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P.S. This is a Star Wars joke. Get it? Let me know in Comments, Jedi Knights.

 

 

But speaking of Halloween, for the record, I do not think this is funny:

Candy corn is my favorite food, ever. I love candy corn. In my opinion, it has the perfect texture and consistency, chewy but not too chewy; sickeningly sweet but not too sickeningly sweet (unlike, for example, sweet potatoes cooked with marshmallows eeewwww), and has a pleasant buttery-plastic aftertaste that I find addictive. (Speaking of industrial revolution flavors, I also used to love the smell of car exhaust in the old days before they removed the lead from gasoline, and I’ve huffed a lot of 1960s internal combustion CO2, so this love of candy corn might be sign of brain damage.)

Candy corn is also just the right size for creative snacking, either by biting it into thirds along the color demarkations or letting one whole piece melt in your mouth (you never eat a handful of candy corn at a time), so it’s “slow cuisine”, junk-food style.

Get the candy corn made with honey, as honey has a biological shut-off switch that prevents you from eating until the point of nausea, whereas pure cane sugar has had that portion-control valve removed and that’s why ou will stuff yourself with Twinkies until you puke.

Candy corn lovers of the world, unite!

Picking up the latest episode of Watching Paint Dry where we left off last week, I didn’t show you all the “finished” portrait of Juno that I painted because I had originally posted it on the blog, but before I hit the “publish” button I removed it because it was off. I futzed with it over and over, and tried to correct it…and in the end it was a hot mess.

Here it is:

There are so many layers of paint on this portrait that it looks as if I was scrubbing it on with my bare hands. This looks finger-painted. Something is off, indeed, something that no amount of rescue can fix. One thing that is “off” is that I had positioned the head inorrectly in relation to the body:

The black lines show where I should have put Juno’s shoulders.

The thing is, Juno’s body is facing one way, but her head is turned to peer at something in the distance over her left shoulder. Without that gesture, the whole pose looks off.

The rest of the crappiness of this portrait is down to bad painting. Oh well. In the watercolor world, you have good days and bad days.

Let’s take another look at the original inspiration:

Time to START OVER from scratch, and let’s hope we’ll have a good day. Please bear with me:

 

What I did this time that was different from last time was that I painted Juno’s entire face with a layer of China White before I added color. I like the way paint reacts to this pigment, and I think it’s the right thing to do for Juno:

Let’s bleed in some black:

 

 

 

 

This is how the paint looks when it is applied directly to the paper (no layer of China White under it):

 

 

I added some pencil lines and I am

DONE:

Thank you for your patience, Dear Readers. And to Carol, Gali, and Leslie, who are waiting to receive their portraits, I will be off to the Post Office to send them all out in one swell foop. Mail! You’re getting mail soon!

In related news, I came across a story about a fellow distinguished Pet Portraitist working in the English town of Worthing, who goes by the name Hercule Van Wolfwinkle:

Hercule had never drawn anything before he started to do pet portraits to raise money for the local animal shelter:

Hercule specializes in pet portraits that are unashamedly off:

So far, he has raised $18,000 to help homeless animals.

He makes off look so on, right?

It’s been another long, strange week in America, my Dear Readers. The Pope says same-sex unions are OK with God, Trump tried to gaslight Lesley Stahl about his “health care plan”, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and general all-around dickhead, got caught with his hands down his pants, and, oh yeah, we found out that our president as a secret Chinese bank account.

Did I miss anything?

Let’s go to the weekly news round up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Cat took this picture in the Village in Manhattan this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I fact-checked this story. It’s 100% true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it for this week, Dear Readers. Have a great weekend, because we deserve it! We’ve put up with the mess that has been made of this planet for a whole week and now it’s time to retreat to the “Happy Place” where everyone gets to be 29 and served with ice-cold martinis by the pool while meeting with a  Jane Austin book club made up entirely of hot K-pop stars. Int he background are the talking pet unicorns, who sound so sweet when they whinney to each other,

“Fuck Trump”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thank you, Dear Readers, for your condolences last week regarding the loss of my BFF. It’s still hard to understand that I will never see her again, or that we’ll ever get together again to kill a bottle of pinot on a Sunday afternoon, or head to our fave Japanese restaurant in the middle of the week for our fave spicy tuna sandwiches and mean girl chit chat, etc. After I published my last book and was feeling very bored with life and myself, it was Renee’s idea that we enroll at the local community college for ASL classes, and then it was her idea that we take over the second hand book store for the local library and raise a ton of money. I can’t stand ballet, but I’d listen to her go into raptures about her latest outings at the ABT, and she wasn’t into K-Pop but she’d hear me out on why BTS deserved to be my Korean husbands. She was a great BFF. The fact that she is gone from my life forever takes my breath away.

Ah well. There is no escaping the pain of life. The best we can do is not let it drive us crazy, right?

And this week, my gift from the universe was this sweet girl:

This is Juno, who lives with Dear Reader Gali in Massachusetts, who hosted the Scottish Stromness Rock on the beginning of its 8,000-mile journey around the United States and showed off the sights of the birthplace of the American Revolution (1776 version).

If ever there was a week then I needed to spend time with a Golden Retriever, it was this week.

I am glad that she is the final Stromness Pet Portrait because it will take all the technical expertise I have amassed during this project for me to paint her. Not because she poses any particular compositional of painterly challenge. It’s because she’s a Golden Retriever. It’s like trying to paint Jesus. If you now what I mean.

