We’ll be Right Back After These Messages…

Just a quick personal note, today….
As you may have read in earlier posts, I am heading out, literally halfway across the globe to have hip surgery this month. Merry Christmas to me, amiright???
The purpose of this blog is really for me to explore art and share my attempts with anyone interested–it is not a personal journal; however, I think it’s worthwhile to share with my, admittedly, very small following (thank you to those that do follow! I really appreciate you guys and your interest in sharing this silly journey with me) why my work has been sporadic lately and why I may not be posting again for a few more weeks…
It all started last February– I was training for my first big roller derby tournament with my league’s All Stars team and, while I had been training at a high level of intensity for the year and a half prior, I suddenly increased the duration and intensity of my workouts by quite a lot 6 weeks out from the tournament.
It was, ultimately, a mistake and I have wished it undone every day since…
My hip started feeling uncomfortable (like it needed to pop) during my warm up run, but I ignored it, vowing to deal with it later. I ended up having to end my run early, because during hill repeats, it ended up legit hurting. I thought a good stretch and hot bath would help…like in most things, I was wrong.
Fast forward 8 unbelievably painful months…that is (along with innumerable office visits, PT and being told that PT wasn’t worth my time, acupuncture, chiropractic, 3 different corticosteroid injections in and around my hip joint, a set of inconclusive X-rays, and 2 MRI arthrograms) no shit, how long it took to get a diagnosis. All the while, I have been unable to sit, walk for more than 10 minutes, tie my own shoes…some days even put on my own pants…forget training….
I have a labral tear in my right hip. The diagnosis varies (I had one orthopedist have to move midway through, one just visit my ortho clinic for only a few weeks, and one new ortho transfer in during this time), but in addition to the tear, I have been told I also have hip dysplasia, inappropriately deep hip sockets, FAI (hip impingement) , no FAI, early arthritis, and no evidence of arthritis.  Perhaps I should also mention I am 34 years old and have been a lifelong athlete….and am not ready to be an invalid before I get my first wrinkle….and would like to find out wtf is wrong with me and how to get this shit fixed.
 It STILL took an additional 3 months to find an orthopedist willing and able to perform corrective surgery (one said he wasn’t convinced I had anything wrong with me, at all), then cut through all of the red tape to get me shipped from Tokyo to California for the procedure (despite there being numerous surgeons in the Tokyo area who do hip arthroscopies and labral tear repairs, because my US military insurance wants to “keep shit in the family.”) and that brings us to December– almost 11 months since my first doctor’s visit. And, I am one of the lucky ones; some people live with this debilitating pain for years before a diagnosis.  
So, clearly, it’s been an awful year and, now that I’ve been granted the privilege of having corrective surgery (with an expected 60% success rate…yaaaaaaaay), this past month has been an unrelenting shit show of appointments, overseas phone calls, preparing for 2 months away from my home (and my best nurses, Luna, my dog and Hannibal, my cat), having to quit my roller derby team and my positions as head coach and team captain, and of course, cope with the anxiety of a major orthopedic surgery that may not work…so, no painting!
But, after my surgery, I have SO much art planned…my own portfolio pieces, highlighted artists, activity pages, the works!  So, thank you for being patient with me…I promise once I can, I will be painting and posting again!

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Sennelier Aquarelle Unboxing and Review (with video!)

Hello, friends! It has taken me a little while, but as promised, I have put together a video review of my Sennelier Aquarelle paints! Hooray for me!  And I really hope you enjoy it, or that someone out there finds it helpful. Sadly, I encountered technical difficulties with my camera, and that’s why we can’t have nice things…or quality audio with my first video on the blog, but, shit…that’s life!

Here are links to my You Tube channel. If you like my videos so far (technical issues aside), please subscribe or post something lovely in the comments! You know it’d make my day…and motivate me to make more videos!

Bash’s You Tube Channel

My awesome video review playlist

…and because I feel so bad about putting out a less than stellar video, I’m going to go ahead and embed it here to save you the trip over to You Tube. I’m just that considerate!

In addition to my sound issues in the first two videos, my camera cut out during the third, in a very suspenseful way. Let’s play it off as I thought my viewers might enjoy the thrill of a cliff hanger.
Because I am not a total dick, here are some supplementary photos to tie the whole thing together:

Completed color swatch card; I decided to paint a single layer, let it dry, then paint a second and third layer over the bottom half of each swatch, so I could have a visual of how the colors behave when layered (which is, supposedly, how they perform best and so far I tend to agree). I just LOVE these paints so much…they’re so incredibly beautiful!

Bleeding, blending, and glazing. If I were to venture a guess, I would hypothesize that the pigments must be ground incredibly fine in these paints because of how velvety smooth they are going into paper and how easily they flow…as compared to my Pelikan set, which I now realize actually felt gritty to paint with.

