Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Was good Christmas. See many family. Talk many.
Was good Christmas. Ate many cookies. Ate many fudge. Still eat many both.
Was good Christmas. Unwrap many gifts. Still paper scraps on floor.
Now is time between Christmas and New Year. Parties and fudge numb brain. Sky gray and wet. Lights pretty.

A game of Dixit on Christmas night

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Obi-Wan Kenobi Pizza Hut Tumbler

I threw this away a few days ago.  It was a Pizza Hut Star Wars promotional item from 1979, during a re-release of the movie.  

I remember having more than one of these cups, and using them in our kitchen, but at some point not long after we got them I started using this one as a water cup for painting.  I used it while paining pictures, and I used it for painting figurines, and I kept using it through high school and college.  I must have used it from time to time since college, too, but in recent years it's mostly been in a box, saved for sentimental value.  

It was encrusted with layers of dried paint-water on the inside; the lettering had mostly faded on the outside; and the plastic was brittle.  I did some garage de-cluttering over the weekend to prepare for Christmas, and decided it was time to say goodbye.  Goodbye, Ben!

And then I went and saw the new Star Wars movie, which was good.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

7 x 10 inch pen and ink house portrait

A couple of nights ago I finished this house portrait, which was the last one I needed to get done with a due date of Christmas. Whew!  Now I can take a breath...but I also need to start on a few more that I owe for people who have gift certificates.  There are two of those, and the people who hold the gift certificates have been very patient.  After those two, I have another commission, plus two more probables that I discussed with someone today.  That should keep me busy into spring, but I hope to get a chance to work on some drawings and paintings on my own.

This drawing is 7 x 10 on Bristol board.  I didn't use any thinned down sumi ink on this one.  In the reference photo, the big tree was right in front of the door.  I had to judge from other, older reference photos was the door would look like from this angle, and moved the tree forward and to the right just a little.

It's been another busy year.  I am immensely happy that so many people have liked and admired my work enough to commission artwork from me.  There are so many other artists--some known to me personally--whom I admire as being more diligent, disciplined, and skilled than I am, so it's hard for me to feel too proud of my work.  ...But I am thrilled by all the compliments I get, and very happy that people enjoy the images I produce.

I hope readers of this blog have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a great New Year.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Paper wasps on Black Friday

Here are some slightly chilly wasps in a tree at the Summit Walgreens. This might be the first time I have ever seen paper wasps with a nest in a tree instead of on a man-made structure. I am sure it happens all the time, I have just never noticed it. I noticed the wasp nest from my parking space. It was pretty obvious because there were no leaves on the tree.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Wings of Glory WW1

I finally got to play some games with my new WoG material! I invited friends over for a game on Armistice Eve.  Four of them were able to show up; none of them had ever played before, although a couple of them had played X-Wing Miniatures.

I have a big piece of scrap MDF flooring that I’ve been painting with ancient cans of house paint and some old bottles of cheap craft acrylic.  My goal is to make it look like a generic section of Belgian countryside from overhead.  It’s still a work in progress, but I think it looks decent enough to use.  It’s about 71 x 41 inches (180 x 104 cm).

First, I just told the three of my friends who had arrived to pick out some planes for a basic dogfight.  We started with an Alabatros D. Va and a Fokker D. VII vs. an Se5a and a SPAD XIII.  The dogfight wheeled around the table; my brain wheeled around as I tried to explain and keep track of the special damage rules; and my friends exhibited admirable patience as I clumsily tried to clarify rules points. 

My fourth friend arrived, and picked out the Fokker Dr. I and threw it into the fray. The SPAD was the first to go, after a Boom card was drawn, leaving the lone Se5a against the three
Central Powers planes.  The friend who picked the Fokker Dr. I, just the round before, quickly changed sides—what everyone had thought was a Fokker turned out to actually be a Sopwith Camel!

The dogfight moved sort of like a whirlwind from one side of the board to the other.  In just a few more rounds, the Albatros and the Camel both plummeted to earth, full of holes.  Finally, the Se5a got in some final shots on the Fokker D. VII before it could turn around, leaving the Se5a as the last plane in the air.

A couple of friends had to leave at that point, but the two remaining were enthusiastic about another match.  I quickly came up with a simple scenario:  An Airco dh. 4 with a SPAD XIII escort returning home from a bombing mission, waylaid by two Albatros D. VA.s.   The dh. 4 and the SPAD started on one end of the play area, with the goal of flying off the far end to escape.  The Albatroses started 2/3s of the way down the board, near the Entente aircraft. (I flew both the Airco dh. 4 and the SPAD, and they each took an Alabatros).

