Two days ago, I walked into my Grandmother’s kitchen to sample her latest batch of cookies, checking them, as I always do, for poison. I avail her of this free service twice weekly and I know from the way she watches me devour my heaping plate of baked goods that she’s relieved and grateful.
As I walked across her kitchen floor Monday afternoon, bowl of carbs in hand, something scuttling across the tiles caught my eye. Crouching down, I observed a small shell with tiny orange legs sticking out. Lo and behold, it was a hermit crab! I have no clue how he got indoors or what he was doing in the kitchen, but I was thrilled. I probably only see a hermit crab in Grenada once yearly, after a very heavy rainstorm, so this was a rare treat.
He was doing a lot of scuttling but not covering much ground, as the kitchen tiles are quite slick . I scooped him up and decided to keep him around for a few days. He was grateful I saved him from being trodden on so we became fast friends and came to an amicable arrangement. I would provide him with temporary lodgings, a new shell, and plenty of fresh food. In return, he’d do his hermit crab thing and let me sketch him. It was a win-win situation, so he readily agreed.
His new name is Neptune. His shell was much too small for his body, so I picked up two larger shells for him to consider and deposited them in his tank. I was intending to make him fabulous by gluing crystals all over them but he couldn’t wait. Under the cover of darkness, Neptune switched shells immediately, opting for the biggest shell out of the bunch. This morning I found his discarded micro shell tossed to the side like so much trash. He was booking it around his new abode, happy now that he can pull his long legs fully into his new shell when scared.
A side note: My cat just puked up a puddle of yellow bile and fur onto my clean floor. Nice. Hermit crabs are looking better and better in comparison.
Hermit crabs look like a cross between a cockroach (which I find disgusting) and a shrimp, which I am less bothered by, which makes no sense. I feel affectionate towards Neptune and am amused by his antics, but also feel guilty because there are moments when his twitching legs creep me out.
He loves: climbing up crystals (I am moving my quartz collection into his tank), bigger shells, sitting on top of fresh lettuce, digging himself a hole in the damp sand and eating rice.
I just finished a 3-day colour mixing class in Orangeville Ontario, hosted by the Maggiolly Art store and taught by artist Peter John Reid. It was fantastic and in my opinion a must for any artist. Peter is an expert in colour and his breadth of knowledge is impressive.
Before his class, I was operating on instinct alone, putting together colours that I intuitively thought went well together. Now I am armed with new knowledge about colour harmony and mixing, with a better understanding as to why stuff does or doesn’t work. I can’t wait to apply my new skills to my next painting.
Colour mixing can be frustrating. I was ok when we only had to combine two colours, but when we were working with three at once, plus white, things got tricky. At one point I wanted to impale myself on my brush, but Peter patiently helped me figure out where I was going wrong (several times.) He has a great sense of humour and I laughed along with the rest of the class the whole way through, which made learning fun.
With only 9 colours we learned how to mix any color under the sun. This is going save me money, will simplify my palette and will lighten my load significantly when painting outside.
In the past, I found mixing greens and vibrant purples tricky. I never could quite desaturate and vary my greens enough so that they looked natural, or amp up my purples to achieve a clean hue that popped. Now it’s (almost) effortless. Thanks ,Peter!
You need to buy his book if you’re going to take his colour mixing class. In my opinion, it is a must have for any artist. It is the best book on colour and acrylics that I have ever read. Not only does it go into great detail about color and mixing, but it is chock full of painting tips and techniques. If you can’t take his class, consider ordering his book: “How to paint with Acrylics.” You won’t be disappointed.
He currently has two online instructional videos you can buy. One is on painting reflections and the other teaches you how to paint trees. I’m going to go and purchase them now and I can do a separate review afterwards if anyone is interested.
As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed myself during his Colour Mixing Class and I hope to be able to take some of his other classes later on this year. If Peter is offering a class in your neck of the woods (he’s in Ontario,Canada) you should consider signing up.
I am drawn to gadgets and clever ideas. (Hence the blog.) I also love drawing and painting, so naturally I was intrigued when I stumbled across a nifty new drawing aid online, called the Miira View Frame. It seemed like a great idea, so I figured I’d order one and give it a try.
