Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten in Twenty Ten?

Is it New Year's Eve? Indeed, it is.

I wonder if you've missed me as I've missed you. Possibly you did.

The last weeks have been for cocooning, resting, thinking, working. For listening and watching and snuggling with family. For reading and making notes and thinking some more.

For putting stuff in, so that I can bring stuff out.

It's about eleven now. The kids vowed to be up until midnight. We'll see. The chiminea is glowing outside, making a circle of warmth where tales can be told and marshmallows toasted. Like many other families, we're spending our New Year's Eve at home this year.

There is always opportunity for parties.

A few weeks ago, we decided to put out an array of bird feeders. We were rewarded in just a few days with an interesting variety of bird visitors. We were surprised when another guest appeared, apparently drawn in by the raucous bird activity.

A cat, feral and wary, sitting on our fence mostly hidden amongst the greenery, but occasionally creeping out for a closer look. And who at first would bolt at the sound of the door opening, but who now will stay put when I come outside to sit only a few feet away.

Our Mystery is thin, and so far eats every bite of any treat we leave. We tend to leave something every day. I'll not pursue, but will remain consistent, and watch and see if a relationship develops.

Indeed our eyes have met and held. Possibilities exist for more communication.

We will see.

What did I learn this year?

To wait and see what happens. That things rarely happen the way we imagine they will.

For Christmas, Aubrey gave me a copy of "Under the Dome" by Stephen King. Now I know different, but early on, when I began reading Stephen's work, I expected horror. Well sure, I got some. But what I really got was humanity. It's the humanity of his work that held me. And still does.

Ok. I like the scary too. What can I say?

This past year was a healing year for me. I struggled through most of it, finally beginning to see some light in November. I don't really need to tell you this---if you're reading this post then mostly likely you were there with me.

What I do want to say is thank you. Thank you for your insights and humor and outstanding Poppets On Tour photos. Thank you for giving homes to so many Poppets (even the unruly ones) and for glimpses into your work and your lives and your unique and surprising ideas.

Now we enter 2010. Twenty-ten. Wow. We'll all start by looking back and inside. Then looking forward and out. Then we'll see what happens. Are we 'under the dome?' Not literally but figuratively. We are all on this planet and, at least for now, it is self contained, much like a tank of sea monkeys. No help is available from outside. It's sink or swim, up to those of us who live here (will we reach 10 billion?) on the fragile surface of this tiny ball spinning fast through the cold and black and utterly unknown.

Hmm. I like the 'we' part.

I wish you every good thing for the coming year. I'm very honored to be travelling through space and time with you, through whatever will come.

Much love,

your artist

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In which Ravyn hijacks the blog, for good reason!

i just wanted to steal Lisa's blog today to wish her a very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

i miss you!

Especially now, see?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter is settling in here in the desert.
Word has apparently spread about our backyard feeders, so that during certain parts of the day, we are Bird Central. The hummingbirds don't seem to be bothered. They have their own tree and feeder and they zip around the other birds like planes 'buzzing the tower.' We've had several days of much-needed rain. Now the mountains are dressed in winter finery.
This is the view from our back door.

I took the camera in the car with me to get photos of the snow and got this shot of Orion when I dropped him off as school.

I see him every day. Why should I be surprised when I look at the picture and see how much he's grown? But I am. When I started this blog, he was quite the tot.

And a bit of new work: "Mini's Wagon" (collab. with Benton Warren)

and "In the Land of Shadows."

I'm working, but taking time to rest and enjoy winter.
In the car, I heard the soundtrack for "Moon." I was unfamiliar with the movie. Don't know how I missed it,!

Now I truly want to see the movie and will be ordering the soundtrack for myself. Yay!

Have you seen it? If so, tell me about it.

Now for hot chocolate and some reading or television.

New work on Ebay!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Part the Four: Knowledge of all kinds is valuable. If you're new to this blog, welcome. Here's my disclaimer, repeated just for you: I was asked by WFS attendees to make my lecture available in print somewhere. I told them I'd put it here. This is sort of an abridged version, as you know I tend to take small side trips in all directions when I'm on a topic. But the gist of it is intact. It's a lot of material, so I decided to divide it into the segments, as in the program. and
Everything said from here on is based on observation and not research (unless otherwise stated.) I’m not advising. I'm no expert. You go on and do whatever the hell you want to do. You’re going to anyway. Or possibly you ‘re way ahead of me. Possibly you already know everything I have to say. In that case, bask in the affirm
ation and enjoy the pretty pictures. That’s what they’re here for. In December I’ll have been a professional artist for 20 years. I’m a self-taught artist. If someone asked me to sum up what the experience has taught me (and occasionally people do), I’d say something like the following:

I'm fully capable of skinning a catfish. (It required two sets of pliers, a knife, and a bit of tenacity.) I can also crochet a beautiful and delicate doily from fine cotton thread.