The distance was closed pretty quickly, with the SPAD racing ahead to meet the attackers.  All aircraft took fire.  The dh. 4 tried to zigzag to keep out of firing arcs, and to let its rear gunner fire, but the two-seater’s B guns were doing minimal damage to the attackers.  The SPAD’s intentions were to repeatedly zip through combat, do an Immelman, and then return; however, twice inside of two rounds I chose the wrong maneuver cards (once playing a stall instead of an Immelman, and once playing a sideslip instead of a turn).  The result was that for several rounds the SPAD was too far downstream from the action to be of any use.

The Albatroses had been distracted by the SPAD, but soon realized that their larger prey was moving to escape, and was leaving them behind.  They pursued the Airco dh. 4, but lost a round of firing as they tried to catch up.  After they caught up, the dh. 4’s rear gun jammed, and then the dh. 4 was set ablaze by the German aircraft’s guns.  The day-bomber’s damage was stacking up, but escape was at hand!  The next round, the dh. 4 made it off the board with 14 points of damage taken out of 17—but there was still one flame token on the plane.  In the interest of fairness and story, I drew one more damage card to see if the plane could make it safely home—and drew a 0!

The SPAD neared that edge of the board, and was game for attempting to take down one of the Germans.  However, after another exchange of fire, the SPAD’s guns jammed.  The pilot then decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and flew off the board at the start of the next maneuver selection phase.

The two Albatros D. Va.s were left frustrated with their empty hunting bags—but were still intact enough that any new prey that blundered in their direction would be in danger.

That was the end.  It was a fun night of shooting, with a few beers thrown in.  I am eager to play again.

House portrait, 11 x 15 inches

Finished a couple of nights ago

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Wings of Glory

A couple of months ago I realized I had spent almost no money over the previous year on my primary hobby, games, so I felt like it was OK to spend a little money I had saved up.  I ordered a Wings of Glory WW1 Rules and Accessories Pack with a starter set of four airplanes.  This would go with the two planes I bought about 18 months ago to use while playing with Aaron, who already had the rules and some planes.

I was excited when it all came in the mail, and happily read the rule book.

Not long after that, just a few weeks ago, my old friend Kelly posted on Facebook that he was going to sell his Wings of War (same thing as Wings of Glory, just an earlier edition) planes, and asked if any of his friends were interested.  I jumped at that.  I didn’t even know he had the game.  He offered me a very good price, but even so, I told him it would be a little while before I had the money.  He said that was no problem.

I requested that he just hold them until I could pay him for them, but shortly after that I came home from work to find a box from him on my front porch.  He had gone ahead and mailed the planes to me, knowing that I would like to have them for a Veterans Day game I was planning.  What a super nice thing to do!  And I was thrilled to get them.  I love them.

And to top that off, just a few days after that, one of my co-workers just gave me two more planes.  He’d had them sitting on his desk, having bought them just to have models sitting in his cubicle, but had decided he wanted something larger.  He knew I was into the game, so he handed them to me.

It has been a biplane bonanza.

This is a photo of all my Wings of Glory planes.

Wings of Glory/Wings of War

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Brain While Drawing on Pumpkins

I probably would have this same idea of how my brain is working on pumpkins, even if I had never seen the movie "Inside Out."

Brain area 1: "All right, I need to use a two-dimensional medium to create an image that gives the illusion of three dimensions. And people have to be able to tell what it represents."

Brain area 2: "OK, I will work with you on this. I have some technical information on your materials."

Brain area 3: "Hold on. You are trying to create the illusion of the 3D image, but you are working on a rounded, lumpy surface. So the surface is already 3D."

Brain area 1: "Huh, you're right. Brain area 3, you be in charge of moving the head around and shifting the eyes and getting that parallax-stuff going to compensate for distortion."

Brain area 2: "This is effed up. I bet you could just use a can lid to draw circles."

Brain area 1: "Store that for later, area 2. Just keep track of the paper towels and rubbing alcohol and stuff. Hey, area 3, let's draw a long rectangle with a little bit of single-point perspective."

Brain area 3: "But this is a curved surface…and you want to taper it downwards, even though it is on the upward curve of the spherical pumpkin? Brain area 2 is right, this really is effed up."

Brain area 4: "Hey, what are you guys—oh, shit. I don't even want to know what's going on here. I'm going back to bed."

Brain area 1: "I drew the rectangle while you weren't looking, Brain area 3. Tell me how you think it looks."

Brain area 2: "I have some alcohol, want me to wipe it out..?"

Brain area 3: "Huh, that might work. Keep going and I will re-evaluate."

