Buffy Casablanca Poster poppy wreath  RS

Reaching Out & Holding In - My Icons for Otherworld Lyrics Challenge #165 (All 38 of Them)

I really can't say this enough: Thank you to everyone who voted for my entries in OWL's Challenge #165!

Congratulations to the other winners xclaire_delunex and kwritten - to be considered anywhere near the same distinguished company is amazing.
Thank you again to wickedbish (Ryan) for your time and opinions - and for being a better judge of my own work than I am. BETAS DO NOT GET ENOUGH LOVE. There needs to be a national "Hug A Beta!" holiday. (I'm just throwin' it out there, plantin' a seed....)

Thank you to dragonydreams for banners that makes my icon look better than it did before. (The careful color-matching you did for each of the banners? Gorgeous.) And for all the time, dedication and work of running otherworldlyric because I'm having way too much fun with it.  Sarah McLaughlin's "World on Fire" was a terrific choice for a song prompt; any fragment of the lyrics is applicable to BtVS in about a million directions. Coming up with ideas this time around wasn't the problem; the problem this time was having far too many ideas. Most of them never came to fruition but I want to return to those projects later.

And by "fun" I mean "a helluva lotta pain and angst and lady-love for both the Summers Sisters and oh Willow no come back to the light and OMG their faces! Their expressions! Their courage and love and effed-up-ness I can't even!" **sobs and makes 40+ icons** In other words, my kind of fun. If I can't "crack out an axe" (to steal a phrase from clockwork_hart1 ) in defense of my beloved characters, at least I can crack out some icons:

THE SUBMISSIONS: And now I will show off ALL my babies and TALK about them! A lot! You have been warned!

1)  2) 3)

1) I was really surprised when Ryan singled out #1 of the 40+ I sent him for consideration. This was the first time I almost argued with his choices; it's still not my favorite of this set by a long shot.  All I can see is the flaws. The image isn't sharp enough to my liking; the font is one I've done too many times before. It doesn't have the emotional punch for me personally that the other two entries do. I wanted the moment in Grave that got more of Dawn and Buffy equally in the frame, holding their swords back to back, but didn't have the right cap for it. Et cetera

That moment may be corny and make no sense but screw logic and sense; it's one of the (very) few moments in the last three episodes I remotely even liked. I freaking cheered when Dawn picked up the sword, not that her courage was any surprise whatsoever (Listening to Fear, The Gift, Bargaining...etc). Watching the late seasons I wanted to watch more of that, of those sisters and warriors fighting and growing up side by side, the same and yet very different people than they were in S5. I hoped that Season 7 would focus more on the two of them. I wanted more Summers sisters interaction as intensely as I wanted more mother-daughter interaction S1-5. And for a little while it seemed like S7 was going that way....and then....it didn't; just as S5 delighted me with Joyce's increased presence...and then she was killed off. *le sigh*

2) I actually like the Dawn-Buffybot one to a terrible degree, even though it's the simplest and least "artistic". Dawn's face kills me - that moment is so sad and understandable and yet a bit creepy. Her mother and sister are dead, her "real" father is absent and her symbolic father figure is lost in his own grief? She has no one to cuddle up to but a freakin' robot? Break my heart NOW.  And maybe it's just my sick brain but there's almost something slightly incestuous about the image, if you don't know that's the Buffybot? Or is it just me?

4) 5)

In hindsight though I wish I'd submitted #4 above instead of #2: Dawn standing on Glory's tower in Bargaining, trying to prevent her sister from committing suicide (again). Season 6 ends with Xander "talking Willow down" and that moment gets all sorts of fandom love. But it starts with Dawn talking Buffy down and WHERE is the love for that moment? For the de facto orphan, a 15(16?) year old girl who  has NO "special powers", no training or experience, and is armed only with determination, courage and fierce love? Anything less than absolute RESPECT for this incredible girl in that flawless moment will not do here.

But as far as the icon itself goes, this time I wasn't happy with the placement of the text. I'm sorry I didn't make a version without text because the moment doesn't really need it.  #5 is completely "meh" by comparison. I feel nothing. I can't tell you why I just know it doesn't work.