Now, it's not likely I'll ever use these skills, but I like having them, and they don't take up much room in my brain. In fact, they probably sit quite comfortably with all sorts of other stuff I'm not likely to use, like how to extract chromosomes from a few milliliters of blood and how to play Liszt's Rhapsody No. 2--though I don't play it as well as Bugs Bunny.

I'm a fierce autodidact. I tend to collect this sort of stuff. It's not a terrible hobby. I had to work harder at it when I was a kid. No internet. I had to actually go to the library. My dad always drove me on Saturdays. He didn't go inside. He'd sit outside and smoke cigarettes and wait for me.

But he took me because it mattered to me. That it mattered to me made it matter to him. He was a good dad.

Now I have the internet. I don't have the brain speed I had at 15, but self-teaching keeps it in fairly good shape. It hasn't made me better at finding my reading glasses. That's a different set of skills, one which I seem to lack, despite efforts made.


Knowledge. Stuff we learn. Stuff we might ignore because it falls under our 'need to know' radar. It's good stuff.

My formal education is scientific.
My real jobs were in laboratories, clean rooms, morgues.
Aside from a drawing class in college, I'm a self-taught artist.
I learn a lot from reading textbooks and manuals.
I learn a lot from reading fiction.
I learn a lot by watching.
I learn more by watching differently.
I learn a lot by quietly thinking about things I see.
I learn a lot by trial and error.
I learn a lot by completely fucking things up.

All the stuff we learn goes into our 'soup.' Some of it floats right on top, in plain view. Skills we use regularly. Some of it is without substance. It's flavor, an interpretation of lessons past learned, the essence of information--the stock.

What did I tell you? You can't go wrong with a soup metaphor. It's all in there.

I make custom- fitted mold boxes from which I make molds of originals. I make them from Lego blocks. There's no waste, nothing to throw out. I just take them apart when I'm done. When I know the size I need, I can outline it, and Orion can build the boxes for me.

(Now he has another weird application for his collection.)

I learned to make these mold boxes by watching a documentary on paleontology on the Discovery Channel.

I learned an awful lot about construction and cathedrals from Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth.

Once, at a cocktail party, a man said this to me, "I never read fiction---you can't learn anything from it."
What a gul-a-bull! What a maroon! You couldn't have paid me enough to sleep with that idiot, I don't care how much his suit cost.

The list of what I've learned from fiction is at least as long as the list of what I've learned from every other source.

School is crap. The model of school is archaic and the curriculum is rudimentary. School mostly teaches kids to walk in line and to follow a schedule very much like that of modern prisons.
It's of paramount importance to teach kids how to research. How to find what they're looking for, and to teach them a love of reading of books of any form---print or electronic.

Orion, at seven, knows how to use Google. It's not much, but it's a start.

By definition, a good education is to know everything about your chosen subject, and a little bit about everything else.

I don't know everything about art, but I know everything there is to know (so far) about my own art, and the craft required to produce it. I'm still working on the little bits about everything else. As always and as everyone else, I will always hope my best work is ahead of me. I'll always look forward to new discoveries. I intend to continue to read and geek out to the science channel at every opportunity.

Learn. Read. Your time won't be wasted. I've been surprised so many times when some obscure bit has solved a contemporary problem. The stuff is in there. It's part of your Soup. Make it rich and it will sustain you.

As always, I welcome and enjoy your comments and discussion. Thank you.

---your artist

Our Winter sale is going on right now on Etsy and Ebay. We'll be adding new art all week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Part 3 and Art Behind the Scenes

Poppets in Studio

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

To reiterate, my disclaimer (in case you missed it the first time.):

I was asked by attendees to make my lecture available in print somewhere. I told them I'd put it here. This is sort of an abridged version, as you know I tend to take small side trips in all directions when I'm on a topic. But the gist of it is intact. It's a lot of material, so I decided to divide it into the segments, as in the program.


Everything said from here on is based on observation and not research (unless otherwise stated.) I’m not advising. I'm no expert. You go on and do whatever the hell you want to do. You’re going to anyway. Or possibly you ‘re way ahead of me. Possibly you already know everything I have to say. In that case, bask in the affirmation and enjoy the pretty pictures. That’s what they’re here for.
In December I’ll have been a professional artist for 20 years. I’m a self-taught artist. If someone asked me to sum up what the experience has taught me (and occasionally people do), I’d say something like the following:

Part the Third

Lists Are a Form of Procrastinatio

Back to that advice thing, for a moment. Ray Bradbury told me (did I mention that I'm one lucky human?) that a general direction is much better than a plan. Plans rarely work out.
Keep working, he said, and just watch and see what happens.

Events rarely happen as we imagine they will. Planning can
be a form of procrastination. Here's one way---writing something down on a list releases us from responsibility. We no longer have to remember it, we can put it out of mind, we can dismiss it.

True enough, there are applications for lists. A daily to do list can be helpful, notes are fine and good. A reminder to call someone or email or look something up is helpful. Margin notes are good. References.

But there's a limit. Only you can know if you've crossed it. A good clue is that you're spending more time sorting through your lists as doing the tasks on them.

