05 October 2022

A Mural on SE Water Avenue


There is a place at 1320 SE Water Avenue called "Tipsee and Spice", which is a bakery of a sort, and on the side facing Water Avenue, they have this mural:

I do recognize RGB: I do not, I am abashed to say, recognize the elegant black woman on the left. Never the less, the mural rocks. 

01 October 2022

On The Occasion Of The Passing Of My Mother


The end was not as I'd evisioned to be. 

Is it ever, for anyone?

In a room in Kohler Pavilion, at OHSU, here in Portland, my Mother, who'd lived on this planet four months beyond her 83rd birthday, left us. I won't say what it was at this time, or maybe ever, here, but it wasn't Covid. 

OHSU, for those of you who don't know, it ironically located on a somewhat inaccessable hill. Marquam Hill, they call it. Pill Hill, most of us call it. And it's this organic complex of buildings that have been growing there since the first quarter of the 20th Century. And, as you can see above, it has commanding, stunning views.

It was at the end of one of the corridors my Mother was in. They took very good care of her, and no matter what one thinks of where health care is in this country has gone, compassion, grace, and patience run deep in the staff at OHSU.

My sister was there. God bless her, honor her, and keep her but she's carried most of this load, emotionally and physically. My sister has become the most adult person I know. Her and Mother, well, I suppose as far as I'm concerned, the only people more tightly bonded than those two were probably born conjoined. 

Mom's lungs were filled with fluid, and her last days, her last hours, she couldn't speak us. That was the toughest part.

On the last day, in the last hours, my aunt (there were five of us family in the room besides Mother: my Aunt, the second oldest woman child in that cohort of the family, her daughter (my cousin), my younger brother, my sister, and myself), saw that Mom was trying to say something, and she figured out Mom wanted to say what she was looking at. She managed to write it out on a piece of paper (it was a scrawl, which was a bit heartbreaking in and of itself, because Mom's handwriting was always exemplary schoolbook cursive) and what it said was, what it said she was looking at was, a bunch of beautiful children.

I've never been a particularly attentive son, nor the closest sibling. I orbit out there in the dark somwhere and my family has always been accepting of me the way I am, which I am grateful for. But you can't feel as though your life has been mis-spent if, at the end of your mother's life, she still has that to say about you. It's a tight club and a good membership to have. 

She wrote it on a piece of paper. I'm honored to have that piece of paper, and what a thing: it's not often you have someone's last words written out for you, by them. This piece of paper is, and always will be, a treasure. 

At about 4:30 PM that day, the ventilator was removed. Breathing became labored, sounded like the sounds of a rock tumbler. By 5:10 PM, she had gone. It was a curiously placid thing, almost an anti-climax. We all wept. She stayed there as if merely asleep. It's a peculiar thing, how mundane death looks in its first few minutes. I continued to hold her hand as I really wasn't ready for it to be over yet (who ever is?). Me, my brother, my sister, my aunt, and my cousin talked with each other and laughed and cried as we all got accustomed to the idea that this is our world now, one without this woman in it.

I left the room and went to my wife, quiet, strong support. She had been taking pictures of the view with my camera (how could you not?) and then I took several. The view from Kohler Pavilion is unparalled save for flight. 

My sister, my self, and my brother, all went the next place we had to go; it's what you do when this happens in your life. You do the next thing that makes any sense at all. 

I took pictures because this is how I deal. This is my world and my sight of it is how I connect, and this is what the world looked like, on the meeting of three far-flung siblings, on the occiasion of the death of our Mother. 

A View Of Oaks Amusement Park


We have our very own old-school amusement park here in Portland, on the river, in the southeast part of town; The Oaks. 

Oaks Amusement Park. 

This is the view from the Sellwood Boulevard bluff. That's real Portland history there, a modestly-sized amusement park that has existed for more than 100 years.

As you can see from this elevated view, it's not one of those spectacle parks. It doesn't have a huge, vomit-inducing roller coaster, no monsters of special effects. just a modest carnival midway and a lovely river-side location. 

