I decided not to take part in Inktober this year. Instead I’ll be drawing at least one page a day in my Stillman and Birn Pocket Alphas. You can see days 1-5 here, days 6-10 here and days 11-15 here.
I drew the first four of these days as scheduled and then the last drawing took much more time than I planned, so I decided to invest a little more time in it. While I was working on that I had an opportunity to submit a short story to a collection that doesn’t usually accept submissions. The deadline was tight, but I decided to go for it, which meant putting this challenge on hold. As I’m refocusing my energy on my writing I’m going to stretch this challenge to December (more on that in a later post). So far it has worked to get me more comfortable with working directly with ink and with a pared down palette and brush selection, so I’m happy with that.
All these were drawn on a Stillman and Birn Pocket Alpha with a 0.3 Staedtler fineliner and Schminke Horadam watercolours.
I haven’t run in the park for a while, at first because I wanted to distance myself from other runners, later on because it wasn’t allowed, and recently because I wanted to distance myself from other people. But I’ve gained some confidence that things with the Coronavirus have chilled sufficiently for me to indulge in a quick morning run in the least popular place in the park.
I saw a pair of graceful prinias, some of my favourite birds. They’re shy and skittish but you can catch a glimpse of them here:
My favourite moment was catching sight of a flock of sleeping Egyptian geese and their two faithful watch-geese:
It was fun to see some of my old haunts, even if they have changed slightly:
It’s National Pencil Day and I decided to celebrate. Last year I picked up some vintage pencils in a stall in Spitalfields market in London, and they’ve been languishing unloved in their box ever since. The truth is I felt that they were too pretty to sharpen and use, which is both understandable (I mean look at them!) and silly. Pencils are meant to be sharpened, period.
So I broke out the “Corgie” (à Paris) 907 pencils, which are natural pencils coated with a thick layer of lacquer that makes them both shiny and satisfying to hold. The French appear to be more restrained in their choice of imprint fonts, but they go all wild when it comes to the wrappers around the pencils. Behold, creativity let loose:
Here’s the imprint (it’s hard to photograph, as the lacquer gets in the way. There are basically two fonts in use, and a very charming bugle logo. The Corgié à Paris factory was active from 1923 to around 1986 (thanks Brand Name Pencils) and if I’d have to venture a guess I think that these are from the ’60s, but it’s really hard to tell.
The grain on these pencils is fantastic. Just look at that:
Unlike some vintage pencils whose wood has dried out and become brittle with time, the Corgie 907s sharpen like a charm. They’re not very nice smelling (they just smell old), but there’s nothing to complain too much about.
These are No. 0 pencils, which makes them about 2B-4B, depending on the manufacturer. They’re soft and dark, and a joy to draw with, although they don’t hold a tip for very long. The graphite does smudge, but it doesn’t crumble, and there’s a good amount of feedback while using them. Here they are with some Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer watercolour pencils in use:
Go sharpen a pencil, and have some fun drawing or writing a little something for yourself.
It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these, mostly because I’ve cut down on the number of photo stops during my long runs. But this morning’s dramatic cloud cover inspired me to take a few photos, and so here we are 🙂
These clouds passed over me as they made their way inland with a strong breeze, and though they look foreboding and there was rain inland, I was lucky and I didn’t get rained on during my run. It was cool to see the sky darken and then brighten back up again when they passed.
This is a Tamarisk of some kind, but I haven’t been able to nail the exact species yet.
Mama Mallard was taking the ducklings out for a stroll, which was nice to see. They kept running circles around her, with the wild energy of youth.
There was a congregation of Black-headed gulls chilling in the water. The tide and wind was pretty strong but they managed to maintain their position, which was impressive.
10K done, in perfect running weather. I don’t get a lot of those, so I try to cherish them when I do.
It’s that boiling hot and extra humid time of year, which means I hit the road at 5:15 today to get my 10k run in. It was dark when I set out, but I was awarded with this sunrise by the time I reached the park:
Is that not worth the early rise?
