between the two main timelines.

I've mostly been working on chapters 9 & 10 today. They are at a highly stressful point in the present timeline.

Chapter 9 (2,125 words) swaps eight times... almost all those switches are on the last page (out of 4 1/2 single spaced pages). This chapter is also the first time there's a *real* mention of the night Jackson died.

In Chapter 10, (currently at 1,270 words), how many times did I swap?

...fourteen times...

And since most of my chapters are in the 2,200-2,500 range...

...what does that tell you?

Ouch. I think I just hurt my brain...

Okay, never, never again do I write a story with multiple timelines...

Progress is a wonderful thing

Well, since my hiatus ended, 'Brake Fluid' is now broken up into chapters and I've added over 4,500 words to the story, putting me around 31,600 words.

I'm on chapter 10 right now. Well, the scene I'm on at the moment will probably end up in chapter 11 or 12, but that's because I'm cutting/moving chunks of timeline around... since this story does hop between three different timelines... which is quite troublesome.

As for now, I'm concentrating on fleshing out the two main/longest timelines:

1) The present (when Triss & the MC are on the road trying to dump Jackson's body)

2) The party 6 months earlier where a bet went horribly wrong, essentially the inciting incident.

The third timeline, the night Jackson actually died... I'm going to wiggle that in after the other two are done.

...does that make me sound disorganized?

Well, it's not really about that :) Since I suck at multi-tasking, I found it too difficult to hold all three timelines in my head at the same time. Also, since the MC is trying to avoid thinking about the death (as he/she is sort of being eaten up by guilt...), I want that night to only come in small, sudden chunks which burst out when the MC is under stress.

I think I'm not ever going to write a three-timeline story again.

Well, I suppose if the story suits it... like, I don't think 'Brake Fluid' would work without this format because of the long stretch of time between the party and the night Jackson finally died. Also, 'cause of the personality of the MC, and the fact that they're in a car most of the story... and, I don't know about you, but my brain always jumps around all over the place when I'm in the car for a long period of time.

It's like when you're not moving around/concentrating on other things, the brain just spins and stews and sweats.

...also, to make things even more complicated, the third timeline (the night Jackson died) is running backwards...

Okay, maybe it's just my brain that spins & stews & sweats... probably from this story...

How's everyone else doing? What stage are you at in your projects right now? Is anyone preparing to write something new for the June camp-edition of NaNoWriMo?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My sense of humour needs an overhaul

Yeah, it's shameful to admit, but I have a total soft-spot for play-on-word or pun-related jokes.

I've already cut out (well, toned down) a horribly nerdy wine-pun in 'Brake Fluid'. Seriously, how can you read a name like 'Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-pape' and NOT want to make a joke?

...anyways, another pun-ish joke has snuck its way into 'Brake Fluid', which I find funny on two different levels:

Triss says it’s cause I’m afraid of being trapped. Closet-phobia, she calls it, or something like that, which is weird ‘cause I’ve slept in closets before and have been just fine.

...I'm sure the first reason it's funny is pretty obvious (misunderstanding the word 'claustrophobic'), but can you guess the second reason I find this funny?

Hint: it's related to the fact the MC's gender is never specified.

Yup, it's a total groaner. My sense of humour needs a good overhaul...

I haven't decided if I will cut it or not. For now, I'll leave it in there 'cause it makes me laugh :)

Oh, and just as I was closing the 'Brake Fluid' file last night, a new character for 'Afraid of the Dark' suddenly popped into my head...

...hmmmm... writing gods is going to be fun :) I'm excited to finish the end of 'Brake Fluid' so I can get back to 'AotD' ...which still needs a new title.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

It's aliiiive! First -> second draft transition

I know everyone has their own different processes in how they write, whether they be plotters or pantsers.

I definitely fall into the latter category. Discovering the story is what makes writing fun, and usually, most of what that's about is discovering the things going on under the surface, beyond the plot.

I'll write between one third and one half of the story almost without thinking, just following what *feels* right, then I stop, re-read it, solidify the characters in my head, and go back over what I've written and flesh it out/make it consistent. When that's *complete*, then I finish writing until the end.

I'm in that stage right now, the fleshing out. This is where single, shallow, insignificant lines that seemed almost random in the first draft open up and I can see their depth.

Right now I'm working on a scene where the MC is describing Triss and Triss' dad's relationship. There was a line in there about him and Triss listening to music, and another separate line in the story about Triss not being able to live without music.

...and both lines became important to their history/relationship.

Music is one of those things that wasn't planned for in advance, but it just seemed appropriate since Triss and the MC spend so much of the story in Triss' car. It tied nicely with how they met, the MC's quirky (but useful) first gift to Triss, it linked in with Jackson's parties, and (as it turns out), with Triss' relationship with her dad. Music just kept showing up and rounding out the story.