There's also a world-famous roller-rink, which, along with the park itself, has survived ten decades of ups, downs, and hundred-year floods

The last time I saw it on TV was in an episode of Leverage which was set in the 1940s and featured a plot on the violent racism of the times. That show, I tell you, was a gem.

This is one of the most Portland things there is, and it's a little hard to find (though the tagline I remember hearing on KEX radio growing up, "at the east end of the Sellwood Bridge!" goes a long way toward helping anyone find it.

It's good for a midway stroll if you're not into rides, and there's all the good-bad midway food. 

Houses With A View Along Sellwood Blvd


There are a number of southeast-Portlanders who won enough in the lottery of life to afford addresses along SE Sellwood Boulevard. 

They undoubtedly have views I'd conceivably kill for. 

The combination of architecture and square-to-the-compass property orientation and location along a street trending diagonally give the impression of fishermen's houses along a street in a coastal town overlooking the ocean. 

A great deal that happens in Oregon is indirectly related to the ocean, so maybe it's not too far off the beam. 

They don't have a view of the sea, but they do have an awful nice view. 

The Far End of SE Stark Street - The Stark Street Bridge


Here, in the woods just a minute east of Troutdale, at the brow of the bank of the Sandy River, is where SE Stark Street, in its long traverse, comes to a rather abrupt end.

The end of Stark curves around the top of a bluff above the Sandy River like a crooked finger, dropping as you go east. At this point, I'm actually facing northwest which somewhat disorients if you're familiar with Stark on the east-west gridiron. 

The far end of the bridge is a t-intersection with Historic Columbia River Hwy on its way out to Springdale, Corbett, Vista House, and points east in the Columbia Gorge. I am on the end of the Gorge here; that bluff on the other end of the bridge is one of its ramparts. This is as far east as SE Stark Street goes; there is no more after this.

The Bridge is rather narrow. Doing what I do now, I have to occasionally drive a truck over this bridge. That makes me hyper-aware of how narrow this bridge is. But nothing amiss as long as you take it slow and easy. 

26 September 2022

The Rink at Oaks Park


The bluff above Oaks Bottom afforded us this view, too.

There you see the building that contains the famous Oaks Park Roller Rink, still all-skatin' it for going on for nearly 118 years. It's survived eras, ruinous floods, and periods of less-than-optimal maintenance. It's appeared on TV shows and in childhoods of several generations.

It remains immaculate. 

Downtown Portland from Five Miles Away, On Sellwood Boulevard


SE Sellwood Boulevard isn't a main-street sort of boulevard. It's one of those little, short, charming boulevards that is sprinkled around Portland that rewards you for following it.

This one rewards you with a stellar view of downtown.

I bet I've taken this approximate picture before and if I could only find the picture I took whenever I took it, I cold do one of those throwback pairs, but there's no time right now, and I have so many pictures to look through. 

The hill to the left is topped, of course, by OHSU. I'll be going there tomorrow for reasons which I may reveal at a later time. It the middle distance is, of course, Ziggurat Central, beautiful downtown Portland, with building both recognizable and un-, and I have been in this town long enough to know that it used to be strikingly different.

At our feet, the base of the bluff, is Oaks Bottom, an official wildlife refuge and something we collectively try to keep natural. We are doing a pretty good job over all, because here you can mash together the built and the primitive in one photo ... and it don't look too bad.

Portland is still a beautiful place, after all these years. 

A Swing Sets In Sellwood-Moreland


Along SE Sellwood Boulevard, right about where SE Flavel Street and 11th Avenue intersect it, there's a child's swing.

The old-fashioned type. Two ropes and a board. The kind that would send Ray Bradbury off writing a story.

Calls no real attention to itself really ... which means you can't possibly miss it. 

As we left the area, as a matter of fact ... a child started to use it. 

17 September 2022

NE Broadway near the Rose Quarter, Nov 2017


I'm not quite sure why we were traveling west on NE Broadway on a November day in 2017, but we were, and the composition spoke to me (as long shots down streets tend to do).

