Posted in Big Sis, Humor, Men's Rights, Politics, Women

Jessica Valenti t-shirts


In “honor” of special snowflake, Jessica Valenti, I offer a D.I.Y. project rather than working on a short story (probably for another whole week!) to illustrate the rage I felt yesterday upon seeing her t-shirted Twit-selfie (see it at center of poster, above). NOTE: My Jessica’s mini-she wears the “dress length.”

Be careful 😉 of the “background” you choose when photographing your dressed up manikin…my first choice, as you see below, “might could” have led to misinterpretation:



Below is a one-page print-out with the super simple directions and placement suggestion for your “pithy saying.”


Here is the ready-to-cut pattern which you can print (@ 100%) on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper.

Cut right to the thin lines or barely trim them off, though they won’t show.



Posted in Painting

Mostly misty and cool in Hawaii last week

Pool deck @ The Prince Hotel, Waikiki
Pool deck @ The Prince Hotel, Waikiki; 5″x7″ Winsor & Newton (R) transparent watercolor
Who woulda thought I’d be wishing for warmer clothes?

Got back yesterday (at about 6 a.m.) from eight days in Honolulu. Even though the weather wasn’t the greatest (I ought to create an illustration called, The Wardrobe I Should Have Taken), it was nice to go beyond simply thawing-out, all the way to sleeping with the windows open!

Ala Moana Beach Park from balcony of Ala Moana Hotel; 6"x8" opaque watercolor on primed artist canvas.
Ala Moana Beach Park from balcony of Ala Moana Hotel; 6″x8″ opaque watercolor on primed artist canvas.
Tree along Ala Wai Canal, from Ala Moana Hotel balcony; 6"x8" opaque watercolor on artist canvas.
Tree along Ala Wai Canal, from Ala Moana Hotel balcony; 6″x8″ opaque watercolor on artist canvas.
Ala Wai Yacht Club from Ala Moana Hotel balcony; 5"x7" Winsor & Newton transparent watercolor
Ala Wai Yacht Club from Ala Moana Hotel balcony; 5″x7″ Winsor & Newton transparent watercolor
Prince Hotel interior still life; 8"x10" opaque watercolor on artist canvas
Room 2815 still life, Prince Hotel; 8″x10″ opaque watercolor on artist canvas
Even the swimming pool was chilly!
Even the salt water swimming pool @ The Prince was chilly!
Posted in Painting

(More) Joy of Opaque Watercolor!

Stop what you are doing and visit NOW!
Stop what you are doing and visit NOW!

I am enjoying the Open Studio that the senior center in my hometown (Keller, TX) is letting me host. We have been meeting Wednesday afternoons. January’s session is over, but February we’ll be back at it. This is the picture I started this past Wednesday and finished at home.

6″ x 8″ opaque watercolor (Dick Blick premium tempera) on 140 lb. Strathmore 400 watercolor paper. If you are wondering what the “stucco effect” is from: I’ve been experimenting with acrylic mediums on paper (and just a few days ago, on artist’s canvas). This is Liquitex (R) modeling paste, applied with a palette knife then textured by pressing & lifting a scrap of very heavy/coarse artist’s canvas (#8 or #6 I think).

Have also been experimenting with final acrylic glazes on my most recent watercolors. This one has one coat of Liquitex matte varnish. I believe that has solved the scanner-reflection problem I had with the gloss finish (which I do prefer, but not if I can’t scan things).

6" x 8" tempera on acrylic varnished artist's canvas
6″ x 8″ tempera on acrylic varnished artist’s canvas

Three Pears experiment

I did this quote-unquote very quickly…just so I could see how cutting my own squares of canvas and backing them with a FLEXIBLE cardstock would work out “in the field.” The wrinkles you see here, there, and running across the picture will never come out: I was so smart back when I bought the stuff that I decided to pre-shrink the enitre role of lightweight unprimed canvas. In a swimming pool. On a length of PVC pipe “to KEEP it from wrinkling.” Famous last words.

