Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Starry Night

I've always loved this painting. It's beautiful and yet sad, being the view from van Gogh's asylum window. It's strange, visionary and definitely a bit mad. It's as if all the stars are going nova and the spiral galaxy (or is it a black hole?) is tearing up the sky. It's a rare image that manages to be peaceful and apocalyptic at the same time.

So when my favourite Doctor and my favourite companion found themselves fighting a monster alongside the famous painter, I was over the moon. And what an episode! "Vincent and the Doctor" instantly earned a place on my Top 10 Who list.

Hey - remember the Museum Challenge from the first lockdown, back in April? This was my entry:


I also did this jigsaw during lockdown. And it was HARD!

In my ongoing experiments with watercolour, I thought it would be fun to try my own version:


(Look! Amy Pond nails! The same colour she wears in the episode! #nerdalert)

Yes, I was tempted to add a TARDIS, but maybe another time. 



Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Mutual Core

Weeks ago, I discovered that there was one sheet left in an old sketchpad so I decided to do a quick-and-dirty picture, just using regular pencil. I was listening to Bjork and this is what appeared on the paper.

Mutual Core
 

I've since bought proper sketching pencils and a new sketchpad. (Or two.) (Maybe even more.)

 

Alien World

For Christmas my awesome brother bought me books on drawing trees and landscapes. (As well as sending me a box of leche quemada all the way from the States - OMG you are the BEST jesse!)

Rather than start simple with - say, a coconut palm, I went straight for the "finale" image in the tree book. I'll have to try it again once I've had more practice with the other trees.




Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Nothing Left

 More AI art. This one is quite apocalyptic. 

 

Nothing Left

I like my brother's observation that it looks like Mother Earth is reaching for someone to save her.

I haven't been able to write at all since the pandemic began, but I'm a creative person by nature and the urge to create never gets blocked. After years of amateur doodling, I've decided to learn how to sketch properly. Some of my efforts are better than others. 


 

For all the evil and time-suckiness of Teh Interwebz, it is a bona fide treasure trove at times. I never had any formal art training, but my brother and I were both pretty good at drawing. And Bob "Happy little trees" Ross was a virtual teacher back in the day. (Oooh, showing my age!) So I'm not exactly a beginner. I'm teaching myself from books and YouTube tutorials. And it's fun. I started with a book on sea creatures. I imagine they'll lead to kaiju and surreal landscapes with undersea flora and fauna on mountainsides and seahorses drifting in the sky.

 

 

Here's another movie haiku.



Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Hello Sweetie!

I’m late to the TARDIS party, but at least I finally made it.

 

I’d seen a handful of Tom Baker episodes when I was little, but the show never clicked with me the way Star Trek and Blake’s 7 did. Recently, John was watching his favourite episodes with Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker and I really enjoyed them, so I wanted more. I was also curious about the newer episodes. But - with thirteen Doctors and hundreds of episodes, it seemed like the Everest of TV series to try and attempt. Where to start?

Fortunately, I have friends who are superfans and the lovely Mark Morris curated a list for us of “New Who”. So we watched a few Eccleston and Tennant episodes (I’d already seen the legendary “Blink”). And then Matt Smith arrived. From there we watched his entire run. Then Peter Capaldi’s entire run.

You know how they have different viewing orders for Star Wars or the MCU? Release order, chronological, etc? I think my personal experience is the River Song order. Because now I'm travelling backwards to catch up with the rest of Tennant and Eccleston, whilst interspersing it with the Baker and Pertwee stories John shows me. What better way to watch a show about time travel? All the pieces drop into place eventually, just never in chronological order.

I was psyched about a female Doctor before I was even really curious about the show. You can imagine what it means to "us" (women in general) to see things changing, but it's also incredibly dismaying when there's so much resistance and backlash, especially when it seems mostly gender-centric. I have to confess I shed a tear during WONDER WOMAN (her solo charge across No Man’s Land), and that scene in AVENGERS: ENDGAME ("She's got help") where the screen literally fills, and fills, and keeps filling with all the female heroes - I was unexpectedly in floods in the cinema, and every time since. It never occurred to me when I was a little girl to know what I was missing, or all the things that were denied. Women were the "companion", the supporting act, the eye candy. And so - the idea of a female Doctor was thrilling to Grownup Kate, and that excitement travelled back in time to Little Kate, who would probably have been a fan way back when if she'd had what little girls today have - representation.

BUT.

