India Ink

India ink is sweet. Its basically black + shellac + alcohol. It sucks that you cant use it in a fountain pen though, well you can but pretty much only once. I like it though, a lot, so here I go supporting a project to make an india ink fountain pen. This’ll be my most expensive art-thing that wasn’t tuition. Support it maybe.


Charcoal is pretty great. I think it’s great because it’s fast, easy, cheap and very forgiving. Full of anger and hate, poisonous food and hatching spiders? Charcoal forgives you. Charcoal doesn’t care that all you have cheap sketchbooks and scraps of copy-paper. Not like ink, ink cares about your paper. Ink cares a lot! Ink cares so much that it’s going to soak right in and become part of the paper, maybe part of the other side, maybe, part of the sheet behind the top one too. Ink’s a 2. Charcoal’s a 3. That’s for sure, maybe, the very best 3 it can be.

That’s perfect too, ’cause there’s only really three sorts of charcoal.

First there’s vine. Vine is just what it says on the tin, it’s vines, burnt vines? Former vines? It was vines, the charcoal formerly known as grapevines. It comes in gently curving lenghts around the size of a pencil. Three grades, hard and medium and soft. There’s extra soft too, and probably extra hard and extra medium. It’s a bit coarse, and you can really feel it going on, even on very smooth hot-press paper. It’s uniform in cross-section, charcoal all the way through ’cause vines grow that way.

Then there’s willow. Same thing with willow, it’s formerly a tree. It’s got a pith that you can see in the center of each straight length. Willow doesn’t come in hard or soft or medium, I think it’s all soft. And it’s fragile and dustier than vine but it’s so smooth. It’s like an ice cube on a hot dashboard. It wants to move. Willow comes in different diameters, up to about the size of a lipstick.

Then there’s compressed. If it isn’t vine or willow, it’s compressed. Ignore whatever made up name the manufacturer gives it. Compressed is carbon, ground up charcoal, and it’s mixed with some sort of binder. That could be some kind of mastic gum resin or oil or just about anything really. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. It comes inside pencils. Then it’s got every hardness from practically dust to basically stone. The hard ones can hold a point like nobodies business.

All you need to use charcoal is a piece of it and any paper. Bigger paper is probably better but that just means it’s a good thing for implying details rather than adding them. You might want an eraser, so get a kneeded one. Get a scrap of rough canvas too, or a tissue, that’s basically an eraser too. I guess some people need a paper smudger too but just use your finger. You don’t need a sealer but it’s not gonna stop being alive until you have one and use it. Just grab a can of Krylon for six bucks. No, it doesn’t matter if you get “workable” fixative or not. Hell, people use hair-spray and if you’re working on cheap acidic newsprint or something that’s not gonna be doing much but getting worse that’s fine.

Anyway, here’s days fifteen through twentyfour. Everyday is charcoal day until I get bored.

Every day week 2

Proportions are weird. No wonder the trope of an artist holding up the handle of a paint brush are so common. No wonder measurments are important. Scale doesn’t mater, just the relationship of one thing to another. Water-soluble graphite is faster than hatching but looks less polished, less intentional. Maybe ink outlines and water soluble graphite for the tones one of these times.

Things I don’t get

There’s only 3 things. Gender is a 1. I mean, of course it is. I don’t get it though. I become aware that I don’t get it when I read things like this on The Nib. Go read it. Gender is a 3 for this person. That means it’s not someplace they are, it’s something that happens to them. I don’t get it, but that’s interesting. Like, here’s a person who thinks about gender on a level that’s far and away more involved than most people. That sort of makes me sad that I don’t think about it more.

I mean, if I say, “thank you, sir” to somebody it’s done without a thought. No malice, quite the opposite, it’s intended to be distancing and respectful. Sir is gendered, but it’s a sign of deference. If I think about it, it’s saying thanks, but it’s personal in that it identifies a specific person, while stepping back from that intimacy by establishing subordination through the use of an appalation like sir. Appreciation to unique entity separate from and unfamiliar but in elevated standing relative to myself.

For someone who has gender as an event, that’s off-putting, insulting. I’m inflicting my perception of a personal event on their own chronology. I am telling them where they are in relation to me, I get that as such that act is probably going to have negative effects on them.

