Stoudt’s Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout and Gouache Portraits

Stoudt’s Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout is this week’s excellent beer selection. It is excellent because there is a fat dog on each label. Also because it is sweet and delicious. Its taste is reminiscent of the perfect oatmeal cookie. One sip and the flavor fills your whole mouth. Swallow and a slight tangy aftertaste fills you with nostalgia, making you long for another mouthful. I can see how it got its name; I could drink these all day and end up 1) drunk as a dog and 2) fat as the dog on the bottle.
Ratings:

M: 9.5
N: 8.5

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Gouache Portraits

The weeks-long activity that I wrapped up last Friday encompasses all my experience with gouache portraits. Here is what I have produced:
I’m fairly happy with it, in that naive-new-to-a-medium (gouache) and -genre (portrait) way, and will probably hate it for its blatant shortcomings once I grow into a good painter. Even now, having learned from the process, there are a few things I would change.

I finally got the likeness right and transferred it to Crescent illo board. It was mounted on thin backing, and as soon as I laid down the toning wash, the board curled up. Also, the wash obscured a few of my pencil lines. Lesson 1: use thicker board. Press harder on transfer.

I mixed up the mid-range skin tones and painted those in. I wasn’t careful enough and later found a few spots that were missing paint. Luckily the toning wash showed through (instead of white board). Lesson 2: Mix up more paint than you need, and keep the leftover dried-up mess handy until the very end. Also, keep each mixed color in its own well.

Once I was done, I was planning on blending some of the color “tiles” by softening the edges. I have found a tiny amount of info on the Internets about the gouache “tiling” technique, and thought I’d try it. Instead of nicely blending two adjoining tiles together, all I did was lift up the paint and make a mess. Luckily I learned Lesson #2 early, and had some paint to cover my ass. I still have no idea how tiling works. Lesson 3: Practice techniques before using them for something important. It’s hard to cover mistakes in gouache.

I took photos of each step along the way. I’ll post those next time… after the holidays. Merry Holidaytime, everyone!

Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager and Gouache Underpainting, Part 2

Most of the beers I’ve posted have been good. Time for a disappointment. Although it is not a stout or porter, we picked up Shiner 97 Bohemian Black Lager because of the word “black.” Some very good dark beers are labeled simply as “black,” not stout or porter. But this beer really is a lager, and has almost no dark beer qualities. It tastes just like a light beer, but with heavy undertones. Conclusion: although it might be a good lager (I don’t really know), we won’t be buying it again.

M: 4
N: 4

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Gouache Underpainting, the Final Chapter

I admit to being a complete newbie when it comes to 1) painting 2) color and 3) portraits. So I really didn’t know what I was doing. I chose some colors that I thought would make a good skin tone, and mixed them willy-nilly. I ended up with a color that would look good on a tropical parakeet… but I wasn’t going to throw out all that paint. So forgive the ultra-tanned sheen that makes Grandpa look like he’s a snorkel instructor in Tuvalu.

I attempted to paint over Left Grandpa. I mixed four values with this shade, but added some blue into the darks for a more interesting contrast. I mixed a few shades of suit and hair color as well. And I painted over.
I forgot to paint the glasses. Anyway, You can see that on the face, the underpainting didn’t show through at all. I used opaque mixes for the face, and although the underpainting was a good guide, it didn’t do much else. It was great to paint on something other than white, though. On the suit, I used a much more transparent mix, and the underpainting showed through.
Here are some of the techniques I used. You can see the results – not too great. Dry brush looks terrible. Add water and it gives nice texture. Scrubbing an area lifts like nobody’s business.

So I learned how to make it work, but didn’t much like the results. Lesson: if you make the second layer transparent enough for the underpainting to show through, it tends to lift. Therefore, my actual painting of grandpa will use a watery wash as the underpainting, so I am not painting on white. From this experiment, mostly I learned what not to do.

Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout and Gouache Underpainting

Is it just me, or are these beer names getting longer?

The Terrapin Beer Company is local to Athens, GA, and regularly sends its “limited edition” brews to the local stores. After we first tried Terrapin Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout, we fell in love with it, and were devastated when the stores discontinued it. Well, last week, it was there again! Woo!

