Thursday, April 26, 2012


 "The Meat That Won't Die" would be a great premise for a scary religious cult, or a very cheapo horror film, or a scary cheapo rock band.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pen and ink beginnings

I'm trying to remember how I got involved in pen-and-ink drawing.  It wasn't a very deliberate thing, and just enough time has passed that I'm on the verge of forgetting.
Of course, I've always used ink to some degree, for sketches and doodles.  However, I wasn't ever really what I would call a pen-and-ink artist until about four years ago.  I drew mostly with graphite, and preferred to paint with oils.
I think this is how it happened:
In the spring of 2007, the office I work for changed locations, and our new building has behind it a wooded area with a walking trail.  That summer, on the walking trail, I found some fallen, immature green walnuts.
I didn't know what they were, and identification was difficult because they were still small.  They didn't yet look like ripe walnuts.  After some research and discussion, I figured out they were black walnuts, and learned that the wooded area had a bunch of black walnut trees.
I think that somewhere along the way while I was researching this, I saw that black walnuts could be used to make ink.  That prompted me to do a little more internet research on the process.  I read that the ink was good artist ink, lightfast, and archival.  The process for making it was pretty straightforward.  Since at the time I had no cash for art supplies and I'm a cheapskate at heart, I thought I'd try it.
I do recall being a little bit preoccupied with it.  I learned to identify walnut trees and started spotting them all around town.  In the autumn, when the nuts fell from the trees, I picked up a bunch and made some ink.
During this time period, I was occasionally spending my lunch breaks doing graphite (and occasionally charcoal) sketches of buildings and trees near my office.  I was also, from time to time, doing quick sketches of people with black ink felt-tip pens, mainly because I enjoyed the crisp, clean contrast as opposed to graphite.
Late in the spring 2008, I took some walnut ink with me on my lunch break, and began a small drawing of the old Bellevoir mansion near my office.  I spent a couple of days on it.
In July, co-worker saw that drawing, and asked me to draw his house.  A friend of mine saw the Bellevoir drawing and bought it.  The house drawing I did for the co-worked led to a few more commissions from the co-worker's friends.  That, in turn, led to more commissions over the course of the next couple years.
I was taking these drawings to a gallery frame shop to have window mats cut for them.  The owner of the frame shop expressed interest in my work and recommended that I draw some local scenes to try to sell.
As I worked on these commissions, I developed a deeper appreciation for, and enjoyment of, pen-and-ink.
So, there you go.  I became a pen-and-ink artist because one day on my lunch break I found a nut I couldn't identify.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dental Correspondence

Erin left a not for the Tooth Fairy a couple of nights ago, and she got a response along with the dollar that was left.  Very interesting!  The note was, unsurprisingly, quite small; only about an inch tall.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Erin, Jill, and I were playing soccer in the back yard. Jill said she would be the referee. We were all standing pretty far apart.

Jill: “First, what are your team names?”

Erin: “Lightning!”

Jill: “Lightning. Got it. What about you, Dada?”

Me: “The Tornadoes!”


Jill: “The Potatoes?!”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This year's garden, so far

I haven't really been bitten by the gardening bug this year.  I think that with my slight backlog of artwork commissions, backlog of baby rats, and backlog of housecleaning chores, I just haven't been in the mood.  For the past eight years, I've been eager to start planting every spring.  This year, I feel like I just need to get the perennials taken care of, and phooey on the rest.
The asparagus I planted last year is coming back. Some of the plants look more vigorous than others, but I like them.  I'll have to read up again about how to properly maintain the plants. 
My friend Gregg, who is much more into gardening than I am, informed me that the reason my fennel doesn't form bulbs is because it just gets too hot too quickly in Kentucky, causing the fennel to bolt.  I'll keep it for the seeds, though.  And for the swallowtail butterflies.
I'll still plant some other things, but only things I really want, and things that are pretty easy.  I must plant tomatoes, that's a given.  I'll probably plant more basil.
A couple of weeks ago I spread out some of my glad bulbs, and I might buy some more mulch to put around them and the Asiatic lilies that are coming up.  I plan to put a greater emphasis on mulching all around this year, just because it's so much less work in the long run.
Yesterday I finally bought a new string trimmer.  After much research, I went with a Black & Decker 18 volt rechargeable cordless trimmer.  I had a list of five or six models I was looking for, and that was at the bottom of the list (my default selection).  It got good reviews, but the main complaint that kept popping up was about battery longevity.  I couldn't find any of the other models, so I bought that one.  What really sealed the deal was that the package came with two batteries, and the hardware store was having a sale in which they gave me a third battery for free.  I bought it with the proceeds from my Ottawa drag saw drawing, which seems somewhat fitting.

Monday, April 09, 2012

School sketch

Here's a sketch I did in preparation for a larger drawing in walnut ink.  The hardest thing to work out, for me, is how to configure the trees.  I've edited out a few trees, and made some others a little skinnier, but I want to leave in as much as I can because the trees are an attractive and distinctive feature.  I'm also diggin' the steps.  This is my favorite view of the building, because of the stairs; they will be the funnest part to draw, I'm sure.