For my Golden Retriever Hue, I began mixing paints with a base of Chinese White (for technical reasons — because it makes it easier to manipulate the paint with a Chinese White base, not because I needed that white)and added several browns and yellows to match Juno’s golden-cinnamon color:

Eyes first,as usual:

I think it’s funny to have a pair of eyes popping out of a blank shet of paper.

These were the most complicated eyes I have painted so far:

Juno appears to be wearing eye-liner, and I have to get it j u s t r i g h t.

And now for the boopable nose:

 

 

 

 

I am fond of bleeds:

 

 

 

 

And here is where I had to stop, because I ran out of time. This is by far the most painstaking pet portrait I have done yet, and I don’t want to push it. I will continue to paint this tomorrow, when I am re-freshed and can get all of Juno’s nuances.

Also because I haven’t got her quite right yet, and I have some tweaking to do. Rescues are my super power, though, so we’ll be back next week with a “Wrong Juno And How I Made It Right” 100% Juno portrait.

Until then, let’s take a look back at this past week, and marvel how we all managed to live through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S. I looked this (above) up. It actually says that women should be quiet IN CHURCH. That’s all. It’s OK to raise hell everywhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It’s only 18 more days, not even three weeks, until all this will be over. Imagine how the whole world will celebrate when Trump gets slaughtered in 50 states and the Republicans are returned to their rightful status as the minority party in the Senate on Nov. 3, oh, just imagine that, and be happy. The world will break your heart in a thousand ways every day, but not on November 3, no.

(James Carville was the political strategist who engineered Bill Clinton’s 1992 and 1996 victories, so he knows. He KNOWS.)

I only have three more times that I can say this about a President who is not a lame duck:

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This will be a short post today. I thought we had more time, and I thought I’d be able to see her in person, one day, when this pandemic was over and her lung cancer was in remission, but, no. My best friend died on Monday and I still can’t think straight. I was driving back from the grocery store yesterday and I suddenly couldn’t remember which streets to take, so I just kept driving around the block and eventually I came across a landmark that looked familiar and I found my way home. The rest of life looks the same way, as if everything around me is suddenly foreign and “off”. It will take some time to get the lay of this new land I now live in.

But Renee hated Trump with every cell in her body, so this is for you, darling:

 

 

This is how Trump got the virus from the first of his aides who tested positive, Hope Hicks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope that we can circle back to the tape recordings made by Melanoma’s ex-freind, in which she is heard cursing out journalists and Christmas, right?

 

 

 

 

 

Then there was that fly that sat on Mike Pence’s head for two minutes during the Vice Presidential debate on Wednesday:

 

On the handle it says: Truth Over Flies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Go have a drink with your best friend and celebrate being on Earth.

And of course, when you raise your glass to make a toast, let’s all say it together: Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

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I woke up today to the fabulous news that our president has COVID. The information is still too new for me to harvest the best memes and Tweets, so you’ll have to make do with the stuff I have planned for you before I got wind of this fantastic intel, but OMG! THIS IS THE BEST NEWS I’VE HAD ALL YEAR!!!

However, 2020 still sucks.

 

 

 

 

My Korean husbands have been on American TV all week (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon) and on top of the Billboard Hot 100, and now they have a movie in select theaters. It’s a documentary called Break the Silence about their 2019 world tour, in which they performed in stadiums in the US, Europe, South America, and Asia.

This is from Forbes: The South Korean pop septet grossed over $196 million and played to more than 1.6 million people across 42 shows in the chart period ranging from Nov. 1, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2019. The group outgrossed legacy rock acts like the Rolling Stones, Metallica and KISS, as well as fellow boy band the Backstreet Boys. BTS also ranked third overall on the year-end Top 40 Tours chart behind Ed Sheeran and Pink. [I had no idea that Pink was such a huge star, did you?]

I live in New York state, where movie theaters are still closed due to the pandemic, so I had to go to New Jersey to see Break the Silence. All I had to do was get myself off Long Island, pass through Manhattan island, and find a place called Clifton Commons in NJ. Not a problem.

When I was 19, I went to Paris alone, on my own. While there, I decided to go to Rome. So I got myself  to the Gare de Lyon and used my high school French and was able to negotiate an overnight train and make a reservation for a couchette for the night.  I arrived in Rome not knowing a word of Italian, with no hotel reservation and no map of the city. Also, did I mention that I was 19? And, yet, I got around fine. I went to the Vatican, toured the Colosseum, climbed the Spanish Steps, threw a coin into the Trvi Fountain, wandered in the Forum, and I had pizza. I “did” Rome and didn’t hurt myself. I didn’t get killed, kidnapped, or pick-pocketed. I had street smarts.

I don’t have any street smarts any more.

All I had to do was go to New Jersey. I didn’t want to drive (because I am still thinking like it’s 2019 and that public transportation is so much more convenient) so I looked up train schedules from Long Island and the NJ Transit buses from the Port Authority on 42nd street in Manhattan. I had no idea where/what Clifton Commons was, but hell, I’ve been to Rome and I’m 64 so I figured that I was officially a wise woman and good to go. I was taking the 2:17 train to NYC to get a 3:40 bus to Clifton Commons to arrive at 4:00 to see a 5:00 movie. SIMPLE.

