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Live Painting Sessions,, and Trees

April 7, 2009

This is a preview of a current work in progress. Last week I worked on it during a live, streaming video session on Ustream. I’m going to try to do these sessions once a week, probably on Wednesdays at 1 pm EST for about an hour. If you can log in during that time, you can ask questions in the chatroom, which I will answer during the broadcast. If you can’t catch the broadcast live, however, you can watch the recorded sessions on my Ustream channel later.

Check it out here: MFindley-Live digital drawing & Painting

Two new finished images up in the gallery. “In the Twilight Court” is finally done, as well as another, slightly different take on the Faerie King, Oberon–as I imagined him for a CHOW session. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, head on over to the forums on ConceptArt and check out their Character of the Week (CHOW) challenges. I was a little nervous about participating at first, but everyone has been really welcoming and kind and I’ve been having a lot of fun.

Right now I’m taking part in the month long Team CHOW event. My team consists of the awesomeness that is Christine Griffin, Louisa Gallie, and Erika Harm as well as myself. We’ve dubbed our little group “The Weird Sisters” and have been coming up with some really fun concepts and sketches that will be fleshed out by the end of the month. Will we win? Who cares! The fun is in the challenge, right?

In other news: maybe all my griping about tree bark came back to bite me in the ass. We had a nasty twenty minute storm last Thursday and a lightning bolt demolished one of the huge old trees in my backyard. One of the massive limbs came down, taking out part of the roof. My stepson was laying in bed right beneath where the limb came through and narrowly escaped the ceiling collapsing on him. We’re really relieved no one was hurt, but there’s now a pretty big hole in the roof that’s going to need patched, and some interior work to repair the water damage. The cost of the repairs is covered (we’re renting and the owner’s insurance is taking care of it). I have a healthier respect for trees and lightning now. And I twitch a little every time I hear a loud bump.


New Year – New Art – Same old me

February 7, 2009

It’s been a long month. And I seriously needed to update here with more art… but it kind of got shoved to the back with so much else going on.

In early January I had to deal with a copyright infringement problem where one of my images had been used as the cover of a German paperback novel–without permission of course.

Once that was straightened out, I caught the flu for about a week, and watched the inauguration while bundled up in bed and sipping ginger ale and cold medicine.

This last week has been devoted toward resolving another copyright issue. This time a Facebook RPG game that was using artwork from all over deviantART, including a few of mine.

But that looks to be resolved now and it’s time to get back to the drawing board. Finally. Above you can see some progress steps from my new WIP. I feel like this is a painting I’ve been working on for a much longer time than just a few weeks. It has shades of previous paintings: Mistletoe, King of Darkness, Constantine, Sunshine and Shadow and more… it’s the same idea that I’ve been sketching over and over in various forms for the last few years. It’s a little bit Bouguereau, a little bit Froud, a little Linda Bergkvist, and a whole lot of the things that make me tick as an artist, and I’m really excited that it’s all finally meshing together so well.

I’m also looking at redesigning my site. This is something I *hate* doing, as I’m horrible at coding, so I’m also looking at other options. Unfortunately I’m not that rich so I may be forced to do it myself.

My other goal in the next few months is to start sending out emails to Art Directors. I’m finally at the place where I feel comfortable with what I can do–something I didn’t feel before. There was always that nagging voice in the back of my head saying “But you suck at this, and this and this…” I finally told it to take a hike. The e-book publishing market is nice and all… but hardly what I want to be doing for the rest of my career.

I also recently put together a wallpaper pack. It’s free to use on your own desktop, but obviously not for commercial purposes of any sort. Click the image below to go to the webpage and then click the download link on the left to get the wallpaper pack.