The red lights in order of increasing distance are NE Victoria Ave, N Williams Ave, N Vancouver Ave. Ahead are the grain facilities just north of the Rose Quarter along the river; just on the right hand side girders of the arch of the Fremont Bridge can be seen. 

15 September 2022

Sunlight Downpour, Rockwood, 181st and SE Stark


Just more shafts of sunlight I saw coming back home from work today. 

Rockwood, 181st and SE Stark. 

It's been like this the past couple of days, with the clouds and air the way it's been. 

13 September 2022

Yoshida's Haven at the Other End Of Stark


Oblique Coffee is at the 'lower' end of Stark Street. This is at the bitter end of the road.

From the river in the middle of Portland to the end that crosses Sandy in nearly sixteen miles. Stark has a great deal of history to it, and a lot of that history has to do with the automobile and city-to-city transport. An artifact of that is located on the south side of Stark, just before it crosses the Sandy River. 

Stark Street begun to evolve into its current form at about the time the automobile became popular. Back then, not long after the first years of the Twentieth Century passed by, roads existed but were poor; various car-ownership societies formed something of a national movement (the "Good Roads" movment) to promote the building of suitable facilities that would let them go out and enjoy thier newfangled 'cars' in the forests and wilderness. 

The utmost end of Stark Street is, then, the way it is because of an organization called the Portland Auto Club. They wanted a nice place to drive to and that urge eventually became an auto campgrounds and a destination picnic spot for car owners of the day.

Down the years it eventually came into the hands of Junki Yoshida of Yoshida's Sauces fame, and I understand he lived there for a while. More latterly the property has been donated to the Mt. Hood Community College Foundation. It's an event venue now: weddings and things of that nature. Across from that is a fine-dining spot, Junki's Riverview Restaurant. 

The view is still free. 

12 September 2022

More Oblique Art On Stark


The A-Frame sign in front of Oblique Coffee is delightful enough it deserves its own entry. It totally echoes the decor ethic of the shop.

Constructed of doors and paint and creativity and hand work. In the place where the old hours were, it even sports a palimpsest. 

Oblique Art On Stark


I do not know if anyone at Oblique Coffee was responsible for nailing this to the 'phone pole outside their shop, but it is an apt depiction of what some days feel like without the coffee.

We can call it The Decaffienated Scream. 

11 September 2022

Just A Bit Of SE Stark Near 30th


No agenda here, no message, no intended subtext.

Just an angle on SE Stark St from just east of SE 30th Avenue up to about 28th (that's where that little crest is). It's a particularly cozy corner of the universe with an atmosphere that Portland progress still hasn't completely covered over. 

There's a real antique of a building on the SE corner of 28th and Stark that used to be a old-school service station, back in the day when cars were new, you can tell it by the architecture. The Goodfoot lounge is still there; there's a pizza joint next to that and, in a small tin-sided building, an art gallery and a place that used to be the home of an ultra-left alt-media operation called The Portland Alliance, though I understand that has a Beaverton address now, which is ironic. 

Well, clearly I need to get some shots of that corner, if I'm going to rhapsodize so.

I'll never fall out of love with this town.

Oblique Coffee Co.


There's a lovely small-batch coffee roaster at SE 30th Place and Stark Street, across the street from Laurelhurst Village care center, a place that, at one time, had been known as Mount St. Joseph. 

The place is called Oblique Coffee Roasters and it's in a extraordinarily charming rehabbed corner store at the corner of SE 30th Place and Stark Street. They've survived the pandemic in fine style and have great tasting coffee and lattes. The caffe Americano I had had a broad-chested flavor but was pleasantly smooth; bold without sharp edges and nuanced smoothness.

They have little cinnamon pull-apart muffins that were also quite tasty.

I've given but two glimpses here but they set the tone. The building and the business revels in its history. It's old-old Portland combined with old-Portland touches like antique Blitz-Weinhard beer cans and I also saw a book about Bill Walton there. The charm and the quality of the coffee there both sold me hard.

And the Brown-Eyed Girl has testified she'd not had a better au-lait from any other place for a while. 

Mulugeta Seraw


In 1988, an Ethiopian immigrant was murdered in inner southeast Portland. 