3) My favorite of the three entries is Buffy on the stairs in After Life. I like the way the cropping, frame and the text work together to close in around her, echoing her gesture. She's out of that coffin physically but psychologically is another matter altogether. I think the red on her knuckles is just enough, not overplayed. I did an entire series of this scene and oddly enough her hand looks more realistic, like raw meat, in the sized-down icons than it did on the tv screen or the larger caps.

I have a crazy stupid amount of love for Bargaining/Afterlife, which I tend to think of as a single unit (just as I lump the last three eps of S6 together - except with loads of seething hate.) The expression of shame on her face - not guilt, there is a degree of difference - her awkward posture and gestures, her silence, her bloodied knuckles, everything about her in that moment wrenches my heart no matter how many times I see it. I can barely even look at her then. So of course I made multiple versions of it. (Below)

This moment, and the scene before it with Dawn tenderly cleaning and dressing her in the bathroom, calls back to pre-Sunnydale "bitty Buffy" in Passions. She's standing before a mirror, listening to her parents argue in another room with a similar expression of shame - shame for who or what she inherently is, as opposed to "guilt" for something she has done. That's an emotion I know only too well. Once it slithers inside of you, it becomes such a constant that half the time you don't even recognize it; or you try to fight it, to make it go away; you indulge in excesses, you take actions that you feel guilty about afterwards, and thus more ashamed, so you do something else you feel guilty and ashamed about until the two are insparably intertwined with one another.

What must she think, what can she be thinking, in Bargaining and After Life? She's lived one of her greatest fears for the second time in the series (Nightmares, S1), crawling out of her own grave like the demons she has to kill, in this war she was drafted into as the lone soldier.  Is she therefore unclean, monstrous? Was she rejected by Heaven, spat out from it because she was unworthy of it? Even after she knows the truth, might she ever wonder if the spell worked because Heaven let her go because she didn't deserve to be there after all?
6) 7) 8)
9) 10) 11) 12)

13) 14)

I wish I had more icon space in my userpics for one of these. I submitted #3 because Ryan picked out, but I could have submitted any other instead in a heartbeat, with the exception of the last two. #14 has the same problem as #5 - my ability to manipulate text within and around an object in Photobucket is extremely limited. Or maybe I'm just lousy at it and/or the concept sucked to begin with. Your thoughts, Gentle Reader?

But I really didn't go into this intending to do Buffy or Dawn icons. No, really, I swear to you. I wanted to stretch myself a bit and work with Willow. I had plans for images from Bargaining, Smashed, Anne, New Moon Rising and Wild at Heart; Willow by herself, with Tara and Oz...LOTSA ideas. Few came to fruition.

I really appreciate it when someone in fandom who doesn't particularly love Buffy nevertheless focuses on her in art or fic and gets her right, for all her wonderful and not-so-great qualities. (Likewise, I appreciate it when someone who considers themselves a "Bangel" or a "Spuffy" is nonetheless able to give the other guy and her relationship with them it's due, without feeling the need to deny or diminish one at the expense of the other.)

And I want to be able to do the same myself for other characters. Willow was the first character I identified with in the series, although I never felt in love with her the way I did with Buffy. That I identified more with Willow in the early seasons, when her self-esteem is lowest (barring S7) and more with Buffy in the late season when her self-confidence declines, probably says something about me I'm reluctant to fully contemplate. But I want to find that appreciation for Willow again. And there's a lot of folks on my flist who are Willow fans who help me remember the good and even great things about her character. But I didn't get excited by the images of Willow, even though I had the ideas, the way I did with Buffy and Dawn.

I really wish the Willow set had come out better. Maybe it's easier for me to work with a subject I have a lot of passion and emotional connection to. Give me time. kwritten captured exactly what I wanted and more with her entry #5. Check out her flawless post for her analysis of her Willow icon along with the rest of her icons for this challenge. (Then check out spikesredqueen's post with her entire set of beauties for this challenge including the second-place winner. So many choices and this is part of my pain, don'cha see?)