Blog Pimping

Since it’s been a while since I last updated I wanted to point out some awesome sites that I think are well worth a visit (or a subscription to their RSS feed):

  • Ninja Mountain Podcasts – the boys over at Ninja Mountain–Pat McEvoy (Marvel, Sony), Jeremy McHugh (White Wolf), Andy Hepworth (White Wolf, Ulises-Spiele) and Jon Hodgson (Wotc, Paizo)–have just posted their second podcast. It’s well worth a listen, not just for all the great advice they give about the fantasy art and illustration industry, but also because they’re funny, and all have incredibly sexy voices. Rrrrrow.
  • The Art Department – I may have mentioned this one before, but if so I’ve forgotten. I *love* The Art Department. It’s a great blog written by Irene Gallo, Art Director at Tor publishing. She’s always posting great links to what’s going on in the sci-fi/fantasy art field and pointing out artists that I’ve been coming to love.
  • Lines and Colors – It’s hard to find an art lover that treats fantasy/sci-fi and comic book artwork with the same respect and awe as classical art and modern fine artists, but Charley Parker’s clearly a big fan of Good Art, no matter what form it takes. I love reading his new posts, pointing out contemporary fine artists, fantasy illustrators, and long dead classical artists that are worth checking out. I’ve found some of my favorite influences this way, and I hope he keeps this blog up for a long, long time to come. My only complaint is “Charley? Where’s the girl artists?” Cause we’re out here, too.
  • PlagiarismToday – As most people who follow me on any of my various sites know, copyright infringement and artists’ rights are my personal cause. I’m kind of rabid about it. Jonathan’s blog, PlagiarismToday, is one of the best resources out there right now for finding out what’s going on in the world of copyright news, and especially in the realm of INTERNET copyright issues. Not to mention he’s a great supporter of artists’ rights. With the recent Hammerfall debacle, he was one of the major reasons we got it resolved so quickly, and without his help I’m not sure it could have been done.

Macworld 2009: a few thoughts*

January 8, 2009

Have you ever really thought about the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz? It’s beautiful isn’t it? Gemstone towers rising up out of that great big field, filled with gorgeous people who appear to go about their lives happily and peacefully despite being overly enamored of the color green… Okay so that part is a little creepy, but lets skip that and get to the really cool bits… Then Dorothy and her friends get in this carriage pulled by a magical color-changing horse, and travel around a city filled with wonderful things. They get makeovers in a salon that caters to everyone from Tin Men to Scarecrows to Lions. Where they can dye your eyes to match your dress, even. And besides being beautiful, everyone there is very talented and have awesome singing voices. There’s all this really cool stuff going on every single day in the Emerald City.

But why do people go there? Is it for the salons or the indecisively coated horses or the phenomenally cool shit they have?

No. It’s to see the Wizard of Oz.

But even though nobody gets in to actually see the Great Oz, they know he must be pretty great, right? After all, he’s got this big tower, and guards with unlikely hats, and he’s obviously either a reclusive eccentric or overbooked for the next century because it’s so difficult to get in to see him. Clearly he’s got to be the most awesome thing in the Emerald City, right?

Only it turns out he’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors and stage lights, and a bagful of gadgets that mean nothing until they’re in the right hands.

Welcome to Macworld.

With all the talk this year about Apple’s Big Announcement—that Steve Jobs wouldn’t be doing the keynote and that Apple will no longer have a booth on the show floor—we’re finally getting a glimpse at the world behind the curtain. And you know what? It’s exactly the same as it was before. The only difference is now people are beginning to see the smoke and mirrors for what they are and that’s disappointing them. It sucks to find out your Big Awesome Wizard is a normal man, with normal human failings and nothing more than a bag of gadgets.

Yes, they’re really slick gadgets, but they’re just gadgets nevertheless.

Had Steve Jobs stood up on that stage on Tuesday, instead of Phil Schiller, and announced the EXACT SAME products and services, the geek world would have cheered them. They’d have been awesome!!! (as Rhino the hamster would have enthused). Maybe not as awesome as the iPhone was, but still. The Great Jobs would have spoken and all would have bowed before his magnificence.

Smoke and mirrors and flaming heads, my friends.

The truly sad thing about all of this is that, like the Emerald City, Apple itself is hardly the best thing about Macworld. As my husband, John C. Welch (the “C” stands for “Colorful and Not Very Shy”), pointed out so well, there’s so much going on at Macworld that people forget about because they think that the only reason to go is to hear the Keynote and be razzle-dazzled by Steve Jobs’s latest Cool New Thing.

