[ ART ] Adventures in Mini Painting

darksword-easley-bardI occasionally enjoy painting miniatures for my various Dungeons & Dragons characters.  It is, at best, a side-line hobby so far, though I’m becoming more and more invested as I buy more paint, brushes, and equipment.

I learned this week, however, that miniatures that require lots of piecing together are things that will, inevitably, frustrate me.  With my Rheumatoid Arthritis, I don’t have the same digital mobility that I used to.  Things that require very fine or deft motor skill are oftentimes beyond me because it either hurts my hands or they shake too much to be useful.  This particular miniature is a beautiful one from Darksword Minatures and their Easley Masterworks collection. I thought it would make a lovely miniature for my current Aasimar Bard (at least until I get in the new Heroforge Miniature I just ordered…)

Believe it or not, this miniature comes in three separate parts.  It doesn’t say that anywhere on the packaging or on the website to order.  Her right arm with the lute is one piece, her main body on the rock is another, then her left boot is the third.  My husband and I both tried to get the lute arm to line up correctly, but it was really a choice of whether we wanted her right arm to line up or whether we wanted her left hand to line up, we could never achieve both.  Her left boot was a tiny, hard to deal with space when you’re trying to hold something together with glue.  I ended up just kind of wedging it in there and hoping it stuck.

I probably should have assumed off the bat that this was the kind of miniature meant for “advanced painters” but it was so lovely that I couldn’t resist.  I learned my lesson about researching miniatures fully before buying.  Still, while the miniature isn’t as picture perfect as I would have hoped, I think I still managed something nice.

Change is Good

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For a long time, I identified as a writer.  It was the whole of who I was, what I was, and what I wanted to do with my life.  It wasn’t until my mid-30’s when I was diagnosed with severe, advancing Rheumatoid Arthritis that it came to an end.  Writing became a frustrating struggle against medication-induced anxiety, confusion, and memory loss.  Just trying to find enough focus to be coherent through the pain I experience on a daily basis was a battle.  Eventually, I came to the realization that I could no longer be a writer.  I could still write, sure, but it would never again be the identity I lived by.

It’s been strange, letting go of that part of myself, but in a way I think it’s been liberating.  I can write when I can, but I can draw, nerd out about my various fandoms, and generally be myself without having to pigeon-hole myself into a niche I feel I can no longer fill.  I think, out of everything that may come out of this blog in the future, that’s what I want to impress upon most to my readers — especially those suffering from debilitating chronic conditions like RA.

Change is good!   We’re told not to give up, we’re told not to let our disease “defeat” us, we’re told all this happy-go-lucky mind-over-matter malarkey that’s better suited to motivational posters than the Reality of what we’re facing.  Changing to adapt to what your disease does to you is an intensely personal decision that only you and your immediate family, spouse, or caregiver should have any say in, because it can and will affect all of you.  Friends, extended family, co-workers — none of them matter, because they don’t have to face the daily reality of your condition(s).  At best, they see the glossed-over, Brave Face Edition of it because none of us likes to put our pain on display.

Don’t let hyper-encouragement discourage you from making the best decisions for you, your life, and your disease.   I think I’m happier now than I have been in a long time, because I finally stopped listening to what everyone else kept telling me I should be feeling or how I should be coping or what I should be doing.  I simply did what was best for me.

The decision to change wasn’t easy.  There were a lot of tears and, even now, I’m struggling to figure out who I really am in the wake of it all.  I’ll get there, though, and when I do, nothing in the ‘verse will stop me.

Siege of Arey: Two

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Within the palace walls, everything felt close, almost stifling.  It felt as every eye watched, critical of her every move; as if her life were now under close scrutiny and the world waited for a single mistake to be made.  It made it difficult to know who to trust, but there were stalwarts here, men and women loyal to the Empire that would not be so easily turned by the Whiteblood.  There were also those who were suspect.

Lord Cyto Kine was the current Minister of War, but long had he opposed Alane’s rule, oftentimes undermining her authority during council sessions or circumventing her plans.  His machinations were always subtle, but Alane was wise enough to the ways of her own court that she knew.  Once, she might have drawn him up on charges of conspiracy, but the Whiteblood that served as her guard had turned against her, leaving her near-defenseless in a den of lions.  She could not afford to show any weakness.  Not now.

As if the very thought of him conjured the man, the hulking shadow of the Lord fell over Alane as she passed through the doorway into her audience chamber.  It was empty at this time of night, bereft of the many courtiers that flit and fluttered, trying to catch the eye or attention of the Empire.  There was no one, then, to see as Lord Cyto reached out to take hold of Alane’s arm as she passed him, jerking it back hard to force the Empress to stop. A sickening thread of hatred and anger rippled through Alane, but it was only a passing look of irritation that crossed her features.

