It’s been mostly a quiet summer biking season for me this year. That’s a good thing. It means nothing has gone wrong. Sure I had to replace my rear wheel gear cassette but that went fairly smoothly. The gears and chain don’t seem to quite mesh as flawlessly as they could but my bike is hardly without flaws. It has plenty of them but as long as one doesn’t stand out too much it’s all okay. That’s my philosophy. I haven’t had any flats since I replaced my back tire tread either. Well, maybe there was one but it was a while ago and an aberration. The new tread is holding up well.
It’s been a mild summer around these parts too. I can tell by my water bottles. I carry two water battles on my bike: a big one and a small one. I usually drink from the small one except for really hot days when I drink so much water that I need the second bottle too. Why don’t I just carry, and drink from, the big bottle you ask? Because I find the smaller one easier to handle. Simple as that. Being distracted by trying to handle a large water bottle while biking is a bad thing. This summer it’s been almost all the small bottle. I’d guess that I’ve only had to drink out of the larger bottle on about three days this whole summer. That’s pretty crazy. I’d guess in other summer’s I’ve had to drink out of the larger bottle at least ten days in August alone. Like I said: mild.
Now comes the time of year where I have to make a decision about my bike route too. I have three bike routes: Summer route, Fall route, and snow on the ground Winter route. The summer route has my biggest hill in it. The route is probably an extra two miles and has a pretty big climb in it. At least big by my standards. When it starts to get cold out the climb starts to get too hard. Or at least too hard for me to want to bother with. I can still make it but it’s no fun. It takes a lot of energy in the cold.
In general biking is different in the cold. My legs don’t work the same way they do in the warmth. They’re slower and don’t respond as quickly. Plus when I reach for that little bit of extra kick to make it up the big hill that kick is just not there. It’s there in the warmth but not in the cold. So this time of year my question to myself is always, “When should I stop going up the big hill for the year?”. It’s a bit of a tough question because I always feel a little sting of defeat when I change to my shorter route. I get over it for sure but it’s there at first.
Since I cycle in the morning it can be fairly could out there in late summer. It was 60ºF the other morning and so I had to put on a long sleeve shirt for my ride. We’ve had a bit of a heat wave this week and it’s back up to the 70s in the morning but it’ll drop into the 50s before I know it. And 50s and cloudy can be pretty cold for taking that big hill. Especially if the autumn winds are blowing.
Last year I remember it got cold a little early. I ended up changing over to my Fall route in the first week of September. I was tired of thinking about when to change routes so I just did. Then it warmed up a little and I was disappointed I had already cut the hill out. Once I change the route it’s changed. There is no going back. Or maybe I did go back for a day or two. I really can’t remember but I don’t think I did.
This year I’m aiming to keep going until the 15th of September. I’ll reevaluate then. It doesn’t seem like I’ll have much problem until then since it’s warm out as I write this.
With this being the fourth winter in a row that I’m going to cycle through at least I’m not asking myself when to put my bike away for the year anymore. That used to always be the question to myself in the fall. When was it too cold to ride? That always brought a greater feeling of defeat because it meant that I was inside on the stationary bike until Spring. It used to be miserable cycling in the cold of the late Fall though. Before I figured out how to dress properly for winter riding “Too cold to ride” was a real thing that could sneak up on my on any October or November day. So this “Too cold for the big hill” is much better.
One thing that has been annoying with my bike ride lately has been the “Loose stone paving method”. The town next to mine uses this paving method sometimes on the roads that I bike over. They basically put sticky oil down on the road and then cover the oil with small gravel. The cars driving over the gravel push it down a little bit into the oil but mostly the gravel gets built up in ruts before it eventually gets pushed over to the sides of the road. Meanwhile I have to cycle through gravel. That is not fun. I ended up changing my route which wouldn’t be so bad if my favorite part of the route wasn’t the part that I had to cut out. I couldn’t ride my best down hill right into an up hill combo. It’s been three weeks so far and not all of the gravel is out of the way. I tested it out today and it’s generally okay but there are still a few areas with deep gravel on them. Still that’s better than the terror ride I had over the gravel the first day when I didn’t know how bad it was.
Well, that’s the bike riding report. Keep pedaling and stay out of the deep gravel.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got eight new comics.
