31 Not Out – 31 October 2018

An ink sketch every day in October completed.

Thirty one sketches in ten different sketchbooks, using eleven different drawing instruments.
High points, low points. Days when I could have happily posted more than one and days when I could happily have postponed my sketch until the next day. Great fun certainly worth the effort of drawing in ink all the time. It may just have been the fact that you can’t erase mistakes, you just have to accept them. It may have been the opportunity to try different techniques with different types of pens I’d never have thought about drawing with before. Looking forward to the next challenge.

Today was dancing day and it didn’t go well. Scamp made mistakes, I made mistakes and between us we managed to screw up, not only the Jive, but also the Waltz and the Quickstep too. Maybe we were taking ourselves too seriously, maybe we were rating ourselves too highly. Whatever it was, it was knocked out of us today. Me more than Scamp, but we both had a share. We must practise before next week.

On the way home, the light was good on the big glass reflector that is 110 Queen Street and I got some clear shots of the reflections of the old sandstone buildings in it. I also tried some reflections of people in the convex glass panels near the door. The building reflections eventually became PoD after some jiggery pokery in Lightroom.

I’d counted the sketchbooks I’d used last night and the pens too, entering them in an Excel spreadsheet. Today I created that mysterious thing, a Pivot Table. I still don’t really know what I’m doing with it, but what I did worked and gave me a printable list of the things I needed to gather for today’s sketch. I cleared my drawing board and set up the pens in a cup and piled the sketchbooks up beside it and then set to to sketch it. It just seemed to flow together and when the ink work was dry I started in with some watercolour, realising immediately that I hadn’t been using a water resisting ink. However, I liked the shading the ink was producing when mixed with water, and kept it. That is the final sketch in Inktober 2018.

Salsa tonight was a re-run of Monday’s Halloween Party. Scamp and I won equal first place with another couple for the Dress the Mummy competition. I do hope Jamie G has a video of it, or even some photos. Great fun again.  What wasn’t fun was trying to thread a way through the football traffic on our way to the STUC.  I hate football traffic.

That’s about it. Successes and failures today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and Val. Looking forward to it.

Summer’s gone – 28 October 2018

British Summer Time ended at 2am this morning and I didn’t even hear it go.

So we are now officially out of summer and into the autumn, if not the winter, of our discontent. Even the weather got in on the act with the temperature just managing to climb above zero this morning. Tonight, as I write this, it is dropping away again and sits at 2.1ºc.

We’d half intended to go for a walk in Glasgow Green this morning, but instead we headed in the other direction and visited Asda instead with the twin purposes of buying Cream of Tartar (apparently and essential ingredient in the making of soda scones) and a Halloween tee shirt for Jamie’s Halloween Salsa class tomorrow night. We were partly successful, in that I got a tee shirt and the Cream of Tartar (is Cream of Tartan different? I just typed that by mistake) but Scamp was not impressed by any of the Halloween offerings.

After lunch I went through the usual argument at this time of year: “So, if it’s twenty past ONE now, that’s really the equivalent of twenty past TWO yesterday, since the clocks went back silently this morning. And if it’s now twenty past TWO and a few seconds, I shouldn’t really be sitting here arguing with myself, I should be out in the bright sunshine taking some photos.” Scamp didn’t want to go out for a walk because she was up to her armpits in cake mixture after taking a notion to bake a cake for Gems tomorrow.

I took a walk over St Mo’s suitably wrapped up in the Bergy jacket with the zipped in lining and a warm hat. I wish I’d also taken a warm scarf, but at least I’d the forethought to stuff a pair of gloves in my pocket. The remains of yesterday’s Halloween party were scattered around. Pumpkins everywhere. I’d expected them to be almost completely destroyed by now after having been booted around the park, but no, they were neatly piled up with their toothy grins smiling at passers by. Got a few photos of them, but PoD turned out to be a Harvestman arachnid (NOT a spider).