At first glance, the Miira View Frame looks like a picture frame surrounded by long metal skewers. What it is, is an innovative drawing aid that helps you better see and then sketch an object in front of you. You start by placing the “skewers” alongside the object you want to draw, enveloping it in an angular envelope of sorts, called the gesture. Then you sketch this shape onto your canvas or paper.
Next, the view frame can be used to check your proportions by holding it over your drawing. If the lines on the view frame line up with what you have on paper, you’re on the right track! If not, go back and correct them. Once you have your envelope drawn, you can subdivide your shape with other “skewers” to better define your drawing.
I intend to start doing Plein Air Painting (painting outdoors.) Due to the rapidly changing light, you have to paint quickly. I figured that the Miira View Frame might help me sketch complex shapes on my canvas quicker and act as a teaching tool; a way to double check my proportions before I start painting.
Here are two rather quick sketches I did (from the same seated position) of my running shoe: first unaided and then with the view frame. You can see that initially I didn’t accurately nail the proportions. When I used the view frame to assess my first drawing I was able to see that my shoe is actually narrower and shorter than what I had drawn. I would never have know that I wasn’t seeing it correctly, were it not for the Miira View Frame.
I tried drawing my shoe for the second time around using the view frame, carefully checking my proportion as I went along. Looking at the side by side example, it is clear that I was able to better capture what I was seeing with the view frame’s assistance.
The Miira View Frame is a fantastic teaching and learning tool, useful to both beginners and more experienced artists. It does not draw for you but is an excellent way to objectively assess your drawing as you go, helping you to quickly learn to render what you see more accurately. It’s like having an art teacher on standby 24/7 who can give you feedback.
The Miira View Frame will help to train your eyes and hand to work in harmony, and with frequent use you should start to notice your sketches becoming more accurate. The Miira View Frame will teach you to draw what you are actually seeing and not what you think something should look like.
I definitely give the Miira View Frame two thumbs up! It is much easier if you are drawing on a board held upright vs using something at an angle. It feels a little awkward to use it at first, but give it a few days and setting it up will become second nature.
The model I have is now currently on sale on their website for $24.95 (I think it was $35.95 beforehand).
The company is releasing a newer version of the Miira View Frame today, so if you’d like to try one, head on over to Kickstarter to view their fundraising campaign. The new model features stronger magnets, so they hold the metal guides in place better. It also now comes with two optional clip on plates to allow you to scale and place your drawing onto your canvas. Without them, the Miira View Frame II is $35.00 U.S., with the plates it is $45.00. Shipping is $25.00 U.S. which makes it quite expensive if you’re like me and in Canada. (It would be $83.35 for Canadians with the shitty exchange rate, plus duty.) It’s up to you if you think you need the upgraded model.
Full disclosure: I was given this view frame for free. I was having problems when trying to purchase it from the manufacturers website a month ago, as there was an issue with the shipping option for my country not appearing properly. After several unsuccessful attempts at solving the problem, they said that they’d like to send me a free view frame. I was really impressed by the generous offer so I then decided that if I liked their product I would do a review.
Art mannequins are an essential drawing tool. When you want to double check your proportions or work out a composition, odds are you are going to reach for one. It is unfortunate that most of what you will find in local art supply stores is a disappointment.
I got back into art a couple of months ago (check out my paintings) after a long hiatus and so a decent art mannequin was on my supply shopping list. I was shocked to see the same stiff mannequins from my youth still being peddled in stores, so I decided to do some sleuthing for a better alternative.
People online were raving about the S.F.B.T. 3 from Japan so I decided to investigate. Apparently it was an artists dream as it could be manipulated into a myrad of useful poses and every youtuber I found who did a review was singing its praises. It is made up of hundreds of individual parts and really is impressive from a design perspective.
SFBT-3 ‘s are *very* hard to get ahold of. A limited supply are made available only a few times each year. When they do come up for sale you have to rush to their website and try to hit the “buy” button in time to snag one. I am freakishly determined when I’m ready, and I managed to score myself one just in the knick of time.
