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Jump to the art, updates, and fic sections if you just want to skip all the horrible things. Otherwise, there’s an obscene amount of word count dedicated to nattering on about panel shows this week, but it’s all weirdly relevant to the horrible things
I don’t know if I ever adequately and thoroughly explained in one place why I left AO3. I talked about it on Tumblr a bit, and on Dreamwidth, and it definitely got mentioned here in the weeks leading up to it, but I was also rather unwell at the time so I wasn’t thinking very clearly when I did finally purge everything and make the move to delete everything. So here it is, the full story and explanation all in one place.
This was a decision that was a long time coming. I’ve been considering doing this for several years, but it was only out of deference to the readers that I didn’t do it sooner. There’s a lot of wank (and I am going to start using that word again as well, and stop using “discourse” and similar) about whether fic authors even have the right to delete their fic from AO3 at all. It’s an entitled argument that frankly pisses me off, and usually comes from people who don’t write. I’ve seen some hilariously hypocritical takes from people who had deleted their Twitter accounts because they didn’t like how they were being treated as an artist, only to then make this assertion that it’s different for fic, because fic belongs to the people who read it since it brings them comfort or something. But that’s why the download button exists, and I have always made it easy to download my fic, even from my own website. (Honestly, I think my eBook downloads are better than the ones AO3 offers, because theirs are a cluttered, over-formatted mess. And mine have covers.)
This whole argument came up in the first place though, because of the general state of AO3. I don’t know how many of you knew this, but I was one of the original pre-beta testers for the site. The site was in alpha when I got my account, as an early stress tester. It didn’t go into open beta until November of 2009.
I was one of the people even back then, before the site opened to the public beta, who cautioned against tag wrangling, because it wouldn’t scale and would cause problems down the line. It felt like an over-step. At one point, it was clear that whoever was wrangling the tags for the fandom I was using the stress test was not familiar with the fandom. I knew they weren’t familiar with it, because the character had an oddly-spelt name, and they emailed me to make sure it wasn’t a typo. It was clear from that moment that wrangling was going to piss people off at some point, because wranglers were going to get it wrong.
And wow, have they really got it wrong over the years.
I was also one of the people who was told that the site would be packaged as an archive that anyone could download and install on private servers. An archive of one’s own. That never happened, and it was the first thing about the site that really pissed me off, and I have remained salty about that broken promise ever since. The reason it never happened is because the backend code is a fucking mess, and they can’t in good faith release it to lay people. There are a few individuals who have managed to install it, but apparently it is a nightmare to do. I’ve looked into it, and I’ve got some knowledge with this sort of thing, and I couldn’t get my head around it. There aren’t many people left who remember this promise though, because it was quietly removed from the road map very early on when they realised it was impossible with the way all their bodged code was barely working together in the first place.
The bodged code which is the reason this site from 2009 only just this year got the ability to block people. If you’ve ever wondered why AO3 drag their feet on new features that the site clearly needs, it’s because adding them is nigh impossible without breaking something else. So, for years, I’ve had to put up with manually deleting abuse in my comments. I’d go through cycles of just turning off comments on all my fics, because moderating comments means that I still have to read the fucking things. Death threads from children who can barely spell. If I turn the comments off on the problem fics, they’ll just leave them on another fic instead. So I turn them off on everything. I don’t make it a secret that I have two accounts, so comments get turned off on both of them. It doesn’t do to archive lock the comments so they can’t leave them anonymously, because they’ll comment logged-in, and then immediately delete it. And abuse won’t do anything about that, because there’s no actual comment to report. They won’t take action on a screenshot. Apparently that kind of behaviour is perfectly acceptable. So I was forced into taking an action that made me look weirdly disengaged and stand-offish instead. At that point, I may as well just pull everything and put it on a website where I’ve got complete control anyway.
But that’s still only half of it. Because while I was dealing with all of this, there were board elections. Two of them, because that’s how long I held out, thinking it was better to keep my fic up on AO3 for the readers. Two years in a row now, we’ve had pro-censorship people up for election. Last year, one of those people was apparently already within the OTW in another position. Add onto that the while thing with allegations of racism within the whole organisation and Kutti’s resignation, and I was fucking done. There’s a whole sordid backstory here that I haven’t the brainpower to go into, but you can get into it on their journal if you want to get really angry and upset.
But it’s like I said on Tumblr last week. You see these antis screeching about how AO3 hosts CSEM content, or any other content they don’t like, but they continue to use it anyway. And it’s because they know that the content they’re screaming about isn’t actually what they say it is, but also, they have no principles. My decision to pull my fic from AO3 came from two things. An actual book-banning republican running for the OTW board, and that same week, posts about Kutti’s whole situation started making it to my F-list on Dreamwidth. At that point, I decided fuck this site. It’s funny, the amount of bullshit I’ll put up with when it’s directed at myself, if I think that someone else might be benefitting from it, but it became clear that the whole thing was systemic and almost intentionally designed to work the way it had been working for me at that point. I could not in good faith or conscience continue to use the site any longer. So I made announcements on every channel I could (annoyingly, excluding AO3 because that would be against TOS), and gave people about a month to download what they wanted.
Of course, by then, the damage had largely been done. Fandom had already not been fun for a while, so I’d largely distanced myself to begin with, and after what happened to me in March, I’ve mostly gone offline for my own mental health. My entire online presence this year has been Taskmaster shitposting and art therapy, basically. Two things that have had fuckall to do with things that have made my online life hell for the last few years. So getting this announcement out to people wasn’t easy. I half expected people to get angry when they finally noticed that I’d fucked off with all my fic, but it never happened. And then I slowly realised that the sort of people who would get angry were the sort of people who would have no idea where the fuck I went or how to find me in the first place, so whatever.
But I hadn’t realised how much all of this had really fucked me up until a few newsletters back, when I first started posting here on WordPress. I had intended for that first issue here to include new fic, but I panicked and took it out. I mean that extremely literally. I was sat here at my desk, having an actual panic attack over posting a goddamn fanfic. That’s incredibly stupid. I had to explain to my therapist what the fuck AO3 was and why I’d stopped using it, because this is my life now. Because I realised that if I’m having this much anxiety over sharing fanfic, this is going to cause problems down the line when I intend to actually publish properly again. Obviously, I managed to share it last week, but I didn’t like it. Which is why I also asked for requests, so I could take that part of the stress away from myself. But I am angry, and endlessly so, at what the mainstreamification of fandom has done my ability to have fun with this stupid hobby. So things are gonna be weird here for a while until I can get my head on straight, I think.
As far as this newsletter goes, you are welcome to share it with your friends if they’re into the sort of weird shit I write. I’m trying to come up with a way to share the master password for fic to long-time or trusted readers, so you don’t have to faff about with all the individual ones, but I am dead serious about keeping shit locked down this time. I would much rather host my weird little fic on a website that’s only going to get twelve hits, where there’s no comments or likes, than ever go back to publicly hosting it again. As far as I’m concerned, it’s 1998, and this is how fandom operates again.
Speaking of fandom in the 1990s, the new series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks started a few weeks ago. Has anyone been watching that?
When these roofers haven’t been stomping around above my head, making me stick to the ceiling from anxiety, I’ve been working more on Malapropism. It’s in that weird state now where I think I’ve figured out what it wants to be, which means I’ve rewritten the first part about six times. I still want to release it around the end of the year, but it may get pushed to the beginning of next at this point. We’ll see. It’s only September. But I want to be able to keep this thing on a solid schedule, so having it actually in a finished, postable state, at least up to a certain point, before I start posting it is extremely important.
This is a serial fiction project I’ve been working on that is in part based on all the weird shit that happens to me that people keep telling me I should write a book about, but I am embellishing a lot and generally making it even weirder. The last few weeks, I’ve been having a prolonged screaming match with a giant house spider, and a few weeks ago, my kitchen was haunted by pinto beans. No, I’m not going to elaborate. You’re going to have to read it to find out. The way this year has gone, we vaguely expect one of these roofers to fall through our ceiling, and last night we only half-jokingly took bets on whether they’d fall on me or my husband. Because let’s be real, if they did fall through the roof, they would do it into our apartment. Hell, I could probably lie about it happening, and most of you would believe it without question at this point.
I’m not going to do that though. I’m going to save it for the serial. Unless it really does happen, in which case I will post pictures.
