naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
I gave you a sneak peek at this girl back around V-Day, but here's the finished set.

I've put this one up on Patreon, but it's free -- you can go look at it and download the little PDF booklet, or the individual pics. You can also share it on Facebook. The tumblr post is right over here, if you wanna share that. I'd like to pull in a few more patrons this month, considering how rough things have been.

Baby Stardust has kind of an epic story.

Baby Stardust 1

Back when Bear and I first met in bellydance class, she had this little G1 Baby Firefly on the dashboard of her truck. It enabled us to strike up a conversation about My Little Ponies, and we sort of formed a friendly acquaintance based on that and on a mutual love of The Last Unicorn. We hung out a few times, she bought some ponies off me, but we sort of fell out of touch.

Baby Stardust 2

She moved to Alaska, then Washington State. We reconnected via the internet, she visited a few times, and then a year and a half ago or thereabouts, she moved back here to Oklahoma where she was promptly inducted into our geeky gaming-and-bad-movies group. Everyone loved her, because she's easy to love.

She also brought all her old ponies with her, and unloaded some of them on me for custom bait . . . including that Baby Firefly. I knew it was her because of the sticky on her back hoof from being stuck to the dashboard. I hid her away. Someday, I knew, I was gonna do something really special with her.

Baby Stardust 3

We became really good friends. Really good. Like, drift-compatible we-named-our-jaeger good. Hung out all the time, RP partners, dorking about everything, just . . . really good friends.

Meanwhile, everyone in the world -- including a random shop owner in Eureka Springs and The Actual Bear herself -- realized that we were a couple.

Time passed.

Vacations were had.

A clue was found. It belonged to me.

Baby Stardust 4

A train ride happened. Certain words were said. And the next morning I woke up early and went out before she got up to grab a thing she'd seen the day before and wanted.

On the way, I impulsively ducked into a little shop and saw a gorgeous dichroic glass necklace (like this one, but not that one) with a tree on it. Stunning little thing. From all the way across the shop I was like "YES THAT I WILL TAKE THAT ONE PLEASE" and I bought it without even looking at the price.

And I brought it back to her in bed and gave it to her and she was so utterly delighted and it was lovely.

Baby Stardust 5

But a couple of months later, the glass tile broke off the bail and was lost somewhere along her delivery route. Her beautiful necklace was no more.

Sadness ensued.

Then I remembered Baby Firefly. A plan was born.

I made this little gal.

Baby Stardust 6

I wanted her to look like the dichroic glass.  I think she does.  I had to color correct these photos so they would show the green tint on her legs, and may have gone a little overboard with it in a couple of places, but the first two are pretty accurate.

The pictures simply do not do her justice.  How she shimmers.  I painted her base coat in pure pthalo blue lightened with pearlescent paint, then sponged more pearl over her to make highlights on her rump, face, wings, and legs.  I layered watered down color and watered down pearl paint over her several times, building up a really vivid iridescent effect.  I used two different kinds of blue -- one purplish, one greenish -- on her body, used green on her legs near the horizon, and purple on her cheeks, ears, nose, and wingtips.

Then I added a whole ocean of shimmering pearlescent stars among the trees. And when that was done, I rehaired her with Dollyhair nylon in Diamond, a stunning new sparkling white that I adore.

I am very, very proud of her!

I was still nervous, but when I gave her to The Actual Bear, she was delighted.  (Of course she was. But I was still really nervous.)

Anyway.  That's the story!

Thank you guys for sticking with me!
naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
Last October The Actual Bear and I took a trip to the artsy, historical, and utterly lovely little mountain town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

I booked us a dinner train ride that goes along the mountainside.  We'd aimed for peak color when I made the reservations and we frigging nailed it.  The trees were as golden as they were gonna get, and the weather was sublime.

While waiting for the train to arrive, we watched the other couples.  One pair was especially cute -- early twenties, this absolutely beautiful girl with her adorable boy never more than a couple of feet away.  Just married, Bear said.  Look at how close they stand.  I remarked that he was wearing a new ring -- I couldn't see her left hand because he was holding it like the whole time.  It was really sweet.

