Thursday, May 23, 2024

Paint Marker Updates: Omiowl Acrylic, Posca


5/14/24 Maple Leaf neighborhood during the golden hour 
(This is why I can't give up on my worst bad-boy art material --
 Posca markers. It's hard to beat this easy opaque color!)

It’s been more than a month since I reviewed the Omiowl White Acrylic Marker, and I’ve been using it regularly since early April, so it’s time for an update. First off, the paint itself is still the best opaque white I’ve used. It covers large areas easily with solid opacity, it requires no agitating, shaking, priming, wiping or other annoying high maintenance practices, and it’s inexpensive.

The downside is that I’ve figured out why it is sold only in bulk packs of eight: The paint runs out quickly, and the brush tip mushes down a bit with regular use (although not before the paint runs out). I’ve gone through three pens already, so that’s a lot of plastic rapidly going into the landfill. After I’ve used up my supply, I won’t be buying more. It’s a shame, but it’s encouraging to know that it’s possible to make a decent white acrylic marker with low maintenance (but now someone needs to make a refillable version).

Great paint; bad value.

The next update is not news; I’ve known all along that Posca paint markers are prone to this issue, but now I have graphic evidence of Posca’s worst annoying trait. Sketching one day, I gave a Posca a vigorous, rattly shaking with the cap on (which is essential). When I pulled the cap off, paint exploded from the tip, leaving a spray of yellow dots on the sidewalk (exhibit A, below right).
Exhibit A: Italy and the sidewalk

Relieved that the spray had landed on the sidewalk and not on my sketch, I tried to use the pen, but paint wasn’t flowing, despite the explosion. I primed the pen by pumping the point on the last page of my book that I reserve for this purpose. The abstract map of Italy resulted (I admit, the yellow and blue look nice together) when the priming suddenly released more paint. I closed the sketchbook’s back cover quickly, resulting in the colorful Rorschach (exhibit B below; photo taken after I had filled the sketchbook). The Posca finally under control, I proceeded to finish my sketch.

Exhibit B: Posca Rorschach on the last page of my Uglybook.

What I didn’t think about was that the initial paint explosion had left a puddle of paint inside the cap, which I had posted. So when I recapped the pen, all the paint from inside the cap had transferred to the end of the pen – and then to my hand. (I apologize that I have no exhibit photo for that – I didn’t want to further transfer yellow paint to my phone.)

Exhibit C: Posca is permanent on favorite T-shirts.
When I got home after my walk, I realized that the sidewalk was not the only place where excess paint had landed; the splatters had also hit my T-shirt. Exhibit C at left shows the shirt after laundering.

Never trust a Posca. If it is behaving well, it is just waiting for you to become complacent before it turns on you again.

Will I keep using Poscas? Yes, of course (see sketch at top of post). It’s an ongoing, tumultuous relationship that I know is bad for me, yet I can’t seem to tear myself away. [Cue theme song to the TV show “Cops.”]

While I’ve been generally happy with the Omiowl acrylic marker, its brush tip is too thick for making fine lines in my small sketchbook, so I’m still on the hunt for a fine line opaque white pen. (Yes, I did give up on the white Posca 0.7mm “pin type” pen, three of which I used serially before each clogged in turn; other colors do not clog nearly as badly.) My current contenders are a Kuretake Zig ultra-fine brush pen and a Deleter Neopiko Line Drawing Pen (0.5), both containing white water-based pigment ink. I’m also giving my old standby, the Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen, another try, this time in the 1.0mm size. In the past, I have typically used the 0.8mm size, but Kathleen Moore recommends the 1.0mm size to use with watercolors, so I got one for her classes. I might as well give it a fair shake.

Hope springs eternal.

Jaded as I am, I’m not holding my breath that any of these will blow my socks off, but hope springs eternal, even among the jaded. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pico Café


5/19/24 Pico Cafe, Ballard neighborhood

The "sky" behind us looks cloudy, but that's white fabric sheltering the patio.
A couple of years ago when Natalie, Ching and I got together on Pico Café’s pleasant patio, I faced the other direction. Instead of a Japanese maple and trellis, this time I could see a fountain behind two guys, a small sculpture of a dog, and Natalie’s pizza remains. I like how the comic-y format brings these disparate items together, giving a wider picture of the patio without having to draw the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Green Lake Starbucks


5/17/24 Green Lake

Although I walk and sketch in the Green Lake neighborhood frequently, I hadn’t sketched at the park itself in a while, nor had I sketched at Starbucks in a long while. When I got a promotion for a half-price beverage last week, I decided it was a good opportunity to do both. I got a table facing my favorite Green Lake trees – a stand of beautiful burly, bumpy ones that I never tire of sketching.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Drizzly U-District Street Fair


5/18/24 U-District Street Fair

After a streak of good weather during USk Seattle outings (well, except for soggy Cinco de Mayo), our luck ran out Saturday: The U-District Street Fair was mostly damp to drizzly. Still, I managed to duck under awnings and trees to catch the general fair ambiance of tents and attendees, a balloon man, and two members of a jazz group performing on the stage.

