Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sketching again

Hoping to make this a daily practice.
Some ceramic pieces I have

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Drawing While Flying

I've been on a couple of airplane trips in the past few months, and I've spent some of the airtime drawing.

I did this one on the way home from the UK in August.

And I did this one this morning, on my way to Houston.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

ACEOs Are Done, and An Afternoon of Sketching

The weather's been a bit weird the past couple of weeks; we're getting our fall preview, I guess. Temps have been more like the UK was in August (in the mid-60's in the day and the 50's at night), except for this weekend, where we had a small burst of summer heat.

I spent the afternoon sketching outside on my back porch.

And my ACEO cards are done and living in their clear sleeves and inserted  into Strathmore Frame Cards. I finished all of them yesterday. I activated the Derwent Inktense pencils with a brush I acquired in the UK at the art supply store in Bath, on the recommendation of the saleswoman. It's a Pentel Aquash brush, with a self-contained water reservoir - rather designed specifically to use with watercolor pencils, I think. It lets you work in watercolor out in the wild without having to deal with bowls of water.

Here are photos of some of the cards before cutting and packaging:

Friday, September 26, 2014

ACEOs for the fall (WIP)

I started working on some artist trading cards last night for a Halloween card/gift exchange among members of one of my online communities. Here are some progress shots.

I like creating my ACEOs on large paper and cutting them down to size. The pencils I've used to color these are Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. This is the first time I've tried them. I haven't "activated" the pigment with water yet, so I don't know how it's going to act. I wanted a good scan of these before I get them wet, just in case I mess something up.

I quite like my Pumpkin Witch. I think I'll do a few more of her over the weekend. I'm also digging my Totoro-influenced raccoon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

sketching again

I've been working with paper and pencil and ink a lot at home, to get away from the tablet and Adobe applications that I spend most of the day working with at the day job. However, I really enjoy working with the Procreate app on my iPad. It has the most "natural" brushes of any of the iPad apps I've been trying (and I've been trying most of them, believe me).

I doodled this while watching TV last week, and trying out the "fill area" feature they added in the latest update.

Right now, I'm using either the Sensu double-ended stylus ("fingertip" on one end and paint brush on the other end) or the Wacom Bamboo stylus. I am really seriously considering getting the new Wacom Intuous Creative Stylus 2 when it's released next month, and maybe I can hold off finally investing in a Cintiq drawing tablet for a while longer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Every once in a while

I manage to take a really good photo.

On the bypass toll road from Bath to Bitton (and the B&B)
More travel blogging ahead, now that I'm home and have time to cull through photos and memories of the vacation.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Things That Are Different in England

Or at least at this hotel...

Hair Dryers! The hotel where we are staying for the convention graciously provides hair dryers in the rooms. This particular device must have been purchased at a discount from a shrink-wrap company, because it has only one heat setting: melt your face. You have a selection off an speeds, however.

The other feature is that you must hold down the ON button with a death grip for the fan to function at all. I'm sure this is an ernegy-saving feature, but now both of my hands are cramped into claws, giving me a demented crone (or Skexxis) appearance.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Into the West

We drove out of London on Sunday. The GPS was feeling particularly sadistic that morning, and it took us 2 hours to get out of the city and onto the M4 motorway.

We didn't even get the tank filled. Petrol is expensive here.

But apparently, some people can afford to drive in style.

The Little Normead Farm

The farmhouse B&B was incredibly beautiful. We had a little time to ourselves among the grounds when it wasn't raining. There were many large lavender plants that made the whole yard smell of lavender and the honeybees were busy collecting pollen. The farm had ducks and chickens and cats. Our hostess, Susan, was an excellent cook and provided us with enormous breakfasts every morning.

The only downsides to the place were the lack of surfaces to put things on and the tiny, highly uncomfortable bed, which we dubbed "the torture bed"... That, and the fact that we couldn't just stay there all day on the farm (it was literally a "bed and breakfast") had us leaving a day early. I had initially planned to chill out there on the last day, but there was no way to do that comfortably.

But we did have the most dramatic skies I have ever seen.

Friday and the Theatre

I rested as much as possible on Thursday and Friday, keeping my foot up. The rest of the family went sight-seeing and shopping. Friday night, we went to the West End again, to see Shakespeare In Love at the Noel Coward Theatre. The adaptation of the film was quite good (IMO), and I particularly enjoyed the inter-scene and in-scene music.

Museum Report, Part 2: The Tate

I know a lot of things change over the course of 30 years, an entire generation grows up and starts on a generation to replace them. And I also know that you can't repeat an experience the same way it was the first time. However, the ecstatic experience I had when viewing the Pre-Raphaelite gallery at the Tate in 1984 was nearly equaled to the disappointment I felt at my latest visit to the Tate last Tuesday.

We left the British Museum and walked through the West End area, passing by many theatres  and wandering in Covent Garden shops, and had lunch at a nice pub, with Kate guiding us along.