There are classes on everything from learning how to make the most of your network, to running a leaner operating system to how to make Photoshop leap through hoops of flame and stand on its head. There are tiny booths filled with small companies that you’d never hear about online but who make Cool New Things of their own that will make your life easier in hundreds of tiny ways. From the people at TypeIt4Me (who have one of the best text expanders on the planet), to the people at SmileOnMyMac (creators of the award winning PDFPen), to the folks at Twitterific (who have made my life slightly less productive, but also allowed me to network with people in my field all over the globe)—it’s the people who do cool stuff on a daily basis that really make Macworld special, and who get panned as worthless if Apple decides to close itself up in its brushed aluminum tower and refuse to come out.

With all the bullshit flying around about how this is the End of Macworld, I find it a real shame that so many people have bought into the flaming head that is Apple and forgotten to take a look at what makes Macworld really important. If all you’re interested in is the chance to see the wizard, then yes, Macworld isn’t for you. But if you’re at all interested in how to USE your computer, or any of the many products that are available for that computer, to make your life easier or more productive, or to get an edge in your professional field then Macworld is the place to be. Not CES which is nothing more than a marketing orgy, or WWDC which, lets face it, is for the people who make the cool shit to go speak geek and make more cool shit—Macworld is the place for people who want the opportunity to learn how to use their gadgets to make their lives a little better, a little easier.

It’s also the place to go to see how all of the wizard’s gadgets are being put to use by other people in hundreds of different ways: from digital art and photography, to scrapbooking and archiving, to writing novels and screenplays, to just about any career field you can imagine. All of it is here, in the Moscone, open to the public once a year (for a reasonable entry fee) so they can be inspired and learn. Those in the know travel from all over the world to be there—not for the smoke and mirrors of the Keynote—but for the chance to interact face to face with the people who develop and use all these little (or not so little) products.

I hope that now that the curtains have been pulled aside and we’ve had a glimpse at how human Apple really is, that Macworld can be appreciated for what it really is: something better than just a trade showcase for Apple. I hope that next year the people there are little wiser and ready to experience everything that Macworld has to offer. Why stand in line overnight in San Francisco in early January for a stage show when the really cool stuff is behind all the other doors? In my opinion, it’s easier to appreciate what’s all around you, has always been all around you, when you no longer have smoke in your eyes.

Pay no attention to that man behind behind the curtain?

Okay. He’s not who I came to see anyway.

*Disclaimer: I’m not a journalist. I don’t pretend to be a journalist. Or a media blogger or anything like that. All of this is merely my opinion. This is my third Macworld and the one I was looking forward to the most. So far I’ve not been disappointed at all. (And for the record, I always sleep in on Keynote days.)

Happy Holidays

December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays from me to all of you.

The holiday season is always my busiest time of year. I spend a lot of time traveling, visiting family. Then it’s my birthday, then New Years, then my mother’s birthday, then I fly out to San Francisco for Macworld Conference and Expo. And I get back just in time for my sister’s birthday!

I’m looking forward to Macworld this year. Corel and Massive Black have teamed up to do a panel on digital art, with Andrew Jones and Jason Manley as part of the panel. With all the crap flying around because of the lack of Steve Jobs Keynote (really? This matters to people?) and Apple’s planned pullout of the conference next year (um, again… more space for stuff besides marketing is a good thing, right?), it’s nice to be able to say that I’m emphatically looking forward to a conference session that has NOTHING to do whatsoever with Apple. Aside from using their computers, that is.

I’m also trying to finish up my entry in the latest CGSociety challenge: Steampunk Myths and Legends. I still think I’m insane for even trying, since Steampunk is seriously not my forte. I also had to go and pick a scene that involves complicated perspective, lots of objects, mechanical things… gah! none of which I’m strong on but all of which I really needed to prove to myself I was capable of doing. I’m pretty pleased with my efforts so far, I just need to make sure I’m done before I have to leave for SF. You can check out the Work in Progress for it here: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast.

I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season (no matter what you celebrate), and I also want to say Happy Birthday to some of my favorite artists who share the pain of having a holiday birthday with me:

Louisa Gaille, Meredith Dillman, Amy Edwards and Kiriko Moth,

I’m trying an experiment

November 9, 2008

I don’t sketch enough. Or speedpaint enough. Or doodle enough. You wouldn’t think that’s so, given how much I draw, but it’s true. I have a bad tendency to get an image stuck in my head and slap it onto the canvas and then chisel away at it for a week or two until it’s perfect, then start the process all over again. It’s a bad habit, and one that I’d like to change.

