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The varieties of mille fleur


Bloody hell, is she still on about this?

More feathers. The red ones are Rosie (“Rosie is red…”) and the paler ones are Ginny. The proportion of red, black and white determines the overall ‘tone’ of a mille fleur.

Lucia was even whiter than Ginny (when she was a chick, she was practically all white). I do have Lucia feathers. A whole bag of them. But as Lucia was such an awesome chicken, I believe her feathers must have powerful juju.

I’m probably kidding.

Why yes, of course you can have a large color photograph of a bunch of chicken feathers.

October 19, 2017 — 8:57 pm
Comments: 12

Mille fleur is *hard*


Mille fleur. ‘Thousand flowers’. I’ve had three chooks of this variety, and lovely fat hens they’ve all been. But I’ve dreaded trying to paint them.

Working hard on my chicken portfolio just now, you see.

They aren’t just speckledy. When you see an individual feather — particularly a long feather — there’s at least something of a pattern. It’s a brown feather with a black stripe before a white tip. But jumbled onto a chicken…it’s hard.

Let’s see that in color, with this lovely picture of Lucia the Mille Fleur and Mapp the Ginger having a dust bath in the onion bed.

October 18, 2017 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 4

Cats! Sitting like people!



Not my photo. Not my cat. There’s more!

I’ve seen the quote at right differently worded and differently sourced, but I love it.

Anyhoo, I need some time tonight in what we call the “little weasel’s room”. Some arty friends may be putting together a group painting show in a few months, and I have to see if I have anything for it.

Well, no. I lie. I know what I’ve got. I’ve got nothing ready to go. But I need to shuffle through my sketches and see what I’ve got going on for ideas.

You might think to yourself, “ideas? Geez, lady, you paint chickens. What ideas?”

Well, that’s just the sort of ignorant thing I expect to hear from someone who doesn’t paint chickens, to be honest.

October 10, 2017 — 8:49 pm
Comments: 17

…and three…


And on Day Three, Charlotte. About whom, update.

The wound on her head healed beautifully, or so I thought. But a week or so ago, I noticed it had opened and within a couple of days…icky abscess.

The vet dealt with it, but left an open hole to let it air. It looks like a gunshot wound.

So I’ve been giving her an antibiotic pill and washing her head with salt water. Twice a day. Fun! Tomorrow we go back for a followup appointment, but I gotta continue this regime until Sunday.

Charlotte is a hissy, growly cat…thank goodness she had all her teeth removed years ago.

p.s. Oh, shoot — I forgot the best bit! The vet also turned up a couple of harvest mites in Charlotte’s ear. That’s when I learned, that little pouch at the base of a cat’s ear? It’s called Henry’s pocket. No, I haven’t been able to find out who Henry was, and they aren’t really sure what the pocket is for. Possibly to absorb lower frequency sound so the cat can better hear the high frequency ones. Like squeaky mice.

p.p.s. I declare tonycc the winner of the Dead Pool. He picked Tom Petty while he was at death’s door, but still breathin’. Tom Petty, that is. Fair’s fair. Meet you all back here Friday, 6WBT for Dead Pool Round 103.

October 4, 2017 — 6:34 pm
Comments: 18

Day Two


I realize this will get pretty boring, but I haven’t got the spoons to do a decent post AND a decent drawing. Maybe not even one of those things. Not to worry – I have the attention span of a fruit fly! I’ll never make 31 days.

And no, I do not intend to draw 31 wild pigs.

Talk amongst yourselves…

October 3, 2017 — 8:58 pm
Comments: 14

Well, maybe


Welp, it’s Inktober again. Yes, it’s one of those silly internet things, along the lines of NaNoWriMo, but less like gargling salt water and broken glass.

The idea is that you do an ink drawing every day for the month of October and post it. It’s a way of practicing discipline and honing skills, enforced by peer pressure, so I expect to make it a week at most. Usually, I realize it’s Inktober about five days in, when I stumble over a drawing on social media, but I saw it coming this year.

Day one was yesterday, and that’s my Day One drawing up there. Hrm. I haven’t thought this through. I guess I’ll put them on my Twitter as I do them and post them here whenever. Y’all can take bets when I bottle out. It’ll be like an extra Dead Pool, with schadenfreude as the prize.

Oh, if you want to see some fun art, good and bad, search the #inktober tag on Twitter. It’s, like, hundreds a minute at the beginning. Substantially less toward the end.

p.s. Talk about anything you want in the comments.

October 2, 2017 — 8:46 pm
Comments: 14

Are they blind?


We went to the movies tonight. Specifically, we went to see one of those exhibitions-on-screen, where they visit an exhibition in London and give you all sorts of history and detail. They get right up close on the paintings, which is neat.


The thing in the header is Titian’s Venus with a Mirror. I was struck by something in it. He and his studio between them painted at least fifteen versions of this picture, but this is the one he kept in his studio until his death. Several commentaries I found online said perhaps it’s because, in the reflection, she looks like she’s looking out at the viewer.

To which I can only say ARE YOU BLIND? It’s a whole different face. The eye in the mirror is terrified. What could be taken as her hair in reflection could also be described as the saggy jowls of middle age. This is something like, ruined old lady peers in horror across the decades. Well, that’s what this ruined old lady thinks, anyhow.