The Warhammer store in Covent Garden.

She led us to Trafalgar Square, where the 4th corner is a changing installation. It's currently displaying a gigantic blue cock (a rooster. Get your mind out of the gutter.). Trafalgar is also where a lot of the street performers are that used to be someplace else (I forget now). It reminded me a bit of Times Square in NYC. 

Rich, the Big Blue Cock, and I, Trafalgar Square

A Scary guy Floating in the air at Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Fountain. I quite like this statue.

We ended up hiking down to the Queen's Palace and then taking a taxi to the Tate, because we were just too tired to walk the remaining distance (and the museum was going to be closing in an hour or so).

Buckingham Palace

We get there, only to find that there no longer exists a gallery of Pre-Raphaelite paintings; there is now a room called "the 1840's" and you can't go in, besides. It's roped off.

Please Mind The Ropes. No admittance to this gallery.

To add insult to injury, there is this... shambles... installed in the center of the museum. Piles of wood, that looks like someone is demolishing their kitchen, some large black plastic garbage bags hanging from the ceiling, cardboard wrapped in a tube, held together with different colors of duct tape. The only thing I could think that makes it artistic was the scale of it. None of us "got" it, and really, why wasn't it in the Tate Modern? The only good thing about this visit was that we didn't have to pay to get in.

I'm sorry, but I Just Don't Get It.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


We spent a day and a half in Bath. Sunday afternoon was fun, but most shops are closed, and the queue for the Roman baths was too long to attempt. We wandered a bit, and visited the few shops open on a Sunday, and lamented the fact that the shops close at 5 and dinner isn't served till 6 - what's a person supposed to do for that hour?

A Brief Summary

Well we are back in London, for Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, and the pretext for this entire journey, after 3 days in the West Country, where there was no real opportunity for blogging properly. We've settled into the Ramada Docklands, which is not quite as posh as the website makes it appear... At least our room isn't as posh. The convention isn't scheduled to start until tomorrow, but it looks absolutely incredible.

There have been a lot of breathtakingly beautiful things happening over the past 5 days, as well as some extraordinarily frustrating things happening. I will be posting about them.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Last Day in London

I know I still have museum reports to do, but today was our last day in London.  We spent the entire afternoon obtaining our rental car, because there is a bicycle race going on in London today and tomorrow and huge portions of the city is closed to traffic. There was massive amounts of "can't get there from here" going on.

Anyway, tonight was evening I spent with some local friends, and I was shown one of the few remaining original Banksy pieces in the city.

Seen on the way
Someday, I'll learn to take a decent selfie.

Friday, August 8, 2014

So this happened yesterday

I took a misstep on a bit if uneven pavement, and tore the ligaments on my ankle. This is why I didn't update yesterday; I was too busy feeling sorry for myself while the rest of the family were at the London Zoo.

I have done this probably 3 times before in my life. Never on vacation, I don't think. I have injured myself on a honeymoon in the past, however. 

The fact that there are 2 flights of stairs that have to be negotiated coming in and out of this flat is problematic. I am saving up my spoons for the theatre tonight.

I am concerned that this will affect what I can do and participate in at Worldcon next week.  And I really hope I'm injured enough to get the use of those transports inside the airport.  We had a 1-mile walk at least to get from our plane to customs and baggage claim.

At least it's given me the opportunity to catch up on the travel blog. This also happened yesterday:

Museum Report part 2: the British Museum

Part of the problem of waiting 30 years to revisit a place is that nothing is the same as you remember it. Another part is the massive amounts of romanticization that's taken place in your head during the course of those 30 years.

Add to that the recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum with my friend Susan just a couple of months ago (where we spent most of our time in the Egyptian wing), and what I had was a recipe for disappointment.

I spent way too much time comparing artifacts to those I had seen in New York, which was stupid, but there it is. The Elgin Marbles (which aren't called that anymore, they are more properly named the Parthenon, as that's where they were gathered from) were beautiful and awesome as I remember them.

One thing that I didn't remember from my previous visit was the throngs of people and the heat. The building isn't temperature controlled and with so many people in there, it became quite close and stifling hot. Ariel wasn't feeling too well before we got to the museum and by the time we ventured up to the second floor, she became rather ill.

I didn't realize the British Museum had the original print of Hokusai's Great Wave, which is among my favorite pieces of art (the others are at the Tate, more on that later), so I managed to miss the print gallery entirely. We spend a lot of time in Egypt, Messopotamia, Greece and Rome, with a side-jaunt into ancient Britian, and a serendipitous rest in a gallery that was basically an enormous library, with glassed-in shelves of wonderful objects from all over the world (and a copy of the Rosetta Stone that you could touch)

One of the things I found remarkable in the Egyptian wing were the mummified animals. The weave pattern on this cat, for example, is a quilting design known as the Log Cabin.