15)   16)  17) 18)

20)  21)

I nearly submitted #15 or 16, and I still like them both quite a bit. The ironic contrast of "fire" with the water from the shower, a llteral and symbolic "waterhose" in this image from Smashed is more interesting than my original plan to use a cap from Willow in Rack's den. If Buffy "wants the fire back" then Willow, by contrast, tries to control a conflagration that threatens to burn her up from the inside.

#17 - 21 OTOH are "meh" for me. I kind of like the composition of #17 in theory but this is a very important "point of no return" in Willow's arc - and I focus on her bosom? What am I, a lezzie or something? (Oh. wait...)  19 & 20 are interesting mostly as bookends in terms of comparison with one another, with how much Willow has changed in three years, rather than interesting in and of themselves. The difference between Willow in Anne and Bargaining is enormous: the distance between "playacting" the role of a confident Slayer, putting on a "role" instead of a costume; and actually taking on the responsibility (and headaches) of leadership. The power is now "her's alone to wield"  but it's still an impossible position for any one person regardless of who wields it.

I had to give up on the Willow idea because it just wasn't working. I felt like I was "dissing" her in some way, and that wasn't what I wanted. What I wanted to depict was how hard she was trying, how much she was trying to bring to the fight with almost zero guidance, how she was bringing everything she had to bear "to the table". I absolutely believe that she thought she was doing the right thing when she resurrected Buffy; she had no reason to think Buffy wasn't in Hell, suffering endless centuries of torment the way Angel had after Buffy killed him. (I'm not arguing right or wrong here, and I don't deny other motivations but as much as I want to throttle Willow sometimes, I can't get into the Willow-hate any more than I can the Dawn/Buffy/Joyce/Kennedy/misc female character hate. But I can't get into the Glory-hate either, so take that as you will.)

And is it a surprise that it all goes awry, that her moral compass doesn't point true north? No. Look at her parents, at their benign neglect, at the way they encourage her intelligence and achievement but discourage her from asking too many questions: live up to your potential but don't go beyond it. And by "parents" I don't just mean Sheila and Ira Rosenberg. Rupert Giles had decades of history and experience with the demon world and magic (if we ignore the Witch in S1). He could have steered Willow to mentors to groom her, train her; he certainly could have payed more attention to her - to all the SG, for that matter. How much Xander might have blossomed from the encouragement of an interested adult male role model, which he so very desperately needed, we can only speculate.

In both Anne and Bargaining we see the one parental figure of the group - Giles - absorbed in his pain, his guilt and grief, and in both episodes the SG - young children from dysfunctional homes, every one of them - are more or less left to their own devices. He doesn't abandon Buffy and Dawn only in S6; he abandons all of his "children" - but then again he'd always been "blind" all along, perhaps willfully so. Willow's accusations in Something Blue and Grave are not without merit - and will be echoed by Spike in Touched.

Before you think I hate Giles (which I don't), I'm also aware of that his upbringing was perhaps not at all unlike Willow's, or Buffy and Dawn's for that matter. He came from an educated family that took care of his physical needs to the exclusion of his emotional ones.  They attempted to control him and raised him to be a Watcher as his father was, without regard for the boy's own needs or desires. We learn very little about his family but what we do hear from him, and his own personality, suggest a detachment or distance from his parents, as with Willow to her own. It's not the physical abuse we associate with the Harris or Maclay families but rather an emotional rather than physical "abandonment". (Let's set aside for a moment the fact that the show stereotypically assigns certain types of abuse or neglect to certain socio-economic strata.) And so the abandoned child abandons their own children who abandons their children in turn and so on...until someone finally breaks the cycle.

So it's also no suprise, IMO, that Willow is uttery unprepared for what she "unearths" when she resurrects Buffy; she is not prepared to play the part of "sire" to her "childe", who is left to her own defenses. And the cycle continues.....

Speaking of:
22) 23)  
Another disappointing failure IMO. Ryan liked the first one more than I did; I think Willow looks like an elf - maybe a missing character from LoTR? Everyone has feelings about this scene in All The Way and it's aftermath, and so do I. One of which is that this arguement, like many others in this series, are so much more incredibly believable as actual arguements than what I've seen on most tv shows. And holy cheese on a cracker do I know arguements, inside and out: the sudden snap of rage, the irrationality, everything spiralling out of control and all parties bunkering down in their positions, everyone talking and nobody listening.