I won’t go into details, but everything was fine until I got on the bus. I missed my bus stop (in a bus that announced every stop in a big LED display that I was looking at the whole time), and I missed it by seven miles. By the time it dawned on me that, um, something had gone awry, I jumped off the bus in front of a divey sports bar in some dingy back street in Nowhere, NJ, and it took me a lot of trial and error before I remembered that I had a phone with internet, and called a cab, which didn’t show up, and called for another one, which did, and in the end I was 15 minutes late for the movie that I had crossed state lines to go see. I arrived in time to see the last trailer for Coming Attractions, which include the new Wonder Woman movie (it’s set in 1984 and it looks very cute, BTW) and — this is the best part — I was the only one in the theater.

I’m still shook up about how badly I travelled the 38.4 miles from my house to Clifton Commons. Can I even call myself a traveller any more? This is a serious identity issue for a travel memoirist (me, that’s what I am, that’s what I write in any time there’s a form that asks for “occupation”).

That’s something to think about while I am cat-wrangling. Our kitten, Kimmy, has a lot of energy, and she likes to keep busy. Here she is with one of her projects:

Her new hobby is to roam through my table full of paper structures and beat the hell out of them. That green thing you see in the left corner (above) is one of those paper things I made for Where The Wild Things Are (with dragons and other monsterish characters from children’ literature:

This is what Where the Wild Things Are looks like after Kimmy has beaten it into submission:

Here’s what’s left of the White Castle from last year’s ChrisHanuKwanSolstice card:

To tell the truth, I’m not at all upset. I didn’t know what to do with these things, and they were sitting out on my great-Aunt Mabel’s old dining room table because they take up a lot of room and I didn’t have a better place to store them. So Kimmy had a whale of a time whaling on them, and I get to throw the out.

And Kimmy is so cute, you can’t be mad at her. This is how she sleeps:

SO CUTE.

Now I’d like you to meet another kitty, who is starring in Pet Portrait of the Week:

Meet Bella,who lived with Dear Reader Maryanne in South Carolina, who hosted the Stromness Rock for its  delightful visit to the state capitol, Columbia:

I’m sure you all can see the challenge in painting this portrait. My reference is a photo of Bella caught napping in Maryanne’s jammie drawer. As you can see, there is only one eye in this shot, and I have to get that whole expression (I call it nonchalantly judgemental) in ONE EYE. Bella is also a gray cat. This means that there is no room for error in getting the silhouette correct, exactly right, or else Bella will look lumpy and boneless. And I  have to use a lot of gray paint, which is not, usually, the most exciting color to work with. You know that I always start with the eyes when I paint a portrait, so with Bella, I started with the eye.

Here’s a close up of the eye:

There’s a lot going on in that eye. You can’t see it in this photo of amy reference photo, but her eye has a generally golden cast to it, with emerald-green coloring around the edges. There’s a lot of shading in there, giving the eye a lot of depth. There’s also a very large white highlight. Lastly, there’s a shit load of attitude in that eye.

I layered lots of washes to get an approximation of the color and shadow:

I mixed my Bella Gray beginning with China White. China White, as a paint, has a texture to it that I love working with, and there is something about its chemical properties that make it react to water and other pigments in a way that is unlike any other watercolor paint. It’s very opaque, and water does strange things to it. I’m using it to outline the edges of Bella’s ear:

Now we paint the ear:

 

See this bleed? This is what China White does so well:

I still haven’t used blackout — this is all shades of gray:

 

Since Bella is such a “simple” painting (one eye), I am painting this portrait much larger than I  usually do. I am a miniaturist, and I am not used to painting on this scale, so this feels to me as if I am painting a mural. It was when I saw what I had done to Bella’s head that I realized that I needed a new plan to accommodate this page format. I needed to paint fur.

I’m not that kind of painter. I don’t do loosey-blobbly. So this is a new style for me:

I dropped very wet paint onto the paper and”pulled” out individual strokes of “fur”:

The paper isn’t warped — that’s the bright sun coming in through the window screens.

 

DONE. Almost.

It was when I loaded this image onto y blog, thinking I was done, that I saw that the shadow that I painted on Bella’s face was too sharp. I didn’t want it to be exactly half of her face like that. So I went back upstairs to re-work it.

I also took a picture of Bella with a tea bag so you can see how “large” I am making this:

And, because this is such a close-up view of Bella, I painted in whiskers (which I don’t usually do):

OK, now we are DONE.

In loving memory of the Divine Miss Bella.

Tune in next week, when I do the final Stromness Rock Pet Portrait. Spoiler: It’s for Gali, who showed The Rock a good time in Massachusetts. Gali has — wait for it — a dog. Not just any dog. A Golden Retriever.

I’m not at all sure I can pull this off. Stay tuned.

So, this being the week that it was, we had revelations about Trump’s being a bankrupt and ethically compromised tax cheat, a presidential debate, and a Supremem Court nomination of a religious wacko.

Yeah, It’s the usual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proof that better days are ahead in this thread on my Twitter tl:

 

 

 

 

 

This wasn’t in the tl, but it was heartening all the same:

Oh, right. I forgot that Trump’s press secretary, who lies all the time, told a really dumb lie:

In Religious news, it was a mixed bag this week:

 

Now let’s get to those tax returns:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answer, below, is “No”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You made it! You made it through this looooong post and another week of 2020! Be happy, Dear Ones; Donald Trump has COVID!