The train ride was quietly magical.  The engine was this adorable old thing, chugging away, and the dining car was turn-of-the-century gorgeous.  A lovely experience, juuust the right amount of cheesy.  The hills were covered with yellow and orange trees and the setting sun was brilliant shining off them, and when the sun went down far enough, the valleys were plunged into blue shadow.  We stopped on a bridge overlooking a little mountain stream with mimosa trees leaning over it.  It was just . . . gorgeous.

With about seven other couples there, the beautiful old car was neither uncomfortably empty nor uncomfortably full.  We sat opposite one another and talked and held hands and were just in general pretty disgustingly cute.  I can't speak for the Bear, but I wasn't really uncomfortable . . . I mean, yeah, an apparently same-sex couple, public place, but Eureka Springs is full of same-sex couples -- a local shopowner estimated the town's resident LGBT population at a whopping 40%.  I was aware of it, though.  Just . . . a thing that was present in the back of my mind.

The couple ahead of me and to the right, older couple, well-dressed but not overdressed . . . it wasn't a sad occasion, and they were very much in love with each other, they were laughing and having a good time and were obviously very close, but there was just something about they way they sat and conversed.  I can't put my finger on it, but they'd gotten bad news about two weeks ago, or had lost someone.  From the odd word here and there, I got the impression sister and cancer, but I will never know if I was right.

Before dessert the train crew asked if anyone had any happy occasions that were being celebrated.  The young couple we'd been watching announced that they had, indeed, just gotten married, and there was applause and toasting all around.

Then Chariots of Fire came on the sound system, and they wheeled out dessert: flaming baked Alaska in the shape of a train engine, complete with headlight and fire coming out of the smokestack.  Yes, I said it was a little cheesy.  I like a little cheesy.  Turns out I like baked Alaska, too.  I had never had it before, didn't even know what it was.  The Actual Bear, having lived in Alaska for a time, had never tried it either, so we were excited to rectify our ignorance, and doing so proved pretty tasty.

After dessert the engine reversed and we backed up toward the station.  The light was fading rapidly, the way it does in hilly country.

I came and sat next to the Actual Bear and just leaned against her, and we talked and laughed and had a nice time, and at some point during the ride back, she said "I love you."

I paused, shook my head, not sure if I'd heard what I thought I'd heard.  "Wait, what?"

"I love you," she said.  And it was the first time either of us had said it.

Of course I said it back.

She had beat me to it by like twenty minutes -- I was going to tell her on the platform when we got back.  Maybe at the hotel.

As we pulled up to the station again, the older couple prepared to leave.  The woman leaned over.

"Excuse me."

There's going to be a first time that someone gives us crap.  I was sort of almost expecting that.  Not really, but the thought was there.  You never know, right?  Mostly I was just perplexed.  Like, what could they want?  Suddenly afraid I'd ruined their dinner, I frantically tried to remember if we'd discussed anything really horrible because that happens a lot.

"Would you like us to take your picture?"

It was . . . I don't know why, but it was literally the last thing I had expected.  But they'd heard the whole "I love you"/"Wait, what?" conversation, I think, and I think they were amused by it and probably moved by our obvious affection, like we were with the young couple.

So we got a few pics taken, and I got a little choked up.  We somehow managed to thank them, and everybody disembarked.

I excused myself and darted out.  It was dark, and I caught the cute young couple just as they were walking off the platform, like I'd been planning to do the whole time.

"Excuse me," I said.  They looked about as confused as I had been.  "I just wanted to say congratulations and good luck.  You are a beautiful mermaid princess, and you are a handsome bear prince, and I hope you have many wonderful adventures together."

No, really, I actually said that.  Like, exactly that.  And the guy looked surprised and befuddled and sort of gently amused, but the girl looked stunned.  And I know it's because people don't talk that way to very, very fat girls, which she was, even when they are very, very beautiful, which she also was.  And I knew right then that I'd hit it, that I'd given her a compliment that actually got through, which is incredibly hard to do if the person is someone who has been subjected to body shame their whole lives.  (I don't know that she had, but she was built like a lifelong fat person, and I just don't believe for a moment she had never been bullied about it.)

They thanked me, obviously touched, and went on into the dark, hopefully into something like happily ever after.  And I know they will never forget it, and I will never forget it, and it's just one of those moments of sonder, where you are aware of the people around you as parts of stories you will never know.  Like the boy at Michaels looking for lace for his mother's Christmas present.  These rare moments where you become, for fifteen seconds or fifteen minutes, part of someone's fairy tale.  And you never know if it ended well or badly, or if it even ended at all.  All you know is that moment, that exchange.  You were an NPC.

