Chosen One - purple

My Corner of Buffyverse Fandom and Welcome To It


* I have a Winged!Buffy kink. brutti_ma_buoni introduced me to the drug, and comlodge is my enabler . (And didn't she do a lovely job of it?) I am more than
willing to share, because that's the kind of fangirl I am.

* If that's not your pleasure OTOH, my kink for Mama-Bear FIERCE warrior women (be still my heart) is also at the ready. (Including another gorgeous banner by comlodge.)
[Step into my parlour....]

* My LJ is Hugs Central. (Mostly.) Appropriate and consensual ones, of course. Safety and fun are at a premium here, so play nice with each other. Leave the weapons at the door, wipe your feet on the mat, and help yourself to some tea and homemade cookies.

by any other name 700square any other name. My own artwork. Click on image for full size.

* Buffy is my Big Damn Hero and my #1 HBIC - because she's flawed and human and real. Because she loves deeply; she falls down but still fights, she grieves and endures, again and again. Because she breaks the rules and finds another way; because of her intelligence, intuition and wit. Because in watching her I identify with my own issues and strengths, and have a renewed appreciation for my mom as well.

* Because in talking about her with other fans, in telling my story through her, in voicing my truth, I discover that I'm not alone in my challenges, faults, and grief; that I don't have to be imprisoned by secrets and shame; and in sharing this, I can bring comfort to others. And because at the end of the day, Buffy gives me hope; and sometimes that's enough to make getting out of bed in the morning worthwhile. And because she is just so freakin' adorable, y'all.
* FYI: My No Dissing Buffy Rule also applies to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Joss wasn't the only "auteur"; he wrote Buffy but Sarah embodied her completely. I wasn't part of the fandom back in the day, didn't get embroiled in the hatefest, not interested now. Just sayin'.

* Break the rules and I will take away the tea and cookies. Do not make me do this.

 the prodigal daughter (Anne poster)

Prodigal Daughter. Click on image for full-size version

* I love intelligent discussion of , and appreciation for , the ladies of the verse and their complex interrelationships  at the core of the 'verse: mothers, sisters, mentors, students, friends, lovers, enemies, allies. The Buffyverse without it's women would be a cold, barren place:  ("that bright optimism that becomes a great, raw wound-red in The Body" - the_royal_anna ). They bear witness to one another, the hurt one another when they don't mean to, they love even when it's difficult and painful to do so.

* Yes, this includes Dawn. Who is courageous without an ounce of Slayer strength, sasses the Hellgod who is trying to kill her, and comes out on the other side of some  major identity and abandonment issues a hell of a lot better than Riley does.  Buffy and Dawn's prickly, contentious, yet ultimately loyal and loving relationbnship? That's my sister and I when we were kids, right there.

* And yes, this also includes Kennedy. No vitriol. No joke.  (Tara would not approve of the hate. A lot of the complaints I've seen about her are suspicously close to those lobbed at Buffy, btw.) Entitled? Yes. Arrogant? Uh-huh - and also loyal, courageous, stubborn and gentle. She's a "queer woman of color..that is allowed to be the hero." Dig this: Early seasons btvs Cordy + Buffy + Faith = Kennedy. (Buffy brought the handcuffs. Faith brought the Jack D. Spike and Xander wanted to watch and Queen C told them where to go. The sex was tremendous. Then they tried a foursome with Illyria and Glory was the result. Oops.)

* The Buffy & Tara friendship/connection is one of the most underappreciated aspects of the 'verse IMO. This WILL be rectified. I don't ship Buffy/Tara, but if that's what it takes to get fandom talking about them? A fangirl's gotta do what a fangirl's gotta do. (ETA 2014: I have seen the light of the true religion: Buffy/Tara shipping. Say amen, somebody.)          

Do the clicky thing again.
*In fact, let's just say "No bashing female characters, period." There's plenty of other places to do that, if that's your thing. The show's failures in terms of the depictions of women, of female sexuality, the lack of mature female characters, the massive fail in terms of race and class? Always up for intelligent, civil discussion and examination.
* OTOH, I do reserve the right to bitch about call out their shit criticize objectively analyze and take issue with certain whiny, self-absorbed males on the series and their collective patronizing jackassery. Don't get me wrong, I can understand them, sympathize with them, and so forth. Xander trying to be a "better man" than his father? Even
when he gets it wrong? I heartily approve. (I'll still call him out on his shit, though.) It's simple math: Grow up, get real or go home. Also I welcome any and every
opportunity to make fun of Angel.  Particularly when penguins are involved.  As well they should be.

* I 'ship Buffy&Spike S7 in private, and no longer interested in discussing it; unless I am. And I fully support the right to ship Buffy with anyone you damn well please. Otherwise don't talk to me, I'll talk to you. so hard it hurts, in all the right ways.  I do. Love in action is the hardest, most painful and most worthwhile work we can ever do - and it PWNS  "true love" romantic bullshit every time. (What, me? Biased?) But he is not my central focus here. Nor are any of the men of the 'verse, except in terms of how they serve Buffy's story.  It turns out the protagonist of the "Buffyverse" is some gal named Buffy.  Weird, huh?

* Parting words: The Buffy& Faith dynamic and the Buffy&Spike dynamic are the SAME DAMN THING. Except without sex for B/F.  Really.
Barney/Robin OTP

My first attempt at HIMYM Robin/Barney icons

A prezzie for snogged, who mentioned on my journal the other day that Barney/Robin are her "BROtp", but also dedicated to bangel_4e, kikimay, beer_good_foamy, ever_neutral, ruuger, punch_kicker15, all the (pissed off) Barney/Robin shippers in the house, and pretty much anyone with half a brain or less because it only takes about 2 brain cells in total to understand that Ted/Robin as the endgame sucked rotten ostrich eggs and was a horrible idea 17 ways to Sunday.

BarneyRobinThebestmaniconbrotp2   BarneyRobinicon2TheBestMan     BarneyRobinThebestmanicon3brotopmuted   369da209-39c4-4fb1-a238-f2b20f08ad18_zpse15117fa 01-04

himym-robin-barney-engagedicon1   robin-barney-engagedicon2blueheart   robin-barney-engagedicon2 05-07
Get it Done

(Bring On)The Night / Lost in the Woods, 1/? (Buffy poster art)

What do you do if you're trying to make icons for the upcoming round of btvsats20in20 and feeling horribly uninspired? AND you've been feeling exposed and tender the last several months, as your skin has been partly scraped away? If you're me, you go back to a fanart you made two months ago (just after Round 3 of 20in20), tinker with it a bit and decide you're finally ready to show it off:

botn52f87548-29d5-42c2-b39a-f1c475dc1368_zps105b1a48 (teaser image)


[She alone....(gallery this way)]

The Night/Lost in the Woods (click all images below to enlarge)
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Warm palette or cool palette? I like them both.
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This piece has three "godparents":  It was inspired specifically by some comments pickamix made about Buffy's wounds some time back that got me thinking about my own swirl of fuzzy feelings that I'm reluctant to examine. What IS going on when I look at Buffy in this moment? Sympathy of course, a desire to tuck a blanket around her in a "motherly" way; self-identification for my own psyche and wanting her to have the things I feel I don't (comfort, sympathy, nourishment.) But - is there a sensual component as well? Auto-erotica, masochism turned outward into sadism? All of the above? Is that unhealthy or merely human?

Hard to sort out what it all means. Easier to just make the art.

The line of text comes from Morphine's song "The Night"(Lila), which also inspired some of my Tara icons in Round 3. It's really a perfect fit for the women of the Buffyverse in general, all of them ordinary and extraordinary all at once; but I've identified that song with Buffy most especially ever since I watched the series: "You're a folk tale / the unexplainable...."

This is also dedicated to bone_dry1013 for the many, many enjoyable hours (and I do mean hours) we spent last year talking about our mutual love for Buffy on her blog, dissecting her psyche, her pains and burdens with a fine tooth comb. It does feel a bit like sadism, somehow, when I love her so much; how can it be so comforting and discomforting all at once?

One of the most disconcerting things about this image is that when I lightened the screencap, which was quite dark, I really saw how odd Sarah's eyes look, each one focused in a slightly different direction. How is that possible, even? I have no idea but I can think of few images from American tv in which someone looks more truly injured, and utterly lost.  In fact it's the complete opposite to the previous of image of Buffy in that episode, unconscious on the ground after her fight with the Ubervamp, blood spattered across her face and yet looking impossibly glamorous.

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I'd considered adding images of other girls throughout the series, or specifically focused on S7, but I preferred for once to keep this relatively uncluttered. The trees in the background are my own photograph taken in my yard and that I've used before in icons but never in a larger piece.  I added the lyric fragment after I saw the "bar" of light that the filter provided across Buffy's face; serendipity. I adore old-fashioned typewriter fonts and the fact that this is "rough around the edges" makes it a perfect fit for the image of Buffy.

I made other versions that were cropped more tightly, cutting off the bottom, but decided I preferred to leave a little "breathing room" around Buffy visually. I also made lighter, brighter versions but I felt the background patterns competed too much with the image of Buffy. I also had a go at something on "meta", Buffy's monologue from Becoming, Pt2 superimposed over the image. I'm not sure it really works the way I wanted. (Going back to the original typewriter font might have been a better idea?)
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I have no idea what that stuff that looks like lettering in the upper right corners of these is. (It's not text.) It seems to be a combination of the color filters I used, the tree image, and Joyce's curtains plus a  bit of sharpening. A "pattern" popped out and I liked the mysterious/ambiguous quality of it.

Tell me what you think of all this - the art, my psyche - , while I fix Miss Summers a hot meal. Civilized concrit and feedback is warmly appreciated.

Amber Benson as Ella

Last (and I do mean last) chance to nominate in Round 30 of SunnyD Memorial Fanfic awards

Today (10/18) is the deadline for nominations at the Sunnydale Memorial Fanficton Awards Round 30; voting begins tomorrow and runs through November 30th. So if you haven't nominated your favorite fics of the year, now's the chance.  Make sure you check out the Rules thoroughly; they're quite concise and clear. (Such as "Please nominate only one person per submission. I don't remember if that was a rule last round or not but if it was, holy smokes....spuffy_luvr gave me a stern talking to for that one, and I deserved it.)

I'm in awe of all the work and time dragonydreams and her team put into maintaining these awards; and I have to give a special nod to pickamix's beautiful banners/graphics.

