Inkin’

working_photoRemember the skyline in an earlier post? Well, I forgot that I’d taken a snap of myself doing the inks for it last month, knowing that I’d ultimately be sharing it with those of you curious about the process. So there you can see me about half way, inking with a cartridge ink pen on the 11 in. x 17 in. Bristol artboard where it sits as a sort […] Click to continue reading this post

Paints

building_construction_paintedOh, I finished the painting of the page that, perhaps annoyingly, I’m showing you only a corner of. Now you’ve seen three stages of development in the production process, from pencils to inks to painting. See the other two pages (here and here) for comparison.

I digitally paint for this work, using a variety of techniques. This is a big silent single-panel splash page early on in the story, and I’m using it to root the reader in reality, the location, and the principal character, and so I’ve broken out the special effects a touch. Yes, I am a traditionalist, as I’ve explained before, with most of the final look of my work not being so different from what could be done in the pre-digital era, but I am not pig-headedly so, and from time to time I use (lightly, […] Click to continue reading this post

Black Lines

building_construction_inkedOk, I have inked the pencils I constructed earlier, showing parts of two real buildings that form the background to the opening pages of one of my stories.

In the end I did the curves freehand instead of fiddling with French curves*. Now for these objects, the inking (done freehand with ink drawing pens – I sometimes use brushes or brush pens too) is actually pretty much just networks of black lines since they are background details and, moreover, very simple skyscrapers. There are some others in this page that are more […] Click to continue reading this post

Constructing

building_constructionBut before we left on the trip (see previous post) I did get a little bit of work done on The Project for the first time in about three weeks, by making an early start in the morning. There’s this big single-panel splash page with lots of tall buildings on it that I’ve been meaning to finish for a while.

Tall buildings mean… windows. Lots of them. For this piece, this means lots of drawing of construction lines to place the windows. So I’ve been messing around with a T-square, rulers, vanishing points, diagonal vanishing points, a bit of free hand winging it (will enhance with French curves […] Click to continue reading this post

Go! Now! Get a Galileoscope!

I just learned from Phil’s blog that the Galileoscopes I mentioned to you some months back (remember? International Year of Astronomy? Not just Darwin year?) are ready for shipping. There were issues with production at first, but now they are ready. The key issue right now seems to be that they are in danger of having to stop production of these lovely things if they don’t get lots of orders by May 31st. Ack!

So please please consider sending in a order for one or a few. Imagine what a delightfully unusual gift it would make for someone. Either someone you know, or someone you don’t know like a neighbour, your local school, church (yes!) or community center, or… even that special someone who you’d like to get to know – what an icebreaker, eh? Here’s a picture from the site of what a happy owner’ll have after assembling it:

galileoscope_kit_box

It is easy to put together, gives a new window onto the world above your head, and […] Click to continue reading this post

Red, Yellow, Blue, Green…

red yellow green blue…among other colours.

View of the day from the garden. (Winter. Number x in a limited series of y.) (Click for larger view.) The rains have gone for a while. The sun is back, with clear blue skies to close out the year.

I’m trying to rest. Well, I’m working on various projects at home, mostly. Colours are on my mind a bit in one of these projects, actually. Later today I’m going to be down in the (only slightly mad-scientist) workshop making a portable screen on which to project films.

Projecting onto the wall is good, but I want to make a silver-grey screen with a dark border that will really pop the colours out. Some of this is about not projecting onto […] Click to continue reading this post

Summer Reading: Fresh Air From Pollan

I’ve been meaning to tell you more about Michael Pollan. I’ve been planning a post or two about Summer reading, and was going to discuss the books of Michael Pollan to kick off a possible series. That plan was hatched in the late Summer of 2007… then the Fall came, and then the Winter and Spring… then Summer of 2008… never got around to it. Drat. (Checking back, I see that I started the series by talking about Haruki Murakami, here. So I’ll call this part of the series too, even though it is not really Summer.)

Anyway, the good news is that Pollan was on Fresh Air (NPR) yesterday, and as usual he was excellent:

In an open letter to the next president, author Michael Pollan writes about the waning health of America’s food systems — and warns that “the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close.”

The future president’s food policies, says Pollan, will have a large impact on a wide range of issues, including national security, climate change, energy independence and health care.

Here’s the link to the audio. Before you rush off to that, let me continue what I was going to say, at least in brief.

Pollan has risen to prominence, justifiably, mostly as a result of his excellent book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History Of Four Meals”. It is a delightful examination of the food industry, charting the route of much of the food that you eat […] Click to continue reading this post

Monsters, Etc

Well, it was quite a fascinating and fun Sunday afternoon, all in the spirit of art and community. And the story has a twist or two before the end.