Stay healthy, stay away from Republicans, and, oh yeah:

Fuck Trup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First off, I apologize — I don’t have a pet portrait to show you this week. It wasn’t a good week for painting. When I wrote last week’s blog headline, I did not expect things to get so crazy so fast.

We all felt like we got a punch in the stomach last Friday when we heard the news that Ruth Bader Ginsberg had died. I’m still processing it. Here’s a few thoughts that I’d like to share:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week’s blog post headline comes from the Attorney General announcing that New York City, which is about 15 miles to the west of my 100-year-old house here on the north shore of Long Island, is now an “anarchist jurisdiction”. Nobody knows what the hell that means, but it sounds kind of saucy.

I went into Manhattan last Friday, the first time I’ve been in the city since Top Cat and I did our bBack Lives Matter march in June. I also took the subway, which I haven’t done in a long, long time. And I will try to never do it again.

Dear Readers, the New York City subway system is really, really, really scuzzy.

The trains are fine. It’s the people that scuzz up the system. From what I observed, the pandemic has taken a toll on New Yorkers since of propriety. I can only attribute the months of lockdown and working-from-home-ism to the lowering of standards as to what constitutes “public attire”. I swear I saw people wearing pajamas on the IRT, and apparently there is a shortage of combs in NYC. Maybe wearing clothes that are three sizes too small is a fashion statement, or maybe people haven’t been able to update their wardrobe to accommodate the pandemic pounds they have packed on, but either way, squeezing ten pounds of sausage into a five point bag is not a good look. When you ride the New York subway, you realize that humanity is, mostly, made up of very unattractive people, and it’s no wonder why our society vales beauty so much, it being such a rare sight amongst our species.

Other than the, things looked pretty normal in the heart of the anarchy.

 

 

 

I came across a news story that made me feel pretty good about the red state of Tennessee.

Tony Tenpenny (you ave to admit that that’s an AWESOME name) was a Republican and a “coronavirus skeptic” who used to publish anti-mask memes on his Facebook page. This is from May:

This is from Tony, in June:

Tony was still wondering why America was falling for the Democratic hoax in August:

Additionally, Tenpenny had been very active on social media voicing his support for President Donald Trump and his opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.

On May 30, Tenpenny posted a statement on Facebook falsely attributed to former Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., putting forward conspiracy theories that the virus is nothing more than a political trick to derail Trump’s re-election bid.

On July 7, he wrote that “the CDC and the WHO are pure lying (expletive)” and that public health officials are “not telling you the truth.”

Tenpenny made more than a dozen posts stating or sharing Covid-19 disinformation, including video from a Texas doctor who peddled dangerous theories about the virus, linking its cause to demons. Facebook flagged the July 29 posting by Tenpenny as “Partly False Information.”

And then, on September 20, this happened:

Tenpenny was hospitalized for five weeks and was placed on a ventilator earlier in September. No word on whether he thought his death was a hoax, or a political trick to make Trump look bad.

Let us all take a moment to say Thank you, Karma.

That’s all I got for you this week, Dear Readers. Let’s all try to re-adjust to this new, depraved “normal”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

If you’re reading this on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, join me tonight in raising a glass for the late, great, notorious RBG.

And, lest we forget:

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Actually, I was guzzling the VegaMeataVitamin by May.

Here on the north shore of Long Island we have had spectacular sunrises, thanks to smoke from the wildfires on the west coast. The sun hangs in the air like a huge, brilliant, fiery, orange ball — I haven’t seen anything like it. As it gets higher in the sky, it bleeds out and becomes the hot white star that we usually see but oh! Those first 40 minutes of the morning, it is spectacular! Sorry, California, Oregon, and Washington.

So I’m sitting here at my computer, wishing I had not paid attention to the news and looking for a shot of some VitaMeataVegamin, and my little helper comes along:

She thinks the cursor might taste good if only she could catch it.

I am pleased to announce that we have given Car Cat a real name. I present to you: Kimmy.

Kimmy keeps me company whenever I am at my computer, and I am at my computer a lot.

She is bouncy, pouncy, flouncy, and trouncy. . .

. . . and she is full of fun, fun fun.

I thought that I did not want a kitten but it turns out that I really needed a kitten.

Before we get into the reason why #HitlerYouth is trending on Twitter this morning, let’s do some painting!

Meet Benji, who lives in New Jersey with Stromness Rock host and Dear Reader Carol:

Adorable, right? But if you’re going to paint him, you’re going to have to deal with several quirks of Benji that could go horribly wrong when you paint him, especially if you decide to paint his entire body because you live to make yourself miserable.

Actually, I don’t usually paint entire bodies because of the parallax problem in working from reference photos. But this is the rare photo where all of Benji is in focus and is in perspective, and he’s very graphic and appealing, so what the heck. I like to make myself miserable. Here are the BIG problems with Benji:

One: He’s entirely back-lit. The light is behind him and his adorable ears are glowing but his body is in shadow — how are you going to paint that?

Two: He is, and I can’t stress this too much, a white cat. How do you paint a white cat??

Three: He’s white, but he as some very specific black markings that you have to get just right or it won’t look like Benji. Got that?

Four: His face is in shadow, which you are not going to paint because, hello, it will look crappy to have a portrait where the sitter’s face is eclipsed by shade. So you’re going to have to figure out how to fake it so his adorable white face shows.