Check them all out here:
It’s been a quiet week for me art-wise. I did manage to get four “On the Rough” drawings done though. Numbers eighty five through eighty eight. These are the spontaneous brush and ink drawing that I make on really rough watercolor paper that doesn’t seem to be good for anything else. At least I can’t manage to draw anything else on it. But it takes a brush and ink real well if you’re looking for some rough around the edges line work.
Number Eighty Five – This one looks a little Mary-mother-of-Jesus-ish to me. I guess it could be a man too but the face looks feminine to me. It’s the head piece that make it look biblical but I think Mary usually was painted with a blue head piece and not orange. I could be wrong about that since it’s just a memory. I like the orange head piece. It makes a bold color statement. It dominates most of the picture but is knocked back a little bit in spots with a blue wash to give it some depth. The yellow sky just kinda limply sits there but the violet ground (or is it water?) holds its own and demands a bit of attention. I find the green tree sneaks up on me. At first I don’t notice it but then in draws my eye in. I think the fact that the woman is looking away from us makes this painting a little pensive. She seems to be thinking. I’m not sure if I like her yellow bangs or pink shirt. These are spontaneous paintings so everything is not going to work out every time so I’m okay with the things I don’t like. The orange is nice though.
Number Eighty Six – Here we have a woman looking into the distance as she raises her hand. That hand is problematic. It’s barely a hand. Like I said, this paper is rough and the brush I use on it is in rough shape so it’s often tough to make something as delicate as a inch tall hand. But that’s how it ended up so I made the best of it. It was even more awkward before I turned it into a silhouette. I like the woman’s face. It has a happy quality to it. And who doesn’t like crazy orange hair? I like the rough lines of the hair because they echo the hand a bit and make the hand seem a little more normal. The purple sky makes a nice backdrop for the orange hair as it fades into the darkness that is the ground. The rectangular collar on the dress makes her neck even longer than it is. Long necks almost always work in art. The light green color of her dress almost acts as a neutral. It’s where your eye can rest. The orange, pink, and purple are very active but the green with a wash of red on one side is a calm presence. Overall I’m happy with the way this one came out.
Number Eighty Seven – Here we go with a person who is looking right at us. This is more usual for me. And he is an unusual looking man. First off his skin tone has so many colors in it that it’s threatening to turn into mud. “Muddy” is usually how painters describe the brownish colors that result from too many pigments mixing together. I think I avoided that but just barely. In his face we have blue, violet, yellow, and orange. Not to mention his green eyes. That’s an unusual color combination and I’m not saying that it works but I do think I stopped short of making it not work. There is some damning with faint praise. I like the orange of his shirt best in this one. It glows. The yellow and orange of his hair is tamed by all the black brush strokes but the same colors in his shirt are free to be themselves. The whole background on this one is just there. It doesn’t do much for me. The black lines and shapes don’t say much and neither does the color. It’s not terrible just perfunctory. I’d say this painting is the weakest of the four.
Number Eighty Eight – The final one for today is the most out there image. We get a diagonal composition and what may be a woman flying through the air. Or she could be on the ground. Those pink and purple clouds behind her might be land. I’m not sure. Her hair is also blowing in the wind as if the wind was in her face. That would seem to put her on the ground. I like not knowing. This woman also has a very long neck. So long, in fact, that it seems detached from her body. Her head is off center of her shoulders but that’s okay with me. It may not work anatomically but it works compositionally. I really like the blue/green of the sky next to the yellow of her face. Some of that blue/green is brought into her face as a wash both giving her face a little bit of dimension and harmonizing it with the background. That doesn’t always work but here it does. The brush strokes in her hair are about my favorite brush stokes in all of these four paintings. I think it was the only time I managed to get a smooth and pretty line. The hair looks flowing. It’s tough to do flowing on this paper. The oranges and reds of her top also harmonize well with the light purples and pinks of the fluffy clouds. I don’t think I use that color combination very often. The piece of blue in her collar is a good change of pace bit of cool color amongst all those warm oranges and reds. Overall this might be my favorite of the four.
So there you go. I didn’t get a whole lot of my own artwork done this week but there is a look at a few of the things I did manage to do. I hope you like them.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics and a trade paperback collection.
Check them all out here:
This week in my bit of art writing I’m going to take a look at a little something that I forgot existed until I pulled it out of a drawer of drawings when I was looking for something else. It’s an odd drawing in that I haven’t done many in this size and shape. Three of them as a matter of fact because I found two more along with this one. Only one of the three had a date written on it but I’m pretty sure all three are from about the same time. That would be December of 2005.
