red_satin_doll: (Buffy Destructive  rocket launcher Innoc)
With a great many apologies for extreme tardiness (and being totally MIA): THANK YOU to whomever nominated my artwork for Round 13 of the [ profile] wicked_awards. I have no idea who did but it's extremely gratifying. And I am THRILLED that one of the nominated works is the poster for [ profile] herself_nyc's "Closure (is a silly word)", for Round 19[ profile] seasonal_spuffy.  That poster is the one thing I made the last year that I would have chosen, if I had decided to self-nominate. I'm really happy with how it turned out and honored that someone liked it enough to nominate.

Thank you also to whomever nominated my Category 2 Buffy icon for Round 17 of [ profile] btvsats20in20 . That took me by surprise as well and I am very grateful.

ETA: Also nominated was my Mr Gordo icon for [ profile] whedon_elite. Thank you [ profile] freecat15 for pointing out my oversight!  *pets Mr Gordo*

                                                                                                                                 Click thumbnail for full-size image
red_satin_doll: (Buffy Casablanca Poster v1 poppy wreath)
A collection of "random" pieces I have loved this year - click images or go to original links to view full size:
(ETA: This was a post that was meant to go on the [ profile] buffyversetop5 and I hit the send button a couple of minutes too late. *Note to self: learn time management techniques!*)

Gift to me by the amazing spikesredqueen February 2015
1) Birthday Banner for me by [ profile] spikesredqueen (February)
SRQ knows my love of the Buffyverse ladies. This pairs beautifully with [ profile] teragramm's WInged Buffy banner, no? And well-done manips never fail to impress me (because I've seen far too many bad ones).

MORE after the cut:

2) I Walk Alone art picspam set and banners by [ profile] comlodge for [ profile] seasonal_spuffy Round 18 (May)
[ profile] comlodge took the "simple" flipbook concept and turned into something incredibly sophisticated;  then she converted merged the images at my request into a single banner for my LJ. I know of few artists (if any?) who can combine luminousity and grunge effects in a single image.

3) Look Both Ways by [ profile] boiiko - the rightful winner of the [ profile] seasonal_spuffy Round 18 Banner Poll, and the only banner for the SS banner poll I've seen done in a hand-painted style. (It was actually done on computer, but it sure fooled me.) Almost elegantlly spare, the composition is deceptively "simple" and packed with layers of complicated emotions. More, please.

4) Out of My MInd from the btvs episode poster series by no-literally on tumblr. This is an ongoing project and every one of the posters is a masterpiece of graphic design; but I chose this one to display because of the incredibly clean, simple graphic that, like the other images on this list, is deceptively complex. Look close at the text and you'll see Spike's dream of kissing Buffy, floating above Spike's head - the dream and the dreamer visualized.

5) Wrecked from the btvs episode poster series by maradyeries on tumblr. , Haunting, jaw-droppingly gorgeous work in the style of "modern-day aesthetic" gifspams popular on tumblr right now.

red_satin_doll: (Buffy OMWF Why Can't I Feel  KK)
I finally posted my first proper post at the comm - artwork inspired by [ profile] shapinglight's wonderful short story "Casablanca". Check out my cover art and icons here. I would have had it finished on the 11th as I should have done but for my internet connection going kaput for several hours.  Better late than never?


Also, I want to mention that [ profile] killing_kurare made the Buffy/OMWF icon that I snagged for my default icon because it gives me so many feels (do we still say that around here or is that passe?).  Isn't it an insanely gorgeous, evocative little masterpiece?

red_satin_doll: (Buffy OMWF Sing XCU RSD)


Click images below for full size or check out all the banners here. All banners by yours truly, 2015; icons by their respective artists.

we128_1stplacebanner_fassyFINAL.png we128_2ndplacetie_bannersweetlyriFINAL.png

The background image is from a photo I took this past weekend, when the clouds came down to meet the earth.

            sandy_s_we128_20237_900.gif Banner Maker's Choice: Beneath You animated icon by [ profile] sandy_s As it turns out, ipiccy does not
                                                preserve the animation when I insert the icon as a layer, so the banner loses the full effect, alas. *pouts*

Most times, BMC is a tough choice for me but not this round.  THIS is a motion picture in miniature, the meat of the entire episode, of Buffy and Spike in S7, summed up in just a few images. It's evocative, emotional, tells a story, and is also beautifully made with rich deep blacks and a range of velvety grey tones.

Above all else it reminds me what fascinated and troubled me about those two characters, why I loved them when it was me myself and experiencing their arc three years ago; before I became aware of fandom and controversies and the did-she's/didn't she's.  In other words, it's about love.  (And bonus points from this Buffy-fan, it doesn't exclude her in order to prioritize him.)

If this is Sandy's warm-up act for [ profile] seasonal_spuffy, then bring it on, I say.

My entries: All these images are from the Pack; screencaps mostly from Bloodqueen and (The Xander icon is almost certainly from Screencapped.)
1 - 3

4 - 7

Speaking of [ profile] seasonal_spuffy, have you voted for your favorite banner for Round 19 yet? And if not, why not?  (Unless you don't ship the pairing, in which case, carry on.)
FYI I'll be away from the computer for the next 4 - 5 days so I won't be around to keep reminding you; ergo, mark it on your calender, kids, and I'll see you around the bend.

A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.

red_satin_doll: (Faith heart frame RSD)
** Deadline for submissions to [ profile] slayerstillness Challenge 54 "Roy G Biv" is today Friday Oct 9th midnight at your timezone. For this
    challenge we may submit up to seven icons rather than the usual five, one for each color in the rainbow. There are 31 entries so far and I love
    the theme so I'm expecting a real humdinger of a contest.

** Breaking news: The deadline for the banner contest for Round 19 of [ profile] seasonal_spuffy has been EXTENDED one week to Sunday Oct
    18th (PST).
Which means that anyone who said they wouldn't entering due to lack of time? Here's your chance. It's also a great opportunity to
    PROMOTE the upcoming comm so by all means reblog, retumble, tell your friends, whatever it is the kids do nowadays.

A word to the wise: Don't make the mistake I made the last time and submit more than one banner and end up competing against yourself. One of those first time-y novice mistakes.(In my own defense...I'm awful at making decisions I did not yet have the most amazing wonderful erudite Muse-Goddess [ profile] velvetwhip in my corner at the time. Now I do, and my life is all the better.)

Speaking of last round, I never did post the banners and icons I made for Round 18's competition:


Spuffy Hand Banner  v.1 - 3 (2015). 750x300

All banners on this post by yours truly. Click the images below to view full-size:

spuffyhandsbanner750x300PGoM1.png   fave_spuffyhandbannerfinishwhatwestarted.png    2 - 3

Spuffy Hand Banner (what else could I possibly title it? I think that says it all) is still one of my favorite and, I dare say, best things I've made yet. I was nervous about entering the round because it's difficult for me to express my views on Buffy&Spike. How in the world could I encapsulate my complex feelings for two insanely, deliciously complex characters in a single banner? But this is IT for me in terms of my feelings for the pairing. I was determined to avoid using the flaming handfasting in Chosen because I've seen it used so often in fanart, but I wanted to depict Spuffy hand imagery and I couldn't not use it. There's "iconic" and then there's beyond "iconic". Know what I mean?

For this particular project I got a lot of my inspiration from the music I was listening to at the time. The lyrics in this banner are from "Flaws" performed by Bastille (Writer: Daniel Smith Copyright: Wwkd Ltd.) The backdrop is one or two of my sweetheart's photos of - you guessed it - a New England autumn sunset that's come in handy so many times before and since. In this instance I used it as a backdrop then I layered it over the screencaps a second time, turned in a different direction to "fill the gaps" and create continuity across the image. Then I used Sharpen, Glow and various other filters to make the caps look less photographic and more painterly.

The cap from Listening to Fear was the most difficult to adjust in terms of brightness and contrast because that scene is so damn dark. Layering on the cloudscapes was pretty much a necessity. It ended up being my favorite portion of the banner - the icon I made from it (#8 below) is still one of my all-time favorite icons I've made.

I entered both 1 & 2 to the contest; I have no idea what I was thinking. I also entered my first version of this design which was very bright, over-saturated, had a triangle in the center and was just a hot freakin' mess; I'll be damned if I'm going to repost it here. I have no idea what I was thinking.
Round 18 spring 2015 entry banner 7   Round 18 spring 2015 entry banner 2 lyrics by Bastille and Hozier  4 - 5
That Sad Earthly Scene v.1-2 (2015)  750x422 & 750x400
Figuring out sizing and proportion was something I was still strugling with at the time.

My second-favorite design. I was intrigued by the resemblance between the Normal Again and Beneath You images. Madness, insanity, depression, the damaged caused by experience and memory, by a life of violence, is another of my favorite themes when thinking about the Buffyverse although part of my interest lies in how Mutant Enemy sometimes gets it all wrong.