”Harvestmen have one body section (spiders have two), two eyes on a little bump (most spiders have eight), a segmented abdomen (unsegmented in spiders), no silk, no venom, a totally different respiratory system, and many other differences.”
Burke Museum of Natural History

Anyway, the Harvestman made it to the PoD.

By the time I came back home the temperature was definitely dropping away as the sun was also dropping below the horizon. Such short days at this time of year.

Today’s Inktober sketch, No 28 is of chillies. It might be because of the curry we had for dinner that was just a wee bit hot. It might be because it’s been a chilly day with the temperature not rising much above 5ºc. Anyway, it’s chillies for a chilly day.

Tomorrow is a Gems day. I may go to the gym. Too cold for cycling I fear.

Back on an even keel – 22 October 2018

Email and printers. The most difficult and flakiest things to set up. Look at them the wrong way and they just refuse to work.

The email account I fixed this morning seems to still be working. Sent my brother an email tonight and it hasn’t bounced yet. I hate setting up email accounts and printers. They are the most hated things to get going right first time. Yes, things are getting better and the wireless printers are a dream to set up now, but even they still have hissy fits sometimes.

Today was Gems day, so after all that technology overload this morning and after getting our flu jags and after buying Tesco I packed my bag and went for a swim. I had thought of going for some exercise first, but instead I sat in the steam room for quarter of an hour, then swam for another twenty minutes. Five minutes is enough for me in the sauna thankfully now with its door back on its hinges. Then a shower and a word with old Bob who probably lives in the changing room. I’ve seen him sitting with his lunch and a flask of tea a couple of times! Still, he’s paying his money the same as us and making the most of it. He tells some tall and wonderful stories at times. David Beckham was his topic today. I get the impression he doesn’t like the man!

Came home and doodled a sketch of a concrete and wood park bench from one of my photos. It took me two tries to get it right and when it was done it looked really smart … if you ignored the ghost bench beside it which was a bit squint and out of proportion. Went out for a walk in St Mo’s to try to catch the last of the light and maybe have a look at that bench again. Never did get a look at it. Instead I found some bright red bramble leaves and disturbed a long legged spider then tried a low shot of some leaves. They’re much thicker on the ground this year, I think. Leaves that is, not spiders. Eventually settled on a ten shot view across the loch with the camera sitting on a (different) bench. The ten shots were the raw material for an idea I had. Wind was strong and gusty and the clouds were scudding across the sky. That was the reason for the 10 shots.

<Technospeak>
Came home and downloaded the images. Cleaned up the ten shots in Lightroom, then exported them to a temporary folder. Imported them from there into a ‘stack’ in Photoshop. A stack is basically one image made up of a number of layers. Ran a script called “Image Averaging Layers” in Photoshop which does a very clever blending of the layers in the stack. With that done I selected the sky and water area with the Colour Range selector tool, Inverted the selection and proceeded to delete all the ground areas except one. That one I duplicated, reset the opacity to 100%, inverted the selection again and deleted the sky from that one. Bingo. My work was done in Photoshop. Saved it off and then flattened the image. Saved it again with a different name and imported that back into Lightroom where I could do all the usual twiddly bits.
</Technospeak>
Now all that previous bit was to remind me how I did the moving sky, but the solid ground and trees. Hopefully I’ll find this some day when I’m stuck.

No dancing tonight because Jamie G is off on his travels again and also we were waiting for a call from Hazy to see how ND was. Turns out he was getting home tonight. Although his ailment was serious enough, it wasn’t as bad as initially feared. Back home in Hazy’s tender care, I’m sure he’ll be on his feet again soon.

Tonight I did another Ink and Watercolour sketch of that park bench. It’s not as good as the first one. A second sketch never is in my opinion, but at least it doesn’t have a ghost bench intruding into its space.

So, basically everything is back on an even keel again, fingers crossed.

Maybe going for a curry tomorrow.

Pansies and Painting – 18 October 2018

Pansies were what Scamp requested for her Thursday.

