I was supposed to have done this weeks ago, but I am a slothful and distracted person. I appreciate her patience and the opportunity to share the opening stage of this painting with her readers. So slothful and distracted am I that I still have yet to read one of her books! Historical fiction is my favorite type of fiction, so I truly do not know what my problem is. Not to worry though, Shades Of Milk And Honey is on my desk as I write this and I am cracking it open once this post is finished. Truth be told, I am more excited for Ghost Talkers though, as World War I is a favorite subject of mine.
When discussing with friends at a party that I was planning on painting a portrait of her in regency attire, with humility Mary mentioned that she had yet to understand why I would. The reasons are quite self-evident to me. Mary is charming and elegant, talented and accomplished, intelligent, and beautiful. I have had few chances to make such a statement on canvas, concerning a subject who is known to me, in fabulous adornment. In my estimation, the reasons to paint her in her finery are manifold and clear.
For me, this painting is an experiment. Nearly all the art I make is an experiment; once I have convinced myself I have mastered something, I lose interest in it. To date, I have only mastered charcoal drawing and shooting missiles in the original Twisted Metal. This being an experiment means it might fail and that only a vague course of action or plan can be followed. I had to summon the help of my friend Rodger because I was not up to the task of the photo-reference for something this formal. This is the largest canvas I have ever stretched (it does not fit my easel) and is only the second time I have attempted a full-length portrait. The first attempt was easily half this size or smaller and, like so many projects I begin, was left unfinished.
When this painting is complete, if I do not totally muck it up, observers might draw a comparison to Sargent—but only because it is a full length portrait of a lady in a gown done with a semi-impressionist attitude about what constitutes an edge or line. I am half the painter Sargent was, and moreover Mary’s dress is wrong for his time and the current year is 2015 and I will not be doing this alla prima. All of this is to say emulation is not my goal. I am not winking here. This is to be a full portrait of Mary Robinette Kowal done in 2015 in the best way I know how. I did not inherit a tradition. I am just a guy who took a few classes at art school who likes to paint portraits of women. As you can see there is a grid. I like to think I have the likeness down—which is the trickiest part. I will make a basic grisaille and, from there, try not to ruin it.
Some time in the future perhaps you will receive an update or two about my progress. Perhaps then I can weave in knowing remarks about Jane and Vincent if Mary lets me come back or shares the progress herself. When it is done, she will have a 66 inch tall painting to do with whatever she pleases.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Dillon now makes his home in Chicago, IL. He’s the son of an artist and the brother of an artist. His passion for the visual arts is a lifelong pursuit of creative expression and curiosity.
I’ve been sitting on this for a bit, but I’ll be joining the team at Weird Tales as their art director. Clearly, this is very exciting. I’ve long been an admirer of the work that Stephen Segal has done to revitalize the magazine and look forward to continuing his work.
Of course the rest of the staff is made of awesome. A chance to work with Ann VanderMeer and Paula Guran on the world’s oldest fantasy magazine? Heck, yes. I’ll take that, thank you.
Have you ever had this nagging thing that you knew was wrong, but you couldn’t figure out what? For the last two years, I’ve known that the props work wasn’t satisfying, but I didn’t realize how much I missed the world of puppetry until coming down here this weekend. Some of it was performing, but more of it was hanging out with puppeteers.
We had dinner last night with twelve puppeteers, only three of whom spoke English as a native language. It was this great wide ranging conversation about art and connection.
Today we performed twice, which went well. I got to see the short film series Heather Henson curates, Handmade Puppet Dreams which I’ve been wanting to see for a couple of years now. Here’s one of the pieces, Incubus by Lyon Hill.
Before you watch this, you need to know that these are puppets and are being performed in real time. I tell you this, because otherwise it looks like animation or photoshop. No. Puppets.
See! Totally inspiring.
Afterwards we went out to dinner and I just…I’ve really missed this. Puppeteers talk about their in ways that writers don’t. I mean, we’ll sit around and say, “I’m thinking about doing this one man show…” and everyone will join in this collaborative discussion without (most people) without ever trampling on the other person’s vision. I love writing, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve missed collaboration.
