March 10, 2017

Caturday Art: Reginald Diptych

Happy Caturday! This week I decided to do some Andy Warhol inspired art:

The font I used for the Cambell's Soup knockoff is quincho, although I had to use the E from the original label. Background image is from

I started with this photo of Reggie:
He looks so innocent! although I bet he was trying to destroy those headphones when I took it.

and thresholded it in photoshop Elements 2 to get a black and white (no grey) image. Twice, actually, with different thresholds to get different amounts of detail. Then I chose which parts I wanted to use from each image to create the black part of the "screen print", colored it, and copied and pasted three more. I adjusted the colors to get 4 images, then distorted the image to get the perspective of the original painting in the gallery it's covering.

Linking up with:


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March 8, 2017

Listen to the stories of 5 badass ladies you Missed in History Class

I've listened to Stuff You Missed In History Class since... 2010 maybe? It's been a long time, and though there's been a number of hosts, the excellent storytelling never changes. The podcast is full of mysteries, battles, shipwrecks, kings and princesses, pirates, daring escapes and adventure, as well as covering the usual treaties, court cases, succession, trade agreements and wars you'd expect to find in a history course.

Since today is International Women's day, I wanted to share some podcasts featuring badass ladies I'd never heard of! (Or perhaps, that I Missed in History Class). The podcasts are all very easy to listen to; while there are plenty of names and dates, they keep all the good bits in.

+ The Night Witches - An all female WWII bombing regiment from the USSR. Their planes were so outdated the only way they could maintain a stealthy approach was to cut their engines and glide to their targets. The soldiers on the ground could hear the air passing over their wings and thought it sounded like broomsticks, hence the Night Witches.

Listen if you ever wondered: What do you do when you've jettisoned everything and your plane is still losing altitude? Grab a compass and jump!

+ The Glamorous Strongwoman - Katie Sandwina, full of brawn, beauty and charm.

Listen if you ever wondered: How much you'd have to lift over your head to beat the strongest man on earth.
In Heels, too! From the Bain Collection

+ Gertrude Bell: The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq - Part 2 - Explorer, Archaeologist, Mountaineer, Stateswoman and Spy.

Listen if you ever wondered: Who was really rubbing elbows with Bedouin kings and shaping countries in the early 20th century.

+ The Heiress Explorer: Louise Boyd and the Arctic  - another Explorer and spy, she was also a socialite, art patron ----  She brought a maid with her, and some friends (including a count and countess) on a polar bear hunting expedition. while keeping an eye out in Greenland for Nazis for the State Department.

Listen if you ever wondered: What to wear when you go from arctic exploring to an awards show.

+ Don’t Cross the Dragon Lady, Cheng I Sao - After her husband's death, Cheng I Sao stepped in as the arguably most successful pirate in history. She led 7 fleets of pirate ships in the early 19th century, and imposed a stringent code of rules and ethics.

Listen if you ever wondered: How to manage a fleet of tens of thousands of pirates, including side hustles, bookkeeping and retirement plans. Perfect for #ladybosses and entrepreneurs.

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March 3, 2017

February wrap up

The Good

Husband had an interview, and three days later he got the job! He is a professional craft beer nerd - And he signed up for the second cicerone exam
Thinking of moving to Philadelphia, and was so excited to find nice apartment a within our price range!
Lady Gaga's half time show
Beat COD AW on Valentines Day. It seemed really short?
We had some unseasonably warm weather, reaching 72!!
Rescued someone under a barbell. I wasn't sure if this should go under good or bad, because the guy hasn't returned to the gym since, but I'm pretty proud of myself for knowing what to do and not dropping it on his face.

The Bad

Reggie keeps cutting his face on something in our apartment and we don't know what
He's also a little monster who revels in tackling papers of any kind, and tries to eat my notes.
Husband was away for a week
More Trump
Having trouble finding a video game for PS4 that's fun for couch co-op, we've hit a couple of duds.

Goals from last month

+ Finish the processing data part of my thesis - almost, there are a few things I need to go back and double check
+ Get more serious about cutting, start tracking calories again, etc - did this on and off
+ Go to another protest or similar event - Nope :(
+ Get two blog posts our a week - I'll settle for 7 this month. - Ha ha, nope.

Goals for March;

+ Write ten more pages on my thesis! That should give me something to hand my adviser and let him figure out what to do with it next.
+ Come up with a better blogging schedule.

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February 23, 2017

Baron von Small Mittens

This week's portrait of Reggie was a late night lark, but I'm rather proud of the results.  

