I’m in a bit of a rush, so this one’s going to be quick:
Fountain pens: I’m down to 11 inked fountain pens, with most of them being half empty at least. I’ve been writing a pen or two dry a week, which is good.
Reading: I’ve got a few reviews to post, and I’m now reading the stunning “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk, the Noble prize in literature winner. The prose in this is something else.
Running: I’ve upped my long runs to 10.5-11k, and with the weekly walks to the protests have reached around 19k of running and walking every Saturday. I’ve also enrolled to my first every 12k, and will be enrolling to a few more races this month.
Drawing: One Week 100 People is over and already I miss sketching people daily. It was a tough but fun challenge, and messing around with different medium types really added an interesting dimension to it all.
Apart from all that I have several projects in the works, including a few long blog posts, some volunteer work, a good amount of decluttering, a bit of professional up-skilling and more.
I have a complicated relationship with the Tel Aviv Marathon. It’s the largest local race, with 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon courses (Jerusalem’s Marathon doesn’t come close in the number of runners because hills. Runners don’t like them, in case you didn’t know). But it’s my least favourite local race, and there’s always something going on around it to make me dislike it more (bad organizing, heat wave, holding the race despite there being a global pandemic, etc).
I was enrolled to run the 10k at the Tel Aviv Marathon in late February 2020, a few days before the lockdowns started. Everybody already had an idea of what Covid looked like, it was already a pandemic, and the number of sick people was rising daily. We were expecting the race to be cancelled, but the night before the race it was clear that the organizers planned to cram people into very dense corals, and just hope they didn’t get an outbreak. Anything but return people’s fees. My friend and I had a conversation that night, and we both decided not to run. The risk wasn’t worth it.
In late February 2021 there was no physical race – it was a digital (i.e. virtual) one instead. In late February 2022 the marathon returned in full force, but I was two months after completing my chemotherapy, and in no condition to run even the 5k course. I was running 3ks, which was great considering what my body had been through and the fact that I hadn’t been able to run for almost a year, and I had lost all my muscle mass and was working with a restricted lung capacity. I remember following this race on their site and on social media and feeling bereft, even though it was never my favourite race. I had no idea at the time that I’d be able to participate in the Women’s Race 4k three months later. For various good reasons I wasn’t sure I’d be able to race again.
Last Friday I was set to run the 10k course in the Tel Aviv Marathon. Then on Monday I fell and hurt my knee on the way to work (the sidewalks and streets near my office are dreadfully maintained, and rushing across them is now no longer something I plan on doing). I took care of it as best I could, rested it as much as I could and wondered whether I could race on Friday, and if I set out could I complete the course?
I woke up early, got race ready, took the train to the starting area, and walked to the coral. There were a lot of people there, and I don’t do well with crowds these days. I stood on the side, and once the race started, waited for most of the people to walk by (no running in those conditions – we were packed like sardines), so that I could start running too. About 5 minutes went by, I judged things to be safer and started making my way to the starting line when about 5 meters from the line they stopped us and had us wait for 10 minutes, as more and more people piled behind, and the crowds got thicker and thicker. Ostensibly this was so people could start in “waves” and “the route will clear up”. In reality, they had the original coral start late, and this was just a way to catch up by having half of the A coral start with about half of the B coral. The only way for me to power through was to look straight up at the sky for 10 minutes. My neck is still sore.
But then we were finally allowed to run, and the magic of races kicked in. I can’t describe the adrenaline, the joy, the pure sense of life that racing gives me. It made everything disappear. I high-fived the kids that were cheering us on. I appreciate just how many runners (including myself) ran with pro-democracy stickers and flags. I enjoyed seeing the sheer variety of runners around me, and the feeling of belonging into a flowing river of runners moving constantly towards the finish line.