You can sign up over here, and read for free. Signing up before I start publishing will get you every post for free. After they start going out, old posts will be paywalled. Then, later, I’ll be releasing the serial as collected volumes to places like Smashwords and potentially Amazon.
This painting was supposed to be something completely different, but what came out in the end was nothing at all what I expected. I have no idea why it looks like this. It is the last thing I expected to see, and I don’t know what happened in the process to make it look like this. There was a specific process I went into the painting wanting to do, and a certain look I was hoping to achieve, and this… ain’t it. At all. I really like it, and I’d love to know what happened. But it’s not all all what I wanted from it.
The piece is simply Salvage #1, because this is a salvaged panel from my trash pile. I don’t like to throw away canvases or panels unless they’re literally unusable. This was a salvaged panel from a painting I’d attempted ages ago, after buying what I thought were acrylic paints. They were labelled as acrylic paints. I opened them and began using them, only to learn that they were instead this new horrible water-based oil paint instead. Yeah, you read that right. Water-based oil paint. I had tried to do a landscape, and had began blocking most of it out before realising that this shit doesn’t dry the way I expected it to, because it’s freaking oil paint. So I threw it aside and forgot about it until earlier this year, when I pulled out all my junk canvases and painted them black for salvage later.
I can kind of see where some of the weirdness happened on the left-hand side here. I think that might have been the foreground, once upon a time. There was grass and rocks and things, or at least the beginning of them, before it all smeared together in a disgusting green and brown blob. I didn’t want any of that here. I wanted it to all be a bunch of different colours. But I made another mistake. I used that weird paint that dries like rubber. And I don’t think it liked the oil paint that very clearly soaked through the layer of black acrylic I used to paint over the weird-ass oil paint I’d originally used here.
I didn’t use a lot of pink. At this point, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. I just knew that I wanted a lot of colours. And I’ll spare you the details, because this next step is pretty damn boring, but I repeated this process a whole bunch of times. I let the paint dry, and then put down another layer in another colour.
This paint looks wet, but I almost always forgot to take the photos until I was ready to paint the next layer. All that texture and shine is after the paint had dried. It really does dry to a gummy, rubber-like texture, and it’s so weird. Also, you can really see the difference these colours make on the white balance on my phone. That’s the same green mat every time. You can tell from the slice on the top left. And it’s a different shade of radioactive acid green. I don’t bother editing these process photos for this, because that’s frankly too much effort for what can sometimes be quite a lot of photos. But maybe I should start.
I probably won’t though, tbh.
One final layer of black, this time with the same rubbery paint, rather than with the heavy body paint I originally used to make the canvas black in the first place. I don’t know if using the heavy body paint would have made any difference here. The only thing I’m glad I didn’t do was use my Culture Hustle paint, because I would have probably been quite angry at the waste.
I didn’t take any photos of what happened in between, because it all happened rather quickly. What my intent was at this point was to begin sanding down the layers, to show each one individually in different areas, as though the canvas had been slowly and subtly eroded. I was going to take photos throughout the entire process. Instead, I dragged the sanding block over the entire canvas, and the whole thing came up like a giant scab. Not everywhere, and not in a way that revealed all of the original painting beneath. I have no idea why part of the gold layer stayed, but nothing on top of it did, or why it didn’t peel off down to the pink, or even all the way back down to the black. Why did so much of the blue remain? The black that remained is very much the heavy body black, because it’s not textured, except some of it clearly is the other black because you can see some of the pink in the bottom right corner. I don’t understand this painting. But I’m going to attempt this process again with paints that don’t suck, on a panel that hasn’t been ruined by weird oil paints first, and try to get the look I was going for originally.
Prints are on inPrnt for the time being, because it’s better than RedBubble, but I’m getting real fed up with them as well. If anyone knows a better printer who will do the printing and shipping, I’d love to know about it.
It’s been a weird week for the panel show/Britcom fandom, and I think the only reason it’s not been a complete dumpster fire on the fandom side is because on the whole we tend to skew older and are generally too fucking tired for wank. But between Richard Ayoade endorsing Graham Linehan’s new book, which was more disappointing than it was surprising in some ways, and the Russell Brand accusations which are not even a tiny bit surprising, there’s a lot of older shows that have suddenly become uncomfortable, if not outright unwatchable. There was already one Big Fat Quiz year that’s been an instant skip every time I’ve been in the mood to go watch old episodes, and oddly enough it hasn’t got either of those two in it. It’s the 2008 quiz, and the only one Sean Lock ever did. Coincidentally, this quiz was affected by Brand in a different way, because he and Jonathan Ross had been involved in a different scandal, which resulted in Ross not appearing on the show for the first time. Instead, we were treated to a massive transphobic rant from Sean Lock that was so shocking, even Jimmy Carr thought it crossed a line and had trouble getting the panel back on track.
I can usually fairly easily compartmentalise dickhead behaviour, because otherwise you run out of things to enjoy pretty damn quickly. If I let these losers get in the way of my ability to enjoy things in a world that is becoming increasingly devoid of joy, I’d never be able to watch Black Books or Catsdown ever again. There’s some outdated language in Spaced, and David Walliams is a bit weird, but I’m not going to throw that whole show out over it. I’m gonna go see Eddie Izzard next month, and I have no idea what language she uses these days to refer to herself or her identity, but I remember when she called herself a transvestite. Hell, a few months ago, I wrote a whole issue about Bill Bailey using that same word in one of his routines back in the 90s, because that was the word in use at the time.
But at the same time, the situations surrounding Ayoade and Brand this week are worlds apart. Ayoade has terrible friends, and who knows what terrible views he may be secretly keeping to himself. Over on Bluesky, people were joking about this endorsement being career suicide, and how he’ll have mysteriously vanished, but we all know that’s not going to happen. Shit, I’m typing this up Saturday evening, and I’m positive everyone will have forgotten about him by Monday, because Russell Brand will have vastly overshadowed him. Because having terrible friends and opinions is easy to forget about. It’s not hypocritical as a fan to compartmentalise that and shove it off into a corner so you can go giggle like an idiot at 90 minutes of the same bad dong joke as it gets beaten into the ground. I don’t think it is, anyway, because no one on television is—for want of a better word—without sin. If you stopped watching television based on who’s done something you disagreed with, you’d never watch television. If there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism, then there’s no ethical entertainment media either. It’s not even a capitalistic statement. There’s just no ethical entertainment media, full stop. Everyone on your television has done something you disagree with, or take moral opposition with. You just don’t know what they are, because you haven’t been told. If you allow every single off-camera action to inform your media choices, you’re going to wind up like those kids on social media who scream about how every problematic facet of fiction endorses and encourages bad behaviour in reality.
Instead, for me, there’s a line in the sand. Or, multiple lines in the sand, all contextually different but still important. I don’t like Tom Cruise. He bothers me. He’s a fucking weirdo, and I refuse to watch anything with his name attached. Apparently the Mission: Impossible movies are very good, but I’d never know. They’ve even got Simon Pegg in them, whom I absolutely adore, but I hate Tom Cruise more than I like Simon Pegg. Tom Cruise crossed my “don’t be in a predatory religious cult” line, which is very similar to the “don’t be a raging antisemitic fucknut” line Mel Gibson crossed to get put on the same blacklist that means I don’t watch anything with his name attached either. Which is a shame, because he did a lot of great movies in the 80s and 90s, but I can’t even compartmentalise him well enough to enjoy his older stuff. The man’s such a piece of dogshit, he forever ruined Maverick for me, and that makes me hate him even more.
I never really liked Russell Brand to begin with though. He always gave me vague sex pest vibes anyway, and there’s even one Quiz where Jimmy Carr calls him something along the lines of a potential rapist or similar (I frankly can’t be fucked to scrub through that many episodes with him in to get the exact quote, but that’s the general vibe of what was said. All I can say is that I’m about 90% certain it was in one of the Goth Detective episodes). I always thought that was a particularly edgy joke, even for Jimmy Carr. Now, it seems that joke was just an exceptionally on-the-nose observation that somehow made it to broadcast. But this is one of those lines in the sand, and personally, not even a particularly difficult one to deal with. A few older episodes of Big Fat Quiz are the main ones to avoid, because those are really the only place he showed up when it came to things I really cared about. He never did the sort of movies I cared about, and I think aside from the odd episode of things like Buzzcocks or QI, he never really did anything else I watched. So like, nothing of value was really lost, except now on those nights when I’m lying in bed stoned out of my mind, finding something to watch is going to be a little more frustrating because he’s in a lot of older Quiz episodes and it’s going to be a real pain in the ass to sort through them. I’ll probably just have to make my own playlist now, instead of relying on the one I’m using that has all of them. The Quiz is great television for when I’m stoned, because my memory’s already shit as it is; add all that on top of it, and I can’t remember any of the answers, so it’s like I’m watching a brand new episode.