Sketching, speedpainting these are good for both the hands and the brain. They help you improve your skills, and they allow you a freedom to play and experiment that you often don’t get when you’re waist deep into a painting and there’s little room for playing around. There is a danger, however, in sketching in that you tend to only sketch whatever it is that appeals to you at that particular moment. You may fill a sketchbook with nothing but figure drawings… when it’s architecture that you’re weak on. You may flip back and see a sketchbook full of pictures of sword and sorcery… when you could benefit from a still life or two.

So I’m trying an experiment: I’ve revamped my moth eaten book review blog and turned it into a sketchblog. There were a couple of reasons for deciding not to make it part of this one: 1.) I felt like if it was focused entirely on sketches and speedpaints, it’d be easier for me to STAY focused on filling it with such. 2.) This site is my somewhat more professional site, and I’d prefer for anyone visiting to be drawn to look more at my finished work than a bunch of loose, sloppy, half finished sketches.

You can find my sketchblog at or just click the link in the right sidebar there.

In addition to the mostly daily quality of the sketches, the experimental part of it is this: I’m going to apply audience participation to it. To force me to sketch outside of my comfort zone, I’ll be periodically asking on Twitter for suggestions for sketch topics. You can also leave me comments on my sketchblog suggesting future sketch topics for me. I’d like to try to do at least one sketch or speedpaint per suggestion, and when I post the sketch I’ll also post a link to the webpage of whoever suggested it (giving my readers a little bit of free exposure and advertising as well). If you check out the last few pages you can see where I’ve already started this process.

Sooooo… if you’d like to suggest a topic you can either post the suggestion in the sketchblog comments OR you can sign up to follow me on Twitter, and when I sit down to sketch I’ll put out a call for suggestions

Upcoming and Updates

November 3, 2008

I’ve nearly reached my goal of selling fifteen calendars, and it’s still well before Thanksgiving. Hopefully I can sell a few more by the 20th. If you’re still thinking about buying one, you can pick one up here. I also have prints, coffee mugs, magnets, postcards, mouspads, and other related products for sale in my dA shop, and some available in my EllenMillion Graphics store as well (Link is in the side bar on the right. Someone asked the other day if I actually see any profits from these or if the money just goes to the printer. I do, actually, get a decent percentage of each sale, and I can set my own prices if I think the piece warrants it. So yes, purchasing my artwork from either of those two sites does support the artist.


Commission Updates:

I won’t be accepting any NEW commissions from now through probably the 12th of January. I’m full up. I’ve got a couple of big projects going on, a mask commission, and a ton of small personal projects (like Christmas cards!) that I need to try to crank out. I started October thinking that it was going to be a pretty slow month and while I’m partially caught up, I need some breathing space. Also, Christmas is always a busy travel time for me, then Macworld Conference and Expo in January… so any new commissions will have to wait till then.

Anything I’ve already got in my queue however is still there and will get finished in order of who needs what when. (Say that five times fast.)


Upcoming stuff

  • My “A Sharpened Heart” painting is supposed to be in the upcoming release of Exotique 4 (now available for preorder here, it’s supposed to ship mid November. Christmas gift anyone?
  • I’ve just finished up helping to tech edit Photoshop CS4: The Missing Manual due out in late December from O’Reilly Press. It’s written by my good friend Lesa King, but I have some artwork in it, and I helped out a bit on the digital painting chapter
  • I’ve been invited to participate in dAFilm thanks to some of my time lapse vids. I’m curious if you’d all like to see a new time lapse vid, OR if you’d like video tutorials. Tutorials would most likely concentrate on working in Corel Painter, but a lot of the same theory applies in Photoshop. I’ve got a poll up and I’d love some feedback from you all.

Fantasy isn’t just Fluff and Nonsense

October 16, 2008

I get so tired of reading forums where people claim that they hate reading fantasy books in public because the covers are cheesy or corny. I get even more tired when people make the assumption that fantasy books are merely escapist getaways from reality, more fluff than substance.