Add the handoff of the amulet from Chosen, an image of a shattered mirror by Lauren Elisabeth Photography, and stir. I was really pleased with how the images came together here. The place where their hands come together and the glow from the amulet just happened to fall pretty much in the center of the banner; and the fact that Spike's face seems to be tucked into or leaning against his own body from the later episode was pure serendipity. Lyrics on #5 from "Flaws" and "Take Me to Church" by Hozier. (Writer(s): Andrew Hozier Byrne. Copyright: The Evolving Music Company Limited)
#4 was preferred by the voters in  the poll over 5 by a slight margin; I think the voters were right but I really do love both versions for different reasons and go back and forth as to which is "best" - probably six of one, half a dozen of the other. Once again I submitted both versions to the poll. What in the world was I thinking at the time?

Round 18 spring 2015 entry banner 1 6
The Work I Have to Do (2015),  750x300
I wanted to compare Buffy's sacrifice in The Gift with Spike's in Chosen because they are after all parallel events. This is perfectly obvious and yet somehow doesn't get discussed all that much. Or when it does, it's in terms of a competition: this person's sacrifice was just "suicide" and therefore not really all that heroic compared to that person's sacrifice, blah blah bitty blah. Whatever.

The design turned out to be rather simple - the image of Buffy leaping into the exploding portal is well, a gift to the fan artist because it's such an incredible visual. Layer it with the image of Spike's soul "effulgent" in Chosen, add a Shine filter, balance warm and cool color layers and tah-dah! It just glows. Instead of song lyrics I used dialogue from The Gift and Chosen. Once again, the way that the lines in different fonts and colors intersect with one another ("This the work I have to do" / "I have to do this") was a very happy accident.


round 18 spring 2015 entry banner 7 lyrics by Joseph King and Isaac Slade 7
How to Save a Life (2015), 532x512
This banner received zero entries in the poll - and it shouldn't have. This was the first banner I made for the round, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to make anything in time (hah); so I adapted the composition of the awards banner I made for [ profile] oh_cheezit for Round 6 of [ profile] btvsats20in20, using a different image of Spike. So it wasn't a strict cheat in the sense that yes, I had to go back to my original source images and make the whole thing from scratch; but I was ripping ("riffing"?) off my own work - and I did it better the first time.

Lyrics: "How to Save A Life" performed by The Fray (Writer(s): Joseph King, Isaac Slade Copyright: Aaron Edwards Publishing, Emi April Music Inc.)

Icons from the banners: I wish #9 had come out a bit better (there are superior icons of that image out there) but I was thrilled with how well #8 worked as an icon.
      8 - 11

           12 - 16

12 - 16 is based off a banner idea I rejected; more The Gift/Chosen parallels. Good idea but the execute of the banner was a mess (to be polite), so I settled for an icon instead. I'd still like to return to the idea for a banner at some point. Dylan Thomas' poem seemed like a natural here. Light texture in #15 by [ profile] colorfilter.

Check out my Resource post for some of my image sources.

A Vague Disclaimer is No One's Friend:
~ Take what  icons you like for personal use but please credit if used :)
~ No hotlinking!
~ Comments however are appreciated :)
~ All artwork by yours truly except where otherwise indicated.
red_satin_doll: (Buffy IWRY golden glow RSD)

Thank you again to everyone who voted for my icons in Round 10 of [ profile] btvsats20in20!  My banners, a bit belatedly, with many thanks to
my wonderful betas [ profile] tempertemper and [ profile] velvetwhip for their thoughtful and generous feedback on both the banners and the icons:
Click images to see full-size:
Rd10finalRSDbannercharacters1.png   Rd10finalRSDbannercharacters2.png   Rd10finalRSDbannerthemes.png
Congratulations to winners [ profile] sweet_lyri, [ profile] tempertemper, [ profile] killing_kurare, [ profile] teragramm, [ profile] snogged and [ profile] spikesredqueen! Check out their winning icons and awards banners in the thread here.

As with the banners I made for the last round of [ profile] slayerstillness, the base image is a photograph I took of daylilies at a local bank while waiting in line at the drive-through. I originally was going to do a fancier image with light effects and literally "gild the lily", until I came to my senses and realized simple was best. I love the summertime feel of the image, and how the colors coordinate suprisingly well with so many of the icons.

It should be noted that I all but threw multiple alts of the Faith and Joyce icons in [ profile] velvetwhip's lap and she, being the superb Muse that she is, singled out the versions I submitted. Take a look (NWS warning for one tiny icon of Darla's cleavage)


I loved making the Faith and Dru icons this round - they were so much fun to make.  (Admitedly, I have a weird sense of "fun".)

1 - 7

8 -14

  15 -21



Speaking of winning icons and banners, congratulations to the winners of [ profile] whedon_elite Challenge 122 "Bright and Shiny" : [ profile] teragramm, [ profile] sweet_lyri and [ profile] double_dutchess in her first go at WE correction: her first time competing in any icontest! Congratulations on the splendid icons ! And THANK YOU to everyone who voted for my icons and honored my Buffy icon with a Best Crop award! :D  Awards banners to come shortly, stay tuned!
red_satin_doll: (Buffy IWRY golden glow RSD)

Congratulations to [ profile] teragramm, [ profile] sweet_lyri and [ profile] emmatheslayer for their winning entries in [ profile] whedon_elite Challenge 121! Teragramm's 2nd place/Best Color winner is a particular favorite of mine; I've seen a lot of icons of that scene in After Life and that shot in particular, but never one that looks exactly like this. The granular details and the coloring are especially delicate and subtle.

Teasers for artwork after the cut: we121_1stplacebanner350x324_RSD_1.5a.png we121_2ndplacebestcolorbanner_rsd2015_350x324_1.2.png WE121_3rdplacebannerrsd_sweetlyri350x324.png   WE121_modschoicebannerbyRSD_350x324.png

The theme for Challenge 121 was "Negative space + Two (and only two) figures + one dominant color" so I tried to play on that with the awards banners, and match the couplings in the icons in my banners. (The majority of entries and winners are shippy.) I fudged a litlte on Emmatheslayer's banner: I'm not sure if that's Xander walking in the far background in her Mod's Choice icon, but all three icons in her set featured Buiffy & Xander and in any case, I associate Xander with that scene in Life Serial so strongly that I assumed it was him.

Even thougjh [ profile] whedon_elite covers the entire "Jossverse" I'm amused by the fact that the entries and the winning icons are so Buffy-centric, with the exception of Teragramm's Sprusilla icon.

For last round I relied entirely on my own photographs for the banner textures but this time I mixed up my own photo textures with found textures; the textures in the Sprusilla and Bangel banners are by [ profile] sweet_lyri.  The Spuffy image for Teragramm's banner is a promotional photo from S2 but I really like how it parallels and unintentionally foreshadows  S6.

we121_1stplacebanner350x324_RSD_1.5a.png   we121_2ndplacebestcolorbanner_rsd2015_350x324_1.2.png

WE121_3rdplacebannerrsd_sweetlyri350x324.png   WE121_modschoicebannerbyRSD_350x324.png

I did not plan to make the Sprusilla and Spuffy banners darker than the Bangel and Bander ones, and since I don't ship Bangel and Bander there is no judgement regarding the ships themselves intended.  In fact, one of my favorite things about the Bangel poster is how both Buffy and Angel seem to dissolve in the light; Buffy especially is all but a shadow; and the texture by [ profile] sweet_lyri subtly divides the image and comes between them.

Entries for Challenge 122,  "Bright and Shiny"  are due Sunday July 26th at 3pm EST.  There are 15 wonderful entries so far but more are welcome.

red_satin_doll: (Summers Family Portrait S5 RSD)

Full set after the cut!

Kudos to: My extraordinary and marvelous Beta-Muse, [ profile] velvetwhip. WIthout whom this set would not exist, or at least be half as strong.
Special thanks to: [ profile] starry_night for extending the deadline for me and being so incredibly patient.

Willow/Center Crop Faith/Frame Buffy/XtremeCloseCrop Dawn/B/W+Color Joyce/Hope
Tara/Power Oz/Solid Background Angel/Lyrics Cordelia/Blue Spike/Negative Space
Giles/Text Fred/Hands Wesley/First Scene Anya/Hairporn Kendra/Beginning
Xander/Eyes Lorne/Last Scene Drusilla/Duplicate Darla/Faceless Monster/Dream

ETA: Cordy Icon Nominated Best Icon [ profile] wicked_awards 2015 - THANK YOU for the nomination!
red_satin_doll: (Summers Family Portrait S5 RSD)
When the incredibly talented and generous [ profile] comlodge put out an open offer to personalize the FFL picspam banner set she made for Round 18 of [ profile] seasonal_spuffy, I asked if she could put the top two close up images of James' and Sarah's faces into one banner, perhaps with a ghost image of the two of them on the back porch step in the center? And could she please keep that pretty watercolor blue at the top, and that nifty framing device?  She could, she did, and did she ever. Behold the glory:
I Walk Alone variation by the Goddess [ profile] comlodge (2015), personalized for me.  Click to view full-size and appreciate the fine details; it really needs to be seen full-size.