In less depressing news, and still keeping on the theme of being a weird week for the panel show fandom, Taskmaster starts up tomorrow. Someone on Tumblr posted a drinking game, and my husband and I are absolutely going to play it, and get completely shitfaced for episode 1. It was also announced this week that Taskbox has another episode coming out on the 29th, and I don’t know if the timing for that is coincidental or not, but that’s got both of us extremely hyped up. Taskbox is actually how I managed to get my husband into Taskmaster in the first place, because he saw that first, without any context. But luckily it’s a format that doesn’t really need context.
I also saw today (still Saturday) that they’re releasing this series on YouTube at roughly the same time as it goes out on Channel 4. There will be a slight delay, since it’s going out on Friday, but they didn’t time stamp that on the announcement they made. So, like. That could realistically mean anything from the time they’ve been putting out videos normally (somewhere between 8am-midday Pacific) to three hours after it airs on Channel 4. It’s very obviously a move to combat piracy, but if they’re concerned about piracy it also shows that they’re well aware of an international audience in the first place. But I’m also wondering if that chap what uploads this show and a bunch of others is about to lose his channel by the time this newsletter goes out. That’s what happened to the other one who was posting episodes. Series 15 started, and the channel mysteriously vanished in a cloud of policy violations.
Either way, my Tumblr dash is about to get extremely weird for the next ten weeks, and I cannot wait. The timing last series was frankly perfect, because I needed the distraction from everything going on around here, and quite literally would not have left my apartment at all without the fucking podcast to encourage me to get out of the house and go for my daily walks. So it’ll be nice to get that back without the added stress on top of it this time round. It only feels right to ring in the new series by taking shots every time someone says “your time starts now,” or Alex Horne tells someone that all the information they need is on the task. The only flaw in this plan is that I have therapy Friday morning, so that’ll be a fun hangover to explain. But equally, I make no apologies for who I am about to become over the next ten weeks. If you follow me on Tumblr, I am very likely going to be extremely drunk on main tomorrow evening.
I’ve got some requests, and will be prioritising those. Thank you for sending them! It lets me know what people like to see, so I don’t just drown you in unhinged bullshit all the time, which I will do if I’m allowed to just go off on my own all the time. For the chapter fics, I’ll post one a week until the whole thing is back up, since some of these are quite old and it gives me a chance to properly go over them again for anything that may have got missed the first time.
Tarbell Course in Magic, vol 1: The History of Magic (81,000 words) byLokiOfSassgaard
Chapters: 26 Fandom:Thor Rating: Explicit Warnings: None Pairings:Darcy Lewis/Loki, Jane Foster/Thor Characters:Loki, Darcy Lewis, Jane Foster, Thor Additional Tags: alternate universe – modern setting, stage magic, slow burn, dysfunctional relationships, complicated relationships, power imbalance, mental health issues, fish out of water, darcy’s poor choices in men, loki’s poor life choices, loki is a bad brother, thor is a bad brother, odin’s a+ parenting, frigga’s b- parenting, trash heap loki
Summary:All her life, Darcy has wanted to perform magic on stage. When a new act comes into town and auditions for an assistant, Darcy takes a chance and goes in for the part. It’s just a shame that the new magician is a creep with an ulterior motive that could ruin everything.
An older one from around 2013-ish, which got an update in 2021 to tidy it up a bit. It’s always been one of my favourites, because I put so much of my own weird bullshit into it. Darcy’s terrible apartment is the terrible apartment I lived in for a while. Her neighbours were my neighbours. I used to go to the park across the street at two o’clock in the morning and chat with the taxi driver who lived next door while he let his dogs play, and he’d pay me about $20 a month or something like that to leech off my wifi because it was better than the free wifi the building provided. Names have been changed, but all the people at the open stage nights at Denny & Lee were people I hung out with. I don’t have much left over from that period of my life, standing behind a counter selling cheap magic tricks to tourists as they wandered through a magic shop in an over-priced mall on the Las Vegas strip, but I kept most of the books and some of the props, and can even still eat fire.
Just in case you were wondering what’s behind those paintings I keep showing you.
One thing about this fic that got overlooked the first time round is that this has bizarrely little to do with the movie, despite having Darcy as a main character. That really tripped people up, so if you missed it, or are new here, this fic has a lot more to do with the comics than the movie. It was written with the first film in mind (I can’t even remember if the second one had even been out yet; if it had, I’d completely disregarded it), but only as far as taking certain character elements from it. Jane holds two PhDs and a vague teaching position at UNLV (not Culver or wherever she was based at in Thor 1). Erik Selvig is the Stellan Skarsgård character, and not Eric Solvang as he appears in the comics (not that he really shows up anyway, but he exists as a background presence). Don Blake/Thor is a medical student on his way toward an MD or something (don’t get me started on whatever the fuck kind of doctor Don was meant to be). But the whole thing was written more with Thor: Season 1 in mind, rather than the MCU. Maybe one of these days I’ll write a fic with Eric Solvang just for the lulz.
A lot of the people who did read this fic the first time round really expected the story to follow the beats of Thor 1 for some reason, and then got confused and upset when it didn’t. It’s not going to follow Thor: Season 1 either, because I don’t like writing those kinds of AUs that just retell the same story you’ve already read. It’s its own unique thing at the end of the day, but written largely with that specific comic in mind for the basis of where I was going for character motivation, particularly when it comes to Loki’s motivations and behaviours, and Thor’s backstory. Also, Thor: Season 1 is the soft reboot that brings the comic continuity into line with the MCU. Or, it was meant to be. I think every page of it has already been retconned out over the last decade, because that’s how Marvel do.
TL;DR, this fic is an AU. It uses MCU characters, but beyond that has nothing to do with the MCU because that’s how I do, and every single magic trick in this fic is one that I actually know how to perform, some of them I have even done on a stage to an audience. I even explain how a few of them work.
Nothing new this week. These fucking roofers have been starting in at 7am right above my head all week, and that doesn’t make it easy to get anything done that I need to get done, much less fun hobby writing.
So, the one thing about WordPress and Tumblr both being owned by the same company is that both of their block editors absolutely suck and have the exact same problems. Trying to highlight a large section of text, and then delete it? Yeah, good luck. It doesn’t happen. The problem is that the newsletter only works in the block editor, and I can’t use the old HTML editor here, so fuck me I guess. Every single problem you have trying to edit text on Tumblr, I do have here. But hopefully the plugin that lets the old HTML editor work will get updated soon to work with the newsletter, and then I can start using it here. Since I use that everywhere else, I’ll be able to keep an eye out, at least.
The thing about WordPress not being Tumblr is that at least there was no giant stupid clown to deal with over here. So that was nice.
I’ve been really hardcore thinking about buying myself a new toy, in the form of an instant camera. The one I’ve been looking at specifically is the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90. I have a few digital cameras, but something about a film camera, and specifically an instant film camera really speaks to me lately. I think the reason I’ve been looking into them is because digital photography, even the old-ass dSLR I have, is a fairly flawless medium. Or at least it can be relatively easily manipulated into being flawless. My phone shoots 4k. If there are any flaws or imperfections in anything I shoot, it can easily be photoshopped out, and any artefacts from that removed just by shrinking the image down a bit.
But an instant camera, well. That’s it. You get what you get. I think an instant camera would be really fun to take with me not just on walks, but when I go into town to shows and other events. I’m going to see Eddie Izzard next month, and going into Portland is always a fun experience anyway. I feel like that’s exactly the sort of thing I’d love to take an instant camera to.
I actually had this one ready to go a couple months ago, but I didn’t have the energy or brain power to do any write-ups about it with everything else going on. And then I moved the newsletter over, and just decided to sit on everything until I got settled. And at that point I decided, hell. Let’s go back to one email a week and just consolidate everything again. So here’s the art section of the email.
