I’m Back In The Game…Sort Of

Slowly but surely I’m getting back into sketching.  It’s amazing how out of practice once can get at normal walking after spending nearly four years with a limp (grin).  Yesterday I went on my training walk by walking with my daughter to an appointment she had not far from our home.  While she was doing her thing, I did this quick sketch, using a fude pen.

I sketched very quickly (some my say sloppily) and so I had time to throw a bit of color on it before she returned.  I suppose this is a landmark sketch for me as it’s the first in a very long time.  Hopefully I can get back to a daily routine.  If there’s one thins COVID and my bad knee has taught me it’s the power of routine to keep your skills up.  Mine are way down right now.  Feels real good, though, to click on Location Sketching as a tag for this sketch.

The “Forgot About It” Experiment

Outside the scientific community the most commonly executed “experiment” is the forgot-about-it experiment.  The experimenter places leftovers in the refrigerator and then forgets about it.  Alternative approaches are ignored pieces of fruit or vegetable.  Weeks later someone, finding the item, pulls it from the fridge with the exclamation of “Ewwww….yuck.”

We’ve all done these experiments and they don’t lead to much insight,but we’re prone to do it again…and again.  Today, however, I want to talk about a forgot-about-it experiment that did yield some interesting results.

First, an aside.  As reported here, my leg problems caused me to shut down my street sketcher activities and COVID resulted in multiple postponements of knee replacement surgery.  BUT, it finally happened and I have to say I’m thrilled with the results.  I’m regaining my energy levels and starting to walk, climb stairs, etc. like I haven’t done in years and to do it without pain.

Ok…what’s one got to do with the 0ther?  I started digging through my sketching stuff, trying to get things in order.  What I found initially scared me – my own forgot-about-it experiment.  In this case it was two of my fountain pens (my daily users) still sitting in my sketch bag.  They’d been there for SIX MONTHS.  Surely they were dried up beyond use.  These pens were:

Platinum 3776, fed from a Platinum Carbon Black cartridge

Wing Sung 3008, fed from its piston-filler with DeAtramentis Document Black ink

There has been a lot of digital ink spilled about how pigmented (ie waterproof) fountain pen inks require lots of maintenance.  I’ve always argued that this was not true, citing the fact that the only time I clean my sketching pens (with these pigmented inks) is when I’m going to store them or if I’m changing colors.

The rebuttal has always been “Well, you’re using them daily and that’s why you have no problems.”  That was true  and I was defeated by their logic.  Today I present some evidence to contrary.  I have two pens that haven’t even seen the light of day for six months and each carried one of the two most popular waterproof fountain pen inks used by sketchers.  And while only a quick scribble, here are the results when I opened each of these pens.

No dipping water or shaking was required.  Both of these pens just wrote.  How can that be?  There are two reasons, I think.  The first is that all the fears of using pigmented fountain pen inks are exaggerated.  I do think people have become less concerned about this than back when they were first introduced and so I’ll talk about the second reason.  Both of these pens seal VERY WELL.  Unlike pens that us a simple rubber washer seal, each of these pens have an inner seal that wraps around the nib.  In addition to that, the cap itself sports a fine-thread (screw on) attachment to the body of the pen.

I know we live in a “facts don’t matter” world and only opinions/beliefs are important, so take this observable evidence in whatever way suits you, but I want to make one more point.  You CAN buy pens that work like this.  These two pens cost me $150 and $4 respectively.

 

 

A Blog Without Blog Posts???

My last blog post was just before Christmas, more than four months ago.  I kept meaning to write but since I wasn’t sketching it seems to take a low priority in the things to do queue.

In that last post I talked about how COVID work loads on our hospital system cancelled the knee surgery I was supposed to have back in September.  Since then, every once in a while (during a lull of COVID cases) my surgery was rescheduled and then cancelled again when another spike of cases came along.  Seems that postponed cancer operations and such have a higher priority than a knee operation on an old man.  Go figure (grin).  And so, my knee has just gotten worse and worse and I can’t do much walking at all.

So my decision to spend time learning music (and attempting to learn how to play classical ukulele) was a good one.  I can sit and study, play and generally be sufficiently distracted from the world so this pandemic couldn’t depress me… too much.