I grew up with this: so I was over the moon when my SFBT-3 arrived. Comparatively it was light years ahead of anything I had used in the past so I was rather impressed. I really did love it for the first few days. Then I started to have doubts about it when this happened…
Her arms drop off every time they’re touched. I have tried many tricks to remedy the problem: sticky tack, tape placed inside the joint etc. Nothing works. I wrote the company for help and their solution was to send the whole thing back. Mind you, not to the place I bought it from but to an individual at a different address. I was very leery of this option as I would then have no way of keeping track of it, could not converse with this person (presumably they only speak Japanese) and I actually *needed* the mannequin to draw from at the time. From where I live it would have taken about a month for the SFBT-3 to reach Japan and then a month to get it back and I could not go without an art mannequin for that long.
I asked the company if they could consider just sending me the joint so I could fix the SFBT-3 myself. They refused. They also initially said that I had to pay to ship it back. The SFBT-3 was $300.00 US, only a couple days old, and I felt like I was being penalized for their faulty product. The dislodging of the limbs had gotten so bad that the SFBT-3 has become only usable as a sort of muscle reference tool.
Disgusted with myself for paying so much money for something that turned out to be a huge let down, I began searching for other options. That’s when I discovered Armature Nine‘s drawing mannequins.
Right off the bat I noticed a huge difference. It is SO flexible and I can replicate any pose I want perfectly. There is honestly nothing it can’t do. As I played around with it, I realized that my SFBT-3 is actually not as versatile as I initially thought. Check out The Armature 9 and his SFBT-3 buddy’s contortion session below.
The SFBT-3 is much less flexible in the torso, pelvis and neck area. Her legs also have a limited range of motion.
Armature: “Hey, SFBT-3. Wanna try a Downward Facing Dog yoga pose next?”
SFBT-3: “Totally. Let me just… gack!”
Armature: “What the hell?”
SFBT-3: “Oh my god. I’m so embarrassed but my arm just dropped off.”
Armature: “Seriously? Isn’t posing the only thing you do each day?”
SFBT-3: “Yes, yes, but I was born with a slight disability. I’m still trying to figure out a way to work around it. ”
SFBT-3: “Say, could I borrow that stand you came here with?”
Armature: “Sure, but I don’t see how it is going to h…..”
“Ok, this is Awkward.”
SFBT-3: “Success! I’ll just drape myself over the stand like so, nudge my arms under my shoulder joints and then, voila! Effortlessly I slip into Downward Facing Dog. Say, can you pass me that other appendage?”
Armature: “Yeah, of course. Here you go.”
SFBT-3: “Sweet. You can tell that artist girl that she can start sketching now.”
(A few hours later)
Armature: “You know SFBT-3, this arm really is quite impressive. ”
SFTB-3: “Yeah, I know. I’m so glad you noticed! I love it when it’s taped to my body. Too bad you don’t have movable digits in your fingers like I do, though.”
(These new hands just recently became available!)
Armature: “Yeah. ”
As you can already tell, I use my Armature Nine all the time now. It’s durable (nothing has ever fallen off) can mimic any human pose without looking stiff (both realistic and the extreme) has numerous additional parts you can buy to customize it (want some horns? Check out the kits and bits section of their website) and the owner is lightning fast at responding to questions.
Armature Nine’s are made using a 3D printer, so as soon as the designer wants to make a product improvement, he does so. He doesn’t wait a year before releasing a new model. This is awesome as I am watching the product change almost monthly and it is designed to always accept the new upgrades. It sucks when you have an older model though, as you’re left drooling over the new updates that you currently don’t have.
My armature’s feet are my least favorite part of it, as I find the awkward placement hard to draw from at certain angles. Thankfully they just came out with several to die for upgrades. Behold:
The new movable hands and magnetic feet are currently on my wish list. I also really like their new wood-based model – the color is so gorgeous. I plan to one day buy a second model so I can pose two armatures at once and do some sketches of my figures interacting. Getting one is going on my vision board.