Two girls from abusive and/or controlling families who have never seen or experienced anything resembling a happy, healthy functional love relationship between partners (children learn what they are modeled); both with pedantic or conservative  streaks in them, by nature and nuture - it's no wonder things start to "fall apart" rather rapidily between them, not once but twice in the series. Especially when initial haze of infatuation and romance or, in S6, the "second honeymoon", wears off and the real power struggles begin. You cannot have two people occupying the same position of power within a relationship at all times or, if it's possible, I've yet to see it.

See, I can see all the things that go wrong in their relationship, and all that is wrong in Buffy and Spike's, in S6, I can see it all and not condone the worst of it - but I understand every bit of it. It's painful to watch it all play out and it should be. It was painful to watch as a child in my family, and painful to live it now. Because on some level I see myself, my mom and her husbands, and my own relationship with my partner* in all four of those characters and both those relationships although the dynamics differ in each case.  I honestly wish I didn't understand. So what, then, do I do with it? "Keep trying" is the only answer I've got.

(That said - Tara and WIllow are very different dynamics than Buffy and Spike. Please do not tell me they are exactly the same, or that Tara is somehow partly responsible for Willow's actions in S6. I have a lot of tolerance for diverse opinions but that's a line in the sand for me and I will take away the tea and cookies. So just don't go there, okay? Great. Thank you. Have a cookie?)

THE ALSO-RANS: Some of the other icons I almost submitted - I really like all of these, but again I have an emotional attachment so YMMV.      

24)     25)    26) 27)

I don't even know what to say here, actually, especially about #24. Do I NEED to? (And at this point you are no doubt screaming "NO! STOP THE MADNESS!" Sorry, too late.) Basically, what I said above about the After Life set? All that. I'm especially pleased by the emotional impact of #24-25 as well as the final result. #25 is one of my favorite icons of any I've ever made. I even made a version of it without the text and it works just as well. I really bumped up the saturation brightness and toned down the saturation for a very different look from the original cap.  #26 OTOH I only had to manipulate slightly - I believe the scene is of the demons and a chained-up Buffybot from Buffy's distorted POV. I think if you squint hard enough you might still be able to see Buffybot just left of center.

Also what I said about Willow being unprepared to look after her "childe" applies here - and not that she possibly could be, given her upbringing and her distant parents! No one was prepared. Not even my beloved "perfect, saintly" Tara; the person who saw that Faith wasn't Buffy in Season 4 without having met either one of them, never notices that anything is amiss in S6 until she's all but smacked in the face with it, twice (OAFA, Dead Things.) But I hurt so much for Buffy anyway. Watching her scream and cry, then claw her way out of her own coffin - an experience she's already lived through once - is one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen in any tv show or movie, bar none.

28) 29)
Yes, I did a Spuffy icon. Permission to scoop your jaws off the floor granted. (Sexual or romantic "shipping" really isn't the primary lens by which I view this series, just one many.)  I hate that episode but oh god that scene - and again, her face! So raw, so painful...things can't possibly continue the way they have and she knows it; deep inside she knows. Another one I almost submitted, and am really happy with the result.

I enjoy manipulating photographs until they look like drawings, paintings, or perhaps book illustrations/covers from the first half of the 20th century. The best way to achieve that look in Photobucket, I find, is to continually push saturation, light and contrast to eliminate some of the fine details and focus on outlines. I didn't realize the framing device overlapped the bottom of  "we become" until after I finished them, but I'm not terribly bothered by it because it suits the idea of being diminished by one's own actions. (And oh god my heart is twisting again. Those beautiful, foolish children dragging themselves and one another to Hell. Ugh.)

FINALLY, THE "MEH" GROUP, aka "They were never contenders".