Speaking of dragonydreams btw, she's back with a new challenge for otherworldlyric! There was one entry so she's extended it a week; the deadline is now Friday October 24, so check it out.
Amber Benson as Ella

Round 4 banners for spikesredqueen

By request and congratulations again to spikesredqueen.  I'd never know she's rarely worked with images of Tara because she's done our Miss Maclay proud and then some.  So gorgeous, such a delight to spend time with (the lady and the icons.) Has Tara ever looked so pretty?

Click for full-size - which you should do because the icons are so very pretty.


The first time I looked at that motion icon I just thought, "Pretty". Then I recognized the episode and that moment. I also thought, oddly enough, about The Gift and Willow's "blue sweater" that Joyce loved and she can't find; the connection had never occured to me before. I don't think it's accidental; that episode and the next draw on The Body as shorthand several times (Dawn finding Tara's body, the ambulance and bodybag.)


Art-tickle for Thursday Oct 16: So I made some things, and I won a thing!

Banner for snowpuppies Themes winners in btvsats20in20 Round 4. (Full-size)
round4FINAL_snowpuppiesthemessignedOct2014byredsatindoll 01



Banner I made for my Mods Choice Award for Challenge 33: (Full-size)

redsatindollmodschoice 07

Congratulations, links, challenge reminders, alts/extras, some thinky-thoughts and source photos after the cut. Usual disclaimers - don't plagarize, deface  or post to another online archive or site without at least checking with me. All icons snaggable.  Banners not.
[More images and a gallery guide inside the cut:]

Alts and extras for Challenge 33:


01 - Congratulations to Snowy and to spikesredqueen, starry_night, sweet_lyri, and midnightisclose for your beautiful winning entries in Round 4 of btvsats20in20! If anyone still wants a banner of their own it's not too late; drop a line at the Winner's Post here - you can reply to me directly in that thread. This is assuming everyone hasn't moved on to their Round 5 Rainbow Theme entries.

02-06 - Thank you to everyone who voted for my icons; I was tickled to see that each of them got at least one vote, and in every possible category. #2 & 6 are my favorites of this set; I'm super-pleased with how they turned out. See below for photo credits.#2 & 6 are far and away my favorites here. I'm very happy that #2 in particular caught starry_night's eye:

07 - Thank you starry_night for the honor, and congratulations to teragramm, tempertemper, pickamix and sweet_lyri for your beautiful winning entries! I gave out two Banner Maker's Choice awards this time for icons by juliet316 and pickamix. Check out all the winners here. Then get ready for Challenge 34, "Illyria, God King of The Primordium"; I'm expecting some truly awesome icons.

#2, 8-11 - I spent a lot of time getting the text right in 8-11; trying to balance legibility and aesthetics. I'll tend to sacrifice the latter for the former, but I think that's changing as a master the editing toolbox - and can have more fonts. I loved the idea of text fitting snugly above the curl of Sarah's hair in this on-set shot from Gone, and intended to enter one of those until I realized I preferred to just look at the lights and colors. Those sorts of effects are very new for me and I think I fell in love with that icon, perhaps more than a little. And Sarah is just lovely; with the strong contrasts of pale skin with dark lips and her own idiosyncratic beauty, she resembles a silent movie star.

#6, 12-13 - Once again I was working on clarity, color and light; and the subject is really Sarah's face. Once again she resembles a silent movie star, pale face and dark lips, from the days when women still had interesting (not necessarily beautiful) faces onscreen. I merged a cap from Normal Again with this studio photograph of Sarah photographer unknown (to me). And once again I had intended to enter the version with text and spent a lot of time getting it "right" before I realized I preferred the textless version. It seemed less cluttered; the text distracts from the forms of Sarah's face, the sweep of her hair and the wrinkles in her shirt.

#4 - uses the same screencap from Normal Again as 6, 11, 16, Textured b/g, Cat 2 and several alts for btvsats20in20. eilowyn pointed out to me the parallel between this image and my favorite VampWillow image, in terms of the vintage, old-school beauty, femininity and drama of the dark lips and pale skin in both. FYI: I failed to notice that my entry version of #4 was 100x104 pixels, not 100square proper; #4 is the corrected size.

#5, 14-16: Ideas I wanted to play with after btvs_hush Challenge 283. I liked the wall once I played with the saturation and exposure of the original cap; but I don't like Sarah's face here or in the original photo. She looks more like a manniquin than herself, which probably explains the crops of my entry. That's pretty much all I can say about these.

#3 - uses the clone tool for the repeat of Buffy clutching her head. I like the pale colors, but it doesn't quite come together somehow in that small version. It looks like it's cropped from a larger original, although it isn't. (I've done this design in a larger format and it looks very striking. It may be that the pastel colors and white are cencelling out the design in this instance. Thoughts?)

One of the nifty and challenging things about the icontests, especially the 20in20 rounds, is that there are always leftover ideas I don't get a chance to develop in time, or that crop up only after the images have marinated in my mind for a while. With these two rounds I feel like a shift occured in my abilities as an artist in comparison to where I was two months ago.

I really worked to improve clarity, color and light in the last month and I think I got closer to what I'm after than I had before. And thank goodness; this last month was particularly...shall we say, intense. Whereas Round 3 of 20in20 I worked really hard on (not always to the good), Challenge 33 was more easy-peasy playtime; I had no particular concept, just leftover ideas from 20in20 and from btvs_hush; I wanted to continue to practice what I was learning and just make something pretty.

Sources: The on-set image of Sarah from Gone in 2, 8-11 and the studio photograph in 6, 12 & 13 courtesy of The Chosen Two gallery.  S7 promo photo from btvs_hush Challenge 283 but can also be found at The Chosen Two gallery here.

Even the banners I've done here are so very different from the ones I did for SS Round 31 it's hard for me to believe they are separated by barely a month. The background for the banners was made from two of my own photographs: the base is a close-up of a weathered wood plank along a bike path where I stopped a couple of weeks ago; the color overlay and faint white diagonal lines from a photo I took on Saturday of site-specific art installation at the Goffe Street Armory auditorium in New Haven for Alternative Open Studios weekend. I think the artist who created the installation might be Mahdi Alibakhshian, but the CWOS website isn't clear on that.

(Right-click photos to view full-size)

If you wish to use these photos btw please feel free to do so!  Just don't claim them as your originals, and if you make something from them, send me a link in the comments thread, I'd love to see it.
Normal Again Buffy The Action of Death

But first, a word from our sponsor:

btvsats20in20; Please vote in three TIEBREAKERS for Round 4 (Cat & AC placement and promo picture) and remember to vote in all three. (None of mine btw, so no vested interest here. Nor any kickback or payola deals for the pimpage. No money changin' hands. Not even brownies. I'd accept brownies. With or without nuts.)

Sign-ups for Round 5 "Rainbow Challenge" began today and will remain open throughout the round as always. This time there is no need to announce a claim but themes will be forthcoming; see the sign up post and this post for details.

The remaining Tara alts/extras from Round 3. It astonished me all over again how lovely Amber Benson is:
01 If someone wants to put text on this or play with it...I just can't be fussed, I like it as-is.

    Teasers for more icons behind the cut.....
[Step inside the gallery....]

I couldn't remember where I got the phrase for #3 until I looked again at velvetwhip's userpics the other day; although I was vaguely aware of a debt to Barbara Krueger (and goodness knows how many graphic artists.) I had always wanted to do that combination of text overlay with out-of-focus close-up.



I had a lot of fun playing with this cap.  Really.  To other folks these might be old hat but to me they were something in the way of luminousity I'd never achieved in an image before. I didn't even notice until I was nearly finished with the set how the flame from the candle disappears into her hair but I love that it does. The trees in #13-15 & 23-25 are from a photo I took in my backyard.

15-18 You're not seeing all the deleted efforts. You're welcome!

Lessons learned: Save everything before I add text.  Apply the shine effect (21) after I save a textless version AND after I add text. I didn't. I wanted to add "Yoga is good for the body and soul". Couldn't scrunch it in, and the shine made it hard to read.

he resemblance of the trees to scars on Tara's face was one of those accidents that pleased me and completely freaked me out; unintentional in any case, and you can read into it what you like, or nothing at all. Be back before Dawn....


Normal Again Buffy The Action of Death

GRANT HER CONSOLATION: Tara artwork (alts/extras Round 3)

But first a word from our sponsor: voting in Round 4 of btvsats20in20 closes tomorrow October 9th so vote now if you haven't and tell your friends - bang the drum for gorgeous icons at a great, fun community. They deserve to be seen and appreciated.

Two recent Buffy/Tara fics by kwritten reminded me that I'd yet to post the alts and extras from my Tara claim for Round 3 of btvsats20in20.

"Her Bark is Worse Than Her Bite" : AU S6/S7 (Buffy/Tara, Dawn) to fill my prompt "thunder/courage" and request for a flawed, human Tara. The monotonous weight as well as the comforts of "domesticity" and "women's work", of school, slaying, housework, of incomes and emotions stretched thin. Buffy tries to be there for Tara and Dawn and hold her family together in a fragile moment. "You hung the moon in the sky just for her."

"Finding a Balance" : AU S4, (Buffy/Tara, mentions of ensemble) Buffy tries to hold herself together in college, alone, when her friends go off to far-flung corners, and meets the person who can give her what she needs. And a girl with large brown eyes and soft blonde hair sits down next to her with a crooked smile and a latte, “I think you’re freaking everyone out.” This isn't intended as a prologue to Kelsey's "blurring the lines" series, but it fits that series beautifully but for one small change in previous BtL canon. Just the "rewrite" of Hush is achingly gorgeous, as is this entire story.

This is the fic that finally pushed me from "Buffy & Tara are my One True Friendship I don't really ship them but I'll take what I can get all the way into "Buffy and Tara are my OTP I want to live in this world right now". And also, fix-it fics?  I think I get it now, really get it; even if the things you and I want to fix are entirely different to one another. A 'verse where Buffy has a reliable source of support and love instead of fragile male egos to shore up even as her own self-esteem slowly crumbles? Riley who? Total fantasy. Of course it's seductive - and I want to live in it, if it's as beautiful, poetic, gossamer and densely layered as Kelsey's fics. Who doesn't want that for themselves?

