Friday, August 26, 2011

The Sookie Stackhouse Syndrome, for something totally different!

Well, it's been a busy week!

I have FINISHED a lot of things:

For example, this is Stella, a young Boxer I fell in love with and decided to paint, as much for her goofy jowls as for any other reason. Although I think I spend WAAAAYY too much time looking at and thinking about dogs' jowls. At least way more than the average person who is not a veterinary dentist.

I finished her portrait last week.

And I got three pieces selected into a juried show featuring the Dog at the Niza Knoll Gallery here in Denver. And the one I had finished JUST before the deadline SOLD at the opening! Bam! It's now gone from my universe (although I believe I will probably be waiting about SIX WEEKS for the check...).

Then there was a skateboard design featuring a bulldog that I HAVE BEEN BEATING MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL ABOUT FOR A MONTH BECAUSE THE ADOBE CREATIVE SUITE (despite the fact that it is not SUPPOSED to be alive) HATES ME. But I actually finished it on MONDAY, THREE WHOLE DAYS BEFORE THE DEADLINE. It's gone, except for the show opening at the end of September!

So I have been thinking about ENDINGS a lot lately! To everything, there's a beginning, middle, and end, right?

Except when there's NOT.

Like with Hollywood...and some VERRY successful writers and publishers.

I should probably preface this by describing what I call "The Sookie Stackhouse Syndrome." (and I'm talking about the books here, not "True Blood," which I think has gone off into a spectacular bunch of new directions. It's saying something when two of the best characters--Jessica and Lafayette--weren't EVEN alive in the books.)

Don't get me wrong-- I love vampire porn as much as the next schlubby, middle-aged housewife, and I started out LOVING Sookie all those years ago when Charlaine Harris created her. But now we're at novel umpty-seventeenth...and I'm not feeling it so much. I think Sookie is past her due date, character-wise.

But she's SPECTACULARLY money-making. So we will probably have another umpty-forty seven novels out, along with coloring books, sing-along DVDs for children and craft spin-offs where the readers can create designs for Sookie's new kitchen or new names for whatever shade of hot-pink toenail polish Sookie will use in the NEXT book. Whatever.

Have you noticed that? Whenever Sookie is majorly stressed in the novels, she either compulsively CLEANS or BAKES something. Or she takes A LONG BATH, shaves her legs so they're "silky smooth" (her words, not mine) and applies a homemade pedicure, complete with "Hot Torrid Mama" pink nailpolish.

No wonder all those supernatural dudes want to get into her pants! She's like a cooking, cleaning Barbie with functional lady-parts!

So anyhow, I've cooked up this term for when you have a concept--a great concept, okay? There's a character that's engaging and excellent and has all sorts of room for growth in a world that FEELS REAL. Harry Potter. Anita Blake. Sookie Stackhouse. And so they do grow, for awhile. But after a certain point, you start to wonder if they're genetically modified or something equally unhealthy. Sookie so far has hooked up with vamps, were-tigers, shapeshifters, etc. And, of course, let's not forget her ever-expanding fairy powers. And then it starts to feel like Charlaine is keeping Sookie alive NOT because she has anywhere else to evolve to, but only because Sookie is a zillion-dollar enterprise. And I feel like a sucker every time I grab the latest book off the library shelves as soon as I see it


For awhile I would read the latest Laurell Hamilton (Anita Blake, vampire slayer) novel JUST to see a) what NEW and potentially confusing powers Laurell could saddle Anita with, b) what NEW breed of supernatural hot humanoid she would cook up, and c) just HOW MANY PAGES it would take for Anita and the hot dude to get to the sex scene. No kidding. I started out LOVING Anita Blake. But she's starting to feel like the literary equivalent of punching the time-clock. And I feel like a sucker.

So, ENDINGS...Hollywood and big publishers, in particular, doesn't tend to like them. And now you have this odd Sookie Stackhouse Syndrome, where sometimes you're not even allowed to ENJOY the ending before you're set up for the NEXT SEQUEL. (Latest crappy "Resident Evil" film--I'm just warning you!)

I DID mention Harry Potter earlier and that was NOT a mistake, but it only applies to the FILMS. I think J.K. Rowling did an AWESOME job writing the series and creating not only a good beginning, middle and end for the overall series, but also pretty satisfying endings for each book. And she ENDED it. Pretty definitively.

Not so, Hollywood! I went to the last (?) movie last week with my brother and ZZZZZZZZ...

HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? I was REALLY disappointed that something could a) tell things SO hectically and fit in so much stuff that got left out of the first movie (presumably so we could watch Harry and Hermione DANCE FOR FIVE PLUS MINUTES) or fit things in around the FIVE MINUTE SCENE IN THIS MOVIE WHERE HARRY AND RON TOOK THEIR SHIRTS OFF and b) be SO tedious.

The whole thing felt MIGHTY long. Which was a shame, I felt. Afterwards, I was lamenting to my brother, who works in the film industry, "WHYYYYYY??? WHY BREAK IT INTO TWO MOVIES???"

And he, cynic (and expert) that he is, said "To DOUBLE THE BOX-OFFICE."

Sookie Stackhouse Syndrome to the Max!

Anyhow, the Onion expressed it much better than I did! Here's a clip they ran that seemed to capture my whole feeling about the movie!

Have a great weekend! And, if you have any chores outstanding, just FINISH SOMETHING!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

...and the final product!

And here's the final product. You can see that I've gone in and lightened up the background with some nice, gauzy patches that are pretty evocative of the grass in the initial photograph. And I've blended in that whole reflection of the greenish light in the dog's ruff.

What I like about this portrait is that it's very realistic. It captures the dog's appearance and, I think, to some extent, his personality. And it still makes me wonder WHAT ON EARTH IS THAT DOG LOOKING AT?

(Even though I am the creator of THIS particular dog, so by rights, I SHOULD know).

At the same time, it's clear that THIS IS A PAINTING. There are nice places where the yellow and red underpainting shows through that adds to the painting. I like that. I like that this piece is very "painterly" (which was a big word my art professors used, probably to confuse me). So to keep the confusion from spreading, here are the definitions of "painterly" from

1. Of or appropriate to a painter; artistic: "she has a painterly eye".
2. (of a painting or its style) Characterized by qualities of color, stroke, and texture rather than of line.

I'd say it's probably definition 2 that we're dealing with, but maybe it's both, in some ways.

And that's my whole process, in a nutshell! I have spared you all the moments of frustration, examples of profanity, and suicidal impulses in this series, but you have the basics!

That's it for today. Now I must go learn how to stretch canvas better. Currently my attempts at stretching canvases resemble those of a nonathletic five-year-old, and I have about 3 hours to polish my skills, since I have some giclee prints on canvas that I'm putting in some pet supply stores and veterinary offices this afternoon! So it's off to the staple gun and the canvas pliers and YouTube videos on how to fold the CORNERS. The corners are KILLING ME!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Painting process--ugly duckling stages...

So here you can see the ugly, seamy underbelly of paintings.

At least MY paintings. I know of a pet portrait artist who regularly shares photos of her paintings in process and they almost NEVER look this chaotic. However, she also only uses TWO coats of paint. In TOTAL.

That's kind of hilarious to me, since I often end up with up to 10 different layers of paint (maybe more) at different points on the canvas. It's just how I roll. My process might not be as EFFICIENT as this other artist's, but, to be honest, I VASTLY prefer the way my work turns out at the end.

Even though the trip along the way is filled with ugly, ugly versions of the painting. And sometimes I feel like "HOLY CRAP MAYBE I SHOULD BURN THIS TRAVESTY BECAUSE IT'S NEVER GOING TO EVOLVE INTO THE THING OF BEAUTY I'D IMAGINED IN MY PROBABLY DELUSIONAL MIND."

Anyhow, here are the "before" photos, just for your information.

When I start, I like to use a bright color for the underpainting. Right now I'm working on a portrait of a Boxer and I'm finding that the way the bright crimson underpainting glows through is really adding to the way the whole piece comes together at the end. Some of this is due to the way I use acrylics.

Acrylics, feel-wise, are this cool hybrid between watercolors and oils. Until they dry, they're water-soluble, which means you don't have to use nasty stuff like turpentine to clean your brushes. And, if you use acrylics straight out of the tube, they can go on nice and thick and opaque, like oils. But you can also THIN them with water--and then can apply them to the canvas in varying degrees of transparency.

So I use acrylics in BOTH of these ways -- in opaque layers and also many, many translucent layers to build up the image. And I find that a really POW color for underpainting, like the red I used under the shepherd's brownish parts, glows through all the other layers and gives the painting a depth that it wouldn't have, otherwise.

Or maybe it's all those OTHER layers that I use.

