Page from my Journal: "Ink Doodles"

Just some random doodling on my Moleskine with ink using a fountain pen and non-shellac india ink. Coloring with Tombow markers.

Page from my Journal: "Pizza in a Jiffy"

Experimenting with different sketching implements on my small Moleskine. On the left a quick sketch I took while I was waiting for Pizza at Red Pepper Pizzeria in Duvall, WA. Done with with a micron 0.05 pen and colored with Tombow markers. The sketchbook moleskine really doesn't like the Tombow markers. Any blending I try to do results in paper flaking off. On the right my first experiments sketching with fountains pens while I was waiting at Jiffy Lube in Duvall, WA. In blue I am using a Lamy Safari pen with an EF nib. Excellent pen, but the ink that came with it is blue (which I do not like) and is not waterproof. Soon to be changed to something waterproof. For the few black words I used a Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen with a non-shellac India ink. The india ink is waterproof but bleeds a bit through the sketchbook moleskine when I apply some pressure on the flex nib (the word FLEX bled through). I really like the Noodler's pen and its flex nib. It is a winner and it is now part of my everywhere sketchbook set. That said, I need to start carrying a watercolor moleskine. The sketchbook one paper is just too thin for heavy inks and marker usage or washes.

Page from my Journal: "Jumping Fish"

Sketch taken at Soul Foods downtown Redmond, WA where I went to draw with my son today. The fish is sketched from a large wood statue that was for sale in the shop. It was sitting on a table, and I decided to draw the form as I saw it, but give it a more realistic-fish finish and make it "jump out" the table with a splash. Mixing reality with a tad of fantasy is something that I love to do. Pencil, various ink pens, watercolor.

Musings on the Nature of Art

A piece of art is finished only when is forgotten. Its development, otherwise, continues in the minds of the observers. In other words, art is either in development or it doesn't exist. If it exists then it is constantly being developed in our mind and collective subconscious.

Art is the representation of an idea that is left to the viewers to explore. It is the suggestion of a thought. A muse of concepts. A seed. The forge of a stream of consciousness and involuntary artistic development that materializes in the lives of the viewers.

As you are creating art what you are doing is planting the seed and starting a process that will finish only when your work will be forgotten. And when you look at a painting or drawing or sculpture, you are continuing the development of the piece. You become the artist and you are carrying forward the torch of artistic expression of the piece.

This fundamental nature makes art a process without end goal which value is in its constant development.

Musings On Mastery

Mere repetition of the same actions over and over is not a way to reach mastery of a skill. Repetition with the intent of mastery requires focus on it.

Once you reach mastery and no teacher or resource available can readily help you get better, teaching others provides the best path to improvement.

Be aware, however, that teaching others if you are not ready to do so can lead to disaster for both you and your students.

Mastery is not a goal, but a starting point. There is no maximum possible mastery of a skill. There is however - and sadly - a practical peak. 

Once you reach the practical peak only research, thinking out of the box and learning from new found masters, often in other disciplines, is the way to improvement.

It is an arduous and slow process, but it is the only process that will bring you to be remembered for your skills.

2014 Duvall Visitor Guide Award

A few days ago I received the first place award from the Duvall Visitor Guide Selection Committee, the DFA and Duvall Chamber for the 2014 Duvall Visitor Guide Contest.

Here a picture of me at the award "ceremony" holding the $100 check:

While the monetary value of the award is small, I am honored that my picture will be featured in the cover of the first 2014 Duvall Visitor Guide, that is the first visitor guide the city ever had

And here is the photo that won the contest:

Glad to be part of this community and honored to bring a small and well received personal contribution to it its inhabitants.

More photographs of the Snoqualmie valley are available here.

Page from my Journal: "Quick People Sketches"

These are many 5 seconds sketches of lots of people that I saw walk by. The goal here wasn't to draw anything realistic or accurate, but just to attempt to capture the similarities of lots of passerbies in a very cold day of winter. Pencil and ink + marker on Moleskine.

