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Hi Livejournal!

I've massively neglected livejournal because of other social media and websites, and I feel silly just posting the same things here as everywhere else. I've not had much drive to post long, rambling things about my life because in general my day-to-day life is full of things that would be incredibly uninteresting to other people (i.e. tons of working) and my art/projects are posted all over elsewhere, so it seems silly to repeat them here.

One thing that's been absorbing a ton of my time lately is a web comic/graphic novel project I've had in the work for about six months. It's something I've always wanted to do, but haven't - for a few reasons. One being time (never enough time for anything), another being that I lack the skills necessary (all sorts of illustration I don't normally do, landscapes, screenplay type setup, camera angles, dramatic lighting, general comic book knowledge etc), and third being that the world in my head is so giant and complicated that it's overwhelming to decide on a specific piece of it to invest so much time into, and it affects the rest of the world so much (which I'd like to publish novels of someday, probably when I retire).
So anyways, I decided that I wanted to do it despite all this, so I made a project where I was going to make a different story, something that wasn't so big and I wasn't so invested in, and give myself a specific amount of time for research, planning, script writing, etc.
I settled on a story about ancient Tibet, since I find the Bon culture fascinating and was doing some reading awhile back about the introduction of Buddhism to the indigenous people and how it changed that country forever. When people think of Tibet nowadays I feel like most think of monks, monasteries, peaceful people at struggle, domination by China, etc. I don't think most people realize Tibet used to basically be *the* superpower in Asia, with a massive military and even a complete takeover of the capital of China with an army of hundreds of thousands. What was the biggest juxtaposition for me was that at the time when there was a newly made Emperor of Tibet bringing together all these warlike tribes (at the same time he was integral at introducing Buddhism to the country) - Buddhism was a giant driver of war and the subsequent takeover of China's capital and large swaths of country far outside of the modern borders.
How did Buddhism 'drive' this - when Buddhism is such an individualistic religion and the idea of giant wars of conquest seem to be so impossible to mesh together with the history as it happened.
With that in mind, "Dies the Snow Lion" was born. I decided to use dogs as the main characters, since the dog breeds in the area evolved so closely with the people and seem very fitting for the story I wanted to tell. Plus I love drawing dogs much more than I love drawing people. :)
After way too much research, and writing, and rewriting, and character design, I started posting the comic. Here are the first five pages:


I could go on and on about the story - maybe I eventually will do that here, if anyone is interested.
I've also got a Patreon up for it in case you'd like to support its creation - it's a labor of love for me and I don't expect anyone to, but I'd love to work on it more and keep it coming out regularly, so there it is!

Thanks for reading. :) I've got more pages coming out very soon.


Family Visit to the Czech Republic

Ok, if I wait to catch up on pics in chronological order, I'm never going to post anything. So here, some pics from our recent visit of family in CZ:

Church of St. Nicholas.

I'll just put a link to the rest of the pics here: http://foxloft.com/2014/04/czech-republic-april-2014


Scuba Diving Adventures

Mbala and I have been pretty involved in diving for awhile now. It's an amazing sport; there is nothing else like the underwater realm. I have heard it called 'Inner Space'; I'd agree it's definitely a different world.
One of the most appealing things to me is the wildlife underwater - it's just such an overwhelmingly amazing experience. On land, you can visit places like Yellowstone to see a concentration of wildlife, or large herds on the Serengeti - but they are still nothing like a coral reef. In 3d space, all around you, are clouds of fish, life, activity. They know they don't have anything to fear so will come right close to you - they can dart right up to you, comfortable in knowing that your awkward human form is no threat (sans spear-gun or net). You are an observer in a slice of their day-to-day life, in which there are always so many amazing things happening. Just being there is incredible.

I have had to work, a lot, on overcoming my body and brain's reptilian reaction to underwater situations which trigger that 'omg drowning' response. It's been intense and difficult, but I've made progress. I think that learning to control a visceral panic feeling and calmly deal with a potentially life-threatening situation is a very worthwhile skill to develop (both for underwater and out of it situations). Diving has taught me a lot about myself and helped me explore parts of my own 'inner space' that I've never been in touch with any other way.

Basic recreational scuba, for most people, is a relaxing sport (as it should be!). You can float around in warm water and see beautiful things, quite confident in simple but sophisticated equipment to provide life support and the ability to get to the surface in an emergency in most situations. Of course, I find myself rather crazy, and interested in technical diving - the term for what-lies-behind-the-curtain of rec diving. I'm not interested in records, fame, or pushing limits (something that seems to drive many technical divers), but in the incredible things you can see which are only available when you step outside the realm of floating on the reef.

So... stepping forward a bit: Ice diving!

After some more warm-water diving, and then some really neat classes for our Advanced Open Water certification (which also gave us our first real taste of nitrogen narcosis and a cavern experience), diving under the ice was our first foray into overhead environments. I wasn't sure how I would react to it (since I thought before I started diving, being comfortable in the water and a strong swimmer it would be no problem for me - but soon realized that your mind's reaction and your reptile brain/body's reaction to perceived danger can be very different things... So I was semi-prepared to deal with the fear, but thankfully it didn't come).

I could look up, see that I was to some extent 'trapped' under the ice, but my logical mind stayed in control, comfort taken in my redundant equipment, training, and tethered lifeline to the surfacing hole.