“Unhand me, Minister.”  She said with deliberate care.  “The hour is late and I am weary.”

“Oh, a thousand apologies, Your Majesty, I only wanted to make sure that you were all right after seeing that frightful display outside.  How it must wound you, Ma’am, to see our beloved city brought so low.”

“It would wound me more if the Empire were actually guilty of the upsets that the Whiteblood give us claim to, but we cannot blame the people for being lost and confused when our own Imperial Guard have turned against us.  Still, the foul roots of this tree will be excavated eventually and the offenders dealt with.  We have no fear of that.”  Alane extricated her arm from Lord Cyto’s grip with a twist of her wrist, then stepping out of his immediate range lest he catch her again.

“How brave you are, Ma’am,” he said, looking past her to the empty room beyond.  “For someone so alone.”

She inclined her chin with pride.  “We are not alone as one might think.  Have faith, Lord Cyto.  There are those loyal to us still.”  With that, she took herself across the audience hall and beyond into her private chambers.

Lord Cyto watched her go, his eyes narrowing a fraction.  “Not for long…” he murmured darkly to himself.  “Not for long.”

 

Siege of Arey: One

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Gelid winds of winter’s whimpered like the ghosts of autumn’s fallen leaves. Snow had not yet fallen, but the grey monotone of the skies portended that it would be soon enough. Perhaps it would be enough to break the siege and bring the people to sense. Yet, even as the thought crossed her mind, Empress Alane knew it would bring no peace. Common folk had no concept of the art of war, but in this they had the advantage still.

Her palace towered over the city of Arey, but it was surrounded by those who considered themselves her enemies. Lies perpetuated by the Whiteblood, a band of insurrectionists hell-bent on overthrowing Imperial rule and “healing” the realm of its ills.  Once valiant defenders of the Empire, the Whiteblood turned against the crown, seeing enemies where there were none.  It was the Baron Cyto Kines that incited the Whiteblood against her sovereignty, spreading lies about the increase of taxes and the oppression of the merchant class.  He spoke in the streets about the decadence of the Imperial Palace and how the sovereignty had grown fat and complacent.

Truth be told, there was no conspiracy and no increase in taxes.  Reality of the matter was simple: the merchant class increased the prices of their wares, making it difficult for the lower classes to buy and sell goods, but when questioned they claimed it was higher taxes that resulted in the price increase.  Alane had attempted negotiations with the Merchant Princes a number of times, but they always refused.  Yet, rather than learn the truth for themselves, the common folk were all to ready to believe that their Empress and the Empire had failed them.

Alane drew the furred collar of her winter cloak higher up around her neck as she stepped out onto a balcony that overlooked the city.  In the distance, she could see the amber glow of flames as a section of the city burned.  Smoke curled up like sickly fingers of cold corpses, carrying with it the sounds of looting and malcontent. The winter would be a hard one for everyone.  They would be fortunate to survive.

Her eyes drifted away from the city, away from her failures as the steward of its welfare, and instead gazed skyward at the heavens. The Empire taught no religion, wanting no idols and gods to be placed above them in worth.  We are one body, she recalled it being said in one of her old governance lessons, One people.  We either stand together in faith with each other or we fail as a nation, disparate as a people.

There was no immunity from the disease that ate away at the very heart of her city and her people.  Like something terrible and chronic, it festered; lingering onward into a miasma of pain and abandoned hope.

“No,” she finally whispered aloud, her eyes once more returning to the burning parts of the city.  “I will not give up.  I’ll never give up.  There must always be hope.”

She turned to go back inside. “Even if it is only mine.”

Change on the Wind

More than just posting random pieces of art, I’ve decided that going forward I’ll be working on an old story idea I had.  I’ll be posting it like an illustrated story, both the artwork and the writing will be done by yours truly!

Siege of Arey will be a fantasy fiction series, but deeply rooted in and inspired by my journey with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).  It will meander between serious and silly, drawing from and fictionalizing a lot of the day-to-day situations that my conditions cause.

The Imperial Palace of the city of Arey is under siege by its own people.  Fooled by the lies told to them by the Whiteblood, former defenders of the Empire, and led awry it falls to the Empress Alane and her councilors to survive their desperate situation.  Cut off from her allies and alone in the heart of a hostile city, Alane has no one to turn to.  Hope, it seems, must come from within.

I plan for this series to launch on this blog on December 3rd, 2016.  I hope you’ll join me on this journey and enjoy both the art and fiction that come along with it.  This is all part of my new mantra:  Creatively Fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis.  If you’d like to support my efforts, please consider becoming a patron on Patreon!  (Patrons will get an early preview of Chapter One December 1st!)

Patronage will go toward pain management medications, as well as upgrades to this blog and my equipment to move forward to bigger and better things!

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