So in honor of the fact that I’m about to head out to Con*Stellation this weekend where Diane Duane will be one of the guests of honor, I’m putting together a list of some of my favorite fantasy books which are geared toward people who aren’t afraid of little things like… oh.. physics.

Not that I have anything against the fluffy sorts of fantasy (I love them too). But sometimes you want to read something that reminds you that explaining everything as “it’s *magic*!” is kind of a cop out.

  • The Young Wizards Chronicles by Diane Duane. ( Books in the series include: So You Want to be a Wizard?, Deep Wizardry, High Wizardry, A Wizard Abroad, A Wizard’s Dilemma, A Wizard at War). I first picked up these books when I was twelve, in the young adult section of my library, LONG before Harry Potter became the reigning king of kid wizards. Nita and Kit and their friends (and family and pets) hop between alternate universes, fight entropy, talk to stars and whales and trees and faeries and cats and transcendent pigs, and discuss weighty laws of physics and mathematics
  • Chronicles of Chaos by John. C. Wright (Books in the series include: Orphans of Chaos, Fugitives of Chaos, Titans of Chaos). This is a fairly recent series that actually managed to sprain my brain several times while reading and trying to wrap my head around the concepts introduced. It follows the adventures of a group of “students” at a boarding school in England who discover that they are not what they thought they were, and that their teachers are creatures out of myth who are keeping them prisoner. Combining heady doses of greek mythology with particle physics, occult practices, bio-technology and trans-dimensional beings, this series may be difficult to follow sometimes, but it manages to be entertaining as well. The final battle is a little on the unbelievable side, though.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (and follow up books like A Swiftly Tilting Planet). Another series I discovered young, mainly because I think I was assigned to read it. Still a fascinating story that twists fantasy and science fiction together and creates something fascinating and still refreshingly different even today.
  • The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings. High fantasy, yes, but some of the philosophical, sociological, theological, political and hypothetical physics discussed in this book (and several other Eddings books for that matter), put it on my list.
  • IceWind Dale Trilogy, Dark Elf Trilogy, Clerical Quintet by R.A. Salvatore. My husband requested that I add these to the list because, he says “Salvatore took a deep look at the socio-political issues within the Forgotten Realms. That these things don’t happen in a vacuum. It’s not just people running around killing Orcs.”
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Yes, the grand-daddy of all fantasy. Tolkien’s world is so fully realized that at times you feel like you’re reading a history book, not a fictional story at all. With his gift for inventing languages, history, politics, and a good grasp of warfare and mythology, The Lord of the Rings is beyond mere world building.
  • Another of my husband’s picks: The Incarnations of Immortality Series by Piers Anthony. John says: “Although uneven, Piers Anthony’s look at the afterlife took the viewpoint that all of this is a job. That the afterlife needs “people” to take care of the various divisions and departments, and that if they don’t do their jobs right, things go very wrong for their customers, namely “us”. The weakest book of the series is the last, but then again, how do you deal with the succession of Ultimate Deity?”
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Humorous, yes, but this tongue-in-cheek satirical fantasy about the Apocalypse, Anti-Christ, and the war between Up There and Down There really covers a lot of philosophical and theological ground. Hot stuff to handle, but they do it in such a way that it makes you think. The saddest thing I ever saw was when my local library refused to do a book discussion of Good Omens on the grounds that it was “too controversial” and instead chose an insipid Oprah book of the month drama with the intellectual depth of a spoon.
  • Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (books include: Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed and the upcoming Bone Crossed). Unlike a lot of paranormal/fantasy romance out there, Briggs takes a long hard dive into what makes werewolves, vampires, faeries, witches, and skinwalkers really tick. She delves into politics, the society of creatures that are utterly non-human, as well as the biological issues that surround them.
  • Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffery. I’m not going to get too much into the rest of the series, which started out strong and took a long, steady decline down into boring over time. But this “prequel” of sorts to the rest of the series deals heavily with space travel, bio-engineering, sociological and political issues, geological exploration, and still manages to retain that “fantasy” feel.

There are tons of others, too. With the wealth of intelligently written fantasy books out there I continually find it difficult to believe that people look down their noses at the genre.

And don’t even get me started on what I think of their opinion about the covers.

Comment here and leave some recommendations of books I’ve left out.