Anyways, these have been my tools for the past few months.  I now own three ukuleles and these are the two I play most.

I split my time between coming to grips with music theory and teaching my fingers to play what I want them to play.  My old, arthritic fingers are winning the battle but it’s a  battle that’s really fun.

The good news is that my surgery is actually going to happen next Wednesday.  This should mean a few weeks of post-op physiotherapy and then I’ll be walking again.  Eventually I may even be able to get back to sketching on the streets.  Hope so.  Sorry about the lack of posts.

Am I A COVID Victim?

A follower of my blog recently wrote to wish me a Merry Christmas, which was very nice of them to do.  But included was this question: “Have you been a victim of COVID?”  The question was asked because they’d noticed that I hadn’t posted on the blog or on Instagram for quite a while.

My first answer was simply “no,” but suddenly I felt guilty for not thinking about what some might think if I stopped posting.  And so, my second response idea was to explain that I just hadn’t been sketching much and thus had nothing to post.

Then it occurred to me to reflect on the question itself.  I’ve considered myself one of the lucky ones during the COVID pandemic.  I’m retired so staying home isn’t a heavy burden.  My wife and daughter are home with me so I don’t even have the angst of not seeing my family through the holidays.

But upon reflection, like so many people, I am a victim of COVID, not as someone who got the virus but in other ways.  For instance, I was supposed to have knee surgery back in September.  It was cancelled as Quebec hospitals cancelled all “elective” surgeries to free up staff to deal with COVID victims.  This has relegated me to the limp around the house crowd and limited my ability to go for long walks, something I was doing during the early phases of the pandemic.

But maybe the biggest impact COVID has had on me is my sketching, something I used to do every day and now do almost never.  I tried drawing food, kitchen utensils, and sofas.  I just don’t like it.  For me, sketching is about going out, plunking myself down on a tripod stool, and drawing something.  Take that away from me and I simply stopped sketching.  I’m sure I’ll get back to it once I can go out again but until then, I’m really having a hard time being interested.  In that sense, I am a COVID victim.  I suspect most people have simliar “victim” stories.

That’s not to say that I’m not doing well or that I’m unhappy.  I’ve taken to playing my guitar again.  I bought a ukulele.  I’m getting in touch with music again.  It’s all good.  I hope others are responding to these disruptions in their life in similar ways.  I hope all of you have a happy holiday season in spite of circumstances.  I apologize for not making a statement about why I wasn’t posting before.  I know there are at least three of you who follow my stuff and I should have thought about the potential for misreading my lack of presence.  We’ve all got to be like the two kids in my sketch.  We’ve got to keep that ball rolling regardless of the ups and down of the terrain.

Book Review: Adebanji Alede’s Addictive

Here’s an interesting fact.  One in five Africans are Nigerian.  Nigeria is a big country. Its most lucrative export is oil, but they’ve exported something even better in the creative dynamo called Adebanji Alede.

Adebanji says he’s addicted to the creation of art.  He is fond of oil painting on location and loves sketching people on the streets and in trains.  He’s had a YouTube channel for many years where he presents his art and artistic ideas as well as energetic attempts to motivate others to be as addicted as he is to sketching.

Early in 2020 he published a book titled The Addictive Sketcher which is a superb text for anyone wanting to learn how to draw quickly and in a loose, but accurate style.  I’ve read it twice so far and highly recommend it.

This month he’s followed up with a second book titled Addictive.  This isn’t a traditional how-to book; it’s better.  Addictive is 275 pages (8.5″ x 8.5″) of Adebanji’s blood, sweat, and tears.  It’s the entire contents of his over-stuffed sketchbooks.  What makes it so useful, at least to me, is that he works with several mediums (ballpoint, pencil, fineliners, oil pencils) and adds color and shading using a small set of Tombow markers.  Studying the gazillion sketches in this book is a treat.

In true Adebanji style, though, that wasn’t enough.  He’s done a series of a dozen or more videos associated with the book where he takes an example from it and recreates it right before your eyes, discussing the order of events as well as the whys and wherefores of his creations.  So, if you’re even slightly interested in gaining the ability to draw people in the wild, you need this book.  Here’s some examples from his book.  Each of the 275 pages is like these.