Another is to tally up what you've done for the day/week/month. If you've spent more time writing, rewriting, sorting and such, than hands-on work, something is off.

What has worked for me is to set aside a time for working on lists. Fifteen minutes at the end of the day, fifteen minutes at the beginning of the next.

Life is messy and unpredictable. Shit ha

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

I made lots of lists and plans. I set specific goals for myself. Too specific. It works infinitely better for me to have a long-term direction and small bits of tasks per day. Otherwise, I can get lost in the planning and time flies by.

The time will go by anyway.

I didn't plan to make Poppets. They sort of happened on their own. It was a conspiracy, sort of, created by Poppets and their collectors. In the co
urse of a year, I was no longer an artist in my garage studio, working quietly away with music and coffee. I became the owner of a small mail order business.

And all that goes with.

I found that I was spending very little
of my everyday making art. Running a business requires a lot of time and energy for administration. So I hired people for that. This made things different, not necessarily easier, because it made the company bigger.

I had lots more lists. Notebooks.

I found myself resenting the business. It started quietly. There's this expression---if you boil a frog slowly enough, it won't realize it's been cooked.

The frog thing is a myth, but a good metaphor. It applies to a lot of things---health, deteriorating relationships---things get gradually worse until we accept the worse as 'normal.' Not realizing that they're out of hand until we're in the soup.

Hmmm. Soup. I was in some for sure.

My apron had been my uniform for years. Old jeans, t-shirt or baggy sweater, apron, coffee cup. I found myself not putting it on anymore. I no longer identified m
yself with the artist.

I no longer identified myself as the Visionary. I felt like a fraud. I didn't see Poppets as art.

I was wrong. I'd become so caught up in the plans that I lost my direction. I was no longer living in the present. I was investing all my time an
d energy into a future that might or might not arrive.

Silly fucking human!

It wasn't the Poppets fault. They hadn't changed. I had.

Then my personal life exploded. Whoosh! Time flies when your hair's on fire. Didn't see that coming.

Still reeling, the recession kicked in. Shit! Didn't see t
hat coming either! So much for plans.

I watched fellow artists and other studios bite t
he dust. Scary. Things got really lean for us. We began to look like the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. We learned to live on a lot less.

We learned to appreciate what we had.

Poppets watched.

I got lots of notes and emails from collectors who said they loved my work as always, but couldn't buy. I watched more of my friends
---gifted artists---selling Tupperware and their book collections.

So much for plans.

But things could be much worse. We had P
oppets. Collectors could still afford Poppets.

So I turned Poppets into little pieces of art. I changed how
I saw them. Or they did.

I put heart and soul into them. Everybody wins. Collectors still get the satisfaction of art. I still make enough money to eat.

We learned that Poppets took care of
us. We made lots of adjustments.

Now, we spend a lot less than we used to. We don't waste and we take little for granted.

I don't know how this will all play out. It's not over yet.

I do know I'm grateful for the direction. I'm grateful for Poppets, and I wear my apron every day.

Things will change. You can count on that. I hope to retain the economy I've learned. I hope to help teach you to be flexible. You don't need as much as you think.

Don't mind me. Listen to Ray Bradbury---do
your best and watch and see what happens. It's a ride.

--Open for discussion. Would love to hear what you think.

Here are some behind the scenes photos this week:

I like the work of Steve Archer (book) It seems to work well with mine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Land of Shadows

You artist has returned. I have limited internet access and am deep into the studio until after Thanksgiving holidays. In the next few days Aubrey will continue with posts for the rest of the lecture. Thank you for your comments. I always enjoy our discussions.

I feel as though I've returned from a very long journey. There are stories, and I'll tell them, but it's too early. For now, I'll keep working. I've been traveling for sure, to interesting places. I found great darkness there, and beauty. The work will describe it. It's a language that works better then words, for things I can't describe.

But I thought of all of you there, and tried to remember what I'd bring back for you. There are treasures to be found in the strangest places! Poppets know. They were there with me, watching over.

In the meantime, The Winter Shop on Etsy is open, with fairies and cookie Poppets and other new goodies added every day.

When I return, you'll see some of the things I found on my travels, and Poppets will act out scenes from The Graveyard Book.

See you soon.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Know the Soup You're In part 2

Well. Sunday night. With the help and love of family and good friends, I seem to be on the way to recovery. Not quite there, but improving. Orange juice, lots of Nat Geo and some Ramsey Campbell for comfort reading. Oh. And LOTS of sleep.

Anyway, sorry for the delay. As promised, here is the second portion of the WFC art lecture. Know the Soup You're In.

World Fantasy Convention Art Lecture
Part the 2, Some Thoughts on Ideas

Ideas are like stars, they’re endless.

Some version of the Drake Equation could be applied to ideas. Applying this equation, where

fraction of stars with planets = durability of concept


fraction of planets capable of sustaining life = materials and funding


fraction of those planets where life evolves = opportunity and environment

One could conceivably calculate the possibility of a well conceived, well executed work finished from universe of ideas just as one might calculate the possibility of life.