You can see all of the banners and icons she made me below the cut, here in my scrapbook album - or better yet, check out the originals at [ profile] comlodge's journal here and here, leave her feedback about beautiful they are, request your own personalized version if you like, and tell her that I sent you.

This is my favorite version of the several alts she made for me and I've added this below the cut on my Welcome Post, where the Winged Buffy she made me exactly two years ago also holds pride of place. (Has it been two years, already? Surely not.) But I certainly might switch it out with any of the other, equally beautiful alts. Each one has slight differences to the other and I love all of them.

Thank goodness she came out to play for this round of [ profile] seasonal_spuffy, which would have been poorer without her contributions. She captured so much of what I love about these two characters, as indvidiuals and together.

1 - 4 banners, click to see full-size
  562991_original.jpg   562782_original.jpg   562662_original.jpg     555162_original.jpg

5 - 9 icons
  554611_original.jpg   554411_original.jpg   icon by comlodge for me June 2015     552277_original.jpg   551960_original.jpg

All artwork in this post courtesy of [ profile] comlodge, 2015; do not steal, deface, claim as your own, hotlink, or archive to other websites (Fanpop, etc) without the artist's express consent.
red_satin_doll: (Harmony Kendall Gold Sparkle Holiday)
I meant to include these in my last post in celebration of the fact that [ profile] bangel_4e has kindly extended the voting deadline of [ profile] btvsats20in20 Round 8 until tomorrow (Sunday the 12th), and LJ simply would not let me. So let me try this again:

banner by me, 2015          banner by me 2015           banner by me 2015    
Banners above and icons therein by your's truly, 2015. Image of Alyson Hannigan courtesy of The Chosen Gallery. Click images to enjoy full size. All banners in this post by me, icons by their respective creators. If you wish to share please credit and enjoy. Don't rip off my stuff or post it on some other site without my permission, capisci?
What follows is much verbiage and more banner images; forewarned is forearmed:

Yes, that was 3 (4?) months ago. It feels like both a forever-ago and just yesterday that I was ready to throw up my hands and drop out, and the wise and wonderful [ profile] velvetwhip provided the gentle encouragement I needed to keep going. And where would I be the last 6 months or so without her? Mired in a puddle of my own hopeless, frustrated tears, that's where. And [ profile] tempertemper was likewise a phenomenal beta-muse for when I was making the banners.

Full disclosure: when my babies don't perform well in competition I weep and wail and wonder "Why not? I don't get it." When they do well and are honored as they were in Round 6, I wonder "Why? Other folks' stuff is so much better. I don't get it." Starry's Harmony set, in particular, nearly caused me throw in the towel; it's just so damn gorgeously pretty and I loved how in lieu of actual holiday episodes for Harmony she created a gorgeous sparkle-y holiday feel with superb use of textures. So you, Gentle Reader & Voter, cannot win for losing.

I wish I could credit the photographer of the image of Aly because it's a fanartist's absolute dream of a photo to play with; besides being an attractive image the clarity and image resolution are stunning. There is absolutely no "meta" aspects or intellectual thought to these three banners except "Ooh, pretty! Why haven't I seen this image used in other fanarts before?" and "How do I set the icons and text across it without looking like snot is dripping out of her nose?"  I originally used the other half of her face for the banners and had to redo them because greenish text and a large icon dropping out of someone's nostril is not an attractive look. Profit from my experience, Gentle Reader.

The normal ettiquette with 20in20 awards banners is apparently to make them only for folks who request them. I decided to throw convention to the wind: banners for everyone, barkeep! Which was essentially my excuse to play around and try to stretch myself a bit in terms of techniques. For instance, I discovered accidentally that if I had two images the exact same size, one with text, icons, etc and one without, I could layer them in texture mode and "transfer" whatever visual elements I wanted from one to the other without having to everything all over again from scratch.

I made the Willow banners last of all; the first one I made was for [ profile] sweet_lyri's second place Bangel category icon. She hadn't requested it yet so that was pure playtime for me. I found a promo photo I liked and decided to go with promo photos for all of the other banners as well, all of them from The Chosen Two Gallery.  This banner is probably the first traditionally romantic, unironic Bangel fanart I've made; I took the "Christmas/ magical snow" context of the icon and extended it to the entire banner. It was a bit of a puzzle at first how to do that - Sarah's wearing a strapless dress and the photo was clearly NOT set in wintertime, but by cooling the color tones with a blue-ish "waterdrop" texture, a second "lace stripe wallpaper" texture a snowflake frame for the icon and a snowflake "paintbrush for the outer border, I think I got a reasonable approximation.

I was going to leave Sarah's skin tone a touch warmer to emphasize Buffy's humanity in contrast to Angel's non-human status but decided it just detracted attention from the icon itself. (Since that round I have become a huge fan of [ profile] sweet_lyri's work; check out my userpic gallery for confirmation or better yet, go directly to her Round 8 Dawn set.)
banner made by me January 2015
[ profile] tempertemper's had an interesting genesis in a Jangel icon I was attempting to make for [ profile] velvetwhip's extremely awesome fic Answering Prayers.  Take a promo image of David for btvs (or ats), cut it out and place on dark background, add a starscape/universe texture and one of my own cloudscape photographs to cover the edges of the mask and voila! Again, no meta statement re:Angel going on except - whatever you want to read into it. Angel as an immortal creature yadda yadda bitty blah and all that jazz. I was a little puzzled at first how to do a banner for all of her very worthy Themes winners, six in all So I decided to treat them as if they were a "set".  I suppose if I'd tried harder I could have put all of her winning entries onto one banner. All the awards banners I'd seen up to that point kept the icons at their original size; I didn't know that you could reduce them to fit the banner. (Since then I've seen banners at other 20in20 comms where they actually do size the icons down.)

Her Reason icon is a thing of GENIUS, y'all - it never fails to make me smile. And her Category set is another fantastically clever solution to the problem of creating a "holiday" category set.  To my mind it's not only more clever, it's wittier and more inventive than my set because I had a holiday, ready-made, to work from; she had to create one from whole cloth.
FINAL_v1_AngelthemesbannerfortempertemperJan2015byredsatindoll_zps48a9ea45       FINALtempertemperCatgeorysetbanner_byredsatindoll_Jan2015       FINALv2_tempertemperACsetbanner_byredsatindoll_Jan2015
I already mentioned that [ profile] starry_night's Harmony set nearly caused me to quit Round 6 before I'd even made a single icon because they were simply so beautiful and accomplished and I knew I couldn't come within a mile of them. (I still can't, IMO.) That it took much hand-holding from [ profile] velvetwhip to get me to complete mine?  Starry's icons are so gorgeous and elegant, I wanted the banners to suit them - and I kept coming up with images of Mercedes McNab showing lots of skin that looked like they were meant for men's magazines. Now I am all for a woman's right to display her own body as she chooses but that wasn't the look I had in mind for the banners. The image I found on The Chosen Two was a rare exception, very restrained and classical, almost "Renaissance".

It needed a little something extra though and my landlord's yellow rose set to difference/subtract/invert (one of the three, I don't recall which) to turn it black like Mercedes' dress was just the thing. Never underestimate just how handy a casual outdoor snap you've taken can be. I tried to keep the rest of the color scheme as close to the various shades of pink/mauve/purple found in the icons as possible. All of these icons are lovely and her Category set is a knock-out; I snagged her 3rd place Category icon because I simply had to have it.
Harmonybannerv3.1_starrynightthemesACwinners_byredsatindollJan2015             finalbannerstarry_nightcategorywinnersbtvsats20in20rd6Jan2015_byredsatindoll_v3

The Spuffy banner for [ profile] oh_cheezit's wonderful AC set from "Sleeper", an episode I love, was the last one I made aside from the Willow banners and in some ways the most difficult. I came into this fandom an S7 Spuffy shipper and by the time I'd made these banners, "Spuffy" had become an uncomfortable and even painful place rather than a comfort zone. I found it difficult to re-access my original love and enthusiasm for the pairing and perhaps this banner was above all else an attempt to reclaim my love for them on my terms. (I very nearly didn't make this one at all.) I was going for the sense of Buffy as the sun, as moral compass, a guiding presence to him in her life and in death but also, perhaps, a ghost or memory. My first try (below right) is very pretty and the icons pop but something's missing I think, it lacks overall unity and is a bit bland.

