The Magnetic Crow is moving!

Tired of blogger's interface and unbalanced customizability, I'm packing up shop and moving to WordPress! There I'll be posting to a schedule, as well as regular posts, which will guarantee a much more dynamic blog that updates at least four times a week. Monster, art, and fantasy enthusiasts should be particularly pleased by my choices of feature!

The first Monster Monday is going live tonight! Head on over to A Distinguished Bird and check it out!


The real news

On to the exciting things that have been happening in art-life!

The beginning of May, Evan and I had a joint opening at SOVA on H street, in DC. We called it "Third knock on the door". The theme was folklore and storytelling.
A close and talented friend of ours had had her own show there earlier this year, and we met the owner through her. It's a great place to show. The owner is a great guy, the venue gets a lot of traffic, and is overall a varied and interesting looking space.
Artists reading this: SOVA's always looking for new blood. Try contacting them, get some art up! It was an amazing opening, one I hope to replicate in the future.

The show's still up, and probably will be for a few weeks yet.

'Firebird with cherries'
8"x10" Watercolour and sepia ink
May 2010


I should've known this would happen

Another long blogging drought, precipitated in part by this little trouble-maker:
Yup, that's Cinnamonopteryx, that kitten I was talking about in the last post. He's been taking up a lot of time and attention, in part due to the "Awww, I want to play with him!" factor, and also in part due to the "I've never owned a pet mammal before and I had no idea how much more work they are than snakes and birds". He's adorable, he's tenacious, he's friendly and cuddly and purrs like mad when you get close to him. He's also struck up a friendly rivalry with our roommate's cat This causes him to tear about the house at odd times in the morning, poop in our roommate's litter box, and tackle our roommate's cat with vigor.
This last is more hilarious than annoying, really, considering that Shadow weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 pounds, and Cinnamon was last weighed at 7 1/2.


A few impending things...

These next few months are going to be pretty exciting for me. The next issue of Steampunk Magazine is coming out soon (with two of my illustrations in it)!
And I've managed to nab the job of illustrating the cover of Crossed Genres' July edition, themed 'Lies'. I am so excited about this. Cover art is something I've been wanting to do, and Crossed Genres happens to be a truly excellent publication that I really respect, both for its past art and literary content, and also for its imaginative method of running.

My biannual graphic design contract is edging closer, which will mean a lot less dealing with grump customers and a lot more feeling like I'm actually in my depth.

'Basking in Lamplight'
3" x 5" Watercolour and graphite, sketch
February 2010


A catalogue of recent personal events.

     This has been a pretty crazy month for those of us living on the mid East coast. The Maryland/DC/Northern Virginia area is used to experiencing, at most, perhaps a handful of days each year in which snow of in any volume touches the ground. Much more common, particularly in VA, are ice-overs-- ice up to an inch thick covering everything in a glittering shell, making even walking treacherous and causing tree limbs to crack with a sound like gunshots. Even this never lasts long, and rarely bought us more than a 2-hour delay from school.
     This year has been record-breaking, dumping impassible amounts of snow in December, and then twice in the same week in February. Following two years in a row of unusually wet summers and an early fall, it's getting pretty obvious that global climate change is really moving in on us. The accompanying photo is of the Annapolis harbor, filled with ice floes. Ice floes in the Chesapeake bay, folks.
     There was a week and a half where I didn't go to work at all, each time I was scheduled being either in the middle of a Blizzard or directly after. I did get rather a bit accomplished, however. I completed two illustrations for the next issue of Steampunk Magazine, one for an interview with the marvelous band Sunday Driver, and another for an article on Steampunk belly dancing.
    I also joined the artistic team for the delightfully progressive cyperpunk litzine The Future Fire, which I cannot wait to make work for. Good stuff, all.