I wonder though if this is more indicative not of any difference in our oppionions or desire to behave well to each other, but rather a product of the differing importance of gender to each of us. Gender doesn’t mater much to me, so if I missgender or am missgendered, it occupies no psychic real-estate. If it’s important to someone who is missgendered it would of course occupy more. How much onflict is the product of differing levels of assigned importance rather than conflicting oppinions or possitions? Probably more than we would care to know.

It’s personanlly elevating to have an oppion that is in opposition to another. It’s ego boosting to have adversaries. It’s insulting to find that your position is simply not important to another.

The Urban Sketching Handbook: Understanding Perspective

So I guess there’s this series of books, from Gabi Campanario, the founder of Urban Sketchers, that’s all about inspiration and instruction for people who want to sketch or do already. I learned about the books from this guy, Teoh Yi Chie’s youtube channel. I picked up one of them, called Understanding Perspective: Easy Techniques for Mastering Perspective Drawing on Location by Stephanie Bower to start with. I like it.

Early on in the book it has an excercise suggestion that it compairs to playing the scales on an instrument. It’s about filling pages with lines. I gave it a shot and made some notes. Now I’m gonna sketch every day for like a long-ass time and see if the results of the exercise change over time.

Tiny Dragons

Just a quick couple sketches from a couple pics sent my way by a guy I know. Watercolor’s fun only I don’t have a clue what I’m doing with it. Feel’s like I’m pretending it’s cheap thin acrylic instead of it’s own medium. Gotta work on that.

No Film Resolution

So my resolution for the new year, you know the one that started in April, is no photos. No shows, no running after things in the dark with a camera, no film. Call it a mental-health year. Pocket-phones and their tiny little sensors and bits and bytes and shit are fine, they don’t stir anything up. So my cameras are in boxes and my films are in the freezer this year.

But what’s A Body to do when the daily goes away for a year? Art therapy is a thing I guess so pens and inks and watercolors and maybe that’ll be alright. The sky still puts me on edge though…

Anymore, here’s some rando’s house:

I’ve really got to practice.

The Sky

Everyone likes 2’s, likes things. 2’s are good ’cause it’s easy to go out and snap a shutter if you’re going out to make a photo of a specific thing. No need to worry about Cartier-Bresson’s moments, defining or otherwise. Don’t bother with obscuring anything from yourself or the world with Barthes and his ivory tower punctum and studium. Go out, find a thing, click a shutter. Or don’t even go out, things are everywhere. The sky is a 2.

At least the sky isn’t everywhere.

If you’re going to shoot a 2, it involves planning. Pick the right time, when the light is right. Pick the right film, right for the way you’ll want to process it, right for the way you’ll want to print it. Then pick the camera. The camera you pick is the right one. But when the thing is the sky, or the sky is a second thing, all that’s out the window. There’s only one way to see the sky, the way you do.

I hate the sky. As 2s go, it’s the worst. So when it’s going to be there, I make it what I want it to be. You should build your own sky too.

A lot of people, camera people, people who are capital p photographers or otherwise, make the sky over all the time. Most of them think about it, I assume, they do. And they all seem to want the same thing. Contrast and clouds, always contrast and clouds. Do it with a yellow filter, or an orange filter, or a red. And the white clouds, and the dark sky is this beautiful thing they just love.

I like my sky empty. I like it the high clean sound of an old television; the blindness of a sun. A beautiful nothing that world down here aspires to.

I like it when the bright is thick, when it obscures as much as any darkness. What’s that 2 for you?


I don’t understand religion, but I appreciate it for what it can be for people. For me, religion is as close as anyone who isn’t ill will get to understanding. I don’t think I can explain mental illness to atheists.

raw0005 copy
Hill Cumorah Visitors Center Shortsville, NY

It’s like, knowing. Knowing that there’s something the rest of the world doesn’t share. It’s faith.

Faith doesn’t just go away either. It doesn’t die however much edgy dramas and complex fictions pretend it does. There’s no controlling it; it is controling.

Moroni on his plinth, Summit of the Hill Cumorah Shortsville, NY

The thing about it that makes me not try explaining it to atheists, is the imperative. An illness, is like faith, like a fire? No, the metaphor is weak, fire lacks a real, sweeping, urgency—anytime you’re far from the flames.

The angle Moroni, holding the golden plates

See, there’s folk who got religion, and folks who’s got faith. And they take their wafers and their rites when they get the spirit, and I take my meds when I remember. And we all walk around in the world and we all get along and for the most part only want good things for everyone. And we none of us understand.