This beer was the First Place winner at the Atlanta Cask Ale Tasting in 2005 and People’s Choice winner in 2006, and for good reason. It’s one of the very best beers we’ve tried. It’s expensive, but delicious. You only get 4 for 8 bucks, but it’s worth it. It tastes like a chocolatey coffee and a home-baked oatmeal cookie put together. It has no bitterness and no bad aftertaste. It’s brewed with coffee. Mmmm. Therapeutic.

M: 10
N: 9.5

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Gouache Underpainting – Part 1

This was an experiment in underpainting, to learn the dos and don’ts. As such, it doesn’t look very pretty. But I learned from it, and I hope you do too. Also, it’s too long to post all at once.

My excellent Grandpa passed away when I was in college. He was a great man whose personality and good deeds I didn’t fully learn about until people spoke at his funeral. Grandma still misses him a great deal, so I’m paiting a portrait of him for her. Do not tell Grandma or it’ll ruin her birthday surprise. Thank you.
I traced Grandpa’s bust onto cheap illo board with a light “table” I rigged with a desk lamp, textbooks, and a piece of glass. The outlines were very rough and simply showed the major value areas. Then I painted the values with one hue. For Left Grandpa, I mixed grey-blue and cool green. For Right Grandpa, cool red and warm green. I added white in various amounts to get a total of four values. Neither of these are a very good likeness, but that’s fine, since this is a value experiment.
I liked how the values turned out. They showed the form well. Using monochrome values was very useful to me because it’s what I’m used to with pencils. Even if I don’t use an underpainting in the final portrait, I will use these value studies to help. They were great learning experiences in themselves.

The conclusions: next week!

Red Brick Winter Brew Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter and the Wacom

This week: the beer with the longest name ever. Or at least that we’ve bought.

Red Brick Winter Brew Double Chocolate Oatmeal Porter is the latest seasonal product available at our local Beverage Resort. We weren’t terribly impressed. Maybe the name is long to distract the buyer from the beer’s mediocrity.

Anyhow, the beer isn’t very chocolatey or oatmealy. “Double chocolate” my rollerblading-damaged butt. What’s that supposed to mean, anyway? It’s got an unpleasant tang that smooth beers don’t have, and the aftertaste is bright. Dark beers can have an aftertaste problem that I haven’t really encountered with light beers… but the good dark ones avoid it. This one didn’t.

M: 6
N (introduced half ratings this week): 6.5

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My new Wacom arrived this week. I am ecstatic.

But first… I have Updated the Website. I have new art, and the cool CrashOctopus hats are on sale. Need a hip holiday present? Visit meglyman.com.

Now that the plugging is over, down to business. The tablet was fairly easy to install. I’m convinced that Linux programmers make things easy for uber-nerds, but for average nerds like me it’s always a bit frustrating to do things. Maybe they’re ensuring that no non-nerds use it… anyway, I only had an hour of frustration before I got the thing working right; no hair-pulling. And it works beautifully!

I started my first piece of digital art. I was able to sketch, “ink,” and start to color it with no problems. It took me forever and a day to get this far:


But I intend to practice to get faster. It will go like this:

N: Shouldn’t you be doing X? (X = washing dishes, exercising, sleeping)
M: No… I must practice on my tablet. Practice makes perfect, right?

So, eventually I will finish it and post in on my website. And next week, I will write about underpainting in gouache. Because if I write it down today, I must put aside my new toy and do it, which will force me to finish the underpainting experiment I *need* to do now so that I can get Grandma’s painting done in time to frame it and give it to her on Christmas. The end.

Lawson Creek Vanilla Cream Stout and … Art stuff

Lawson Creek Vanilla Cream Stout is this week’s beer. It’s redeeming value is its availability; it can be found in most Kroger stores. And while it is vanilla-ish, its flavor is slightly bitter. Not the sweetest beer. It is quite tangy and has a creamy aftertaste, which can get annoying. But for a fairly cheap, available stout, it’s not toooo bad.