Kelsey posted this around the time the marvelous velvetwhip wrote "The Things You Find in Vending Machines" for me (S4 Buffy, Tara, gen); very different stories to Finding a Balance but both wonderfully true to the complexities of Buffy and Tara's personalities, and to Season 4's particular blend of humor and darkness. But I promised some artwork, and artwork you shall have:

01-02 Click for full-sized

Teasers for more posters and icons under the cut:     
[It's always sudden...]
03-04 Click for full-sized

This isn't the full set of alts but it's most of the posters/banners. But these images were the focus of my category set: Tara as the One Who Gives Comfort, specifically to other women: Buffy, Anya and Willow.  However I worried when I was done with my entries that I was falling into the trap I deplore, turning Tara into a stereotypical, all-knowing all-giving saint, the epitome of our cultural ideas about "femininity". Which is why I often ask for fic that depict Tara in a different light - flawed and fully human; the girl as capable of putting the lives at others at risk to protect herself (Family) as sacrificing her own life for the sake of a loved one (Tough Love). It's not that she doesn't have her failings on the show but they're downplayed; and in terms of receiving comfort from others, I have to turn to fan authors because the imagery is decidedly lacking. In kwritten's stories, I get to have it both ways: Tara as one who gives and receives; and Buffy/Tara + Dawn OTF is pure comfort food for me right now.
    9a00a376-5c03-45c5-bfb3-c3028bd8b0d2_zps2b7d1ef7 05-06 Click for full size
  rd31edff291-5acb-4f9e-abd4-2a5490d75c69_zps9660c877 07-09
 These OTOH are already full-size, pretty much.


When I made these for Round 3 I was so thrilled because prior to, the best icons I'd been able to get from that scene in Dead Things were these (2013):  
That scene and that image in particular is so dark, in ways that aren't apparent watching the show; and not deeply, intensely dark in the way that some early seasons episodes are, ("Amends") where you can bump up the exposure and still get a nice image; but muted and flat. The only way I could figure out how to get something workable at that point, with my beginner knowledge of ipiccy, was to mask the image around the girls out (something else I was trying to teach myself that round.) Then add grunge effects to in effect go with the images flaws rather than try to fight against them.

Now? I am still marveling at the journey taken and not just seeing all the flaws and how much further to go ooh look, pretties!


When I look at these the phrase "it's always sudden" takes on another layer of meaning: suddenly and unexpectedly finding a friend, a source of comfort and experience. Then I remember the sound of gunshots and breaking glass a year down the road. It's always sudden.


The Tough Love icons in chronological order as they were made. I used a photograph my sweetie took this past year for the background layer on #33 and my final Fear entry; I wanted to emphasize the strength and nobility, the sculptural timelessness and monumental quality of Amber's face.



I'd orignally planned the Dead Things icon for my Category set, so I decided to use grunge effects in the other four icons for continuity and the meta reasoning that I was creating "artifacts" of lesbians and lesbian life, of the sort I'd never seen in decades of watching old movies, combing through dusty libraries, and collecting vintage photosgraphs in antique stores. (#42)   Except that idea sort of fell apart with these Willow/Tara images from the Body where I wanted to indulge in the soft glowing light between them, the way their skin looked like silk or carved of ivory. I fell a little in love with them all over again making these. I even considered making this scene the entire focus of my Category set and that might have worked better than what I settled on; there are certainly enough screencaps of Amber in that scene that I could have made it work. But I was too attached to the Buffy & Tara icons I'd already made.

Then I moved the Dead Things icon to Full Body theme instead of Category. My ways are inscrutable.


I really wanted to include that lovely image of Tara comforting Anya in my Category set; she is beyond lovely in it. But that icon was really so much darker than the other ones I used from The Body, so it works on its own but as part of the set not so much I think. Yes, that is the photograph of the trees in my backyard in #46 - again.

This is the last time I will ever attempt to use that photo of my landlord's rose as a layer in anything. Probably. (Maybe.) These don't quite work as I'd hoped but I do like the resemblance to the incised metal printing plates that you still might find in antique stores now and again.

You do know the drill, don't you? All snaggable, feedback is lovely, don't plagarize, hotlink or put on fanpop or other sites without my permission; want to change, edit, improve or play with any of these just check with me and show me what you've done.

Normal Again Buffy The Action of Death

More NA posters and alts by popular demand (aka I want to get them off my plate)

These will most likely be the last Normal Again banners I'll post for a while (or until after the winners for Round 4 of btvsats20in20 are announced - and by the way have you voted yet?* Or until the mood strikes me. You know how these things go.) Because I have artwork from Round 3 I never got around to showing, and more importantly fic posters for kwritten's "blurring the lines" (Buffy/Tara, Dawn) series that are a direct link between Rounds 3 and 4. So help yourself to more tea and cakes while I hang the pictures. Constructive criticism is of the good. All snaggable - want to play with any of these, make them better? Just let me know, and give me proper credit if you do. Don't plagerize or do any of the dumb stuff you know you're not supposed to.

But first, my weapons icon got one vote! Thank you!  Woo-hoo! (What? I think it's a nifty icon, I'm glad someone else likes it. What?)

ETA Teasers (that look MUCH better in full size, trust)

Image heavy gallery ahead:
[Take all the time you need Buffy, there's NO pressure]


One of the reasons I identify with these images so strongly is not just because of my love for Buffy, my personal struggles with depression and my wee little tendency towards emotional sado-masochism *hugs Buffy*; but also because I have epilepsy and so I am drawn to images like this that convey the sense of the brain gone haywire and the resultant chaos, terror, and confusion. The textless version of #2 below is the original of my Cat4 icon that I cropped and downsized, then added other effects.

Snowpuppies and starry_night both singled out alts 78 - 82 as favorites. Those icons started out as a banner made for this round that I cropped. I had fun with the mirror image of Buffy and my beloved "whiplash" effect, but the colors of the original are a little garish for me in poster size, so I made some alt versions with text. #3 is the all-important (and my favorite) kikimay variation; #6 is the original colorways.

I attempted once again to use Spike's phase "poor little lost girl" from "Smashed" but the mockery of his voice in my head is overwhelming and strikes the wrong note, at least for me; so I modified the phrase to better suit.

*And have you voted in slayerstillness? **
**And have you started prepping your recs for buffyversetop5? ***

***And have you called your mama lately?
Dru Buffyverse Top 5 The Stars Whisper t

Your Monday (VERY Early) Dose of Fandom Positivity, Pimpage and Squee - PGoM style!

Any resemblance between this image and Edvard Munch's The Vampire is quite unintentional.
Just be grateful I didn't pull out any of my "Excedrin Headache" advert jokes. You're welcome.

[You were expecting a Hallmark card? Check out the recs and love inside...]

** Cast your votes in slayerstillness Challenge 33; the deadline is Tuesday and there are 27 great entries this round!  Then take some time to admire the wonderful winning entries and pretty banners by comlodge for Challenge 29, and by tempertemper for Challenge 32.
** Then cast your votes for your favorite/best icons in Round 4 of btvsats20in20 - and don't forget to vote in all of the categories: 10 Themes, Category (Shapes) and Artist's Choice.  Voting closes on Thursday, October 9th, so spread the word and let your f'listies know.

I've noticed that there are 21-23 "participants" (voters) listed and not to get persnickity on y'all, but - 23 votes? There's 12 artists, so if every one of the artists votes, plus at least a couple of their friends - that should still be a lot more voters. Now I know for a fact that at least a handful of my friends have voted because
my friends are awesome and I hang with the bestest people. However, my nearest and dearest can't be expected to pick up all the slack so go to, people, and make some fan artists happy. It's an easy thing to do.

And if anyone out there is still hesitant to vote because you "don't know art" - tell me the name and address of the person who instilled that abject nonsense into your heads and I will go after them with a shovel. Actually, I'll scold and shake my finger at them. But I promise I will be merciless.

Banners by dawnofme
** buffyversetop5 Halloween Classic Recs Edition is right around the corner already - how is that even possible? Four days for you to bring your all-time favorite recs of fics, vids, graphics, anything and everything fandom has produced in all the Whedon fandoms! All time periods before 2014 are eligible. Meaning, anything you didn't get to include in the January edition can be included here. I missed last year's classic edition (due to house fire and various other life things that took priority and can be forgiven) but the January edition was a great party, so I don't want to miss this round.

In addition to the banners by dawnofme, check out the snaggable icons by ruuger, kathyh, amavel_bel and eyesthatslay going all the way back to 2005 - the epitome of classic, classy and fun.
Normal Again Buffy The Action of Death

Destruction, Absolute...(or, I did not mean to hit THAT button) * ETA two edited banners*

bangel_4e put up the voting polls for Round 4 of btvsats20in20 yesterday but if you haven't checked it out and cast your votes: Themes, Category Sets & AC sets.

I have also been remiss in: Not having replied yet to everyone who so kindly came to give feedback for my Normal Again 20in20 set; I will amend that if after the weekend. I really appreciate everyone's comments. And for not mentioning that kwritten was the inspiration for my Normal Again claim because I was working on some images from that episode for some fanfiction posters for her "Blurring the Lines" series (AU Buffy/Tara, Dawn), which I've not rolled out yet but she has given me her blessing to do so. Soon, very soon. Speaking of Kelsey, she is accepting fic prompt requests all this month; give her a shout.

It turned out that doing this ep was another case of life mirroring (not necessarily imitating) art; the icon I've ended up snagging for myself turned out to be a more accurate reflection of where I'm at lately than I'd like to admit. So, if I seem strange lately, don't pick up on irony or obvious humor, or burst into tears if you look at me cross-eyed***  politely ignore me and help yourself to another slice of cake.

Having said that: *deep breath*

[Spoiler (click to open)]
Please feel free to offer constructive criticism should you have it of my 20in20set. Am I doing something wrong? What could I improve? Do I think they look better than they actually do? What obvious errors am I making that I'm not aware of?  Am I repeating certain things far too often? I'm not speaking so much of the limitations of my tools as things like color, tone, light, composition - the basics. I don't know how to get the incredible clarity that many of y'all achieve and I am not going to get Topaz or any such but I would like to learn how to get there with ipiccy and/or Photoshop Elements (which my sweetie purchased for the computer, yay!) And FYI, I do try to use the thinnest, most elegant and simplest font I can in any situation, but I sometimes sacrificed elegance for legibility; ipiccy's font options are very limited.

This is not about me putting my work down but about saying, yes I've improved but I want to get better. And we all have blind spots in our own mirrors.
Just don't tear into me like a chainsaw,; constructive criticism if you please.