Though honestly, part of the reason I went to two a week was because Substack was absolutely insistent that emails above a certain length would be completely undeliverable. Even though that was categorically bollocks.
This is a very similar process to a previous painting I did, and it was done really to fill a space on the wall that needed filling. Which is why it’s a lot less intricate, honestly. I spent a lot more time on the first one, where this one’s a lot smaller, and got a lot less time put into it. But unlike the other one, this one is very slightly UV-reactive, because of the gesso I used. It’s actually a gesso I made ages ago for another project that never happened.
And it’s terrible gesso. Terrible, streaky, awful gesso, and it’s the reason the previous project never happened, because I made this before I realised the “problem” with the pigment I used. Because I used some Culture Hustle pigments to tint the gesso, specifically the Pinkest Pink and Loveliest Blue. What it didn’t give me was a nice, vibrant purple. It gave me this really weird, pale lilac instead, which was odd and disappointing. It also gave me something that was gummy and streaky and gross to work with. Which, I know now is because this specific line of pigments has a binding agent pre-mixed in. Probably gum arabic, given that they work out of the box as a watercolour without needing to add a watercolour binder to the mix. Which has meant that I’ve made some really nice watercolour pans with them just by adding water, but I’ve really not liked them for acrylic paints at all. And I forgot that this is how I pigmented this batch of gesso until this moment.
And I don’t know if it was the extra-sticky nature of the gesso, or the extra-cheap nature of my brushes, but it straight up killed this one. Which was annoying, because I’d just bought this set. It was brand new. I’d only used it once. But I’m going to blame it on both factors coming together and just kicking my ass.
I don’t even remember how many coats I had to do, but it was a lot. I gave up on brushes after that one broke apart, and moved to rolling it on, and that worked a little better, but if it wasn’t totally completely dry, the roller would start picking it back up instead, and that really drove me nuts as well. Weirdly, I didn’t take any photos of this one under a black light, but that was probably because it was annoying the hell out of me as I was putting this all together.
Also annoyingly, the brush that fell apart was one of my bigger ones, so when I got to the drybrush portion, I had to go for a smaller one. I did remember from the previous time round that these pieces seem to go backwards, weirdly enough. The bottom layer winds up on top in the end, so the purple gesso layer would wind up on top. I don’t quite understand it, even though I’ve done it twice now. But it is weird how that winds up working out.
More tape, and yellow paint on top of the black, and then again with pink. I wanted these to be the main colours, because my husband likes pink, and this was going up by his desk. And yellow just goes nice with pink. They pop really well together. I can’t remember what kind of paint I used for this, but I don’t think it was the same weird rubbery paint I did last time. The pink is too vibrant for it, for one. Those colours I used before were a bit more bold, I think.
And here it is, all done. It’s a fairly simple one, as they go, but I really like it. The colours turned out really nice, and it was a good use of that horrible gesso I made that’s been taking up shelf space for ages. I haven’t used it all up, but there’s about half as much as there was before, so that’s a start.
I have finally finished my scrap yarn blanket. I got it done last night, and it’s a stupid size and a stupid shape, which makes it pretty much perfect to fit over the entire sofa.
You can’t see the full thing here, but I didn’t feel like tidying my bedside table to take a better photo. A lot easier to just crop out the mess on my husband’s desk. But here it is. Done, and I never have to think about it again. I cannot believe how long this took, or really how much yarn I had that was able to go into it. I kept finding more bits of yarn that was tucked away in the bag, and then it was like, well there’s no point in having this hanging about when the whole idea of doing the blanket was getting rid of all the solid-coloured yarn over 50g. But with that finished, I’ve moved on to another one. I’m using up variegated yarn and making lots and lots and lots of little squares.
Not just in these colourways. I have a bunch of different ones, but these are the ones I pulled out to start with. And that little ball on the side of the photo there is from the squares I did to test what stitch I wanted to do. I did about three or four of them, decided I hated them for various reasons, and eventually landed on this one. Aesthetically, I like this one the least, but it’s the easiest one to quickly add a border to, so it’s what I’m doing. The one I liked the look of the best was the biggest pain in the ass to add a border to, so fuck that one. It annoyed me in the end, so I frogged it. It’s going to get added to the bag of yarn vomit, which will become another yarn vomit blanket, which I’ve already started on, but haven’t taken a picture of yet because it’s in the bedroom, and my husband is trying to sleep back there.
I say trying, because they’ve got roofers in, and roofers + night shift people is a goddamn war crime, but here we are.
I asked on Twitter for people to tell me their favourite fics of mine, but nobody responded (I’m going to assume because most of the people who followed me there for fandom have long gone). So I’ll ask that here. Tell me your favourite fics, and I’ll prioritise reposting those first. Until then, I’ll just pick random ones from the Trello board each week, and whatever goes up goes up. For now I’m probably going to stick to one or two a week, or one chapter a week in the case of longfic, because I do want to go through all of them again, and don’t want to overwhelm myself.
A more recent fic that most of you should recognise. And one of the more particularly unhinged ones, at that. But this is what the Trello board came up with this week, so here it is. I still really like this one, and still think there isn’t enough monster fucking in this fandom that is full of fucked-up monsters. So have some good, old-fashioned tentacles.
Bloody Conquest and Harsh Rule (Word Count TBD) by LokiOfSassgaard
Chapters: ? Fandom: Thor Rating: Explicit Warnings: Rape/Non-Con, Violence, Character Death, Underage, Incest Characters: All of them
Summary: The brutal and complicated history of Yggdrasil and its kings.
I started posting this one right before everything kind of went to hell back in March. It’s one where the tags make it seem worse than it probably is, but also mind the tags anyway, because they’re still there for a reason. I read Fire & Blood, and then got really annoyed that I hadn’t thought of that idea first, because it was precisely the missing piece that I needed for God of Outcasts. This is not required reading for God of Outcasts, but it’s part of the lore for that story. And it’s going to be huge, because it’s basically all the weird backstory for that fic that has nothing to do with Loki, but has everything to do with the world he lives in. It’s exactly what Fire & Blood is to ASOIAF; all of the insane, fucked up lore for the world the characters live in. It starts with Øde, an old dead witch king introduced in Valkyrie, and gives him a proper history beyond that of an old, charred corpse in a cave. I have no idea how long this fic is going to be, or how (in)frequently I’ll be updating it, but here it is.
A note on the tags and warnings themselves, the first chapter does come out of the gates pretty hard, because I did want to establish Øde early as a character of immense hypocrisy. If you’ve read God of Outcasts, everyone in that fic is a massive bag of dicks, and is a product of their own society. Next week I’ll try to make sure I don’t post quite so much weird shit, I think.
We’re back on WordPress now, which is where we were last year, and ought to be here to stay. The only difference here is I’m not using an expensive and buggy plugin that relies on me using SMTP servers and all that bollocky nonsense that resulted in emails never going out to anyone. Annoyingly, I really liked the way those emails looked, while these ones are extremely corporate and ugly, but WordPress handles all the backend, and that means that barring calamity, we shouldn’t have issues with emails getting caught in spam filters this time round. Being hosted on WordPress also means that the archives are on my website, and not on someone else’s servers somewhere. I’m going to leave the Substack archives up through the end of the year, just to give people a chance to figure out what happened, because there was an issue with importing the email list over. A good third of the list just wouldn’t import at all. So I want to give those folks a chance to see that there was a problem, either via the email I sent directly to them, or because they realise on their own that they haven’t heard from me in a while. But by the end of December, I’m going to take down the archives on Substack, and completely retreat back into my cave of obscurity.
What’s coming next
I’ve already updated the FAQ on the site, and managed to fix up the menu a bit. As I update other areas of the site, I’ll add those back to the menu, but at this point I’m not really sure I’ll keep the art section of the site up to date just because it hasn’t really felt like a worthwhile use of my time.