M: 5
N: 6

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Art has been neglected this past week due to the holiday and the parents’ visit. However, I have a few tidbits to share:

1. My tablet is on its way! It should arrive on my birthday and provide me with much distraction at a time when I can’t afford to be distracted. Grandpa’s portrait isn’t going to paint itself by Christmas.

2. Using a light projector to trace photos is not foolproof. I traced Grandpa’s photo with it (to enlarge for the canvas) and it didn’t turn out very well. Movement of the projector and the paper didn’t help. Also, the photo is larger than the 3×3″ square in the projector, so I had to move it around on the photo and try to line it up with what I’d already traced. Lesson: tracing a large photo isn’t really any easier than using a good old grid.

3. My ma hasn’t painted in a year, and she comes and paints three little postcards, teaching me lots about how to use gouache, which she’s never used before. Mas are great.

4. Sculpting with two-part epoxy is fun. I shall post on this later when I have learned more.

That is all.

Bison Chocolate Stout and Gouache

Welcome from sunny, cool Georgia.

Last weekend N brought home a repeat favorite, Bison Chocolate Stout. The first place we tried this beer was at a Ted’s Montana Grill. I gave my beer order first, and N followed with the same, and then every other person at the table ordered one… except the other girl. Anyhow, it was good enough to pick up at the Beverage Resort a few times since then.

Bison Chocolate Stout is fairly unique. Other stouts often make me think, “Tastes similar to stout X.” But this one doesn’t remind me of any other beers. It tastes very much like dark chocolate. The cocoa flavor is a bit bitter, just like a Hershey’s Dark. But it also has a nice bite and tang. Overall, a unique, chocolately, well-rounded beer. Ratings:

N: 8
M: 8

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I use gouache. A little-known type of paint, gouache (pronounced “gwash”) is an ornery, interesting medium. It’s essentially opaque watercolor. The cheap gouaches are simply watercolors with chalk added, and the good ones just have more pigment (slightly coarser than watercolors). Many artists haven’t heard of it, or if they have, they say, “why on earth are you starting with that??” They know that it’s a difficult paint to work with… but it can also do amazing things. I chose it because my favorite wildlife painter Carl Brenders uses it. Google him and you’ll see what can be done with gouache. I have prints of his hanging in my home that people always mistake for photographs.

But a good artist can do wonders with any medium, so once I tried my gouache I found out just how good Brenders is. Gouache is unfriendly. Handprint.com (a great watercolor website) says that the word “gouache” is derived from the Italian for “mud,” which is very fitting.

Gouache can be used like watercolors, in wash form. It gives neat texture effects because of its coarse pigment. It can also be used thick, with only a little water added or straight from the tube. Either way, the most difficult thing about using it is its tendency to lift. Good for correcting, bad for layering. Layering can work, but if you scrub, it’ll lift all the layers of paint below and turn into mud. It also gets streaky.

My example: a recent painting of a cat. This photo shows a work-in-progress.
If you’re wondering why the cat has only one eye, it’s because I’m honoring my sweet little devil, Kali:
Anyhow, notice the ugly, dead-looking strip to the right of the window frame. That had been layered in several washes, initially the same orange-ish color as the rest of the wall, then in blue for shadow. I scrubbed too much. It looked like crap, so I got it wet and lifted the paint off (blue-ish stripe):
I didn’t pay much attention to whether the colors I was mixing were both warm or both cool, which added to the mess. The strip to the far right looks OK. The brownish strip between the two looks like mud. Bleh. Here’s a view of how washes can work:
The green is a single color wash and the red is a layered mix. Both look fine.

Then there’s the opaque applications. These can look good if the paint consistency is right and you do it in one pass (see purple below, notice difference between red wash and purple opaque):
But if you go over an opaque area again with another opaque application, even if it’s totally dry, you’ll probably get a mess. I used the same color to go over another purple area again, and it turned streaky, lifted some of the paint, and sort of un-mixed (see blue smudge):
This may also say something about my mixing abilities. Anyhow, gouache has this lovely property that the more paint you put on an already-painted wet area, the lighter it gets. No matter how much you have on your brush, painting into a wet opaque area lifts. Like trying to write over a dry-erase mark on a whiteboard. Frustrating.