I cropped Sarah's face closer on the second try, pushed the blue-green color from the photo of James in the "crypt" and didn't notice until after I'd layered them that the roots in the crypts intermingled nicely with Sarah's hair so that they seemed intertwined. The image of James was actually of rather poor quality in some respects and I had to do a lot of blending around his face; it ended up more washed out than I wanted. I made several tries at the font colors with this one and never got it quite right; her name in particular looks too bright too me now. I'm still not sure that the banner doesn't overwhelm rather than compliment the icons. The final version is on the left and the alt is to the right:

banner by me Feb 2015 version 3 FINAL           banner by me Feb 2015 version 1
I arranged the icon set a little differently to the other banners because for some reason they wouldn't line up in an exact line. When I staggered them a bit I thought it created a nice sense of both dimension and movement that I think suits the icons. There is a very cinematic feeling to this set; [ profile] oh_cheezit alternated long, medium and close-up shots like an expert cinematographer, but always with an emphasis on the varied emotions of the scene and Sarah and James' wonderfully expressive faces.

So that's my story and I'm sticking too it - what say you, Gentle Reader?

And apropos of nothing: I'm watching Episode 1, season 1 of the Rockford Files, "Backlash of the Hunter: Part 1."  (Circa 1974)I haven't watched this show in decades (my mom was a huge James Garner fan back in the day.) Eleven minutes into the episode and we were just getting our first glimpse at the protagonist, Jim Rockford. There's such a leisurely quality to the storytelling that feels absolutely foreign today. And it's still the BEST OPENING CREDITS SEQUENCE AND THEME SONG EVAH.

My sweetheart said at the end of the episode "I don't think I want to watch that very often." Me? I'm thinking OMG James Garner is funny, charming, adorable and handsome in a rugged lived-in way and what happened to real leading men like him? And I do mean MEN, not the boys fobbed off on us nowadays. MOAR please.
red_satin_doll: (Dawn Summers is the Key - Normal Again)
Vote in Tiebreakers for Round 6 of [ profile] btvsats20in20. Make sure to vote in all three at the post; voting closes Friday January 23rd; which gives you at least a day to beat your friends out of the bushes and encourage them to vote.

[ profile] buffyversetop5 is officially closed this session, which means no more posts this round - but it's like a party where the kitchen is closed but there's tons of food and drink still overflowing the buffet table and another gallery wall you probably haven't seen yet. I got in four posts of wonderful fics and artwork recs - better late than never? - thank you to [ profile] yourlibrarian and [ profile] petzipellepingo for hosting such an incredible party twice a year.

Right now I'm enjoying three fics that you can expect to see on my Top 5 recs for next January - why not start early this time around?:

Answering Prayers by [ profile] velvetwhip (Joyce/Angel, early S3 AU) is a marvelous, funny, touching "deleted episode" that focuses on Joyce's personal journey as a Slayer's mom but also as a woman and a person in her own right as she tries to find answers to where her baby girl might have gone and finds more than she bargained for. Why aren't there thousands of such stories?  Why has Joyce been so overlooked in fandom?  I don't know but this fic feels like an oasis in the desert and just might become the story that future fan writers build off of and around when it comes to writing about her.  So far it's very PG (up to chapter 3 and no sex scenes) and I have no idea where Gabrielle is taking this. But I cannot wait to find out.

the kids are alright by [ profile] kwritten (Tara, Dawn, Buffy/Tara, S7-AU) the next segment in the B/T Finding a Balance 'verse, this one focuses on Tara's relationship with Dawn as surrogate parent, in a late seasons AU in which the women of the 'verse support and love one another, damaged children doing their best and somehow managing to keep the darkness at bay. I don't associate this author with "fluff" and this is - and it isn't. Again I ask, why aren't there a thousand fics about the Tara & Dawn relationship? This makes a lovely pairing with [ profile] brutti_ma_buoni's "The Real You".

Palimpset by [ profile] spuffy_luvr.[ profile] beer_good_foamy (Buffy/Spike - or is it, Buffy/William? - and Willow, AU S10 comics.) The link takes you to the epilogue, which has links to the previous four chapters. Think shades of "The Ballad of Randy and Joan" and [ profile] beer_good_foamy's "Building Character" but plottier, a wild ride with intricate issues of identity and agency roiling beneath the surface. I need to reread it before I can comment on the last two sections. It's incredibly subversive on several levels, not the least of which is the key role Willow  and the Willow/Buffy relationship plays here; their friendship is not the sidenote in a spuffy fic, it's absolutely central.  I've said this before: [ profile] spuffy_luvr is becoming a Willow author of note.
red_satin_doll: (Spuffy S6 - A Broken Halleluliah)
I cannot believe it's been a year since I wished my dear friend [ profile] eilowyn Happy Birthday(month) and here we are again!  Only a day late, I wanted to make her a little something in return for the wonderful fanmix, artwork, support and friendship she's given me - Happy Birthday Lexi, you are a dear, dear soul, an amazing scholar, a intelligent  and courageous woman and I am so proud of you on every level. Some Spuffy artwork for you my dear.

Click all images for full-size versions:


And a couple more variations:


Enjoy your birthday/week/month darling!

red_satin_doll: (Servalan Blakes7)
I wanted to do something special for [ profile] debris4spike's birthday and knew I wanted it to be Spike and/or Spuffy-centric. I confessed to her one day that it's very dificult for me to work with images of men in my icons and artwork. I have beloved brothers, uncles, cousins, male friends and coworkers; I enjoy a variety of male actors and characters in tv and movies. But actually working with images of men is another matter altogether. So I pushed myself with this. I was going to do a collage with Spuffy hand imagery, or various scenes throughout the seasons but when I looked at the screencaps for The Gift and nearly started crying, I knew where to focus. There is such a purity about this moment. And it's all in the eyes, in their faces:
d03ed568-d16e-4303-bd13-f8e7c26cbf0c_zps3f833ce6 01)
Is it bad form for an artist to say they're happy with their own work? Well, rubbish to that - I was so happy with how this came out, and so suprised by it. I didn't plan the way the curves of the borders echo the necklines of their shirts, didn't realize at first that Buffy and Spike look to be at eye level with each other as opposed to the screencaps; and wasn't aware at first how lighting their faces so and eliminating a lot of the details and shadows captured the feeling of - or my feelings about - the moment better, I think, than the screencaps themselves do. In the caps they both look very tense and somewhat guarded; here, he looks friendly and open, she looks  sad and a bit exhausted, morally and physically. I was so happy with this I went overboard and made color variations, as one does:

Teaser icons - there's more to come...

Click all images below to view in full size:

38c3a81e-765b-4028-b44a-c49711ec38da_zps5092fe50 02)
These were made almost entirely in ipiccy. I made a collage and - did other stuff. I would tell you if I could remember! There were light effects, that I do recall. #3 was the original version I brought over to Photobucket; then I sharpened it quite and added the text.

082ec8b0-3078-4be5-be99-c9c6d4944e08_zps7061902d TG_original_725_warm_zpsb2616a3c 03-04)

f6aeb58d-113c-404d-9f01-c84b562276c9_zps5169f75e 766ecc82-93c4-4c19-8d6f-af9d73f6dd56_zps43355a71 95da2d28-31b3-4447-ada9-6250f5a6a0e7_zps547c6e8a 05-07)

And then I remembered that Deborah is color-blind, and I worried she might not be able to see this very well. Looking at her icons I'm not aware of this except as she's mentioned it, so it's easy to forget. She's James Marsters fan, a Spike and Spuffy fan who also celebrates the great, interesting ladies in her icons: Buffy Summers, of course; her award-winning Willow icon for [ profile] btvs_hush Challenge 272 is one of my favorite icons of the year so far; as well as the women of Star Trek Voyager (esp Captain Kathryn Janeaway) and Blakes 7. See the Servalan icon I snagged for further confirmation. Check out the delicate colors of her Willow "Becoming" icon for Challenge 273, or her Broken and AC4 Blakes 7 icons for [ profile] season20in20 with their marvelously controlled and assured composition and color effects.

She may see "differently" but what an eye! And what a heart and soul to go with it.

So I made a  mono+purple version just in case she couldn't see the images above properly; thankfully she assured me she can, and has given me permission to post all of these. She particularly liked the text effect in #8; that's Pacifico font from ipiccy, made using the "invert" effect in the pull down menu of the text adjustment box. Then the light leak effects layered over that give the grey lettering an unintentional (but nifty) ombre effect.
TG_collage_purplelight_HPtext_v3_zps85cb8e12 08)
I couldn't resist trotting out my landlord's rose as a texture again for the fun of it. A bit more lushly romantic than I usually allow myself to indulge in:
75c191c3-9923-4773-a392-45632c3dff37_zpsf2be6447 baabaeb7-fb42-4fe6-8a25-c6dbeec8cef8_zpsbb8454cf 09-10)
Deborah asked me to pick one of the pieces above and make an icon of it for her, but I've not been able to do so successfully, 1-7 are just too busy as images to work successfully or maybe I just lack the skill and know-how. I tried using 8-10 but Buffy and Spike both end up looking so stern and Sarah's cheek pixilates something awful. I did better - marginally - going back to the original caps or using another image altogether.