Five: He’s got a big fluffy black tail in the foreground. It’s big, and it’s of a shape and color that will be very hard to paint so it doesn’t look like a turd. Don’t make it muddy, don’t make it look lumpy, don’t make it look like shit, OK?

Thanks, Carol, for the challenge.

OK! Let’s get at it!

As always, I start with the eyes. In a white cat, the eyes are ever more crucial since that’s pretty much the only things that are going on in the face, and I spent a lot of time on Benji’s. I layered light washes of color, layer over layer, to get a color that is greenish-yellow but is also a bit muted, since the face is in shadow:

I even put in some blue shading in there, and I added white enamel paint as highlight. I also shaped the eyes very carefully, since they are so expressive — I even got in there with a pencil to do what I can’t do with even my tiniest paintbrush. They are the soul of Benji.

I must remind you that I’m working very small here:

Coming up, ears that glow. Again, I layer the paint: pink, peach, another pink, and even a little yellow to get a translucent effect:

Now to blend in those black markings:

I forgot to take a photo of how I cheated on Benji’s face and only painted him in half-shadow (sorry). I also decided to use a blue-grey color for the shadows on his damn white fur:

I mixed three shades of Grumbacher blues with Winsor Newton China White and Payne’s Gray to get a “blue” that would have depth and complexity.

I never use a brush this big, but I wanted to have a casual feel for the big shadows on his body.

Once in a while I get a smart idea, and for the tail (AKA, big black blob that takes p the whole foreground of the picture) I had the thought of letting the paint and the paper do all the work. I used a lot of water, and I mixed the paint and water on the brush so that each time I paint, I got a different saturation of paint/water that will add interest to this large area of paint. I am going to let the water and the paint do their thing:

Below: This is what I mean when I say I let the water and the  paint (and the paper) “do their thing” — all I did here (below), is let a very watery wash dry on good Canson paper:

I love the effect. It looks like watercolor, but it also kind of looks like fur!

Although Benji looks finished here (below), I still need to add more fluff. He’s a very fluffy cat, so I’m going to go completely fake here and “draw” with paint, using a very thin brush to outline the fluffiness of Benji’s fluff:

DONE.

 

 

Now, I promised that I would explain why #HitlerYouth is trending on Twitter this morning. It’s because our dips hit president announced yesterday that he is signing an executive order to promote “patriotic education” at American schools:

 

This is in retaliation for the widespread adoption into middle and high school curriculum of a body of work known as “The 1619 Project” . The year 1619 is the year that the first enslaved Africans were brought to the American colonies, and The 1619 Project, through a number of essays and texts by outstanding scholars and historians of all colors  and ethnicities, educates students to the systematic racism that has permeated American culture and government for over three hundred years.

So, Trump wants to create a TrumpYouth program, even though the federal government has almost no leverage in the actual curriculum of any school, which are all run by local governments: cities, towns, villages all decide what to teach — not federal edicts.

So, in response, Twitter is lighting up with comments about this latest attempt to polarize our country by the Republican nazis. Like this:

(Ben Shapiro is a loud mouthed conservative crackpot.)

So, things are going to get crazier and crazier, as if they weren’t crazy enough already. Sometimes I wish I could go to sleep and wake up on November 3, vote, and go back to sleep until Joe Biden takes the oath of office.

It is going to get very ugly. Be ready.

And now let’s see what else is happening:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

I didn’t get around to Bill Barr, the Attorney General who thinks he is Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, and that having to wear a mask curing a pandemic is the worst violation of civil rights since slavery because I just don’t have the energy and . . .

 

 

Hey! I found some Dad jokes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great weekend, everyone. Hard as it might be, stay sane. This, too, will pass. We hope. Maybe. You never know.

And, before I forget:

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I still get a royalty statement from my agent, every six months, for the three books I wrote. Lately, these statements have not made for good reading. The sales figures are on a time lag, so the statement I got in April 2020(which I only looked this past week) is for books that were sold in the second half of 2019. It seems that people are not buying  V. Swift books like they used to, so I was feeling poor when I got an alert that Go Daddy had taken a payment of $160 for a security certificate for my blog. Since I don’t sell anything on this blog, I figured that I didn’t need the “SSL” certificate so I took the drastic step of calling Go Daddy (wait time: 23 minutes) and cancelling the payment. $160 is what I get when 100 of my books sell, so I thought I’d made a very smart business decision and was feeling rather thrifty and $160 richer.

And then my blog disappeared for three days. So, if any Dear Readers had trouble visiting me this past week, the reason is because any interface on the world wide web needs to have a SSL certificate, or search engines will refuse to let anyone stop by. Ao, to fix this, I had to call Go Daddy again (wait time: 37 minutes) and pay them for the SSL cert, at which time I was told that it takes 48 hours to get vivianswfitblog.com back on track. And then, when 48 hours came and went and I was still not amongst the living, I had to call Go Daddy again (wait time: 32 minutes) to find out that someone at Go Daddy had forgotten to push the activate button.

I wish I had an IT guy to take care of this stuff for me. I also wish I had servants and a personal assistant to look after me because I don’t like having responsibilities. It still surprises me that I have to make my own dentist appointments, and it astonishes me when I do make my own appointments and actually go to the dentist on my own volition. I used to have a job where I was responsible for important historical artifacts and millions of dollars, but then I became a writer. I now sit in a room and piddle around with ideas, sometimes making a castle or two, and have zero accountability to the outside world. Basically, I don’t have to be an adult anymore.