I like music. I listen to a wide variety of stuff, but I'm not like a music nerd or anything (and I mean that in the most complimentary sense). Sure, I played piano for many years, I'll even dance if the beat is good, but I do have some friends who have crazy-refined ears for music. Like, they can't listen to some bands because the drummer varies their beat by a fraction of a second...

Yeah. It kinda blows my mind.

I also knew someone who built his own speakers from scratch, which is pretty nuts, but pretty freaking awesome, too. He also build liquid cooling systems for his computer which he would then overclock. He was in the hardware engineering program in university.

Have you heard of the magazine 2600? He and my husband were both avid readers. It's also why one of my husband's hobbies is to buy almost any new technology that comes onto the market. After playing with it for a couple weeks, he usually sells it on eBay. I think right now he's got 4 or 5 different cell phones sitting on his computer desk...

I really admire it when people have passions/hobbies that they take that far, which is why when I meet new people, rather than the more traditional 'what do you do for a living' questions, I always want to know what makes them feel alive. What do they love? What places in the world do they want to see? People who are in school, I'm always curious about what classes they take outside their main focus, or what activities they do on the side.

For Triss and her dad, they can't live without music. It's one of the primary bonds that solidifies their relationship, but it also makes them more alive as characters. I wasn't able to fully imagine/flesh out the dad's condo until I knew this, and now small tidbits of their hobby kindof run in the background during the story. It's inspiring so many of the little details that shape Triss' world-view, and through her, the MC's (who sees the world through Triss-coloured-lenses).

...and, like anything important/all-present, suddenly removing it can add an entirely new dimension as well.

Silence can be ever more potent.

What are some of the things that make characters more alive for you, either in books you read, or those you write? How much thought do you put into hobbies, bonds in relationships, etc? Do you use your own as a basis?

In YA especially, the whole 'absent-parent' plot point is pretty rampant (for good reasons any YA writer should already be aware of so I won't reiterate...), but, for those YA writers out there, do you think about bonds between parents and child, even if the parents are traditionally *off-screen* for most of the story?

Non YA writers can comment as well :) How do hobbies and parent/child relationships fit in with your stories?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wow, an actual post about writing?

What happened, eh?

While I've been on my little break from writing, I've been doing a lot of thinking about writing.

My writing, specifically.

In the past, I have posted several time about components of *my* voice, (mostly 'cause I have an incurable tendency to over-analyze) because it's our individual differences which makes each writing voice unique. I even posted an extremely nerdy one about the Sanskrit goddess Vac...

Today I also read a blog post by a buddy I met online about her head-hopping problem.

So, now that I've thrown all these seemingly random bits of information at you, let me try to pull them together into one coherent thought.

1) I don't have a habit of head-hopping

2) What I DO have a habit of is "...showing how/why a character is reacting a certain way only through their dialogue and body language, yet always filtering this information through the mindset of another character."

This is one of those things that is both good and bad.

I think, in reality, we spend far more time analyzing/thinking/anticipating/jumping to a conclusion of what's going on in other people's heads than we do our own.

Seriously, I truly think we do this. Especially teenagers.

You can agree or disagree with me (feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below), but I think this is a natural behaviour because emotions are sticky, layered, and mind-bogglingly-complicated and often we don't even know why the heck we're feeling whatever it is we're feeling. Sure, we can recognize the big, surface emotions... but all the stuff churning around underneath?

Often all sorts of little wounds and bad experiences can compound together and you can lose your temper over something incredibly small and stupid you normally would just laugh off. Y'know, those days where you accidentally hit the 'off' button instead of 'sleep' on your alarm, wake up late in a panic, stub your toe, the shirt you want to wear has a loose button that pops off, you can't seem to find the pair of shoes that matches your belt... and all these little things add up and when you get into the kitchen you realize the coffeepot wasn't placed correctly and now there's a river of caffeine trickling down your counter and flooding the over-stuffed utensil drawer your significant other didn't quite close properly the previous night...

...and you blow up. Over something that small and that stupid.

But how quickly do we decide the meaning of other people's emotions/reactions/motivations, and slide them neatly into clean, simple, singular categories?

He did that 'cause he's a jerk.

She said that 'cause she hates me.

She's selfish.

He just wants attention.

She's so lazy, always trying to play the system.

He's always trying to get ahead, no matter who he hurts.

We make judgement calls with the smallest scraps of incomplete information.

...and that's why I like writing the way I do, having the POV character make assumptions about why the people around them are behaving the way that they do. Because so often, that can go wrong.*

Now, back to the good/bad thing.

Yes, this is a trait of *my* voice, yes, I think this is more realistic, yes, I think the characters become more complex, yes, it totally fits with the type of characters I write**, yes, I think it's kind of unique...

