Month: February 2024

February 2024 – Our No Good, Very Bad Month + Final Poll Reminder!

My husband and I keep wishing for a very boring time in which nothing interesting at all happens.  We had finally started to get used to that kind of pleasant monotony in January.  There was no house move on the horizon.  Nobody had an ER visit or even a bad cold the past few months.  Only one small-ish tree fell on our garage and was eventually repaired by actual, working homeowners insurance.  We also celebrated our 7th anniversary this month. It was amazing!

All at once, the Powers That Be thought we were too bored this year. My husband lost his job early on in February and also started showing some concerning symptoms that may be pointing to cancer (this will be his 2nd bout with cancer, but a different, hopefully very treatable kind, this time around).  As of this writing, we’re still waiting on test results so we can know what path life is going to take us on next.  Either way, it’s going to mean surgery for him, whether it’s cancer or not.

I know. I know. Didn’t I just get over a cancer scare, myself? Well, now it’s Kev’s turn because we enjoy taking turns terrifying one another with revolving health woes. (Don’t mind me, dark humor is how we’re surviving right now.)

Thankfully, we’re not at DOOM level on the OHSHIT scale yet, as at the very least, his job very kindly offered him a severence pay that will give us a few months to survive and figure things out.  

Meanwhile, February has been all about scrambling to find new medical coverage, forming an action plan to deal with these layers of OHSHIT, and to trying not to give in to that most unhelpful habit of my brain to think of every catastrophe that could befall us at 3am in the morning.

It’s meant little sleep for me and barely any art getting made, which sucks because I would’ve loved to share some of the cool fan art I’ve been poking at and also finish up the Tarot piece I’ve been teasing for a couple of months now, which I’ve now had to get an extension on because painting was not happening during this anxious scramble.

I at least got to discuss some of my favorite movies with you all, which drew many of you quiet lurkers to share your favorites, which I’m so delighted to see.  I’m happy to have new things to fuel the inspiration tank, so thanks to everyone who dropped me a response with their own inspiration lists!  Stay tuned for part 2 with MOAR movies I love that make me want to art.

Today is also the last day you all can vote in the Very Important Poll to help me decide what I’ll be doing with this Patreon next, so go do so, if you haven’t yet!  I’m going to be announcing the results and what the big plan is in March after I’ve ruminated on the numbers a bit and see how Life (TM) is going to affect my ability and time to create.


Tentatively Arriving in March

  • Poll Results + A New Patreon Theme Announcement!
  • Blue Eye Samurai Fan Art
  • A new Exalted Character of the Week portrait compilation
  • Part 2 of Movies That Make Me Want to Paint
  • Final Art for the X of Swords

Posts You Might’ve Missed in February


Here’s hoping the next time I write up a monthly digest that I’ll have some happier news to share of how everything is moving back towards an exceptionally long-term and incredibly, mind-numbingly boring normalcy.  Till then!

– Ang

Movies That Make Me Want to Paint – Part 1

Rather than always throwing art at you guys and running, I also hope that I’m inspiring you to create as well, if you are so inclined.  For that purpose, I thought I’d share a few of the movies near and dear to my Muse. No matter how low or art-blocked I am, putting on any of these movies always lights me up again. In fact, they are often playing in the background while I work as inspirational background noise.

Before we dive in though, here’s a quick reminder to Patrons to check this Patrons-only poll.  My Patreon will be changing themes in the near-future and I want Patrons to have a say in which path I choose for this place next!  Go throw in your votes before the poll closes at the end of February.

Now, on to the list!  I picked 10 of my favorites, but I’m splitting that up between two posts so this doesn’t turn into a book.  One day, I’ll figure out how to include clips from movies in a video version of this post, but for now, enjoy the written version!

Crimson Peak

Synopsis:  Our protagonist, a young writer with the ability to sense ghosts, finds herself caught up in the orbit of a mysterious baronet.  Eventually, she must use her wits to survive the haunted house she finds herself in after their marriage.

I just have to be up front with you guys and admit I am a huge Guillermo del Toro fan.  I love just about everything in this director’s filmography, so apologies in advance for much of this list being del Toro stuff.  Del Toro isn’t lying when he says he he believes in ‘eye protein’ and not just ‘eye candy’.  Or rather, packing every inch of his backdrops and costumes with details that support his central theme.  That kind of thought process really appeals to my artistic soul and it reflects in nearly all of my visually stunning movie choices, not just Del Toro movies.

Crimson Peak blends Victorian decadence with a Bluebeard fairy tale in a haunted house for a riveting feast for the eyes.  It’s dark, glittering horror and Gothic Romance at its finest.  Plus, there’s a banger reference the heroine tosses out referencing the badassery of Mary Shelley when other women try to insult her reclusiveness as a writer that makes this a movie a win for me, on a personal narrative level.

(The house full of secrets the protagonist must uncover before she, too, becomes a ghost in its halls.)