But I get ahead of myself.

On a number of street blades on corners near SE 28th and Stark, and a little north and a little east of this, you will see this topping them:

A lot of people know about it, but a lot don't, and I see the questions about them, so I figured I'd leave this here to be found.

It's an unusual design. The gentleman's photo, the unfamiliar script, the lifespan meted in one set of numbers on one side and another set, with seven years' difference, on the other. I'll tell you a little about that, now. For the back story, one can check out this Wikipedia page on Mulugeta Seraw; if you don't go there, understand this much: on a night in 1988, on SE 31st Avenue between Stark and Burnside, three local white supremacist skinheads affiliated with the White Aryan Resistance and another group called East Side White Pride encountered the then-28-year-old man and, indicting him on being African and an immigrant, beat him to death with a baseball bat, because amongst white supremacists this amounts to a capital crime.

The top of display is a cameo depiction of Mulugeta Seraw, which should be an obvious point. His name is rendered in the Amharic language in the Ge'ez script which is the lingua franca of the Ethiopian nation and its graphic method of expression, respectively. The difference in the years comes from the fact that, in Ethiopia, they reckon years a little differently; there is a seven years' difference. Mr. Seraw was born in 1960 by our calendar but 1953 by the Ethiopian one.

So it's a memorial to Mulugeta Seraw in the area which he was murdered, an attempt to never forget what happened and also a way to remember why. These are battles which we still fight today and are still waging. Strangely, there are those amongst us who still insist that this is the proper way to treat other human beings, and so the reminders must persist.

08 September 2022

An Old Motorcoach Decays In SE Portland


Saw this old workhorse parked - more or less permanently it looks - on SE 78th Avenue near Taylor Street.

The plates were Florida. 

Just another Florida Man seeking shelter in the Pacific Northwest. 

Old Restroom/Shelter, Mount Tabor Park


Mount Tabor is a magical place. An extinct volcano of the Boring Volcanic Field*, it tops out at scarcely 650 in elevation and only 400 feet of prominence, but it's just so gorgeous and lovely in the park that encompasses the peak that it feels much taller sometimes. And it has that park architecture that, in my childhood in Silverton, made me think of stereotypical Big Towns in the television I glutted myself on in those days.

The building here looks as though it was up-thrust with the rest of the peak and just kind of waited for the town to grow up around it. It kind of feels eternal, and you kind of feel that way next to it. 

It was here before us and will be here after us. 

07 September 2022

The Reason I Like This Hawthorne Address


This is charming, no?

It's the transom of The Meadow, a shop next to Powell's and The Fresh Pot that sells chocolate, gourmet salts, bitters, and other trendy comestible impedimenta, and even though the font and the treatment wears its designedness with a smug pride, I love it.

I live the way the abbreviation "No." is in front of the address. That elevates it for me at the same time I kind of resent the way it knows it will charm me. 

You might say it has my number. 

The Eternal Bagdad Theater


First run, second run, brewpub, back to first run ... it doesn't matter.

The Bagdad will always, always, be the Bagdad: Dated Orientalist decor and all.

I remember, a looong time ago, when me and The Brown-Eyed Girl was concluding an evening at Powell's, back when there was the cook's bookstore there, and someone was playing music and projecting an iTunes visualization from somewhere over our heads to the big wall of the theater opposite.

The reason this memory is dear is ineffable, I guarantee you. 

06 September 2022

Hawthorne Blvd, Sept 2022


There's been so much change (and so much money rushing in) but somehow it still looks and feels the same.

Mostly, anyway. 

A Slice Of SE Portland Gingerbread


While we were near the Hawthorne Powell's Books on Labor Day, we saw this little confection:

The architectural style, says my wife, is 'gingerbread'. It's painted up like a delightful bit of candy. And that easel on the front? Stanning for Ukraine, of course.

We found this on SE 37th just north of Hawthorne Blvd, just beyond the Three Doors Down Cafe. 

05 September 2022

Wy'east from Tabor, In September Mode


Happy Labor Day 2022 from the north east slope of Mount Tabor, where the visage presented by Wy'east looked thusly:

The peak is sans snowcover, which reminds us of last year in August when the record-setting torrid wave swept through, deleting all remaining snow cover in one swell foop. 