All in all, I am very impressed by Armature Nine and the Digital Double company. You should seriously consider following them on facebook, as their posts are always interesting, they frequently run contests for free armatures, and when they get a certain amount of likes on their page, they provide their customers with a generous discount on products. Currently, they have a %50 off sale (February 8th, 2016 – today only), so if you’re curious about this product, NOW is the time to buy.
I hope this helps others in search of a stellar art mannequin! Nothing else compares at this point, so don’t waste your money!
Just FYI – I purchased the Armature Nine and SFBT-3 with my own money. The thoughts expressed here are my own unsolicited and honest opinion of these products after owning them for many months now.
Over the past year, tonnes of people have stopped me on the street and in malls saying that I look like Katy Perry. It’s getting crazy. I get frequent comments from friends on Facebook, reiterating the same thing. It seems like every few days someone mentions this to me. It is usually along the lines of, “Meghan, has anyone ever told you that you look like Katy Perry?” Uh, yes. A few times. But technically, Katy Perry would look like ME because I am older. Oh, and she’s naturally blonde while I am naturally a brunette.
I think it’s time to do a comparison and ask an impartial audience for feedback. Can you see a resemblance? I sifted through photos I have posted online and tried to find matching pictures of Katy Perry from similar angles. Check out some of the comparison photos I have uploaded below. It is hard to evaluate yourself objectively because I see my features every day. I see differences, but I want to know what you think.
From the side.
Me (above) on the left at my brother’s wedding. Katy Perry (above) on the right at an awards show. If I had winged out my eyeliner and wore false lashed like Katy Perry, would we have looked similar? We definitely have a different nose.
Here (above) is our image split side by side. The photos feature our faces at slightly different angles, so the overall effect is a bit creepy.
(Above and below, top right)
Okay. I am sick of looking at photos of myself.
Well ,gang? What say you. Are my family and friends crazy, or are they on to something? Is it possible that I have a little sister that no one told me about? Should I be cornering my parents and demanding an explanation? Do tell.
Meghan (The original. I arrived on this planet first!)
I wasn’t having much luck finding cute bras online, so I decided to do a quick scan of Etsy.com, to see what was available in the handmade department. As luck would have it, I stumbled across a few gems. Observe.
For a mere $70.00, this too can be yours:
I hate to break it to this seller, but this is not what is commonly referred to as a bra. Unless, of course, she means a bra after a thousand wash cycles.
In case you were thinking, “What else can I do with this bra?” rather than “Why wouldn’t I just go bra-less?” the textile artist also says it can double as beach wear. Score!
(It kind of does look like tangled fishing line, so I guess they’re right about it being beach appropriate.)
Just when I was starting to worry that my nether region was going to be left out, I found these matching panties, resembling a mangy patch of pubic hair, cryptically described by the artist as, “jewellery within lingerie.”
Hallelujah! Jewellery/panties – and at an affordable $30.00 US to boot!
Note the curious, lumpy, knot of balled up fibers, at the top juncture. Sadly, it’s the closest thing I can spy that could possibly be construed as lingerie jewellery.
Nice. It always irked me, how my underwear seemed so cookie cutter; sporting annoying features like elastic, fabric, an identifiable crotch area and symmetrical stitches. I’ve been searching in earnest for a solution that didn’t involve just going commando. As a totally unexpected bonus, both the bra and underwear work for both men and women apparently. Rejoice! Who knew that, all along, men and women can fit into the same style and cut of underwear, despite our different anatomy? I just texted my boyfriend, asking how many pairs of thread panties and chest nets we need. Isn’t it awesome that I can think of them as ours and not just his or mine?
The seller urges her clients to treat the undies (and I quote) “more like tattoo” due to the “gentleness of their construction”. This is a perplexing statement, because I thought tattoos were synonymous with all things tough and permanent. You definitely don’t want people to get the wrong idea – one poorly executed move during the washing phase and your thread panties will tangle, turning into something similar to what one might pull out of a bathroom drain.