It wasn’t my best time, but I did much better than I thought I could. My knee held up. I narrowly avoided a panic attack at the starting line, but I avoided it, which is the point. I saw a lot of people running for excellent causes, and just running for themselves. There was the kindness of races – people rushing to care for the marathon runner that collapsed in the heat, treating him until the medics (very quickly) arrived; people cheering others along, complimenting each other freely; kids cheering as loudly and boisterously as they could.
Try to find kindness around you this week, try to find joy.
I went back to my usual running schedule this week, and was able to take a picture of two Monk Parakeets cuddling together on a tree during today’s long run. Decided to create a quick sketch of the couple:
There was too much unnecessary drama in my life this week, from a moderator in a group that I’m in deciding to take out her personal frustrations with the job market on me (and then apologizing profusely), through someone having issues with the week in Israel starting on Sunday and the weekend being Friday and Saturday here, to me deciding to go to the protests against the judicial system changes here for the first time. The large amount of people is likely going to trigger my PTSD and I’m not looking forward to the ensuing panic attacks, but I’m fed up with cancer taking things away from me, including the right to protest. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve been reading “Erebus” by Michael Palin, and it’s very good but slow going. I read non-fiction slower than I read fiction, especially when there are things that I want to stop and look up.
Next week is a tough one, with blood tests and an oncologist check up, a 10k race on Friday, running a new D&D adventure and having to scout for a new player, plus being understaffed at work. We’ll see how it goes – my planners are going to be working full time, for sure.
Someone put up these post-its in the elevators at work on valentine’s day, and I want to give them a hug. They made everyone smile.
I’ve had a cold this week, which is to show just how well masks and isolation work as it’s the first cold I’ve had in years. I haven’t missed it.
After a rainy week and then a sick week, my running has been suffering and the first race of the year is in two week’s time! I went back to running today, and planned to ease in with a 3k run that ended up being a 5.5k fast run because I was enjoying myself so much. It’s cold outside, but it isn’t raining, and that makes it perfect running weather.
After three days of being cooped inside, I went outside to draw yesterday, and I tried a new kind of composition, which I kind of like:
I finished reading “A Gentleman in Moscow,” and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m focusing on finishing “Erebus” by Michael Palin next before working my way through my kindle backlog and the stack of physical books that I want to read this year.
I’ve written my Lamy Studio Terracotta limited edition filled with Diamine Yule Log dry, and I’m now using a Lamy Safari Charcoal with Diamine Deck the Halls and a Lamy AL Star Charged Green with Diamine Alpine mostly, as they’re the next in line, with a couple of Kaweco sports, to be written dry. I’ve currently got 26(!) pens inked up, and it looks like I’ll be dumping out ink from a few of them, for the sake of my sanity. We’ll see how things go next week.
I’ve been my fountain pens mostly for journalling, on a Stalogy 365 notebook that I’ve started using. Every time my journalling gets into a rut, I switch notebook formats and that generally works to get me journalling again. The Stalogy is smaller than the Moleskine’s that I generally prefer to journal in, but it has fountain pen friendly paper, which is giving me the chance to use my pens. This is not to say that I don’t use fountain pens with my Moleskines (I do. I don’t care that they show through and sometimes bleed, as I have more than enough of them to use just one side of the paper), but that it’s nice to better see the properties of the inks that I use. Drying times aren’t great, and the cover is floppy, which means that I probably won’t be using this format long term. For now it works, as I’ve been journalling regularly, and I can use the Stalogy without looking at the various hour and date notations on the page. They are very feint, and I’ve turned the notebook upside down, so they are completely irrelevant to me.
I’ve been doing a lot of NTC workouts lately, and they’re tough but a lot of fun. If you’re looking for a way to work out more, using the NTC app is a great option. They have a large variety of workouts, workouts that are as long or as short as you need them to be, and workouts that are built for small places and little or no equipment (mostly you’ll just need a mat). It’s all completely free of charge, and has been that way for years. I’ve been using them for over a decade, and the quality and variety has just gone up with time. Even 5-10 minutes of exercise a day is better than nothing, and this is an easy and fun way to get into training.
