Whatcha Doin’?

So yeah, I’ve been busy again — thus the too-long delay between my last post and this one. However, until blogging becomes my main business, I will simply do my best to talk to you, to talk with you, as much as I can and when I can.

I’ve been doing some more artwork for Marc Miller’s current Traveller project. All simple graphics lately but, as he told me, he didn’t want clip art and he did want a consistent style. I was really pleased when he said “I like what happens when you touch pen to paper.”

I’ve just started some new character concept work for Namasté and the Storybricks project. I got off on the wrong foot, trying to come up with the single basic body type from which others might be tweaked, whether for PCs or for NPCs. Instead, I’m now trying to make a number of bodies with distinctly different personalities, recognizably individual bodytypes even if only glimpsed momentarily or at a distance… yet (for now) all human. It’s an interesting challenge, favoring my caricaturist skills over my more realistic styles.

I had a nice meeting with Rick Loomis, head of Flying Buffalo Inc, and we talked about many topics and several projects. Over the next year, I’ll slowly be doing some art for a couple of dinosauroid Lost Worlds combat books, starting with Stegosaurus and then a T. Rex.

I also talked with Ken St Andre and S.S. Crompton about Ken’s T&T companion book Trollworld, and pulled out several paintings that had never found a real home elsewhere. Steve’s considerable skill with Photoshop stitches together two of those paintings to give Trollworld a new Danforth cover at a price they could afford and a timeframe I could afford.

I have a couple of commissions on the back burner, just in case I run out of things to work on.

I had to send one of my old dogs to the Rainbow Bridge a month ago, and it hit me pretty hard. I have a new young boy, just 8 months old, to keep everyone company. The new boy is one from Jennifer Roberson’s Cheysuli bloodllines, and we’re co-owning because she feels he’s too nice not to put in the show ring. (I love my dogs but I’m not a show person.) However, the pup and I, we’re having… um, some training issues. He’s an absolute sweetheart, one of the most affectionate-but-self-sufficient dogs of the many I’ve had, and eager to please — so I have little worry about getting the issues dealt with. Eventually.

Sadly, the Google 20% that I wrote about back in July, and writing in general, have evaporated under recent time demands. I’m fighting to get back to it — it’s important, and I know it — and I started a new story earlier this week. The would-be novel mocks me. So do many other possible projects I’d put under the G20 umbrella.

My gaming has also taken a massive hit, and I’m playing about 1/3 as much time as in the past. WoW is hit or miss… sometimes I still really enjoy it; other times I don’t. I refuse to play anything if I’m not having a good time (assuming I’m not playing for work reasons, in which case I judge the time spent by entirely different standards.)

I am not impressed with the WoW news coming out of Blizzcon. The whole Panda-people thing always struck me as WTF since I never played Warcraft II, and the idea of WoW-as-Pokemon “gotta catch ’em all” with our vanity pets doesn’t sound like my kind of game at all. No doubt the Asian market will love it, and those who played Warcraft II and the Pokemon games but this is the first time I’ve been completely unmoved by news of a fresh expansion.

In my limited playtime, though, I managed to finish Dragon Age 2 for the second time, winding up with my warrior Hawke as viscount of Kirkwall. I started a new mage in DA:O in hopes of actually finishing the game, finally. And I started a femShep in Mass Effect 2. People were right about her being a more interesting character for being better voice-acted.

I’m watching the approach of Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, and Diablo III with interest but no enormous enthusiasm. Even SWTOR, though I know I’ll never play it.

I’ve come across several particularly interesting books lately: A First-Rate Madness, (about leadership and mental illness), Sex at Dawn (on the evidence for the evolutionary grounds of our sexual behavior) and Why We Get Fat which sounds like a diet book but is actually a hard-science journalist’s look at how food recommendations and healthy eating have been presented over the last 200 years… and how just a few voices speaking loudly may have sent us all completely off-track biochemically, starting in the middle of the last century. All three of these books have some unconventional and arguably controversial themes. I’m finding them all fascinating and, frankly, compelling in their arguments.

My TBR and am-reading pile is much deeper than those, including a re-read of Daniel Pink’s Drive, two volumes of Icelandic sagas, a Dortmunder mystery, a collection of “scary stories” from around the world [I want to know what’s “scary” according to other cultures] and The Last Witch of Langenburg: Murder in a German Village which looks really interesting although I haven’t touched it yet. I’ve been listening to Charles de Lint’s The Onion Girl when I’m working at the art table. And yeah, more.

I’ve been planning some server shifting and the consequent revisions of the website. At the beginning of September(!) I mentioned that Gaz of Mana Obscura offered to do some nice tweaks to the site, and I’m still hoping that will work out. But when I prepared to get him going, I ran into other problems that have to be dealt with first. Lack of time, lack of money have kept me from doing it just yet, but it’s still one of those things hitting my radar every few days. Very distracting.