In other words, the ideas that make it to finished work are likely more rare than we think.

Think about it--the average human says between 300 and 1000 words per minute to herself. (hopefully, generally, silently) For the creative person, many of those words involve ideas.
That's a lot of information in a day, a week, a month.

Ideas are also like Soup. There are endless varieties, but only a few basic formulas. Like most humans, from a distance, soups all look the same. But generally, there's a background/backstory (stock), and symbols/metaphor (veggies and or meat), character (noodles) and the experience of the creator (flavor/spice.)

Ok. Soup is sort of a silly metaphor for art. But it sort of works, and that's the visual I started with.

If you don't like soup, then how about this?

Ideas are like assholes. Everyone has one. Everyone thinks his is special.
Everyone is wrong about that.

See? Soup is good.

Some Ideas should be written down. Some should not. Learning to recognize the difference takes both effort and experience. Sometimes writing an idea down can take the wind right out of it, rob it of it's magic.
I used to try to write everything down. I was terribly afraid a really good one would “get away.” My daughters joked that “hang on while I write this down” would be on my tombstone.

I've learned that this isn't the best plan, at least not for me.
It works better for me not to try to write down every idea, but instead to give them my full attention as they bloom and fade in my head. Let them go into the mix of other ideas. They’re raw data, bits that can and will combine with other bits and come out later as something more.

More than the sum of its parts.

Bigger inside than out.

Really good ideas don't get lost or forgotten. Really good ideas stick like glue.

I had to work long and hard to find out the kinds of stuff I needed to make note of. I had to learn to pay attention. Notes and lists can be good tools, used correctly. But they can become a form of procrastination. If you’re writing everything down, the good stuff gets lost in the fray. Not to mention that trying to write down every idea that comes to mind (think 300 - 1000 wpm) can make you crazy.

I work better if I treat ideas as living things. They are, in a sense, in that they are mutable, affected by their environments, they can be fed and they can die.

I often get my best ideas when I’m working. I can tell if an idea is good because it persists. It looks just as good the next day. And the next day. If it’s a really good idea it rings like a bell. It wakes me up at night.

If it’s a great idea it makes me sweat and/or pace. It makes me not care if my shirt is on inside out and backwards. It makes me forget whether I've brushed my hair. But not my teeth. Not so far, at least.

I’m not kidding about this one bit.

Note--- worse than writing:

Getting a fresh new idea is very exciting. It’s like falling in love. You want to shout it from the mountain tops. You want to email your friends. Eureka! But what you should really do is


Nothing sucks the life out of a good idea faster than yakking about it. Not even writing it down. Not even close.
Shut the hell up. Be quiet. Think. Work. Let the idea build its own momentum. This proves to work better for me. Over and over and over. Other creatives will tell you the same things. Ask the successful ones, the big guys. The beef.

They know exactly what I mean.

Besides, no one can ever, ever see your idea as you do. No matter how inspired and pure and holy. No one sees what you will/might do. No one sees anything except the work you've done.

Don't talk about it. No one gets it. They watch your lips move and nod politely. But they do not see. Or they say something completely deflating. It's not their fault. No one can see what's in your brain.
Trust me on this one. Be quiet.

I hope this saves you time and energy.

Ideas tend to work out in their own time, even though that doesn’t mean we should sit on our tuffets and wait. Ideas that are good come in their own time often after years of gathering the raw materials they’re made from. Like clear water from underground. It takes work to prime the pump. You have to put effort in to get something out.

Sometimes this timing is extremely inconvenient. Like love, it comes when one least expects it.

Sometimes it’s necessary to let inspirations wait, however impatiently, for other priorities.

Sometimes it’s necessary to drop everything, clear off space and run with it.

How to know? I’ve gotta tell you, I don’t know for sure. I’m still working on that one, but I seem to be gaining on it. It seems that now, these many years later, I have lots of hits and few misses.

Possibly the best we can hope for it to get better at knowing the difference.

Don't be afraid of ideas. At their core, they are few, but no two people create from the same recipe, from the same raw materials. Like soup, people look the same from a distance, but up close, we each have our own flavors.

Hope this was helpful. I'd enjoy and welcome discussion. Two brains are better than one, more is even better.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

silly human

Did I mention relapse? After my last post I took a turn for the worse, and then some. Why? Because I failed to follow my own advice. In the weeks before the convention, I worked myself into exhaustion, so that when I caught the cold bug from Orion, I had little resources to defend myself with.
Hence, the past three days spent in bed, moving only when absolutely necessary.

If you have questions or are waiting for Poppets that haven't arrived, please contact Aubrey at She has been a one-girl band this past week, doing an excellent job at it but still she is one.

I't's not safe to say I'm all better, but it's true that I feel better than yesterday and not worse. The irony is that I've come back from the convention inspired with new vision and eager to get to work.

Didn't I learn anything from the beloved late Jim Henson?