I ran my first tabletop roleplaying convention game for a group of strangers and it went great. It was an evening convention for “oldies” – players over 30 years old – run entirely by volunteers, and the vibe was wonderful. There was tea and biscuits, as befitting people our age, and about 8 tables running games in two rounds. I ran a Dungeon World game on the first round to three delightful and creative people, and we all had a great time. The game itself ran for three hours, including an half-hour general intro and intro to the system. It took me something like six hours to write the adventure from scratch, create the pre-made characters and write an intro to the system and to the game. I also did a test run of the game before the convention, and it helped me tweak the game and make it much better. I got to experience a great story and have a really fun time with a group of funny and nice people, and I got to get someone who hasn’t played since he was a teenager back into the hobby. I will probably be running another convention game in the future, maybe even later this year.
I’ve also launched the first D&D campaign I’ve written in years. It’s set in a new campaign setting that I’ve created (also something I have done in well over a decade) and it’s the most complex kind of campaign with the most players that I have ever run. Set in a university like setting that is functioning at the brink of an all out war, the students are called to fill in for the ever dwindling university staff while still trying to study for their degrees. The game is set in short adventures running two or three sessions, with a changing cast of characters, and is built for busy people who can’t commit for a years long campaign. Some of the play is done via a telegram group, and there’s a growing campaign site in obsidian portal, which works to keep the play alive from session to session. The logistics of it is monstrous, but so far people appear to be having fun and I’m enjoying myself, so all is well in the world.
I’ve finished January having read four books (two AgathaChristies, “You Just Need to Lose Weight” by Aubrey Gordon, and “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson). I’ll be posting reviews of the latter two books later on this week probably. Meanwhile, I’ve started reading the deliciously delightful “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles after having eyed it for a long time. I’ve decided to read all of the 20-something e-books that I have languishing in my Kindle instead of going for this year’s Tournament of Books.
I went on my first Urban Sketchers sketchwalk in a good long while, and while my hands aren’t what they used to be and I took time to warm up as I hadn’t drawn for a while, I still got a few good sketches out of the three hours we had, and I enjoyed myself. You can read more about it here.
It’s finally decided to winter here, so I’ve been forced to run on a treadmill and I’ve gotten back to doing NTC training sessions. NTC have added whiteboard workouts, which are a challenge (to say the least), and treadmill running is still heinous, but at least I get to do some speedwork (also heinous) while I’m doing it, thus killing two birds with the proverbial stone.
There have been a lot of good Lego deals here lately, so I really need to start building some of the sets that I have before I’ll drown in boxes (and then think about what to do with them once I’ve finished building them, of course). There’s something meditative about building Legos. I started to get back to them once I was in my month in and out of hospital waiting for my cancer diagnosis to be finalized, and the Legos today aren’t those that I had as a child. They are much more sophisticated, interesting, and creative than those that we had as children, and I can lose myself in a set just like I can lose myself in a good book.
I have been thinking a lot lately about the content that I create and my ownership of it. It’s come as a result of the mess that is Twitter right now, the way that Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and their algorithms work, and yes, the mess that is D&D’s OGL 1.1 (and I have seen Wizards fold. It is the fact that they thought that could grab user created content so easily that makes me stop in my tracks).
So as I’m still planning out my year (I’m struggling very much with planning ahead, as part of my PTSD, and it’s been getting worse, not better, over time. So if I manage to actually do any planning for the year ahead, it’s going to take a lot of time and a whole lot of intense effort), I started to consider if I really want to continue publishing things on these platforms.
I haven’t been using twitter for a long time, well before the Musk era. I just discovered that I don’t really need it as a source of news and noise any more, and the only thing I do there now is auto post links to my blog, and find relevant articles to read after hematology conventions, because the search option on ASH’s site is unhelpful.
As for the other social networks, I’ve already started to change my posting habits there. This year will just be me doubling down on the “my site comes first” principle. If it’s something that even remotely belongs on this site, then I’m going to post it here first, with cross posts elsewhere. Here I have an audience that is mine, that isn’t been manipulated by algorithms, and that I want to invest in.
