T-Rex and the Parallel Pilot


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We spent Thanksgiving weekend on the Oregon coast. The rental property was a very nice place, and right on the beach. But, being late November in the Pacific Northwest, half the time we were caught in the house by strong gusts, chilly temperatures and heavy rains.

Thus trapped, and forced to find our entertainments indoors, we explored the contents of the cupboards. In the cupboard where all the VHS tapes (yep, you heard right) and board games were stored was lurking an eight inch tall plastic T-Rex. While the others were examining the titles of taped movies I grabbed the T-Rex.

On the road trip to the coast I’d stopped in at Dick Blick’s in downtown Portland got myself some new toys, a couple of Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens. I was turned onto these pens by Jason Shawn Alexander. They’re way too much fun to be played with only by calligraphers, especially with the ability to go from fat to skinny lines and back again with the faintest twist of the wrist.

I made several sketches of Mister T-Rex from a variety of angles and light sources.  He was accommodating to all my artistic needs, and I was loath to return him to the cupboard instead of bringing him home with me.  But I knew another artist might one day be trapped in that beach house by stormy weather, and would also be in need of an interesting and patient model.

Art on the Go


A sketch kit is a portable studio.  My first serious kit — the Infamous Grey Bag, aka the IGB — was big and clunky, and I used it until it fell apart.  It held an 11×14″ sketchpad, a 9×12″ watercolor block, and all the drafting and watercolor media/paraphernalia I could stuff into it.  On top that was an SLR, several rolls of film, and a spray can of workable fixative.  It got really heavy after lugging it around for an hour or so.

But I miss it.  Not only did it have impressive mileage, it accumulated some pretty powerful mojo.  After that one finally disintegrated I stupidly got out of the habit of carrying one at all, and I can’t help but feel that my skills have suffered for it.

I’m packing again, but I now want a smaller sketch kit, something that doesn’t look (or weigh) like I’m running away from home.  While I need to be outfitted and ready to serve my Muse, I want to do it without burdening myself.  The next go-kit has to be small enough for me to grab with one hand on the way out of the house.  Or shove into my bag.  Or into my coat pocket.

It must yield itself to impulse, and it must be discreet.  Emphasis should be on seizing the moment, not on toting gadgets.

In the mad scramble that accompanies Sudden Inspiration, having to search for tools kills irreplaceable momentum.  I can’t let even one more vision evaporate because I’m forced to dig around for a pencil that still has a point on it.

So I’m now in the process of assembling a new field sketch kit.  Stuff goes in, stuff goes out as I experiment with various blends of tools and stowage.  The absolute minimum is a tool for drawing and paper for drawing onto,…

… though watercolor half-pans, brush pens – and crayons for paper table covers, since not all of the finer dining establishments provide them – would be a nice bonus.

A particle or a wave?


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Today is the eleventh of November in the year 2011 (C.E.):

~ 11.11.11 ~

Time, as an abstract, is endless.  But it renders everything else excruciatingly finite, and that which is finite is rare, fleeting and precious — and not to be wasted.  The concept of Time is a human construct, invented so we may define — and thereby hopefully influence, if not control — the parameters of a human lifespan and the events that take place within it,…

… but that was just another delusion, too.

And when we discovered to our heartbreak that we could not control our creation that we named ‘Time’ we went and invented numerology.

An aside ~ why does Time get to fly while the rest of us have to walk?

Bloody unfair, if you ask me.

The mutable and fickle nature of Time — as in going too fast when we’re having fun, and not fast enough when we’re suffering — should be proof enough that it’s intractable and will never allow itself to be wrangled, to serve our petty and desperate whims.

Tiny Art Kit


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Pictured are a Niji Waterbrush; an Altoids’ “smalls” tin containing two pans of Prang watercolors – a nice, dense black worthy of calligraphy, the other a sort of Van Dyck brown – and a snip of natural sponge; and a 4″ x 6″ Fabriano sketchpad of ‘Vergata’ paper [not really suitable for watercolor washes, but what the hell – it fit in my pocket].

Not pictured are the cheapo mechanical pencil and the Faber-Castell ‘Pitt’ fine-tipped marker I used for the initial sketch.

I did this one a few hours ago to catch an idea for a possible painting, whilst awaiting lunch at The Rock with Ben; snapped the pic with my iPhone.