I mentioned on the final Substack post that I’m going to use this opportunity to finally go through all my old fic in a way that I’ve wanted to do for ages, and clean everything up and republish it properly. I’m going to do this by putting it up both in the browser, and as eBook downloads. There won’t be any kind of schedule for this, nor any particular order outside of trying to make sure that series get uploaded in the correct order. There is at least one series I can’t promise this will happen for, because I’ve lost this information. It was an old Sherlock series that was posted to a kinkmeme ages ago, and I don’t even know if everything was even posted the first time round. So you’ll get to find all that out along with me, I guess. I’ve put it all on a Trello board and I’m just gonna start picking through titles as I feel like going through them. What I won’t be doing is posting the full body directly into the emails here, because well. You all know what I write, and it feels rude to just send all that fucked up shit out on blast. So instead I’ll be sending it out in announcement style, linked to my site where you can find it to read or download.
Because I know there will be questions, I don’t mind if you invite people to subscribe to the newsletter so they can read as well, but I will be individually password protecting a lot of fic. As I outlined in the FAQ, abuse and stupidity was a large factor in taking down my AO3 accounts, and because of that I’m not going to allow any direct interaction on the site either. Straight out of the gate, there will be no comments or likes enabled on anything posted to that section of the site. Any response to fic, or anything else posted in the newsletters can be made by clicking the “comment” button in the email you receive. (I don’t know why you can’t respond to the email; that’s a standard feature of any newsletter and one WordPress really needs to implement.)
I’ve been using Dreamwidth a lot the last few months, because it is the only social media platform that isn’t being fucked with by morons with AI and algorithms and too much money. I say this, having just moved my newsletter back to WordPress, who owns Tumblr, and it’s hilarious how staggeringly different the two platforms are. WordPress works, for one. Consistently works, at that. I was thrilled to see they’d worked out how to create their own newsletter feature thing, instead of making people rely on third-party plugins that cost way too much money. They rolled theirs into Jetpack and stuck it on the free tier. Fantastic. Love that. They didn’t need to paywall it as a feature because they can just take a cut of the paid features integrated into the newsletter plugin itself.
Dreamwidth has a lot to be desired still after more than a decade, but it at least has the excuse of being independent and small. It doesn’t even have ads on the platform. All of its revenue comes from paid services like extra icons and premium journal features. This has resulted in an absolutely dead community scene, which is unfortunate. But I’ve been using the journal over there, rather than the journal on my site, just because it feels better somehow. I’m probably going to go through the journal on my site and not necessarily purge it, but weed some posts out and throw them into drafts, and mostly use that for updates to relevant things and such. The Dreamwidth journal can be for my stupid ramblings about what TV shows I’ve watched and getting into fights with my dentist’s website. I’ve put the link down below, because now I’m back on WordPress, I can do a thing I used to be able to do a lot easier, which is copy a template and just replace block content, rather than having to type every single thing up from scratch every single time. When you’ve got the sort of memory problems I have, where you literally have to carry notebooks around and write notes to yourself throughout the day so you remember what conversations you’ve had with people to avoid repeating yourself and sounding like a fucking lunatic, having a copyable template is an extremely desirable feature, and one of the reasons I was keen to jump ship back to WordPress as soon as humanly possible.
I make a lot of jokes on social media about having memory problems, but I don’t think I’ve ever really been terribly candid about just how bad it is. And it’s almost comically bad, because it’s almost selectively in how it’s bad. My therapist gave me an assignment last time I saw her. It was terribly important and I can’t remember what it was, because she said it as I was writing down the time of my next appointment. By the time I started to write down what she’d told me, it was gone from my head already, and she was saying something else, and then I got distracted by something else, and I’m sure I’ll have either done it by accident or we’ll discuss how I’m bad at doing the thing she asked me to do. I remember that she gave me this assignment, because I remember stressing about not being able to remember it to write it down quickly enough, because my watch had dinged at me which distracted me, but it wasn’t a text message. It was her setting the next appointment, which gets sent to my phone as an alert, which mirrors to my watch, but I always forget to ignore that alert, and instead get mad at myself for forgetting to silence my watch.
My last five minutes of therapy are always the biggest flustered mess in existence. Funny enough, I just went to go write all this down so I don’t forget to tell her this on Friday, only to find that I have been keeping a running log of something else in my little notebook I’ve been keeping just for my notes for when I meet for her? So maybe that was the assignment? Or idk maybe I just started taking notes for some other purpose all on my own. I genuinely have no idea.
And yet, a couple of weeks ago, I had to go into the dentist for an emergency visit for something that turned out to be quite a non-event. But my dentist called in for a second opinion, and the guy that he brought in commented on the fact I’ve got a recent-ish missing tooth. Recent-ish, as in I had it pulled about a year and a half ago. But I immediately said, “Yeah, you’re the one who did it.” I have the memory of a fruit fly and am faceblind as fuck, but I knew this guy did it without hesitation. I’m pretty sure he’s the only SE Asian dentist in the clinic, but that wasn’t the main reason. When he walked in to pull my tooth in the first place, he was in street clothes, which struck me as so insanely odd I never forgot it. He was also the best damn dentist I’ve ever had. He walked in, “open up, please,” and had my tooth out in under two minutes. I’ve had some horrifically bad extractions, and that one was just bizarre. But he went over to the computer to verify, and said, “oh, good memory, bro!” And I was just trying not to laugh, because even I’m not gonna forget someone that fucking weird.
But that is pretty much how my brain seems to work. I don’t remember things. I remember experiences, and tangential things as they relate to experiences. It feels really douchey to actually say it, but I do basically do rely on the whole “memory palace” bollocks. The things that I am able to recall instantly are the things that are either tied to really strong emotions or a physical activity I was doing at the time. Which is why I think I’ve never been able to just sit and watch TV or read a book. If I’m doing something else, like working on an enormous crocheted blanket, I can tie what I’m watching with what I was doing at the time. Which is why when I ask my husband a question, and he answers me, the odds of me being able to retain that information are less than 50%. I will almost certainly forget what he’s said. In fact, I’ve become so fed up with never knowing what his days off work are that I’ve actually bought a white board calendar for the front room because it’s getting ridiculous. It’s a really nice one too, all magnetic with a built-in cork board attached to the bottom for notes and things. Now I just need to get him in the habit of actually writing shit down on it.
Theobromine (3,000 words) by LokiOfSassgaard Originally posted December 2011
Chapters: 1 Fandom: Great Mouse Detective / Basil of Baker Street Rating: Teen Warnings: Drug Abuse / Overdose Characters: Basil of Baker Street, David Q Dawson, Mrs Judson Additional Tags: Drug use, Victorian attitudes toward homosexuality
Summary: Basil is a mouse of simple and specific habits. Sometimes, these habits can be quite dangerous in their simplicity.
First thing, I cannot believe one of, if not the best Sherlock Holmes fic I ever wrote is a fucking Basil of Baker Street crackfic. Literally, in some regards. Second, I totally forgot until I was reading back over it to tidy some bits up that I’d both heavily implied that Basil is gay, and then later had him deflect that on Dawson in the most awkward way ever. All in a story about him effectively overdosing on mouse heroin. This is it. My Sherlock fic peaked here, with esoteric jokes about French erotic fiction and mouse boners. So, yeah. If you’re new here, I’ve always been like this.
There is some new fic I’ve been poking at that I’d intended to put in this section, but I’m not quite ready to post it. I’ll be honest, part of it is me being weird about posting new fic. Even on my own controlled space, I’m feeling weird and icky about sharing something I wrote for fun. The other part of it is I think I want to give it a second pass before I do share it, but I’m also wondering how much of that is just awkward stalling because of the first thing.
But you’ll notice each fic has its own password. There is a master password that unlocks everything, but I may be a bit cagey about giving it out, especially if I don’t recognise you immediately. I honestly don’t think anybody who’s subscribed here already is the sort of person I don’t want having it, but I’m also not going to put it in the body of the newsletter just as a matter of caution. If someone wants to go through all of my fic to be a dickhead about it, they can do the hard work of going through all of my newsletter archives to get all the hundreds of individual passwords first.
I will give it to people who ask for it, but please keep in mind that I may decline if you’re not subscribed here, or haven’t been subscribed for long. The whole point of the password locking is that I don’t want my fic out there on the entire internet, so I’m not here to share it with just anyone.
I hadn’t quite realised just how badly the main-streamification of fandom has fucked me up over the last few years, but here I am. And that’s exactly what it is, I think. I look back, and over the last few years I have become so incredibly weird about posting anything even tangentially fannish on the internet, because the wrong person might see it. Who is the wrong person? I have no idea. It could be anyone, literally, and it fucking terrifies me.