Please, DON’T you DO THAT. Repeat: the wrinkles will never come out.

When I found this particular photo of pears on PaintMyPhoto with the wrinkled white tablecloth, I thought, “pe(a)rfect.” After sufficiently thick-ish color layers were dry I varnished it (and got smearing of the near-black background) and then did some touch-up with more tempera. Before a second matte varnish I used a spray “workable fixative” to prevent any more smearing. It seems to have worked.

Moderate flexing of the fully-dry painting does not seem to leave/make any cracks, etc. I feel very comfortable about cutting PRIMED canvas to 8.25″ x 10.25″ and stapling each one (within that extra 1/4″) to, say, 8.25+” x 10.25+” single-thickness corrugated cardboard for working on-the-go. Keeping them small means they might fit in document sleeves for further “travel protection.”

Posted in Big Brother, Gunz, Liberty, Politics

Perhaps you should read the details

Damn straight. Save all that dough for hurricane-relief.

Posted@ the Huffington Post 01/03/2013 11:33 am EST  |  Updated: 01/04/2013 9:15 am EST: ….Obama also allowed provisions of the law that require his administration to place certain terrorism suspects into military custody to stand without comment, though the administration’s interpretation of that section of the law renders it nearly irrelevant. Under procedures released by the White House in February, the military custody requirement can be waived in a wide variety of cases, including if the suspect’s home country objects to military custody; if the suspect is arrested for conduct conducted in the U.S.; and if the suspect is originally charged with a non-terrorism offense. The administration also claimed the military custody requirement didn’t apply in cases where the suspect was originally arrested by state or local law enforcement, when a transfer to military custody could interfere with efforts to secure cooperation or confession or when a transfer would interfere with a joint trial.

Obama’s signature caps an intense sequence of events for opponents of indefinite detention. In November, a bipartisan group of senators amended their chamber’s NDAA bill to prohibit the military from detaining American citizens on American soil. But when the House and Senate met to reconcile their versions of the NDAA, that amendment was stripped out behind closed doors.

“The president seemed to have nothing to say about that,” Buttar said. “The whole process, quite frankly, was a reflection of the worst parts of Washington — the institutional dysfunction, the lack of historical memory, the unwillingness to consider relatively limited reforms that would make these powers responsible and limited.”

Outside of Congress, civil liberties groups are pushing forward with a lawsuit against the indefinite detention provisions of the NDAA on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg denied their efforts to reinstate an injunction against indefinite detention on Dec. 14, but the case against the law is still proceeding in the Second Circuit Court….

And it just keeps on getting better.

Posted in Painting, Writing

Warning: don’t go to Key West…


for the beaches.

It might be “paradise” according to some, but you should know it’s not a beach-lover’s version of paradise. Upon arrival at our “resort” we were disheartened to discover the technicality known as a sunning-beach. Sure there’s sand and lounge chairs and palm trees but you can’t walk into the water as you might expect. The three true sandy beaches on the south(east) side of Key West were, in a word, nasty. Oh, and there were only about 4 or 5 parking spots on average for the non-handicapped.

Thankfully we found back “up the road” (30 or so miles one-way!!!) a Florida State Park called Bahia Honda. It has a nice stretch of sandy beach with a choice of two sides. A protected (northern) beach is virtually wave-free and nice if you have small kids. There are about 6 or 7 covered picnic table/pavilions which are a must – even if you have an umbrella. P.S. you’ll need to arrive early to snag one as they have a lovely camp ground (booked full a year in advance!!!) on the property. (Concessions are available, though we brought our own. The restroom and shower facilities are well cared for.)