The second photo in this sequence is actually one of my little cat, Windy, who seems to be putting her pawprint of approval on the piece. But then again, she's a cat and, while I've heard that cats actually see in MORE colors than just black and white, I've also heard their color sense is EXTREMELY limited. So, although she gets to boss me around on all sorts of other matters, her opinion on when my painting is finished carries NO WEIGHT AT ALL. Because the piece is NOWHERE NEAR FINISHED.

The last photo (which, probably isn't showing UP as the last since Blogger has decided once again to thwart me and I can't figure out how to get images showing in the correct order) is the one of the shepherd partially blocked by my paintbox and palette. I put this photo in to show yet ANOTHER layer -- that of the greenish-yellow around the dog's neck. I realized that the photo had a nice glow on the dog's ruff of light reflected up from the grass. But my painting, up to that point, had lacked ENOUGH of that. So here I go again, backfilling and adding yet ANOTHER layer of paint, to capture that reflected light.

I'm surprised my paintings aren't about 3 inches THICK!

Final image in next post. It will look VERY DIFFERENT!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Painting process--photo selection & sketch

So here we go with the first part of the portrait process itself -- selecting the absolute best photo of your animal, and then my creation of a composition that will be interesting.

To illustrate, here are the first few images related to my painting, "Even three-legged shepherds dream of herding sheep."

I had taken a TON of photos from my morning in June at the Lucky Mutt Strut, to benefit Denver's MaxFund no-kill shelter. And a lot of them are usable as references for paintings. But I kept coming back to this photo of a lovely little red merle Australian Shepherd dog with three legs.

(No, you cannot TELL that the dog only has three legs from the photo, and, to be honest with you, it seemed like a bit of a sensitive point for the owner --although NOT, of course, for the dog. Dogs seem to be a lot less defensive than people about things like diversity and "challenges." I suppose when, as a species, you have such HUGE variety in terms of hair length and color and size, making distinctions based on these things stops being very meaningful to you. Maybe we, as humans, are just too much ALIKE to get there.

Although maybe I am imagining the whole defensiveness thing on the owner's part. It just seemed that when I asked if the dog was a rescue dog -- and since this was a walk to benefit shelter dogs and there were a LOT of rescue dogs around, many with all FOUR of their legs, so this didn't seem like an OUTRAGEOUS question to me--the owner got kind of huffy and said, "NO. No, he is NOT." And then she tried not to talk to me anymore. So I guess it was lucky that I had already gotten the shot.)

But again, I digress.

Anyhow, what I liked about this photo was the clarity of the shot, the dog's expression, the light, and the fact that I kept wondering WHAT ON EARTH WAS THAT DOG LOOKING AT? So I really wanted to capture that in my composition.

So on the right (or below--I am not sure, depending on your browser) you can see my first sketch on canvas. I already knew that I wanted a large piece for this painting, so I made the sketch on a 30" x 30" canvas. Because I was so fascinated about the dog's gaze, I kept that part of the composition and left a lot of blank space to the right of the dog (and, yes, that pesky human in the photo got cropped out).

I KNOW, all you students of composition--one of the first things they tell you is to LEAD the viewer INTO the painting...don't have things facing OUT of the painting, etc. etc. etc. All I can say is, after you've worked long enough, you know how to break the rules successfully. So I used THIS composition. And it works!

I reference photos extensively throughout the whole process, but at the sketching stage, I'm focusing on locations of eyes, ears, and noses--making sure that everything is correctly proportioned and located. I usually use PhotoShop tools or the "grid" approach (which has been used by just about every artist since Da Vinci) to make sure that my sketch has the correct anchor points at the right places. This ensures that the drawing is right and that I don't have to go through a whole lot of fundamental corrections as I paint!

Sometimes I don't do this, but inevitably I regret it. And, as you can see, what I come up with is a relatively rudimentary sketch--outlining the main parts of the animal, as you can see above. The next step is the REAL magic--making a painting that lives and breathes!

I'll get to that next week! Happy weekend! I am off to my brother's/dad's combined birthday party!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Pet Photos 101: Angles, focus, personality...

This should wrap up the photo advice section of the blog. Now you should have lighting issues under your belt, as well as an animal who’s not trying to run to the broom closet every time you pull out the camera. So here are a few more suggestions for taking photos of your pet.

Angle of portrait:

I like to take photos of animals on their own level. Sometimes shots of animals looking up at you are WONDERFUL -- my most recent portrait of Gracie the Weimeraner is done from an up-angle. You can see it at But, unless you WANT the portrait of your animal to be looking up at you, don’t take a photo of them from that angle. Full body portraits, in particular, tend to be more effective when shot at ground level.

