Category Archives: Uncategorized

Portrait Process

I thought I’d show you some of the process of creating the images of the presidential wannabes.

I start by looking through google and assessing the kinds of pictures they have available. I don’t use just one as a reference, sometimes an image will wash out the nose, or the lips. Quite often all of the images made the candidate look pink, really really pink. Occasionally they’d be orange or gold. I think it depends on the photographer, but man, many of them should get their blood pressure checked, because their faces are RED.  After I find 3 or 4 images to reference, I start with a sketch, it’s basic. I was using a “iron blue” (AKA payne’s gray) Derwent Inktense. However, my local stores only carry Inktense in tins, and I have no interest in having a tin of them. I like them for under drawings for watercolors because after I add water and they dry, they stay put. However, they aren’t light-fast, or all the colors aren’t. So I don’t want to rely on them because I don’t want to use them in anything but my journal. I have moved to other brands of watercolor pencils and I’m debating which I like best.processprocessAfter the under drawing us finished, I hit it with water, blending the color out and into the proper tone.process processAfter this I start to layer on the actual colors. I and working with a bright and dark palette of not true to life shades. I start with pale pinks and yellows, brushing these on in broad strokes. I’m using a #10 synthetic brush. I then layer on medium shades, and finally the fully saturated dark colors. I’m a huge fan of mineral violet and indigo. Such amazing colors. process

Attention! Kickstarter Cerat Pencils Not a New Product

A few days ago I found this Kickstarter for Cerat pencils of Britain. I’ve seen the gem or jewel topped pencils around for ages, usually being sold on cheap import shops. So to see them on Kickstarter being sold as something new and of quality, well, I found that kind of funny.

Anyway, I’m not sure if the pencils are really a quality item or not, but that they are being hawked on Kickstarter as a new item is untrue.

Anyway, this is one of those Kickstarter beware campaigns. Oh you can find the same pencils on ebay and amazon for about the same cost. If you are going to buy them get them from Amazon or the ‘bay instead. Don’t encourage Kickstarter fakers.

From Cerat’s own kickstarter page it states:

Here are the approximate breakdowns:

– Around 10% will be taken as fees by Kickstarter and transaction fees.
– Production takes 45% due to the labor involved as these pencils are partially hand made.
– 15% will be reserved for materials cost including acrylic blocks for the crystals on each pencil.
– A maximum of around 25% will be going into Postage and Packaging of the pencils.
– Any remaining funds after the rewards have been completed and backers are satisfied will be invested into & by Cerat Creations for new projects in the future.

Let’s break this down: The fees are about right. The production costs may be correct. The crystals made of acrylic look to be molded on every other iteration of the pencil. Earlier in the Kickstarter they mention these being “carved” from acrylic blocks, I highly doubt that. Postage may be correct. However, the cost to back this project is about what these cost on eBay or Amazon.

Also a quote from their page:

The pencils are all in stock, we have plenty thanks to a batch production we undertook, there really are no risks present and we’re prepared to ship immediately. Of course all costs have been considered and reward prices set accordingly.

The only risk that we may encounter is the over-funding of this project, which isn’t a bad thing at all! In this case, we’ll send out as many as we can fulfill the rewards by December where our production will have begun by.

The pencils are in stock. I’m not sure what you’d be backing here? Shipping? Them opening up the packages and repacking them by color? Again, not sure.

Be sure to read some of the Amazon reviews of a VERy similar product that basically state that these are cheap. The rhinestones fall off before they even arrive.

Opinion: Adult Coloring Books and Art Therapy

By now I suppose everyone has read about the “adult coloring revolution!!!”, from one of those click-bait shares on the book of face. Some of these articles suggest that the use of these coloring books is as effective as art therapy or IS art therapy. To make either of these two suggestions is incorrect and innocently ignorant of what art therapy is and isn’t.

I will start this out by stating that coloring is an effective tool in reducing agitation, easing anxiety, and helping someone to contain their emotions in the short term. It is often a tool used in hospitals and by art therapists to assist clients in the short term. It is not a long term solution and can be something someone uses to simply shut off their feelings, which as I previous wrote, can be useful when containing emotions. But art therapy (and regular old talk therapy)  teaches us how to understand our emotions and how to cope with them. Rather than just shut off the emotions, we use skills and tools to understand. That’s therapy- the teaching of skills, tools, and understanding. While coloring is but one tool to assist in containing emotions.