Last thing I’ll mention is about writing here. One of my “blogposts to do” has been a piece on Sexism, Hawtness, and the Art of the RPG. As I said among the comments to my blog entry about The Summoner artwork, replying to Ed Heil, I’ve been thinking about and reading a whole lot about the general subject. It seems to be on everyone’s mind right now, either a watershed moment or merely the current zeitgeist. There is the Tumblr about women in reasonable armor (which I love), and a lengthy rant I came across decrying the non-stop use of hypersexualized boobies as a purported sales device at GenCon.

I’m female. I’m feminist (by my definition; perhaps not by yours, since the word gets used in wildly diverse, sometimes incompatible ways these days). For approaching 40 years now, I’ve drawn sexy women and sexy men.

I make a distinction between sexy and sexualized/sexist, which seems obvious to me and not so obvious to some. I can clearly see there are many points of view spread over what I consider a bell curve that is only black or white at the extremes. I’m troubled, trying to find a place to stand in the context of this complex discussion. From all my notes and collections of links, I would be unable to talk about this in a single post — not least of which because I have a certain cognitive dissonance about the whole thing. And since I’m doing character visuals for Namasté, as I mentioned above, this is highly relevant stuff.

Question is, do you really want to read all those musings? Putting it in readable form would be very time-consuming. Would you rather see me invest that time in making new art, guided by my thinking on the subject (which has always been true) and let the fur bikinis fall where they may?

No pun intended.

I can tell you people are reading my words here, with decent numbers of people coming to the site whenever I post something new. You’re coming from all the English-speaking countries and from Germany and Spain and Japan and Scandinavia and elsewhere. (Greetings to you all!) You read the blog. You look at the commissions page. You bounce around other pages too.

What most of you do not do is comment. So I’m going to pose a direct question: what is it you’d like to hear more about from me? I started to write suggestions of categories of things but I’m going to leave this open-ended — otherwise, the answer I’d get is “yeah, all that!” which is not helpful thankyouverymuch. Look through the posts I’ve made over the last year… there’s a little of everything there. Then tell me which ones you enjoyed most. Which ones have something you’d like addressed again, in form if not in content. Tell me what I haven’t done that you wish I’d write about.

This is your chance for Q/A if nothing else, so hit me with your best shot! Meanwhile, I’m headed back to the art table. Right now, that’s my primary job.

8 Replies to “Whatcha Doin’?”

  1. Sorry to hear about your puppy. 🙁

    My question: What would be your top 5 ways for an artist to make a drawing (let’s say female) sexy but not demeaning? In writing it’s mostly about attitude, but that can be hard to pull off in a picture. Curious to what your insights are.

  2. Off the cuff: (1) A glance or just the right grin. (2) Posture. (3) Perspective: close up ass shot probably bad but over the shoulder probably good. (4) Clothes that spark the imagination but not autonomically, the way Darth Vader’s mask speaks volumes about his personality while hiding everything. (5) Unremittant confidence.

    These all work for both men and women.

  3. I’m just starting to connect with my cyber friends again. I’m happy to see this post. While I consider myself feminine, I’m probably not a feminist in the traditional sense. I am intrigued by the idea of someone (Finally) drawing sexy women, but not ones with boobs that would give them backaches and needing some special equipment to hold them up it they appeared in the real world. In Star Wars Galaxies my females never had breasts as large as it is possible to make them, yet they were still very feminine. So… I do enjoy reading about the things going on in your life however this topic currently rises to the top.

  4. Sorry to hear about the dog. I wondered why it had been several weeks since you’d posted.
    Comments and arguments about depictions of male and female forms have been around on messageboards (and in magazine or newspaper letters columns) for years. I don’t know enough about the art world or artists to even start to speculate on if a watershed has been reached, but it seems to me that in many things civilisations or cultures don’t usually finally switch direction without one or two people with a vision and charisma finally standing up and saying ‘okay, we have to change direction on these things *now*’.
    Thinking about if I have a definitive response to ‘The Broader Question’ which you posed… 😀

  5. Charles, the sexualized depiction of (especially but not exclusively) women is much discussed, yes of COURSE. The discussion I’m stumbling on every time I turn around right now is IN GAMES, which is where I work. Much fault is laid at the door of companies that do not (and largely cannot, for lack of applicants) hire women. That’s not the same question as the full-range societal question… the gaming one is the one I can best address and do anything about.

  6. One of the (many)things I always liked about your art was the fact the women were wearing complete suits of armour instead of chain mail bikinis.

    As to the question, I’d love to hear more about the history of T&T, and your part in it. Especially more about the playing side of things. It would be great to know more about the different campaigns people ran back in that Phoenix group in the early days, the way the game was played and evolved. Other than that I like the mix of posts you put up in general.

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