Eventually I got chilly and tired of being dripped on by trees, so I retreated to Ugly Mug Café and Coffee Roasters, where the windows cast a nice backlighting on patrons.

5/18/24 Ugly Mug Cafe

Our luck was back for the throwdown, when it finally stopped raining and the sun even appeared briefly. (By that afternoon when I was back at home, it started pouring! I feel bad for the vendors, who probably lost a lot of sales to the miserable weather.)

For three decades before the pandemic, the annual U-District Street Fair was one of our favorite summer (or near-summer) events. Begun in 1970 with roots in activism for social and political change, this was Seattle’s first street fair and the country’s longest-running festival of its kind. It came back strong in 2022 after a necessary pandemic pause, but we didn’t attend the last couple years. Despite the rain, it was good to be back last Saturday, especially with USk Seattle. (The last time USk Seattle met there was in 2019.)

Speaking of USk, today is my 12-year anniversary since I joined Urban Sketchers Seattle!

Material notes: The bright blue Uglybook I recently filled was a joy to use, but now that summer is nearing, it was time for a change-up: Sunny yellow! (The light blue paper above is the larger-format Uglybook.) And as much as I love the comic-y look of markers, I had been missing my beloved pencils. In addition to being sunny, I was hoping the high-key color would be light enough to show graphite, especially the water-soluble graphite ArtGraf pencil used above. When activated, ArtGraf is almost as dark as a marker. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s going to work out with my comics style. Even with a Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens for assist with dark backgrounds, graphite just doesn’t have the solid punch of a marker’s bold line. I’m not giving it up yet, but I’m not feeling it, either.

On the upside, waterproof Pitt pens saved the wet day: Several times my pages got hit by big secondary raindrops from tree limbs above, but no running occurred!

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Mighty-O Donuts


5/16/24 Mighty-O Donuts, Green Lake neighborhood (bonus points to Mighty-O for the bright orange sticker that looks fantastic in my blue Uglybook!)

For years, Zoka Coffee was my favorite coffee shop to sketch in. The large, high windows and an interior space that made it easy to see people from various angles (not to mention good pastries) made it very appealing. I really missed it during the pandemic, and it was one of the first indoor places I spent time in during the first winter after I got vaccinated.

Unfortunately, Zoka’s liberal wi-fi policy (free and unlimited all day; it has become a rent-free office space) means that it’s nearly impossible to find a table there unless I arrive when they open at 6 a.m. (which I’m not inclined to do). After walking there on a drizzly, chilly morning, I was disappointed that every table was occupied, as usual. My on-location comic tells what happened. I guess I’m going to have to cross Zoka off my list.

Although Mighty-O lacks a good interior space for sketching people, at least they have plenty of outdoor seating. On a warmer day, I wouldn’t mind spending more time there. (Yes, there’s also the donuts, though a bit too wholesome for my taste.)

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Quantum Installation

5/13 - 14/24 Quantum installation outside and inside our house.

Love the way the orange Uglybook looks against the sky!
Unhappy with Comcast/Xfinity for a long time, I was thrilled to pieces to hear that fiber optics was finally available in my zip code. Even if the installation went well, my fear was that I’d be fussing for hours to get all my devices on board with the new modem. Much to my relief, both the installation and transition to all my devices were amazingly seamless. As for speed – no more buffering when streaming movies, which was a very annoying problem with Xfinity.

The real test, of course, will be the first time I have a problem: How well and quickly will customer service take care of it? But for now, I’m happy – especially with the wider wi-fi reach, which means I can now use my devices out on our back deck! Next time I have to be in a Zoom meeting on a gorgeous day, I won’t be quite as cranky.

(I couldnt get the two-part scanned image to be the same size here, so Im showing a photo of the full page spread at right.)

Friday, May 17, 2024

Diary Comics: Enjoying the Process

5/7/24 Imagination

Although I’m not making them daily as I was during my 30-day self-challenge, I’m pleased to say that I am still making diary comics almost daily, which is good enough for me. I don’t want to be compulsive about keeping up with any activity; I just want to be confident that I enjoy a new habit enough that it will continue to “stick.” Indeed, I enjoy thinking about ideas for diary comics, even if I don’t complete one each day. The ongoing thinking is a big part of the creative process and a worthwhile challenge.

5/4/24 Memory and photo reference

A few more learnings and breakthroughs:

  • I’m relieved that combining drawings from life and drawings from imagination or memory in the same comics has become a seamless, liberating experience. (This was a big hurdle when I first began.) If I were pressuring myself to make all sketches from live observation, I definitely wouldn’t be making as many comics. In addition, some panels would not accurately illustrate what I want them to because I’d be limited by what I can see or draw at the time. Under pressure, they would definitely be less fun.
  • I’m starting to care less about drawing quality and more about the story. While I always want my drawings to be as good as I can make them, if they aren’t quite right but they communicate what I’m trying to say, that’s good enough for diary comics. I certainly wouldn’t re-draw them any more than I would edit a journal entry.
5/13/24 Top sketch done on location; others from imagination and photo reference

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