Sunday, May 31, 2020

My New Wheels - Sort of a Review

I have been saving up since last Autumn for a new e-bike.  My old one, an iZip, had served me well but I completely fell in love with this one.  It's a RadRunner made by Rad Power Bikes out of the Seattle WA area.  It is described as a utility e-bike, which is perfect for me.

Between the saving, selling my iZip and another bike, I was finally able to buy the bike about 2 weeks ago. Rad Power is a direct to consumer bike manufacturer so I was not able to buy it locally (and not able to test drive it).  However, I immersed myself in the countless YouTube videos of reviews of the bike.  That convinced me it was the bike for me.

It is definitely not a traditional bike.  The wheels are 20" for starters.  The tires are 3.5 inches across, almost as wide as a motorcycle tire.  That certainly makes for a smoother ride.

The main reason, other than a daily commute, that I wanted this particular bike is simple.  I am once again endeavoring to sketch and draw more outside.  Urban sketching. Although due to the Covid-19 pandemic I'm not really able to hang out in coffee houses, it is Spring and there are a LOT of outdoor destinations to sketch.  I will definitely be able to carry any sketching equipment to wherever I need to go.

If you have ever thought of buying an e-bike, check out Rad Power Bikes.  They are a wonderful company with great customer service.  There is some very basic assembly required such as installing the front wheel, but the company has very detailed instructional videos on their website.

I woke to a beautiful morning and decided to make a time-lapse video of my morning ride!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Hermit Time, Music for a Grey Afternoon

The sun was out this morning and it was beautiful.  Now the skies turn grey with the promise of rain, it's just beautiful in a different way.

This is a very appropriate album at this point in time.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Eating at Home

We didn't have to wait until a pandemic to make the decision to stop eating out.  That is what it took, though.  We were spending almost $200 a weekend sometimes on meals, and that wasn't anything fancy.  It was definitely a rut that we had made for ourselves.

And I love to cook. And, thankfully, Valerie loves my cooking.  I have become more adventurous in my cooking in the last few weeks.  Last night, I make brownies from scratch for the first time.  The other day was tortellini with brown butter sauce.

Our culinary habits and routines were heading this way all along, really.  We would go out for dinner and I would find myself saying that I could make what we were having at home.  It goes without saying, for a fraction of the price.  Unfortunately it took a pandemic to force us into this decision, even though it was something we should have done regardless.

Just as it's my contention that anyone can learn to draw, anyone can learn to cook.  It just takes following directions.  There is a wealth of information online on cooking the most basic things.  Search on Google for "how to boil an egg" or "how to cook rice" (two basic skills) and there will be hundreds of websites offered to you.  Want to bake bread?  There is a wealth of information on that, too. It's really a lot easier than you would think.

Here are the things I have learned (or realized) in the last few weeks:

  • If it comes in a jar (like pasta sauce) or a box (brownies, meal kits), there is a recipe for it and it can be made for a fraction of the cost.
  • Making some of the items you buy at the store (again, pasta sauce) are painfully easy to make on your own.  We as a society have been conditioned by marketing to think we have to have this sauce or this product in order to have a good meal.
  • And...if it comes prepackaged it most likely has more salt or more sugar than anyone really needs.
I realize there are going to be days when you just don't feel like cooking.  I get that.  I would urge you, however, to support local restaurants that offer curbside pick-up or delivery.  Chains like Potbelly or Ruth's Chris Steakhouse don't need your help.  The local noodle shop or deli?  They need all the help they can get.  And, oh, if you do choose to get delivery, please tip your driver more than you normally do.  They need your help also and are risking their health just to bring people food.

And if you don't have ready access to the Internet for recipes and cooking "how-to?"  Call your parents, or grandparents, aunt or uncle.  I'm sure they have the answer and would be glad to hear from you...

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Feeling Adrift in A Very Weird Time

Adrift.  Linocut Print. ©2019 M. Bodhisattva Hill

I guess you could say I have been absent from My Life in Art.  Since the beginning of February, I have been adrift with little direction. The COVID-19 and the resulting shelter in place orders in March have certainly caused me (and others I am sure) to re-evaluate life and priorities.  I have not, as I had hoped, been more productive in art or writing.  I have a job that has been deemed essential, so I go to work every day.  When I come home, I make dinner for us. Then, all I want to do is sleep or watch movies. I have been told that this is a response to trauma and I accept that.