I have personally witnessed  and worked with a client who used coloring to contain agitation and anxiety. The client had early stage dementia and would often be confused as to time(as in what year/date/month) in the morning. This would cause a great deal of anxiety and the client be quite agitated and angry. Using crayons and a selection of coloring sheets gave a moment to calmly color. It decreased anxiety, focused attention, distracted from confusion, and in a short period of time the client was calmer, and in a significantly better mood. The coloring allowed the client to focus attention away from anxiety of being aware of disorientation. This didn’t help to orientate to time or place but allowed the client to be calmly distracted and contain emotions. The elevation in mood didn’t last either. The client would be calmer for about an hour. The coloring was a tool to assist in the moment of agitation.

The main difference in the coloring and art therapy was that the coloring allowed the client to become calmed while art therapy allowed for exploring anxiety, understanding it, and normalizing emotions. Through coloring she became comfortable with color, making color choices, and knowing that art felt better.

In my mind coloring books are a tool to helping people to explore art as therapy, but art therapy is a powerful tool for healing. There is potential for coloring books to be a gateway for art therapy. Perhaps if someone begins to color as a way to relax, they will look up a registered art therapist in their area. I certainly won’t slam coloring books as ineffective, but instead look at them as a tool that has been a staple in the art therapist’s toolbox for ages. Instead of hissing and booing at the new boom in popularity, art therapists should capitalize on this popularity, and attempt to garner more positive attention on ourselves. I encourage people to look up some of these adult coloring books but to also understand that they are a tool, but to further understand themselves they should seek out an art therapist. If one is not near them, seek out a therapist who is open to you using art in your sessions.

So go ahead, color away, but be aware that there are art therapists out there who can help. (Links go to amazon affiliate links of coloring books I think look interesting.) Continue reading

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile since I wrote anything on here. I’ve been hard at work on papers and other class related things. I’ve not had time to write anything but papers. Though I’ve been sneaking a few words here and there on my novel for Nanowrimo Camp. I’ve written 7000 words on my novel since April

For those of you who have been reading for awhile, you know that I’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. I’ve been doing really well with my diet and exercise. I’ve lost about 25 pounds and I’ve been feeling a lot better, except for a few weeks ago where I just felt like crap. At first I thought I was getting a cold. But the feeling persisted for a week then 2. I did a little research and my blood sugar was good, really good. But my blood pressure was low. It turns out I was overdosed on my blood pressure medication, likely due to the weight loss and exercise. I’ve been tapered off the BP meds and I no longer feel drunk.

It really hard to try to think and to study when you feel kinda drunk all the time. Needless to say, it was weird and I’m glad I feel normal again. Or as normal as I can. 😛

I’ve got a bunch of new pencils to review once the semester is over. I’ve decided that each of the pencils that I review will get at least a week or so of continued use. I’ve got a rotation of pencils  in a pencil case that I sharpen and get ready for class and rotate through them. But the point is that each pencil reviewed will get some serious use before I review it. I’ll have a “first impression” sheet in my notebook, but then the rest of the review will be based on real use. You won’t see a full length pencil in my reviews, unless I shoot a pic of it first. More likely, you’ll see a half used and abused pencil.

Anyway, I’ve been learning a lot of good stuff and I have a paper mache clay recipe to share with you in the upcoming weeks. As well as a few things you can use in your art journal.

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NEXT! Using up pencils till i can’t sharpen them anymore! #Measuredlearning

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The inside of that bowl.

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New Tool/Review: INDXD

I have written about my indexing method for my pocket notebooks before. I had mentioned that I use a master index, but failed to show an image of the index.

To recap- at the start of every one of my pocket notebooks I create a 2-column index. Basically, I write the numbers 2-48 on the first page, with just enough room next to it to log the topic in a word or two. In my master index book, each book gets a single page. At the top is a brief description and dates of use. Under that the same index is repeated. At the bottom of the page I write down any loose inclusions- such as letters from friends, post it notes, and other odd items. These are always tucked into the back of the book.

