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Accepting what is
NOTE: Entries are being posted newest first this year

18 April—Drawing a portrait can feel like one is tuning into that person. With James Comey I sensed a great weariness...a self-divided man who can know what's right while feeling it's wrong.

Another 8" x 10", 300 dpi portrait done on my tablet. This was based on a screen shot from his infamous interview with George Stephanopoulis.
James Comey


Ford Festiva

16 April—The time has come to retire the Ford Festiva that has served so well for the last 18 years. It failed the annual emissions test so will need at least a tune-up and one new part, a gas cap that failed a pressure test. There's no telling what else the 1993 vehicle might need.

As I was contemplating how to pay for that, notice came from the insurance company of yet another rate increase in June. I don't need a car very often—the old cruiser bike is still my primary vehicle—it seemed like a good time to eliminate this expense. I had even been thinking of attempting to reapply for food stamps, something I'd managed to keep from relying on for the past two years. Now, wthout the cost of having a car, I can likely continue to avoid fussing with the government and remain self-sufficient.

13 April— Most of the portraits I've been doing on the tablet use only a single layer and a very dark color (or black) on a tinted background. Those look fine and are fun to do, but this cartoon was an experiment to see if I could create a more complex production completely on a budget mobiie tablet. My cartoons usually involve full color, several layers, and the process includes frequent use of various tools to select, move and manipulate layers and parts of layers.

It was doable (using the AutoDesk Sketchbook app) but arduous and the strain on the processor stalled work at times. So for me, this mobile tablet  (Galaxy Tab A 10.1 w/S-pen) is not the best option for such work. Better to use it for sketching cartoon ideas that will be finished later at the workstation.

The format for this and recent portraits is 10" x 8" at 300 dpi. That is about the maximum size the tablet can handle at publishing quality resolution.

Alien anxiety

As noted in the 1 April post, full color portraits done on my mobile tablet expose problems with color accuracy. This portrait also needed color correction at the desktop computer. The color issue isn't usually so critical with cartoons, but is when dealing with skin tones.

Asian Girl in Black

The inspiration for this portrait was a low resolution, unattributed photo I stumbled across on the web.

Asian girl in black


1 April—One issue with painting in full color on a budget Samsung tablet is the limited color gamut of the screen. While creating this piece on the tablet the colors looked fine, but when the file was opened on my desktop system with a color-accurate monitor, they were over-saturated—too red and bright. Mona Lisa was color-corrected and finished in Photoshop at the desktop.

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa, portrait of a portrait

Emulating a masterpiece is a good way to gain an appreciation for a famous work of art and the incredible skill that went into creating it.

30 March—The flow of tablet-created portraits continues with these of Stormy Daniels and Sean Penn. I typically take multiple screen shots from video interviews to select a more spontaneous expression and pose than staged publicity photos. Portraits of celebrities and other people in the news are for personal artistic development and not used for any commercial purpose.

Stormy Daniels Sean Penn

26 March—A fascination with portraiture done with my tablet continues. During a recent visit, I photographed long-time friend Bruce Stogsdill several times while we chatted. One of those shots was the "model" for this portrait done a few days later.

The Expounder

Bruce Stogsdill

By "model", I mean that the photo is displayed on a screen in front of me as I draw on the tablet. The idea is to approximate a studio session with a live model. This process is more convenient than asking a person to sit still for the time it takes (it can be several hours) to create a portrait with this level of detail.

18 March—While listening to a talk by Eckhart Tolle on YouTube, I did this 20-minute drawing on the tablet from the photo displayed on the screen. The activity of drawing seemed to help absorb his calm insights and humor. Drawing can be a type of meditation.


13 March—I've done a portrait a day for the past week using my Samsung tablet. This one, created yesterday with the Infinite Painter app, is old friend Dan Castelan.

Dan Castelan

Drawing and painting on a tablet is great fun. I'm saving up to buy the much more powerful and responsive iPad Pro 12.9" and Apple Pencil to eliminate latency and work more intuitively, especially in larger formats.

