Saturday, December 18, 2021

My Xanthian, with movies


Now that the Xanthian Coloring Contest entries are out in public view (they're on Studio Minkiewicz LLC's FaceBook page under Photos), I consider it high time to show mine in a much better format:  MOVIES!!!!

The Contest's rules for commenting on your entry were "two to three brief sentences."   This wasn't much obeyed.  I forced myself to boil my comments down to the essence -- obedient! -- but compression generates heat, and so, here in this blog, everything will come foaming out.  

The contest was announced November 1 and registration closed on the 5th.   I entered and was given access to the drawing on November 2nd.  I chose hand-drawn (instead of digital) and was obscurely pleased to see the hand-drawn entries outnumbered the digitals by two to one (78:35).  I started quite faithful to my packet of colored pencils.  By the 7th I had done a first pass.  However, within 24 hours, the prism tape had moved in and taken over, as neat a conquest as ever I've seen.

I am the fortunate owner of a Hillingar, and when this contest was announced, I originally saw it as a chance to practice for him.  My Muse had come up with the most astoundingly audacious idea for that unicorn -- a Dragon in Green and Gold -- which I can only attribute to looking at Evelyn Munday's FB feed, combined with having Carousel dreams for years.  But however I looked, I couldn't find a dragon I really liked in those colors.

This shot (below), taken on the 15th, and the above (16th) are the only ones documenting the work in progress.  Here, as nowhere else, you can see the glint of the gold gel pen in the edges of the forefeet, tail and ears.  Later on this detail would be swallowed up.

Xanthian has two sets of wings, and I wanted to make them notably different.  I started out pairing the lesser wing with the cheek (gill?) wing.  It must have been here that the prism tape made its appearance, with the dark green spines.  The gold stuff I had lying around for Parade set insets.  It had been rather unsatisfactory.  But by gar it was perfect now!  I had a small quantity of a very strongly pearlescent/opalescent tape, and that just seemed perfect for the horn, the best and most powerful part. 

With these successes the prism tape ran away with me.  Xanthian has a somewhat confusing rear end, a natural result of depicting a 3D spiral in 2D.  I wanted to try and clarify this area by making the spine dark and the underneath light: to show the curl.  Such coloring is what deep sea creatures have, anyway!  The place on the withers, where the wings transition to the neck, was my least happy.  Prism tape does not "shade-into" very well.

 All the rest of these pictures were taken the 25th, the day of finish for me.  The early ones show I hadn't gotten around to coloring in the webs of the belly fringe, nor to doing the background.  It was only well along that I decided to use pearl prism tape for the belly, the closest I had to white.  Its rainbow effect just made me faint:  "my heart is stoln."

I am the sort of person who saves the least little bit of prism tape, this sparkly plastic thin film used, in the wider world, to make fishing lures.  The process of tracing and cutting created, you may imagine, dozens of tiny snippets.  I stuck a few onto his scales and then got the idea that some could be thrown off by the horn.

The process used to create this entry was entirely by hand.  Prism tape comes with its own backing paper:  "peel-and-stick."  I first traced each part-of-a-shape with tracing paper and pencil.  (I had to break Xanthian's parts down to fit within the 4" x 1" tape pieces, saving as much tape as possible in the process.)  Next I inverted the paper over the back of the tape and went over the lines with a blunt point, usually the letter opener (high tech here).  This transferred a dim print, whereupon I cut out the tape and its paper with my tiny scissors.  Miraculously right-side-to, each shape was peeled and stuck down, and trimmed if necessary. 

I had to take some small liberties with the outlines due to the thicknesses involved.  The degree of transfer error was just barely acceptable.  I do not know if my sheets of prism tape are replaceable.  But I could hardly find a better home for them than this.

The work generated a huge pile of paper scraps as well as tiny bits of prism tape.  I reused some of the tracing paper -- a sign of obsessive recycling.

(See the letter opener... it has a bullet casing for a handle.)

My finished entry photo was chosen for the look in his eye and the coloring of the belly fringe.  Here's my text:  "Colored pencil, gold gel pen, prism tape (holographic laserflash film) of various colors (belly different from horn), textured gold tape.  My Muse for Hillingar said: Dragon in Green & Gold;  I saw this contest as a chance to practice.  Everything was traced and cut by hand; I'm frustrated that a camera cannot truly capture it.  I saw him as a deep sea creature, dark above, light below.  The bits around his horn are sparkles thrown off by his power."

As it turned out, no one else used the word "dragon."

Now, a camera has captured it!!  Finally, movies!!!  This first one is only 9 seconds long.  Think of him swimming in the deep dark ocean, appearing out of the blackness.

The second of the three movies is 12 seconds long.  I'm tilting it a bit here and you have some more close-ups.

The third and last movie is 17 seconds long.  This is the best one, showing all the rainbow richnesses as the moving light reflects. 