Bright sunny start to the day. It was good just sitting on the sofa in the sunshine. However, when I went out to retrieve the bin after it had been emptied, it was cold and there were cars everywhere. Is this a result of the general lack of money. This is the middle of the October week. A week when everyone goes away for a few days because the schools are off, or at least they used to do that. Maybe there’s less money around and it’s a stay at home holiday now.

I started looking for something to sketch and put pen to paper up in the back bedroom, just doodling really, then it started to become a drawing of the top of my painting cupboard and, because it was almost all straight lines, it became a perspective drawing. I left it for a while and Scamp and I went out for lunch at a garden centre nearby, well it’s in Falkirk, but that’s not really that far.

The place was full of old folk, most of them older than us! Almost all of them had weans with them. Grandweans I’d guess and that began to strengthen my theory about a general lack of money. Our soup and a coffee (with a shared Vanilla Slice) was a fairly frugal lunch too. Scamp got some bright yellow pansies, winter flowering pansies and some little daisy like flowers that looked nice and cheery.

Came home and decided the drawing looked ok. Sometime you just have to walk away from a sketch and come back with fresh eyes. It looked ok, but it needed a bit of colour to cheer it up and that’s what I did, then left it again to go and take some photos in St Mo’s. That’s where the PoD came from. Again, I took the ‘Big Dog’, but this time I took the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. I really miss the flip up screen the Olys have, but the quality is so much better from the Nikon. Didn’t see much else that interested me. The fight between the swans seems to be reaching phase 2 with one (the loser?) sitting out on the grass while the others swam in the pond. Took a few HDR bracketed shots and a few panorama shots too, but the light was going and so was I.

Added a bit more colour to the sketch and that’s what you see here. Some might say it’s more a painting than an ink sketch, but there’s ballpoint ink and drawing ink in it, so it’s as much an ink sketch with paint than a painting with ink outlines.

Scamp’s says the tooth is still not properly fixed yet, but it won’t be until she goes back to get it treated next week. Maybe it’s more the bill that’s giving her pain!

On Reporting Scotland today there was a report that the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace is to be closed indefinitely at the end of the year. Apparently it needs at least £5m worth of repairs! The People’s Palace too will close for a shorter time, but the Winter Garden is where I have my roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp has her two slice of toast of the occasional Sunday morning, and where I go for a walk among the plants. What are we going to do? Glasgow Council, get your finger out and get this fixed pronto, Tonto!

Tomorrow is to be a bit cloudier than today. No plans yet.

It rained – 13 October 2018

All day, it rained.

As predicted by the weather fairies, it rained all day. It started off fairly light in the morning, but soon it grew more persistent and heavier as the day progressed. We decided to take the bus in to Glasgow with the sole purpose of having a decent lunch somewhere. Scamp suggested Sarti’s and I suggested Charcoals. We went with her choice, but first we had a wet walk down Buchanan Street and into the St Enoch Centre to view the artworks in The Unexpected Artist gallery. As usual there were some good paintings, one or two excellent pieces and a variety of things at exorbitant prices that we wouldn’t give house room. Worst today was a large canvas of the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll priced at an eye-watering £960. Honestly, on a bad day I could paint something like this, hang it on the bedroom wall and cover it with white gesso in disgust the next day. It might just have been worth £9.60 for the canvas, but only if I was being very generous. There were others in the same style, but this was by far the worst. Such a shame to see a little watercolour of a hare for £900 less, painted with much less paint and lots more skill languishing among the rubbish on display. It’s a great place to visit, because it reminds you that even your worst paintings and sketches aren’t as bad as you think, but that there are also works to strive for.

Bumped into Val again. Don’t see him for ages, and then we bump into each other two days in a row.

Walked back up to Sarti’s for lunch. Cauliflower and Bean soup for starter with Sea Bream and Veg for Scamp and Penne with Meatballs for me. Delicious. Maybe we’ll go to Charcoals next time. Walked back to the bus station and got the bus home. Well, got the bus to Condorrat and walked the rest in what had become a light drizzle. Maybe Sunday will be better after all!