Yes. I did. I'm going to continue to move slowly until I'm strong again. Wanted to let you know I was thinking of you, but must live within the limits of being an ordinary human being.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Home. The Good, the Bad and the Words

I'm back from the World Fantasy Convention, which was very, very good.

I'm just beginning to recover from a very nasty chest cold, which was bad.

I was asked by attendees to make my lecture available in print somewhere. I told them I'd put it here. This is sort of an abridged version, as you know I tend to take small side trips in all directions when I'm on a topic. But the gist of it is intact. It's a lot of material, so I decided to divide it into the segments, as in the program.

Know the Soup You’re In.

Of course it’s a metaphor.

And here’s my disclaimer:

Everything said from here on is based on observation and not research (unless otherwise stated.) I’m not advising. I'm no expert. You go on and do whatever the hell you want to do. You’re going to anyway. Or possibly you ‘re way ahead of me. Possibly you already know everything I have to say. In that case, bask in the affirmation and enjoy the pretty pictures. That’s what they’re here for.
In December I’ll have been a professional artist for 20 years. I’m a self-taught artist. If someone asked me to sum up what the experience has taught me (and occasionally people do), I’d say something like the following:

Part the One. Advice:

I would’ve saved myself a lot of time and aggravation had I followed advice offered by those more experienced than myself. Possibly not following advice is human nature . I watch my offspring, intelligent as they are, making some of the same dumb choices I did, even after being advised against them. Even after being advised loudly. Even after begging.
Some things have to be experienced first- hand to be learned.

I’ve begun to suspect that all humans have to complete a common curriculum.

You buy a media cabinet from Ikea. You’re faced with a decision . At what point do you deviate from those utterly annoying pictogram instructions, or ignore them completely? After all, the pieces are there, and it’s all SO OBVIOUS.

I believe everyone in this room has done some form of the above. I don’t know how your gig worked out for you, but I can tell you that I’ve had some spectacular failures, with parts left over and lots of words that would get my kids in big trouble.

So why would I ignore good advice from good sources? Well, because I’m a human being. I think I’m special. I’ll get different results for me than for those other schmucks.

Wrong-O. Because I’m not special. I’m full of shit, and so was Walt Disney.

I’ve leaned that it comes back, the advice. It rings like a bell when you’re stranded, the dog got loose, the cake fell, your hair is green, your fish are dead and your butt is sunburned,. It comes back when the contractor vanished along with your roof, your marriage imploded ,you gained forty pounds and your stocks are worth nothing, the river turned red and the locusts ate EVERYTHING.

I’ve been advised by the likes of Michael Whelan, Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury. Even from brilliant sources, it’s a while before I began to get it. I had to live it. I had to do some things well and some things poorly in order to figure out the difference. I had to make some art that didn’t work. I had to make some that did. I had to embarrass myself. I had to want to get it right.

Sometimes I hear the things they told me then, now.

It comes back.

It’s like time travel.

Imagine with me, if you will, humanity evolved. Already some lives are extended with the help of modern medicine. Imagine knowing what you might know at 50, and having a hundred productive years to go. Imagine time to work out all that human stupidity before your knees start to go.
Just imagine.
Of course, if human beings live that long, adjustments will have to be made. On the average a human life is about 3 billion heartbeats.

We either have to live longer or get smarter, quick-like.


Thanks to everyone at the convention. How marvelous you all were. Will be sending proper correspondence soon. For now though, vitamins and rest.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

off to WFC

Be back on Monday.

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's one of those weeks when there are way more things to be done that can be, so that choices must be made and priorities reset. In other words, I catch myself wishing, once in a while, for one more day.
Silly human! I forget sometimes, that time is not a constant. I have but to change my point of view.

Ok. I haven't exactly figured out how, but I'll let you know. I suspect it will involve rearranging some priorities, mostly involvnig honing of lists.

Aubrey and I took a break today and saw "Paranormal Activity." The popcorn was too salty and the drinks so large I could hardly carry it with one hand. What the hell?
The movie was entertaining and pretty creepy. If you're the type who creeps herself out. later, at home alone, I wouldn't recommend it.

I'm wondering where my Ouiji board is. It's not inconceivable that someone hid it away or disposed of it. Who is a mystery, as I'm not sure how long ago it went away. I've always thought of it as a toy, but not everyone shares that opinion, and more than one person has said so.

Or, it may turn up again.

Lots of work was done today. Time for rest.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Our dishwasher suddenly died. Oh German Engineering, thou hast failed me once more. So I set out to hand wash a dishwasher chock full o stuff.
I decided if I'd be stuck at it, I may as well put on some music. I chose Berlioz, almost at random. A few moments later with my hands busy and the steam rising all around me, I realized that I truly was enjoying myself. There's a lot to be said about doing a simple job, doing it well and without distraction.
Once again---multitasking is overrated. And possibly a myth.