But that's not what the title of this post is about. It's about the fact that I was looking over the upcoming and belated birthdays I've missed on my f'list and somehow managed to delete all of them. Except spikesredqueen, of about a month ago and I think I sent her birthday wishes (maybe?) And I didn't memorized the ones I'd deleted so here's what I do remember: wickedbish, Beta Lord on High *heh*, the_royal_annarebcake, dragonydreams, goddesses of this fandom who need no introduction and if they do, you need to fix that oversight; pprfaith (who writes beautiful Buffy/Loki fic and who I found out about via endeni in her usual brilliant way) and....the other people whose names I deleted and can't remember right now. *hangs head* To all my friends celebrating birthdays, Happy Release from the Womb Day!

No, this has nothing to do with anyone's birthdays. I just had fun.




ETA: Number the banners, and also velvetwhip made an excellent point about the frames being unnecessary in the first two banners, which I sort of suspected in the case of #2 at least. For #5 I cropped the outer frame off  #1 but left the black inner border and I like it better this way. Oddly enough I didn't save a version before i added the frame in ipiccy and I say oddly because that's become my habit SAVE EVERY STEP.  So #2 is actually #6 with a frame tacked on.Because ipiccy isn't PS, you can't go back in and continue to make edits once you "save" and then close a file you're working on.



Which, granted, is the same as #4 but with diffferent text.  Or, #3 is this before the addition of text, the crinkle texture and with a vintage coloring filter added (and I actually like the coloring in #3 better but if you're wondering HOW many variations do I really really haven't seen my alts and extras for Round 4 yet, apparently.)  :-P
Normal Again Buffy The Action of Death

Round 4 of btvsats20in20: Normal Again - Buffy Summers (with a little help from her friends)

My entries for Round 4 of btvsats20in20 continue the theme of the latest entries from starry_night and midnightisclose: Buffy, Buffy and more Buffy. As kikimay once noted, "Buffy contains multitudes." Starry and Midnight's sets are very different in styles to each other, both wonderful. Check them out here and here.

VERY IMAGE HEAVY ICON GALLERY AHEAD. My entries plus a treasure-trove of alts and extras. If I didn't made you smile or break your heart, I did something wrong. You tell me. Constructive criticism and feedback are of the good. As always, all snaggable, let me know, don't steal, hotlink, plagerize, do stupid stuff that would break my heart etc and so forth.


10 Themes
Dramatic Light Friendship Eyes Bite Motion
Weapon Lyrics Death Promo Picture Textured Background
5 Category |SHAPES
Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4 Cat 5
5 Artist's Choice
AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5

Screencaps sourced from Pretty as a Picture, Buffyworld, and the sadly-defunct Screencap Paradise. Image of vintage bottle in Cat 2 courtesy of The Cuckoo Farm. Credit to bangel_4e and pickamix for the inspiration on the Weapon icon; many thank you's to both of them and to spikesredqueen for their advice and feedback; also to bangel_4e for once again graciously extending the deadline twice.

ETA: Credit to sweetiepebbles for the text brushes in the Bite and AC4 icons.


Do I have alts and extras?  Is the Pope Italian? Polish? Infaliable? A closet case? Never mind. Last round I decided not to post my alts and extras "until after the voting was over"; I still have yet to do so and it didn't help or hurt my cause in any case.velvetwhip, snogged, spikesredqueen, teragramm and chasingdemons have all advised me to not be so anxious about competition and show off the pretties. So this time here's a full gallery exhibition, not including some miscellaneous banners and posters for a later date. Enjoy an amuse-bouche:






I had so much fun with the Buffy & Xander icons, you have no idea. (I used a photo of my stainless steel frypan because I couldn't find a cap that showed Buffy hitting him with the skillet.) "He had it coming, he had it coming / He only had himself to blame...."  (If you're about to say that so and so male character is soo much superior to Xander, however, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you. ALL the guys on the show do some stupid stuff. Yes, ALL.)


Warning: "mature" language


If Fritz Lang had directed BtVS - the poster art:






55-60 The "Skillet Moon" series.






Warning: possibly upsetting imagery below (88-90) or maybe it's just my overactive imagination on my personal Tilt o'Whirl o' Trauma (Pat.Pend.)


88-90 was going to be my "bite" entry  - can you see what I had in mind with these? It seemed like a really nifty concept- until it RL and suchforth made it a bit too upsetting even for me. I suspect someone else is going to love these, however.


I made a blood spattered version of 94, which just pushes past the PG rule of the comm. (So vague suggestive imagery in 88-90 drives me to upset but blood spatters are no prob? Explain me to me, please.) If you're interested in seeing those, let me know and I'll slip them to you under the table.
Lesbian Vampire Seal of Approval

Deadline extended to Monday for btvsats20in20 (whew!) AND LOOK WHAT SPIKESREDQUEEN MADE ME!

ETA: I'd just hit the post button on this when I roamed around and found this SUPER wallpaper "I Feel Lost" (Buffy, Normal Again) by spikesredqueen dedicated to me!  We'd had some conversations about the ep because that's my claim for this round ofbtvsats20in20, and how marvelous Sarah is in it, and this wallpaper captures that marvelously. The warm rose tones and softness on the right side create a feeling of comfort purposefully undermined by the cool and almost sickly blues and purples, and the deep shadows that envelope asylum!Buffy, very different to the harsh white light of the clinic in the episode. I particularly love that small section of trees and lightening emerging from the shadows, because it connects nicely to an image that's been on my mind a lot, Buffy - and Willow, and Tara, and all the girls in the Buffyverse - as the "little girl, lost in the woods" from my favorite song by the band Morphine. (Marie and I hadn't discussed that, so it's a lovely bit of serendipity.)

I'm really just ever so honored by this gift, thank you Marie! You do Buffy right! (I got a prezzie from spikesredqueen! *flails*) She's been missed the last few months due to real life obligations but she's really hit the ground running on her re-entry to fandom.  Go check it out, and check out her other recent artworks while you're at her journal - so many pretties to admire.

bangel_4e very graciously extended the deadline for Round 4 of btvsats20in20 to Monday Sept 29 midnight at your timezone. Because I begged, of course - but this time, I begged three days in advance instead of at the very very last hour. Yay progress!

This also means that the deadline for sign-ups is also extended to that time. So if you are on a meth/magic high with energy to so much energy to burn someone needs to peel you off the ceiling effficent, well-organized, and have some time to spare this weekend, you can still check out the themes and join the fun. Don't forget to check out the great entries that have been posted so far this round, including the latest sets from debris4spike, spikesredqueen and rua1412.


Terror-time confession (I'll always give you one of those. Don't you feel better knowing you're not alone in your anxieties? I know I do.) I'm worried that I won't get this done on time. AGAIN. I'm not worried about the quality of my entries; if anything I'm really pleased with what I've made because I can see that I'm getting better each time. I was initially worried that I'd be repeating the Normal Again icons I did for otherworldlyric back in March - but no. "Back in March" already feels like ten years ago, emotionally, and the difference in my icons is pretty enormous, if I may say.

I'm anxious and terrified that I won't get my entries done in time. NOT because I don't have enough. Because I have too many alts, including several using the same screencap (a no-no) albeit with different crops. I get my paws on a particular image, I always want to go deep and keep trying new things. Or because of my ADD-ishness, my brain finds it easier to focus on just a few caps rather than 20 different ones. I have icons made that could be used for 2-5 different themes, that I could shuffle around like playing cards. And yet, there's still holes and gaps, themes I haven't filled yet.

This is reason #1 why I suspect I'm not cut out for the 20in20 format in general.  Remember my old statistic, that I tended to do 5-9 times more than I needed for an OWL, Hush or Slayerstillness challenge? Jack that up a few times and you get the idea. And I'm not even counting the larger buttons, posters and banners.

Then I compare what I'm doing now to my earlier icons, and reason #1 why I don't want to give it up is staring me in the face. (ETA to add occular confirmation):

                                                                      2012                          2013                                        2014                     2014
Buffy al fresco

My entries, alts and extras for btvs_hush Challenge 283

Thank you again, everyone, for voting my "Boho Gypsy-Chic" Buffy icon 1st place at btvs_hush Challenge 283! And thank you dragonydreams for all your hard work, your patience, the lovely prize banners, and for running such a splendid community. Three of my entries starting with the winner; the fourth, a blood-spattered stake, is after the cut:


Miss Boho Gypsy Chic (#1) wasn't my favorite of my entries; #2 was. (Except when #3 was.) But she was something very new for me; I learned a few tricks making this batch and I've become fonder of her since I made her. She's like the beadwork necklaces I used to make, intricate latticework and all I could see was the flaws and the knotted thread; until the day came when I stopped seeing the flaws because I couldn't remember where they were anymore. But none of these was my favorite of all the entries I made for this round. These pretty ladies were:


4 or 5 was meant to have been my fifth entry except I forgot to enter one of them. *headdesk* I probably would have gone with #4 as my last entry because it has some lovely light effects but is somewhat more more "realistic" than #5, which is more stylized and very much to my taste but perhaps no one else's? The photo collage effect is the same one I used in my Comics icon from Round 1 of btvsats20in20 (The Chain). It's very tricky and best used sparingly but when it works, it works. Either way, I was thrilled with how they came out.

I'll always wonder, would I have still won first place that round with one of those three, or not?

More icons and some banners after the cut, including my fourth entry in this round. Warnings For: Blood spatter imagery. Vague Disclaimers: All snaggable. Wanna play with any, add text, make the banners better? Just let me know, give me a look-see and proper credit. Outright plagarism and theft however are beneath you and rude besides, so don't do it.

[Now that that's out of the way - the art gallery is this way....]



If you're wondering what I was thinking with 3 and 10-11? I don't know you tell me Having just done some icons for slayerstillness Challenge 30 from this Greg Gorham photo I was trying to do something different with it from before. Ended up playing with a default light texture in ipiccy, a plume of light or smoke that somewhat resembled a wing when I canted it a certain way made Sarah resemble an angel in a Dutch or Flemish painting circa 1500 - 1700, Full disclosure: I respect the Italians but I've always personally preferred the Northern masters. I was delighted by the image of Buffy Angel of Death/Angel of Mercy/Angel of God, albeit a reluctant and singular one.