Oh dear. I love Jodie Whittaker, and thought she was a brilliant choice, but the material really let her down. She was more "the Doctor" in interviews just as herself than I've seen her be on the show. John said it all feels more like Quantum Leap. It does feel hugely different from the Tennant/Smith/Capaldi era. Worst of all, it feels dumbed down. There are some good episodes, but they’re outweighed by the clunkers. (“Tsuranga” was just embarrassing. Pting? Really? I was playing a game throughout - trying to imagine which Doctor could have made that story work. Matt Smith would have made it fun, but it still would have been lame, and Capaldi could have gone all Malcolm Tucker, which would have been hilarious.)

As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I have some experience with shows taking 3-4 seasons to hit their stride. And while that kind of grudge-watching loyalty to reach the good bits should be a thing of the past, I can't jump ship when it's time for a female Doctor to have her day at last. I’m looking forward to more, but I’m not very hopeful that she’ll suddenly get her share of instant classic stories to truly shine in. Ah well. Maybe the next white male Doctor will be better. LOL Seriously - I want Idris Elba!

In the meantime, I’ve got tons of episodes to revisit and my next geeky fan experience will be the true River Song journey - watching her episodes in HER order, backwards to us and the Doctor.

 

Nobody really understands where the music comes from. It's probably something to do with the precise positions, the distance between both towers. Even the locals aren't sure. All anyone will ever tell you is that when wind stands fair and the night is perfect, when you least expect it, but always... when you need it the most... there is a song.


 

Friday, 27 November 2020

Embarkation

I've started this blog post several times and I keep deleting what I write. So this time I'm not going to let myself stop. I'm just going to keep typing until the page is full of words. Because I need to write SOMETHING.

I've been in a creative drought the past couple of years. The handful of stories I have written were very difficult to get out. I was even starting to wonder if that was it, if I'd written all the stuff I had in me to write.

But no. The ideas are there; that's not the problem. There's no shortage of incredible, amazing, awesome ideas in my head. But the bridge that leads from them to the page is gone. And there's no Gandalf to banish the balrog that's sitting there in triumph.

Here's a movie haiku. 


So I thought I'd try to just get some random thoughts down in my long-neglected blog. (Hey kids, did you know that in the 80s we wrote in private diaries that even had LOCKS on them so no one could ever read them?) What a strange world we live in.

I'd love to see the data on major personality shifts during 2020. Things people actually got done. New skills or hobbies they acquired. Ways they changed. I bet it's seismic. 

I bought plants. One orchid became two orchids, then three. Then a Venus flytrap. Then a subscription to Barry's Cactus Club. Then a few more little plants here and there. And look at me now...


Yeah - fuckin grow lights, man! LOL That's not even all the plants I have. Not even half. There's an oxygen garden in the other room. But they're a healthy obsession because they bring me joy and give me something to focus on. They even have personality in their way. Leafy pets are not furry pets, but until we can sell our flat and move, they fill a void.

I still dream of interfacing with technology. 


But that won't happen in my lifetime. Until then, I'll have to make do with the tech that's outside my body.

Lately I've found a new fascination. And wow, is there a lot of vitriol about it online. I bought a painting. But it wasn't created by a human. Apparently its very existence is an affront to human artists and the concept of art as a whole. **shrug** Haters gonna hate, right? I just thought the idea was fascinating - at worst, surely it's merely a novelty? Honestly, humans freak out and cry "Skynet" at every new non-human innovation. (Right, Alexa? "I have nothing to do with Skynet, don't worry.")

But there are some sane people on the various threads, one of whom called it "ghost art", which is yet another intriguing idea. (See? All the ideas are here in a big stew - they just don't mix into anything edible.)

AI isn't expressing emotion or experience when it "creates" art. It has no subjective sense of self, no concept of aesthetics. It's mixing and matching various styles and objects from whatever human art it's been fed and spitting out something similar. It's very good at trees. And abstract art's a no-brainer. There's some positively terrifying surreal stuff, especially when it gets confused by faces. The computer's definitely been made crazy by the flesh, with similarly disturbing Brundlefly results.

But what I love most are the landscapes. They're eerie, unreal and melancholy. I find many of them beautiful. This one is mine, titled "Embarkation":


It hangs beside my desk and I see something different every time I look at it. It evokes feelings in me and stirs my imagination. It moves me. So is it art then? Where does the definition start? Is it defined by the creation of the piece? Or my interpretation of it? I think it's the latter and therefore, it is art. There's plenty of human-created art that doesn't make me feel anything. By contrast, a random pattern of leaves and colours can move me, and that's most assuredly not art. 


Yes, ultimately it's just ones and zeroes, but so is everything else in existence.

Here's some more "art", this time "created" by me (in collaboration with a computer):

Flight of Photosynthesis


And here are two self-portraits, tech-tweaked.


I want to use the one on the right as my next author photo.

Better still would be if I could feed several different pictures of me into an AI and have it create one from the various elements.

Ooh! Hang on. I may have just had an actual story idea!