So, in a state of near-meditation, my mind meandered about. It was late afternoon so my stomach began to growl. Possibly it was the music, but I was reminded of years before, working in the bronze studio of the late artist, John Kennedy. I remembered being hungry there. I'd chosen a wedding dress that was a prototype, and only available in the size 4 (the old size 2). I was doing the Slim Fast thing. John never, ever had an edible thing in his house. Just canned heart of palm and wine and condiments and raw artichokes.
There was no way to cheat, so by late afternoon I'd be so hungry that the clays would become huge bars of chocolate. The melted clay in the pots, pudding, and the sluice chocolate syrup. It was maddening. It was successful. I wore the dress with ease.
It was stupid.
What the hell was I thinking? Starving myself for vanity. Black and white photos of people from the depression of the 30's would look right at home in a Vanity Fair jeans ad. I'm fairly certain the people in the photos didn't want to look fashionably gaunt and hollow-eyed, they were fucking starving. They wanted to look like Claudette Colbert.

Enough of that. Later I watched Eraserhead. It's one of those movies I've thought I should see for a long time.
If you haven't seen it, do. It's very likely the strangest film I've ever seen. I've seen some pretty weird films.


Here are a couple of discoveries from POT.
"Love Trip" by spacedlawyer

and "Boo" by cmwebb.


Adrienne has sent more photos of The House Where Poppets Live. I've been busy painting flagstones and a tiny painting and wallpapers. Making a very tiny sculpture or two for inside.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poppet Reads The Graveyard Book

Halloween makes me think of graveyards. Mostly because when I was a kid, after trick or treat, we went up the hill to the oldest cemetery on Cemetery Hill Road (see Harlequin Valentine). We went snipe hunting, rode up on a hay wagon and scared ourselves silly while we ate too much candy from our bags of loot. It was an old place full of ancient oaks hung with moss and fragrant pines reaching to the moon. Old graves supported crumbling gray angels with staring, empty eyes. There were ornate spires grown over with lichen and looming mausoleums. It was surrounded by a black spiked fence, very tall, all around.
And on Halloween night, it was an eerie, spooky, happy place where we were very much alive.

Poppets will be exploring Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. As I guide them through the world he created, I'll be taking my own experiences along. I spent many Halloween nights in our cemetery, for sure, but also many pleasant afternoons, for in daylight, it was a fine place to read, or sketch. It was a fine place to share secrets or first shy kisses. Later my visits were tinged with sadness, because I knew more of the dead. But I never lost my fondness for the grounds there and one day, hope to walk them again.

If you haven't visited a graveyard recently for the sake of visiting a graveyard, do. But, go carefully. Don't fear the dead, who are there to be remembered and admired. Beware the living.


note: 20% of Poppet Reads The Graveyard Book and all other The Graveyard Book Poppets and art will be donated to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

New photos have been added to The House Where Poppets Live on Flickr. The House will make its debut at the World Fantasy Convention at the end of the month.

I hope you enjoyed the balloon boy drama. I'm glad the kid is okay. I became disgusted by the media very quickly. They have once again lived down to my expectations. Silly humans!

And I hope you have a very good night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The air is cooler, there are lots of clouds, hints of rain but no deal. Orion was up with a sore throat last night, led into a cold today. Fever kept him home on cold meds and juices with lots of Scooby Doo. How lame it is, how inexplicably well-loved all over the world. Rot the Rell?

The rats are running in the walls. I was up several times in the night to get ice chips for O. Heard them scurrying about. It seems they're coming in from the roof. My neighbor offered to lend me a couple of her many black cats...
I think it might be time to bring in a professional. My imagination conjures up all manner of character, professional rat killer, or humane trapper. Opposites, both eccentric to the sublime.
Sigh. I know it won't be anyone interesting at all. It will be someone with not an ounce of imagination and a clipboard with a rather large bill for me to sign.
I talk to Poppets sometimes. I talk to myself too, so it's not a big stretch. The first time we threaten to rip the hard drive right out of our computers (generally I tell mine I'm going to toss it into the pool.) we've already started down that road. I mostly talk to The Poppet Who Lives On My Desk. I've been known to talk to a rather large assembly of Poppets. It's quite an exercise, actually. Try staring at all those little upturned faces. Take a minute, then make your point. You'll see.
But Aubrey stunned me the other day when she asked, "Can Poppets hear?" I just stared at her. "Because," she said, "I always sort of assumed they couldn't."

Give it a moment. Let it sink in. All this time. How weird would it be if Poppets, always watching, were always only watching? If their observations of human behavior were conducted without the benefit of sound, what sort of impression would we make?
I'm just the maker. What they do after isn't up to me. I don't know. At least they wouldn't have to listen to Scooby Doo.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Putting Stuff In

This weekend was one for rejuvenation via rest. I spent a couple of hours working, but mostly rested, read, ate food I like and watched nature programs and B-movie science fiction.
(I am more inspired by the nature programs.)