Where do I start? Well, it was the second LA area Monster Drawing Rally (organized on LA by the Outpost for Contemporary Art), held over in Altadena. A friend of mine, artist and playwright Nancy Keystone, told me about it. Over four hours, many artists (Nancy included) would draw, in hour-long shifts, and then the results would be sold at $75 each. There’d be people looking on, general fun, food, beer, wine, and so forth. Of course I’d go! (As a bonus, there was even belly-dancing at one point. Go figure.)

It was rather excellent. There were artists of all sorts, doing a wide variety of things under the banner “drawing”, and lots of people to chat with and things to chat about. Nancy drew faces in brushed ink on pages of the phone book, which I thought was a lovely idea (unfortunately, I missed getting a shot of her in action), and there were people cutting up bits of paper and gluing, blowing things, measuring and calculating things. More on that latter later. (Click for larger views.)

scenes from the monster drawing rally 2008 scenes from the monster drawing rally 2008

It was another great community event, and I recognized faces of friends and strangers from other things I go to around the city, such as the farmer’s market, Categorically Not! events like this recent one, and the wonderful Urban Homestead Speakeasy organized by Christine Louise Berry that I reported on not long ago. My friends Marc Kamionkowski (Caltech) and Robert Caldwell (Dartmouth) (cosmologists/astrophysicists) showed up at some point, and it was great to see them and catch up a bit.

Every hour the artists changed over, finishing their work and another set of artists seat themselves and get to work. So it was quite a dynamic event. As the 5:00pm session […] Click to continue reading this post

Saturday Calm

october rosesWell, another super-busy week has gone by. Work has been crazy, life has been crazy, and so forth. It is so good to be able to sit here for a while on a sunny Saturday morning and reflect. I thought I’d take you with me on some of the reflections.

The Nobel prizes seemed to come up so much faster this year, and go by even more quickly. I’ve not had as much time to contemplate them as I’d have liked. It was certainly really good to see that the physics one was a celebration of some of the key ideas in my field (see here), of course, but I’d have liked to have had more chatter about all of them, as I usually try to do. It is good to learn more about other things – get out of one’s comfort zone. Two years ago while I was departmental colloquium organizer, I set aside one date to be a colloquium where the three science prizes were highlighted – “Who, What, Why?” There’s always going to be local faculty who can […] Click to continue reading this post

A Farewell To Arms

cut off arms from shirts

When I look at this, it sort of scares me a touch. Just a touch. There’s a memory of the arms – flesh and blood ones – inside them, and there goes a shiver down my spine. But it’s all fine, really. There’s nothing sinister going on, and no horrible subtext lurking at all. What I was doing with my Labour Day holiday was all perfectly innocent. Nobody’s arms – not mine or anyone else’s – were or will be hurt! (I’m rather pleased with the title of the post, I have to say.)

What was I doing?
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Ferrous Thoughts

I spent an awful lot of time as a child and teenager tinkering with various projects. I’d have lots of projects on at any one time, brewing in my head for a while, and making their way to notebooks and scraps of soldering iron, meter, …paper, then to elaborate drawings showing the technical details, and ultimately to some sort of realization in the real work, some percentage of the time. In the Summer time, I would probably have one Big Project and that would occupy my thoughts for a great deal of time, and would involve a lot of hiding away doing things. Lots of these projects would involve electronics (increasingly as time went by and I Learned more and my various part time jobs could support more) and there’d be lots of tinkering with all sorts of items, and a constant feature would be the soldering iron, one not so different from the one that you see to the right.

Well, one of the many things I liked about the Iron Man movie (yes, I was right there to […] Click to continue reading this post

Bookcases

While the wonderful downpour carries on outside (the whole of Southern California is in the grips of a powerful storm), I’ll continue with the discussion of the re-invigoration of the study that I started a short while ago

study project - plane
(One of my all-time favourite wood-working tools. The good old-fashioned plane. Planing a bit of wood is jolly good therapy too.)

One of the main things I envisioned, and put into my sketches, was lots of space for books. Lots. I wanted big bookcases that fit the room, and so I planned a simple but robust design that stretched them eight feet from the floor to the ceiling. Of course, I wanted to make them myself – Building them myself would be more fun and much […] Click to continue reading this post

In Which I Fail Physics 101…

… but pass it on a retake!

While quickly building an ad hoc washing line pulley assembly from a bag of hooks, eyes, and pulleys, and a 2×4, I put this together at first (blotted out some background for privacy of myself and neighbours – click for larger view):

bad design

Huh. Does not want to hang level. Why? A tenth of a second after the thought, I burst out laughing loudly at my error. Ironic since I love teaching about pulleys in basic physics, and for some reason students are scared of pulleys. (Not as scared as they are of torque (why?), but scared nonetheless. I try to help them overcome those fears.) I made an obvious mistake. (Do you see it?)
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