Ice diving is... cold! Really cold. I've been born and raised in Minnesota and I know cold, I've been frostbitten and spent a nights in -40 air temps and wind chill. But this level of cold, the intense and shocking numbing of your face and slow slide into hypothermia was new to me. I think if it hadn't been so cold outside (and if I'd had a bit of extra equipment to help keep even warmer) I could have handled it better, but after 27 minutes under on one dive I had to come up because my hands were so cold they had frozen into rigid claws that would no longer respond to my bidding. When they hauled me out of the water, I knew I'd pushed it too far - if something had happened underwater, and emergency I had to attend to, my non-functional hands could have been a real problem. I didn't know these things before I tried them - no manner of book reading can really prepare you for actually doing these sorts of things and experiencing them yourselves.

On a bit lighter note, here are some fun videos from our Florida training trip - our ending treat of swimming with wild manatees.

And drift diving on the stunningly clear Rainbow River: )

Some silly video of pool training safety drills: )

We are looking forward to possibly getting our Safety Diver training this summer - an intense course on rescue training taught locally. There are some pretty awesome opportunities for public service diving out here that are a vague long-term goal of mine; I don't know if I'll ever be a good enough diver to pursue them but I'd like to go in that direction. It's funny, my father was a police diver who did search & rescue when I was growing up (before he switched over to K-9) - but I had never really considered diving, it wasn't a long-term goal of mine, I didn't plan to follow in my father's footsteps with this, but I find myself here nonetheless. :)





I want to offer a huge thank you to everyone who has enjoyed my animal totem designs, jewelry, and animal symbolism information; get the chance to win a free pendant of your own (monthly!). Thank you again for supporting me and my art!</a>

I am running a Patreon campaign - for as little as $1 a month you can help keep me making art, adding new designs to my growing collection (I have over 110 different species designs right now!)

Thank you again to everyone who has helped me turn my passion for art into a career. I really can't express enough gratitude, you are all amazing!


2013 is coming to a close, it's been an amazing year for me. I realize that a lot of my life is also the story of other people, and those are not my stories to tell - so I don't have a lot to say except I'm amazed at where my life is at, the people in it, and where it's going. :)

I hit some artistic milestones this year - I have gotten to 50 dog breeds in my yin-yang series, which was a big goal! http://foxloft.com/artwork/yinyang I have gotten a really exciting contract I'm working on for a big theatre company - I will have more information about that in the coming months as I work on those projects.

Instead of a disjointed wrap-up I will offer some photos from one of my most amazing experiences of this year (and I've had many) - meeting belugas during an animal training seminar. :)

Belugas are so awesome I can't handle it. This young male was so much fun to work with. Getting spit on with a giant mouthful of frozen water has never been so much fun!

Ty the sea lion. Fishy kisses!
More pics and videos under the cut!Collapse )

Update and a half.

Hi livejournal!
I realize I read LJ pretty much daily but I never post anymore, except for occasional travel picture posts. I've seen some memes going around and was going to do one of those but realized most of my answers would be vague, nonsensical or cryptic at best to most people (not because of trying but my life is so bizarre at times it's just an inevitability), so the exercise seems a silly one.
I will probably just use this journal to continue posting photos - farm updates, silly animal pics, and travel adventures. Other than that I am here, reading and lurking, but I don't have a whole lot to say! Day-to-day mundanity has transferred over to Facebook/Twitter and my time of long reflections and updates are receding into the past.
Life is a bunch of timey-wimey wibbly wobbly amazing crazy stuff. I continue to boggle at how things evolve and change and where I am now compared to where I was fifteen years ago, when I started spending a lot of time online and using things like LJ and online message boards and meeting a lot of the people I've become so lucky to meet and know through all of it. I love all of you, you are awesome! :)

And belugas. Belugas are awesome.


This spring, for our wedding anniversary, Mbala and I took a trip to Hawaii - mainly to Kauai and the Big Island. As a typical American living in the Midwest, I grew up with the idea of Hawaii being an amazing tropical paradise which everyone longed to visit - I was quite dubious of the wistful recommendations I had been hearing my whole life but wow... Hawaii was truly an amazing place!
Manta rays during a night dive (this isn't my photo but since we didn't take any underwater is one I found online from the trip and a great representation of what it was like to be down there with the mantas).
An overlook of Waimea Canyon - 'Grand Canyon of the Pacific'.
More pics under the cut!Collapse )


I've been keeping my bee blog elsewhere, and working on updating it, so I'll link that here: http://ofbees.com/

Bunch of Bees

I'm working on getting it up to date so will be posting there more frequently now. :) I don't want to repeat things here as well so I might just post a photo/link now and again pointing to the site.
Both our colonies survived the winter looking good so far - which is a super relief! The state has been reporting 65% colony losses this year.
I was holding this guy back to paint, but I've decided to sell him since I need the room.
He's a beautiful, big bison skull from a local ranch. Professionally cleaned and in great shape. The 'nose' plates have been securely glued in, the horn caps are removable.

Asking $175 OBO (Was originally $250) - free pickup in southern MN (or possibly delivery up to twin cities area. etc) - or I can ship pretty inexpensively through the midwest (Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin or Illinois) via Spedee - I'd rather not try to ship it further because it's so huge it will get pricey fast (probably $40ish) - if you live further and really want it I can get an exact price.

Thanks for looking :)
Email foxfeather @ foxloft.com without the spaces

IAATE conference, 2012

Catching up on posting some travel/adventure photos: Here are a few from the IAATE conference (International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators) I attended last year. The people I met there were so wonderful! I was able to get away from my art table on zoo day to get a behind-the-scenes tour of their bird facilities, collection, and how they run their educational shows for the public. It was a wonderful experience with a great group of people!

A beautiful king vulture.

One of the prettiest red-tail hawks I’ve ever seen.
More pics under the cut!Collapse )