So get ready to sit on the grass or lie on the ground. I love this photo I took of one of the MaxFund Shelter cats. And I was lying on the floor (thankfully, it was clean) at the time! So prepare to look foolish! (It helps that I am toddling off into crone-hood and have long since abandoned any pretense of caring what anybody thinks about me. So if you are relatively young and status-conscious, please try to dump that, at least temporarily, and roll around on the ground a little bit!)

Sometimes I put small pets up on fences or shelves—so I can get a low-angle shot. If you know any Chihuahuas, for instance, you KNOW that probably the most personality-appropriate angle you can get of your Chihuahua is by shooting UP at his chin as if you are some character actor in a 50’s film and he’s the 50-Foot Woman getting ready to stomp on you. Because Chihuahuas are absolutely the BIGGEST dogs I know, personality-wise. They have NO idea that their bodies are relatively tiny. And I like the camera angle to SHOW that attitude sometimes!

Also, if your pet absolutely will NOT hold still, you can have someone hold him (if he is small enough for that). It’s easy for me to crop out hands and arms and edit out other restraints, as long as his body’s not in an extremely odd position and as long as his important markings or contours are not hidden.

Focus on the face:

It’s all about capturing the animal’s soul in paint, for me, and that’s best expressed in his or her face—especially his eyes. So take plenty of photographs that are zoomed in on your pet’s face. Make sure they’re also in sharp focus. These don’t have to be right from the front—you can also take some three-quarter angle views from the front (which is also slightly to one side or the other).

Capturing personality:

Some of this is in the face and the expression, but a lot here depends on keeping your pet as comfortable as possible. As mentioned a few days ago, some animals are incredibly camera-shy and a few days of Snausage treats and flash-free photos are not enough to change that!

So…it’s good to have a helper. Someone with treats or toys who will hold them up and distract your pet from the camera.

Again, be ready to be silly. It’s helpful to know how to make as MANY WEIRD noises as humanly possible (clicks, wolf-whistles, kissy sounds, etc.) to get your pet to attend to you and perk his ears up.

Try to capture the most characteristic expression and pose of your pet. That’s what I want you to have in your portrait. So if your pet is generally happy, try to catch him doing his version of a smile. You might have to trick him into playing with a toy or chasing a ball to get that kind of expression. So do that!

The photograph is absolutely key to getting that expression translated into a painted portrait. We can talk about your pet’s personality a lot, but without seeing it, I will have a REALLY hard time painting it!

Happy picture-taking!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pet photos 101: Lighting, yadda, yadda, yadda

So, hopefully at this point, you have spent the whole weekend with your pet, your flash-free camera and a lot of treats. And your animal is actually starting to look forward to the camera showing up!

(And we both know I'm probably talking about your dog; cats are either camera-hogs or, if they're camera-shy, TOO stubborn to change their ways after a mere pathetic weekend of treats. There's a reason Pavlov worked with DOGS.)

If not, there's always the stealth approach, which I also favor; using auto-focus and whipping the camera out when your pet is least expecting it. Do that enough and eventually you'll get SOMETHING that's usable!

Anyhow, here are some specific tips around lighting that will help with your pet photos, whether they're shot on the fly or not.

The photos here are a close-up of my painting "Shown Actual Size" and the photo of the Great Dane that I used as its reference.

Because the animal in question here was BLACK, I had to treat it specially. With other animals, using a flash or a bright overhead light has its drawbacks. But for me to adequately see what’s going on with a black animal, bright sunlight or a flash photo can really help.

I photographed this dog on a hot, bright day at around 1 in the afternoon, and, because the light was so intense, I could see planes on the dog’s face that I wouldn’t have been able to see in less bright light.

So that's the case for black animals.

Here are more general tips for lighting your pet photographs:

1--The best possible light for you to use in photographing your pet is outdoor, natural light. This is the case even for indoor pets – but, of course, safety is paramount. So if you are stuck with taking photos inside (say it's freezing out, and you have an iguana, for instance), try to have your pet close to a large window. If possible, have natural light coming in from behind you or to your side as you face your pet.

2--Of course, look out for your SHADOW, or ANY other strange shadows that might fall over your pet in this, or any scenario. I have taken a bunch of photos that I thought were EXCELLENT at the time, only to find that Percy had tree-shadows COVERING his face, making him look like the vein-y Borg queen from that 80’s Star Trek series instead of a happy Golden Retriever!