So ok, that icon is one of those "I'm the only one who's gonna get the joke but I amused myself at the time" type of things. Yes, I know Joss is an atheist. So am I as it happens. And....?

#12 was VERY nearly an entry, because I knew no one else would have entered anything like it, and I love architectural details, don't you?


My fourth entry (#13) with three variations; 13 is simply 15 flipped with added bloodsplash layer.These ended up resembling "comic book art" rather than photographs, so perhaps I was stil too unnerved to deal with it.  If I gave it two seconds thought, a blood drenched stake doesn't make a lick of sense in the 'verse, unless it's human blood we're talking about. (Allen Finch in Bad Girls, Buffy herself in FFL.)  pickamix was the partial and indirect inspiration for the use of blood spatters or "blood play" in this set and my foray into some darker imagery of late, which I have yet to share with anyone. Because the other inspiration was one of the first formative events of my life; cue the anxiety...but never mind that now.

Amazingly enough, it didn't occur to me until after dragonydreams had posted the entries that perhaps I shouldn't have used anything with blood spatters because it might be triggery for someone. I hope not but I apologize if it upset any one. I never would have guessed that you could google "blood spatter" and find all sorts of textures, some of which are pretty realistic-looking. Nor that I would have a folder of my favorite go-to blood spatter patterns. LIke this one:


When I'm splashing blood on an image at the last minute to cover flaws, it's time to back away from the computer.  This was mostly an exercise in trying to cut around an object (the stake) and apply it as a layer to mask the seam and my mistakes down the middle. Successful? Gosh no. (Really, SisterRed? A glowy stake - or is that a citronella candle?) But I kind of like it anyway. Sue me.



The "fresco series" I love the contrast of Sarah's "baby face" with the surface textures and colors. I was going for the effect of an ancient fresco l and I think I got what I wanted.  Her face was a delight to work with, contemporary and timeless. I came up with the crop for 22-23 after the challenge deadline about five minutes ago. I wish I'd thought of it sooner, I might have entered that instead of #2.



How the heck did a Hindu temple and a winged demi-god(dess) get into this image? Buffy is the guardian warrior priestess of a pagan cult? Who knew?

And finally - the big honkin' failure. I did some interesting (to me) stuff on this and learned a lot but what WAS I thinking when I turned Sarah into a Barbie doll? When I did the Tara set for round 3 I did a bunch that similarly oversmoothed her face until she looked like a Disney princess. Wisely I deleted all of them. Think I would've learned from that? Apparently not.


Profit from the errors of my ways, Gentle Friends!

Chosen One - purple

Showing the Ladies Off (and pushing our comfort zones)...

** Pirate Bride snogged returns to the world of fanart after an extended hiatus with this: "Mr Gunn Will See You Now" ("Fifty Shades of Gunn") a Gunn/Willow banner that is incredibly erotic.  To call it "yummy" almost sounds dismissive; "perfectly scrumptious" works better. And yet, it's pretty much worksafe. (Unless a pretty lady in lingerie and a bare leg is a no-no in your office. Or implied interracial shipping. Or looking at fanart or anything not related to work and really, is this the kind of workplace you want to be in?) I've never considered that pairing but looking at her banner it suddenly seems perfectly right. Where's the faction for this ship? And, tell me again why m'lady has been away from fanart and denied us these lovelies for so long?

** Working in the Key of Light: Happy birthday to pickamix, who started things off by giving all of us a gift: "Light Willow".  A total turnaround aesthetically from a Mistress of the Dark Art(works): astonishing, unexpected and gorgeous. I'm kind of beyond words here because everything about it could have been, in lesser, hands, cliche - the butterfly wing texture; in her sure hands, nothing here is cliche, all of it is absolutely, meltingly lovely. It was the second thing to greet my eyes Sunday morning, after a proper cup of tea, and I began to tear up. Then I simply sat with it, studied it, took it all in - the way Willow emerges from the light, the way the texures wrap around her, embrace her. I could go on all day about it.

[More contemplation, opinionation - and pretty pictures! - ahead]


What unites these two artworks in my mind is their shared elegance: visually clean, uncluttered, nothing out of place. Simplicity of composition that belies the work that surely went into making both of these. Both of these have room to breathe and yet the composition in each one directs your eye exactly where the artists want it to be. You can roam around, you can go deeper (I can study these for quite some time to suss out the subtle, almost hidden layers), but your eye is not likely to fall off the canvas. That takes a sureness of touch that comes with talent, yes, but also intellegence and conscious practice of the craft. There's no way around it.

The presence of negative space in both goes a long way towards achieving that elegance; and this is a quality I need to study and learn from. My sweetie once described my writing as "too much velvet" for her taste.  Too many adjectives, too much description, too much verbiage in general.  And I find myself doing the same thing with artwork, especially now that I'm discovering layers and textures and oh boy is it easy to fill up the spaces and just because I can doesn't mean I should. Knowwhatimean?


Yesterday I thought to myself that if I were a fic author and received either of these artworks as a banner to go with a story I'd die of happiness, aka jump up and down and grin and hug myself uncontrollably. Silently, in my chair, so only I would know. (Ok, the grinning and hugging would actually happen. The jumping would be entirely mental but it would be intense.)THEN I'd show them off and say "Look what I got, y'all!"

But of course, I'm not not a fiction author, and not much of a writer at all, currently....


"....yellow is the color of intellectual energy, positivity, but also jealousy and illness and in the yellow shirt there are birds flying (freedom) except that you go on and see the shape of the knife buried in the flesh and all the blood spilling. It's broken freedom and innocence lost...."

kikimay not only snagged my "There Once was a Girl" icon for her default icon, which is an honor all by itself; she wrote an analysis/interpretation of it! MY ARTWORK HAS BEEN META'D! And of course her commentary is as intelligent, concise and elegant as her prose. I always imagined I'd be writing the meta about someone else's work, never the other way around. Eventually I decided I wanted to provide the pictures to compliment for other people's words, instead of asking other people to provide them for me. (And at that point I knew velvetwhip would be the first recipient. it had to be her.) Now Kiki has provided the words to compliment my picture and so it goes. And this is addition to the honor of a Mod's Choice Award at slayerstillness. The little icon that could.

I died of happiness....

...but then I came right away back because I've got to finish my set for Round 4 of btvsats20in20, which is due Sept 27th. Have you seen the awesome entries so far by spikesredqueen, sweet_lyri, pickamix, snowpuppies, teragramm, killing_kurare, and oh_cheezit? Plus I needed to cast my vote on the current challenge of slayerstillness, which I missed the boat on entering; therefore, doubly important that I participate as voter.

It's nice when we the artists vote for one another but there ARE MORE THAN 15 PEOPLE IN THIS FANDOM. I know there are. And if you can't or don't want to make icons, by all means vote. Your opinions count and don't let "Well I don't know anything about art" nonsense (because of some stupid thing your parents or your fifth grade teacher told you as a child) hold you back. YES YOU DO KNOW ABOUT ART. Of course you do! You're surrounded with it, you've taken it in your entire life. It's no different to voting in the Sunnydale Memorial Fanfiction Awards even if you haven't written any works of fiction yourself.

My sweetie has a classmate in art college ten years ago who was a wonderful artist (pastel was her preferred medium and she could make a pastel painting look like it was done in oils), and just the sweetest person imaginable. One of their professors told her in class, in front of everyone, that she "lacked artistic intelligence".  Need I describe my feelings towards this arrogant jackass in minute detail or can you just pick up the vibe of my loathing?

We all have "artistic intelligence". We just need safe space to practice it and express it, as artists and appreciators. (Without people to appreciate, there is no point!) I can say without hesitation that participating in icontests, and thanks to the wonderful community of folks here, I've been pushed farther and faster just the last six months than I could have imagined possible. And I haven't even begun to skim the surface of what's possible.

But I've gone on long enough, Gentle Reader: goest thou and vote, create, offer feedback and share the love - do your part to keep this fandom alive and lively. What medium of expression have you not explored, or are just beginning to? What holds you back? What ideas do you have for bringing new excitement to this fandom and what about it continues to excite you and keeps you interested?

Chosen One - purple


Banner by dragonydreams

Banners by tempertemper
[And beautiful gift from a special friend inside, come see!]

btvs_hush Challenge 283: Thank you to everyone who voted my early-seasons Buffy icon First Place! I call this one "Gypsy Girl Boho Chic".
Hush is the first icontest community I ever entered, a year ago August, And this is the last round to be moderated by the amazing dragonydreams, who is looking to hand over the reins of the community to someone else, while she focuses on her other fandom projects including otherworldlyric. (PM her if you're interested.)  So this feels very much like the "closing of an era" , and it pleases me to have been a part of it much less to win first prize (and only my second first place win for an icon). This was a beautiful round, so many gorgeous entries; Elisabeth ends her tenure on a very graceful and elegant note.

slayerstillness Challenge 30:Thank you to everyone who voted my icon"Most Creative" and to starry_night for selecting "There Once was a Girl (Faith, Buffy, This Year's Girl) as one of her Mod's Choice icons that round! That was my favorites of my own set. In either case it was still a treat because SUCH a fabulous round of entries, so many gorgeous things to choose from. Check out the rest of her banners for this round here.

Speaking of Slayerstillness and banners, the ones I made for Round 31 are here; check out the fabulous winners. It was a lot of fun but also a real challenge to use the feather fans from the Lorne cap and try to work out an "old Hollywood/art deco look without falling into cliche. I hope I succeeded.
And finally:

160516_900bannerbypickamix    153137_900
THANK YOU to:  the talented and thoughtful pickamix for her gift to me of a Buffy/Sarah poster in TWO variants, featuring an image from my favorite Greg Gorman S5 photoshoot! They're lovely, warm and autumnal, a graceful blend of elegance and grunge that I adore. These are an example of graphics that don't look right downsized by LJ because the fine soft "killer-diller" details are lost - the way the velvet chair looks worn and soft to the touch; the background wall that glow with an inner light and suggest falling leaves, aging wall murals, and calligraphy brushstrokes all at once. Gorgeous.

Amber Benson as Ella


PLEASE VOTE NOW in three tiebreaker votes for slayerstillness challenge 30! Don't forget to vote and press the button for each tiebreaker individually. Unlike Sister Red here. I make the mistakes so you don't have to. You're welcome. (Most creative is an interesting, um, conundrum for me. I'll explain all when the votin's over.)