30) 31) 33)

Ryan said #30 didn't quite work. He was not wrong. Although my reasons for thinking that probably differ from his - thematically for him, aesthetically for me. Sarah looks gorgeous in the original screencap, from Flooded; her profile reminds me portrait paintings of Italian women from the 15th century, such as Domenico Ghirlandaio's Giovanna degli Albizzi Tornabuoni, c. 1488. When I sized it down her face just looked odd to me (esp around the mouth and cheeks) and the outline of her face is pixelated. Too bad.
32) 34) 35) 36)

#36 is Dawn leading Buffybot around at the school fair in Bargaining. In that episode I'm really struck by the fact that Buffybot essentially "extends" S5's theme of illness, incapacity, and how the burdens of caretaking in families fall disproportionately to women.  Earlier in the episode Willow has to prevent Buffybot from walking into a wall because her "circuitry" is damaged, which is a very interesting metaphor for someone who is mentally or neurologically incapacitated, such as someone suffering from Alzheimer's or brain damage - the role Tara took on in S5. This is obvious in the original cap but the meaning was lost when I cropped the image.

Also, #32? Just to be clear, I don't "ship" Buffy/Giles. (You know that, right?)  To me (and, um, a little thing called "canon") they are absolutely father-daughter....and speaking of, have you read il_mio_capitano's harsh, tender, stunning re-write of Tabula Rasa, "Holding On"? If not, you simply must. It's probably one of my all-time favorite BtVS fanfics.
37) 38)

Whenever I do an icon from Anne it's always a nod to norwie2010 - and this shot of Buffy in Anne has already been "done" a hundred times before. But I love it anyway - just as I love that entire episode; it's one of my favorites to play with image-wise. I brightened the cap quite a lot, bumped up saturation and the colors emerged beautifully, as did the light framing Buffy's hair and arm. The passivity implied by the lyrics, however, contradicts the action in the image.

And the Anne was is - "not my best work" is an understatement. But her expression of disbelief is fantastic, and she's a great "minor" character - what an arc! She starts out dependent on her boyfriend, constantly redefining her identity according to what other people want, and makes the transition to confident, powerful person in her own right in a way that poor Anya never does, IMO. Another idea to return to later. kwritten also did an Anne icon (not submitted to the challenge) that's a 1000 times better than this - But I want to return to the idea because she has an amazing arc, and the way she more than lives up to Buffy's confidence in her is a key moment in the series long theme of "sharing power".

And that's it, kids!  If you got this far, congratulate yourselves - I do! - have some more cookies and stretch your legs a bit, and join me again for the next episode of RedSatinDoll Blathers Incessantly. Stay tuned!
*Oh, one more thing: Just to be absolutely 100% clear: In terms of my sweetie and myself, there is NO physical violence or violation, nothing on the level of what happened to my mom or happens in Season 6. None whatsoever. It's a lot of arguements, harsh words and anger that we apologize for later; a dull grey haze of mutual mediocrity and power struggles some days, brightened and punctuated by moments of mutual love, respect and moments of deep love. Seesawing back and forth between resentment and affection in equal intensity.

Now that that's settled: Have some cake?
It's really interesting to read you talking about icons. I think I like #6 best of the ones you have displayed here. S6 Buffy is my favorite Buffy.

I started making icons recently, for fun, but I haven't yet figured out the art of making the lighting and coloring look unique and pretty. I suspect it takes a lot of trial and error.

I hadn't even noticed there was Glory-hate, but then, now that I think about, I do think she's generally considered to be a pretty stupid villain. I like her, though.
OMG you made it through this post, have some more cake! :)

I really like #6 as well - but I liked all of those so much I could not decide. So I just tossed the entire set in Ryan's lap. (There were a lot more that I've since deleted and don't have here - but not of that set.)

And S6 was the season I connected with the most emotionally because of the depression arc (and oh, god, watching her dig herself out of her own grave *sobs*) and kept rewatching over and over. But then I went through an S7 marathon and I love her that season too. I'm so indecisive. I tend to cover my bases and say S5-7 Buffy is my favorite - it's when I fell in love with her, and I love her for different reasons in each season.

Any particular reason for S6 for you?

I started making icons recently, for fun, but I haven't yet figured out the art of making the lighting and coloring look unique and pretty. I suspect it takes a lot of trial and error.