I am going to write to the seller and suggest she list “survival gear” as an alternate use for the bra/panty combo. If you find yourself stranded on a deserted island you can simply unwind a section of your bra and go fishing. If your man is fortunate enough to also be sporting some of this upscale, gender neutral lingerie – and he hasn’t already made his panties into a slingshot – you can borrow his threads and maybe tie some palm fronds together and make a shelter. Quite a sensible gift really.
I am confused by the $10.00 shipping fee and the extra cost if you want to add another item. One would think that a handful of thread (or two) would fit easily into a plain letter size envelope. I’m thinking $1.50 max is all is should take to get from A – B. Maybe it has to be insured. I can totally see a thief ripping into the envelope, seeing it filled with what looks like embroidery leavings and thinking, “Score. I’m taking all this thread home!” In turn, I can also see it being a breeze when the seller goes to the post office to complain and recoup her losses. It should only take a second or two for her to describe the missing items to the postal agent, convince them that someone invested $100.00 in said products, and get reimbursed.
P.S. I just wanted to stress that Etsy.com is an awesome place to buy handmade goods, from ridiculously talented people. I shop their frequently because I like to support the handmade movement and I make an effort to promote artists and products I like on this blog. Sometimes I feature artist I don’t. <shrug> Ying and yang – it all balances out. I purposefully did not include this artists name, logo, or contact info.
Just to update everyone, I successfully made the move to the island of Grenada. Sorry I haven’t updated my blog in a few weeks, but I was busy packing up my things in Canada, shipping items and getting ready to country hop. Check out the view from my new home. This is what I see when I’m standing on my veranda, having coffee in the mornings:
Not too shabby, if you ask me. The beach pictured is about a 5 minute walk from my house. I had a dip in the water yesterday, and it was heaven. For those who want to keep up with my adventures in the Caribbean, check out my other blog: http://spiceisle.wordpress.com
The other day, my self esteem was kind of riding high, so I decided to watch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, to bring me back down to reality. Thud. It totally worked – nothing makes you feel inferior like a pack of thin, toned, leggy amazons with big boobs. (How is that even genetically possible?)
Things were going well. I found myself torn between wanting to eat more and feeling an urgent need to work out. (In the end I did both, so the opposing forces got canceled out.) I enjoyed watching Rihanna as she crooned about diamonds – her ensemble kind of remind me of a madame presiding over an auction at an upscale brothel. No one does it better than her!
The makeup enthusiast in me was enjoying watching all the low key, “I don’t need makeup,” makeup looks. Definitely my kind of pretty. I was off in my little cosmetics appreciate zone, when all of a sudden, Justin made an appearance, belting out some of his latest hits. I actually think he did a great job and was grudgingly enjoying his performance, until he got up off his chair and started moving around.
What the hell people? Why is this, “I have a full heavy diaper,” trend still going strong, after more than a decade?
It’s as if the trend exists outside of space and time. Why is the phenomenon so damn resilient to change?
It’s as if they are doing everything possible to thwart their efforts to get from A to B. Maybe it’s to show people that you have what it takes to survive…no…thrive, despite having several self imposed handicaps that impede movement. Like a peacock with a ridiculously large tail. If it’s still alive several years later, you know you’ve got a good genetic package standing there infront of you.
What benefit does this low slung look afford the wearer? I didn’t think things could get worse, until skinny jeans hit the scene. Now it’s like they’ve taken bell bottoms, and done a total 180.
Christmas at my house: it has always been a magical, memory making experience. Nothing has changed now that it’s 2012; we are still filled with just as much enthusiasm for the holidays as ever. I personally was satisfied with vacuuming the carpet, lighting a cinnamon candle, and then playing a Christmas CD, but friends and family wanted more. I aim to please, so no expense was spared this year as we thoroughly decked the halls, thought of loved ones, and uncorked a bottle of Christmas cheer.
As the finishing touches were festooned around the tree, I was awed when an angel fluttered around my ankles and then alighted upon the tree’s upper branches. When he cast his penetrating gaze in my direction, I swear I could hear harps and high pitched singing. Momentarily, I glimpsed the blazing glory of the heavens, shining out from his eyes and my soul felt cleansed.