LOOK AT THE PREZZIE I GOT!! "The Things You Find in Vending Machines" a season 4 ficlet with my beloved Buffy Summers and Tara Maclay (gen, set immediately post New Moon Rising) from the superb velvetwhip as, of all things, a surprise thank you for the banner I made her for her wonderous "Soft and Pink and Very Sad"!  THANK YOU so much. dear!  This one is on the humous side of Gabrielle's palette - Buffy and Tara have a brief, awkward conversation in the dorm hallway - but there's a wonderful complexity to it, as is true of Gabrielle's work.

As I've noted elsewhere on my journal and hereabouts in fandom, Tara's store of courage, strength and even self-confidence is overlooked and underplayed not just in fandom but on the series itself.  She pursued Willow in Hush, not the other way around, after all. I don't need the metaphor of monsters and Little Bads to recognize the courage that takes, and that it took for a young lesbian in the 1990's. (I know from experience.)  Of course, Buffy would recognize and respect that in Tara. And of course she would want the best for her beloved best friend Willow. Gabrielle NAILS all that right here in a very short scene. (And the last line, as you'd expect, is ACES.)

It also hints at something else as well: the stereotype cherished by some straight women and lesbians, that a lesbian relationship is inherently nicer than a hetereosexual one; that women together are kinder, sweeter, more understanding, etc. It's a pretty fantasy, and terribly untrue. But completely understandable that Buffy would view W/T through that lens. And Gabrielle doesn't make a deal of it, in fact you mightn't notice, but it's there, lying beneath the humor and that's the important thing.

THANK YOU so much Gabrielle, I'm truly honored!  (If I'd known the gift of a banner would lead to the gift of a fic I would have worked harder to learn how to make banners sooner!)
Dead Things Solace Buffy & Tara

But first a gentle reminders to icon fans:  Sign ups for Round 4 of btvsats20in20 are happening here and now ...but don't forget that sign ups are open the ENTIRE round.

Last round the winner I pushed myself to learn some new-to-me techniques, most importantly vector masks (aka cutting around objects - and it should NOT be this hard someday I will download gimp I swear) to create some icons and banners/posters I'm really proud of *point to Dead Things icon*. And because of what I learned, I finally had the courage to create artwork this week for velvetwhip's beautiful, tragic Mr Gordo fic "Soft and Pink and Very Sad".

When I think of the story, the phrase that comes to mind is "silent scream." Who would have imagined that sadness, confusion, despair, abject helplessness and rage could all be expressed so vividly in the person of Buffy's beloved stuffed pig?

Click on the banner below for a direct link to Gabrielle's marvelous story.


The idea came to me a couple of months ago but I didn't know how to execute it. I always wanted to have the ghost image of Buffy from that final shot of The Gift merging with Mr Gordo in the lower-right corner. I had originally planned to have a faded image of a younger Buffy holding Mr Gordo or at least looking down, on the left of the picture' but it turns out Buffy either never held him onscreen or I couldn't find the cap. And at any rate, it didn't feel right to have her image there - her absence, not her presence, is the central thing to Gabrielle's story and to poor Mr Gordo. The ghost image of her headstone and most of the textures used (a furry plush texture, the blood spatter texture with color inverted over Buffy's face, plus noise and grunge filters alternating with softening and bloom filters) came about because I was trying to hide the edges of the Mr Gordo image I'd cut. Now I'm satisfied that you can't see the "seams" but working on it that was all I could see.

Gabrielle felt it captured the "chaos" of Mr Gordo's world after Buffy's death and most importantly she was pleased with it. Now I can say I am, too. I don't see the flaws anymore when I look at this; I only remember her story and Mr Gordo's plight: "His soft pink heart hurts and he wishes she were here to make it better."

The biggest mistake I made was forgetting that her LJ is narrow and downsizing it before I sent it to her, or doing it in a vertical format. pickamix kindly downsized it for Gabrielle's LJ. Thank you very much to everyone who has already commented on the piece there. Constructive criticism is warmly accepted.

And if you haven't read Gabrielle's story for goodness' sake what are you waiting for?  But do bring tissues; you'll need them. 

Congratulations to the Winners of Round 3 btvsats20in20!

Strike up the parade: CONGRATULATIONS to all the well-deserving winners of btvsats20in20 Round 3! rua1412, xlittledreams, hurts_my_soul, bangel_4e and tempertemper and sweet_lyri!  Seen together on the "winner's field" there are differences in style but a marvelous consistency of quality and color that makes them look very "right" together. If you've won, the amazing tempertemper is the banner-maker so put in your orders now.

Thank you very much to the round's mod starry_night for all your hard work! The next round sign ups should be posted sometime today or quite soon, so keep an eye out for that. ETA: bangel_4e has put up the sign up post for Round 4 GLORY BE!
And thank you oh_cheezit for the lovely Cat 4 Anya icon that I snagged - I've been wanting a pretty Anya icon for ages, and this fit the bill. I spent an hour trying to decide between the five Category icons of her set.

Special shout out to debris4spike's Full Body icon, my favorite of that theme - the lovely peach-gold-rose light of that icon contrasts wonderfully with the reality of the situation, Buffy's grief and guilt plagued dream. And her grunge icon - HOW did she get those effects?  Fantastic.

Next week I'll be posting some of my own alts and extras from my tara set.
Buffy - Becoming

Miss Psycho Pep Squad, the Monday edition!

1) Remember that post many moons ago when I asked if anyone knew of a genuine "Giles as a Big Bad" fic that sparked some great conversation and gave dragonyphoenix the inspiration to write such a one? THE PROLOGUE IS POSTED, with a banner by the talented pickamix (Giles looking sexy, shrewd and more than a bit dangerous) and oh my stars was it worth the wait!  If this is the prologue, I can't imagine what the rest will bring - and can hardly wait to read more. Rated PG, with Giles/Ethan shippines.

2) More Voting goodness: slayerstillness challenge 30 voting ends tomorrow; there are 24 truly fabulous entries to choose from! And only 9 entries to choose from at otherworldlyric Challenge 181 but oh my, some eyepoppers in the bunch, so don't miss them.

3) Thank you VERY MUCH to the thoughtful person who nominated my
"Becoming" icon for the 11th Round of the Wicked Awards! This round has been an embarrassment of riches for me and such a surprise. I've mentioned before how I never expected to be nominated for fanart and in competition with people whose work I admire. I was going to be a meta writer, remember? That was the plan and I WARN Y'ALL I  COULD STiLL GO META ON YOU WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT 'CAUSE I STILL HAVE THE NOTES I SAVED FROM THE HOUSEFIRE. (Albeit slightly worse for wear.)

Which is to say, the nomination period ends TODAY, August 25th.

(01)   buffy2

But wait, there's more icons and more talky after the cut!

So what do you do when someone nominates you? If you're me, you nominate other people in kind and encourage other people to do so because:

[Click the cut or walk on by, my friend]

1) You don't feel worthy of being nominated yourself, therefore nominate someone you think is better (even though you know that you are subtly downgrading the opinion of the persons who nomm'd you to begin with and you don't mean to do that but it's just so hard for you to really believe even though you do so love the kudos); or

2) You know that these awards are less about winning than about sharing the love - recognizing good work, and making it possible for other people to find it who might not have otherwise; or

3) You notice a shortage of nominations in your category, which means the category will be held over until next round and GOSH DARN IT but ow, you want to compete, win or lose, nothing selfless about it; or


I was going to write a post to report that the art categories were woefully underfilled. angelus2hot told me that usually the art cats fill up before the fic cats but it's been the reverse this year. Then I was going to scold and plead and pout if need be to make sure those categories got the sufficient number of entries to run. But I'm happy to say that they're filling up nicely and it all looks a go, but more art nominations are welcome (says the gal who doesn't have to plow through the noms or judge them - aka, do the actual work). Something seemed not quite right, especially with regard to best icons - there have been so many beautiful ones just the past 12 months, there's no reason that category shouldn't be overflowing.

More to the point, it felt weird to see my name on that list, and the categories so empty, when I know there are really great artists and really great art out there not getting its due. Especially in terms of icons because I'm well aware of my failings in this area. Now when I look at the categories everything feels better to me - there's art in a range of styles, covering every character and pairing, some by folks I'm familiar with but quite a lot of names and pieces that are entirely new to me.


4) Now while you're here, let's talk icons.

I never posted the Becoming icon here before, although I fell in love with it almost immediately and snagged it for my own userpics. It's essentially #2  oe #9 below with some cool effects added: crop, adjust and frame in Photobucket, add a text texture and a light leak texture in ipiccy, then bring back to PB for a "Bronze" color filter.  It was intended it for my second try at btvs_hush Challenge 273 (the deserving winners were rua1412 and debris4spike) and of course I couldn't enter it because of the text texture. I actually asked dragonydreams if I could get away with it. Um, no. *Note to self: READ THE RULZ, dumbass.*

Idiot me, if I'd known grunge textures enough to replace the text with scratches, plain noise filters or even just hit the sharpen button enough times, I could have gotten a similar effect and still been within the rules. But I liked what I got so much I didn't care, and I knew my icons weren't going to be winners anyway; I was just learning and having fun at that point.

This was the second time I used that text texture from ipiccy and was so delighted by the result I had to play with it. It was another "I can do that? Look ma, I can do that!" moment. There's something about this icon that makes me think of fragments of ancient texts and classical marble portrait sculptures half-buried in desert sands; of things both time-worn and timeless. The way I've cropped the image it's almost hard to tell anymore that it's Buffy, but I fell in love with the way the strange beauty, the severity of the shape of her nose, seemed carved of marble. I think that suits a moment that seems utterly classic and timeless:

"Take all that away, and what's left?" / "Me."

Was it as instantly iconic to those of you who watched back in the day as it was to me two years ago?


My actual entries for the challenge:


The Willow icons I made for that round...I'm tempted to say The less said the better but I'm fascinated by the huge difference in quality in just a few months time between these and my VampWillow icons just a few months later. That moment in the episode was the first time, watching the series, that chills ran up and down my spine and I had to rewind and watch again. At the time I made these I did at least like the focus on Willow's eye and how that really stood out, but I otherwise don't know where I was going with the pseudo-psychedelic pop art effect in this one.

And I deleted most of the ones I made which were far worse, including the one in which the Orb of Thessulah looked like a glowing radioactive orange scoop of ice cream melting on the velvet pillow.  You can thank me later (or just slip the cash under the door on your way out).


