Tag Archives: experiment

I’M FUCKING TERRIFIED

I’ve done something crazy. Something I never thought I’d do. Something that scares the shit out of me. Something that might blow up in my face.

I leased my own artist studio in Corvallis.

So why the hell am I doing this? Even though driving long distances can trigger panic attacks, even though I have yet to ever make a profit at this business, even though this is by far the hardest project I’ve ever taken on…

The short answer: It was time for me to take a risk. The long answer: I took an online course that helped me realize that I simply don’t have the right personality to work effectively at home. (I wish SO MUCH that I could. It would save me a fuckton of rent money.) I need a dedicated space to make art and write. The worktable next to my bed wasn’t cutting it, so I decided to make a change instead of giving up. I didn’t expect quite such a drastic change, but looking for a tiny office locally kind of snowballed into leasing a two-room suite downtown in a big city.

My reasons for not giving up in descending order of importance:

1.) Spite. Who am I to tell me I can’t do something? I’ll show me!
2.) Incentives. Now that I’m obligated to fork over rent every month, I’m very motivated. (Read: scared.) Gotta make that dough, y’know.
3.) Opportunity. Downtown Corvallis is really the best possible place for me to be. You can’t move without tripping over an independent gallery. I can just wander around my neighborhood to scope out potential carriers of my goods.
4.) Mental health. You know that theory that you can cure someone of acrophobia by taking them skydiving? I choose to believe that regularly driving 40 minutes each way will help me get over my fear of driving. Or I’ll spend the first hour at work every day curled up in a shivering ball. Whichever.
5.) Pride. I’ve dedicated too much of my life to being an artist/writer to give up now. Do you have any idea how many types of glue I own?? I can’t let that shit go to waste.

I’m not going to bother to give you the address of my studio because there are generally three locked doors between me and the street, I work extremely odd hours, and it’s not really pretty enough to receive visitors in yet. It’s very rough right now. (The paint is seeking a divorce from the walls. They’re fighting over custody of all the random nails.) Once it’s presentable, I’ll post pictures.

This development doesn’t affect you a whole hell of a lot, really. Just know that I’ll be writing and arting a LOT more, so check back here and on my Etsy site often for new stuff. Eventually, someday, I plan to have a Skirkbucket Studio dedicated YouTube channel. Please let me know in the comments what kind of content you’re interested in seeing. I live to serve.

ArtSnacks: October 2016

Hold on to your panties, boys and girls, it’s ArtSnacks time again! October’s box was a home run.

Ink BottleSpecial Release Muted Collection: Liquitex Professional Ink
$8.95 retail

This month is #Inktober. So, naturally, October’s box includes a bottle of Liquitex acrylic ink.

I gotta say, I am SOLD on Liquitex’s new muted collection. The muted violet color they sent me is fucking gorgeous. I actually already own a set of their basic colors–which are fine but not outstanding–but this shade is so good I’m tempted to use acrylic ink a lot more often just so I can justify buying the whole damn collection.

Downsides: For my purposes, the ink dries a little too quickly, which means you have to move fast if you want to do any blending. Also the cap is a bitch to get off if you close it too tightly. (Nice built-in eye dropper, though.)

Uni-Ball Signo White Gel PenWhite Gel Pen
$3.75 retail

My current favorite writing pen is a black Uni-Ball Signo (bold tip), so I was excited to try out this white version.

White ink seems to be hard to get right. I’ve got a bunch of white gel pens I’ve acquired in my search for one that doesn’t piss me off, but they always seem to be too watery or transparent or unreliable or inside a porcupine or something. This one is my favorite by far. I stress-tested this bad boy by using it to color an entire ghost (see project), and it performed admirably. Nice and opaque, stayed where I put it and fast-drying.

Note: Don’t try this at home, folks. A ball-point pen is not the right tool to fill in a large area. It worked, but I used a LOT of ink and it took forever to fill in all the little gaps. I still feel bad about abusing a pen that never did anything to deserve it…unlike micron pens, which need to be taught a lesson. Seriously, I hate those little bastards. The many, many artists who swear by microns clearly need treatment for Stockholm syndrome.