One of the first changes I’m making is no longer posting reviews on Goodreads, but rather posting them here and linking to my blog from the Goodreads site. I have much better control of the format of the review, and I can cross link reviews and do more interesting things with them over time (I have a lot of ideas and not a lot of time).
That’s enough of that, here’s a bit more about the rest of my week:
I finished reading two Agatha Christie Poirot classics, The Murder on the Links, and Murder on the Orient Express (which I have read several times before and still find enjoyable). She is a master at her craft and it’s nearly impossible to put her books down, despite her more old school pacing.
I saw the Tournament of Books short list for 2023, and decided to opt out of it this year. There are a few books there that I’m interested in, but a few that I really don’t want to read, and so I won’t.
Journalling, Planning and Pens
My PTSD has been getting worse in one of its many manifestations (the others are under control for now). My brain refuses to acknowledge that there is a tomorrow to be had, and so I am allowed to plan for it. Where before I lived in bursts of two weeks (as that was my chemo regiment and that’s how my brain learned that I’m supposed to live), it now only allows me to envision my day a day or two in advance. I can put things on my calendar until the cows come home, but my brain refuses to acknowledge that they have anything to do with me, because who am I to assume that I’ll be alive next week? I know that it’s illogical, but that’s why it’s PTSD and not healthy brain function.
The realities of this are many, but one of the most pressing and annoying ones is that I can’t plan ahead. Planning used to be something I really enjoyed and excelled at, and now it’s something that I have largely lost access to. I am working on it, and as a part of working on it I decided to reflect on past planning systems that I’ve used, what worked and didn’t work in them, and what I can perhaps take from them for the future.
I have changed my journalling notebook from a Moleskine to a Stalogy in an attempt to jump start my journalling post a lot of journalling inconsistency due to travel. It’s also going to allow me to use the very large amount of fountain pens (almost 30 I think) that I have inked up due to the madness that is my Diamine Inkvent reviews. I’ve only now started to log the inks and pens that I have in use in the Fountain Pen Companion, and I’m starting to clean out a few of them.
Have a great week, full of planning, journalling, reading and whatever brings you joy.
It was cold and dark outside this morning, with a chance of rain. My legs and body were sore from a combination of an intense gym session and standing/walking around at a conference yesterday. I didn’t feel like running. I went on a run anyway.
This was my reward:
I’ve never regretted a run yet, and today was no different.
I started getting my post chemo treatment tests done, and while my lungs still aren’t 100% (but hopefully will someday get there), my heart and SVC got a clean bill of health. As both the tumour and the chemo slammed it, I’m very relieved that my ticker survived. Can I chalk it up to years of running? Maybe. It surely didn’t hurt.
I just finished reading “The Golden Enclaves” by Naomi Novik, the final book in the Scholomance trilogy.
It’s rare that I see an author really working out a new concept, a new kind of world building out of a tired trope, and doing it so well. It’s even rarer that the author in question is able to pull it off while still creating a readable and enjoyable story, and one so cohesive that it is clear at every point that this was constructed as a trilogy on purpose, from the start, with every piece of the narrative falling exactly into place in the end with elegance, and without calling attention to itself. This is a mechanically excellent piece of writing that doesn’t call attention to its mechanics.
Instead it calls attention to its characters, their relationships with each other, and in particular their relationship to the deep, inherent, and seemingly justified inequalities in their world. Inequalities and injustices that aren’t very hard to map onto many of those that exist in our world today.
Is the Scholomance trilogy perfect? Of course not. The characters don’t attain true depth because the cast is too large, the world needs building and that needs room, plus, these are teenagers after all. Many of them are still working out their personality. But despite its imperfections this is a very enjoyable trilogy that is worth reading, and won’t leave you feeling like you just consumed several hours of empty air. There’s substance here.