Now, for everything EXCEPT black or extremely dark animals:

3--The perfect lighting is outdoors, during a bright but overcast day. Direct sunlight can alter natural coloring and increase the contrast so much that the artist can miss key planes in the animal’s face or body. I use photo correction software in my work, so I can adjust the contrast somewhat, but I'm still limited by the original photo.

4--If you can, avoid flash photos – they will, of course, give your pet the notorious demonic red-eye look or the retinal burn. And they can distort your pet’s true coloring. Again, I can correct for this somewhat, but it's better to have something that actually captures what the animal's eyes look like typically -- because that's what you're going to want in a portrait.

So just remember, the more detail you can capture in your photograph, the more I can capture in the painting. If your best photo of Fluffy is of a fuzzy black blob with laserbeam eyes, probably the best portrait I can do will be of a similar quality.

So if it comes down to a choice between finishing a painting for a birthday gift or getting a better photo and missing the birthday, I’d SERIOUSLY suggest you wait for the better photo. You’ll have a better painting. And time is just an arbitrary thing...

Um, that's probably enough for a Monday morning, so I'll hold the rest until the next post, when I’ll be covering angles, focus, and positioning of your pet! Right now I have to dash off and buy some birthday presents for my brother, whose birthday, ARBITRARY THOUGH IT IS, is TOMORROW!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Pet Photos 101: Clearing the first hurdle...

This is Willie. He’s a lovely little well-aged terrier that I met last month. I got one good photo of him, ears up and eyes bright, before he realized what I was doing. And then, once he caught on, EVERY PHOTO I GOT OF HIM LOOKED LIKE THIS.

You just wonder WHAT horrible crime he’s afraid I’m going to find out about.

So I thought that, instead of ranting about Kafka-esque governments or technology for a change, I’d do a few CONSTRUCTIVE blog entries that specifically address the whole pet portrait process…

Which starts with photos of your animal! I, you see, am not one of those crazy masochistic artists who want to paint ONLY FROM LIFE. Technology, when it works, is AWESOME. And photographs HOLD STILL.

So what this means is that, generally speaking, the better the photograph(s) of your pet that I can work from, the better your finished painting will be. So unless you’re going with professionally-done photos, taken with the needs of a portrait especially in mind, here are a few tips for you to take the best possible pet photos you can. All you need is some preparation and patience to get great photos of your pet. Yes, even those pets that are extremely frustrating, like Willie.

Take that terrier of yours who is animated and talkative and who is cuter than a stuffed animal MOST OF THE TIME. But when you pull out the camera, he looks at you as if you are the paparazzi and he has just realized he is not wearing any underwear. Which, of course, he is NOT. But his ears go down, he tries to look away, and you suddenly understand why they call it a “hangdog” expression.

Ah, if only Britney, Lindsay, and Paris had that same sense of propriety that your terrier has…

And I should mention that usually CATS do not have this particular TYPE of photography problem—it’s more germane to dogs.

But anyhow…here is the first trick I’ve learned to deal with those camera-shy pets—but it mainly works for YOU and YOUR pet, since you see him over an extended amount of time:

The first thing you have to remember is that THE DIGITAL CAMERA IS YOUR FRIEND. You are NOT going to run out of film.


There are a number of reasons for this:

  • It will help your pet get more USED to the idea of being stalked by you, the paparazzi.
  • It will stop the association he has of PHOTOS EQUALLING GETTING BLINDED BY A FLASHBULB. And it will stop him from looking like Earl Hickey every time you take a photo.
  • He might actually start looking forward to getting his picture taken, since he also gets some Snausages or, I don’t know…a mouse, if that’s your version of a pet treat. Or a round of tug-of-war with his favorite sock. Bribes are good, in this scenario. And, by all means, hold them up by the camera to hold his interest while you get the shots.

And of course, the last reason has to do with percentages. The more photos you take of your pet, the more likely you’ll have some really GOOD ones that you can create a great painting from.

As an artist, I don’t typically use multiple photos in designing a composition unless I have multiple SUBJECTS and then I usually HAVE to because if I take a photo of two dogs at the same time, it’s inevitable that when Dog A is looking Cover-Girl fresh, Dog B is licking his butt or wiping a booger out of his eye or doing his best impression of the Elephant Man. I think it’s just a law of nature.