The one you're using from Get it Done is beautifully tinted, so I'd say you're on the right track! That effect is very difficult in PB to do with any control although I love tinted and faded effects; high contrasts and chiaroscuro are easier.

And I love icons of Buffy S7 anyway, but I think I mentioned that before. I did moulin rouge icons ten years ago, when Photobucket had a different editing suite, and I pretty much had it "mastered". I did some lovely things - and then PB completely switched editing programs twice in the last three years.

Also, btvs is for the most part "realistically" light and lensed, whereas MR was very saturated, stylized and almost surreal. So making btvs icons it feels very much like "start over" on both levels - as it will be when I start playing with Aperture (a program for Mac.)

Do you use Photoshop?

I hadn't even noticed there was Glory-hate, but then, now that I think about, I do think she's generally considered to be a pretty stupid villain. I like her, though.

I noticed in mainstream fandom after I'd watched the show there was a lot of Glory hate and I'm, like, WTF? She fits perfectly into the themes of the season,including the focus on the female characters, she's funny and scary - she's Hemery High buffy + early seasons Cordy + Faith (want, take, have) + Illyria. If they had a four-way, that is.

But then again I liked the Master. "What do you think, a 4.5?"
I really enjoy the fact that you take a meta-level of thinking to your icons.

It's fun to read!

I admit I never really thought about the reasons I make icons. Sadly, though, I haven't been able to figure out the graphics component that comes with switching from PC to Mac (and to a whole different version of Photoshop) so I haven't made any icons as of late. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually and until then, I'll just enjoy what other people make.

Thank you for reading hon, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I have a few friends to thank for encouraging me to talk about them this way. I had no idea where this was going and I didn't mean to be so "thinky"!

BTW - most of the time the grand intellectual meta ideas come after I start working not before; the Bargaining/After Life icons of Buffy and Dawn I was running on pure emotions and "what images would go with what lyrics?" Or rather I have tons of meta ideas and thoughts about the show that I've already developed, but I'm not conscious of them while I'm working.

If I get too conscious of "ideas", the icons usually suffer as a result.

Sadly, though, I haven't been able to figure out the graphics component that comes with switching from PC to Mac (and to a whole different version of Photoshop) so I haven't made any icons as of late.

My sweetie's old Photoshop program was destroyed when the old desktop burned up, and the new Mac Desktop with "Maverick" operating system has different requirements, and Photoshop has compatibility issues so - she's having a nightmare of a time finding a replacement, and she had Photoshop and Photoshop Bridge mastered. So it's square one for her, basically. She can commiserate!

I've never actually used PS, and Aperture, a library/archive program that also has editing functions looks daunting to me. I'll get there eventually when I've exhausted the limits of Photobucket's toolkit.

That's the nice thing about writing, isn't it? Much simpler!
Congrats on your third place!

And maybe it's just my sick brain but there's almost something slightly incestuous about the image, if you don't know that's the Buffybot? Or is it just me?

I also have the same feeling when I watch that scene. Maybe we're two sick brains :D

Oh God, your icons are so pretty! My favourite are 6, 12, 17 and, OMG, number 21 is simply stunning. I love the crop and, honestly, I also believe that Willow thought that she was doing the right thing. Of course, that was hybris involved - the great sin of fighting against the superior balance - and she was also sperimenting her power but she wasn't totally selfish on resurrecting Buffy. Complex human beings: they had a lot of stuff going on on their mind.

(The "world is on fire" icon, so appropriate! I really understand Willow's need to control the situation around her. I'm also a MAJOR control freak. I feel her pain)

Also I like to express my love for icons 24, 29 (My OTP! *cries hearts*) 30, 33, 32, 38. And special mention for 36 because of Dawn holding the Buffybot. I LOVE the Buffybot.

There is someone in the fandom who hates Glory? SRSLY? I don't understand. She's an awesome Big Bad and her dresses are so pretty.

Thanks hon!

Maybe we're two sick brains :D

Perversion loves company!

