Acrylic April 2019, part 1

My very favorite online painting instructor, The Art Sherpa, came up with a fabulous idea to complete an acrylic painting every day for a month like the illustrators have with Inktober. Last year, I attempted Artober, in which I failed at painting something every day, but I’m hoping that since so many other people are doing this with me, I might make it.

So. Today is the 9th. Here are my paintings so far, which vary significantly in quality and difficulty.

Day 1. Acrylic on 8″ x 8″ fake wood panel from Michael’s. Based on an Art Sherpa tutorial.
Day 2. Acrylic on 5″ x 7″ MDF panel. Based on an Art Sherpa tutorial.
Day 3. Acrylic on 5×7 MDF panel. Based on a Ginger Cook tutorial.
Day 4. Acrylic on 8″ x 8″ MDF panel. Based on an Art Sherpa tutorial.
Day 5. Acrylic on 8″ x 8″ MDF panel. Based on a tutorial by Robin Sealark.
Day 6. Acrylic on 8″ x 8″ MDF panel. Based on an Art Sherpa tutorial.
Day 7. Acrylic on 8″ x 10″ fake wood panel from Michael’s. Based on a Ginger Cook tutorial.
Day 8. Acrylic on 8″ x 8″ MDF Panel. From an Art Sherpa tutorial.

My favorite so far is the lemons. I’ve just started doing some still lives, and I’m really liking them.

Wish me luck for getting through the rest of the month! Painting every day with a full-time job is super hard.

I spent the weekend painting

I’m pretty sure I was more productive this weekend artwise than I ever have been. First, here’s the painting I finished:

5×7 oil on panel

I’m super proud of this one. It’s based on a photo on Pexels, which, like Unsplash, is a copyright-free photo site. It’s my first still life ever, and I’m pretty sure I’m still under ten oil paintings total. Here’s my entirely inferior acrylic underpainting:

Oils make a world of difference. I also worked on another painting this weekend. The clouds are new:

This one is pretty good, too, though I need to figure out what to do with the land. It’s based off of an Unsplash photo of tree silhouettes at sunset, but I might just add low hills. Here’s the acrylic version of the sky:

Theyre behind the crappy panels I’d been buying from Michael’s. I wanted better quality, so Palmer and I went in halves on a table saw. I learned to use it and cur my first set of panels yesterday.

After I cut them, I gessoed both sides and sanded the side I plan to paint A good time was had by all.

In other news, there was a massive gas leak across the street from my house on Friday. Palmer and I had to evacuate with the dogs, and we had to spend the evening with Palmer’s parents. The doggos were so good, but we were all grateful to be home after all that drama.

Palmer got a video of the leak and noise:

And I took pictures of the dogs. First at the church a few blocks away:


And then at Palmer’s parents’ house:


We we’re all exhausted the next morning. We rested for a lot of the day and then headed out to our EXCELLENT seventh anniversary dinner.


I’m glad we had most of today to recover.

Rest in peace, Mary Oliver

I have no idea how it happened, but the poet Mary Oliver died last week and I didn’t find out until today. Oliver wrote nature-heavy self-carey type stuff that I generally avoid these days, but it’s beautiful and merits another look. I read her work obsessively when I was in high school after an English assignment to read one of her poems – possibly this one, my favorite:

The Journey


One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voice behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

What’s funny is that I don’t think I fully understood it until now. That happens a lot with books I read in high school. Fifteen-year-old-me related it to my Teenage Angst, and it fueled so much bad poetry. I’m glad I threw most of (all of?) that away.

Anyway, it appears to be high time I dive back in and read a collection or two. There’s a good chance I have one at home from twenty years ago.

All is right with the (pizza) world

About a year ago, my Very Favorite Restaurant made a Horrible Decision. Rotolos, a pizza chain in Louisiana, dropped their 8-inch personal pizzas from the menu in favor of either 13-inch pizzas or pizza-by-the-slice, which only included cheese, pepperoni, and a daily specialty pizza. The last thing we would want is two pizzas because mine, at least, would never be eaten because of Our Friend the Beetus. Palmer likes meaty pizzas with marinara sauce, and I like vegetarian pizzas with alfredo sauce, so you can see how a problem might arise.

