This is my totem. 
A totem, in this respect, is an assemblage of items and symbols that represent an identity. In this case the identity is me. 
So I made this totem. I decided to use a bunch of natural materials kind of exploding out of a box, symbolizing my adoration for all things Earthy. The empty box represents the future and the path my art will take me down (woo, mystery)! 
I went to an artist party community get-together on Saturday evening, and the theme of the meeting was to create a totem. The meetings are held in an old dance hall lake house. The dance hall is made of old, sturdy wood and has every kind of eclectic charm. Tiny wrap-around porches, views of the lake, whale vertebrae stacked in the corner, a hot tub that doubles as a natural rock fountain, tables painted with murals and not a single chair that matches another... That place is heaven. The air is concentrated inspiration. You walk in, breathe, and need to make art. NOW. 

They gave us all sorts of tools and materials to work with and I went to town immediately. It was like magic. I had an idea, jotted down a sketch of it, and busily began assembling it. 
Other artists would come by to say hello, introduce themselves, share their art, and admire mine. I met a man who specializes in hand-made wearable suits of armor and a woman who makes large scale collages out of discarded cut-up Starbucks cards. The people there are so cool. 


The hermit crab made of wire was basically a last-minute addition. And when my snake, Virgil, shed his skin, I wove that in as well. 

I plan on attending every one of these monthly artist parties. As many as I can. The people there are my people. My tribe. My culture. I feel at home there, which is rare, for me. Home is a very powerful word and a very powerful idea. Home is where you belong, and I belong at that wise old dance hall in the woods. :) 

To know what's going on, click here: Part 1
Sorry for the watermark-- but I don't want any tattoo thieves!
So, Jennise got the tattoo colored in! We're all very jazzed about it!
It all began on Saturday. My boyfriend and I drove out to Jennise and her boyfriend's apartment and then Jennise and I took off to the tattoo parlor, leaving the guys to play videogames. The drive to the parlor was beautiful-- mostly due to the fact that the parlor was basically in a town that's so spread out and loosely populated (Carnation, WA) that the fire station has to have a sign saying "Post your Address-- We Can't Save You if We Can't Find You!" It's very farmy, woodsy, and wetland-y. Just my kind of place. 
Anyway, I won't waste your time with blather, here are pics! 
Jennise is a champ.
Flex that hearctopus!
Look at that game face. Rrrgh!
And here it is all finished! Super coooool!
It is probably the most flattering and bragging-rights-inducing thing to have your art on someone else's body. "Yeah, see that? Drew it. Yup. With my hands. It's ok to be jealous." 
Egos aside, I'm terribly happy with this. Cliff, the tattoo artists at ID Tattoo is a fun guy and did a bang up job. Overall, a great experience, and I'm happy Jennise is happy with her beloved Hearctopus. :) 

Next post: Artist Party, totems, and a freshly-shed Virgil! Tune in next time for another exciting adventure on Eccentric Escapade!! (cue the awesome theme song*)

*sadly, I do not have one of these
A few nights ago, I had a very cool dream. 
The setting was vague, the predominant colors were cerulean blue and shimmery yellow-green. My occupation in the dream was some sort of cross between modern artist and fish breeder. I met a beautiful woman who wanted me to breed a plecostomus catfish for her photo shoot. She needed the fish to be GIANT, as big as she was, so she could hold its fins and dance with it. 
I went to my tank and began breeding the fish. The method of this was like a copy/paste stamp-- I held a button and when I pressed the nozzle to the water, a baby pleco popped out. I eventually got the giant that she wanted.
I was an honored guest at the photo shoot. The location was a swimming pool, much deeper than it was wide, and the light shining into it with such a beauty that I cannot describe. The woman wore a silk dress of greenish yellow hues. The dress was frilly, like the fins of the plecostomus, and as she grabbed the fish's fins, she swirled and swam in beautiful sweeping motions. As they swam, many tiny baby plecostomuses came to join them, spiraling around them. 

My dreams are often this awesome, yes. :) This one stuck in my mind to the point of driving me to paint it. One Saturday evening my muse told me, "Hey, you know what's better than homework? Painting women and fish. Do it." 
And thus it was.
BUT ALAS! It is not finished! I still have to add the babies and finish the big one, not to mention clean the whole image up a bit... It feels good to do a digital painting again, though. Painter X and I are very close. Best friends. That aside, I hope to finish this piece soon. I think that it combines my love for realistic illustration AND weird animal art. Yay! 

Things this painting has taught me: learn how to paint underwater scenes. 