...BUT, I wonder if readers don't get as emotionally invested in my main characters because they are more concerned about other character's motivations/etc. It creates an odd kind of narrative-distance, for sure, even when the story is written in 1st person POV.

And, like my friend who had someone point out her head-hopping habit, I wonder if this is the kind of thing I need to correct, or if it's a legitimate (and good) part of my natural writing voice.

...any thoughts?

How much do you think about your own writing voice?

*It's a pet peeve of mine when a character miraculously guesses exactly why another character did something/etc. It's just too perfect/coincidental. In reality, it's darn hard to figure out someone else's motivations unless they tell you straight out, or rent a billboard, and even then, they could be lying, o you, or to themselves.

**The characters I write are usually in survival-of-the-fittest types of situations where their ability to guess the motivations of others is often instrumental to their own survival. Studies do show that kids who grew up in stressful situations, like having an alcoholic parent, become very good at *reading* the situation/mental-state of the people around them. It's a normal, adaptive trait.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New members of the family

So, last year I posted a few times about the family of four (deer) who pretty much live in our yard and eat anything I plant in the garden. The family consists of a doe, a yearling buck, and two twin babies.

Well, tonight after dinner (we ate outside on the patio), I stood up and about 30 yards away... the doe was giving birth.

To another set of twins.

While she was licking them clean, her other children (the yearling buck and the older set of twins born last year) played around, chasing each other, but kept going up and checking up on the doe and the newborns.

How freaking awesome is that?

(click for full size)

We were able to snap a pic, but we didn't want to get close. Can you spot her? She's dead centre, just to the right of the rock. She's looking at the camera, so you can see her big ears sticking out of her head. I so don't want to move. Where else can you get a show like that?

But seriously, that's how freaking tame they are... I can usually walk within 10 feet of them and they don't even bother standing up.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mom's Day!

Happy Mom's Day to all the mothers out there. I'm at the ferry terminal waiting to catch the 9:00am ferry to go over and spent the day with my mom-in-law since my own mother is in Mexico right now... Yup, every year for the past 10 years, my patents go down to Mexico for the first couple weeks of May, sp its rare that I actually see her on this particular holiday. Don't worry, I set her an email at 6:30am this morning ;) So, I hope everyone out there has a wonderful day, whether you're spending it with your mother or not.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Hiatus = over

So, I've spent most of the morning re-working 'Brake Fluid' and am pretty happy with my first 5 chapters.

...I still need to do a proper grammar-sweep, 'cause I'm sure I've mis-used a few commas and I know the plural of Triss' name is "Triss's" half the time and "Triss'" the other half of the time.

Other than that, it's in a state where I wouldn't be embarrassed to show it to an agent. The relationships/motivations are fleshed out, the transitions have been smoothed, and I have a solid grasp of the MC's "voice" where it just flows naturally off my fingers. Like this observation:

The corner of Jackson’s mouth twitched up. It wasn’t a smile, it was more like a dog showing fang just before it gives a warning growl.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Short update

Well, the count is up to 4.

That's right, 4 deaths in my family in the last 6 months.

Also, add another 'near-death-scare' with another family member, which puts that count up to 6 in 6 months.

On a happier note, I'm feeling better, both mentally and physically.

It looks like the witch's hut isn't going to sell, and I've discovered I'm pretty happy about that prospect. While I've been taking a short break from writing, I've been spending most of my time de-witching the yard and all the work I've been putting into it is starting to make this place feel a little more like *home*.

...and, if you consider we've moved 8 time in 8 years... the idea of *home* is a little unusual.

We've decided to pull it if it doesn't sell by the end of May.

Also, last night I was kept awake by my brain mentally re-writing scenes from 'Brake Fluid', so I suspect my little break isn't going to last much longer.

I still feel emotionally and mentally exhausted from all the sickness and death, but at the same time, I recognize that I'm alive and I need to get back to living.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Miss Snark's Secret Agent

No, it's not me this time, since I've been pulling ivy and drawing hippos instead of writing, but one of my long-time writing buddies has an entry in the latest Miss Snark's First Victim Secret Agent Contest.

...and I already know she's going to kill me for pointing you there...

BUT, even though her story isn't in a genre I would normally read, I do love this story and have been pestering harassing threatening encouraging her to finish it so I can read the final version.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Home again, home again...

...and completely exhausted :)

...but it's a good kind of exhausted, y'know?

The main reason I'm so tired is 'cause Saturday night I didn't sleep. At all. Through this week, I've been absorbing a tornado of new information and (possibly because I knew I was flying home Sunday morning), my little brain decided it was the perfect time to try to process all that information.

...which felt a little like watching a 4-year-old on a sugar-high.