I am too goddamn old to live like this. So it’s secret passwords and clubhouses from here on out, I’m afraid.
I’ve been doing a lot of fiddling and getting used to WordPress’ system, and I really like it. There are some missing features, and I dislike the block editor immensely, but being able to put my stuff back on my own platform again is something I’ve been wanting to do for ages. And since I’ve started writing fiction again, this is especially helpful.
If you’re here for fanfic, you may have heard, or noticed, that I’ve purged my AO3 accounts. Between the general atmosphere over there, and the allegations concerning the OTW and the way it’s run behind closed doors, I just can’t continue using it. It’s not a good platform. My own site is in shambles because I was in the middle of overhauling it when everything went to hell back in March, but that’s fine. Really. Because what I’m going to do is take this opportunity to do something I started talking about last year, and go through every single one of my old fics, read over them, give them a fresh edit, and republish all of them. Some of them won’t require much reworking at all—there’s one that’s 90 whole words long—but others definitely need some re-doing. I’m not going to be doing them in any particular order, because I think I might drive myself insane if I did that, especially because that would mean getting stuck in a Sherlock hole for a very long time, and I’m still mad at that fandom.
But what I am going to do is go through all of those old fics and post them almost as if they were new. I’m going to keep all of the original information for them, because it’s kind of neat to have that sort of thing. The one thing I will do is republish series in their correct order, at the very least. But I’m not going to start doing that until next week, just because I don’t know. It feels weird announcing fanfic on this platform. It always has for some reason. This is where the normal people live.
As for moving over to the new WordPress system, don’t worry about that. I’ll be transferring everything over automatically, so there’s nothing you should need to do. It’ll all do its own thing well enough. I still don’t like the way the emails look as they go out, but whatever. I think I can just brute force my way into branding them into looking like my own, and not like a WordPress form letter. I don’t think WordPress quite understands what people want from a newsletter service quite yet, but hopefully they’ll catch up soon enough.
As far as moving over to WordPress goes, some things are going to look a bit different over there. First and foremost, typos and weird misspellings should be going away. One of the strangest and most infuriating bugs about Substack is that it overrides my browser’s spellcheck, and decides that having spellcheck at all is for losers. It’s bizarre and I hate it. So if you’ve noticed my spelling has been crap since moving over here, that’s why.
Second, I’m moving from monthly subscriptions to a tip jar for the main newsletter. There are a lot of reasons behind it, the main one being an incompatibility between how the two systems do paid newsletters. And also, tip jars are just nicer somehow? As for paid subscribers, since I couldn’t get in touch with anyone directly, I’ve cancelled and refunded everyone outright and decided to just wholesale change up the entire way it works. But here’s how things will look moving forward:
I’m going to be moving fic to a new section of my site, and going back to some projects I started ages ago that never got off the ground, in addition to the stuff with older fic that I’ve wanted to clean up for a long time.
Malapropism, the original fiction, semi-autobiographical project I’ve started working on, is going to be posted to its own area once it’s ready to be posted. This will be something that I release as a premium paywalled thing, but if you sign up early, you’ll be able to read it for free. Watch out for announcements over the next couple of weeks/months.
I’ve decided to keep Thor Daily on Substack, just because I cannot be arsed to move more things over at this point, and there’s enough of a comic book presence here that it might as well stay where it is.
The email schedule may change slightly in the move over to WordPress, since I’ll be changing up what I’ll be sending out. I’m not going to lie, this year has been a prolonged depressive PTSD episode that I’m only recently climbing out of, and there’s been a lot of stuff I haven’t discussed publicly that’s still going on, and it’s very hard to be creative in any meaningful way when your head is full of wasps. I’ve set myself a soft goal of getting fully back on track by the end of the year, and I feel like I am getting there. Getting back into therapy has been a big help, but I think getting writing again will be an even bigger help. I just need to find something I want to write about.
Anyway, don’t be surprised if there is a bit of a break between this issue and the next again, while I get the last little bit worked out and set up. As it is, all of the stuff from Substack has been moved over to WordPress. Once this issue goes out, I’ll be importing the subscriber list over to WordPress as well. I haven’t done that yet just to avoid spamming everyone with duplicate emails.
What an absolute nightmare of a month this has been
My apartment is trashed in that “haven’t been fucked to tidy anything up for a week” way, because it is absolutely astonishing what a terrible diet will do to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well. I’ve got the worst acne breakout I’ve had since high school, I’ve got the energy of a slug, I can’t think straight, and I just generally feel like dogshit. I’ll spare you the details, but I’m sure my older readers will be able to work it out anyway, but I had an outpatient procedure earlier this week that required a terrible diet, followed by two days of fasting, and it’s all caught up with me. But now after three months of terrible doctor-ordered diets, I’m done. I’ve just done the biggest grocery shop of my life, effectively to restock my kitchen with food that isn’t disgusting.
I think between this, and the fact that Portland just spent a week getting death-rayed by the sun, and then choked out by smoke, I haven’t got much done in my absense. My desk is covered in projects that I left unfinished several weeks ago, which is fine, and I probably won’t be getting to them for another week or so because I need to get my health sorted first. Instead, I’ve been largely camped out on my sofa, working on a blanket.
This is a photo from a few days ago, and I’ve since put two more stripes on it, because this blanket is literally all I’ve been doing. I’ve got ten more colours to go and then it’s finally done and I’m probably just going to leave it draped over the sofa, because it’s a good size for it.
Hopefully next week, I’ll actually have something to show for being back. It’s also cooled down here, so I’ll be working more on the site and other projects involving it. But I think today, I’m gonna go lie back down because I am still a bit messed up from yesterday, which for me was Monday, although I woke up thinking today was Wednesday, which it is for you, and shows just how messed up I still am.
Substack has been interesting, but it’s been just as weird and buggy as all the other ones have been honestly
Also, it doesn’t have amazing internal politics, user support if you’re not one of the people they paid to push the platform hard on twitter about a year ago, or system reliability. I’ve had some weird issues with backend systems just disappearing for months, and having to make do without them in weird, janky ways, only for those things to randomly come back as if there was never any problem with them at all.
But recently WordPress, who powers my website, have basically clicked a few buttons to integrate features they already had and knit them together into a pretty solid newsletter feature that’s baked into the service without any plugins beyond the default ones everyone already uses anyway. This is great, because I’d mentioned last week wanting to start a this new pseudo-fiction project, and was kind of leery about putting something that could truly be considered intellectual property on someone else’s platform. But my website is my website. It’s powered by WordPress, but it’s not hosted by them. And that’s a monumental difference, especially when it comes to creative works and ownership.
There are a few road bumps to consider, and you may have got a couple of cheeky emails as I’ve tested some systems over the weekend.
Paid supporters. This is the first big one, because one thing Substack does do that I like is special deals and discounts. I did a test run on importing the mailing list over, and whoops. If you’re a paid supporter on an Early Bird plan, I’ll be in touch directly over the next couple of days unless you email me first, because I can’t get your email addresses to import without doing something potentially really weird, and I don’t want to do that without discussing it with you first.
Comped readers and free trials. This is another one that’s going to get a little screwed up. Right now, new readers can sign up for a 7-day free trial, unlocking the whole thing for a week before deciding if it’s something worth supporting. It’s another thing I really like, and it’s another thing WordPress doesn’t offer. There are also a couple of people (they know who they are) who get to read for free because charging them is kind of weird, circumstances considering. I can’t figure out how to get around that one either, and I haven’t got any weird solutions in mind for this one.
Archives. I have no idea how to set this up. In fact, I think I’ll have to do this manually, which is irritating and odd, unless I can find a plugin for it, which is just the same problem I’ve always had. But I guess I’ll figure it out as I work on crossposting everything over this week. Which may actually have happened by the time this email goes out. I don’t know.
I don’t like the emails. This one is so superficial, but I can’t find any way to customise the emails. They’re full of app store logos, and they’ve got Automattic’s address at the bottom instead of mine, and all of the social media icons point to WordPress or Automattic’s accounts. It doesn’t feel like my newsletter. It’s the Web 2.0 equivalent of the emails LiveJournal would send out when you subscribed to a journal, and a new post was made.
Maybe in future I’ll be able to fix that, but man it is bad.