There was a convention of birds on the boat pier in the river: a pied kingfisher and two Egyptian geese were perched pretty close to each other (the kingfisher is the tiny bird on top of the pole in the centre of the photograph).
Then I saw a man paddling a blue kayak down the river, past a flock of grazing geese, and even though I hadn’t planned on taking another photo stop, I just had to get this shot.
I ran a little over 10k, just before the heat started to set in, and then rewarded myself with two coffees for my pre-dawn effort 🙂
The heat here is getting more intense, which means that I’m moving more of my runs to the mornings, and setting out earlier each time. It was completely dark when I set out on my long run today, and my running app (NRC) clocked my run as a night run. For some reason I found that hilarious.
There are green parakeets all over the park, but they’re usually too flighty for me to photograph them. Today they stayed and played a bit in the trees, so I got get a few blurry shots of their silhouettes. Yay!
My iPhone 8 had a much better camera, but I’m on an iPhone 6s now because my iPhone 8’s modem shorted for no reason and can’t be fixed. So for now, this is the best that I’ve got.
A night heron was also obliging enough to strike a pose on the river bank. I love how elegant they are.
There was a photographer on a nearby bench taking pictures of this fellow, so he must have felt popular today.
Another night heron had an even better perch, on top of the peddle boats pier.
And we end with a photo from the beginning of my run, with the sun rising over the river.
On a midweek run I encountered one of the famous Golden Jackals that live in the Yarkon Park in Tel Aviv. As usual, he was more interested in keeping his distance than bothering anyone of the runners on the trail.
The first time I saw a Golden Jackal I was sure that it was someone’s dog let loose. They are the ancestors of many dog breeds, so I guess that’s not surprising.
Yesterday’s run rewarded me with a beautiful sunset over a pretty stormy sea.
Today’s long run started with a sunrise over a calm river, with a night heron…
… and some mallards dozing off on the pier.
Check out those waves! Not the best sea for swimmers.
After a long running hiatus, getting back to form takes time and patience. Your body struggles against you, refusing to accept that you really are regularly running, insisting that this must be a one time thing. Your feet feel heavy and sluggish, and it’s hard to push on, to put one foot in front of another.
Then, a few weeks go by, and your body suddenly decides to give in. It starts cooperating, and that makes all the difference. Today’s 10k marked that point for me. My run was faster, my body felt light and responsive. Things just flowed. It wasn’t the pure flying sensation that you get on a truly great run, but it was a good run nevertheless. I’m happy to be be back.
Set out super early, so the night herons were more out in the open, rather than huddling deep in the reeds on the banks.
Tried to photograph a pied kingfisher, but he saw me and flew off, skimming across the water, so you just get a nice picture of peddle boats.
Second night heron of the run, and one slightly bigger than the previous run. The glare is the reflection of the sunrise over the trees in the park.
A little over 10k on a really nice run. The Egyptian geese say hello. They’re done with baby geese rearing for now, and they seem relieved.
First long run in over a month (I count only runs 7k and further as long runs). Set out a bit later than I probably should have, but the heat wasn’t too bad. This sort of mistake is not something that I’ll be able to afford in a few weeks, so I have to start getting used to getting up and out of the house in the pre-dawn again.
The Tel Aviv port almost always has something going on in the summer months, and this week was no different. A local gym chain set up a pop-up outdoor gym, which looked pretty impressive. I might swing by, if only for the experience of working out in this view.
I missed seeing the river in the morning: low tide, Egyptian geese, fishermen trying their luck. In the evening the swallows flit between you and any other passer by, but at this time of day they’re gone and even the geese are sleepy.
That is unless you’ve got a family to feed. Mom and dad Egyptian geese kept a close eye on the toddlers as they groused near the bike lane. There are very few bikes around at this hour and the two that passed them were very respectful and gave them a wide berth.
In the water two mallards were taking their family out for a swim. It appears that one of the little ducklings is a little adventurous.
That’s it, another week, another run. It’s good to be back.