PoD was a grab shot just outside the bus station. Liked the light through the trees and the wind blown leaves on the pavement. Sketch was a pencil sketch inked in with a Micron 0.3 of the new Ian Rankin book I’m reading.

Tomorrow we may go dancing to Mango in Glasgow if Scamp’s ankle is ok. Weather fairies predict slightly drier weather.

Over to Fife – 6 October 2018

Late to bed last night, so I took a relaxed attitude to rising.

Eventually after some important computer work we set out just after 12 noon. The big question on both our lips was “Do we turn left or right at the roundabout?” Scamp chose Right. That excluded Glasgow and places west, but opened up the opportunities of the mystical East. It could be Stirling, Falkirk or maybe Dunfermline. However it was none of these, although Dunfermline was close. In fact it was Crossford. When we lived near Clydeside, there was a village called Crossford with the emphasis on the first syllable. The Fife Crossford has the emphasis on the second syllable. Who decides these things? I don’t know. We were going to a wee plant nursery with a decent selection of good quality plants and reputedly a tea shop too. As it turned out the plants were in a sorry state and so was the fare in the tea shop. I don’t think we’ll be back.

Scamp ordered a chicken burger and I had the hand made quiche. I’m pretty sure my quiche was indeed hand made because it was thick, hot and full of flavour. Scamp’s ‘chicken’ burger was anything but those descriptions. No, that’s not true, it was hot. Thick? I think not, at about 10mm thick at its most portly. Flavour, yes, there was flavour there, but we weren’t sure what it was. In fact, it looked like a flat sausage with those big white pills of gristle that make the Lorne sausage so tasty. But this was supposed to be chicken. It looked as if it had never seen a chicken or any other type of foul. Foul may be too strong a word, but “it wisn’ae nice’. I felt so sorry for her, but there was bacon in my quiche and that wouldn’t have suited the vegetarian in her either.
After our lunch we wandered round the plants and they were not in the best of condition. Yes, I realise this is the end of the growing season, but these plants were very poorly looking. If the RSPCA is against animal cruelty, this plant nursery should be reported to the RSPCP. Fairley’s Garden Centre, do yourself a favour, give it a miss.

On the way home we sat for an hour in blazing sunshine admiring the view from Torryburn across the Forth to Grangemouth. Not the most interesting of views, but the cloudscape and the wide view from the carpark made up for that. Today’s PoD came from there.

Today’s Inktober sketch is based on a still from a TV program about Scotland’s lochs. I think it’s Plockton, but wherever it is, it’s a beautiful place.

Tomorrow we are dancing, ballroom dancing in the afternoon! Not sure I’m looking forward to it, but it’s something we have to do. Dancing among other people! Ooh Scary!

The first day of Inktober 2018 – 1 October 2018

Just to add to the workload, there are now sketches to be done.

Not satisfied with having to produce a PoD and fit in Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Jive classes, not to mention at least two hours of Salsa a week, I’ve committed myself to completing an ink sketch per day for the month of October, hence the name InkTober. This is the third year I’ve attempted this and although last year’s sketches weren’t the best and at times were a drag to do, for the most part I enjoyed the exercise. If PoD gets me out of my seat and away from the computer for an hour or so, Inktober gets me thinking in a different way and attempting something creative. Started this morning with this effort and and had it posted before midday. Quite liked it too.

After the sudoku was done and the sketch completed and posted, I suggested to Scamp that we go out for lunch. I’d decided in my head that Chatelherault would be a good place to visit. Lots of different walks and a decent tea shop at the end. Scamp agreed.

It only takes half an hour to get there and parking is rarely a problem. We weren’t intending to go for a long walk, just a short stroll with the opportunity of some photos too. As it turned out we walked a bit further than we’d intended and as Scamp was wearing her dress boots, it wasn’t the best surface to walk on, so she ended up with a pain in her ankle again.  Must go better prepared next time.