Don’t be jealous. I am sure the angles are watching out for you and yours this Christmas too. I was just lucky enough to glimpse one. I definitely think surviving the Apocalypse has changed things in my life for the better.
Several years ago, while watching The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I became seduced by the notion of a magical ring that inspired slavish devotion in its wearer. I too wanted a ring I could cradle and rock, call “my precious” and croon nonsensically to in a cave somewhere. The ring seemed like a lot of stress and bother to own (poor Frodo looked clinically depressed by the end of the series), but I couldn’t help being drawn in by its elegant simplicity and rich history.
I grew up reading the Tolken novels and seeing The One Ring brought to life so perfectly in the movies prompted me to start investigating. What jeweler had crafted such an elegant piece? I had to find out – but they weren’t making it easy.
It took a LOT of sleuthing to find out about The One Rings origins – I had to dig deep. My journey necessitated wading through tones of uninspiring knock offs. It was a frustrating task and I gave up several times. If I couldn’t find The One Ring then I was not settling for The One Knock Off to get me by and I’d keep my money in my pocket, thank you very much. Authenticity was the name of the game for this girl.
Turns out that journeying to middle earth to find it wasn’t necessary in the end; my quest lead me to a little know jeweler in New Zealand named Jens Hansen.
Jens Hansen was the creator of The One Ring seen in the movies. I discovered that he does not hold the license to sell Lord of the Rings merchandise though, so the recreations he’s selling are not “official”. To me this is crap. Would you rather own an inaccurate replica that wasn’t in the trilogy and looks nothing like the ring from the movie, but comes with an official seal of approval, or a faithful recreation of the original ring from the film, designed by Jens Hansen himself. To me it was no contest.
Manufacturers who are licensed to reproduce copies of The One Ring aren’t making rings the same as Jens Hansen. Their reproductions “vary significantly between manufacturer in weight, dimensions and design and do not have the same look, feel and weight of the Jens Hansen Ring actually used in the movies.” I can attest to this. I’ve seen some of these recreations in person and they aren’t even in the same ball park.
Warning: Dork alert
If you read the Tolken novel you will see that the real ring did not have any Elvish inscriptions cut into it:
Gandalf held it up. It looked to be made of pure and solid gold.
“Can you see any markings on it?” he asked.
“No,” said Frodo. There are none. It is quite plain, and it never shows a scratch or sign of wear.
Elvish writing showed up on the ring only in special circumstances, so the studio asked Jens Hanson to create a plain band – not one with writing on it. They used computer generated special effects to show the Elvish writing on the ring when it came time. Because of this, Jens Hanson does not sell rings with writing on them. That would not be a true recreation of what was in the film.
Here, finally, (see above) is a gold ring by Jens Hansen that is exactly like what was seen in the film. I lusted over this ring for weeks, but it cost a small fortune (18ct gold version = $3590.00 NZD) and no way could I justify the expense. Instead I opted for a more affordable sterling silver version ($195.00 NZD, which still wasn’t cheap). I contented myself with this downgrade by reminding myself that silver looks ten times better on me anyway.
What is awesome about this ring is how it feels in person. Sure, it looks like a simple silver band, but it has real heft and substance once you’re holding it in your palm. It’s incredibly substantial for something so streamlined and elegant. None of the knock offs I saw in person felt anything like this. This is no plain ring with a buffed edge: the band is slightly raised in the middle, sloping down imperceptibly on either side, tapering off to a smooth contour. It’s impossible to do it justice in a photo. It’s perfectly balanced, works equally well for both men and women and is so comfortable, I forget it’s on. I also get a kick out of wearing a Tolken memento on my finger – it takes me back to my childhood. <sniff>
Okay, so that’s the end. I don’t mean to be rude, but…..
Grawwwww! I’m never sharing my rings story again! This was a one time thing; I can’t believe I even wrote this and hit publish. If you know me, don’t presume I’m going to let you see my ring in real life, because I won’t. It’s MINE and I require several feet of empty space around me, free from curious humans, at all times.
….mine. (Just kidding.)
Edit: M.I.N.E. (Seriously – I was kidding about the kidding part.)