Lesson: Play with gouache to learn it. Wait for it to dry to touch it up. Learn from mistakes. Don’t get frustrated. After all, artists have done fabulous things with gouache. And once you’ve mastered it, everything else will be easy. You might also be 300 years old by then, but hey.

Young’s Oatmeal Stout and Wacom

First, I must say… GO BEARS!

Now, this week’s beer: Young’s Oatmeal Stout. To begin, I bring you the following quotation from Wikipedia:

“Oatmeal stout has more body than standard stout, and is smoother, slightly sweeter, and typically higher in alcohol. The flavor is roasted and malty, with almost no noticeable bitterness, and a texture some describe as “chewy” or “silky” due to the oats; oats contribute significantly to the protein content of the beer. Oatmeal stout was, in the past, often recommended as a restorative drink for invalids.”

So, that’s how an oatmeal stout is supposed to taste. And most that we try do have those good oatmeal-y qualities. But Young’s is lacking. It may have body, but the tanginess overwhelms. It is bubbly and bright and not very smooth or sweet. Malty, yes… but that isn’t always a good thing. It is slightly bitter, not particularly chewy, and not good for much except washing down pizza.

At least it has protein. And… invalids??

N rating: 5
M rating: 4

p.s. I couldn’t find a good link for Young’s Oatmeal Stout, but google it and you’ll find it. Here’s a link for the last beer (I edited that post too): Xingu

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On to the Wacom. I’ve been tinkering with the idea of trying digital art recently. With my newfound desire to explore color comes a desire to try all different kinds of media, digital included. The itch got worse when I had a dream about drawing on a graphics tablet. So I’m looking into getting one. You know, follow your dreams and all that.

First, I must mention that I’ve done a few little arty things and photo touch-ups with the GIMP (cool free graphics software) and the mouse. That did not make my wrists happy. In fact, they howled in pain, bewildered by the unwarranted punishment. So if I want to keep it up, I need a tablet. Wacom is a popular brand, so I looked at their website. Great features and all that, quite expensive (as expected), and no Linux support (also as expected). Sigh.

Of course, the Linux community being as rockin’ as it is, there is Linux support for all sorts of graphics tablets, Wacom included. It just isn’t done by Wacom. It’s done by lovable programmers who sit at their desks, basking in the glow of their monitors, with no thanks other than the satisfaction that they’ve once again thwarted the strangle-hold of the Large Personal Computing Corporations with Free Software.

So here’s to you wonderful geeks: thanks for making all my periphals work. I love Linux, and I couldn’t do it without you. My search for the perfect graphics tablet continues. <3

Tequila and Con on the Cob

This weekend didn’t involve any beer. *gasp* There was tequila instead – far too much of it. Back to beer next week.

The 2nd Annual Con on the Cob
COTC an awesome fantasy/art/gaming convention in Akron, OH. We just returned, worn out and happy. I learned a great deal about how art and conventions interact, so I’ll bestow upon you my learnings:

1. Mat, bag, & tag your art and layout your panels beforehand. Leave room to move things around, since your panel may be a slightly different size than expected. Also, the available attachment points may be spread out.

2. Bring your own binder clips or S-clips and tape. Bring every supply you think you might need, just in case.

3. If you have a lot of art, fill out the bid sheets before you arrive.

4. Get there early for a good spot (if it hasn’t been decided for you).

5. Hanging up a sign that says “prints available” doesn’t help much; you must go around telling people. Everybody. Multiple times. When someone says they like your art, say thanks, and oh by the way, I have prints for sale! And have them with you at all times.

6. Give out oodles of business cards.

7. Wearing your merchandise helps sell it.

8. Listen to people’s suggestions.

9. Participate in as many art events as you can.

10. Be friendly to everyone.

11. Party and canoodle with other artists.

12. Art trades foster camaraderie.

OK, now comes the bragging. N and I were introduced to miniature painting, which we both enjoyed immensely due to its brainless, soothing nature. He painted two little tiny dudes with teeth:
and I re-painted a larger undead tree model that came with a miniatures starter set I won at the raffle table:
We both entered the miniatures painting contest, and I won best “large size” entry (of two whole entries) and N won best non-human AND best-of-show miniature! He won a highly esteemed Corny award!!