I do like the way #19 looks like a mid 20th-century advert illustration.  But by this point I hit the wall of my ability to stare at a man's face for hours on end, even a handsome one. I can't explain it. And 20-22 below are strange even by my standards. IF ANYONE OUT THERE CAN MAKE AN ICON OF ONE OF THE LARGER WORKS OR CAN TEACH ME HOW TO DO IT IN iPICCY, PLEASE PM ME.

Want? DO NOT take or have without checking with the artist (moi) and nicely asking [ profile] debris4spike first. Do not alter, claim as your own, hotlink or any of that nonsense that sensible, ethical people would never think to indulge in. 'kay?

red_satin_doll: (Showtime Spuffy)

To [ profile] comlodge "aka the Other Janice" (there's only the two of us in fandom, surely?)

LJ's notification system has been painfully on-again, off-again, hence my recent resolution to send birthday greetings directly by PM's, but it seems to be "on again" for the time being and I couldn't resist sending a little Spuffy love to the lady who has gifted me many hours of interesting, intelligent and funny conversations and so many lovely artworks, including Winged Buffy and "The One with Wings" "Like Mother, Like Daughter" (Joyce and Buffy); "One Girl to Save the World"; "Prophecy Girl"; Buffy and Tara friendship banners "The Hurt Inside" and "Talk to Me" for [ profile] clockwork_hart1's equally lovely fic of the same name; and that's not even touching the surface of all her Spike and Spuffy artworks, Spike/Dru, her astonishing Illyria banners, her Photoshop tutorials and....well, if you're reading this you probably know her and her work quite well already. But there's always something I miss. Every one reminding me of the importance of perfect practice makes perfect, as she said to me recently. Talent and skill don't fall out of the sky like magic; they have to be worked at and earned.

(Oh, and she's a marvelous writer too, as it happens.)

Recently I made some Spuffy icons from After Life with [ profile] comlodge in mind for a [ profile] slayerstillness challenge focusing on negative space. I didn't submit them and have been squirreling them away for "the right moment".
There's no time better.

1) 2) 3) 4)

Snaggable as always, give proper credit please.
These were some of my first experiments with the "splash" function in Photobucket. (My personal favorite is probably #3.) #1 was meant to focus on the "negative space" by keeping ther color on the rug in the background, then eventually I reversed the color. It whispers "Joyce" to me, for surely Joyce picked it out and bought it, and the negative space in Buffy's life when she lost her mother.  It links the two of them together, not just because they shared strong bonds with their mothers and Spike's friendships with the Summers women; but also in the way Buffy's loss was echoed by negative space in Spike's life created when Buffy died. Buffy is back in body, but still a "ghost", still more absence than presence; and Joyce can never return except in memory. There is still much work to do to fill the negative spaces, and in the end, maybe the holes can never be refilled in quite the same way. They can be ignored or acknowledged; we try to set everything back the way it was, or we can acknowledge that growth and new life can come from the damage of freshly-turned soil.

Which perhaps is why I reversed the coloring back to Buffy and Spike in the end rather than the rug -  their hands and faces - focusing on life rather than death, on the flowers rather than the soil. Or maybe I'm enough of a romantic, after all. It's a moment of care and astonishing tenderness, and Joyce's presence is everywhere. Spike is at his best when he's most connected to Mater, the Mother Principle, never more so than here and in Touched; he goes wrong when he loses touch with that and tries to be the demon, the patriarch, tries to become what Angel taught him to be and what William never was.  In this scene and in later in Touched, I dare say that he is doing what Joyce would have wanted, taking care of her brave but damaged little girl, keeping a promise to a lady.

We can write ten thousand h/c fics and I doubt they could hold as much power as this single image of two fascinating characters, played by two incredible actors with amazing chemistry at the top of their game.

Happy Birthday, Janice.
red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)
And this is where I pretend I'm such a mature, blase adult about such things - oh, screw that. I won third place in [ profile] otherworldlyric icontest #163!

(But also, I won? Like, SRSLY??)

Thank you to everyone who voted! And congratulations to the other winners in this challenge, [ profile] chic_c and [ profile] spikesredqueen!

I had a hard time voting this round (as per usual) because there were so many lovely things to pick from. Two of the ones I voted for are in fandoms I'm not familiar with, so I had no idea who the characters were, I just thought they were wonderful icons. And I even voted for a Spike icon - I'm as shocked as you are!  Then immediately after I hit the submit vote button I thought "Oh, no wait, but there's that other one too....Can I vote again?"

You know me. Given my druthers, I don't wanna enumerate them. I just wanna enjoy. *sigh*

Of course, a thousand THANK YOUS go to my agent, my manager, my stylist beta [ profile] wickedbish (Ryan); he specifically mentioned that Fading Away Fast icon as one of his favorites and I don't think I would have submitted it otherwise. I liked the icon very much - I loved the concept of it when I thought it up - but I wasn't entirely happy with the execution. (I wanted the effect of a more gradual fade on the colors on each word in the text.)  I knew right away that I wanted to submit #11 and #15 (below) but I wasn't sure about a third choice.

ETA: OH DEAR, I forgot to thank [ profile] comlodge for her very kind encouragments to me re: talking about the process of making these and the stories behind them; in essence, she's "given me permission" to open Pandora's box. (Thank you sweetie - I hope you don't regret it later!)

Here are my three entries, numbered according to the challenge number assignments:

1) 11) 15)

These represent two of my favorite episodes in the entire series; I made the Prophecy Girl icons first.  #15 is probably one of my favorites of all the ones I've ever made. I really wanted the double-image of Buffy in front of the mirror as well as her reflection and was really happy with what I got. And I love that the font looks like graffiti scrawled it on the glass. This time around I was consciously trying to experiment with fonts I hadn't used before.

Have I mentioned before that PG is the first masterpiece YOU MUST WATCH THIS episode of the series? (Although I will ALWAYS argue that one needs to watch the season in it's entirety as well. Especially Nightmares and Angel.) That Sarah never fails to bring me to tears when I watch it? And Tony as Giles, standing in the library utterly useless despite all his efforts and intentions, just as Buffy accuses him of being...ugh. Heartbreaking.

 #11 is a farther distance than usual for me (I tend towards close-up shots) but something about that distance visually emphasized Buffy's isolation in that moment, the lonely struggle with and against her own mind. I also loved the diagonal light and shadow lines on the wall; diagonals and asymmetrical compostions have alwayts appealed to me in art nouveau and Japanese woodcuts. The shadow offered a perfect canvas for the lettering and, again, the effect of graffiti on the wall.

Here's the remaining icons I made for that challenge, vaguely-sorta-kinda-not-exactly in the order I made them. Or something like that:

2) 3) 4) 5) 6) 7)

Please. Explain to me again why Sarah NEVER won an Emmy or any major award for playing Buffy, aside from that "Performances in _______ (fill in the blank) genre programs aren't deserving of serious awards love" b.s.

  8) 9) 10) 12) 13) 14)

#10 was the other one Ryan suggested for my third choice, and I love how the "deer in headlights" effect emphasizes Buffy's struggle ("traps for your mind"). But I almost submitted #5 as my third choice. I LOVE that one, perhaps for similar reasons that I love the PG one. I used the same font, but with small caps, for a graffiti effect that came out much better than I'd expected; it looks like Buffy has childishly, desperately, scribbled the words on the wall and then dropped the crayon in frustration or resignation.  But I also almost went with #7 (or 8 or 9) because OH GOD HER EXPRESSION THAT FACE I HAVE NO WORDS FOR THIS MOMENT just total incoherence.
16) 17)

#16 - 17 OTOH are "meh" in comparison although I swear I did try my best. I do like the look of a vintage book illustration in #16; as with #11 it's a more distant shot than I often use but I think I got the mood of the moment. I actually am pleased with the way I caught Faith's expression in #17, from Touched, thanks to lots of adjustments in brightness and contrast (the source screencap is so dark). You can almost hear her panting here. I even like the detail of her fist in the lower corner, sort of a visual punctuation mark. There's something almost stupidly mechanical in this mano-a-mano confrontation between Spike and Faith in Touched, this power struggle that didn't have to happen. And I absolutely adore that entire scene and this moment especially, fighting over Buffy and about her (they're both warriors, it's what they both do best) when it is so obvious that they both care about her very deeply: "Where is she?" / "I don't know!"