Many thanks for the compliments! If I could have, I would have done a poll "Which icon should I submit?" And then nobody can actually vote in the challenge so there goes that idea *lol* The last few times I have had two definite favorites but been undecided about the third entry but this time? OMG I wanted to submit at least 10-15 of these. And they are not the greatest art but I'm just really pleased with them.

number 21 is simply stunning

The one of Willow in Wild at Heart (S4)?

Complex human beings: they had a lot of stuff going on on their mind.

This. exactly. It's one reason why I love the show - and why it amazes me that complex motivations and personalities so often get reduced to one dimension in fandom conversations.

I'm also a MAJOR control freak. I feel her pain

My sweetie is the control freak in our house so I can understand and sympathize but oh boy do I understand Tara's position as well. But again, it's not 100% either way - the balance of power is a constant see-saw between them as IRL.

I LOVE the Buffybot.

Me too! And yes there are glory haters. I don't agree at all but different strokes and all that jazz.

For someone who doesn't feel confident in her grasp of Willow, you did a super job of communicating your perceptions of her. May I compliment you on your insights? Thanks for all you said about everyone, in fact, because you have lots of interesting and acute things to say.


When I wrote in the post "folks on my flist who are Willow fans" what I really meant (and almost typed) was: velvetwhip, snogged and wickedbish. I had the three of you in mind when I was writing this. So your comments here mean SO much to me, Gabrielle.

And in terms of insights - I'm standing on the shoulders of giants, and I was amiss in forgetting to do a links list of Willow metas & vids. Another time!
I love that your icons have meaning and there is so much thought that goes into all the components, the final product, and mostly what you feel about the pictures you choose.

I LOVE your passion for these characters and for the work you are putting out there. It inspired me to make a piece for you that is at my journal. The fandom is far from dead.
Thanks sweetie, I was hoping you'd see this! I thought you might enjoy it.

I was remiss in the body for not thanking comlodge and you for encouraging me to talk about the icons and the process. And I really do love doing it, although it's hard in a way (dear god, the spelling errors...the syntax...oy). I think I learned a lot seeing my sweetie going through art school as a painter and sculptor, reading books about successful artists, and learning little to nothing about the process, about the failures, and especially about the "how they got where they got".

You're too kind, btw - y'all make me sound so smart!

It inspired me to make a piece for you that is at my journal.

I left a comment last night and THANK YOU AGAIN, so much! I can't believe I inspired that but I'm really honored. *blushes* One of the things that really inspire me is discovering that there folks who watched the show "back in the day", were fans then are are STILL fans now, active or not. THAT is real staying power, and I think that's incredibly exciting.

And oh, here's a present in return of sorts: My best friend, a novelist in her 20's and an incredible woman, finally started watching Season 1 after I kept talking about Buffy (no spoilers of course), and she LOVES Buffy Summers. She loves the "androgyny" of a girl who can fight and stake a vampire and knows which nail polish is out that season. I didn't fall in love with Buffy that fast! And in talking about the show I've learned things about her I didn't know before, and we've known each other for over ten years and talk about everything. So I am really looking forward to these conversations going forward (I can't wait until she watches Prophecy Girl.)

The fandom is far from dead.

I get that people are looking in contrast to "when the tv show was on" or "when the comics came out" but a lot of that was also fighting and wars and so on and that's not my thing; I'm not sorry to have avoided that.

Basically, any such rumors are greatly exagerrated. :)
Thanks for the cookies! *takes a bite of one*

You really hit on some compelling and profound points here. I enjoyed reading your reasoning behind your icons and what you were going for. I do not see that often, it was a nice change. That being said, I have to say there are a few of your icons that I just love other than the three you have submitted. One that drew me in was number 6 for the cropping and 13 for the color. It's a powerful image, that scene.

I also love your Willow (15) icon, like you mentioned I like the contrast of the text of 'fire' to the shower image.

The other that drew me in was number 34. There is just something about that scene, the way Buffy is trying to hold in the pain she is hiding when her friends hug her that makes it so powerful, so I can see where you were going with it.

Oh please, have another! (I also have cake. And tea.)

I enjoyed reading your reasoning behind your icons and what you were going for. I do not see that often, it was a nice change.