Lifting exercise. Holy balls, these colors lift like a dream! The above swatches were completely dry and I made 1 pass of wetting/lifting and the color almost completely lifted off! I went over a second time and got the stripe nearly completely lifted…no scrubbing at all. I don’t know if that’s just how good quality paints are supposed to behave, if hot press vs cold press paper is a factor, or if it’s an exceptional quality of these paints, but it is remarkable. I wonder if that would affect the longevity on my art, though?
Anyway, thank you for sticking with me through this post (and my video failures).
I have some ideas for upcoming posts and fun activities, but I want your feedback! Do you want to see more or less of something? Subjects you would like me to explore? Paint with me videos? I would love to hear your suggestions, and be able to give you the content YOU want! So, speak up, post a comment, and I will do my best to deliver!
Thanks for visiting, have a creative day!

Say “yup” to Yupo paper!

Let me start off my saying that I am not compensated for any of the products I talk about in this blog…I may have neglected to mention that in my Sennelier Aquarelle initial thoughts blog. Oops!
I spent last week in San Diego and visited my favorite version of a candy store (besides an actual candy store): Dick Blick. An actually brick and mortar…or, I should say Blick and mortar…
In addition to getting a little carried away in the brush pens aisle, I also picked up a pad of the mystical, magical Yupo paper I’ve seen a few artists using on Instagram.
In short, I’m in love….not the kind of head-over-heels, makes you do crazy things, love, but more the type that leaves you intrigued, captivated, and excited about what the future may bring.
So, it’s plastic. Your paint doesn’t absorb into its fibers, the water evaporates off its surface, leaving some really rad swirls and textures. In the hands of someone who knows what the hell they’re doing, it creates work that is absolutely stunning. In my hands, less so, but I am excited to experiment and learn. (The best part for a beginner? Don’t like your work? Wipe it off while it’s still wet and start over. Amazeballs.) I have watched a few YouTube videos of artists painting subjects ranging from abstract shapes and textures to photorealistic. It’s so versatile. It’s the shit.
Here’s my first piece I’ve created using Yupo:

(Using my beloved Sennelier watercolors…look how beautifully vibrant they are!)

Here is the same piece with some hand lettering on top. Love this stuff!
The painting, once I took a few mulligans, only took me about 10 minutes and my markers glided over the surface of the paper and paint (once dry) so smoothly and effortlessly it was like skating on ice! I hope you all take a chance and try it out, if you haven’t already!

Sennelier Nesting Half Pan Set: Initial Thoughts

My new Sennelier watercolor set has arrived!  I’m so excited to start playing with it, but I don’t think I will have time to post many photos or video before I leave on Monday.  I wanted to take a few moments to share my first impressions (I plan on doing an unboxing and demo video after I get back from the states):

 

The wooden bento-style box comes packaged in cardboard with a paper sleeve around it, featuring a print of a beautiful watercolor panting, as well as the normal stuff you’d find on packaging- an “exploded view” image of the set, product name (apparently, this collection is called “Déjeuner sur l’herbe,” how very French, indeed!) The back of the packaging has another “exploded view” image, as well as a listing of the set’s contents: 24 half-pans of French artists’ watercolor, 2 brushes, 1 embroidered cloth Sennelier, 1 porcelain palette, 1 graphite stick.  By the way, this set retails for $120 on http://www.dickblick.com, which is a steal, considering you’d pay far more than that just to purchase 24 individual half-pans.  BUT, I was also able to use a 25% discount code on the website (Dick Blick ALWAYS has some sort of discount coupon available), so it only cost me $89 and free shipping.  The product had been listed as backordered and wasn’t expected to ship out to me until 11/15, but much to my pleasure and surprise, it arrived almost 2 weeks early!

 

When you remove the cardboard packaging, you are greeted with a beautiful, 3-tiered, finished wooden box, secured with a nylon strap with a velcro closure.  The bottom-most tier of the box has a slit cut into the front and back sides for the strap to slide through (this way, the strap doesn’t slip off the box).

 

The first tier has “Sennelier” printed in the upper right corner; time will tell if the logo will show wear or the paint will begin to chip off (though I wouldn’t expect it to).  This tier has a hinged lid (hinges seem to be in good order) and the interior space divided into 3 sections (the sections are carved into the wood, vs one big section with dividers)– the two rearmost sections are smaller than the third section.  As the box is set up out of the packaging, the 2 brushes (Raphael synthetic squirrel in #1 and #4 round, approx 6 inches long) are in the back section, the Monolith HB graphite pencil (I have used Monolith graphite sticks for years and love them….glad to have a bonus HB) is in the middle, and my 24 half-pans are in the front with a strip of foam between the 2 rows of 12.  I futzed around with moving things to different sections and rearranging the colors slightly and was pleased to find the first row is the perfect size to hold the half-pans.  The second row, however, is a little bit loose. I sliced off a small bit of foam to keep the half pans from jostling around too much when I’m picking up pigment…not the best solution, but it’s ok for now. 