That it's been a weird year is an understatement.

I have been cooking and being more adventurous in the kitchen.  I am making first attempts at making fermented pickles and baking sourdough bread. I am learning how to make the things we usually buy at the grocery store. This weekend I plan on making cheese, either ricotta or mozzarella. It's not homesteading, but it's as close as I can get. 

But I haven't been able to work in the studio. Maybe I am being hard on myself.  I should be happy that I am, in fact, being creative in the kitchen.  Still, I feel the need to get into the studio.  I need to draw.  Or paint.  Or...what have you.

Maybe today is the day.

Here's a thought.  Maybe it's okay to be adrift, even just for the time being. Maybe the direction you or I are going is the direction that we are meant to take.  Our society has been programmed to be so goal-oriented for so long. We work our jobs to mostly pay our bills, we incur bills because Capitalism has told us that we need to be consumers for the economy. Our president has stated that, in so many words, our economy is more important than the more vulnerable of society: the elderly, the infirm, the less fortunate matter less than Wall Street. I'm not making this up.

Maybe the silver lining of this whole thing is the possibility of a paradigm shift.  Our government, for the most part, has failed us. Capitalism has failed us. No maybe or what if:  it is time for a change.

Despite everything, despite all the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, right now, at this very moment, it's still a beautiful day. I am grateful for the things I have and the people I know.  I am grateful for Valerie, my love and partner in adventures. I am grateful that I have an income.  I am grateful for the coffee I am drinking.  I am grateful for hermit time.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A New Found Passion

I am learning how to paint, and so far I think I'm doing pretty well.   I am watching YouTube videos, taking classes on Skillshare, checking out numerous books from the library.  I'm not just getting instruction books, which are only a small part of learning, but studying different painters work.  Robert Cenedello, Francis Bacon, Julian Schnabel, Magritte (of course!).

The video is the beginning steps in my third painting.  I already have plans for my 4th, 5th, and possibly 6th painting.  I'm not going to rush things, but I now have a solo show in March and I want to include at least a few paintings.

I tried in the past to paint.  There's a definite process that, well, that just didn't click. I think now I finally get it.  Over the last year I have worked on my drawing skills, my watercolor technique (and I still love watercolor!) and now acrylic painting.  When I want to learn something, I just dive in.  I want to absorb all I can about the medium.

As I have said before, I am taking a short hiatus from art fairs.  When I return I hope to have improved my skills enough to get into shows with my paintings. You never know...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

New Adventures in My Life in Art

All the things I have accomplished in My Life in Art, I have basically taught myself.  Other than basic courses in high school and one or two survey courses in college, I have never had a formal art education.  I decide I want to learn something and I immerse myself in the subject.  I've said before I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil but until, I don't know, ten to fifteen years ago, I never took myself seriously as an artist.  

When I want to learn how to do something, I usually manage to become fairly proficient in it.  Bookbinding, drawing, watercolor, I think I manage pretty well.  However, I have tried painting with acrylics before and, to be honest, I just didn't get it.  The instruction books weren't getting through to me.  I never stopped thinking about it.

But I'm stubborn.  I decided around September of this year that I wanted try again to learn to paint.  I got books from the library, took online courses, watched YouTube videos.  I painted in my head. Eventually, a had a moment of clarity.  I said to no one in particular "I think I get it now."

So, for Christmas, I asked for and received a gift of painting supplies from my in-laws.


It still took me a few days to work up the courage to try painting.  My inner critic was constantly feeding me bullshit lies, as inner critics usually do.  Tonight, however, I ignored my IC, sat down and gave it my best shot.  The two miniature paintings at the top are the result.  I have to say I am pretty proud of them.

The message I bring is that if you want to learn to do something, just dive in.  Use your local library.  The internet is, as usual, a wealth of information.  Sign up for a Skillshare class.  And just remember, your inner critic is a HUGE jerk and is not concerned with your happiness or well-being.  The more you ignore your inner critics, the quieter they become.

So, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Travel Sketch Tools, Pt. 2

After finishing the drawing from yesterday, I thought of other handy things to carry when going on a sketch outing.  Obviously the camp stool, the drawing board, and the coffee wouldn't be necessary if you were going to sketch in a cafe.  The earbuds are essential equipment to me when cafe sketching because sometimes the music and ambient chatter is distracting. A pencil case is always a handy thing to have, even if it isn't purple...

Thanks for everyone on all the social networks for the feedback.