Page from my Journal: "Fireplace"

The fireplace at Sorrento's coffee shop. Redmond, WA. 
Pencil, Ink & Watercolor on Moleskine.

Page from my Journal: "Street Lights"

Quick sketch I took of the streetlights at Cedar Crest High in Duvall. 
Pencil & Ink (black, sepia and white) on Moleskine.

Page from my Journal: "Skull"

Sketched this Skull that I saw at my Son's elementary school while I was waiting for him to come out a class. 
Pencil & ink on Moleskine.

Refusing labels

Labels are fast and easy to stick on somebody and sometimes you have to do what society expects you to do and accept a label to quickly describe activities you are involved with.

That said, I reject people’s attempts to put me in any bucket.

These are some of the questions I get all the time:
  • Are you a photographer?
  • Are you an engineer?
  • Are you an artist?
  • Are you a democrat?
  • Are you republican?
  • Are you a woodworker?
  • Are you a woodcarver?
  • Are you a cook?
  • Are you XYZ … where XYZ is whatever “thing” I happen to be doing with a relative sense of passion and skill.

The truth is that I am part of all of these things, and none of them alone. I am a combination of the stuff I do and each skill I learn helps me with my understanding of all others skills. That does not mean that I am universally married to any of these trades/skills.

Just because I love making art I refuse to be labeled as “artist” as a singularity and description of what I am.  I am not starving, I make a good living in software engineering, I do not wear funny clothes and I do not go around doing “crazy artist” things if that’s what you mean with “artist”.

Just because I spent 30 years writing software, you can’t identify me simply as “an engineer” since I do many other things. I do not spend 22 hours a day only thinking about engineering software, even though everything I do has that slant infused into it.

Just because I agree with some things that democrats say, I can’t be called “a democrat” because I also agree with some things that republicans say, and disagree with many things that both parties say too.  I can almost hear it: “you are an independent then”. I am that too now? Not really, because if you take other people that claim to be “independent” they’d probably disagree with me a lot.

Am I a “reader” because I read books? Or “writer” because I write on this blog? How do you answer that question? The only way to answer is “yes” and “no”, at the same time.  I am all of these things, and none of them. I am NOT any of the things I do, even if I do them with a passion. I am also all of these things at once, and I apply the knowledge acquired in all of these fields to anything I do.

Green is not blue OR yellow, is a combination of the two and neither of them. Also there is not just one green, there are many shades of it and mine changes all the time and morphs into non-green colors as well.

When I build software, it helps me think about how furniture is built. When I sketch a software diagram, I use the drawing experience I gained drawing on my sketchbooks. When I write on this blog, I use what I learned reading books.  When I take photographs, I learn about composition and then I use that in my drawings. When I put up xmas lights on my house, I optimize the lights based on thinking I learned while writing code. When I dissect a form into basic shapes for sketching, I use the problem solving skills I learned to solve engineering problems or to design woodworking projects.

It is all related, all necessary and I am none of these things in isolation.

Page from my Journal: "Fireplace"

My fireplace on a cold day of December. 
Pencil, black ink & white Ink on Moleskine.

Page from my Journal: "Balloon Nightmares"

Fantasy composition of subjects sketched from reality. 
Red & Gray Pencil on Moleskine.

Page from my Journal: "Abandoned Building in Bellevue"

An abandoned building in Bellevue, WA
Ink pen & watercolor on Moleskine

Page from my Journal: "Reading a Book"

Quick sketches of people reading books in a coffee shop in Bellevue, WA.
Pencil & ink on Moleskine. 

Page from my Journal: "Piano Man"

A quick sketch of a pianist playing xmas tunes.
Bellevue, WA.
Pencil & Ink on Moleskine. 

Page from my Journal: "Bellevue Park, Flag"

Flag and a monumental light in Bellevue, WA
Pencil, Ink & Watercolor.