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Generally, when I copy the index to the master book I will expand upon the topic on an as needed basis. Sometimes I’ll have written “novel” and I’ll change that to “NOV. Character Name” or “NOV. Scene.” This helps me find info quickly in the master book. Then I know to pull the green field notes from January 2015 and turn to page 25. It definitely helps me to find stuff faster.

I recently began using INDXD, a nifty little website where you create an account and log your notebooks. I was quite skeptical at first. I have been holding off on going digital with my index for awhile. Now that I’ve logged 21 books in my master index it’s getting to be confusing as to which book that novel idea or cord wrap design was in, so I find myself paging through the index searching, and searching. I considered creating an index on a spreadsheet where I logged a topic and then logged each page and book, but the idea was cludgy and seemed like a pain in the ass to set up, so I decided against it. And here is where I kind of just stopped thinking about it. I knew I wanted something as simple as my master notebook, but something more searchable. I considered getting a scanner and scanning each book into Evernote, but the idea of scanning 21 48-page notebooks (not counting the notebooks I’ve drawn and journaled in…) was painful, and who has the time. The idea for me isn’t to recreate my books digitally (though I’ve played with that in my zine, Evidence.) but to make them searchable digitally.INDXD INDXD

That is where INDXD comes in and works beautifully. The reason it works and works so well, is that it’s powerfully simple. You set up a “book” give it a title and dates of use, then log the topics and pages they are on. Also it’s ridiculously simple to use. It takes me between 5 and 10 minutes to log a book, depending on number of topics and how bad my handwriting was when I recorded it.INDXD

Once logged, you can search. Enter in one term and up pops the pages and BOOKS it lives in. Enter another term and the search is dialed down to those two terms. You can then pull the book and find what you need, fast.INDXD

I’ve tweeted at the creator, David Rea, and he says that both Android and Apple apps are in the future. Having INDXD on my phone or tablet would make this even more flexible and easy to use.

As someone who clings to her analog tools and resisted moving toward a digital system this powerful simple tool makes it easy.

A suggestion. I’d like to see the date entry method offer different layouts or more flexibility for entry. I use 20150325 for my date style; year, month, day with no spaces or interuptions. This isn’t an option when entering in chrome. Fortunately the date entry doesn’t work quite right in firefox (don’t fix this yet) so I’m able to enter in my dates the way I use them. On the topic/tag page it would be easier to read the large amounts of text on the screen a little easier if the lines alternated color- cream-tan-cream etc. This would also help on the search results page.
Honestly, this is a great tool and I’m looking forward to entering in all my books

Friend in Need

Well folks, I just learned that Jay of Huckleberry Woodchuck’s home burned down. He’s part of the duo that brought us the awesome Twist Bullet Pencil. He’s a nice dude and Jon Fontaine is trying to raise some cash for him to help him through this troubled time.

This is from Jon:

As you now know Jay [Huckleberry Woodchuck] lost his home and shop in a fire the other night. I’m hoping to raise some funds to help him out through a raffle of one of our prototype bullet pencils. After the first prototype we made 6 other for the Kickstarter photos. These are slightly different than the production ones. Biggest difference is the eraser end is not threaded so it will not hold the pocket clip & cap system we have. It also only accepts the white erasers (I’ll include a bunch).

So the raffle is for the pencil shown with all four bullets. A bunch of erasers and some Blackwing 602 pencil nubs. Thanks to Cliff Gillies we also will include a Northerly Edition single.

Each raffle is $5 paypal friend and family to I was originally targeting 3/31 but may extend a bit to raise more.

There are a bunch of great things that will be given away in this raffle, so even if this isn’t a 503c charity with tax exempt status, Jon and Jay are great guys, and Jay could use some help. Buy a raffle ticket and be entered to win one of the many great prizes.

Practical Carry

You can see my Twist on the right next to my Kershaw Chive knife.


School: Organization with Teffa Bag-in-Bag A4

My office in a backpack is something of a misnomer, as I use one of 3 different bags depending on where I’m going, how long I’ll be out of the house, and what I’ll be doing. The previously mentioned Tom Bihn Brain bag is for days when I’ll be out of the house for the majority of the day or I know I’ll be doing research. I also have a Tom Bihn Imago, which has been discontinued, but is for days when I’ll be home within a few hours or only need to  carry some of my “office.” The final bag is a Tom Bihn Small Cafe bag, my least favorite and will only hold a very small amount of my “office.”