Copic Brush PenCopic Gasenfude Brush Pen
$7.49 retail

I have never gotten the hang of using brush pens properly, but now I want to learn. This pen is just that awesome. It reminds me of a really good eyeliner. It’s easy to control, and it only takes the lightest touch to get a smooth line–perfect for a hesitant sketcher like myself. This pen will be a lot more useful to me than Copic’s intimidating line of markers.

Lauren Series 4350 Watercolor Brush by Princeton Brushbrush
$5.75 retail

I really like this brush. It’s very precise and holds a lot of ink. It’s not very good for washes, but the springy bristles come to an effortless point for getting color down into stubborn nooks and crannies.

The Project

I had a hankering to use one of the little canvas boxes I have lying around. I dripped the ink some places, brushed it on others, layered it, and blotted to get a nice mottled background. I drew a goofy ghost with the Copic pen and filled it in with the Signo. The white gel pen was great for cleaning up any stray marks around the edges of the lid. (Yes, I make mistakes. Try to act shocked.)

Click the first picture below to see a slide show (with commentary!) of my Halloween treat box. It’s a treat box because I say it is. Work with me, okay? Imagine it full of candy and the souls of your enemies.

ArtSnacks: August 2016

August 2016 ArtSnacks

Please excuse the shitty pictures in this post. I’m waiting on the delivery of some decent lights to up my photography game.

ArtSnacks is a monthly mailing service for art supplies. For a fee of $20 per month, ArtSnacks sends four to five full size products, sometimes including exclusive items. (They also put a piece of candy and a horrible art-themed joke in each box.) Visit ArtSnacks.co for more information.
I am not affiliated with ArtSnacks, and I don’t receive any kind of compensation for writing about their stuff. I’m pretty sure they don’t know I exist.

Robert Simmons Acrylic Short Handle Paintbrush
$5.99 retail (all prices as stated by the information card included with the samples)

brushThis synthetic fiber brush is billed as an Exclusive! First! Look! for ArtSnack subscribers. It’s from a new line by Daler-Rowney. ArtSnacks describes the brush as providing “…both the softness and the control that you need in order to get the most out of acrylic painting” and as “…hold[ing] the paint without losing its shape.” Sounds good to me.

I don’t do any set-out-to-depict-something-specific painting, but I do work with acrylic paint to get abstract effects (mostly on random stuff, but occasionally on an actual grown-up painter canvas). I don’t have a lot of fancy brushes, but I was intrigued by the purported precision of this brush. My hands often shake like a shaved chihuahua, so I’m a sucker for anything that offers really good control.

Keeping in mind I’m no expert, I think this is a very nice brush. I like the short handle. It keeps its point well. I’m satisfied with the amount of paint it can carry. It doesn’t shed. I’ve no complaints, except that it doesn’t magically transform me into someone who can draw a straight line. Turns out a fancy brush isn’t much help if you can’t keep your hands steady. Who knew?

Daler-Rowney System 3 Medium Body Acrylic Paint (Process Magenta)
$6.50 retail

I’m devoted to Golden acrylics. (Seriously, I would take a bullet for that brand of paint. You need some.) Therefore, it’s going to be hard to sell me on any other brand. But for your sake, dear reader, I sacrificed my principles and gave this magenta paint a shot. What follows is a comparison between the D-R paint and my golden standard.

See what I did there?paint-tube

Golden heavy-bodied paint in quinacridone magenta (the closest thing I had to the D-R paint) is thicker and more opaque. It also seems to have significantly more pigment. The D-R medium body acrylic doesn’t apply as smoothly, either.  It’s pretty splotchy unless I’m careful about keeping a lot of paint on the brush. Maybe a painting expert would be happy with it, but I find it a bit finicky for my purposes.

On the other hand, Daler-Rowney paint is certainly cheaper. (The Golden magenta I compared it to is $15.99 for a two-ounce tube on Amazon. The sample is $6.50 for 2.5 ounces.) I wouldn’t hesitate to use it to cover a large area in order to save my precious Golden paint for detail work. It’s adequate paint; it just doesn’t compare favorably to my favorite brand.

