October 2020

What I accomplished for September

My top three things I was consistent with September was training Jiu Jitsu, learning Portuguese, and my school work. Training jiu jitsu is easy. It is something I really enjoy. Learning languages is also something that comes easy to for me. I keep a schedule and I try to stick with it. Every morning I wake up and learn Portuguese with Babel for 30 minutes. On Saturday and Sunday I review the words I learned for the week. I have a grammar book and verb conjugation book for reference. My classes that I feel that I’m strong in is Psychology and Math for teachers. The work is straight forward. Do the work, on time and get a grade. I’m weak in Chemistry and Statistics. I have to work harder on these subjects. Do I feel satisfied with this month? No, I can improve better.

My plan for October

Three things to improve. My level in Spanish has been stagnant. Even though I had seven italki lessons with my tutor this month. I suppose I have been keeping up with my speaking skills. There is still room to improve. I need to improve my comprehension. Chemistry and Statistics. I want to make these classes my strongest. I want to work on them everyday. Third. I lost my Covid weight. But I am still not at an optimal weight. I have to be more disciplined and go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.

Inktober is this month. It is the month of October when artists try to draw everyday. They usually receive prompts(ideas) to draw for that day. I am never consistent with these. I tried to do it last year. This year I will try to draw more than last year.

Hip bump to triangle

Paris, France

I went to Paris, France as my last leg of this European trip.  I spent 5 days there.  I decided I would go to see Paris back in September of 2019.  The last time I went to France was around 2006.  I had such a bad experience  with France that time.  This time I tried to go with an open mind.  I also used six months to learn some of the basics of the language.  I am in no way conversational.  I went to see a friend who I really enjoy talking to.

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So the last time I was in France I had such a bad experience.  There were several factors that contributed to my bad experience.  First, it was my first time traveling to Europe, I mostly touristy things, like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Secondly,  I didn’t speak the language, not even a little bit.  Parisians are known for not being very nice to tourists.  Let’s flip the perspective and see it in their eyes.  If someone comes to your city and speaks another language, that’s not the official language of the country, how would react to them?  I think the reaction is pretty universal.

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Before Sunset

Instead of going to see usual things I went to see the locations I wanted to see.  I enjoy Rodin’s sculptures, so I went to his Museum.  I really enjoyed the Tecahnical Museum in Prague, so I thought the Musee des Artes et Metiers would be cool.  I enjoyed the models and architecture of old buildings.  The movies I enjoy in Paris that I know of are Amelie, obviously, Before Sunrise, and Inglorious Basterds.  I went to the bookstore in Before Sunset and I went to Brasserie in Inglorious Basterds.

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The cafe in Inglorious Basterds. Bistrot La  Renaissance 

I think that’s what makes me enjoy traveling more as I’m older.  I cater traveling more to my interests and feelings.  I try to see things and subjects that I have a general interest in.  I keep returning to Europe because I find it’s history amazing.  I also don’t try to rush so much activities in my day.  I just try to enjoy myself and go into a book shop, and relax.  If the weather was better I would be outside drawing all day.  Here are a few of my sketches from Paris.

This time I learned enough to get by and see what I wanted to.  I learned how to order food, coffee, and my check.  I felt good that I achieved these small steps.  I felt that I was received way better by the restaurants when I spoke french.  The first time I went to Spain, ordering food and interacting with the language on a daily basis was the first step as well.

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I think Paris is a great city to hang out in and take your time in.  There are so many cafes and places to see.  I did get to see my friend, if only for one night.  There was a strike so traveling was difficult the entire time in Paris. She couldn’t hang out the second day. But through coincidence or serendipity  I met a very Australian lawyer in Montmartre. I remember her henna tattoo from breakfast at the hostel. She was sitting at the same table I was sitting at. No one at the table was conversing except the Peruana and Espanola, which I was eavesdropping on the conversation. Fast forward to the afternoon and  She was having a cafe and a smoke outside in front of the Sacre Coeur. We had really deep conversation about her countries history and politics. Later that night we met again at the hostel and had another conversation on life and 2019 over some beer and bar food.

Overall a good experience in Paris, France.