A lot of the office requires charging cords and cables that for ease of swapping bag I bought duplicates of and had in each bag. This is both inefficient and expensive. I also had a few items that I wanted to put in each bag but didn’t want to duplicate- like my BT keyboard. To make switching from bag to bag and to cut back on some of the duplication of chargers and cords I picked up a Lihit Teffa Bag-in-Bag in A4 size. This is the largest size available and fits in 2 of my 3 bags, and the 2 I use the most, the Imago and Brain. The idea behind this is that you can put the stuff you use all the time into the Bag-in-Bag and transfer it to another bag, easily swapping bags. Makes a lot of sense.baginbagOn the outside I filled the pockets with an assortment of pens and a bullet pencil. The smaller pocket got a spare eraser, pencil sharpener, and spare batteries for my BT keyboard. The larger pocket holds my planner. The next row of pockets has a packet of wet wipes and tissues and an Unexposed folder with 3 spare Field Notes.baginbagInside the zippered pocket I have a cord for my iPoo, another for either my phone or tablet, as well as a 2.1 amp charger. (It is an AmazonBasics charger, and it works great.) Also in this pocket I have my BT keyboard. The zippered pocket is very slim and snug. To keep a laptop in this pocket you’d have to be using a very slim laptop. I can keep my tablet in it’s case in there, but it zips hard. Anyway, the slimness of the pocket actually does a great job of holding the cables, charger, and keyboard in place. It really doesn’t shift around all that much.

What I keep in this organizer may shift and morph over time. I really prefer to have my planner a little more accessible and in one of the outside pockets of my bag. So that maybe one of the things that changes pretty quickly, but I see that the rest of the contents might stay pretty stable over time.

I have to say that the limited edition blue color is a very nice shade of dusky light blue. The brown of the interior is nice as well. The stitching is pretty good, I did find a few loose stitches that were easily seared with a  lighter. Over all I find it a pretty good looking organizer.  Because this is a very simple organizer it has limitless options for customization and personalization. It would be super easy to add some elastic strips or velcro to the back of the zippered pocket if things needed to be held in place better.

The downsides that I can see to this organizer is that it is a tad on the bulky side, but any organizer adds bulk. The padding is very thin as well, so it doesn’t provide a lot of protection for bumps.

If you want to get one of your own, head on over to Jetpens.

School: Office in a Backpack

I decided to write a little bit on here about some of my school/study aides. Typically, I’m a pencil and paper type of woman, but sometimes I need technology. Being in graduate school means that I often have to write lengthy papers in APA 6th edition format. Carting around a heavy laptop is just not something I want to do, so I’ve found a way around doing so.

The first, and perhaps, most important part of my carry for school was to buy a quality backpack that can carry everything I need safely. For this purpose I bought a Tom Bihn Brain bag with a Brain cell insert. The bag is big enough to carry books, notebooks, tablet, and sundry items. It does the job well and is comfortable.

Rather than carry a laptop I have decided to use a tablet for my computing needs. Most of the time the tablet alone is suitable for reading PDF articles, but sometimes being able to edit or write papers on the go is a necessity. The on screen keyboard is crap for typing for anything other than short bursts. Getting a bluetooth keyboard has been a necessity. Originally I bought the AmazonBasics android keyboard and I loved it but I put it into a crappy case and tossed it around in my bag without enough protection and broke it. I bought a replacement  and it works well  enough, but it’s much louder. I plan on replacing it with another AmazonBasics when school starts up again, this time with a nice case.

Using the tablet as a word processor involves setting up Google Drive with blank documents and saving them to the tablet so I can work on them without wifi. The is important since many areas where I might want to work on my papers don’t always have the best or speediest wifi, like the commuter rail. Sometimes I get a seat near the wifi and it’s speedy and works other times I’m on a car that has terrible wifi. Or the coffee shop wifi is too slow to allow updates. Anyway, being able to work offline is a huge thing when I’m on the go. If you want to figure out how to make your google docs available on your tablet when offline go read here.

I make all my reading notes longhand in a cheap composition notebook. I favor the Staples brand because they are 50 cents at back to school sales and I can buy a bunch for low money. The paper is also acceptable for any of my preferred writing tools. Also, they are sturdy enough that I can cart them around for a full semester and not have them too beaten up. With 200 pages I can take copious notes on my readings, classes, and jot down the first outlines for my papers. (How I generate my papers is another post for the future.) Additionally I can cut pages out if I need to do so.