We really need to get a dog. Every other person we met had at least one and one poor bloke had five. All were tied up to a gate and were being towelled down. At least, I think that’s why they were tied up. Maybe he was selling them, or hoping to give them away. One woman we passed, twice offered us one of her dogs, but there were definitely no takers here. No, if we get a dog it will be a toy dog. By that, I don’t mean a Dachshund or a Chihuahua, I mean a real toy dog. One made out of fabric and stuffed with kapok and probably on wheels. That way we could drag it along behind us like lots of people do with dogs that are not toys. Dogs that are not on wheels. I think it’s a great idea. You don’t have to pick up their shit either which must be a great bonus.

Today’s PoD came from the walk. The little red fungus caught my eye. It looked clean and bright and totally unreal. It’s a shame it’s extremely poisonous. That’s what the red colour is all about. Red for Dead!

Saw lots of trees blown down. That’s what comes of doing a clear cut across the side of the valley. Removing all those beautiful big redwoods just took away the shelter they provided for smaller trees and allowed this year’s gales to blow down the valley and rip out loads of deciduous trees in full leaf. Some people are thoughtless.

Salsa tonight was empty. I think we only had about five or six couples in the advanced class. Moves tonight were Seo and Michaela. Both we had done before, but there’s no harm in that. Jamie G had to cancel his 6.30 class because only 2 people turned up. Scamp reckons it might have been because Andrew was dancing as a girl the last time they were there. The class are beginners and maybe didn’t know that he was just trying to learn to follow (at least that’s his story). Maybe some of the guys got the wrong impression! It’s possible.

Tomorrow? We may go swimming of gymming if gymming is a word. My spell checker thinks it is!

Dancing, Pensioners and Painting – 26 September 2018

Today being a Wednesday was a dancing day. Drove in to Glasgow through the rain and high winds. Dancing started with Jive and especially the Lindy Hops, the Ladles, the Stepover and the Timesteps. Only the Timesteps set was new. New and demanding for me at least. Scamp, of course breezed through it with little or no problem. Waltz was looking good again with only a few corrections from Michael. In Quickstep we were trying to iron out the problems in the Check and Lock steps. Again, I should rephrase that to I was trying to iron out the problems with those steps. In Tango we were starting to learn a backwards turn. Honestly, ma’ heid wiz buzzin’ by the time we walked out of Blackfriars into a dry Glasgow and we went for a coffee to debrief and discuss progress.

Had a quick look in CassArt for a sketchbook to devote to Inktober 2018 which starts on Monday. One ink sketch per day, throughout the month of October, posted somewhere on-line. Mine usually go on my own Inktober group on Flickr and also on my blog. The group has been created and at present we have one member plus me, but I’m sure we’ll grow.

Scamp volunteered to do dinner tonight so I used the available time to paint another watercolour. This one, like the last two was based on a photograph. The photograph in question was a frame from a TV series about the lochs of Scotland. I think the view I chose was Plockton, but don’t quote me on that. I started painting purely with watercolour i.e. without a pencil outline. However, it became too difficult and there were a lot of perspective lines that needed to be there as a guide to the application of paint, so I set the brushes aside and lifted a pencil. Even after the pencil work had been done and the washes laid in place, it still looked a bit twee. That was when I added some ink lines and suddenly the painting looked a lot better. The pen gave the detail that was needed and the paint gave the colour. A great improvement.

After dinner (Kedgeree) we drove in to Glasgow to dance one class and it was really enjoyable. Nothing too taxing, just a relaxing dance or five! Even with two dancing classes, walking halfway through Glasgow and back, my step counter still says 9,525 steps. Somebody’s short changing me somewhere.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk back from Blackfriars and its title is The Pensioners Day Out. I felt sorry for the poor wee bloke on the right who wasn’t allowed to join the group. Maybe he’d farted!

No plans for tomorrow. None at all!

Jukin’ with a Boy Racer Micra – 20 September 2018

This morning the Juke went for its first service and I swapped it for a shiny black and orange Micra, just for the day.