 

Brussels, Belgium

I spend Chrismas in Belgium.  It was my first time traveling to Europe in the winter, much less during the holidays.  It is an interesting experience.  I would like to say that the crowds and tourists were not as much.  The popularity and vibe of the Christmas Markets attract many, especially at night.  I did ate at the Christmas Market in Brussels, visited the Cartoon Strip Center, and I visited the Magritte Museum.

 

I enjoyed the Christmas Market because of the activity and people. It felt I could watch people, eat food, and drink all day.  A few of the foods I had were Argentinian empanadas, white wurst from Germany, Tartiflette, and Tsukune(Japanese Chicken Balls.) I drank some of the Belgium beer, which is quite high in alcohol content, Delirium Tremens and Duval.  I walked around the market drinking vin chaud. Although it was cold for me.  I had a very good experience in the Christmas Markets.  I hope my family can join some day.

This was my favorite place in Brussels.  I love art. I wish I

I went to the Comic Strip Center in Brussels. I enjoyed myself so much. Most of the comics were in French. I admired the art, aspects like line quality and watercolor. I was reading the history of the comic strip. The museum subtitles were in three languages. I was first reading in English then in French, then I gave up reading altogether. Even for an artist, a museum can be too much to take in. It really did inspire me to draw more on my travels. I bought a french comic book, I will steal was much technique from it. I will put the title later on.

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I went to the Rene Magritte Museum on my last day.  When I was in high school, he was my favorite painter.  As a fan of surrealism, I don’t think Magritte gets as much exposure as he should.  When people mention surrealism they usually think of Salvador Dali.  I also enjoy Dali, but Magritte’s paintings have more nuance. I enjoyed the museum, but I get really bored fast. I went through the museum in an hour.  What I took from the experience was the simplicity of his compositions and ideas. I think even his painting skill didn’t blow me away.  He is better than me.  I do think with a few years of constant practice, I can paint as well or better than him in oil.  I say this because I can actually get up close to the paintings and see each brushstroke. Most of his paintings are large i.e. 5ftx6ft.  When you see an image shrunk down from a large picture it hides a lot of the craftsmanship of the artist.  Now I want to visit more museums of my favorite illustrators like  J.C Leyendecker, N.C. Wyeth, and Norman Rockwell.

Being a Caricaturist

Here’s a family I drew the other day. 

I was a caricaturist in my early 20s at amusements parks around California. I had knee surgery earlier this year and I needed a job not too labor intensive. So how I stumbled across a caricature stand at the aquarium here in Houston. I just talked with the manager. He told me to bring in some of my work in. I had to make some work and hand them in. I got hired. Truth be told it took me about two weeks to make 2-3 pieces. It took me awhile to get used to making art. It’s weird now I can knock out draw my entire shift and sell retail caricatures from my first day. Just a few things I needed to learn was how the register worked and how to get faster at drawing.

I’ve been working there for about a month now. Some say going back to the same line of work before you joined the military is a step backward. I might say yes. Then I remembered how much fun I had and how much fun I am having now. The only thing that doesn’t equate is the pay. I’ll explain that in a later post. The best part of the job is apparent, I get to draw everyday as a job. As a kid, I thought drawing as an occupation was such a hard job to get. It really isn’t. To live as an artist on your own terms is way harder. There are so many websites like fiver.com or upwork.com that hire designers and artists. Even if we didn’t live in 2019 there are several ways to make income as an artist. I will discuss this further in another post.

Since I started drawing caricatures back in 2004. I knew that I will never be as good as I hope to be. I’m only as good as my last sold drawing. The work never stops. I can always improve. I can always practice. This idea can lead to burn out. I draw at work. Then I go home and draw at home. I fear that I put too much pressure on myself on what other people think of me and my skill as an artist. Especially when I had a bad drawing/ reject. I believe this is associated with the idealogy of a job defines who you are, which I carried with me through most of my life. I don’t think like that anymore.