I did that with my last set as you know, but I forgot to give comlodge in particular and also chasingdemons their props for encouraging me to write about my icons, because I was really hesitant about it. And kwritten's post is great too.

And I love doing it because I get to share the icons, share the process (which I also love reading about, not just the success stories; we learn through our "failures:), and keep my cred as a "meta writer"- three birds, one stone!

there are a few of your icons that I just love other than the three you have submitted.

That was why I basically gave Ryan a link to a folder I created in photobucket with all the icons I made for this challenge and said "you decide". Esp with that set I honestly COULD NOT pick out one I loved more.

I think it turned out to be a good idea though : keep icons for each challenge in their own folders to keep me organized for each one. How/where do you store your icons aside from your LJ?

And thank you for the detailed comments on the icon, it makes me very happy, esp when someone likes ones different than ones I do. I like to know why, and then I see them again through their eyes and sometimes appreciate my own stuff better! (Thoughtful con crit is also welcome, always!)

BTW - you are the third person in this thread who picked out #6 in particular, that's interesting - and nifty! *strokes chin* I'm still surprised so many people have singled it out because, again, I'm not happy with the text on #6, it doesn't feel as integrated into the image as #7, where it looks like it's printed on her shirtcollar, and you can see more of her raw, bloodied knuckles in #7. But then a little less of her face than #6 so - agh, still torn here.

And I'm glad you like 13 because I wasn't sure it worked, I worried it was too dark. But lightening or bumping up saturation didn't improve it IMO.

I also love your Willow (15) icon, like you mentioned I like the contrast of the text of 'fire' to the shower image.

I put that and 16 first because those were the first Willow icons I made for this set and yes, I'm really happy with them too. I was going to go with an image in the "drug house" but this image, I really felt the emotions, felt empathy for her, and that was really important to me. The other thing that I worked hard on with that one was not losing the crispness of the water spray.

There is just something about that scene, the way Buffy is trying to hold in the pain she is hiding when her friends hug her that makes it so powerful, so I can see where you were going with it.

I hesitated about that one because that moment is done so often in icons, and beautifully so. I hated to cut Willow and Xander out but I was trying to "reframe" the moment. I might come back to that one and try again.
I love the meta-ness of your icon posts. And you and kwritten have inspired me to get back into icon making. We'll see how long that lasts (hint: not long - spring break is nearing its end). They're all Veronica Mars-related (and if you haven't watched VM, I highly recommend it - Veronica is my #2 gal after Buffy), but maybe I'll make some BtVS icons. I have a few I made for a round of Seasonal Spuffy a year ago that I'm not happy with, so maybe I'll redo those.
I love the meta-ness of your icon posts. And you and kwritten have inspired me to get back into icon making.

*HUGS* Thanks so much, hon! I've gotten so much encouragement here. Maybe now I won't feel so shy about posting my "dead slayers" series? (for reaI, I've been kind of terrified, but writing this did to, so....I kept underestimating my peeps.)

I love inspiring other people and being inspired - fandom can be a great big circle of love and inspiration. That's where I want to live, not in the warzones! (Not that I won't rant and bitch sometimes. )

I just looked on Netflix btw- do they have VM on instant streaming? Of course not. Do they have ANYTHING that you mainly or anyone has rec'd to me, aside from Doctor Who and Breaking Bad on instant streaming? Of course not. *le sigh*

My sweetie and I did start watching Queer as Folk two years ago. GIven that I watched Buffy two years ago, I'm right on schedule.

I'm really looking forward to your icons - would you like me to look at the ones for seasonal spuffy and do a concrit?
Um . . . so long as we watch Buffy afterward, any time we're both in the same city, "Hug A Beta!" Day can be any day you want. Heh.
Here's what I'm thinking - I announce ahead of time a day/week at random as "Hug a Beta (timeframe)", and encourage people to write in appreciation (or make artwork etc) of their betas, their own positive beta experiences (as being one or working with one etc) and actually NAME NAMES.

I can't wrap my head around the fanfic (art etc) awards/nominees lists that have dozens and dozens of nominees - except in the beta catagory, and maybe there are one or two people named.