Muse du Jour

My name is Marianne Plumridge. I am an artist of mythic fantasy works and fine art images. I also satisfy my creative muse with sewing, cooking, writing and reading. These are my thoughts and adventures with whichever muse drives me each day. You can find more of my art at

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Location: New England, United States

Friday, February 16, 2007

Abandon In Place...a book review

At this time of world uncertainty, here is a review of Jerry Oltion's "Abandon in Place". It's whimisical, wistful, and at time joyful. If you like the review, you'll love the book. I did...


by Jerry Oltion

TOR; Hardcover; ISBN 0-312-87264-X; $24.95 US; 365 pages; November 2000; Cover Art – Vincent Di Fate. Paperback Edition reportedly due in February 2003

Reviewed by Marianne Plumridge – November 2002

Were you a child of the Apollo space program years? Did you ever look up into the night sky back then and dream dreams of one day being able to walk in space like the then new astronauts: look up and imagine the places that humankind could go to? Did you mourn the loss of the deep space and moonshot programs when the Public lost interest in the dream, the vision, and the hope for the future back then? Do you sometimes imagine what might have been if we’d just kept going…maybe even reached Mars?

Then this is the book for you!

Imagine. The morning after famed astronaut Neil Armstrong dies and is buried at Arlington, a Saturn V rocket launches itself from Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral. Witnesses are stunned. They feel the thunder of the engines, smell the rocket fuel, are buffeted by the jet backwash and watch in awe as a 363-foot shining white rocket soars into the morning sky. But there hasn’t been a Saturn V rocket launched from American soil in 30 years: the technological know-how has been lost, and Pad 34 is a broken rusted derelict with the sign “Abandon in Place” posted there as its epitaph. However one did lift off that day and even sent back telemetry from Moon orbit before disappearing as suddenly as it had begun. Astronaut Rick Spencer was an eyewitness standing atop of Pad 39A during that first phantom launch. As a child, he lived, breathed, and consumed the Apollo flights. This was a ghost…or was it?

The story follows how Rick is trained to fly the Saturn V’s Apollo command module and how he actually climbs aboard the third vehicle to appear on Pad 34, and flies it to the Moon accompanied by two fellow astronauts picked up by EVA from the space shuttle in orbit around the Earth. Read the breathtaking account of the flight to the Moon, the world’s perception of it, and unravel the mystery of how the rocket, etc. came into being. There is a nicely entwined infrastructure of science and the supernatural that really comes down to one thing: massive willpower and a single point to focus it through. I won’t spoil it for you, but the ups and downs of our heroes as they struggle with beliefs, emotions, sheer will, personal responsibility, media circus’, real dangers, and the reshaping of the world in a newly awakened image is a non-stop ride of heart warming exhilaration. A breathtaking, tense, funny, scary ‘what if we could?’ Far-fetched events made plausible by the author in his attempt to meld science with the human will, dreams and hope.

In one instance, in an attempt to stop a vicious European war, our heroes try to ‘build’ a weapon that won’t be knocked out of the sky by a Foe of equal power. Unfortunately they just can’t get it right and end up dropping a stream of perfectly formed Luna Landing Modules on him instead. Laugh or cry it’s a brilliant moment – right up to what happened next.

In it’s original form, this story was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as a 7,000-word short story. The author was enthusiastically encouraged to expand the story into a novella which then went on to win a Nebula Award. This is the story in its final incarnation as a novel. Personally, I loved it. Some might not. But don’t pass up the chance to read it and find out. This novel is definitely the ‘Field of Dreams’ of the Space Program.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Paint out in Salem, MA...

Sandra's Gargoyle
(6x8", Oil) Price: $100.00

Bob and I went off to Salem, MA, yesterday to give a painting demonstration. Well, we painted and The Art Corner patrons, as well as shop staff peeked over our shoulders. The Art Corner is a framing shop and gallery which does a brisk business on Washington Street in Salem, and occasionally makes room for us to come up and paint in the window along with fellow artist, Charles (Chuck) Lang. We have a relaxing time and chat while we paint. We also consumed way too much chocolate and pizza, but never mind. This was a special day, because numerous businesses had wonderful ice sculptures out the front of their premises - and usually the lure of chocolate within - as a pre-Valentine's day art event. So, inevitably, we were the floor show. Mind you, we did chat a bit throughout - with each other as well as customers - and played guess that tune. The shop has a 200 cd jukebox style player that was in 'shuffle' mode, so it was a chance to see who could come up with what obscure song/movie soundtrack title first.