I had a to draw a lady with burn scars from the chin down to her chest. I don’t know what happened but with something like that. I assume people stare or ask them about them all the time. So I don’t bother. But what does the caricaturist do? Does he A. Leave them out B. Draw them. C. Exaggerated them. I went with B. I drew them. For obvious reasons I didn’t take a picture of the subject or drawing. If I was a better artist I think I would have incorporated it better with the caricature. Imagine living with that everyday. Maybe someday I could draw at the VA or some VFW gig. Just a thought.

I think these posts will be called Caricature Confessions.

PS: I drink while I blog and I probably do one or two edits before I publish. hahaha.

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I will try to put the subject and the drawing next to each other when I post again. 

Learn to draw

This video came on my Youtube video feed.  I feel he should be highlighted for his work and effort.  It’s a long video to watch but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insightful.  There were times I walked away from the computer and I just listened to the sound.  Give it a watch or a listen.

I struggle with what this guy struggled with, learning art.  I went to art school too.  Volen, the artist in the video,  basically wanted to learn about art six years ago.  Fast forward to 2019 and he learned so much on his own as described in his video.  He goes through his processes, mistakes and failures, and what he learned out of all of it.  He explains everything so humbly, as if he was an amateur even though from my perspective he is very good.  He knows there is so much to learn still and he came a long way.  At the end of the video he explains the trap of Youtube and learning from people on the net. As though he was afraid  he was one of those people you shouldn’t listen to.  A self conscious statement but a humble one.  I think because he comes from a place of not knowing anything about art and then becoming very experienced on his own is very encouraging for others.  I believe he should keep posting and inspiring others.  The volume and amount of work he has accomplished is very impressive.

I look at Volen’s work and I realize that if I want to become an artist I have to work hard.  The problem with that is I still think the path is undefined.  I feel like art is so broad that it can’t be taught by just one person.  (Can that statement be used for Jiu Jitsu as well?) For example. He just kept taking classes from different online instructors and sources.  He kept self correcting his mistakes after. There are so many ways to create a picture. I think art school was such a waste because it was a lot of self discovery, and fixing your own mistakes.  It isn’t a black and white test sheet.  I feel like that was the conundrum of art school.  They want you to grow as an artist while completing assignments.  The goal is to learn and grow, not to produce things to grade.  The problem is both teacher and student get lost in that dichotomy.  Maybe the small schools of atelier got it right.  I don’t know I have never been, but I have seen their art and students work. Ateliers are workshops/schools where there are masters teaching apprentices a certain discipline.  I sometimes wonder if that will be a better choice than going back to art school.

This was a good video for me because recently I’ve pondering going back to school.  I was thinking about going back to art school because I was so close to finishing.  No other degree peaks my interest.  Maybe English or creative writing.  I like hedge my bets.  I really enjoy traveling and languages.  So maybe I’ll be an English teacher in South Korea or Spain.  A reason why I don’t go to an Atelier to learn how to draw and paint.  It doesn’t have a degree attached to it.  So I can’t use my GI bill. I want to make the most out of every benefit the military offered me.

What I learned from this post.  I need to produce more volume.  It will be a long road.  Although it seems like the journey is well worth it.

Learning Watercolor

One of my year goals is to start painting. There are a lot of bad examples of watercolor on Google. It is a good thing that I always had a few artists in my mind when I think about water color. I really enjoy David Levine and Andrew Wyeth. That’s all the artists I can think about right now.  I need to research more on this subject. When I think about watercolor, I think about flowers and vibrant/happy colors representing a picture or something painted to an almost photographic quality.  I haven’t seen anything that’s very inspiring within the watercolor community. This is my amateur opinion. What I’m trying to say is I haven’t seen the art that I would like to see within the medium, besides Levine and Wyeth.

What am I doing? I am teaching myself to paint. I have a bunch of water color instructional books, paper, and all of 2019. By the end of the year. I hope to be proficient and confident in the medium, not expert.  I would like to do postcards and travel sketches so I can send to friends or possibly make a book.  I also want to paint the things I want to see. Like Jiu Jitsu moves, and food.

Here are a few pieces. I made color swatches. (Image above) Why? What’s not explained to a normal person. Is that you can’t just paint straight from the tube, well you can but the color’s intensity tends to be too strong. A David Levine study and my Seattle magnet.

1st painting of the new year. David Levine

My Seattle magnet.

 

More to come.