Despite weather records attesting that this August was the warmest August in the history of Augusts that have been recorded hereabouts, this is more in line with the usual. About this time, September, what remains of Wy'east's snow enrobement is gone, or at least as near as makes little difference from the POV of any spot in the Rose City offering a view. 

Some Flowers from a PBN


A flower break, as we take an existential breath from what we've just been through and in anticipation of what may or may not come.

04 September 2022

Dramatic Clouds, October Morning


Another one from the files: One October morning six years ago there were low clouds partially obscuring Wy'east from view and the sun was illuminating it dramatically.

31 August 2022

A Mushroom In Midland


Exploring the small and mundane but somehow still wondrous, earlier this year, when it was cooler and moister (do you remember, nah, neither do we) there were several of these mycological beasties near the curb in Midland Park

Seeing as it's been an oven here in the Willamette Valley for the past two months, it's probably gone.

The spore thing. 

30 August 2022

The View from Twelve Mile Hill


One of the changes I've hinted at is a change that came out of nowhere: the job I'd held for thirty years dissolved out from under me.

At least I didn't get fired, hey? And I wasn't kicked to the curb so much as I was let off gently. But it was still jarring. And here I am, doing a whole new thing and taking a whole new way to work. 

I use a lot of Stark Street, which is something of a joy. 

There is a name for the intersection of SE 223rd and Stark that not many people know and wouldn't be known if it weren't for a veterinary hospital near that intersection: Twelve Mile Corner. It's named as such because it's about twelve miles out from Portland city center. No more complicated than that. Now, as I travel eastbound in the morning to my new employ, it's not hard to notice that from the 21000 block (a sign at the entry to the Microchip plant helpfully explains 21000 BLOCK) to 223rd, Stark climbs a long, gentle slope.

I call this slop Twelve Mile Hill. And going out it's charming, but coming back one gets quite a view:

It's not the highest of heights, but it seems to stretch Stark out to infinity. 

A picture of a certain mountain during times of upheaval


Not the mountain's upheval ... mine. We have been through a ton of changes, and more changes, epochal ones, to come. Unwelcome but expected.

For now, I take back to the blog after a gap of never-mind-how-long. Perhaps in the near future I'll sketch that out. For now, enjoy this photo of Wy'east I took about a year ago. 

It's a good'un. 

27 December 2021

The Progress on Summertime Farm


The current PBN project, Summertime Farm, heads toward completion. I am, evidently, going to fill in the barn last of all.

The barn is full of detailed little spaces that will require much attention, and the weathered American flag design on it so so detailed in and of itself that it requires a separate callout on the instructional diagram. 

Should be satisfying. 

A History-laden Bookmark


This is a Christmas gift given me my the Brown Eyed Girl that will have meaning for a great long while.

Anyone who knows me knows my deep affection for Oregon, the place I was born in. You can always get me by showing my something deeply Oregon, and this is Oregon AF, as they say today.

A simple bookmark, gotten by my spouse at the David Douglas Holiday Bazaar, which she was able to hit after a pandemic year off:

The art was no doubt inspired by the work cited on the obverse ... this is an upcycled library card catalog card, you see:

This makes me think of Oregon history, its highs, its lows, its promise and its problematical sides. Numerous conflicting thoughts pertain, and this card as the bookmark of my diary will, I think, make me be more thoughtful about a great deal.

It represents a great deal about time and events that are complicated and ineffable at times. As such, it's a dear treasure already. 

26 December 2021

Unboxing The Bob Ross Master Paint Set


ART SUPPLY DEALER (slapping the side of the box): "You know, you can fit a lot of art and happy accidents in this bad boy!"

This is a Christmas gift whose impression will endure for me. The Brown Eyed Girl secured, for misbegotten me, the Bob Ross Master Paint Set. Now, I've always been ambivalent about oils and have found something of a home in acrylics, and still aspire to watercolors. But oils always have held a fascination, and, as millions of ASMR addicts around the world do, get my fill of Bob Ross half-hours when the opportunity presents itself. 