Husband was away last week and I'd been sending him photos of Reggie being cute a couple times a day. As it was his last night away, I decided to do something a little special. Reggie's full name is Reginald Baron von Small Mittens, and I'd seen various pictures throughout the internet of cats being drawn in period costume (like these excellent kitties) and I thought it was both a very cute and regal way of portraying our noble feline friends.

I started by searching for an image on Creative Commons that I could use without any copyright infringement. I chose this Portrait of General Valerian Madatov by George Dawe from the Military Gallery, 1820. based on the composition rather than who it was.

I lookeed for a good photo of Reggie where he had a sideways or 3/4 view and using Photoshop Elements 2 (that is not a typo)  I transplanted my little cat Reggie's face on to the General's uniform, and tweaked the colors to fit those of the painting better. 

The result was pretty funny, but it didn't look very cohesive - it was clearly a photo poorly photoshopped onto a painting. I wanted to tie it all together and mask the differences in media type with a filter I could apply across the whole picture, maybe something to make the photo look more like the painting.

Nothing I had in my ancient version of Photoshop really did the trick and I looked through some in-browser online programs but nothing really caught my eye. I've heard a lot about this new app by Prisma, who I'd always associated with fancy (and expensive) art markers, and downloaded it onto my tablet. I applied the 'breakfast' filter and viola!

I went back later and made the hand into a white paw, reran it through the prisma filter and ended with the image at the top of the page of Reginald, Baron von Small Mittens.

Linking up with:

PS. Until February 26, 2017 Creative Markets is giving away some very cut cat design elements - a seamless background featuring cartoon kitties, and each cat as it's own picture for you to use in your art or blog.

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February 10, 2017

Protesting Trump's GOP retreat in Philadelphia

Thursday, January 26th, Philadelphia hosted a Republican retreat, complete with Donald Trump and Theresa May. I got a ride with a friend of mine from highs  school -well, her sister is a close friend of mine, and I honestly don't remember when i fist met her, but I've known her for a long time. She even did my hair and makeup for my wedding. But anyway, we drove up to Philadelphia, found a parking lot (it cost $35 for a few hours of parking!) and found our way to Thomas Paine Plaza, where Beyonce was playing in a small square, filled with a few dozen people with signs. As time went on, more and more people arrived until it was full - and more kept coming.
Despite the rain we stood through several speakers, including some spoken word poetry, the sound system wasn't good enough for me to hear all the words, but the rhythm and syllables carried over the crowd. Lots of the speakers emphasized that we couldn't stand up for one issue, without standing for each other, that we couldn't protect healthcare without supporting clean drinking water and rights to physical safety.

A woman standing next to us excitedly told us her sister was going to be speaking soon. 
A nurse told the story of a patient of hers, a university senior who had been in a severe car accident. He did wake up, but he was paralyzed - all he could move was his face. The family had insurance, but even so they lost their home because of medical bills and had to move into a tiny one bedroom apartment with their injured son, taking turn sleeping on the sofa. This is the sorry state of healthcare in the US.

During the march that followed, there were drums, a cowbell, a man enthusiastically smacking a banjo, an acoustic guitar with a sign on it, earlier during the rally a sousaphone emerged through the crowds. I lost sight of it shortly after, and didn't hear it play.

There were lots of chants as we marched, some accompanied by snare drums:
  • Up, up, education! down, down deportation!
  • Call: show me what democracy looks like! Response: this is what democracy looks like
  • Black lives matter
  • We don't get no justice they don't get no peace
  • The women shouted out "my body, my choice." and the men answered "her body, her choice"
  • Hands to small to build a wall
  • The people united will never be defeated
  • We are the 99 percent
  • Build a fence, for Mike Pence (as first I thought it was "for my pets" - still reasonable - I'd much rather spend resources on making yards pet friendly - and happy pets means happy humans)
We reaching Senator Toomey's office, where I realized a parachute had caught up with us- reminiscent of elementary school gym class. The message painted on it was hard to read from ground level, but if you were on a higher up floor of one of the surrounding office buildings, you would have been any to read it perfectly.

Once our wave of protesters reached the end of the route, we figured we needed to get out of the way for the next group.  We decided to find some coffee to warm up with. I joked that we must be on the only street corner in Philadelphia where we couldn't see a Starbucks from... until she pointed out there was one down the street. Of course there was.

We couldn't find a seat, so we scooted ourselves into the window area (image sitting in a window display). A group of 3 African American high schoolers (I think) asked to see my friend's sign, and high-fived her. Two police officers came in and couldn't find seats either, so they stood near us. We spent a while chatting with another black guy who said Philadelphia was a conservative city, even after my friend pointed out it was the home of the mummers. He said that despite that it, was nearly impossible for him to put himself through school while holding a job, and that everything felt like a struggle.