I’ve been creeping back to writing, albeit only adventure writing for D&D. I’m creating a new campaign, in a new world, something that I haven’t done for years.
I’m also looking into planning for next year. I have been really struggling with this mostly because of my cancer related PTSD. More on that maybe in later posts.
If you have Disney+, I recommend watching “The Magic of Animal Kingdom”. It made me smile.
It’s been a busy time, what with my new job taking a lot of time and effort, my running and training taking up a good bit more, and the rest of my spare time going mostly to reading lately, I found myself creating less. That’s not great. My journalling has suffered, my drawing has suffered, my blogging has suffered. The truth is that creating is like running: I feel good during my runs and great after them, but it doesn’t make lacing up and getting out the door any less of a struggle some days. It takes more effort to sketch and blog (I’ve been utterly unable to write since my cancer diagnosis, so at the moment writing is off the table), than to curl up with a book, so I’ve been consuming more content than I’ve been creating.
That’s something that I hope will change over the next few days and weeks. I have a lot of catching up and different kinds of posts that I’ll publish here (pen reviews, sketch posts, art supply reviews, planners and Moleskines, etc). And as September is lymphoma awareness month, and childhood cancer awareness month, expect some posts related to that in the near future.
Despite the heat and humidity my running has stayed on track. This morning I woke up at 4:30 to get my long run in before the heat made things too unbearable. The weather is starting to get a bit better now, and I managed to run a little over 9 kilometres. That’s the longest run I managed to finish since my breathing issues started, and it’s a big milestone. I have a 10k race in two months and when I enrolled I wasn’t sure that I’ll be able to complete it. Today was a good indicator that I have a just may be able to do it despite having a busted lung.
I finished reading Dr Jen Gunter’s “The Vagina Bible,” which I recommend that anyone with a vagina read (it’s very informative and empowering), and Andrew Cartmel’s latest Vinyl Detective novel, “Attack and Decay”. It was a fun and fast read, and Cartmel knows how to write compelling plots and off beat characters, but his insistence on using purple language and calling attention to his protagonist’s hetro maleness is annoying at times. We get it, he’s a dude and he finds women attractive. Next up on the reading list is likely “The Sentence” which is a Tournament of Books book (and I decided not to continue with the tournament reading list this year), but as I’ve already bought it and it seems interesting, I’ve decided to give it a go.
I’m using four fountain pens at the moment, and none of them are for sketching (although I write my sketch journal’s out with my Platinum 3776 UEF). All of these are new pens, inked for the first time. The Diplomat Aero is an excellent pen at a great price point with a very unique and elegant streamlined design. The Colorverse Golden Record, on the other hand, is a disappointing ink. This is the second time that I’m using it, and it darkens considerably when left in the pen, becoming more brownish than golden orange. The Platinum Plaisir 03 is a pretty decent pen for anyone first venturing into fountain pens. It’s a cartridge pen, and I’m not a fan of the Platinum blue it came with, but I’m not going to invest in trying to find other ink options for it. The TWSBI ECO is an excellent pen, particularly for the price point, and J. Herbin Emerald de Chivor is a really fun, utterly impractical ink. This ECO is the jade one, and it doesn’t glow in the dark, despite its looks. The Platinum 3776 UEF is one of the best pens that I’ve bought in a long time, because of the nib. Yes, it’s scratchy, no I don’t mind. It doesn’t feel different than my beloved, finicky Pilot Hi-Tech-C and I get more personality from its fine lines than I get with something like a fineliner. Sailor Epinard (this is from a bottle of the discontinued ink, which is now no longer discontinued), is a good, dark and muted green that has a good amount of personality.
Have a great week, and take care of yourselves in these hectic times.
It’s been a while since I posted an update, and there’s been fewer posts than usual during the last two months. This is mostly because I started a new job in June, and it’s been longer hours and more work than I anticipated at first. I am enjoying myself, but the change means I have less free time, and that I need to prioritise things differently to better fit the things that I care about into my life. Was moving from a cushy and undemanding job to an interesting and fun but much more demanding one a mistake? Time will tell, but so far I’m not regretting the switch.