Del Toro’s audio commentary about all the tricks they used to convey atmosphere in this movie (including interesting tidbits such as a chair that has the word ‘fear’ inscribed into its decorative tracings) is fascinating and inspiring for the director’s thoughtfulness and thematic visual saturation. I came away appreciating that ‘Eye Protein’ even more.  Do recommend it and the movie’s wonderful art book, if you can find it!

Pan’s Labyrinth

Synopsis:  In a wartorn Spain, a little girl must survive coming to live with the terrifying captain that has married her mother.  However, the maze outside of their new country home offers respite in the form of helpful faeries promising a cure for what ails her sick mother.

I know, I know. Another Del Toro movie already? But y’all, this movie was a formative, heartbreaking masterpiece for younger me.  The first time I saw this movie, it sparked a revelation that this blend of dark reality juxtaposed with the hopeful beauty of fantasy and the catharsis of horror was exactly what I wanted to do with my own art (and writing, for that matter).

(The titular faun and Ofelia.)

This movie moves fluidly from a dark world to one touched by magic as Ofelia endures challenges set by her new fae friends in order to unlock objects to heal her mother.  This is dark, magical fairy tale imagery at its finest, including one of the most iconic monster designs I’ve seen in horror.  It’s not for the faint of heart. I swear there’s always at least one gorey flinch-worthy moment in every del Toro movie, but the rest of it is glorious dark fantasy at its finest.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Synopsis:  A retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula through a stylized gothic romance in which Dracula stalks his re-incarnated love through London and actors have terrible British accents.

Of all the Dracula movies out there, this one remains close to my heart.  As an artist, I appreciate Coppola’s dedication to using practical FX where possible and making everything about this movie feel enthralling, otherworldly, and vintage in a surreal way.  This movie takes much from the Symbolist movement of art and literature, which sought to capture deep, emotional expression through highly symbolic, dreamlike works.

(One of the very pretty frames showing off the gorgeous lighting of this movie.)

The wardrobe is also fantastic and again so many little narrative details work their way into both clothing and set design, from the foreshading of Dracula’s ‘flesh armor’ to Mina’s scarlet gown mirroring her past life.  This attention to detail and otherworldly atmosphere are what get my Muse going the most with this movie, whether you dig this retelling’s narrative changes or not.  I’m here for the dresses, which were stunningly designed with Klimt-esque flavor by brilliant designer, Eiko Ishioka, in what was one of her first major outing in working on movies.

The Cell

This movie is another visually stunning, but a tough watch!  Content warning especially on this one for mature themes, violence, etc.

Synopsis:  The FBI track a serial killer down, only to realize they cannot save his latest victim trapped in an automated cell without first diving into his mind using cutting edge technology.  Psychotherapist, Catharine Deane, volunteers to venture into the killer’s mind to see if she can help save the killer’s last victim and finds herself in a dark wonderland.

I will say this movie makes perhaps a better music video than an actual movie, but it fascinates me as a dark Alice in Wonderland type of story.  Every frame and detail is arranged to hint at the layers of the mind and the dark and sometimes beautiful visions the mind is capable of.  

I still feel like this movie did the concept of a mindscape better than Inception, which felt too mundane and real-world in its mindscape sets, my opinion, while The Cell tricks the senses and conveys the unsettling nature of a dream world outside of logical time, place, and directional orientation.

Eiko Ishioka also had a hand in designing the wardrobe for this movie.  It’s fair to say following her filmography is another fun minigame of discovering inspiring surreal movies to watch!

(One of my fave shots from The Cell.)

It’s a brutal film, but an oddly beautiful one with a sense of catharsis in its ending.  Recommend it for visual inspiration, if dark, trippy, and briefly beautiful appeals to you.

Prince of Egypt

Synopsis: The biblical tale of Moses’ time in Egypt told through an animated musical.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve not seen an animated movie with more of a sense of framing and atmosphere as The Prince of Egypt (aside from maybe the Arcane animated series).  You could pause any moment of this movie and frame that still as a painting.  It’s gorgeous, and every second of it is thoughtfully composed.  

According to behind the scenes material, the art direction when we’re in Egypt mirrors the beautiful stylistic aesthetic of Egyptian art, while the art becomes more naturalistic as we leave that locale behind.

(One of the most awe-inspiring moments and images of this movie.  It still takes my breath away.)

I do not consider myself very religious, but there are so many moments of sublime awe captured in the imagery of this movie, from the whispering flames of the burning bush to the majestic shadows of sea creatures lit by the glow of a storm in the distance as the Hebrews cross through the mystically parted sea.  Whether you’re religious or not, this movie inspires with its effective storytelling and artfully rendered scenes.


I hope this gives any of my fellow creatives some fuel for the inspiration tank!  Bulk up on some eye protein and create your innermost dreams, nightmares, and everything in-between.  I’ll have part 2 of this list next month.

Let me know how you end up liking any of these movies, if you haven’t seen them yet!  Or are there any I am missing out on that I should see?  Suggest some Movies for the Muse in the comments!

– Ang