When it was time to go home, one of the officers told us to "give 'em hell".

We drove back, and my friend dropped me off at my apartment, where I came home to my little family, my husband and our Reggie, the mischievous cat. I sat in front of a heater and warmed up while my husband made one of my favorite dinners, and I realize how lucky I am, and how my world is changing.

Some more photos:

There's a local protest Sunday I'm hoping to go to. Don't Give Up!

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February 3, 2017

In which I draw a cat

This is my first entry in the Caturday Art  Link up hosted by Athena and her human Marie.

I'm pretty closed about this, but I used to really enjoy drawing and digital painting. I still do, but I don't spend nearly as much time as I used to. Probably for the best, as I'm really, really slow at drawing, and I just didn't have the time to practice my skills and study.

In high school, I wanted to become a concept artist (designing characters and landscapes for movies and video games, etc). I still do, but I also know that I don't have a thick enough skin for art school, and I was afraid if I turned something I enjoyed into a job I would start to hate it.

So that never happened.

I still enjoy drawing and messing around in photoshop, but it's not something I do regularly anymore, although I wish it was... and Caturday Art gave me that little push to try again.

I found a bunch of images of cats on Pexels that I could use as references, and settled on this guy on the left, who I have named Mr Grumplefluff.

I painted him using my Google Nexus 7 2 tablet, in the program Artflow and a Dagi stylus. I took screen shots of my process so I could go back and review what I did, and I think it's cool that it goes from a brown blob to a cat.


I think this reference was too hard for me to start with, I don't think I've ever drawn anything back lit before like that, and I had a lot of trouble visually evaluated what I saw in the reference, and recreating it in my painting. I could clearly see white and pale orange in the reference, but when I tried to paint it, it just made Mr Grumplefluff look like he was wearing a fur coat.

Adding a shadow helped a lot, not bad for a first try, and not bad for the first thing I'm showing anyone (besides husband) in years. Maybe in 6 months I'll try to draw Mr Gumplefluff again and see if I've improved at all.

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January 31, 2017

January wrap up and goals for February

The Good

+ Started an online MOOC about  Magic in the Middle Ages
+ Got a library card! (I still have mine from the Library I grew up near)
+ Reggie learned how to play fetch
+ Saw Rogue One
+ My adviser is going to find a way to cover my sustaining tuition until i graduate
+ Celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary by buying a video game we've been waiting to play!

I'm trying to ramp up my activism

+ Went to my local sister march of Women's March on Washington
+ Protested in Philadelphia the next week during the GOP retreat
+ Sent some emails to the GOA about Trump's finances

The bad

+ that job husband got fell through
+ when I filled out the forms for my Library card, the Librarian made fun of my name (she said my parents named me after a mascot) no one's done that to me since elementary school
+ Hurt my knee after I fell ice skating
+ Magic in the Middle Ages is really basic so far - the church wasn't keen on it? you don't say!
+ Husband dropped a barbell on his face. It was empty, which is probably why he wasn't paying attention when he racked it, but now he looks like someone punched him in the eye.
+ Reggie (the cat) is getting more and more rambunctious. He has so much energy, and wants so much attention that we can't keep up. He also seems to want to play with me (read: attack) and snuggle with my husband.
+ Trump. Too much to write about here.

January Goals

+ Start The Cut. I'd like to lose 5-10lbs of fat over the next several months
+ Go ice skating! The rink is right across the street from me, I get free entrance as a student and they often give out free skate rental coupons, so what am I waiting for? I went!
...and fell over spectacularly 15 minutes before public skate ended, while stopped and talking to my sister. Banged my knee up really badly.

+ Get my planner off the ground and start using it.

+ Experiment with Veganism more. It's been years since I've eaten beef, pork, lamb or chicken (I still eat seafood) and I eat a lot of vegan dinners not-on-purpose already, so I'm thinking of making vegan Wednesdays a thing. - well, i bought some plant based milk and didn't really like it (I'll keep trying more), made some "meat"balls using Gimme Lean vegan sausage (they were really good, I added minced apple to them for flavor and moisture). And I got a vegan cookbook out from the library

Febuary goals

+ Finish the processing data part of my thesis
+ Get more serious about cutting, start tracking calories again, etc
+ Go to another protest or similar event
+ Get two blog posts our a week - I'll settle for 7 this month. 

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