It’s awesome.

This might explain why this is so meaningful to me:

My Korean husbands, BTS, held the #1 spot on Billboard Hot 100 for the second week in a row:

This is equally important news for the nation of South Korea:

The chyron reads: BTS Billboard Single Chart 2 weeks First Place.

BTS is headline news on KBC, the national public TV station (it’s the BBC of South Korea). BTS has raised the awareness of Korea in the world, and they are now part of their nation’s cultural patrimony. I picked a good time to be a fan. One of the best decisions of my adulthood.

In between endless streaming of BTS’s #1 song Dynamite, I did a lot of painting these past two weeks, and it’s been some of the most interesting painting I’ve ever done.

Dear Reader and Stromness Rock host Leslie, from Florida, sent me a photo of her kitty, Kitty:

Actually, Leslie emailed me a photo of a photo of Kitty, since this image is not digitized. It’s a bit blurry, and I had to email Leslie and ask her what color Kitty’s eyes were, but I thought I might be up to the challenge of painting from a photo of a photo.

Here is what I painted:

This is very bad. Bad Bad Bad Bad. BAD. Really BAD. B A D.

So I persuaded Leslie to send me the actual photo. I wanted to see how big a difference it would make, in terms of not painting something so BAD, to re-paint from a better reference.

So this is how it went:

 

This is a shot of the actual photo of Kitty, which shows that she has a much richer color scheme than I saw in the blurry photo-of-a-photo. It took some effort to mix the right tone of orange for her pretty face.

The trick with calico cats is to not let the colors get muddy, which is easy to do when you are using watercolor and have to let orange overlap with gray and black:

 

I’ve said before that the firs thing you have to do when you paints to think about your strategy. You have to be able to paint a face like this is sections, and to make blocks of color that will merge successfully once every thing is dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DONE.

And here’s the side-by-side comparison of BAD Kitty and Better Kitty:

Thank you, Leslie, for sending me the real Kitty photo and for letting me make this experiment.

Oh my, there is so much news to get this week. Events keep happening o quickly, but let’s start with the fun story of the five boasts that sank into Lake Travis, Texas during a Trump rally on the water:

 

 

 

California is on fire, partly because of climate change and partly because people are fucking morons:

This is this shit happened:

Trump’s personal layer, Michael Cohen, came out with a memoir about the crap he has witnessed,including how Trump didn’t want to go to a WWI cemetery in France where American servicemen are buried because anyone who got killed in France was a “loser” and only “suckers” serve in the military.

And then, the dip shit talked to Bob Woodward for 18 hours on tape, and told him that he was going to ‘play down” the coronavirus:

 

In seeking to control the damage of is own words, Trump claimed that he lied about COVID during many press conferences last Spring, calling it a “hoax” that would “just disappear” because he didn’t want to alarm people:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The notice on the Biden sign says: If you remove this sign, I will make a $36 donation to Planned Parenthood and I will replace the sign which means, in fact, YOU are supporting the Biden/Harris campaign. Think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need some puppies:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s it for the week, Dear Ones.

Have a great weekend, and keep wearing masks and stay our of any boat that has a Trump flag.

That reminds me:

Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wow, this was an eventful week in VivianWorld.

My Korean husbands . . .

. . . BTS, debuted their new single Dynamite at #1 on Billboard. They are the first Asian group to go straight to the top 100, and the first Asian musicians to have a #1 hit in America since 1963, when a Japanese-language song with the nonsense name “Sukiyaki” did it. (I wrote about “Sukiyaki” in my garden book, a digression on the thoughts about a Japanese garden on Long Island that I did not care for. “Sukiyaki” was a mournful ballad that was actually anti-American and it’s Japanese title was “I Will Walk Looking Up (So My Tears Won’t Fall)”. It was given the name “Sukiyaki” because Americans have shit for brains when it comes to Asia and sukiyaki was all that most Americans cared to know about Japan in 1963.)

This #1 hit in America is a big, huge deal in South Korea. There are nine national newspapers in South Korea, and here are the headlines of six of them:

Spoiler: They are all about BTS’s #1 hit in America.

The President of South Korea tweeted his congratulations to the boys, to quote: “It is truly amazing. It is a splendid feat that further raised pride in K-Pop. The success of BTS will bring huge consolation to Koreans suffering from the crisis brought about by COVID-19.”

President Moon Jae-in and his wife, Kim Jung-Sook with BTS.

In other news, Top Cat and I went strolling in a nature preserve here on the north shore of Long Island last weekend. I made a deal with Nature, that I wouldn’t be bored if She sent me a Blue jay feather. And an hour into our hike, lo, lying there in the middle of the path . . .

It’s like it was placed there just for me, moi, my own eyes:

I’m holding my face mask. Even in the 100-Acre Wood, I bring my face mask.

That’s all it takes for me to believe that life isn’t just random and pointless, a momentary blip in oblivion. Redemption By Blue Jay Feather is what I call it.

The week was also redeemed by a delightful painting session. The subject is Miss Lizzie Cosette, the Cat In The House of Dear Reader Jeanie, who hosted The Sromness Rock in Lansing, Michigan and whereabouts:

You see that Lizzie is photographed in a fetching ray of light that makes her white fur brilliant. So the trick this week will be to get her highlights, to paint her white fur in shadow and in light.