And so it goes as a committee process for three to seven hours.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Shining Pumpkin

Here is a photo from before it was quite finished. I still had to cut around the bottom of the door and the lettering on the sides ("all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy")

Last of my garden produce

I picked these Sunday morning in the frost. I made some fried green tomatoes. There are still some cayenne peppers and little onions outside, so this might not be the last, but this us just about it for the garden this year.

I am so busy with other stuff, but I need to divide perennials. When will I do that?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Flying Monkey Pumpkin

Connie Moose

I was looking for some old paperwork in my cubicle yesterday, and looked in a binder pocket I had not looked at for a while. There was a piece of notebook paper with this note. I have been puzzling over it ever since. I don't know why I wrote it, and maybe I would be disappointed if I figured it out.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hiking and wading at the Parklands

We took a little family stroll this evening at the park at Beckley Station. I waded in the creek a little but failed to catch a crawdad ( almost did, though), saw lots of darters, found a little toad (seen here on my daughter's thumb), caught big grasshoppers, looked at tons of pretty wildflowers, saw a big turtle and a big carp. Nice evening to be out.


I was in Oklahoma City last week and brought some games in case I had a chance to play someone after class. The last night I was able to play Carcassonne with my co-worker. She caught on pretty quickly and seemed to enjoy it. This was the board state at the end.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Giant Wings of Glory board (work in progress)

I have a big piece of scrap MDF board in the garage, and lots of old gritty house paint in rusting buckets. So I decided to start making a game board for Wings of Glory. I am just making it up as I go, but the look I am going for is an aerial view of farmlands. It is 71 x 44 inches, and very hard to carry by myself. I am excited to be working on it and can't wait to see the finished product, though it will have to wait. It won't take much time, since it is pretty abstract and does not require much detail, but I will be working on house portraits and pumpkins every chance I get for a few months.

Cross country meet in Georgetown today

Friday, September 11, 2015


Last week I finally dug up my carrots. They were tiny, but delicious--sweet and crunchy.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Pen & ink, 7 x 10 inches

This was a combination of sumi ink with dip pens, bamboo pens, ink wash, and Pigma Micron-style pens.

pen and ink- commission


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Cosmic Encounter

I finally got to play a game of Cosmic Encounter today, as well as The Resistance. I soundly lost both but had a great time.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Imperial Decimator

 My board game obsession shifts focus from game to game (and occasionally changes back into an RPG obsession.) One game, however, has been consistent in its ability to hold me enamored since it was published three years ago, and that's Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, from Fantasy Flight Games.

Like most guys my age, I started out loving Star Wars when I was a kid, and kept a fondness for it into adulthood. But I have never been as "into it" as some people I know. I always had mixed feelings about the third movie, The Return of the Jedi; Episodes I – III were OK entertainment but had widely-discussed problems. I've maintained only a vague, peripheral awareness of all the comics, video games, and novels over the past 30 years. (Though I did enjoy that old X-Wing video game, I hardly played it.)

More than anything else, I think I liked the Star Wars aesthetic. The "look" of the ships, aliens, costumes, and sets is pleasing to me. And the music, of course.

And that aesthetic, combined with a fun game system, is why I love X-Wing Miniatures. It collided with my enjoyment of tactical combat games and my fondness for nice miniatures. Even though I hardly get a chance to play the game—and I want to all the time—I covet the game components and try to figure out how to get more. I even really like most of the "Extended Universe" (read: stuff that was not in the movies, but appeared only in video games, comics, and novels) ships and pilots.

That brings me to my latest purchase. I realized a couple of weeks ago that I had a Barnes & Noble gift card that I had forgotten about, and Barnes & Noble has a decent game section. I spent a couple of weeks debating what to use it on. I realized I had not bought anything game-related since last fall. The board game Sheriff of Nottingham was a leading candidate because I thought it would be fun to play with both my family and my friends, but in the end X-Wing Miniatures won out. I had a hard time deciding between the Most Wanted expansion and the Decimator expansion. Last night I bought the Decimator.

Now I want to add a little bit of paint detailing on my own. I can't wait to see it on the table with my other ships. I hope I get a chance to play a game sometime soon.

I have a similar but milder obsession with Wings of Glory WW1. I really want to save up to get a decent starter set for that. If Barnes & Noble had stocked that, it would have won out over everything else because I don't have any good way to play it yet unless Aaron invites me over to play (he has the rules and a number of the planes.)

My hope is that soon I'll have a chance to invite some friends over to play games on a semi-regular basis (friends who used to come over to play board games pretty frequently. It wouldn't be Star Wars, but it would still be good. Great.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Carcassonne board game

A game of Carcassonne a few weeks ago. We also played some on vacation. Such a great game.