Copic Classic Marker (Blue Violet – BV08)
$7.99 retail

markerI was pretty damn impressed to find this marker in my box. (In my ARTSNACKS box, you filthy pervert! Lean over here so I can slap you.) Copic markers are no joke. They’re fucking expensive and meant for Serious™ artists. I actually own a couple, but I never use them because my meager sketching skills are unworthy of their fanciness.

I like the color they sent… although it doesn’t seem to be the vivid purple displayed on the cap. To me, it looks more like a navy blue with just enough red in it to make it technically purple.

Anyway, I can tell the marker is awesome, but other than that I’m not really fit to judge. It shades beautifully. You’ll notice on my final project that I was able to make the color darker close to the stars and blend it out to a more transparent effect at the edges. The down side is that the ink bleeds a bit too much to make a really crisp line without effort, as I discovered when I tried to use the fine tip to carefully stencil some letters. (See draft pics below.) Actually, it’s possible that I was doing it wrong, maybe by moving it too slowly while I outlined. This marker is probably just too advanced for me. I take it back! Please accept my repentance, O Holy Copic!

I will seal this offering in a jewel-encrusted reliquary with my other two Copic markers. Then I’ll embark on a sacred journey to the mythical land of Artopia, fight my way past the silent monks—feared for the pain they can inflict with a simple paintbrush—and scale the tallest mountain. After passing the three trials of the manticore who stands guard, I will place the chest on the dazzling altar of Draw-o-met, goddess of intimidating art supplies. May she bless my next ArtSnacks box with something I’m skilled enough to use.

Small 3D Zip by Baggu
$6.50 retail

whole-bag
Blah blah blah…it’s an expanding bag…blah blah blah…kind of transparent…seems well constructed…blah blah blah…no particular use for it, but I’ll think of something… I gots nothing interesting to say about it. Machine washable. Giant loop on one end (for some reason). Meh. I’ll update if it turns out to be super useful or if it falls apart.

The Project

I didn’t have any spectacular ideas, but I owe my great-aunt a letter. I usually decorate the paper when I write letters, so I decided I’d see what I could do to use the supplies to make an interesting pattern. (Except the bag. It makes a lousy paintbrush.) The paint applied really well to a homemade stamp, and I had fun experimenting with the marker. I admit I cheated a bit. As you can see on my experiment page, I couldn’t come up with an attractive way to use the fine-point brush. I finally just used the end of the handle to make dots.

Please click the first picture below to see a project slide show with commentary.

All the goodies from this month's box, including a sticker and...candy? What?

ArtSnacks: July 2016 Unboxing and Review

I received my first ArtSnacks box this month! If you subscribe to any whatever-of-the-month services, you already know how these things work. You give a company money, and every month they send you a box of samples related to your interests. This particular box service curates several full size art products around a central theme. It costs $20 a month, and is a great way to try new stuff without having to do your own damn research. (There is also a great bad pun on the included “menu:” Why was the painting sent to jail? Because it was framed. Heh. Haha. Ahahaha! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!1! I think it broke my brain.) Since I know my opinion matters to everyone, I put together this little review.

Why are those Prussians always so blue, anyway?

QoR Watercolor by GOLDEN (Prussian Blue)
$15.79 retail (Prices are stated on the card that comes with the box. I have not researched to see if they’re accurate.)

I fucking adore GOLDEN acrylic paints. I’m not much of a watercolor-er, but I was interested to see if this paint color was as saturated as the acrylics. I’ve tried other brands for background effects, but never really gotten the color payoff I wanted.

Again, I’m no expert, but this paint seemed pretty damn good to me. I used a LOT of water to get a drip effect, but the color stayed vibrant. I’d love to see what a real watercolor artist could do with this.

brush handlebrush tip

Elite Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Brush by Princeton Brush
$12.50 retail

The selling point of this brush is that it behaves like a traditional sable brush but is actually synthetic. I’ve always used synthetic brushes, so I’m unclear on the difference. (Did I mention I’m totally unqualified to review watercolor stuff?) This brush is fine as far as I can tell, but nothing special. I did find myself wishing it could carry more water, but it’s not a wash brush, so I can forgive that. It is nice to now have a dedicated watercolor brush like all the cool kids.