I know I'm probably not getting across the way the whole thing was just . . . moving, but I wanted to write it down anyway, because I've been meaning to try since it happened.

I like to think those kids will call each other bear prince and mermaid princess.  I like to think some of that magic will stick for them.  That if it has to end, it ends well.

I hope for the best for the kind older couple, and I'm really grateful they gave us that moment, that immediate affirmation of rightness.  They gave us this magical little moment, and I immediately went and did it for someone else.  And that is how the world should work.  That is how magic should work.

There's a lot I would like to write about The Actual Bear.  An account, maybe, someday, of the astoundingly magical first trip we took up there, and how everything in the universe aligned to give us everything we asked for and then some.  Or about how remarkable she is, and how much I love her, and how terrified I am that I will hurt her or that this will end badly.  How she brings out a better person in me than I thought I cared to be.  How she can actually comfort me.  How I nearly fell asleep in her lap tonight like a big sleepy wolf.  How strange and silly and magical things just happen when we are together.

But I am tired and I need to sleep, so I will just let you all go.

The world is an awful place, but life is pretty great.  You know?

naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
So I'm teaching The Actual Bear* how to paint custom ponies.  She's wanted to do this for a while, and I randomly woke up the other day with hissing, possum-faced glee at the idea of teaching her, so . . . we started tonight, and it's going well.

I'm doing two at once, alternating when things have to dry, and to keep me busy so I don't micromanage her into the ground.  Because I could.  I SO COULD.

So, Winterstar and Snowdrift are being born, both pink and both obviously winter-themed.  The Bear is doing a storm pony tentatively called Stormrunner.  That's badass.

I don't know how long it will take her to finish, but my two should be done in a week or so.  Expect pictures and a couple of auctions.

I'm taking progress shots for the Patreon thing I still haven't set up because I'm dithering myself into ever-tightening anxiety circles over wording.  But material is being accumulated for when I'm posting.

It's nice to paint.  It's nice to have company.  It's nice to sit and talk about imaginary boys and occasionally make gross badger sounds of glee at how ridiculawful we make their lives.  "Let's throw Jacks into the river in the middle of winter!"  "How can we make Solomon break down crying?  Because I want that.  Hey, isn't it about time he got an awesome scar?  Can we do these things together?"  "Let's get the redhead almost mauled by a werewolf, and then the other werewolf can come save him and they can FIGHT and later kiss maybe."  It's so stupid, like the worst soap opera Laurell K. Hamilton bullshit you can possibly imagine and I love it.  And now ponies.

I'm still ridiculously worried about things, especially what the hell I'm going to do for gifts for everyone when I just . . . well, I'm doing ponies, so now I have guilt about not being able to get my shit together to do other things.

I literally cannot win with this . . . whatever it is.  That causes me to feel like no matter what I'm doing it's the wrong thing.  I don't know if it's part of the whole being mentally ill deal, or if it's something to do with my messed-up upbringing.  Whatever it is, I try not to let it throw me too much.  But it bugs me.

Anyway, the whole teaching how to pony thing made me clear off my work table -- I could fudge if it was just me, cram everything off to the side, but there wasn't room for two people, let alone two very broad people like me and The Bear.  So I have a cleaner workspace.  Things are still messy and chaotic, but they're better than they were.  I'm getting it taken care of slowly.

I figure after the last month of depressing entries, I owe you some happy stuff, so there it is.  Things suck and are crazy, but there's things about Right Now that aren't bad at all, and I am happy for at least two hours every day because Bear.

Thank you all for bearing with me.  (Oh god I'm so sorry.)  I'm never going to give up, even though I really want to sometimes.  Even though I want to really badly sometimes.  There is too much good stuff here.  There is too much adventure to be had.  There are too many nice things I am going to have the chance to do for people.

Also there's ponies.  Who's gonna paint all these fucking ponies?  Me.  That's who.  And The Bear.

* The Actual Bear is a much better name for her than "my girlfriend."  It at least gives you some idea of what she is like.  She is like an actual bear.  Like that whole stereotype of bear-like dudes?  She is the chick version of that, and it's pretty great.

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naamah_darling: The right-side canines of a wolf's skull; the upper canine is made of gold. (Default)
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