Although I always have promised myself if I get the materials I'd try a Ross Method painting. Well, that day has come, though not immediately-immediately. I'll explain presently.

The set came to me in a box like this, here. Ever wanted to see what's in one of these bad boys? Well, follow along as I take the first step on a journey into the world of happy accidents. The box:

16 PCS, the box design exults. The graphics along the bottom give you an idea of the general classes of things one'd expect to find inside, but, for the record the sixteen items are as follows;
  • 8 37ml tubes of Bob Ross landscape oil colors: titanium white, cadmium yellow, bright red, alizarin crimson, phthalo blue, sap green, Van Dyke brown, and midnight black
  • 1 100ml bottle of liquid white
  • 1 2" background brush (the world famous two inch brush)
  • 1 1" landscape brush
  • 1 #6 fan blender brush
  • 1 #2 script liner (the only tool for signing your painting, as we Ross fans know)
  • 1 #10 painting knife
  • 1 instruction book
  • 1 DVD 
Sixteen easy pieces. The DVD, for what it's worth, contains a 1-hour painting lesson from Bob, ostensibly doing the painting depicted on the box, Mountain Summit. The instructional book leads you through in the step-by-step Bob Ross style, emphasizing that Bob, in his video, will call for colors you do not have but the book hastens to inform you that the version presented in the book does not need the colors Bob employs and will work with what they've given you.

Removing the box top, we see approximately this:

Fourteen of the sixteen items in the set are visible immediately, two of them, the DVD and the instructional book, are beneath the clear plastic tray. The empty space on the right hand side, shaped similarly to the space that holds the bottle of Liquid White, made me think that maybe an item was omitted in some way from the package, but comparing the items inside to the list on the back of the box confirmed that nothing was missing. Presumably this design allows them to pack a number of different configurations without having to stock a bunch of different inserts. A bit confusing for the observant customer, but no big deal really.

Seeing all those Bob Ross colors makes me feel good.

In the photo above, the brushes provided. From left: #10 painting knife, the world-famous 2-inch brush, the #6 Fan blender, the 1-inch brush, the #2 script liner. All the basic instruments of construction.

The observant will recognize that there are a couple of things I don't have displayed here: a palette and, as important as that and more, a canvas. We shall be purchasing a canvas in due course. I have, apparently against this very occurrence, saved an official Bob Ross acrylic plastic palette in all its oversized glory, provided (how else?) via the aegis of the legendary I've Been Framed-Art Supply Center. And easels? Around here, we got easels.

So, I get myself a canvas and make sure I have some odorless thinner, and I'm as good as ready to go here. 

But you know, speaking as a long time art supply collector, it's nice just to have them. But also I have long wanted to try out a Bob painting. And here's my chance. More as the situation develops.

07 December 2021

Looking outside from inside the new Guilder Cafe at Powell's


This last weekend was the closest we had to a pre-pandemic weekend in over two years.

1st weekend day: killed time at the Midland Library; 2nd weekend day; hung out at Powell's, and had coffee.

We experienced, for the first time, the Powell's Coffee Room under its new holder-in-fief; Guilder Cafe. I already assayed the approach in this episode; well, as one may or may not know, it's open and you can finally go to Powells and sit in with your books or share a coffee with someone. 

Guilder Cafe (the sworn enemy of Florin, it will be remembered) is a whole 'nother world from what World Cup was.

The seating area is smaller and as differently-arranged as it is stylish. Gone are the big-lumber long tables in favor of a single long table in the middle about two-thirds as long as the old ones. Steel stools replace the old chairs. While you can sit and look out toward the street on the Burnside side, the similar seating along 11th Avenue is gone in favor of seating looking in and square tables which can be moved.

These tables do not wobble as the old ones did, so there's that.

The lighting is cooler (though not gloomy) and much more nuanced. And, in the northwest corner of the space, where there used to be a couple more aisles of book shelves, there is now this:

... a sort of 'bleacher' arrangement, steps up the sides and twelve large cushions to sit on. In front of this, a rather tasteful conversation-pit arrangement.