Challenge accepted.

I thought I’d give you a look at my equipment:

Lizzie has gorgeous green eyes with little golden highlights:

To paint the shadows in her white fur, I’m going to use blue paint:

 

Oooooooo, time for a bleed:

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t’ until I got her eye like this that I knew whether or not I’d gotten her “right”:

 

 

Now all that’s left are Lizzie’s ears. Her ears are a combination of pink and gray, and painting them so that they don’t get muddy, and painting them so that they look like they have shape and depth, is the trick.

DONE.

Thank you, Miss Lizzie, for being a beautiful presence in my life this week.

In case you’re wondering what Christian America has been up to this week, they’ve been fundraising for this guy:

I checked it out, and it’s confirmed by Snopes. A Christian website called GiveSendGo has raised $314,000 for the legal defense for this little scumbag.

*Sigh*

Let’s check in with the rest of the news:

Trump told Fox News the a plane flying from “a certain city”, heading to Washington DC during the Republican national convention, was “completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear and this and that” adding: “Here were like seven people on the plane like this person and then a lot of people were on the plane to do big damage.” Asked for details, Trump said: “I’ll tell you sometime, but it’s under investigation right now.”

Neither the FBI nor Homeland Security can confirm that any such investigation is taking place. But that’s not a surprise, right?

 

 

 

Melanoma’s former best friend wrote a tell-all book about the way the Third Wife really feels about Trump’s kids, and the former hooker had something to say about it:

And let’s not forget:

Knowing the Trumps as we all do, I’d say that Melanoma is right on brand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case you need to know this, when you feel like you have to stab someone, stab and orange. The are the same consistency as human flesh.

And here are a few more reminders that life, and stable humans, can, sometimes, be wonderful:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s the State of Things this first week of September.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Remember that we are only stabbing oranges, not Republicans. For now.

And, let’s not forget. . .

. . . Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ha ha ha ha. 2020 still as me in stitches.

First, a word to Dear Readers Felicity, Adrienne, Margot, mae, and Citizen Reader for giving a salute to last week’s announcement of the desisting of my Wednesday Posts. I’m sure the Wednesday Post misses you all too, and thanks you for your kind regards.

However, now that the Wednesday Post has Wednesdays off, the Wednesday Post was doing some quality-of-life living that it had been dreaming of. Last Wednesday evening, for example, it took a romantic walk at dusk with Top Cat around the neighborhood and took this picture:

These are the size of the trees that came down in Tropical Storm Isaias three weeks ago and, as you can see, the clean-up continues. Crews can cut up the branches and cart of the smaller bits, but the trunks are so huge that they require the use of heavy equipment which is in scarce supply still. As is reliable internet, BTW, which is why half of this post disappeared earlier today and why I had to spend an hour and a half to re-do it and why you are reading this waaaay too late.

The Wednesday Post has other ideas for smelling the roses, or the coffee, or whatever it is you’re supposed to smell to make life seem like a keen thing. The Wednesday Post wants to take long walks on the beach,  listen to the pitter patter of the rain,  do some fine dining, maybe take up a new crafting hobby, and smell what ever happens to be in bloom or percolating on the stove.

The point is, the Wednesday Post wants to get out there and seize the day. The Wednesday Post wants to make art, and that requires talent, skill, perseverance, hubris, practice, more practice, more practice, and time. So that’s what the Wednesday Post will be doing on any day of the week, but most often on Wednesday.

Except not this past Wednesday.

For boring technical reasons (a printer that went on strike) the Wednesday Post (OK, you got me: the Wednesday Post is me) did not paint a cat portrait this week, as I had planned. But the printer and I have come to a resolution and I expect to be back in the pet-portrait-painting business again in time for next week’s post, BUT IN THE MEANTIME . . .

. . . I HAVE KITTEN PICTURES!

This is the kitten we rescued from our car engine a few weeks ago. We haven’t found out what her name is, yet, so we still call her Car Cat. She’s really difficult to photograph because she never slows down, but now that she’s out of isolation and is slowly mixing with the rest of the herd and getting her bearings to the giant furniture in our house, I have found some opportunities to get some snaps.

Here’s something that happened last week: I was wondering if it was time for me to take down the Black Lives Matter flag that as been flying on my front porch since June and replace it with a Biden/Harris flag.

And then, on August 23, a cop in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot an unarmed Black man in the back. Seven times.

And then, on August 25, a 17-year old kid from Illinois drove to Wisconsin and marched into a peaceful protest carrying an AR15 that he was not legally allowed to passes, and the cops handed him a water bottle in case he was parched on a hot Summer night.

And then that kid shot and killed two protestors.

It took the cops two days to arrest him.

So, yeah, police are still letting white supremacists room the streets carrying illegal firearms while shooting American citizens for being Black.

So, yeah, the Black Lives Matter flag stays.

 

 

 

 

 

So, on Tuesday August 26, the Missouri Republicans in the state legislature did this:

 

In an epic case of Good Timing, the Republicans held their national convention this week to re-nominate der Drumpf as president of the United States.

Let’s check in and see who that went:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My favorite dust-up out of the Republican convention was what happened when DeAnna Lorraine, a Republican from California (“famous” for running against Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, a few years ago and losing) tweeted a message that “American needs far more women like Melania Trump and far less like Cardi B.”