Quick like a bunny: Tiebreaker vote in btvsats20in20 Round 3


I knew the grunge category was going to come to this. One of my favorite overall themes this round in terms of the entry field overall, ergo one of the hardest to vote in. And neither of the tiebreaker options are mine, so the pressure is totally off. I can just kick back and see who wins. Now do be a dear and cast a vote if you haven't already*.

* i.e. if your name is not the Goddessvelvetwhip, who knows everything and sees everything.  (What? tis true.)
Amber Benson as Ella

Entries Due TONIGHT midnight for Slayerstillness challenge 30 Free for All Round & OWL Challenge 181

1) slayerstillness: What I said in the title? THAT.

It's 4:45pm est my time zone and the deadline is midnight YOUR TIME ZONE. Isn't that convenient?  More entries are always welcome. Once again I have no illusions about winning jack this round, I just wanted to stretch my muscles and get back in the game.

(Somehow, I managed to lose a really lovely Amends icons I'd made that I intended for submission. Literally, I cannot find it. PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who has ever done that? LIe to me if you must, my dears.)

2) otherworldlyric submissions are also due tonight at midnight for Challenge 181, "Eye of the Tiger".  This time, I confess I've got nothin' (I tried to think of a vampire eye in really close up to go with the title of the song but that's really freakin' obvious isn't it?) but maybe YOU'VE got a little something-something?

SLOW LIKE A TORTOISE: Whilst I try to come back into the fandom swing of things...

...dashing off something fun and lighthearted always helps. Besides, it's time I came out of the closet, don't you think? I've added version #1 below to my Welcome Post but I also like the slightly paler "vintage" version (#2) and a bright rainbow one with and without (#3) the torn paper frame, as well as the original. I can never decide between colorways but you know that about me by now, don't you?

  081cb79e-e513-4fdc-a324-339c063eb76a_zpsc9186e21 5b84ec1b-e601-418c-897a-9083f4118eb1_zps91ec8329 (A sneaky-peek of what awaits you after the cut, Gentle Reader)

[20in20 pimpage, pretty pics & thinky thoughts for Buffy/Tara & Willow/Tara shippers ahead]

081cb79e-e513-4fdc-a324-339c063eb76a_zpsc9186e21 (01)

Click the images below for the full-size treats and enjoy:

52ee4822-204c-439f-bfbb-0952c8665def_zps0f89c22b    cec7ce08-0c36-40ab-9c50-b21d490f5026_zps644c7fbb   (02-03)

Which version do you prefer?

Let's face it: for me as a Buffy fan, shipping her with Spike - or Angel, Xander, Giles, Faith, Willow - hell, Clem for that matter - can be a freakin' joyless slog at times, something to be done privately with lips kept zipped. I can only read so many "bad Buffy, bad girl, for not duly appreciating my favorite character! No biscuit for you, bad girl!" before I begin to feel as though I've been lacerated up and down my entire spine and my shoulders ache from cringing so often. I have enough of that sort of thing in my real life relationships. Fandom is supposed to be fun, isn't it, or why participate? Ergo, Buffy/Tara shipping: all the warm hugs and pillowy comfort I could desire.

Not that I don't ship Tara will Willow. If you think I nearly cried when I made the two W/T icons for this round of btvsats20in20, you'd be correct. If you think I'm tearing up right now thinking about them, you'd also be right. Working on the icons from The Body reminded me why I loved them when I watched the show two years ago, why they still felt incredibly revolutionary to me over ten years after the show ended, why they matter to this middle-aged lesbian and to so many other people, young and old, gay, straight, and otherwise. This round increased my desire to "reclaim" them for myself and do a future Willow/Tara claim. Speaking of which -

VOTING ENDS TOMORROW, JUNE 22nd for ROUND 3 of btvsats20in20. (See what I did there?) There have been approximately 23 participating voters, some of whom are the 9 participating artists. That's a very very tiny voting populace in a fandom of thousands of people. Even if you don't like voting (which I admittedly don't) or disagree with the concept of awards for arts, do stop by and give the participating artists feedback. If you're snagging an icon, let the artist know. That's the best gift and reward of all for any artist: to know their work is not only appreciated but used and loved. So says I.

I also said I wouldn't post my alts and extras from this round, including banners, until after the votes were tabulated. (Believe me I have no illusions about winning anything this round, 'cause that ain't happenin', and that's ok. ) However, I never promised not to post the Willow/Tara banner that actually was the inspiration for my Category set this round. I made this well over a year ago before I knew anything of ipiccy or vector masks, textures and layers, kits and kings and various things.

And Tara - oh, Tara. In addition to a W/T claim, there's Tara in S4, in S5, S6; by herself and in combination with Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Anya. Tara as a true "comfortador" in ways Xander can't even begin to dream of; Tara as fierce Mama Bear, Tara as witch and seer; as a bridge, with Dawn, between Manus and Spiritus, demonstrating that the two can be united even when Buffy and Willow are mistakenly locked in the extreme ends of the spectrum.
Now for goodness sake, Gentle Reader, go and vote. Or stop to look and appreciate the fine art in the galleries, however you like. But do stop in...whilst I mop up my tears and make myself presentable for company.

Did I forget to mention btvs_hush challenge 281 is accepting entries now?

Apparently I did -  my bad. This round is a free-for-all - with a few limitations. Check out the rules and enter by Tuesday the 19th, 8pm EST.

(What are the chances that I'll be able to enter something by then? Zilch. On the upside - my mom cooked the salmon to perfection last night, I made the veggies and my sweetie stayed out of our way outside with her tablesaw. And we all got along and had a lovely evening, woo-hoo!)
Amber Benson as Ella

Quick Like A Bunny: Congrats to the winners of Otherworldlyrics - and, Time for 20in20 Votin'!

1) Many congrats to the winners of otherworldlyric challenge 180 pickamix and dragonydreams! I'm not sure I've ever said how much I love the color-matching dragonydreams does with her awards banners (buttons?) She makes the button look like a natural extension of the icon itself, and I envy appreciate that ability.

Full disclosure: I guessed the first place winner might be Megan's after I cast my vote because of it's wittiness and the perfect match of lyrics and image. I didn't guess who did the 2nd place winner - also Megan, as it happens. Girlfriend's got range. And if y'all have known me for at least five minutes, you know I DON'T CARE who made what or if I can guess according to style etc when I cast my votes. My love for someone, your friendship and kindness to me, has not now nor ever will win you a vote. I vote for the work. No apologies.

Challenge 181 has been extended a week, so you've still got time to come up with something to go with "Eye of the Tiger" and I am dying to see folks deconstruct that song or employ it ironically. Thrill me, people. I know you can do it.

Speaking of voting:

2) The voting posts for Round 3 of btvsats20in20 are up! Themes, Category (Magnifying Glass) and Artists Choice.

Full disclosure #1: I would actually vote for some of my own work this time, were it not my own work.

Full disclosure #2: I'm not telling anybody to vote for me VOTE FOR THE WORK but that said, I think my work is actually worthy of more votes than it's gotten so far darn it but you didn't read that here is that a horrible thing to think or am I really REALLY deluding myself here?

Full disclosure #3: I've decided to hold back any alts and extras, inclluding banner/poster-sized work from this set, until after the voting is over in the interest of fairness. I want you to judge the work I submitted without having the memory of other stuff influencing you for better or worse. And I will probably stick to that policy in future Sound ok?
Amber Benson as Ella

Quick like a bunny: Happy birthday to Spikesredqueen! Plus, various sundry oddments and endments

My mom is here for a week long visit (so far everyone is getting along, yay!) and so I cannot stay but a moment:

1) HAPPY BIRTHDAY to spikesredqueen!  I hope life lets her come back again and stop by soon, I've missed the amazing artwork but more so the conversations, advice, support and friendship.  I confess to being too "arted out" for a birthday card, so here's a better idea: check out her classic, timeless videos, icons, fanfics and art and let her know how much you enjoyed them.

2) Vote now at btvs_hush, Challenge 280  "Angel" -  and many thanks to pickamix for the heads up! Deadline to vote is Sunday but why wait around and forget? That said - I confess I still haven't voted because I simply cannot decide between them. (Do I have to?)  The fact that I am gazing at a batch of Angel icons (hell, at a batch of icons featuring any male character) and thinking, Oh, how lovely, and look at the creamy alabaster quality of his skin...may be a sign that the Apocalypse is coming and the End is Near because I just - don't swing that way, knowwhatimean

My Entries for Round 3 of btvsats20in20: TARA MACLAY, A WOMAN FOR ALL SEASONS

My original claim for this round of btvsats20in20 was Tara in S4, but starry_night kindly allowed me to expand that.

10 Themes
Full Body Minimalism Heartbreak Yellow Matching Background
Fear Grunge Favourite Touch Mod’s Choice
Cat 1 Cat 2 Cat 3 Cat 4 Cat 5
5 Artist's Choice
AC 1 AC 2 AC 3 AC 4 AC 5

Alts and extras will follow in a separate post and oh boy do I have alts.

Comments - including honest critiques - welcome. (You can't be harder on these than I am.) If you're wondering what I was aiming for with the Fear icon, my inspiration was clockwork_hart1's Tough Love Tara-POV fic "Shadows and Light".

My mom is coming for a week long visit tomorrow so if I do not reply to comments, that's why.

starry_night if you need to disqualify my entries, I understand and that's ok. I'm really not fussed about that. I learned a lot, and quality time spent with Tara Maclay is NEVER time wasted.

I would love to make more Tara icons, and more Willow/Tara icons. Oh goodness I could go on forever. But I've realized two things: 1) 20in20 isn't a good fit for me. 15 would be more like it. I have alternate versions but I run out of steam and then realize I have to come up with five more new ones. Ugh.

2) that my days of icon making are numbered. My new bifocals make it so much harder than before, slower; and I find myself thinking in terms of banners and large artworks as a consequence. The icons for Full Body, Touch, Cat 1 and Cat3 all started life as larger artworks. Which I will show off in another post because....

3) I FINALLY made artwork from the final scene in Dead Things that I'm happy with. (Thanks, ipiccy!)
Amber Benson as Ella

I Procrastinate, Therefore I Pimp: Otherworldlyrics, Slayerstillness, and Other Good Stuff

Vague disclaimer: I did not submit entries to the challenges pimped below, ergo I feel free to pimp and promote with impunity.