The lid of the box is nice and flat and, since, unlike my cheap Pelikan set, you can’t always tell the color of the paint when it’s unwet, I painted a quick color reference card and attached it with photo mounting corners.


 

The second tier is nice and roomy.  Out of the box, it just contains the embroidered cloth (which is a nice, waffle texture cotton cloth with yellow piping border and yellow embroidery).  I may decide to use this tier to store some other goodies, or leave it out for more compact travel.

 

The third tier houses the porcelain palette; it is pretty heavy duty and seems to be of high quality.  On one side, there are 6 wells with a slight pitch.  The dividing ridges between the wells seem to be tall enough to keep your paint from mixing.  The other side of the palette is one large, flat area with a raised lip (to keep your paint from rolling off).  There are 2 pieces of foam in this section to keep the palette from moving around– one big one underneath, and one strip along one of the long sides of the box.  These can be removed to create additional storage.

 

Now, the strap– the nylon and velcro strap is not adjustable, however, living in Japan, I have easy access to the wide world of bento supplies.  I will likely use one of my adjustable bento straps to keep the box together if I decide to condense my kit for travel or plein air painting.
The set is rather lightweight and seems quite travel friendly…it’d be even more so with tiers removed/supplies condensed, or with a cheap, plastic “travel” palette in place of the porcelain one. I, however, do not have any issues with its weight and wouldn’t trade in the nice porcelain palette for a cheap plastic one.
I would like to revisit this later, but my initial painting session leaves me less than impressed with the brushes. One arrived with a few bent hairs and they take a bit of finagling to retain their shape after cleaning…at least compared to my beloved Silver Black Velvet brushes! That said, I think they’re perfectly acceptable for use as travel/plein air brushes and I am glad to add these smaller sized brushes to my collection.
Stay tuned next month for a more in depth review and video of the actual paints, themselves!
Until then, happy painting!

Winter is coming…and so is all kinds of cool shit.

Holy hit snacks….my Sennelier half pan watercolor nesting set just shipped! It was backordered and I wasn’t expecting it until after we got back from San Diego, but now it looks as though I might be able to take it with me on the trip.

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Woop woop!

 

I will definitely be posting a review/unboxing…video, even, if I’m feeling up to it…

 

Other good things on the horizon…Not giving too much away, but I have some upcoming posts planned with all sorts of fun stuff, like art history and coloring pages.

 

…AND MOTHERFUCKING ART HISTORY COLORING PAGES! Boo ya!

 

 

Bionic AF

 What makes you bionic?  Like, what is the threshold for….bionic-ness?  I only ask because I’ve gotten some amazingly good news and am DYING to make myself a t-shirt (and perhaps a companion shirt for my husband).  What’s the occasion?  To celebrate my (hopefully fast approaching) labral repair…and it would read, “Bitch, I’m Bionic AF.” I just think it’d be amazing (not to mention a great conversation piece for cocktail parties…) and therefore, obviously something I would be caught wearing.  I just don’t know if anchor screws would make me bionic, and I wouldn’t want to encroach on the territory of those who are….

 

Perhaps some back story.

 

In February, I was training for a roller derby tournament and during one of my normal runs, my right hip started feeling like it needed to “pop.”  Nothing abnormal there (maybe that’s a bit sad…), so obviously, I ignored it.  As it turns out, that was a bad idea….not necessarily because the consequences could have been avoided, but one of those moments that, with the knowledge of hindsight, I now wish never happened.  An incredibly long story short, after x-rays, 2 MRI arthrograms, 2 intra-articular corticosteroid injections (yay), a psoas tendon corticosteroid injection (double yay), PT (and being dropped by PT), some auricular acupuncture, fistfuls of pain medications, a diagnosis of femoroacetabular impingement and posterior labral tear, and after having been dismissed by one hip arthroscopy specialist, I will soon be heading stateside for a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip arthroscopy willing to take on my case.  I don’t know if this will turn into surgery, but it should, truthfully.  For over 8 months, I feel like I have been disintegrating.  Each week brings new activities I find I am no longer able to perform.  On the negative side, I can’t sit.  I can’t walk for more than a few minutes.  I can’t stand up without shifting my weight entirely onto my left leg.  I can’t exercise, I can’t play roller derby.  I can’t do minimal tasks around my house.  Some days, I can’t put on pants, shoes, or socks.

 

It blows.

 

On the positive side, I CAN (I’ve learned) art.  I can practice calligraphy and watercolor and improve every day.  I can create art and make the world a more beautiful place, one page at a time.  See?  All is not lost!  I am so grateful that this experience (horrible as it has been) has helped me reveal some hidden talents (well….that’s a stretch….let’s call them “passions and hobbies”) and that, with the support and thoughtful heart of my husband, my days do not look so bleak.

 

I travel to the U.S. in a few weeks…updates to come, for sure!