Cardi B is a rapper who currently has a hit song called WAP which stands for something that I, at my most most foul-mouthed, can’t bring myself to explain. But Cardi B is smart and came back with . . .

 

. . . “Didn’t she used to sell that Wap?

And the answer is yes, Cardi B, Melanoma did used to sell that Wap:

This is the censored version of the nude photo that Cardi B tweeted out, which came from a phot shoot that Melanoma did in 2000 for GQ magazine.

I like to re-post those pictures of our “classy” First Lady so the internet never forgets:

All photos copyright by Antoine Verglas.

Let’s see some other classy Republicans have been up to this past week, and catch up with assorted current events:

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And that’s the week that was.

I’ve been getting messages from you Dear Readers that you’re having trouble seeing all the lovely comments that the best people of the internet write on this blog. All I can say is, I do see everyone’s Comments and I think you with love and kisses, and if Comments don’t appear on your screen you can try hitting the  “refresh” button, or “flush cache” and that’s it. That’s all I know about clearing out the electronic grime that crude things up in the Comments section.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Take the time to smell the coffee, or the tea, or the first signs of Fall (Spring, if you’re from the great land Down Under).

And, oh yeah. . .

. . . Fuck Trump.

 

 

 

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I found this (above) on the inter webs this week and it cheered me up. I never had the legs or the blonde hair or the English accent (isn’t that a Morris Minor?) but I used to have those shoes! I was cool! I AM cool!

Kids born in the 1990s have an inkling that life was funner in the olden days, which is obvious in my Summer of 2020 song which is the Gen Z version of Kool and the Gang and it’s ridiculously cute and it makes me wish I could give a party just so I could get everyone drunk and happy and dancing. Watch the video for no other reason than to see if bell bottoms still look cute on 24-year olds.

However, here we are, at another Friday in the Age of COVID:

 

 

 

 

I’ve never felt this way in August, but I am so over 2020, so ready for this year to be over, and I’m sure that everyone feels the same way. All we can do in the meantime is to keep sane and busy with projects that feed the soul. You all know that my project to get me through the end of Summer is digging out the old watercolors and painting some adorable pets, an activity that I highly recommend as a way to concentrate on pure love in such a time of hate.

If you have any questions about techniques or materials, just ask!

In case you didn’t read my blog on Wednesday, I painted our Dear Reader Sophie for her human, Susie in Wisconsin:

Today I will be painting Dudley . . .

. . . and Gypsy. . .

. . . the best doggos in the world who belong to Rachel and Don in the soon-to-be blue state of Texas.

This will be a double portrait,which raises the stakes. I like to live dangerously.**

**No, I absolutely do not.

As usual, I start with the eyes.

Sorry this is so dark. I wanted to show you the pencil lines I put in for the doggo, but they don’t show much here. They are very light, and give me the general shape of the doggo’s head and nose. I don’t need a whole lot of detail.

I am going to use bleeds for this portrait because I LOVE bleeds, and these pups have the right kind of coloring to let the paper and the paint do all the work, instead of having me PAINT everything.

I mixed the paint for Dudley’s fawn-colored fur using two shades of brown, Payne’s Gray, a tiny bit of black, yellow ochre, all mixed into a thick base of a base of a peachy-tinted paint from my Grumbacher Deluxe Opaque Watercolor set (24 pans).

The color I’m talking about is the one that’s half-hidden there (see above), on the right under the purple pan. I don’t have the name of the color, but it’s my favorite base because it’s very chalky and I love what it does on paper, and I love how it interacts with other paint.

You can see what I mean in these bleeds here, the way the black paints has such an interesting capiallry action when it meets this chalky Dudley-hue:

You might know that boxers have “frown lines” on their faces. I’m not going to paint them, but I will suggest their presence with a wisp of paint  here  and  there.

The pup needs some blue to highlight his nose:

And now we do the cheekies:

The wet paper shines a bit. No? Yes? Can you see?

I was hoping you would see, in this photo (above) how wet I am making the paper before I drop in some paint for more bleeds:

While I am working on Dudley, I have covered the Gypsy part of the painting with a clear plastic sheet-protector because if I didn’t, sure as shit I would splatter paint or drop a loaded paintbrush and all would be ruined. So, safe-guard your work!

Boxer have droopy eyes, which I saved until the end. The shape  of their  droop  is what gives  boxers  thier  expressions:

Now it’s Gypsy’s turn:

 

I was almost DONE when I looked at the completed faces, but I didn’t like just having two floating heads together. So I’m drawing in Dudely’s collar:

OK, now we are DONE.

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Have a great weekend, everyone. Lord knows that we all deserve a break from the constant bad news, so please take a few hours and find a place to feel safe and warm (or cool, if you’re in California) and pretend that it’s 2004 — my favorite year because I married Top Cat, but feel free to use your own annus mirabiles, and tell us about it in the Comments. We like to live vicariously.

I probably won’t be here on Wednesday because very few people (thank you to those precious few!) read the Wednesday posts anymore, but I’ll be back here next Friday with another Pet Portrait (spoiler: it’s a cat) and more stuff from the internet that renews your faith in humanity, one meme at a time.

And, oh yeah. . .

. . . Fuck Trump.

 

This guy is also a member of the NRA and voted for Trump in 2016. Let’s hope he represents millions more 2016 Trump voters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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