But I don’t, as a rule, PhotoShop ONE image of an animal’s head onto a different photo of his body. It just tends to be wrong, somehow, in an oddly Pet-Cemetary type of way. So I don’t work that way.

But I do work from one primary photo to capture the pose and then use as many other good, clear photos as I can as references so I can get the portrait just right.

More in the next few days about lighting, angles, focus, and ways of capturing your pet’s personality! But for now, just try some of these things with your pet, and you’ll be surprised at how much more receptive he’ll be to getting his picture taken!

Excuse me now, I have to go off to Willie’s. I'm following up a hunch that there are either BODIES buried in his basement or that he’s smuggling diet pills. I don't know...he just looked like he was UP TO SOMETHING...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What the HELL, City of Denver???

Okay, here's where I have a serious beef with the City of Denver. Or at least with the idiotic copywriters that handle the signs and notices on their parking meters.

Although maybe they're NOT so idiotic. Maybe this is just a sneaky way of making money. Maybe these signs are written by people who use words like "collateral damage" and "ethnic cleansing" (see my earlier post on Words, Part Deux) as part of their everyday vocabulary in order to manipulate people and make money for cash-strapped cities. Just a thought.

Here's the sign on a downtown parking meter where my cousin and her boyfriend got a ticket last week. They were driving our car, had gone to a club, parked at 8:02, and paid for 2 hours of parking until 10:02.

They thought they'd be GOOD after that, right? After all, look at the sign. IN BIG LETTERS, it says 2 HOUR LIMIT 8 AM - 10 PM.


In addition, right NEXT to that, it says OVERNIGHT PARKING ALLOWED. 10 PM - 8 AM.

Also seems clear, right? Those nice City of Denver people--they'll let you park your car there OVERNIGHT. That seems really thoughtful of them.

Nope. Officer Patterson, Badge #230, with the Denver Police, slapped a ticket on the car at 10:47 for a meter violation.

Okay, I jumped to the obvious conclusion:

Officer Patterson CANNOT READ.

Either or both seem plausible, given some police officers I have dealt with in the past.

So I called into the Denver Parking Violations Bureau to contest the ticket and, after negotiating their extremely complicated voice mail maze, was told by an unsympathetic office drone that Denver had passed a new law ALLOWING overnight parking AT A REDUCED RATE.

Big fat hairy deal. As if I was supposed to be IMPRESSED by the city's largesse. When they used to NOT CHARGE AFTER 10 pm.

And when their meters are ABSOLUTELY UNCLEAR about this change.

So...if you look WAAAAY down there in the left-hand corner, underneath all that distracting small print with the yellow background, you'll see hourly rates for 8 AM - 2 AM and then OTHER HALVED rates for 2 AM - 8 AM. But if you stopped at the larger print like I'm sure 80% of the people do, then you'll get screwed by the city. Which is probably what the city is counting on to balance their finances.

I asked the office drone if she didn't think that this was kind of sneaky of the city and she refused to comment.


Kafka wrote a story called "The Penal Colony" in which prisoners are held for crimes, but they're not notified of what those crimes are. Instead, the crime itself is engraved onto their skin using some sort of diabolical tattoo-type of machine, with the idea that, by the time it reaches their bones, they'll have SOMEHOW figured it out. Of course, by then, well...they're not exactly IN their bodies any more.

Sure, we all missed that fine print on the meter. But it seems uncomfortably close to The Penal Colony to me. And probably intentional.

But I have noticed a trend in my blogs the past few weeks--in that they're rants.

Maybe I'm brooding. I have been cooped up in the house since Tuesday, and only intermittently able to work because I HAVE TO KEEP MY FOOT ELEVATED. Why? Because I foolishly tried to be an intermediary in a territorial dispute where Princess was attempting to annex the west side of my back yard (well beyond the previous agreed-upon boundary) and Smokey was trying to fire back. My diplomacy failed and Princess (who must have been watching Shark Week) chomped down on my foot like one of the Great Whites grabbing a seal on that Planet Earth documentary.

And it got infected (my foot, not the seal--he was WELL beyond that). So I have been limping around, taking enormous antibiotic pills and trying to figure out if the red, hot, swollen patch on my foot has expanded beyond the Magic Marker circle that the doctor drew on my foot last Tuesday. And trying to figure out how to paint while still keeping my foot elevated above my heart.

So I'm probably just grumpy.

Still, I'd encourage you to boycott Denver for awhile. At least until they get a little clearer about their meter signs! Or it might cost you!