 

 

 

brush cleaneropen brush cleanerThe Masters Brush Cleaner & Preserver by General Pencil
$2.59 retail

I use solid brush cleaners to maintain my makeup brushes, and I was gratified to discover there’s a similar product for art brushes. It cleaned off the watercolor brush just fine even after I left the paint to dry on it for a couple of days WHICH I SWEAR I DID ON PURPOSE TO THOROUGHLY TEST THIS PRODUCT AND NOT BECAUSE I FORGOT TO CLEAN IT EARLIER I NEVER PROCRASTINATE STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.

Damn if this cake of soap isn’t tiny, though. I don’t think it’d be convenient to use on a brush any larger than the one they sent me. Also, I haven’t tried it on anything other than watercolor paint, which isn’t exactly tough to remove. I’ll post an update when I get a chance to use it on an acrylic paint-caked brush.

UPDATE: I let acrylic paint dry completely on a fine-tipped paintbrush, and the cleanser took it right off! More updates when I try it on a big-ass brush (provided I remember).

penpen tipHybrid Technica Roller Ball Pen by Pentel Arts
$2.99 retail

According to the card, this pen “boasts a tungsten carbide…roller tip that keeps your line consistent.” It’s also advertised as lightfast and water-resistant. Sounds great, right?

Well, lightfast it may be, but water-resistant it ain’t, much. While the words will still be legible after swiping over the dry ink with water, there will be a lot of smearing. It’s kind of weird this was included to be used with all the watercolor stuff. Plus, the line isn’t as consistent as all that. It’s really easy to get a blank trail down the center of the line if you’re not really careful about how much pressure you apply. This pen is really pleasant to use as an everyday writing pen, but I’d say it’s only adequate for serious drawing.

Yupo paperYup Watercolor Paper by Legion Paper (bonus item)
no price provided

This miniature pad is really intriguing. Unlike traditional watercolor paper, this stuff is nonporous. As you’ll see below, I was able to get some really cool drip and swirl effects with it.

The downside: The instructions warn you to be careful not to smudge the paint as it’s drying and that it’s possible to wipe the paper clean afterwards. What it does not say is, “Don’t handle your work at all, because the slightest touch will smear the shit out of it even after the paint is dried.” It should. I recommend making copious use of a fixative when you’re done.

smartiesSmarties
WTF

Apparently this month’s ArtSnacks were curated by my great-aunt, who coincidentally also gave me Smarties the day I got the box. I’m always happy to receive candy, but I hope next time they send chocolate.

 

The Project

I challenged myself to use all the products (except the soap and the Smarties) in a single project. Please click the first picture below to see a slideshow with captions.

 

R.I.P. Phlegmy

Remember that experiment in growing my own leather? If not, go read that first. Go on. I’ll wait.

Welcome back! Now that you’re up to speed, it is with great regret that I must inform you that our dearest Phlegmy is no more. He met with a regrettable… accident. On the docks. In the middle of the night. While tied up.

(On an unrelated note, I suggest you avoid making promises to the Craft Mafia that you have no intention of keeping. Promises such as–to pick an example totally at random–you will provide useful materials to an artist in exchange for her allowing you to live in her basement. The C.M. hates it when you break a contract. They might do something drastic.)

The first “skin” Phlegmy grew seemed a little thick and discolored, but I had faith in Popular Science magazine. I dutifully washed it and put it on a plank of wood to dry. After several days, the skin still wasn’t completely dry, and it was an ugly piss yellow color with little brown flecks on the surface. Since it also still smelled of vinegar, I figured I hadn’t cleaned it well enough. I scrubbed it again and once more put it out to dry. This is the result:

phlegm 1

Not only is it really fucking ugly, that slab of yuck is too stiff to bend. There’s no way I can turn it into anything worth keeping. Surely I had messed it up by washing it a second time. Popular Science wouldn’t lie to me! I refreshed Phlegmy’s bath according to the instructions and waited.