11 March—I've taken a break from animation to get better acquainted with my Samsung tablet (Galaxy Tab A 10.1 w/S-pen). Although a budget tablet, it has decent pen sensitivity and accuracy—much better than the earlier model it replaced. It's very good for journal writing and casting YouTube, Netflix, etc. to the TV, but I wanted to further explore its potential for drawing and painting.

To that end, I'm trying various paint apps to emulate charcoal and conte portraits. Photos are displayed on the main computer screen at my desk, then I sit with the tablet and draw as if the photos are live models. The results are pretty much indistinguishable from artwork done with traditional tools.

These four—Bill Maher, Karen Liptak, Taylor Swift and Dave Castelan—were done with the Corel Painter mobile app. The free version can be upgraded, but it still has a maximum size limit of only 2048 x 2048 pixels.

Bill Maher Karen Liptak 2018
Taylor Swift Dave Castelan

This portrait of John Oliver was done with AutoDesk Sketchbook. It allows a greater range of sizes and has a large set of brushes. There's a free version with an in-app purchase for all the brushes.

John Oliver

This is Kim Jong-Un, done with Infinite Painter. The app can be upgraded from the free version, accommodates larger formats and works very well.

Kim Jong-Un

3 March—Most of the family from the Phoenix area visit. Hilarity ensues with nephew Colin and niece Maddie.

19 February—This is President's Day in the USA. Some of my oldest, dearest friends completely disagree with me about the character of our current President. Where they see a savvy, sincere savior, I see a bombastic, boorish buffoon. This generates passionate discussions. We can agree, however, that it is not a bad thing to shake up the entrenched bureaucracies of government if, in the long-term, it leads to a better world for all of us.

This is another exercise in 2.5D animation using Blender to create the scene and action. HitFilm Express is then used for final video production with titles and audio.

15 February— One of the stray pieces of broken plastic decorating the back fence resembles a bird. It covers a knothole and glows throughout the day to bring a touch of whimsy to the yard.

Amber Bird

25 January journal entry:

3:33 a.m.—Happy St. Andrew's Day! To celebrate, one should proceed as usual, but with full awareness of what is going on around and within one's self. One may assume the role of director and alter various aspects of whatever scene one is in, such as lighting, sound, aroma, etc., to increase awareness and enhance a sense of being fully present, living in the moment.

Casita lounge

St. Andrew's day winds down in the Casita lounge area under the sleeping loft. The scene was enhanced by burning incense. A key lesson of St. Andrew's Day is to be fully present periodically so that every day is a joy to behold and to be a part of.

11 January—The learning curve with Blender continues with this production. My logo was given dimension, action, lighting and sound effects so it can serve as a dynamic credit tag for future videos.

Another exercise in Blender is this depiction of a recent logo design as a rustic sign. The weathered board came from my wood pile.

Nest Eggs sign


6 January— When our President's daily words and actions provide continual evidence of delusional thinking and a lack of self-awareness, it's a great opportunity to exercise some self-honesty and recognize the same tendencies in ourselves.

Sane cap

1 January—The new year begins with spring-like temperatures here in Tucson after the warmest year on record. The second warmest year was 2016, and it feels like this must simply be accepted as the new reality...until it's not.

It's a pleasant, sunny day in the 70's at the Linden Street Hermitage

The year also begins with the end of reliance on Adobe Creative Cloud. It seems ridiculous to pay a monthly subscription fee when the open source community freely provides excellent, regularly upgraded programs for the graphic arts.

I purchased the Adobe CS6 graphics suite in 2012 just before their subscription-only policy was locked in, and that set of applications (mainly Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver) will remain viable indefinitely at no additional cost. Added to that collection are the free programs Blender, HitFilm Express and Audacity to support 3D modeling, animation, and video and audio production at a professional level. This unconditional access to quality software is a practical example of the beneficial potential of the digital revolution.

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