As I’m starting to find my footing, I’ve been able to find more time for my hobbies. During the early days of my new job the only thing I did was work, exercise, sleep and eat. Then reading came back into my life, and journalling and sketching followed. Meanwhile the Sketching Now Watercolour course is over and I only had time for the first week, but thankfully the materials are all available online so I’ll be able to complete it all eventually.
What’s left my life almost entirely so far is watching TV, and I doubt that it will regularly return. In terms of media consumption, I read and listen to podcasts and that’s about it. I will watch specific things on Disney Plus or watch Adam Savage make things on YouTube, but even that isn’t something that I do often these days. It’s not a value judgement on TV – it’s just that I have less time now, and of the things I could easily get rid of, this was one of them.
Another thing that went out the window is social media. I’ve stopped checking Twitter and Facebook regularly. The only thing left is Instagram, which I still spend too much time on for my liking, and as Facebook starts messing with it I may likely leave as well.
I had a bit of a health scare in late June. It was 6 months after my last chemo treatment, and I had some blood work done for a check up with my hemato-oncologist. One of the results was extremely low, and it was for a test that people rarely get and I certainly have never gotten before, so I had no baseline to compare it to. What little information I found online indicated that I either was going through kidney failure/had a kidney tumor or had a rare form of blood cancer (beyond the blood cancer that I already had). Two sleepless nights later my hemato-oncologist (bless her), told me that everything was OK. The rest of my blood work was good, and this test was meaningless for people in my condition. She never asked for it, and I don’t know what possessed my GP to ask for it. In any case, I am now officially well enough to go on the regular post treatment checkup schedule, which means once every three months. Yay!!!
I’m running five times a week now, four 5ks a week and I’ve now started to work in a long run in the hopes to get back to running 10k. It’s tough running in this heat and humidity, especially with my lungs not being 100%, but I’m pushing through and enjoying myself. Running is my meditation, and has remained that way even though I now also meditate as part of ACT.
I’m also going twice a week to lift weights in the gym, nowadays with a mask on to avoid COVID. I’ve been vaccinated four times, but am now working from home again and staying masked as I can’t afford to get sick with the state of my lungs. Practically nobody is wearing masks anymore, and almost everyone around me is sick, so it’s been frustrating to try and stay healthy under these conditions. I’m hoping that the Omicron variant vaccine will be available here in a month or so, and I’m keeping an eye on the numbers to know when I can go back to the office and see people face to face again.
I’ve finished Hillary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light”, the third and final book in her trilogy about Thomas Cromwell. I’ll write a more lengthy review of it on Goodreads, but I will say that I got tired of the book at around the 60% mark (it’s about 900 pages long), and it didn’t really recover from that point on. I can see why Mantel struggled with this one, and I don’t regret reading it, but it’s not as good as the previous two books, and it could have done with some robust (and perhaps ruthless) editing.
I’ve also finished Ali Smith’s “Companion Piece”, which is a companion piece to her seasonal quartet of novels (Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer) and is excellent. You don’t need to read the quartet to enjoy this book, and “Companion Piece” would also be a good introduction to Smith’s writing. It’s written in stream of consciousness style, although it’s fairly easy to understand (nothing as complex as Joyce), and there’s a joy in her writing, compassion, insight and humour that make reading her always an enjoyable and worthy pastime.
As these were a bit challenging to read, I had an Agatha Christie “palate cleanser” in the shape of two novels: “The Man in the Brown Suit” and “Crooked House”. “The Man in the Brown Suit” is a detective/adventure story that was originally light hearted, but today just doesn’t work. There’s too much racism and sexism to bear, especially if you know anything at all about the history of South Africa, diamond mines, and labour relations in Africa. “Crooked House” was one of Christie’s favourite novels, and it’s a fun and interesting book with many original characters (and yes, also spots of racism).