Those crazy kids - god help me, I love them.

Speaking of love - I really wanted to make one with Joyce in Normal Again, but ran out of time and energy: "Your father and I have all the faith in the world in you."

Oh dear. Buffy has to go into a hallucinatory state to find the emotional comfort and support she needs in that moment - and the person who provides it is her mother. Of course it is. How can anyone watch this episode, never mind the entire series, and think that Joyce isn't the most important person in Buffy's life? Of course it's Joyce - not Giles or Hank, nor any of her friends or lovers. Not even Dawn can get through to her this time the way she did in Bargaining/After Life. Just as in season 7's Bring on the Night, the First appears to Buffy wearing Joyce's face, because no one could unsettle Buffy so deeply. It HAD to be Joyce.

LIkewise, it had to be Joyce in CWDP; Dawn fights as a warrior and magician with everything she's got, and is cut to ribbons far worse than Xander was in Grave, in order to save and protect her mother. Summers Blood is truly the blood of champions.

And whether NormalAgain!Joyce is a "bloody figment" hardly matters in this moment. Is this what the real Joyce would have said in the situation, or what Buffy would have wanted her to say? A bit of both I suspect.

Now I have a bit of a personal confession, so feel free to skip this if you're not so much into the person stuff:

I suspect that part of the reason I'm drawn to Normal Again is because when I was a teenager I was certain I was going to become mentally ill and locked away at some point in my life - is that a teenage angst thing or a "me" thing? And as an adult dealing with depression I've discovered that, yes, it is something you do battle with. Sometimes it IS a war, and you have to fight to stay alive.  And sometimes it's just a friggin' slog.  So, I identify.

I have no idea why I had this fear years before before my mother revealed a secret to me: that my father had taken his own life when I was about three years old and my brothers even younger,  not an accident as she'd always claimed. (In the interest of our protection, I know. How do you explain that to three small children?  My mother was in her early 20's when that happened; I was 3, one of my brothers 2 and the other a toddler. How do you explain that, ever?)

And it was at least another five years in addition to that before I learned that his brother had also taken his life, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters I never even knew about. My grandfather came for a rare visit after a trip from Alaska, and said my cousin had seen my picture in his wallet and asked Who was that pretty girl? My response:

"I have a cousin in Alaska?"

And another one in the midwest, as it turned out - both with spouses/partners and growing children of their own. Somehow I knew that my dad had a brother, but in the absence of information assumed he died in a war or something years ago. Like John Kennedy's older brother in the biography I'd read as a kid. Apparently that's what a child's mind will do - fill the vacuum with whatever bits they can find lying around. Perhaps not unlike the way Buffy assumes that her parents' divorce is a result of her father's disappointment in her; her brain fills the vacuum of polite silence and careful phrases that she wants to believe but can't entirely.

And here's a thought that just popped in my head: That there IS a reason why the theme of well-meaning adults hiding or keeping information from their children "for their own good" in the series resonates so deeply with me. *ponders this*

Families - you can't live with them....
red_satin_doll: (BTVS Buffy/Faith)
Thank you to the moderators at [ profile] slayerstillness for giving me my very first award for an icon in Challenge #18 "Faith Lehane" ! Kudos to all the winners in this round : [ profile] iconsoleander, [ profile] spikesredqueen and [ profile] delta_dawn_rose - but all the submissions were creative and wonderful, so please go check them out if you haven't had the chance already.

And to make it even sweeter, [ profile] comlodge made the gorgeous banners:

Mods Choice: "I love the idea of this one – very creatively done. And I love how the lighting draws your focus right to her face."

The irony is that that had nothing to do with me; the shot was already beautiful. My favorite icons of those I've made, like this one, are generally the simplest. All I had to do was carefully bump up brightness, contrast and saturation; pick the right font, and add the frame. There's the irony of course in that it's the one submission I sent in which we're actually looking at Faith in Buffy's body, so the face we see is Sarah's, not Eliza's - but it's still the character of Faith, in what may be the turning point of her entire arc.  (And is one of the most superb performances I've ever seen on television - can we take a moment to celebrate Sarah's intensity in that episode?)

Here are all five of my entries; the numbers beside them are the numbers assigned in the challenge voting (not in numerical order).

26) 13)  19)

25)     8)
As per usual for me lately, I began this batch making icons that were fun, risque. or innocuous, (#8, 25) and then moved into darker territory. If I were to do it again I'd leave off 8 & 25, although 25 amuses me.

I think #26 was the best of the five I submitted, especially in terms of lighting and composition.  Photobucket's "Covered by Your Grace" font has a somewhat "handwritten" look to it and often works well when the overall mood is one of intimacy, introspection, melancholy, sadness, etc. For the same reasons I like the "torn paper frame" of 26 & 13; it emphasizes for me a sense of things "bleeding in (or bleeding out)" of each other, of something incomplete,unstable, fissuring or merging; of things damaged but not entirely broken, and the strange beauty of imperfection.

Which is what the episodes "This Years Girl" and "Who are You" are about.

I've been fascinated by the parallels between Buffy, Faith and Buffy, Spike ever since I first saw [ profile] bradcpu's classic fan video on the subject, "Creep" (See the bottom of this post for more links.)

Ten years ago [ profile] the_royal_anna called Buffy and Spike in S6 "the most mesmerizing illustration" of the concept of "identity hiijack", but This Years Girl / Who are You essentially "foreshadow" nearly the entirety of S6 in two episodes. It's the definitive moment when Faith "hands off" her role as Buffy's primary dark mirror to Spike, so that she can move to AtS and continue her arc away from BtVS. There's the twin images of Faith and Buffy digging themselves out of their own graves, the sense of "victimization" each must overcome; mental instability and the damage that being "a killer" does to the soul; the direction of Buffy and Spike's relationship and the dark, tormented sexuality, so different from the light-hearted satirical version of Something Blue; the lie behind the dichotomies of "good/bad, dark/light" enforced by those in power (as represented by the WC).

Even the key role Tara plays in both as the outsider, as "the heart"  and "the one who sees" (literally and figuratively as a "seer" and as one who bears witness) is highlighted in both WAY and DT and deserves a separate essay of it's own.

It's also an episode that calls both backwards and forwards: to Faith's words "If you kill me, you become me - and you're not ready for that" in S3's "Enemies", and forward to Spike's "I know you felt me...when I was inside you."  When Faith steals Buffy's body she literally "gets inside" Buffy in ways even Spike can't begin to imagine. (No one else comes close except when Willow goes inside Buffy's head in The Weight of the World".)

I tried using a portion of the line from Enemies; "You become me" works beautifully when talking about Who are You; but I don't think it really comes across the way I'd intended it to visually.

1) 2) 3)  4 ) 5)  6) 7)

The sentence from Seeing Red actually works much better and is more powerful; but I used it with trepidation. I worried that using it would be too traumatic for some folks - looking up the actual dialogue on the Buffyworld transcript was hard enough for me as it was, but I got the wording wrong on my first effort, #14 below (I've watched that episode once and one time only, thank you very much.) Cutting the sentence in half, rather than using the entire line in a single icon, seemed to help "abstract" it slightly, remove it just enough from it's original context that it was easier for me to work with it here.

9) 10) 11) 12)   14)

The relationships are steeped in violence, misunderstanding, dysfunction and self-hatred - and yet, unbelievably, they manage to rise above it all and come to a state of grace with each other in Season 7. Buffy handing the Scythe to Faith in Chosen isn't as romantic, dramatic or as celebrated as her spiritual handfasting with Spike; but in the context of their history it represent a sea change in their relationship: a level of genuine forgiveness, trust and faith (pun intended) exists between them that never has before. Getting to that point was a long, hard-fought road:

15) 16)  17)

The other line of Spike's dialogue I borrowed is from "The Gift": "I made a promise to a lady."  He's talking to Doc on top of Glory's tower about his promise to Buffy to protect Dawn "until the end of the world"; I often associate that line with Buffy's own promise to Joyce in Listening to Fear. But here I applied it to another "promise", albeit unspoken: Faith's wordless response to Buffy's "Don't - be afraid to lead them" in Empty Places. I was inspired by [ profile] blackfrancine's 2010 comment on the nature Buffy and Faith's expressions of love:

I think Buffy's way of nurturing (ie of loving) is to protect. To play mama bear to the helpless cubs of Sunnydale. So of course the Slayer's primary love language is to perform acts of service. Her whole life (and death) is about service. And it makes sense that it becomes her main way of understanding and expressing love (or maybe service always IS her love language--even before she is called. I could see this being a feature that binds Slayers--that they understand love through service. Because I'd argue that this is how Faith expresses love as well). So, through her slaying duties, Buffy (and maybe all slayers) expresses her love for their fellow man. [emphasis mine]

In S3, Faith is bound to the Mayor, her surrogate father-figure, by her assignments for him. When Buffy reluctantly advises Faith to lead the Potentials, it's entirely clear to me from Faith's demeanor that she listens and accepts her (symbolic) "grandsire's" words with all due seriousness. Handing off leadership to Faith is mostly an act of necessity and seems like a small thing, but in the context of their relationship it's absolutely seismic. Faith doesn't say a word but her intention is clear in her demeanor, her silence, in the fact that she is truly listening - something the two of them stopped doing with one another years ago. She made a "promise to a lady" and it's one she'll keep to the best of her ability.