Charlie Jane Anders at io9 asked me and three other SF writers to talk about their experiences in the arts. She’s got Audrey Niffenegger, Rudy Rucker and Stephen Stanley each discussing how their art intersects with their writing. It’s interesting to me to see how much we have in common and how much we differ in how we approach both.
Lisa Mantchev posted this video of You Think You Can Dance and I clicked on it because usually Lisa is smart about these things.
At the 1:34 mark, the male dance did a move that I specifically teach new puppeteers to avoid because it is physically impossible. Let me repeat that. Physically impossible. He stands up, rolling over his toe, in a way that makes it look like he’s being pulled up and back by a string.
He does it three times during the course of the video — which also includes a fantastic dance and is worth watching on its own — each time, I backed the film up and watched it over and over.
Now, the thing is, that clearly, he’s a very strong man and that he’s getting a little boost from his partner, but STILL if I did that with a puppet I’d be accused of breaking every rule about Muscle and gravity in the books. Granted, there are times when we break the rules on purpose, but if one is aiming for realistic movement, what this man is doing would be avoided because it looks impossible.
The funny thing is, that it’s like fiction. There are all sorts of things that happen in real life I could never get away with in fiction because because it defies belief. It fascinates me that the issues involved in creating verisimilitude on the page and on the stage are same. It doesn’t matter if it’s true if it doesn’t look real.
I arrived home today to a flurry of compliments about the art issue of Shimmer and a slip from the post office saying that they were sorry they’d missed me. Curses! Now I must wait still longer to see this issue.
Sure, sure… I’ve been looking at the galleys and such, but it’s different when you get to hold the smooth pages in your hand and fondle the glossy cover with art by John Picacio.
I dropped the moth off today and they loved it. As I was leaving they were having trouble with one of the other effects in the show. A key plot element revolves around a young man who has, um, trouble with his manhood becoming alert when he isn’t expecting it to do so. The member in question was difficult to control… funny how common that is.
So, I’m going back down to deal with the erectile disfunction. My job is so very, very strange.
You have to imagine me and the director, also a woman, kneeling in front of the young man who is wearing this prosthesis and discussing the concern at hand. It swings to the left. He’s getting some chafing. It gets bound up in his pants. All the while, we are manipulating the existing prop trying to see if we can fix it or if we need to start fresh.
I just got the final art for Charles Stross’s book, Toast, coming out from Wyrm. I’d already done a preliminary layout using the rough draft of the art, so it was easy to drop the final art in place, make a few tweaks and send it over to Neil.
The art is by the talented and very easy to work with Steve Montiglio. I have no understanding of how he works as fast as he does with as much intricate detail. He just delivered the final art weeks before his due date. It makes a girl very happy.
Besides– Giant octopus ships in space! What more could you ask for?
I collect etiquette books, so if you ever need to know what kind of gloves to wear to an afternoon wedding in 1851 or the proper way to say goodbye to a guest in 1907, come to me. One of the prizes in my collection is The Jolly Book of Funcraft by Patten Beard in 1918. It is a book of ideas for parties and the table of contents includes such things as:
The Party Made From Almost Nothing At All
The Thanksgiving Fun Making
A Plasticine Party
The Faggot Party
Oh yes, my dears. What could be more fun, than a Faggot Fun Party.
The thing that makes me laugh most, is the stunning poem at the end and the way it shows just exactly how much words have changed.
Author Madeleine Lâ€™Engle died last night in Connecticut, at the age of 89. Best known for her 1963 Newbery Award winner A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, Lâ€™Engle was the author of more than 60 books for adults and young readers, most of which were published by FSG. This spring, the Square Fish imprint of Holtzbrinck reissued L’Engle’s Time Quintet in new editions.
This is so spare; it does nothing to talk about a woman who wrote a book that absolutely shaped who I am. Wrinkle in Time is one of those books that I still keep reading. I think I might need to read it now, then I can imagine that she’s just on the other side of a tesseract.
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]