After this Terrible Decision, we didn’t go back for several months, until their sign miraculously said “Personal pizzas are back!” We went in for dinner, only to be told that those pizzas were only served at lunch, and possibly only during football season.

In the meantime, I discovered that their buffalo wings are very tasty (and they don’t make me feel like Death afterward like Buffalo Wild Wings’ do), so we went back every few weeks. Welllll, last week we were talking to the manager about a ridiculous Detroit Style pizza that looks like dessert, and he said they’d brought back personal pizzas all day and for good! Hence the photo above.

I’m glad they saw the errors of their ways. Here’s a double rainbow.

Ye Olde Annual Book Post

I’ve read so few books this year that this should, at least be easy. My current count on Goodreads is 28, which will hopefully be 29 before January 1 if I finish Lord of the Rings in time. I’m currently around 45%, so we’ll see how that turns out. I should also probably note that a few of these were children’s books, so that count should probably be smaller.

I was about to link to all the others, but then I realized that all of those posts are in an unlinkable nether region somewhere in Palmer’s domain. Maybe I should dig them up, but I’m not going to because I’ve Moved On from the book blog. Except that I’m currently writing a post about books.

As in the past, I’ll list the books and rate them. Bold means I really liked them, italics means I didn’t like them, and no emphasis means they were good enough.

The Books

  1. God – Reza Aslan
  2. Senlin Ascends – Josiah Bancroft
  3. Cooking up a Storm – Staff of the Times Picayune
  4. The Black Tides of Heaven – Jy Yang
  5. Adulthood is a Myth – Sarah Andersen
  6. Syllabus – Lynda Barry
  7. Winter – Ali Smith
  8. Every Heart a Doorway – Seanan McGuire
  9. Wildlife – Richard Ford
  10. It Devours! – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  11. Last Look – Charles Burns
  12. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents – Terry Pratchett
  13. A Piece of the World – Christina Baker Kline
  14. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  15. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Murakami
  16. Found Audio – N.J. Campbell
  17. Sing, Unburied, Sing – Jesmyn Ward
  18. Artemis – Andy Weir
  19. The Bird King – G. Willow Wilson
  20. Honor Girl – Maggie Thrash
  21. My Father’s Dragon – Ruth Stiles Gannett
  22. Christmas in Camelot – Mary Pope Osborne
  23. Monet Paints a Day – Lucy Danneberg
  24. Claude Monet – Catherine Nichols
  25. Linnea in Monet’s Garden – Christina Bjork
  26. The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree – Stan Berenstain
  27. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
  28. The Two Towers – J.R.R. Tolkien
  29. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien (assuming I finish it in time)

That’s definitely more wins than losses, which is good since there were so few.

And the winner, you ask? Probably Sing, Unburied, Sing. I’m disqualifying Lord of the Rings because I’ve read it before, or those three novels together might have won.

My least favorite, by far, was Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry. The format is awesome, and it’s colorful and super nice to look at, but it’s infuriatingly dumb.

Next year, I’m hoping to hit 50 again. 2018 has been busy, and I’ve been finding lots of stuff to do that doesn’t involve reading. I’ve pretty much stopped using Facebook, so hopefully I can invest my reclaimed time on reading – or at least something more worthwhile than staring at my feed.

Merry Christmas!

Where have I been you ask? BUSY. Until today, anyway. Here’s a pictorial review of my December so far:

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Aren’t photos without descriptions the best? Here are some clues: a wedding, the dentist, the gym, the doggos, high nerdery, and lots of librarying. A good time was had by all, but I desperately need my week-and-a-half break. I’ll be back at work, hopefully rested, on January 2.