I wanted to send #16 above because it was the only icon I'd made that had a close-up of Eliza's face, but I felt that it didn't "tell the story" in this context as well as image of Faith and Buffy together on the porch (15, 19).

This award is a particular honor for me because the quality of the icons submitted to past [ profile] slayerstillness challenges, technically and aesthetically, is consistently very high and represents some of the best examples of icons as works of art currently in this fandom. The editing suite I have in Photobucket is very simple and limited so I can't do the gorgeous effects and layering I see there. I wasn't as pleased as I was with the batch I made for the last [ profile] otherworldlyric icon challenge. I focused on Buffy and Faith rather than Faith exclusively. Plus I made these so last minute I didn't have time to ask [ profile] wickedbish for his advice as a beta. I honestly didn't think I had a shot at winning anything - and you'd be surprised how that takes the edge of anticipation off!

You know the cliche that if you want something you're supposed to visualize having or achieving it first in order to "manifest it in your life"? Well sometimes there is something to be said for thinking the opposite, or trying to practice "non-attachment" one way or the other, then being completely surprised and delighted when it does happen to come your way.
(Maybe I need to look into Buddism as a practice? *ponders*)

Here's the remaining icons from that set that I didn't submit, in no particular order of anything whatsoever. As always, snag 'em if you love 'em but please give proper credit to the artist. 'tis the polite thing to do.

18) 20) 21) 22)

23) 24)27) 28)
And here are some links to some of my favorite Buffy and Faith, or Fuffy, fanfics and fanvids for your enjoyment - just the tip of the proverbial iceberg:
"Creep" by [ profile] bradcpu (downloadable zipped Xvid and WMV formats) is THE classic Buffy, Faith, Spike meta-video.
"Your Power is Rooted in Darkness" by Afterthebattle (YouTube) focuses on the Buffy & Faith parallels with Spike as a supporting player.
"We Must Be Killers" by jess9191 (YouTube) The first great fanvid of the year? It's already on my list for next January's Buffyverse Top 5.
"Who Are You, Really?: Episodic" by xxIrisHalox  (YouTube) My favorite fanvid take on "Who Are You?" pairs brilliantly with my favorite WAY fanfic:

"Who Am I? (The Warm Champagne Remix)" (DW) by [ profile] snowpuppies. (Buffy, Faith, Spike; Faith/Spike, implied Buffy/Faith) Superb, as always. Put this on your list for the next round of fanfic awards, please.
"Zen and the Art of Stake Maintenance" and "Of History" (AO3) by m_phoenix. Delicately haunting Season 7 AU and post-series Fuffy angst, respectively, both Buffy-POV. "Zen" fits canon astonishingly well; "Of History" is a masterclass in how to write in 2nd-person POV, as well as how to tackle adult sexuality and consent issues sensitively. (Thanks to [ profile] oni_9's rec on the most recent edition of the [ profile] su_herald.)

Finally, after all that angst, some fun and adventure are in order: try "The Girls In Question" fic series on AO3 by the wife-wife team of TigerDragon. The post-series installments "Reentry", "Investigations" and "Women, Fire, And Other Dangerous Things" read like a genuine "Season 8" - funny, exciting, a little angsty  - if it had been written as female-centric Fuffy, with Dawn, Willow, fascinating OC multi-ethnic Slayers, and female villains who are a VERY dark mirror of Buffy and Faith, for the ride.
red_satin_doll: (Huh?)
 Am I the ONLY person in this corner of LJ fandom who DIDN'T watch the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special?  (Apparently my "inner Willow I hate to
be left out Rosenberg" has come out to pla pout.  Which gives me pause....)

Aaaaaaannnnnnddddd in other non-whiny new o' my life, my sweetie ordered a new computer today. Last we she bought me new twin bed to replace the one that got crispy-fried in August. First pillow-top mattress I've had! Plus new sheet and down comforter. I felt a wee bit self-conscious about it as "her bed" because like most things in our home, she purchased it. (She has a job, I'm unemployed.). But she called it mine.

Sometimes I am reminded all over again why I love her and what's kept us together for nigh on 17 years. I suspect our relationship mightn't look functional to any one else, and it sure as hell doesn't fit any neat ideals in the self-help books. But it works in it's own strange way - we get by.  At the end of the day all we have is everything we are.

(And at the end of the day, maybe that's why I love Buffy&Spike in all their screwed-up, messy, sometimes tender, sometimes terrible glory? It's something I can recognize, feel, understand. The rest of the world be damned.)
red_satin_doll: (Chosen One - purple)
I'm heading off to the Cape this morning for a little holiday, but I saw the [ profile] the_royal_anna's birthday is on the 21st, so here's my wishes now in case I'm not near the 'puter then. (I'm early, woo-hoo!)

Anna's metas on Buffy and Spike were some of the first Buffyverse fandom metas I read when I came to LJ and still some of the best I've read. I quote her constantly and enjoy every thing she has to say about the show, and about those two characters. Never mind that most were written TEN YEARS ago. Back when the show was still on, when it was ending, and her writing to me captures what it would have been like to be a fan, watching it then. Her love for the show, for those two crazy kids, is vivid and infectious, and her analysis gorgeous and insightful prose-poems that have stood the test of time. I may disagree on individual points but I haven't come across anyone who has matched her.

And not just about Buffy & Spike - she left a short reply on my Buffy & Tara post about the richness of the relationships of women in the verse; and she captured Buffy's raw pain in The Body in a single, seemingly random sentence on her own journal recently.
If she never wrote another word, what she's already given is gift enough. But I always hope for more.
red_satin_doll: (Alyson Hannigan starshine)
Vague Disclaimer: Images containing partial female nudity ahead. Plus, feathers. Possibly NSW or NSH (especially if your boss or "significant other" is standing over your shoulder. Your kids, on the other hand, already think you're a weirdo, so no harm done.) Also, opinions, ramblings, extravagant praise and extreme wordiness ahead. You have been warned.

[ profile] comlodge (Janice O.)'s richly atmospheric banners for Round 16 of Seasonal Spuffy inspired my request for a banner for [ profile] brutti_ma_buoni 's fic "The One With Wings", written for last year's Seasonal Spuffy. It's the Buffy&Spike(1) chapter of her Giles/Winged!Faith in Pylea series, "Learning to Fly", "Higher Than An Eagle",  and "Together Flying High" :  the gang are on a mission in Pylea, and each Slayer's powers physically manifests itself as wings. Faith is freaked and then elated, Giles is aroused, Buffy's wigged and Spike is curious. (If you're wondering, watching AtS might be helpful but isn't necessary; I never have.)

Brutti kindly gave her permission for the project, and the result was gorgeous : fantastical, sexy and a more than a little dark - befitting Buffy&Spike* and the story that inspired it, particularly the final line.  But I also think it stands very well on it's own; where Brutti's fic was humorous with a touch of darkness, comlodge's banner is more atmospheric, and could well be the inspiration for an entirely new fic, perhaps a long-form epic adventure. Her use of stylized wings for Buffy, rather than realistic ones, heightens the sense of Winged!Slayers as mythological creatures.

Janice and I (we're "the other Janice" to one another) I got to talking about her banner and the story that inspired it afterwards, and I confessed to having a Winged!Buffy kink. Hence, the commission. *gulp* I may be the only person in Buffyverse fandom who does, so far as I know, and it's entirely Brutti's fault. Before I read "The One With Wings" the idea of "Winged!Buffy" or winged anyone else had never occured to me. I have never been "into" angel imagery, or images of winged humans, "Winged!Spike" or "Winged!MaleCharacters From Fandoms I'm Not Familiar With" (and it's usually males who seem to get this treatment nowadays), angelic or otherwise. It just doesn't appeal to me. Neither does male nudity.(2)

I don't even think of Sarah-Michelle Gellar as "sexy" per se; rather that she's adorable in a  "Gosh, Mom, she's sooooo cute and cuddly! Can we keep her? Can we? Please?" sort of way. (Which could be perversely sexy...and I think I need to go scrub my brain before any "Puppy!Buffy" kinks take hold. Oops.)