    And then! I finally bought up my domain name again, having broken off with godaddy over its abyssmal regard for privacy (handing out my info to shady web design firms and hosts) and terrible ads (sexist hogwash, of course). So I have it again, and my professional portfolio is sitting upon it! Thank to deviantArt, and their webtools for lazy artists.
     And more than that, I have designed and ordered myself some business cards! Adorable, mini business cards from zazzle. They will be awesome, and I will finally be able to hand out my info with as much ease as Evan does. Excitement.

And so I have been up to things, oh yes. Art and writing, too.
Posting of some of these things in the near future.


Recommended reading

Now, pulled from the pile of recently devoured fiction, comes my first recommended reading list of the year!
I read a lot, probably far too much (if my gradeschool English teachers are to be believed). Since I've been working at a bookstore, in particular, the temptation to read is pretty constant-- and the little intermediary cracks of time during work do present themselves so seductively.
Here are just a few titles that I consider the best of what I've read in the past couple of months, accompanied by a very brief synopsis that will hopefully prove both sufficient and intriguing. Enjoy, good reader, enjoy.

Illustration: 'DolPhinnaeus'. Ink on Bristol. 


A solid wall

Sometimes, it's just so much easier to write to an audience. Even if it's just a theoretical audience, as on a blog like this.
I've been working on trying to knock out a decent word count every day. This is hard. Very hard. I second guess myself constantly. I have little training as a writer, and I fear I'm doing everything incorrectly, missing some mystical rule of grammar or pacing that I need classes, workshops, or other writers in order to learn.
I know that in order to succeed as a writer, I need to write a great deal. Finish many, many stories and send them away to many, many places to even have a slim hope for acceptance.
Often, it's easier to just ignore this need to work on writing, and just draw. Obviously, this is important too. I'm far from perfect as an illustrator, and I need to work hard and build up my portfolio. But I know when I'm using it to hide from my writing as well.
I have quite a few finished illustrations, but almost no finished, polished, ready to send stories. I know that I need to take the advice of Cory Doctorow (et al.) and just set aside a concrete period of time each day during which to do it. Every day. Without fail. Or, if failing, at least set a word count to achieve before allowing myself sleep.
Why am I having so much difficulty doing either?

I keep telling myself that a different setting will help. And maybe it will.  I think wistfully if the days when I was fully unemployed (and still got nothing done during the day). I don't think anything will help more than just sitting down and forcing myself to get to it, but I balk. I know fewer of the rules of writing. I fear rejection in writing more, because I've yet to find any sort of acceptance in it. Will it be easier once I do? Or will I worry about having produced a fluke, something I'll never live up to again?
I think of joining a writer's group, but then balk. I'm never the most social of people anyway, and the thought of reading my work for the sake of critique in a group is intimidating. Also, I've been unsuccessful in finding local writer's groups that cater to my perticular interests and are also still accepting members.
I think about sharing my work online, but then I worry too much about the possibility of theft and plagiarism.
And thus I've written yet another blog entry about having difficulty making work, and without actually posting anything of artist substance or interest.



  We spent Monday driving to Pittsburgh and back. To pick up a letterpress.
Evan had been searching all over the internet for one, his interest mostly academic. He bemoaned their sudden steep rise in popularity, which had more than tripled their standard asking price over the past few years. He browsed and inquired and researched. And then, last Saturday, he accidentally purchased one.

  He confronted me with the news when he picked me up from work on Saturday night. He'd made a low bid on a 5 x 8" press of decent quality on eBay, and had been shocked to receive the email notifying him that he had won. It needed some cleaning, some new springs, and the rollers needed to be recoated, but otherwise is was in good condition. We just had to drive to Pittsburgh to pick it up (that, or pay to ship a 126-pound press. Driving was much cheaper).

  This thing is amazing. We drove nearly ten hours straight (roundtrip) to pick it up. Everything West of the Appalachians was encompassed in a blizzard both ways, so that when we returned home our car was caked and streaked in salt. But we made it, picking up the press from a quiet Pennsylvanian man in his Ford pickup, who waited patiently for us in the snow.
Now it sits behind me. We haven't gotten down to cleaning it yet, we have a lot of lemon juice and vinegar to acquire for that. But it will come. And we have our own press.