Spencer and I ventured out and saw Michael Moore's latest. Most of it wasn't news, but of course it makes me angry. As always, I am reminded that there isn't a lot I can do personally to change the mess we're in. At best, I can be informed and make informed decisions. I can teach my children not to be sheep and I can 'keep my own side of the street clean.' I could go on about it here, but what would be the point? The people who read what I write are readers and generally thinkers. I'd be preaching to the choir.
President Carter tried to warn us. He told us if we didn't change our priorities we'd be in exactly the place we are now. Did we listen? I was just a kid. But obviously not, because here the fuck we are. I'm thinking things will have to get a lot worse before people are motivated to take action. That's worrisome-- partly the reason I spent the remainder of the weekend resting up.

I'll need it. Tomorrow I'll have work to do, and people counting on me.

Hope your weekend was good.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Poppets glow. Human learns to conserve.

We've been having some more fun with glow pigments. Poppets like glow-in-the-dark, for sure.
As many of you know, Poppets like having their photos taken. It's just one of those weird things about them. They like shiny things too.

I passed a billboard that stated: Recession 101; It's a test. It's not the final. Of course I looked it up.
I don't know if I buy into the campaign completely, but I've certainly approached this recession as a strength builder. It beats panicking. I tried that. It got me nowhere. I'm a small business owner. Panic is the kiss of death. No, thank you.

I've learned to get by with less, waste less, conserve more and live more simply. I'm learning what works, and what doesn't. For instance, I'll buy the cheap napkins, but not cheap ketchup. A whole chicken will feed the crew better than fast food. I stopped buying iced coffee (I can make it at home.) and going through the car wash. I can use less expensive paints for some purposes, but red, black and white have to be high quality. One way I've saved in the studio is to buy pure primary colors and mix shades from those. I've found I can save a lot on cleaning by buying bleach, ammonia and vinegar and making my own. But to do that you have to invest in good spray bottles. Despite the fact that stores offer giant refills for spray cleaners, the nozzles are designed to die when the product is used up.
(Once in a while I panic, for a minute or two.)

These are little things, but they add up, just like turning off lights. Mostly what's helped me save is to think before I spend money, or use something, asking myself whether I need this now, or at all, or whether this is the best alternative, or if there's a less costly way. One thing I've had to consider is the value of time. That's a factor. If I can hand-sand a piece without using electricity, that's a good thing. If it takes an hour instead of 15 minutes, it's not.

I'd be interested to hear your list, if you have one, of what you'll let go of, or cheap out on, and what you won't give up.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

About Rooms and Soup

Yesterday I got some photography done. Cleaned. Enjoyed Orion's presence, home from school and at play.

I thought about rooms we don't like to visit. Places we've put certain things unfolded, unwashed, unfinished. Tiny, silly things that squeak and dark things that thrum and growl and make us twitch as we sleep.
We find keys, don't we? Left for us or simply washed up on the tide. We create some ourselves. Other doors we kick in on wild hunches. Some we blunder into because we turned one corridor too soon.
I begin to suspect we all have very similar floor plans, interchangeable keys. That, like human faces and snowflakes, works of art and stories, there
are infinite variations.
But really it's still soup.

And other stuff like that.


Adrienne Reynolds and I are collaborating. I asked her to bring the creativity she put into her Poppetropolis to making some houses for Poppets. Here is where you'll be able to follow the progress: A House Where Poppets Live


It's time for me to get to the studio while there's still light. The Neil has convinced me to make a Twitter page for Poppets. I've done so. I'm a little lost. Possibly my brain doesn't work that way. So I'm thinking I'll just turn it over to Poppets, who are better at saying things in few words than I. Then, Poppets can get into real trouble, left unattended, so. hmmm. I'm thinking...

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Halloween beyond Elm Street

When I first came to live in the desert, I couldn't find
the seasons. I grew deeply depressed. As any human being, I needed the changes, the sense of reset and renewal. The changes were there, but I had to let go of my expectations and see them as they are. Seasons are very different in the desert. Not so much the fall of amber and russet leaves. It's more subtle, visually, so I didn't see the change.
I do now. It's in the air, and the birds. It's in the habits of the animals.

What affects me most powerfully is a change in the light. As an artist, light is something I'm very conscious of. Light determines the color of an object, how close or distant it seems. It can make something beautiful look frightening, or vice versa.

One rarely thinks of the desert as being a good setting for Halloween stories. We tend to want the images we've grown familiar with thanks to traditional stories and mostly, movies and television.
But Halloween stories can happen anywhere.

Let me tell you, the desert can be a very spooky place, especially when October arrives and the light changes.
So I challenge you. Let go of the Elm Streets with deep front porches and leaf strewn sidewalks. Think of a Halloween story that starts somewhere else.
Like a busy street in the heart of a city or a quiet desert house nestled against the mountains.
Let it start with a subtle change in light, a mild uneasiness. Some of the best stories written are set in ordinary places, where ordinary people have to come to grips with finding that the beliefs they held true, aren't.

I'd like to hear what you think about unlikely settings for scary stories.

Halloween Store

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October One

It's October. The weather changed, quite suddenly, two days ago. We wondered if it will last, if the desert is taunting us, planning another wave of brutal heat. We didn't wonder long, because the sky's been full of birds, flying in groups. Some are high above, just dots in the sky, some low, so we can hear their voices and wings.
The crows are restless. They're not going anywhere. But they know change. The light is different.
We are different.