I participated in both the Quick Draw and Iron Artist competitions with many talented artists, including the illustrious Mr. Jeff Easley. My foam flaming cowboy salamander was a flop (literally – it kept falling over), but it gave me a painting idea (props to Andy Hopp for the concept idea… oh, and for organizing the whole kickass convention and all). My CrashOctopus hats were a hit, and I sold some art! I sold two of the three “cute animals that begin with A” originals, as well as prints of said cuteness, and one pencil original. And the kicker – I won the Fan Favorite Corny Award! Everyone who attended could vote on their favorite, and ’twas me by a small margin. I couldn’t believe it. It made this convention even more rockin’ and I think Sunday was the best day ever. So far. I love you guys!!

And the best part: I got an original “butt print” from groovy artist Tony “Buns Of” Steele. Rock on.

Xingu and Scanning Slide FIlm

Let’s start with a good one. Xingu is one of my favorites. It’s a Brazilian “black beer” that has a light, sweet taste. It’s medium-bodied, but doesn’t leave that heavy, filmy feel in your mouth like most dark beers. It’s very smooth, no tang, and almost no aftertaste (you know, the bitter one that comes with most stouts & porters). Ratings (10 = I’d be happy if I died right now, 1 = nearly yakked):

M: 10
N: 8

I should note that the “I’d be happy if I died right now” sensation wore off after the beer was gone.

(edit: link to Xingu)

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This weekend has been an adventure in scanning slide film. I bought the fancy scanner that would do it well (Epson 4990 Photo). It’s a great scanner. However, the quality of the scanner is only as good as the software that you use with it (and vice versa). So… it came with Photoshop elements, which of course doesn’t work in Linux. The program I found, xsane, is a very good substitute. It doesn’t auto-crop the slides, but it scans transparencies well. The color correction, however, sucks pumpkins. Big ones. It illuminates the slides fairly well, but everything looks all magenta, so it took hours to correct them all. And there were a few great slides I cut out of my portfolio because I couldn’t get the damned scanned file to look like the slide.

The lesson: Ask the lab to scan them onto a CD for you. It’s worth the extra five bucks. Believe me. It’s nice to know I could do it myself if I had to, but it’s just not worth the effort… and they do it better anyway.

An Ode to Art and Beer

Beer. No, not just beer. I have to be more specific. Dark beer? Hmm… Slightly better.

The imbibish part of this blog will focus on said beverage. I cannot stand the light-colored swill that passes for beer in this country. N and I drink (and rate) only beers that have the words “stout,” “porter,” or “dark” in the title and are chocolaty-brown in color. My snooty beer preference I blame entirely on my dad, who thoroughly enjoys dark beers. He also enjoys just about any kind of food put in front of him, and never met a piece of pie he didn’t like, and I blame those traits on him, too.

So, beer. N and I buy a new kind every time we visit the Beverage Resort (complete with a waterfall and plastic tropical trees), and their selection changes every time. Each new beer gets a 1 (bad) to 10 (kickass) rating from me and from Nathan, and a brief description, if we aren’t too beer-ed up to remember it. Generally, we don’t get toasted on this stuff – it’s too good to waste by forgetting. And we bring this ranking to you, for your enjoyment of fine dark beer, and to help us remember what we’ve tried and what we’d rather not buy ever again.

The other half of the blog: art. I have recently discovered that I desperately want to explore the world of art as it exists beyond backgroundless pencil drawings. Within the last 6 months or so, I’ve bought paper, board, claybord, gouache, paintbrushes, palettes, canvases, and pastels, to name a few, in an attempt to explore the world of color. Henceforth come my mis-adventurous relationship with art, put down in electrons to help both you and me. Here’s to my ability to make horrible art mistakes so you don’t have to.

An Ode to Art and Beer