But somewhere in the back of my head existed an image of Winged!Buffy sitting on a bed and curling her dove-like wings protectively around herself, whilst Spike regards her with a mixture of awe, amusement, arousal, and a fine appreciation for the irony. That image doesn't exist in the story itself; it's actually a combination of 1) Giles observing Winged!Faith in "Higher Than an Eagle" : "Wrapping herself in Slayerness. How very metaphorical of her."   2) An advert Sarah appeared in for Vaseline skin care products that I first saw thanks to a link from
[ profile] angearia.(2)

And then Janice took me completely by surprise by coming up with this:

I've never had anyone make a Buffyverse artwork for me as a gift before, and this just stole my breath away. Literally. I just LOVE this so much. I went to work grinning like the world's happiest little clam for the entire day. It's lovelier than I could have ever imagined, the relatively "realistic" wings and floating feathers contrast nicely with the fantastic nature of the concept. She essentially "borrowed" my fantasy straight from my head and returned it to me vastly improved and more artistic.

And the "painterly" touches - virtual brushstrokes and textured canvas effects, the dots of color that remind me of an aging mural - make this all the more special and personal. Although she knows my partner is a painter & sculptor, I don't think I ever told her that I prefer "painterly" styles  to hyperrealistic ones; that one of my great pleasures is going to a gallery or museum, or my partner's studio (formerly known as the living room) and seeing the evidence of the artist's hand in the work, the textures of paint overlaying and interacting with canvas or panel. She can't possibly have known all that and yet, improbably enough, it's all here in this image.

She gave me permission to play with my present if I wished, and I did sharpen it a little in Photobucket. I wanted to sharpen Sarah's face only, as blurred faces can be hard on my eyes, but leave the rest as-is. I couldn't find a tool to do that with, or that didn't sharpen the face but completely blur out the rest of it, including the artist's signature. But Janice approved the result, which is all that mattered; it's pretty hard to degrade the image entirely. In fact, this is the only photo I've ever tried out with every "effect" in the current Photobucket editing suite, about 30 or so, and it looked great in every variation: color, composition, light, and shadow all remained in perfect balance.

I also tried a thousand ways to Wednesday to make an icon of the entire image, again with Janice's approval, but the best result I came up with was with a cropped image of the face that, lightened, reminds me a little of Botticelli's Primavera ,  or The Birth of Venus , which was one of my favorite paintings when I was a little girl.(3)


As far as I know  this is the first image Janice has done in this fandom that is just of Buffy, by herself, so I appreciate it that much more. Most of her work is Spike- or William-centric, by himself or with Anne, Dru, Dawn, or Buffy. OT, she's someone with whom I can discuss "hot" issues re: Spike or Buffy&Spike, as two relative newcomers to the fandom, while still feeling that I'm "safe", in an atmosphere of civility and friendship, as well as passion. We have a basic shared understanding on the larger (real-life) issues that serves as a foundation for differences of opinion in the fine details. That's all the more very valuable for being so hard to find.

Artwork-wise, Janice been challenging herself to branch out a bit lately, as her skill and artistry continuallly improves. Her recent Buffy/Riley ITW banner "Not the Long Haul Guy" is so gorgeous and melancholy that my heart softened a little for Riley and I almost forgot to be pissed off with him.(4)

This is the first Winged!Buffy image I've seen in this fandom, but even if there were a hundred others I don't think anyone could quite top this, or that would be closer to my (occasionally perverted little) heart. Not that I'd discourage anyone else from trying. In fact, I'd be more than happy to share my kink with like-minded fans. I still sort of suspect I might be alone with this one, but that's ok too.

(1) "Buffy&Spike" = my personal moniker for the 'ship. 'cause I loathe smushnames except "Bangel" and that whole relationship was about romantic illusions anyway; and the standard slashmark seems insufficient to me. These two are so many things to one another that it's almost impossible to wrap my hands or my head around it all, although it's certainly fun to try: enemies, wary allies, friends, lovers, mutual abusers, equally-matched warriors; Heros, companions, partners, a Queen and her Champion; the rose in one another's hands and the thorn in each other's side; the anti-romance that's so "effulgent" that it destroys Hell, which cannot bear the presence of Love and Hope. Occasionally, all of these at once. That makes me cry, laugh, cringe, scowl, and leaves me a gooey, puddly, inarticulate mess. Quite frequently, all of these at once.

(2) Or asparagus, for that matter. Now put that in your humidor and smoke it, Dr. Freud.

(3) To whom I owe sincere and grateful belated birthday greetings because she's one of my Heros in this fandom and, whoa, am I behind on that project. And properly embarrassed.

(4) True story: When I was about eight years old my brother, who was a year younger, colored over the image of The Birth of Venus and some other nude images in my art history book with orange colored pencil because he thought they needed to be clothed. I was furious with him for months afterward - so furious I broke the "don't tattle" rule and ran straight to Mom, breathing as much righteous, livid fire as an eight-year-old can. The fact that I wasn't fussed about the nude figures, especially of the Venus, should have been a big, neon red flag that I would  grow up to become an art-loving lesbian whose life partner is an artist. Life is funny that way.

(5) "Almost" being the operative word here.

red_satin_doll: (Laughing Dead Things)

Dawn Summers writes the Great American Memoir.

1) Funniest AU non-penguin Buffyverse fanfic of 2013? In my School Hard/Chosen  post the other day  [ profile] rebcake  tossed out a witty suggestion about Buffy & Spike's final conversation in the Hellmouth taking a very different turn. [ profile] beer_good_foamy   took up the challenge and ran with it  in his usual brilliant way; here's the longer finished version, "Not in the Brochure" .  I haven't laughed this hard since - since I read his newest AU penguin fic two weeks ago.  Start polishing those fanfiction awards statuettes buttons now, y'all.

2) [ profile] eilowyn ' s recent post "Thoughts on Spuffy and Fandom"  sparked a fascinating conversation about the 'ship wars,  focused specifically on the labels and the invention of  "smushnames" Bangel, Spuffy, etc.  (I'm going to copy/paste my smushnames rant from the thread because I'm lazy: I hated "bennifer" etc long before I got into fandom because I find the concept loathesome - merging two people into one identity. It's ironic because I think the show is pretty consistent on the idea that losing oneself in another person is a bad idea. Buffy and Angel are a direct critique of this notion - magical snow notwithstanding.)  But I enjoy reading about the history of this fandom, in part because it makes me grateful to be a newbie fan and have missed the bloodbath. Kumbaya and all that jazz.

Somewhere along the way [ profile] comlodge mentioned "Bike" as a tongue-in-cheek alternative to Spuffy and I - did the thing I promised I'd never do and wrote a prompt about Buffy and her menz and bikes, with lots of fluffy-Spuffy. If I were as brilliant as BGF I'd have actually turned it into a story but since I'm not I'm letting [ profile] comlodge 's muse do the work for me. (I'm sneaky that way.) She gave me leave to repost it here so someone else could also have a crack at it. So without further ado - or a don't:

Spike and Buffy (post-series) with one of those old-fashioned "bicycles built for two" (which Spike would want to give a go because that was state-of-the-art technology in 1880) but they'd argue over who got to sit in front and where they were even going; then she'd insist on having her own bike, and he'd' say "Fine, whatever! I didn't want you breathing down my neck anyway!" or snark about her bad driving:"You want to get yourself killed? Your funeral, Slayer." (Substitute "motorcycle" there and it still works.) Then they'd try to outrace each other and end up pretty much in a draw but squabble over who beat who by a hairsbreath. And then tease each other and laugh about it, and shag in a semi-public place, and kill the demons who interrupted them, then shag some more. (Because what's fanon Spuffy w/out snark and laughter and demon-killing and copious shagging? Bangel.  Just sayin'.)

OTOH If it were Angel he'd insist on sitting up front, because he wants to be the chivalrous BDH, and she'd go along with it for a while because it's nice to let someone else take over for a while - until she realized he was lost and had to take over from him, despite his objections to the contrary. ("Angel, this is the tenth time we've passed that hill. Yes I know it's the same one!")

Whereas Riley would completely insist that Buffy sit up front and of course he didn't mind at all because he only wanted what she wanted and he loved her strength and competence - then spend the entire trip grumbling just under his breath that he wanted to sit on the front seat and she would have been able to read his mind and know what he wanted if she really truly loved him.

I forgot Parker, btw - Buffy would make the arrangements, be waiting with the bikes and the picnic basket and he'd never show up, then give her some crap excuse a day later about visiting his mom and "I'm sorry you assumed I wanted to go out on a picnic with you, I didn't think you'd take it so seriously."

You can tell by the relative lengths of the various paragraphs where my heart lies, right?  If not I'll gladly explain - at length, with finger-puppets or flashcards, your choice.  Anyone want to add Scott Hope to the mix be my guest, because I don't give a damn and can't be bothered to rewatch S3 just for him.  But if memory serves, he's kind of a proto-Riley anyway. Have at it, kids.

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