So, after no sleep and then travelling back to the west coast, I'm still a little groggy this morning :)

But I'm seriously excited. I've got so many ideas.

...and one of them involves sand-blasting, or acid.

oh, yeah, baby... I'm into the fun stuff now :)

Would love to make this post longer, but I have a doggy-play-date with a friend of mine I haven't seen in several weeks.

...which requires peeling my sleepy beagle from the couch...

I WILL be back...


Friday, May 4, 2012

Demos: Roman Gold, Portraits, Art Deco... and more!

Wow, I've been to a LOT of demos (aprox 1 hour long).

One of my favourite so far was an artist (originally from Venezuela), but now living in Texas called Mariela Villasmil-Kaminska.

Oh my goodness, even if you have zero interest in art... check out her site. It's amazing, the work she does. She's truly an oil-painter, works on canvas, porcelain, etc. So cool, she photographs her own models and then paints them.

It was just slightly mind-boggling how fast and accurately she could whip out a near photo-realistic face. Seriously, in under an hour.

I think the most valuable part of this trip is just seeing the scope of what people can do on this medium.

Some stuff didn't interest me at all, like they looked like something you'd buy at IKEA, or strange jewelry and free-form poured knickknacks (dust collectors, I call them), but other things were... they truly were art.

I'm thankful I have such a diverse (and extensive) background in art, and I'm even more thankful that my grandmother started me off in that world.

I've met many painters who knew/loved her well and have had the wonderful experience of hearing some quite hilarious stories about her.

...and I know she'd be happy I'm here.

Okay, that be all. I'm going to sleep now 'cause I've got another full day of demos tomorrow, then the final banquet... and no, I'm not wearing a fascinator.

EDIT: This morning I had the pleasure of sitting in on a demo by Yumiko Kanazawa, a Japanese painter who flew over from Japan for this convention, who paints in the traditional Japanese styles, like Imari & Nabeshima. VERY cool. We exchanged email addresses 'cause I absolutely love the paint she uses! When it fires onto the surface of the glaze, it's transparent, but coloured. It looks like liquid glass. Here's a link to an example of it, click on the pictures to see at full scale... you can't get the full effect in a photo though, just believe me, it's SO beautiful... and my brain just got going 'cause I want to experiment with it and other products and see what I can end up with.

The other great thing about her paints is it's all mixed with water (so it's not toxic) and you use the traditional Japanese brushes (which I already have a bunch of, semi-good quality, not the cheapies, and I already know how to use them).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pheasant in fat-oil

Well, by the time a class of ten ladies exchange products (since you can't bring stuff like turpentine and oils on a plane) and everyone gets set up, paints get distributed, etc, a 3 hour seminar is down to around 2 hours.

The seminar itself was pretty interesting. The class sizes are small so everyone can crowd around the instructor's desk and watch while she (in this particular case, other seminars are taught by male instructors) demonstrates each part of the work.

Since the paints were mixed with fat-oil (what is used for traditional French & German painting), it dries rather quickly. This means you need to cover your paints up if you won't be using them for 5-10 minutes, but it also means that you can paint a coat and 10 minutes later you can paint over it without the colours mixing.

My first time using fat-oil :)

...actually, I was one of the better students in the class. I think the only reason this is so is because the mediums I'm used to (chinese brush/ink, pencil, etc) use broad, unhindered, free strokes... while painters who are used to the North American style of porcelain painting use an open medium oil (which doesn't dry) and the normal technique for that is to use small, blotty strokes. Dabbing, I guess you could call it. Basically blending with your brush right on the porcelain.

Basically, it's like re-training your brain how to use the tools. So I get how painters who have been paining in the NA style for 10+ years have difficulty switching over compared to someone like me, who has no ingrained habits.

So, here's my pheasant. Because it took so long to set-up, and some painters were a lot slower than others, each section of the instructor's demonstration kept getting pushed back farther and farther... so we ran out of time before even starting the background.

It was a lot of fun :) I think... I think fat-oil is a great medium to work in. I like it so much more than the open-medium oils 'cause it goes on so nice, but because it dries, it does have significant limits. You couldn't paint, say, a portrait or something super realistic with it (well, that I know of). It seems better suited to stylized work.
(click for full size)

You can see the sketchy outlines in the back... that's for the background. Someone who lives locally kindly offered to fire my piece for me tonight, so I can pack it home without worrying that the paint will get smooshed in my suitcase.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get into any other seminars, but there are demos running which are about 1 hour each (as compared to the 3 hour seminars). You don't get to actually paint/etc for the demos, but you can watch the instructor work/explain and take notes.

EDIT: by the way, the style of the pheasant is very traditional/typical for the old-style French & German painting. Personally, not to my taste, but I don't have to like it to learn it :)