At the moment, I’ll probably keep using Substack here for another couple of weeks while I get everything ironed out over there and figure out exactly how I want to get everything sorted out. But this is actually fantastic, because I can have the main newsletter on the top level of the newsletter.lokiofsassgaard.com part of the site, and then have subfolders for new projects. Malapropism will be in its own unique section, exactly as I originally planned it, but just not on Substack at all. I’ll probably not relaunch Thor Daily on Substack either, even though I’ve already queued up loads of posts over here already. Moving them over to WordPress won’t be too difficult, and honestly might be less stressful since I won’t have to deal with that giant “post is too long for email” banner that shows up every single time and means nothing, because I have never once seen a post get cut off in my email client. And I write some long goddamn posts.
Either way, having everything in one place again will be so much nicer for me. And that’s going to start with moving all of my posts here over to WordPress and figuring out how the whole system works, because wow it’s a bit much even if it is largely compiled of stuff that seems like it already existed before. Also I have to use the disgusting block editor, which I hate with a passion, so that’ll be a learning curve in and of itself.
Don’t sign up over there if you want to be moved over. In fact, signing up over there will mess things up. I’ll be manually importing everyone when I’ve got everything ready to go. If you don’t want to be moved over, make sure you unsubscribe from here before I announce the import. I won’t be sending any emails from the new domain until I announce that I’ve imported everyone, so you’ll have plenty of warning. But consider this one your first. If you don’t want to be moved to the new list, now’s the time to unsubscribed so you don’t get moved over.
I haven’t done much art or anything this week, because I’ve been having an absolute health nightmare. The ear infection has cleared up, and that’s cool, but it turns out that with everything else I’ve managed to stress myself into a canker sore outbreak where I haven’t got any molars. I’m just a walking disaster, apparently. And now I’ve got this disgusting stuff that completely kills all sense of taste, which is honestly better than the alternative, which was tasting like something had died in my mouth. I had to go on a whole adventure to get it taken care of on Monday, which also involved a minor panic because every single symptom of that was also a dangerous side effect of one of my medications so I had to very quickly figure out what was going on once I realised it could be one or the other. But as of this point, it does seem like it was the easier one to deal with, so that’s nice. Not the cheaper one, because I have to pay for dental work out of pocket, but I’d rather pay for something out of pocket than have to go through the hell of neuro referrals and changing up my medication again and all that bullshit, frankly.
One thing I’ve done is set myself back up on Dreamwidth. Have I mentioned that? I think I’ve mentioned that. If I haven’t, I’ve mentioned it now. If I have, here’s a reminder.
I’m also on Bluesky now, and it reminds me a lot of now Dreamwidth was in its early days.
Anyway, this has been a short issue with not much to it, but I’m absolutely knackered from the week I’ve had, so I’m gonna go take a nap.
I didn’t realise until after I’d finished that a lot of the lines wound up in entirely the wrong place, and this is in large part what made me realise that I need to find a better workflow for these going forward. You’ve probably seen people do similar pieces like this online, where they fully outline the outlines, but those pieces are a lot larger than these are. I’m only doing these on 8×10” panels, which really limits me in what I can do in terms of how my stencil process works. Larger pieces are actually a lot easier, because you do have a lot more room to fully map out all of your outlines, but on these small ones I can’t really do that with a lot of accuracy. Add to that the paint that I’m using (Black 1.0) dries very quickly on the brush, because I’m using such a small brush with a small amount of paint on it, so it’s difficult to keep it flowing. Since doing this piece, I’ve actually found a much better way to do these. Which you won’t see for a while yet, because I’ve done a few more panels in between this duck and coming up with that process, but I will tell you it has added a lot of extra time and steps to the whole thing. I painted this duck about a month ago, so that’s how long I’ve had to come up with a better way of doing pieces like this on such a small canvas.
This one started off with priming six panels with random colours. When I did this, I had no plans for what would be going on any of them, and was just picking colours based on what I thought would make good backgrounds that would pop nicely. I ran into a small problem, in that some of these paints don’t actually have on the label whether they’re matte or glossy, which means two of the panels (the pink and green ones) are glossy, which are going to be problematic. The transfers won’t stick very well, and paint doesn’t like to layer very well when you do wet on dry with glossy, I find. So I may have to scrap those ones, or else do an isolation layer or something when I get to those panels. I don’t know. I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it. I have too many panels in my salvage pile as it is to want to just scrap them immediately.
Here’s the original stencil, and you can probably already see how different it is to the finished piece. The finished lineart is all over the place, and that is in large part to the yellow paint I got just not behaving. You’ll see what I mean in a bit, but I thought this piece would be easy and instead it was an absolute nightmare. It just did not do anything I expected it to do, and it’s another one I’m definitely going to re-do at some point because I am not at all happy with it. I’m not even sure I want to offer this one as a print because I’m so displeased with it.
I had learned a few lessons from the pineapple already though, and I’ve employed them here. Lesson #1: cut the paper down, rather than trying to wrap it around the panel. This is a lesson I do ignore in a later piece, but you’ll see why when we get to that one. The reason for cutting it down on most of them is that it makes it a little easier to centre the design on the panel, and it’s just easier to handle overall.
At this point I was still confident. The duck was easy to transfer, and aside from one small detail somewhere I can’t even find here, I managed to get everything on the first go. As much as I like the Col-Erase pencils, I may switch to a mechanical pencil going forward though. And by “going forward,” I several pieces down the line from your perspective. You’ll be seeing funky colours for a few more of these, at least.
The fresh transfer, and after I’ve erased all the excess graphite. Lesson #2 learned from the pineapple. This keeps excess smudging down, especially when working with a transparent colour like yellow. I had a big smudging problem with the pineapple, and really wanted to avoid that this time. Yellow won’t cover graphite without a dozen or so layers, and I really wanted to avoid that headache, so I got rid of as much graphite as possible. Spoilers: the headache was not avoided.
Lesson #3: use a priming coat to dull the background colour so the yellow doesn’t have to do so much work. That’s what this is. It’s a primer I made myself, and it’s roughly equal parts gesso and a heavy-body white, and just a smidge of heavy-body black. I probably should have done two coats, and maybe that’ll be a lesson for the future. But I really don’t think the primer was the issue here.
I can’t quite remember, or tell, but I think this is three coats of yellow on top of the primer. Now, this is a different brand of paint than I normally use, but it’s also a brand that I remember liking before. I don’t know if this brand has changed its formula, or if I just somehow conflated this brand with the one I normally use, but I got a giant 16oz jar of school bus yellow specifically because I knew I would be painting a lot of yellow things for this project. And oh my god, I lost my entire mind on this stupid duck and the amount of yellow I wound up pouring, quite literally, onto this panel.
At this point, I lost my mind. I no longer cared about the lines I was trying to retain. I flooded the panel with a bit of yellow paint and smeared it around, and when I realised that wasn’t going to work, I let it dry to tacky stage and put some water on it to revive it a bit, and reworked the whole thing. At that point the only lines I could work out were in the wing, and even then only just. By now I knew this was another “test piece,” because there was no way this was going to work as intended, but I also think I always knew the first few were going to be failures. And actually, this is the third one. The first one went so spectacularly badly, you haven’t even seen it yet (you will, I just don’t know when. So far, the second go on that one is going so much better as well).
Annoyingly, as I let that mess dry and started doing the highlights, I could still see the primer through the yellow. I was losing my mind at this point, and it was distracting me from everything else, which is probably how I lost focus on finding where the lines went. I totally quit caring by now, and all I wanted to do by now was just finish the damn thing. The background was all fucked up, but that could at least be fixed because I used a colour straight out of the bottle to paint it, and had written the colour on the back of the panel, so that was actually the part I was the least fussed about.
And indeed, after I did the shading, which is probably the most rushed shade job of my life, I touched up the mess around the duck. And what I learned here is that paint laid down with a roller seems to dry a very slightly different colour than paint touched up with a brush. Can’t figure that one out, except maybe there’s a very small amount of graphite that does smudge around and gets picked up along the way. But it’s also such a small, subtle difference I don’t imagine anybody’s noticed until I’ve pointed it out just now, and now you’re all scrolling back up to the image at the top to see if you can spot where the colour in the blue changes, because I couldn’t even be fucked to touch it up in Photoshop, I cared that little about it.