The paper the drawing is drawn on is three inches wide by seventeen inches tall. That’s not your average piece of paper out there in the larger world but it is to me. I like to draw on eleven by seventeen inch bristol board but the pads of bristol that I buy are fourteen by seventeen inches. So I cut three inches off the side of my paper. Before I learned it was fun to make art cards, little baseball card sized drawings, and cut those strips of bristol down into a bunch of two and a half by three and a half inch pieces I used to have a bunch of long strips of paper hanging around the place. I never did much with them besides use them for scrap paper. A three by seventeen inch pieces of paper doesn’t have many uses.
Yet it seems for a couple of days back in December of 2005 I decided to draw on a few of those long and narrow sheets of paper. It looks like I was drawing with a Rapidograph technical pen. I can tell by the blackness of the ink (it’s India ink) and by the lack of line weight. Technical pens are pens that you fill with ink and they make a rigid single weight dark line. They come in different sizes and this looks like one of the larger sizes. I don’t even have this pen anymore. It was probably fifteen years old back in 2005 and it finally wore out on me some time after then. I replaced it but it’s replacement wore out in a couple of years. They don’t make them like they used to. That’t why I haven’t bothered trying to get a new one. Expensive and crappy is not a good combination.
These are spontaneous ink drawings. That means there was no planning involved. No sketching in pencil first. Just putting pen to paper, moving it around, and seeing what comes out. I’ll start at the top because I’m pretty sure that’s where I started drawing. It almost looks like I drew in in squares. At least at first. That must have been my way to get into such an unusual shaped piece of paper. The first square consists of a slim woman in a see through skirt, a cyclops, an odd swirl haired and one eyed profile, a smiling and helmeted man, what appears to be a dwarf, plus a bunch of shapes. That’s a weird collection of things. No one of them in particular stands out to me but together they make a fine interlocking square of drawings. An okay start.
In the second square of drawings we get a strange-faced portrait, a wide woman with her limbs coming off, a small three quarters view of a face, and some more shapes. Thought I kind of like the strange-faced portrait it’s the tiny three quarters view face that catches my eye most. I like the round eye with the line that comes of it to form the line of the hair. The line that encircles the top of the eye to make the brow and bridge of the nose is good too. I’d have no idea how to turn it into t larger drawing though. That happens a lot. Something that works at one scale won’t work at another. The nice balance of black and white line and shape that I find appealing at this scale will probably be hard to duplicate at a larger size.
With the third square we start to see the drawings blend a little more with the ones above and below. We get a man with a weird thing over his eye, two small busts, and what looks like a figure drawing of a mouse woman. The tops and bottoms of this set of drawings aren’t as square as the previous ones soon the squares will disappear all together. Meanwhile I like that mouse woman. Whiskers and mouse ears. What’s not to like? The man’s shoulders with eyes on them are reminiscent of a jacket I painted for myself.
The fourth square starts to really stretch out into a rectangle. We get a small bust, a large profile shot, and a small figure with a hat. The profile overlaps with the woman in the geometric fruit hat thus ending the theme of squares. I was getting more comfortable with the length of the paper and stopped breaking it down into smaller pieces in my mind.
Next to the fruit hat it looks like we have three people in a boat. I like them. Once again a nice small drawing that it would be hard to make into something larger. I like how there are waves under the boat with arches under that. It reminds me a little of Roman aqueducts. I find that neat. I’m not sure what that is under the aqueduct but it leads into what looks a little like a dog’s head.
Then we’re done with squares and rectangles. The bottom third of the drawing interlocks and we lose the geometry of smaller rectangles in the larger paper rectangle. Among the interlocking shapes are various forms and figures but the woman in the bottom left seems to dominate them all. We see her full figure and she’s bending an ankle, knee, hip, and elbow to turn and look at us. She’s in the middle of a gesture. She’s got a fancy hat too. I also like the face in profile that’s right next to her feet. It looks like a fancy dowager giving us a look of disapproval as her friend in front of her doesn’t even notice our presence. There might even be an exclamation point over the dowager’s head. Neat.
So there is a look at a bunch of little drawings that never went on to become anything else. They never gained a larger purpose or added up to anything but what they were. Some cool little drawings on an odd size piece of paper.