First thought on the Micra was that it was a lot bigger and lower than Scamp’s little red car. Then I slid into the driving seat and felt that my bum might just scrape along the tarmac and I wondered if I’d be able to get back out of it again without the use of a hoist. The clutch pedal seemed to have a rather long travel, either that or my legs had shrunk. Engine sounded healthy and there seemed to be a lot of horses under the bonnet. It was, like all things good in parts. One of the good bits, apart from the horses under the bonnet was the display on the dash. Very clear and with loads of information. Analog speedo and rev counter with incongruously a digital speedo between the two dials. What? So I can compare and contrast the differences in displayed speed as I run into the bus in front of me? Outside temperature, time, fuel economy. Maybe a bit of information overload. It drove well and like Scamp said “It was a car.” It was good to have the experience of the loan. It made me happy that I’d chosen the Juke over the Micra. I couldn’t see Scamp driving it with any less reluctance than she has for the Juke. Visibility in the car is certainly not as good as ‘Big Red’ The door pillar creates a large blind spot just where the mirror already has a blind spot and that’s not a great selling point. When we went for a spin this afternoon, we were agreed we didn’t like it all that much. A bit too plasticky. The Juke may be big and heavy, but it gives the feeling of solidity. I was glad when the garage phoned to tell us the car was ready.

After our trip to Stirling to pick up the very shiny Juke we drove home. Scamp wasn’t feeling too good, so she plunked herself down with a cup of ‘white tea’ and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s which is where I got today’s PoD. It’s an amalgam of two photos. One of the face of the fly and one of the hairy wee legs. Both shots blended in Photoshop. With an ISO of 3600 it was going to be a ‘noisy’ photo without too much in the way of smooth tones, but it was that kind of day. A day that started out with bright sunshine but by 4pm it was feeling more like twilight.

Between picking up the Micra and going for a spin I’d been to the physio who was pleased with the results on my knee and after a bit of laser treatment and some pin cushion tricks I was sent on my way with the possibility of being signed off in two weeks.

I did dinner tonight and with Scamp’s help it was pan fried chicken breast with baked potato. I was careful to stick to her tried and tested method and of course it worked. Why wouldn’t it.

The above is a wee watercolour I did from a photo I saw on Flickr.  After it was done I wasn’t happy with it, so I added some pen outlines once the paint had dried and I think it improves it greatly.
Details are W&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm Rough paper.

Don’t know what we’re up to tomorrow. I don’t expect we’ll be going far unless Scamp’s cold improves. Let’s hope it does.

Ladybirds, Spiders and Mini Trees – 31 August 2018

All in a days walk for me.

Scamp was out with the witches today for lunch, a late lunch where drink would be taken. Gentlemen were not invited, they were the taxi drivers. We know our place.

I painted for a while in the peace and quiet of the house and sort of improved yesterday’s Inktense disaster. It’s still a work in progress, but the acrylic paint does give a depth that the Inktense couldn’t quite achieve. I added another layer to it tonight after the initial layers had dried and liked the contrast that was created. You may never see it, it’s really a development sketch if I was going to be po faced about it. I’m sure there will be other iterations before it is ready for canvas and oils.

There are really disruptive roadworks with four phase traffic lights down at St Mo’s school this week and they are causing a lot of bother. Because of that I delivered Scamp to the restaurant before starting on the painting. While the painting was drying, I took the Duke out through the roadworks again to fill it with petrol and also to get some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside and found a little dragonfly sitting on the grass. Unfortunately the shots weren’t too sharp, so they will never see the light of day, I fear. Then I saw a long legged spider and a white spotted, orange ladybird having a .Mexican standoff’. It was a bit of a toss up, but the ladybird won the day. Just across the road I saw the fencepost with the miniature trees growing out of it. No doubt they had grown from seeds dropped by birds or seeds excreted by birds.

I was just walking down the road when I checked my phone and found that my three hours of peace and quiet were at an end and Scamp was requesting her taxi.

That was a good day, with good weather, painting, photography and a little bit of nature too.