There are also covered picnic tables on the Atlantic side if you take the road to the left/”north” after entering and paying. Somewhat annoying is the park practice of NOT raking the washed-up seaweed off the beach. An old hippy-type park ranger-dude informed us loftily that it was Nature’s Way and they were respecting that by not cleaning anything away that washed up ashore. They even threw branches, etc. back into the water. Well, all-hail Mother Nature but be prepared with water shoes to walk across hopping-bug infested seaweed. P.S. Don’t rake the stuff yourself either! It merely exposes the previously hidden billion-bugs-per-square-inch that are happily squirming out of sight.

Posted in Painting

Have a beautiful summer.

Can’t get away to an exotic – or even tame – location this year? Try your hand at watercolors with some “armchair traveling.” A great place to start, being mindful of the fact that of course the photographers own all the images, is TREK EARTH.


In addition to Trek-Earth there are tons of beautiful photo-references on the internet – even groups that paint using scenery the little Google-street-guy “finds” for them!

Here’s a book your library may have to help you get started: “Complete Book of Watercolors in a Weekend,” by Frank Haliday. Or get it from Amazon re-sellers, here because you are probably going to want to own it…of course it features transparent paints but I especially like the way it illustrates the “simplification” or abstracting process painters must use to go from a view with nature’s outrageous-complexity to painted scenes reduced to little more than the necessary color/tone/shape “impressions.”


Check out these step-by-step shots I captured for a kid’s painting class a few years ago. Sorry, but the links to the video-demos are currently “broken.” fixed! Thanks, IT-guy!


My suggestion for best “beginner’s paints” are opaque watercolors. I love the Pelikan brand (used by all the kids in the “Escape Artists” class, BTW) and I like to get everything I can from Dick Blick because of their great prices and fantastic service. Stick with the 12-color set; plenty of vibrant colors and you’ll learn how to mix your own in-betweens faster that way.

O.K., so you want to jump into transparent watercolors? I have a 12-color set of these Van Gogh paints. The tiny travel brush is nice, colors are very strong, and the hinged plastic case is tough. If you can get the deal with the included watercolor paper, cool!


This is the brush I’d have if I could only own one (and I have often traveled with this one and this one only): a Loew-Cornell “Ultra” Round Series 7020. Choose the largest size, 14. It’s a synthetic that goes to a very sharp point to allow fine lines or use it on its side for bold swashes of sky or landscape. A quick look at Japanese brush-painting books or here, in just a few minutes in a video will show such a brush in action. NOTE: I’m so keen on this Loew-Cornell 7020 brush because of its resilience or spring-back. I believe it is even better than Sumi-e brushes which, as you can see in the linked video, are traditionally “limp.”

Soon you’ll find there’s not much you can’t do with it especially if you stick to small-scale travel-sized works no larger than 5″ x 7″ like I do and as I would suggest for a while. It’s not uncommon even at this scale to spend 3 or more hours on one plein-air watercolor.


For stuffing in your purse or laptop bag, stick with a 4″ x 6″ pad of decent paper, for at home I like a 9″ x 12″ with a centered 5″ x 7″ pencil-outlined, or drafting-taped-of painting zone. Then it pops into a frame and “appears” to be matted (if you can keep the “mat” paint free).

Check out these videos at Dick Blick. Typically you’ll want to start with a student-grade paper, but don’t buy more than one pad at a time. You will be working diligently and deliberately; you won’t be sloshing paint on sheet-after-sheet. Move up to 100% cotton paper as soon as you’ve painted through one or two 12-sheet “student pads.” You’ll thank me for the suggestion.

As nice as spiral-bound “travel” pads are, when you decide you want to remove something to frame or otherwise display you’ll have more of a challenge than the “taped-top” style of pad.

140-pound is a minimum, but a 300-pound “block” is a luxury that can still be affordable at these smaller sizes. All sides stay attached (except for a tiny area at one corner) until you choose to cut the sheet free. when you do use a gentle action, a clean and smooth plastic tool, otherwise you could end up cutting into your painting or the next layer on the block.

Happy learning.