I use 2 different writing tools for notetaking. The first is fountain pens or gel inks, the second is soft dark pencils. I prefer pencils lately but often switch them out for a spot of color. Either allows me to make notes quickly and effortlessly. Fountain pens glide across the page as do soft dark pencils. The pencils I like range from B to 4B in grade. I keep a pencil box ready with a sharpener as well as an assortment of sharp pencils ready to go. This allows me to keep writing without pause if I need to, but generally I can stop, listen, and sharpen if needed.My first year I used fountain pens almost exclusively. This year I’ve been using pencils almost exclusively.*

I also carry a small pocket sized planner. I’ve been using a Bandit Apple Carnet PeeWee size but I’m transitioning over to the Field Notes Ambition planner in February. Being able to transfer over in February is the great boon of using an undated planner. Current I carry both in a leather cover by Davis Leatherworks. An additional way of keeping track of my life is another Field Notes in a leather cover along with a pocket. This acts as an idea/mind dump as well as a to do list and shopping list. Thus far it’s working very well. Though I  have to work better on my journaling.

Anyhow, all the above is what I use to not only keep track of my life, but to process and record all the stuff I’ve got going on for grad school. I’ve really needed to pare down and figure out how to use tools in a specific manner. This is, of course, a process and how I use tools changes over time, but for now this is it.

Continue reading

Review: Apsara Platinum Extra Dark

I received this pencil free from Notegeist in my first order.  As far as I can tell other than some large quantity packaged on Amazon and eBay, Notegeist appears to be the only place to get just a few of these. Frankly, you’ll want at least one of these in your pencil case.

The looks of the pencil are very nice. It’s coated in a nice thick lacquer with silver and black stripes.  The end is capped with a simple black end dip. The imprint is even and not too deeply set in silver foil. It stands out well and is easily read.

The pencil sharpens with ease, though it appears to be made out of basswood and not cedar. I was able to sharpen it in any sharpener and to any point. It held a long point well.

As far as the core of this pencil goes, it’s nice and dark. While it holds a point reasonably well it doesn’t hold one nearly as well as an HB. It is fantastic and smooth. In my use I have not encountered a single bit of grit nor scratchy bit.

Review: Zebra F-701 Stainless Steel Pen Hacked

The Zebra f-701 pen is a solid stainless steel pen with one exception, the knock has a plastic ring around it. However, the F-402 has a solid stainless steel knock. This hack explains how to swap the knock out of the 402 and the 701. While I question the tactical effectiveness It’s a relatively easy process that I think really improves the look of  an already nice pen.

The pen is smooth lightly brushed stainless steel with a knurled grip section. Notable is the absence of any printing. The clip has 701 pressed into it. The clip on the 402 is sturdier so I swapped them when I swapped the knock. The knurling is slight and unlike other deeply knurled grips doesn’t feel like I’m going to sandpaper my fingers off each time I grab hold.  I prefer the simple 2-step tip on the 402 to the 5-step tip of the 701, sadly they are not swapable. The tip of the 402 is just a smidge too long to allow for the tip of the cart to deploy.

The refill that they arrive with is a smaller plastic refill than the Zebra refills that you can get. It will accept a Fisher Space Pen refill if you modify the plastic sleeve hiding in the tip. One modification is to take the sleeve out entirely, the other is to stretch it out by sliding it over the tip of the  Space Pen cartridge. I like hack that keeps the plastic sleeve, as it stops any unwanted clicking and wiggle in the tip. the zebra refill is pretty good for sketching and general notetaking. It’s not super smooth but it’s not scratchy. It’s dark enough that you can get a good amount of light and dark out of it as you sketch. It is a nice fine point. I will dissent with the majority opinion and state flat out, I like the Zebra refill more than I like the Fisher Space pen refill.

The 701 is a great pen even if you don’t swap out the knock for the all metal knock of the 402.  It just works. It now retails for around $8. the 402 comes in a 2 pack for about $9. The good thing with this pen is that it’s mostly metal construction means it can be dropped, kicked and knocked about and still write. Not many pens can make that claim.