  Books, bookplates, business cards... One of the first projects I plan to tackle is to finally design and print my own deck of cards, something I've been meaning to do for years now. Expect updates on press process, as well as art updates of my progress. I've been lax in uploading art here lately, I know. I do most of my internet-ing on my Eee PC now, and most of my art-ing on my Mac--meaning that I need to get considerably less lazy to get things up here.
My DeviantArt account has been getting rather more love.



With the overwhelming retail workload of late, I've had little time for anything else. I arrive home from work exhausted, drained, often demoralized, and want little else but to divert myself via the contents of a novel or a video game. Art and writing have been creaking along at sub-glacial speeds. Email and twitter are ignored. Blogs go unread.
So I have little of real interest to share here, except a journaling of some of the more diverting occurrences of the past week.

A photograph of a mug, taken in Hessler St., Cleveland, with my phone. Several years old. I was trying to pick up the delicate traceries of the spider-webs, though the lighting on the mug itself ended up being the more fascinating aspect.
Posting it because I feel it's appropriate.


A troublesome customer (how it should have gone).

    I glanced up at the clock on the monitor. It was fifteen minutes into my break, and I still had filing to do behind the register before I could take off. My replacement had arrived on time, but the constant stream of customers had kept me pinned behind the desk. Now the line had dwindled to three people, two of them apparently a couple. I finished helping the customer in front of me, then turned to the other cashier.
    "My break started 15 minutes ago, so I'm going to take off now. Do you think you can handle this on your own?" She smiled and nodded at me. "Awesome. Where was that binder? I have a donation sticker."
    "Wait a minute," Interjected the next customer in line, an elderly woman standing with her husband, two slim volumes balanced upon her palms. "I have to wait now because she wants to take a break?" She turned to her husband, the look on her face self-righteous affront.
    "I'm sorry, but I've been here a long time..." I began.
    "She's been here a long time! As if I haven't!"  The customer in front of her seemed to be nearly finished with her business, but I called for backup anyway.
    "Look, I've called backup. Someone else should be here shortly. But I really can't help you, I need to go. And I think you need to calm down and be a little more considerate of others." I took down the donation binder that my coworker had indicated, and began recording the sale.
    "I'm the customer!" She was close to yelling now, and I was having difficulty maintaining a smile-- I'm sure it looked strained.
    "Yes? And?"
    "Your customer service is awful! I can't believe you treat people this way!" She turned back to her husband, who had taken to throwing sarcastic jibes at me between her outbursts. "Can you believe this? She must really not like this job!"
    The implied threat is what did it for me. I returned the binder to the shelf, and approached the register. My coworker was trying to mollify the irrate woman, telling her that I had called for backup.
    "Well, she didn't tell me that!" Was the customer's huffed response.
    "I see that I've been wrong," I said calmly. "I didn't realize how much more important your schedule was than mine. It's true that I'm rather behind on taking my medication, but since your time is so valuable I can put that off a little longer. Surely nothing bad will happen."
    "Well, finally!" The customer trounced over to the counter, angrily dumping her books in front of the scanner. I keyed my employee code into the register, then leaned across the counter to for her purchase. As soon as she was in range, I twitched the specialized muscle in the corner of my eye, causing the vessel there to burst.
    Jets of blood shot from my eyes, hitting the customer squarely in the face. She began screaming and stumbling backwards, flailing into other customers, who were backing away themselves. With a quick thumb's-up to my grinning coworker, I clutched my hands to my still-bleeding eyes and staggered out from behind the register. Headed up the escalator and towards the breakroom, I made sure to mutter "Oh gods, oh gods..." whenever a customer approached, for effect.
    Only three people stopped me to request directions, making it the most effective aversionary tactic I have yet devised.