1) dragonydreams has reposted the entries for otherworldlyric Challenge 180 , because three entries "disappeared", unitl two of my personal favorites. (If I've told ya once, I've told ya a thousand times, kids - don't leave the screen door open!)  All fixed now, so if you already voted, please vote again; and if you haven't voted yet, well, what are you waiting for?

I'll wait until after the winners are announced to state which are my faves this time. Let's just say I have my suspicions as to who made #3. Perfect, witty pairing of image and lyric that makes me laugh out loud? I have a short list of suspects. What? Don't look at me that way. Let's get real, that's almost half the fun of voting in these things for me now, as I become more familiar with individual styles - and with the how-tos of techniques.

Entries for Challenge 181, "Eye of the Tiger" are due Friday August 15th. (I remember that song when I was growing up. The '80's - power ballads, Tom Cruise and Ahnold, big overmuscled manly action stars, the Reagans, the Iron Lady, shoulder pads, hair frizzed to the 9th circle of Hell, high school, and my second ex-step-father...I DO NOT MISS THAT DECADE. Yeesh.)

2) Vote in slayerstillness Challenge 29 "The Freshman" - 10 lovely icons to choose from (and this time? I'll be honest, I can't tell who the heck did what. They're just all terrifically pretty.) Because of the small field, there are fewer placements - vote for your top TWO icons plus Best Color and Best Crop.

I remarked to starry_night not long ago that the fields of any given icontest challenge often have an "all of a piece" aesthetic quality to them, as if all the artists were on the same wavelength. That was certainly true in the "Hair Porn" and "Whiter Shade of Pale" Challenges and is very true this time as well. The focus is entire on Buffy and Willow and where Hair Porn entries tended to be neutral or earth-toned, this group is quite delicate in it's coloring- pastels balanced by saturated jewel tones and brights.

Challenge 30 is another "free for all" round, and the entries are due August 22. (My mom is going back home on the 20th, so I think I little icon-makeage will be just what the fangirl ordered.)

3) Check out xlittledreams's entries for Round 3 of btvsats20in20, "Buffy Summers." So, so lovely, very bold and graphic, rich colors and strikingly clean and "modern".  I can't choose a favorite, although AC1 is damned nifty. How is it possible to achieve such gorgeous image quality and clarity?

That leaves just one person who has yet to post their entries: moi. For the THIRD TIME IN A ROW.  This is beyond comedy and well into pathetic.  Deadline is tomorrow midnight and I'd damn well best get them done and posted, because I'm not going to have time to make icons once my mom comes to town. So what the hell am I wasting time for? Excuse me, Lady Tara awaits.
Amber Benson as Ella

Oh my goodness I won second place in btvs_hush! THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who voted my WIllow/Aly Hannigan icon 2nd place in round 279 of btvs_hush! I really was not expecting this at all. It's my very first award in btvs_hush (on my third try in this comm) and my first second place award in any icontest. Congratulations to the other winners teragramm and pickamix - two artists who inspire me. I'm really honored. I would be lying to you if I didn't admit that seeing my name alongside their's didn't thrill me - and it's an especially sweet surprise coming at the end of what's been an emotionally turbulent weekend for me.**

awards banner by dragonydreams

And thank you dragonydreams for the gorgeous banner - a masterclass in understated elegance and simplicity.

I swore I wouldn't have time to enter this contest, and furthermore how could I enhance such a beautiful photo of Aly Hannigan to any degree of justice? But it was so pretty, and such a high quality image, I couldn't resist. I took a similar approach to it that I did to the S5 photo of Sarah by Greg Gorham, pushing the soft "glamour" effects to gild the lily. This time I used a pre-existing clouds "texture" in ipiccy and altering the coloring for a soft rose tonality. I worried that I was being a wee bit cliche, to be honest (maybe it's time for me to retire cloud imagery for a while before y'all get sick of seeing it?)

But I was having fun and I wanted to make something pleasing for my Willow/Aly Posse, most especially velvetwhip and snogged, who I had in mind while making it. I can definitely see the flaws in my entry, all the things I wish I had done differently (I wish I'd been bolder with the rose coloring around the border, and gone for sharper definition) but overall I surprised myself and succeeded in what I set out to do.

Here are my entries, including my first ever Angel/DB icon! *yawn*  (Sorry, but the dudes just don't excite me the same way the ladies do.)  All snaggable with proper credit. (And frankly, if you can make 2 or 3 better, have at.) With the Sarah icon I was apparently trying for an antique or "Renaissance" era look.

So what did we learn this time? PAY ATTENTION TO THE DARN RULES. Ok, I already knew that one but apparently I am extremely dense and require sledge-hammer treatment.  I was ready to submit two icons each of the Aly and Sarah images. Including some with text. Yes, that's right. I spent a good bit of time getting the text right on some icons and was ready to submit them until I remembered..its called btvs_hush. For a reason. Oops. (That's actually the second time I've done that.)

[More alts and 'splainy after the cut...]

#4 is probably my favorite icon of this entire set. I very nearly submitted it and spent a lot of time trying to get the text right on it. I like the subtle overlay barely-there effect of the dark lettering; #5 has the same font but the lighter text isn't as effective. The inspiration for the phrase here was twofold: Willow's "We changed the world" was mashed up with Coldplay's "Carry Your World" from the Buffy fanmix eilowyn made me were swirling together in my head. "Your world" felt more personal and intimate than "the world", and it felt right with this image of her looking into the skies, looking forward into the future.  And ever since pickamix advised me on the use of elegant, slender fonts re: my Etymology poster, I've pushed myself to achieve results I hope she'd approve of in that regard, even as I've becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the narrow range of fonts in both ipiccy and PB.


I didn't have time to show these to wickedbish for beta advice because I made all of these at half past the last minute but thank goddess I didn't submit 6 or 7.  It's the same cloud texture but more "literal" and wandering dangerously into cliche/camp territory.


I almost submitted one of these instead of #3 above. I made the choice to go with #3 after looking at past btvs_hush winners and seeing that they've tended to downplay "special effects" or heavy textures. I'm not sure if making my selections based on that is a good idea, though.

It amuses me that I get my hands on a high quality image of Sarah for a challenge and my first impulse is to break it down, grunge it up; try to make it look like a drawing or painting. I used a texture from Encompass-Rose for  #8 for an effect that reminds me of an aged fresco painting; the icon is terribly flawed and the definition is not good but I don't hate it. Sue me. I used ipiccy's pencil drawing filter in 8-16.  And yes, 12-13 made were before I remembered that text isn't allowed. It's ridiculous to think of the time I put into trying to get those two right - and not succeeding. But, hey, practice and lessons learned.



Angel alt, a little more saturated. *shrug*  Instead of the pencil drawing filter I used one of the light textures on the Angel icons that provided the "brushstrokes".

Want? Take, have - but give proper credit! If you wish to alter, add your own text, etc, please just check with me beforehand.

**Long story short: Dark thoughts and despair, not worth discussing, except I did voice them to my sweetheart who gave me the thing I needed most: she held me, and that was enough to remind me why I love her and why we've been together for 17 years, however difficult our relationship is - and it is, very. You'll never find us on the inside of a Hallmark card.
Amber Benson as Ella

If you think I sound fakey-cheerful you'd be right. Now on with the pimpage!

1) Congratulations to the winners of otherworldlyric icontest Challenge 179 : dragonydreams, chic_c and pickamix (she made an Oz icon! Let's hear it for neglected Buffyverse characters!)

Deadline for Challenge 180 is tonight August 8 at midnight.Like, an hour from now. As of two days ago there were no entries so hopefully....?

2) Tonight is also the deadline for slayerstillness Challenge 29, "The Freshman". You're welcome. Speaking of, I never did thank tempertemper for the lovely banner to go with my Mod's Choice award for slayerstillness Challenge #27. I love the how the warm burgundy-red-brown tones compliment colors of Dawn's hair and Buffy's mouth, which I had barely noticed until I saw it framed this way - indeed, how well it compliments all the other winning icons in that round. The translucent quality reminds me of very fine, handmade marbelized art paper. And the simple red border around the icon emphasizes the intimate nature of the crop but also emphasizes the emotional "claustrophobia" of the situation for both the Summers sisters.

27_mc2_banner by starry_night

Here's all of my entries that round;the only ones I'm really pleased with are the Buffy&Dawn and the Beer Bad icons. I particularly liked crop on the Beer Bad icon. It and the Anne icon I entered were meant to be deliberately anti-hairporn, in terms of "pretty hair". I had just got done with the Vamp Willow project and wanted to play with some unglamorous imagery for fun. (And of course, a return to Buffy was pure playtime for me.)

My special shout-out to an icon that didn't win is rua1412's Angel icon #8, which is so, so pretty I had to snag it. Yes, I snagged an Angel icon - and the world did not end. Wonders. Speaking of Angel,

3) dragonydreams has posted btvs_hush Challenge 280, "Angel" (the character, btvs imagery only). Y'all know I'm not so much into the wood but I gotta admit, the third image for challenge B is kind of dynamic and I can see doing something fun with that, if I had the time. (Or I could catch my breath from laughing because - image #1. The tai chi in dress trousers. I'm just sayin'.)

Although now that you mention it, the eyeliner...?

DO NOT look at me on any of these, I am not pulling anything out of the trapdoor for this one or or anything else until I get my Tara set finished for btvsats20in20. Okay?  (I'm hoping to finish by Monday BUT...I've been riding waves of "hey, I have a neat idea!" alternating with "I suck. Tara, sweetie I'm so sorry. And my new bifocals hurt my eyes until I can't see a damn thing, my neck aches and dear god WHY did I think this was a clever idea why will no one stop me? I have got to get a job do I have enough money to pay the September rent? And why oh WHY did I think having my mother come to visit for a week was going to be a good idea? Me her and my sweetie in the same house together for a week? JFC on a cheese cracker when will I get a lick of sense?" And various sundry items and pretty little bits and bobs of self-loathing of that sort. Fun.)

4) Speaking of btvsats20in20, check out tempertemper's wonderful Cordelia Chase entries for Round 3! (And don't forget to check out the other entries this round- stop by to say hi, and share the love with your friends!)

starry_night has very kindly extended the deadline at my request to the 12th. I hope not to need it but...I've said that one a time or two before haven't i?

And now off the 'puter and onto bed - these bifocals are killing my eyes, for realsies.