I'd spent all of Friday morning playing with Photoshop and making up mixed flyers for our painting a day blogsites to hand out. They looked really good up there next to the chocolates. I know, chocs again. I had way too many.

Anyway, above is the painting I did of Sandra Lira's gargoyle sculpture. Sandra is a friend as well as a fellow artist, and this is a breakthrough piece for her. It has been molded and cast in a variety of mediums and is sold via various catalogues and shops. This is one of the huge garden variety, and sits in another friends garden. I took photos there some years back, and always wanted to paint the gargoyle in situ. He doesn't look too bad - the painting either.

Meanwhile, here is Bob painting his first landscape of the day. Beautiful isn't it? He did another of a castle after that. God he's fast. Brilliant, but fast...

And here is Chuck working on his apples painting. It looked pretty darn good when he finished it. I was kind of hoping he'd call it 'Stop/Go' or somegthing similar, because of all the red and green... It was also Chuck's birthday. Happy Birthday again, Chuck...

And this is my brand new little painting box: a 6x8" Thumbox from the Guerilla Painter series. Cool, huh? Just my size! And there's the Gargoyle painting sitting up on it...

Well, we had a really great time and want to do it again soon. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Telling It How It Is...

About once a year, Bob and I go to local art college, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and give a talk and slideshow each - to the students of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration class taught by fellow artist, Nick Jainschigg. That's what we did today. We did a show and tell with Bob's art first, and discussed the pros and cons of working for the publishing industry. There are both pitfalls and successes to be had, but negotiating the illustration road and remaining both solvent, healthy, and sane at the same time can be rough until you find your legs. Even then, there are potholes. Bob and I have had different experiences on different levels of the process, so we shared our anecdotes and warnings, with Nick chipping in with his from time to time. Nick and I took turns moderating the discussion.

Afterwards, we all trooped upstairs to present our slides. Bob had quite a few - illustrating (no pun intended) finished product as well as concept sketches and finished paintings side by side on the screen. Added to this years slideshow was a selection of Bob's concept art from the movie, 'The Antbully', and the previsualization art from 'Seahorse' from the same studio. It was well received. My slideshow encompasses my first serious beginnings in painting fantasy art from 1988 to the present day. The styles and mediums have changed over time, but I always came back to the freedom I feel when using oils. Acrylics, while I find them useful for illustration work, were difficult for me to master and I really felt that I'd literally painted myself into a corner, stylewise, with them. Also, painting in thin acrylic glazes can be time-consuming and tedious. Where was the fun in that? I included several new slides with montages of my 'painting a day' images from my 'Daub du Jour' blog, to show what I was currently trying to accomplish. Using thicker paint, painting from life, challenging myself to keep painting because I haven't been giving it the attention it deserves in recent years. They were appreciative, thankfully. Maybe I'm not doing too badly.

Anyway, that was today. On Saturday, Bob and I are going up to Salem, MA, to do a painting demo with our friend Charles Lang at The Art Corner on Washington Street. But more about that later...

See you then,

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fabulous Fakes and Artshow

Madame K
(9x16", Oil) Price: $200.00
The sunday before last, Bob and I were frantically working on our entries for the '14th Annual Fakes and Forgeries' show at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport, RI. We thought we had another week to get them done, but the end of January crept up on us way too soon. As it was, I had a fair idea of what I wanted to do, the stumbling block - as it always is - was designing and drawing what I wanted to do first: turn John Singer Sargent's stunning portrait, 'Madame X' into a koala bear. Yes, I know, another koala bear...

The result is as you see above. She didn't turn out too badly, all the rushing considered. Bob whipped out an alla prima oil version of one of Albert Bierstadt's paintings of 'Seals on Rocks' in a 9x12" format. Copies of Bierstadt's must be kind of rare at this show, because Bob's painting sold on opening night and was one of the first to do so. We also eavesdropped on converstions while people were looking at it. They raved! We were quite chuffed. Mind you eavesdropping was impossible to avoid: the little gallery was packed to the rafters as usual, with people.

'Madame K' attracted comment as well. People thought she was funny and cute. And I had to explain to at least one woman what kind of critter she was supposed to be. She hasn't sold yet, but I'm hopeful...

After the mad dash to Newport for the opening this Saturday gone (3rd), we made an even madder dash all the way up to Woonsocket to meet friends at Chan's Eggroll and Jazz restaurant on Main Street. Great food, great company, and front table seats to see Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish play some great blues - some torchy - and jazz. It was a great night.

However, I'd better get back to painting, or I'll be behind in getting stuff together for the next show in two weeks: Boskone science fiction convention in Boston.