Now back to playing Pokemon Red for an English 126 essay... (I kid you not. More on this later.) 
(image in the banner credit: http://www.aqua-fish.net/show.php?h=petfish)
Attention readers. Today, your homework is to take a walk in the woods. Take photos of beautiful things. Try to imagine what birdsong would look like as a painting. Pretend you are an insect exploring a huge world. Absorb some much-needed Vitamin Sun. Attempt to describe the color green with only words. 
Here is an example of the assignment. 
Class is now in session. ;) 
I just wanted to share some random beauty with you guys. These photos were taken in the greenbelt in my neighborhood. On either side is an elementary school and suburb, but I tried to not show them. I wanted to catch the ephemeral, simple beauty that this tiny stretch of woods has to offer. 
Next update will hopefully have some more art. Thanks for reading. ♥
Since I bought Jomo (5 months ago), he hasn't shown any signs of shedding. None at all. Not that I knew at the time what his shedding looked like, but the closest he ever got was losing a few of his face scales. In April, his right arm started to shed. It came off like a snake's skin would, though it was a great deal spikier and thicker. At the time, I thought something was wrong-- why was he shedding only his arm? About 2 weeks later, his other arm shed. Progress! However, the rest of his skin was pretty miserable. 
Icky, right? Not very nice looking at all. 
After posting a very concerned thread on HerpCenter's forums, I recieved feedback such as "maybe he's got parasites" or "perhaps he's still getting used to his new house". Both of those ideas were plausible, and I planned to take Jomo to the herp-vet soon. 
Then, the very next day, I walk in to see this
To be completely honest, the first thing that shot into my mind was "oh my god Jomo is dead". But when he turned and looked at me, I figured out pretty quickly that he was not dead, but had just spontaneously shed his skin while I was at school (a span of 3 hours). The only sound effect I can assign this image is "PVVFFT", like a pop of popcorn or a life raft instantly inflating. The folks on the forum described him as coming out of a cocoon, or a statue coming to life. It is simultaneously gross and awesome. 
Now, Jomo is a very handsome lizard. His skin is smooth and silky to the touch and the only old skin he has left is on his back legs and tail. (I learned that lizards such as Jomo shed their skin in segments, unlike snakes.) 

Jomo's dwindling health had really been upsetting me on a profound level the past few months. I felt incompetent, irresponsible, and most of all: a bad pet owner. That stress load on top of work, school, and art commissions, I was a wreck. 
Now, Jomo is more active, his appetite has increased, and it's really easy to tell that he is glad to have that itchy dead skin gone. :) I'm happier, too. With Jomo's shed, I have shed a layer of my stress as well. (Whoah, symbolism, watch out!) 

And now, Part II of the post-- The Heartopus! 

Many thanks to my good buddy Jennise, the model and photographer of this image.
My friend Jennise now has a tattoo (a tattoo!) of one of my drawings made especially for her. It's an anatomical heart with octopus tentacles. It's meant to represent her own heart, and how it's always grasping to help others. (Don't quote me on that, I could be paraphrasing.) 
At first I was willing and excited, and then as most commissions go, I was discouraged and wanted to quit. I'm getting better at not doing that, though, and Jennise helped me through my doubts. 
Once I had the lines done, I sent it to her. And to my surprise-- she went right out and had it tattooed the same day. That sort of love and excitement really hit me hard. She loves that drawing with her heart (har har) and soul, and that was made clear to me when she let me know she was at the tattoo parlor getting it done right then. (The tattoo guys were even excited about the design and were fighting over who got to do it... My ego's never been more inflated!) 

I'd love to post an image of the original design, but I'd hate for someone to copy Jennise's tattoo. (Not to imply that I think my art is so cool that someone'd want to steal it... but have you seen people? Have you heard what they get tattooed? Some people see something neat and have it done on a whim. Tattoo designs get stolen a lot. Somehow the concept of "don't steal art" is lost.) 

I'm really pumped and excited to have this design completely finished. The colors are going to look totally sick man like whoah. Seriously. 

That's it for now, thanks for reading. ♥
So, as everyone in America knows, Mother's day is tomorrow. A lot of people go through a lot of trouble to do something nice for their mom. I was talking to someone recently who is putting together an elaborate slideshow of photos with their little sister. The photos have little captions like "I like it when my mom takes us to Chuck-e-Cheese!" and such. First of all, eww, Chuck-e-Cheese is disgusting, and second, why do all of that for your mom? It's a bit out of my comprehension. My mom always prefers a nice breakfast, a homemade card, and maybe a trip to an art gallery. No silly school-project-resembling gobbledygook. 
So here's what I've made for my mom this Mother's Day. 
A watercolor and colored pencil piece of one of our chickens, Skittle. Or as my mom and I refer to her, Miss Skittle Elanor. She's a feisty little sweetheart and my mom's personal favorite. 
I figured I would pick Skittle to illustrate because today has been a very chicken-themed day. Mom and I went to the local feed store and looked at the baby chicks for sale. Mom really wanted to get another chick for our tiny backyard flock, but my dad was pretty adamant about keeping the number at 3. It was actually pretty cute, how much mom wanted another chicken. But also sad. So maybe this painting of one will cheer her up a bit. :) 
(But I totally want another chicken, too. Those baby New Jersey Giants were to die for. So cute! Aagh!) 

So anyway, hope everyone have a good mother's day. Make your mom happy. Do something nice for her. 
Every once in a while I get a craving to get back onto Neopets to fart around with pet designs and such. I got a new grarrl (read: chubby T-rex) named Abulcasis (Abu for short). He was spotted so I figured HECK, make him a cheetah. With horns. What. 
It started as a black-outline-solid-color-derp-derp kind of cartoon drawing. I decided, then, that I dislike hard lines-- they show too many blemishes and are too sterile and boring. I basically just smudged them until I liked it. He looks more painty now, which is what I prefer. It seems more organic and solid. 

Enjoy the goofy cheetasaur! Heehee. 
For those who are curious*, my username on Neopets is potatofox. 

In other news, I'm currently trying to be better about personal commissions, getting Virgil moved into a 20gal tank, and getting over a cold. I guess I have homework, too, but... pfffft. Homework. It's basically a synonym for "procrastinate" anyway by this point in time. 

*Awesome people.