New phone who dis

I know I’m behind on every sort of post possible (for instance: a 3d printer lives in my office now!), but here I am with a new phone and lots of enthusiasm.

I had an iPhone 8 for about a year, and while it worked perfectly well, I’d been growing increasingly unhappy with the camera as compared to newer phones on the market. The obvious Cho was the new iPhone Xs, but according to every review I’ve seen, the Google Pixel 3 has a better camera.

I haven’t tried the iPhone XS, but I’m SUPER satisfied with this brand spankin’ new Pixel 3 I got today. Palmer was nice enough to pose for a couple photos while I still had both phones:

Im definitely a fan of the Pixel photo on the right. Palmer says he looks washed out on the iPhone. The dog photos taken in portrait mode do a better job of showing off the Pixel camera’s superiority.

Of course, there is also food. This first one is from lunch at Habanero’s a local restaurant:

And this second one is from my barely successful attempt at peeling and cubing a kobucha squash (don’t do it!):

So far, I’m super happy with this phone. My last Android experience was far from ideal, so we’ll see.

#Artober 17: IT’S A DOUBLE RAINBOW!

Yes, this counts. Sharpie markers on plastic cut to kite dimensions. One of my favorite things about my job is that I get to go to programs like this. This one was at Broadmoor, a branch I rarely visit. There’s a kite enthusiast conference of sorts in town this weekend, and really nice man from Pennsylvania volunteered to lead this program at the library. Other volunteers led programs at other branches.

Everyone I talked to had an awesome time. People of all ages made kites to fly. Here are some photos I took while I was there:

I’m so glad this organization presented these programs. I hope they spark the imaginations of patrons of all ages across the parish. I certainly had a good experience.

#Artober 15: Sing, Unburied, Sing!

One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to paint on the clock. Today, I went on a little voyage to do it, to a town called Mooringsport in the northwest tip of Caddo Parish, about 30 miles from Shreveport. I’d seen the exterior of this library, but I’d never been in. It looks and smells like an old schoolhouse.

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I went up there because a local artist, Eric Francis, is doing a series of painting programs for the library based on Jesmyn Ward’s novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, this year’s One Book One Parish selection. Today, we painted the crow on the front cover. Unlike my painting programs, Eric starts with a very helpful pencil sketch, which is way less intimidating for first-time painters than an entirely blank canvas is.

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The turnout was amazing and far more than I was expecting. Everyone was enthusiastic and proud of their work. Some people made amaaaaaazing paintings.

I was super impressed by the whole program. Since the turnout was so high, I’m planning on bringing my art and tech programs for kids and teens. Too bad the branch is closed on Saturdays, or I’d schedule a Paint Studio program there.

Good times at the library!

No #Artober today, but look what I got!

I have an impending out-of-any-sort-of-studio Arting to do on the 29th, so I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to do it. It’s a library outreach program, so it would be ideal to showcase one of my monthly painting classes, but acrylics dry too fast for plein air. Watercolor our gouache would be fine, but they require a flat surface, which doesn’t show off what I’m doing well, so oil seems the best medium to use in this case.

Enter this semi-homemade pochade box. I got an art storage box at Michaels for $30 with a coupon, and Palmer added a wooden board with a tripod screw hole and little hardware bits (plus some foam) to hold the panel or canvas in.

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It had two levels of divided areas, so I removed the dividers from the top portion and masking taped in an 8×10 palette (aka the glass from an 8×10 picture frame).

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This work should result in a pretty ideal setup for up to 8×10 plein air oil paintings, and I definitely prefer this smaller format.

What I really want is one of these pochade boxes by Art Essentials, preferably the classic. Since they’re upward of $200, I’ll give this homemade version a good round to see if I’d use it enough to justify the price.

I should also note that I had to get a new fancy tripod for this setup. I ordered this Manfrotto Compact Advanced tripod, which should arrive at my house on Tuesday. It’ll be nice to have a good quality tripod for this and for photos, as my old cheap one is busted.