It's October. And all that goes with.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poppets Go Rogue

Poppets do love adventures. We all know that. And I've made so many Poppets, I'm like the old woman in the shoe.

Ok. I'm not old. But I've created thousands of Poppets.


And, they're out there. In the World. Having Adventures.

Ravyn sent me a link to this video of Rogue. Poppets show up at about 3:08. Don't skip though--watch the video--it's well done. Hmm. I'm thinking of collaboration... What do you think?
Animation? Ideas? Volunteers?

Poppets love to dance, for sure.

So many adventures.

I think I'll get some sleep. Have a good breakfast and a swim. So much to do.

We have a new Landing Page
It's pretty simple, but takes you to all the important spots. Thanks Ravyn and Kevin.

and The Halloween Sale starts Oct 1st.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Which End? The What What?

It's 10:45. I started working today at 7:30 a.m. I'm having a glass of wine now. It's a good glass of wine, but I'm still having it at home, and I'm still working. What a loser.

I knew there would be days like this. I didn't know there would be years like this. Is the recession going away or getting worse? One out of every eight mortgages is in foreclosure. Is this true? The ice caps are melting. California has no freaking snow pack. Again. Snow pack, btw, is where we get our water.

I mentioned the commercial that scared Orion. I found it online. Look at this. This is the commercial that assaulted Orion (7) in the middle of the afternoon while watching SpongeBob SquarePants on Cartoon Network. I wrote them a scathing email, but I don't expect an answer.
What the hell? Is this appropriate for a 7-year-old? Shouldn't I be able to trust that he can safely watch afternoon cartoons without seeing something that will give him nightmares for a week? I'm totally pissed off.

I'm an artist on this tiny pellicle of earth, trying to make some sense out of things that just don't. I do my best. I recycle. I'm not wasteful. Evey time I leave my house or watch the news I feel bombarded with excess and stupidity.

There are over 100 golf courses in this desert. Right. With grass. Thirsty, thirsty grass.

I remember my parents talking late into the night, quietly sitting together at our dinner table with drinks or coffee. They were angry too, and afraid, I would imagine. They talked about the recession of the 70's. Before that, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Very scary human stuff. I was oblivious, mostly, thanks to the insulation of being a kid in the seventies. It was the end of the world then too.

So, the end is nigh. Of course it is. What kind of arrogance would make anyone think humanity would last forever? Five hundred years from now the end will be nigh. Next week too.
The end is always nigh. The end was always nigh.

So, screw it. Forget it. I didn't make this mess. I just live here. Tonight I'm going to sleep. Tomorrow I'll look for beauty in the moments of the day.

It's the best this silly human can do. Honestly, between you and me, I have Poppets to thank for that.
No kidding.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Poppets Are Always ...Watching.

So... Have you picked out your costume yet?
Some of the Poppets were, um, wondering.

Poppets do love Halloween.
For sure.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lights, Literacy and Little things

Finally Autumn's Child has her lights. She seems more real to me now than ever. She seems like a child, stretching her reach to its limits, she seems to have been doing so since before time. I'm pleased.

In the September issue of Wired is an article by Clive Thomson about the effects of the internet on literacy. It's been thought for years now that literacy was being eaten alive by the net. Certainly language is affected by the 'new' medium. But language is a living thing, and prone to change with the times, not always for the better. Thomson's article argues that now that students are writing for an audience, writing skills are actually improved overall. There does seem to be some peer pressure motivation at work here. Despite the dribble and fluff of myspace, twitter and the like, students are at least writing more. Does practice make perfect?

I don't know. I went online to learn more. Interestingly, Thomson's article came up first in my search results.
There seems to be a fair amount of interest in the subject. I'll be watching. I'm interested to hear what you think.

This evening Orion accidently saw a preview on television for some upcoming Halloween programming. Dammit. It had clips featuring Chucky and the clown face from Saw. It was brief, but enough that he said it freaked him out a bit. So after reading I promised to stay until he fell asleep.
I put on a Samauri Jack DVD quietly for some familiar background noise and read with my booklight. After about ten minutes I felt him jump. He opened his eyes and told me he felt as though he fell. He was smiling and a little embarrassed. I explained that this is something everyone does, and how it's a thing that happens when our brains tell our muscles they can relax. Something that everyone does. Not children, but everyone. It was another of those reminders that he's not just my child, he's a person, an individual, subject to the same life curriculum as the rest of us humans. It's a curriculum I can't insulate him from. I know this. I've already watched my other children cross boundaries into their own spaces. And I've known since he discovered the alphabet that he was well on his way. It makes me a little sad. Of course it does. Because it's evidence, proof even, that everything changes and that we can hold onto nothing. But it was a beautiful moment, his smile, his realization that he'd straddled the boundary between asleep and awake. I feel extremely fortunate to have been there to see it.