You can really see it here, but the paint’s also still wet in this one. The one that really bugs me are the lines around his neck and head. I completely lost the top one, and invented the bottom one. As soon as I noticed that one, I totally stopped caring about this one and decided I’d do it over again in the future once I figured out how to handle these paintings at this small of a scale. I spent a lot of time touching up the yellow after I did the outline, and I think you can really see it in this photo especially, and then I let it dry for about two days before I did the scan just because it annoyed me so much I didn’t even want to look at it. He’s on my wall now because I’m not quite as annoyed with him as I was at the moment, but I’m still going to do this one again at some point. And if I like that one, I’ll do prints, but I still don’t like this one well enough to sell prints. I’m not even sure I like this one well enough to sell the original in good conscience.
I already have a huge list of things I’m doing for this project, but if you have any suggestions for things I should add to it, let me know. If it’s not already on my list, I’ll definitely add it. When I get to it is another matter entirely, but this project is one that I intend to keep me busy for a long time, so please. Keep me busy!
Also, an ear infection, and getting back on Dreamwidth
I mentioned last week that I’ll be pulling all my fic from AO3, and just to give everyone an extra chance to see this warning, I’ll be doing that this weekend. I still haven’t moved everything over to the website yet, but I’m going to start the process of cross-posting it this week. I haven’t been doing a whole lot, because the headache that wasn’t a headache has still been bothering me a bit.
That actually turned out to be an ear infection, which is rather close to what I thought it might turn out to be. I knew it wasn’t really a headache when it failed to respond to any of my medication, and thought it might be something in my sinuses or my jaw or something. So my ear wasn’t too far off. What I think might have actually caused it is the air conditioner pointing right at the sofa, where I tend to spend my evenings watching random crap and using a floor pedal bike thing. Which I have rather spectacularly broken this week, in more ways than one, so I need to find a way to replace it. I’ve found one on Amazon, but I’m going to check Goodwill first, to see if I can find a working one there. Mainly because a new one in the sort of range that I want is roughly the same price of the shopping cart I have loaded up on this unhinged website that I’ve been laughing at all week, and which I found through a new tumblr blog.
Honestly, I need new clothes first, because I will actually go insane if I have to keep wearing things that don’t fit for much longer. Then I’ll focus on finding a new pedal bike thing.
Where to even start? My god, what a trash fire it all is. Apartheid Clyde’s making the Pokémon shock incident look like casual misstep, Tumblr is wearing Twitter’s skin like it’s Buffalo Bill, and that cyborg Zuckerberg is over here laughing with is own Twitter clone that as far as I can tell doesn’t actually have a single working feature. In all of it, I’ve gone back to Dreamwidth, just for a laugh really, and it’s almost refreshing in the fact that it’s still as bad as it’s always been. I’ve spruced it up a bit, given it a new layout and updated some info on it, and I may even update it for more than a month for losing interest this time. But the problem I have with Dreamwidth is the problem I have always had with Dreamwidth since the very beginning: the communities are all dead as fuck and it’s irritating as fuck to find active ones.
But I’ve still pulled it from mothballs anyway, because fuck it. If social media is dying, let’s go all the way back to the stone age I guess and return to the days of ugly-ass LJ-style blogging on awful stylesheets and all.
Actually, that’s a lie. My new layout looks like a sick pair of trainers, and I really like it. But DW’s layout does have some abysmally awful layouts, and I think we can still agree on that.
This one went up this week. It’s a bit of an odd one, because at first it didn’t go as planned, but I still love how it turned out. I used this weird rubber roller that I’m fairly certain is meant for screen printing or something in that area, but I’ve never done anything like that so I’ve no idea really. I’ve no idea why I have it either, but I love the weird texture it makes.
For non-fandom writing, I’ve been toying vaguely with an idea that I think could be quite good, but which I have no idea how to really approach. All I know is that I think it should be a serial, probably not a webcomic unless I could find a partner or something to work with. But equally probably not still because bleh. I think prose would be the better option for what I’m going for anyway. I hesitate to say too much about it at this early stage, beyond the fact that hey. I may start writing again, and that’s cool. I haven’t put down a single word of it yet, and have no timeline for when that might start, or when I’ll release anything.
When I do, I’ll be putting it out in a serial format on its own newsletter on Substack. I don’t have any idea what the release schedule will be, and won’t know that until I get it written. But I did want to at least put it out there that something is tentatively in the works, and to look out for that.
Or I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t. I think it’s a pretty simple one, but it’s always these weird little things that seem to do the best when I share them. I did this one with one of the stranger little tools in my collection, because it is a roller, but it’s not a paint roller. I actually have no idea what it is, and I have no idea how it came into my possession. I think it may be for screen printing? Maybe? I’ve never done screen printing, so if that’s the case, who knows how I got it. It’s hard rubber instead of fluff or foam, and mostly just makes a mess, but I like the texture it leaves behind and that’s what I wanted for this piece.
It has no branding or anything on it, but I’m fairly confident it’s for some sort of ink-based art form. I’ve tried googling, and that’s the direction I always wind up landing in anyway. At one point I had two of them, but I’ve no idea where the second one went. This one has been absolutely trashed by paint though, because I do like using it to get some funky textures from time to time. I’m not always the biggest fan of impasto in my work, but when I want texture, I want very deliberate texture. And this thing gives paint a very peculiar texture.
Like a lot of these pieces, I started off with no clear direction. I picked colours based on vibe, and put them on the canvas where ever I felt like they should go. And I did that just by squeezing a bit of paint straight from the tube right onto the canvas, and rolling it out.
I didn’t like this. I made the mistake of lifting the roller too many times, and it lost all definition. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it was still fixable. So I fixed it by taking a paper towel and just wiping it all away. It wasn’t going to all come completely off, and that was fine. I didn’t need it to. The smudges left on the canvas served as a sort of substrate for me to start over on top of.
I tried to get a close-up shot of the texture on the paint, but it really wasn’t cooperating with me. You can kind of see it, but not really.
A lot of the time spent on this piece was actually spent standing there with a fan pointed at the canvas, because the rubber roller would just pick up anything it went over and lay it back down again. You can see that with the blue stripe getting picked up and laid back down where the red went over it, and some of the scrapes and scratches where the edge of the roller dug into some still-wet paint.
But at the same time, if I didn’t want any of those imperfections, I’d have used another tool. I used this roller because it’s messy and unwieldy and does what it wants. It’s unpredictable and weird, and not meant for paint at all. I love using tools for things they’re not meant to be used for. It’s one of my favourite ways to create art when a specific end result isn’t the goal, because I can just play with form and colour and see what comes out.
And on the subject of colour, it needed more. There was no contrast, and it needed some, so I grabbed a tube of some yellow ochre or something. I don’t know, I wasn’t even reading the labels. All my paint is in colour-coded bins now, so I can just grab paint based on what colour it looks like and go to town. I was now reaching the part of the painting where I had to be a little more conscious about what I was doing. In the early stages, I was really just chucking stuff onto the canvas, but now I was making deliberate choices to find balance in the chaos I’d created. There were blank spots I wanted to fill, both in terms of the composition, and in terms of the overall contrast.
At the same time, I didn’t want to fill all of the blank spots. I still wanted to let some of that early mistake show through, because that was still part of the painting. I also didn’t want all of the new work to be perfect either. The lines don’t all arrange themselves into a perfect grid. They go off in odd directions, and the bit on the right-hand edge is just all over the place.
At this point, the biggest decision was how to varnish it. Eventually, I settled on the Krylon, over the Liquitex. I always get better coverage with the Liquitex, because it can be rolled on in multiple coats, whereas the Krylon is a spray, and therefore unpredictable. But the Krylon is a better product, and doesn’t dull the colours. And these are such lovely bright colours that I didn’t want them dulled up at all. So I took it outside and sprayed it as best I could, and hoped I didn’t miss anything.
At this point, I’m down to one canvas of this size, and only about three smaller ones, which means I’m going to need to get some more soon. All I’ve got left after that are panels, and all of my 8x10s are earmarked for the Taskmaster project. That said, any canvases I buy going forward are going to be 16×20 at minimum, if not larger. When I paint on stretched canvas, I like it to be nice, big pieces to make it “worth it,” almost.
But I also have a mountain of paper in here as well I need to get through, so I may also switch media for a bit in between the Taskmaster project. idk we’ll see.