This time I was extra careful to do everything right. The article said the skin was supposed to be translucent when finished (which the first one definitely was not), so I harvested it sooner to keep it from being too thick. I got Tim to scrub it within an inch of its life. I made sure the wood it would be drying on was absolutely clean. I whispered sweet nothings in its nonexistent ear. I forbade the cats to shed anywhere near it.

At first, the second skin seemed successful. It didn’t smell, it dried quickly, and it was semi-transparent. I began planning what to make out of it. I refreshed Phlegmy again and considered creating Phlegmy II. I could have my own leather farm in the basement! I could sell it as raw material to other artists! I’d be rich and famous!!

Three weeks later I had this:

phlegm 2

The piece of shit had blackened like an old banana. I dedicated months of my life to pampering Phlegmy and his offspring, and I had nothing to show for it. Phlegmy, when confronted, didn’t say a word. He just sat there smirking, the smug bastard.

Some guys in fedoras showed up the next day. They said they were friends of Phlegmy’s and were there to take him on a long fishing trip. I didn’t find out about his… accident… until I saw the article in the paper weeks later.

Any questions about my story can be directed to my lawyer.

The Secret Life of Inner Tubes

Inner tubes.

tube bathtub 1

 

Many inner tubes.

inner tube IMG_0529 copy 01

SO. MANY. INNER. TUBES.

inner tube IMG_0528 copy 01

At my request, the awesome employees of Bike N Hike in Albany have been saving old inner tubes accumulated through the bike repair side of their business. (Those guys are awesome. I highly recommend them for your biking and hiking needs. I’m not at all biased, I swear.) I completely failed to anticipate the sheer volume of rubber that would come my way. Still, it’s great to have a huge supply so I can feel free to experiment and waste a lot of rubber with my screw-ups.

Before I can use the inner tubes to make pouches and whatnot, each one has to be cut open and cleaned. Did you know bicycle tubes are coated with white powder on the inside? In addition, some tubes are filled with a mysterious slimy goo. I learned the hard way to make a tiny cut to see what I’m dealing with before slicing it all the way open.

Why am I going to all this trouble? I’m glad you asked, hypothetical reader! It turns out you can turn inner tubes into all sorts of cool shit. Pouches, belts, wallets, jewelry…just about anything you can make out of leather, really. Here’s a gallery of just a few examples (click any picture to view a slide show with commentary):

This gallery includes other styles of rubber flowers.

There are people out there who are much more experienced with this medium. Check out the work of this artist. And how about this suit of armor? A search for “inner tube art” on google will net you a ton of amazing stuff.

If you want to try out tube crafts, I recommend the guide by Bicitoro. You can also refer to this handy list of tips I put together through trial and (mostly) error:

1.) While slitting the tube along the inside curve will give you the flattest slab of rubber, it’s sometimes worth sacrificing that ease of use if cutting in another place will let you feature cool lettering or patches.

2.) A single standard tube doesn’t allow for long enough strips to box braid. I tried a lot of complicated solutions (machine stitching, various glues, etc.) before I figured out the best method is to simply knot strips together at the ends. Not only is it secure, the join isn’t obvious on the finished piece.

3.) Rubber does not taste good. (Tip provided by my cats, who LOVE playing with whatever material I’m working with.)

4.) Dedicate a pair of scissors to cutting inner tubes, and be prepared for them to dull quickly.

5.) The easiest way to clean the flattened tubes is to lay them out in a bathtub, scrub with dish soap and a kitchen sponge, and rinse with a shower wand.

6.) Say goodbye to clean fingernails.

7.) Be sure to have your favorite coping mechanism handy for when your sewing machine and the rubber refuse to play nicely with each other. Hours of snarled thread, crooked lines, tension trouble, and finicky feed dogs are guaranteed to make you stabby.

8.) When in doubt, use glue. A LOT of glue. (Actually, that’s a good motto for life in general.) It still might not work, but making a huge mess will make you feel a little better. Bonus points if you can trick someone else into cleaning it up.

9.) Cut and roll up inner tubes immediately for storage, even if you don’t have time to wash them yet. They take up way less space that way. This will also help flatten out any annoying creases.

10.) Snorting the powder inside the tubes will not get you high. Don’t ask me how I know.