The coffee menu is high in quality and limited in offerings. You can have lattes, cold-brews, Americanos and the rest, but there are no flavored syrups. The menu (including the food fare) is here.  The only sweetenings available are simple syrup and stevia. You'll also be paying more (my Americano was $3.25, my wife's au lait was similar. This is in line with Guilder's ethos which aims to support small business (namely, in this case, Guilder) and the farmers who grow the coffee we love so much along with our books.

Hours currently are until 8 PM, which, on this Monday, felt a great deal like 10:00 PM did back in the day. 

Also, Arnold Drake the paper flower guy was there. So there is that. We shared some warmth as he left for the day; one member of the erstwhile regulars' club to another. It was worth the waiting for that. 

I won't lie; like a whole lot of us who've fretted about Powell's during the pandemic, I have dreamt of this happening again. At least it's happening in some way. If the increased pricing is a little off-putting then at least it pays off in a high-quality locally-roasted cup that's doing some good in the world (and letting us, in a very real way, support local business; it's a convenient way to walk that talk), and if the decreased seating area is a bit discouraging, at least it's spacious and allows for the maximum social distancing in such a space.

So, for me, it's a mixed bag, but it's a new world we have come to terms with. Whole new planet, really. I think most Powell's customers will find Guilder a good fit. 

24 November 2021

A vanGogh Watercolor Pocket Box


Whether or not I actually get round to using them, I'm a sucker for pocket watercolor paint boxes. 

VanGogh, a brand of Royal Talens has a selection of good ones. They've curated a few themed sets; they have a 'vivid colors' box, a 'muted colors' box, a 'pearlescent and interference' box (stylish, in black) and a 'general selection'.

I got the general selection because I just play at watercolor at present. Here's what it looks like opened up:

The arrangement is a very nice size; there's pocket in my canvas shoulder bag it fits exactingly and satsifyingly. Ten colors, plus Chinese White for tinting and Payne's Gray for shading.

The little included brush is an interesting one. It collapses like many small brushes of that type, and the end of the brush has a sort of bevel that makes it resemble the end of a woodwind. This edge fits into a notch on the right side of that mixing tray, making it easy to pop it out to provide access to the one big mixing area in the lid. Otherwise it snaps in nice and tidy.

The quality of the paints can be seen in the following picture.

The quality seems comparable to Winsor & Newton's Cotman line of student/amateur grade colors, which means this is a good choice as well for amateur dabblers and those getting started in watercolors, who want more than a Prang box but don't feel confident enough yet to lay out the big bucks on professional grade paint.

They say you should buy the best you can afford, and I won't argue with that, but I'm sure I'm not the only aspiring artist who got sticker shock when we priced those paints. I mean, Bob Ross Inc. makes their video content next to free and widely available, but it's when you price paint and supplies when it dawns on you where that sweet sweet revenue comes from. I believe you should decide for yourself where the line between what one can afford and what one feels comfortable using, and buy as close to that line as you can get. I do think one shouldn't settle for less than student grade; you won't go broke that way while learning confidence with real big-kid art supplies.

The colors in the vanGogh general selection box span the primaries, with biases: Permanent lemon yellow/Azo yellow medium, Permanent red light/Madder lake deep, Ultramarine deep/Cerulean blue (phthalo), Sap green/Veridian, also the ever-dependable earths Yellow ochre and Burnt sienna, plus Chinese White and Payne's gray rounding out the set.

I also got a Niji medium water-brush pen, which was the first time I've ever used such a thing, and was quite a liberating experience. 

The Persistence of Memory, The Home Game


Who said Dali was just imagining it?

This was on one of the shelves at I've Been Framed-Art Supply Center, and it didn't have a price tag on it, but I imagine it was for sale. We just don't have a place in the house to display it, not really, but if I go back and it's still there, I just might figure out a place.

Bike City Art Store


I'm betting your art supply store isn't as au courant as mine.

Looking out onto SE Foster Rd from the watercolor section of IBF, three days ago.

Don't you wish your art supply store was hot like mine?