Pens, Pencils and Notebooks
I’ve been playing around a lot with ink washes lately, as I’ve written here. They’re a fun and quick way to add colour to a sketch, and having a limited palette makes me appreciate colour values more.
I’ve written almost all of my fountain pens dry, with the exception of a Franklin Christoph 45L Sage with a S.I.G fine nib (filled with Bungobox June Bride Something Blue ink) and a Platinum Plaisir filled with the blue cartridge it came with. The other fountain pens I have inked (two Lamy’s and two Sailor Fude pens) are used for sketching and not writing. I’ll likely fill up a few pens next week.
The BigIDesign Dual Side Click pen arrived from the kickstarted that I backed, and it’s fantastic. I hope to have a review up next week, but so far I’ve really enjoyed using it, and I think that it’s their best pen yet (which is saying something).
I’ve decided to start switching around the pencils that I use, instead of writing one down to a nub. I’ve been using a vintage Eberhard Faber Mongol pencil this week, and a Musgrave Tennessee Red one. They’re both #2 or HB pencils, but the Tennessee Red one is much softer and darker.
I’ve changed the way I use my notebooks, streamlining certain things, consolidating notebooks on the one hand, and starting a new notebook (MD A5 blank paper notebook) for insights and ideas that I would have previously explored on social media and now prefer to explore in private, on paper. I’m no longer chasing likes for these things, as I’m more interested in giving the thoughts in my head time and space to grow and change, and Twitter and Facebook are the last places to allow for that.
All the Rest
I’m back to decluttering my house, a project that I had started working on before I got sick and until now didn’t have energy to get back to. Yesterday I found a stash of half used notebooks that I forgot that I ever had, and it was bizarre to go over them and read what my pre-Covid, pre-cancer self thought about life in 2014-2015.
There’s been a dearth of new posts this week because I just started a new job, and while it has been great so far, I still haven’t adjusted to it. After being a recluse (out of necessity) for the past year or so, it was a bit of a shock to the system to meet so many new people face to face. I’m not sure yet how my posting schedule or content will change in the coming days and weeks, but I’m hoping that it won’t change too much.
I’ve started the SketchingNow Watercolour course, and I’ve done the first week of classes. This week is all about washes, so I created a grid of all the colours in my palette, showing how each one looks as a watery wash, a juicy wash and a pasty wash (what Mark Taro Holmes terms tea, milk and honey). This was a lot of work, but it did give me a better feel for the potential of the paints in my palette.
There was also an exercise that involved sketching vegetables with a set of juicy washes. Here’s the sketch in progress:
And after it was done:
This was a pretty simple exercise, but nevertheless a lot of fun.
My reading has been quite eclectic lately. I finished reading “Our Country Friends” by Gary Shteyngart and it turned me off the Tournament of Books list for this year. I’ve got very little patience for the plights of unlikable privileged characters that potter about a story with zero plot except having sex or trying to have sex with each other, and whining about their lives all the time. I’ve read “Drive” by James S.A.Corey , the first short story in “The Expanse”. It’s completely skippable, so don’t feel the need to read it if you want to get into the series. Also, please don’t start “The Expanse” from this story – it may be chronologically first, but it’s their worst piece of writing so far. I’ve started reading Ali Smith’s “Companion Piece,” which is a companion piece to her fantastic seasonal quartet of novels. I like her writing so much that I bothered to get a signed hardcover of this book. So far it’s shaping up as an interesting read.
Finally, I’ve plunged back into Henry IIIV’s England with “The Mirror and the Light” by Hillary Mantel. Her writing is mesmerizing and she really brings Cromwell, his peers, family, rivals and the entire period to life.
I’m experimenting with various kinds of new sketchbooks and sketching materials (as well as pens and ink) and I have thoughts about them. I just need to find some time to organize them into something coherent and write it all down. Meanwhile, here’s a quick sketch that I did on a paper bag during a zoom call, using a new brush pen that I’m trying out.