I stand in awe of Sarah's gift.  I believe this drawing of hers sprang from assuaging the grief of the death of a pet rat.  Seeing 40 Xanthians all together was amazing, an experience to lift the heart.  They are so beautiful, and the variations absolutely fantastic -- things I never would've thought of, like bioluminescence!  Maybe I'll learn about digital coloring, eh.  I look forward to the next Christmas coloring contest, although I've no idea how to top this year's effort.  I've also no idea how I'm ever to paint my Hillingar!  Maybe design, not execution, is my strong suit... 

but man, that was fun.  Thank you, Sarah, and everybody.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Christmas Letter Overflow


Stack Overflow is what happens when you put too many items into a defined space.  In this case it's what I'm calling all the pictures in my Christmas Letter folder that didn't make the final cut.  I've decided to share them here, in roughly alphabetical order.  If you receive my Christmas Letter, then you'll have the full panoply of my 2021;  if not, you'll get a pretty good taste.  There is one here anyway from my Letter, because it is so very striking.

We begin with AT4, my fourth Akhal Teke Presentation Set, shown above on Orlik, my fourth NaMoPaiMo horse.  (I just realized that symmetry:  two fourths!)  I was surprised at how much tack was produced over 2021.  Two complete Akhal Teke sets and a neckpiece were only part of the tally.  Below is Orlik in AT4 again -- clearly I'm very proud of him!  This was experimental wallpaper for my new smartphone, showing that I actually got one, Hah!

To emphasize the Akhal Teke aspect of 2021, here's the single neckpiece made for my BreyerFest Giveaway.  It wasn't really a giveaway but a sale,... when 18 people entered for it and I merely sold it to one of them, drawn by chance,... you should be glad I didn't auction it.

We have reached photos starting with B, and now swing into a bunch of people pictures.  This is me running my BreyerFest 5K.  The race was virtual, run in my neighborhood, the same as last year.  Amazingly, my time was about 5 minutes faster (than last year).  Disgustingly, my time was not accepted into the official records (I'd submitted it too late).

Continuing with B, this is from our Colorado trip, blogged about back in August.  Bowsaw at Goodwin.  This is yer faithful correspondent crouching below the horizon at Goodwin Battle Memorial, today known as Legion Park, east of Boulder, Colorado, on Arapaho Avenue.  Yes, the sky really was that smokey.

Here is something nobody's seen yet.  This is a shot from our hiking on the Coalton Trails.  This is a place well south of Boulder (near Superior) which we found and fell in love with.  We went there, I believe, four times in the course of about 11 days, surely a record.  Each time the great wilderness expanse of the prairie meant more to us.  This was taken with my smartphone!

While I was in Boulder I had the fabulous opportunity to get to know certain people better.  This shows three extremely important fellows in my life, left to right:  Nephew, Brother, Husband.  Of course George is closer than close, but the other two I get to see only rarely, and the nephew almost never:  not since 2008.

The next shot is referred to in my letter but not shown.  This was taken the night of June 27, 2021, in the first hotel we'd stayed at since the pandemic had begun.  Consider this a psychological thing;  normally I don't bother to shoot hotel rooms.  In the "old days" we'd stay at dozens every year.  Something the same from back then is that I've put model horses in front of the flatscreen.

A more recent shot is this haul of Imperial Unicorn stickers from Studio Minkiewicz.  I've said this elsewhere:  you won't believe how much you get with one of her sticker orders!  Talk about getting your money's worth.  I'm going to try and collect all the Imperials, holographic or not.

This next is from a hike to NCAR hill while we were in Boulder.  Behind me you can see some of the red-sandstone buildings of CU campus. The photo appears to be using a zoom background, but this one is real:  I am up on one of the foothills above west Boulder, and you are looking east.  Can't see the horizon too well, can you?  smoke...

Back home in Pennsylvania, we get to yet another landscape that's part of a people thing.  This was taken from Penns View Overlook, Centre County, start and finish of my self-set 10K race in early November.  (11K 122 minutes!)

Back to horses!  What would you expect from a model tack shop famous for silver parade sets?!  This parade set is very old, part of my own collection:  TSII #12, originally built in 1983, rebuilt in 1997.  The bit is by Sue Rowe.  Sorpresa hasn't worn anything else yet!  I just think this is a good horse for both parade and harness.  I'm really hoping to play with more harness next year...

Here is a piece of tack made this year, so you'd think I could fit it in somehow, but there wasn't room.  It's the new romal reins for the restoration of TSII #413.  Not much about this challenging tack project got into the Christmas letter; part of the reason is because I started it so late, and had so much else going on.

Down to the Ws, here's yet another view of my entry for Morgen Kilbourne's Wycked Wynd Coloring Contest, in May.  I had way too much fun with this!  Like all my coloring contest entries (all 2 of them so far), a single photo does not do the job!

Last shot.  This is the one that is in my Christmas letter.  This is a very appropriate picture for 2021, as it depicts something that I spent many, many hours watching, from March to September.  Can you guess?  It's Fagradasfjall from the air, a drone shot of the Icelandic volcano at night.  This particular view is pretty early in the progression, April, when there were the two original vents.  By September I had bookmarked more than 270 videos of this volcano.  I was mesmerized.
photo credit:  The Reykjavik Grapevine

Now you have seen a wide sample of my 2021.  It was a strange year and not what we expected.  Much was learned.  I am hoping that 2022 will be a more positive year for everyone; we deserve it.  I look forward to more time with my dear husband and more time for my beloved hobby.  Hope springs eternal that I will be able to meet with more friends and family more often.  Stay safe, seek understanding.