I’ll not post the full version. I don’t actually like the picture much.

Okay, that’s enough artsy fartsy stuff for one week. Hef has died at last, and the commenter formerly known as Skeptic takes the dick (second dick in recent memory)!
That means…tomorrow.
6:00 WBT.

DEAD POOL ROUND 102. (Or whatever the hell it really is. I’ll have to ask Rich Rostrom).

September 28, 2017 — 10:07 pm
Comments: 7

Curious and true


Here’s a sad little story for you. Going to Bateman’s put me in mind of it.

Edward Julius and Charles Maurice Detmold were twin brothers born in Surrey in 1883. Their father was chronically ill, so they grew up in the house of an uncle who, among other things, collected Japanese woodcuts. The brothers became fascinated with drawing in the Japanese style.

It would be fair to call them prodigies: they both had exhibited in watercolor at the Royal Academy by the time they were 13. Mostly animal pictures. Before they were 20, they had several very successful picture books to their credit. Their fortunes really took off that year when they were asked to illustrate Kipling’s Jungle Book.

There’s a little room in Bateman’s that has some — maybe all — of these illustrations and a few more. I assume they’re the originals. Beautiful stuff.

The success of these pictures allowed them to divide their time between London and Ditchling, Sussex — not far from here. Half a year at each. In 1908, when they were 25, they were preparing to go down to Ditchling. Here’s where it gets weird.

Their local doctor gave them some chloroform to kill the housecat. Which Maurice did. Then he took the remainder of the chloroform and killed himself.

That’s it. That’s all the detail I’ve ever been able to glean from any source, and I have so many questions. Was the cat ill? Did people routinely kill their cats rather than bring them on holiday? I know people were shitty to cats back then, but that seems a bit much. Was Maurice depressed? Could it have been an accident? Or did he — this is my favorite theory — kill the cat and then feel so awful about it aferward that he offed himself?

Edward had a long and successful career after, though many reckon his brother had the more talent. In his seventies, Edward’s eyesight began to fail. He killed himself with a shot to the chest in 1957.

Well worth looking up their work. Here is the full image from the header. It’s a lovely thing. Not sure which Detmold did it, perhaps both. Looking at it, I think they used a combination of watered-down and full strength ink. Or perhaps it’s an etching — they did a lot of printmaking.

I know what your monkeybrain is telling you. It’s telling you if you were super careful and made a zillion little descriptive lines, you could maybe do something that looked like that. I’m here to inform you, sadly, from a lifetime of experience, monkeybrain lies.

September 27, 2017 — 8:42 pm
Comments: 13

I saw the Flit!


We went to Bateman’s today, home of Rudyard Kipling and the setting for my favorite Kipling book, Puck of Pook’s Hill (a collection of short stories about Sussex, and I loved it long before I lived here).

We’ve been to Bateman’s many times, you may remember, but this time there promised to be an exhibition of Arthur Rackham‘s illustrations for Puck of Pook’s Hill. Rackham is one of my all time favorite illustrators, this one one of my all time favorite books — perfect, yes?

Meh. They only had three original paintings and a few framed prints. The room was small and dark and the pictures were framed under shiny glass. Hard to see and underwhelming. They didn’t even have any Rackham books or cards in the gift shop.

I did get to see the original of this picture, though. It’s called the Dymchurch Flit, Dymchurch being a coastal town and “the flit” was the fairies leaving England forever. Chapter 22 of the book.

The story goes that the fairies got sick of our shit in the 1530s, during the nastiness of the Reformation. They turned up on Romney Marsh with their bags packed — Romney Marsh being a stick-out bit of coastline that is the furthest southeast you can go on the island without getting your feet wet. There they begged the Widow Whitgift to let her sons sail them away in a boat, and she did.

They came back after three days, but one son was blind and the other mute, so they never told anyone what they saw. You can read the chapter here, with some footnotes and explanation here.

Not my favorite Rackham painting and not viewed under the best conditions, but it’s always a thrill to see the original of a work that you know well from reproduction.

September 26, 2017 — 7:36 pm
Comments: 13

He’s nekkid!


I told you guys I managed to sell both pieces I put in the art show, before the doors even opened. I underpriced them, I’ve been told. As a result of which, I am now a *full member* (and I was able to pay for that frightfully self-indulgent map case and paint box).

Even better, as a direct result, I’ve been asked to join an invitation-only life drawing class. I’m having a blast.

I need this kind of eye training. Because the drawings I did in my last gig were mostly very technical, nearly everything I did was traced in some way — either the old fashioned way, or Photoshopically. Tracing is bad for fine art. Not because it’s cheating — honestly, there is no such thing in art; it ain’t football or canasta — but because it results in boring pictures.

When you draw from life, you’re forced to process what you’re looking at. You have to figure out what’s happening and then you have to figure out how to explain it to someone else. This makes for a much more persuasive and interesting picture. It’s hard as hell, though.

It also, of course, makes for more errors. There’s a classic in this drawing – his hands are way too big, especially his right hand. The human brain exaggerates anything it finds interesting but it’s a rookie mistake not to catch it and fix it. In my defense, they were all thirty minute poses today; shorter than I’m comfy with.

At least they haven’t done any 5 and 15-minutes poses yet. Brrrrr…I hate those.

September 20, 2017 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 12