SCA and the Arts and Sciences 50 Challenge


I haven’t been doing a lot of art of recent. I’ve done very little to be honest. Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working on other projects. I assisted Mistress Hauviette d’Anjou with the feast at Winter Revel. I volunteered to do the soup. We agreed upon a vegetarian soup, the Baroness of Andelcrag requested pea soup. I made ten gallons of soup for the event. There were several problems with this project.

First, because I tried to grind up the old vegetables in my garbage disposal from the vegetable stock I made my kitchen sink is still unusable. I’ve had professional strength liquid plummer in my sink for a week and it’s only gone down about half an inch. I think my cast iron pipe has finally rusted completely through. I had my bathroom replaced a few years ago, and I think it’s time to have my kitchen pipes replaced. Just have to find a day when I can be home to get an estimate and schedule a day.

The second problem was that as we were heating up the first batch of soup in my stock pot, it scorched. It stunk pretty bad. We still had enough to serve and there was some left at the end so we didn’t run short.

Now truth be told, I don’t care for pea soup. The split peas were still firm and gritty. One of the diners, Baron Odo, said he’s made a lot of pea soup and that’s how it’s going to come out unless you cook it for a very long time. He said it was very good so I’ll take that complement.

At the event, I was asked to be Mistress Hauviette’s apprentice. I had been her student and was honored to have her as a teacher, mentor and guide. She’s been a friend of mine for many years and hope she always will be.

I had decided at the event to participate in the Arts and Sciences 50 Challenge. In honor of the Society for Creative Anachronism’s 50th anniversary, there was a challenge that was started several years back. There are several forms of this challenge. I chose to make 50 different projects. Documentation is not necessary but I plan to at least have some references and sources for my projects.

Tonight I just finished with my first project. It is my apprentice belt. The belts are green in color. Instead of a leather belt I decided to make a woven belt. I made seven woven braids on my inkle loom. Inkle looms are not period, but I really don’t have the space in my house for a warp weighted loom. Many people use Inkle looms because they are portable and have become a common staple as far as looms go. Each of the inkle braids were at least six feet long. I then wove the braids together to make a braided belt. I don’t have a photo yet but I will be posted to my facebook page soon. I like it because I’ve never seen anyone else with a woven belt like this. I’ve seen people make macrame squire’s belts but not one like this.

Each woven band was made of green crochet thread bought from my local Michael’s craft store. I had twenty threads on the warp, and used a black thread on the shuttle. The result of the bands were a band a little over a quarter inch thick with a black dotted line on the edge of each band. The black is subtle and only shows up on good light.

I’ve decided on my second project. I am going to make a bracelet with copper beading wire. It will be based on an early period Anglo Saxon bracelet that was made out of silver. More details later.



Art, Blog

I’ve heard Larry Elmore give his passionate speech on his love for Liquitex gesso.  liquitex gessoHe’s given this speech multiple times and he has given his  warnings about using cheap gesso.  Apparently there has been a change in the formulas for gesso.  For those who don’t know what gesso is, it is the base, primer coat that artists use for their canvas or boards.  The purpose of priming your boards are to seal your base to prevent your oil paints from soaking into the boards or canvas underneath, to give you solid undercoat and to give it some tooth if you want it.  I prefer to sand down my boards and have a uniformly smooth texture.

Over the past two day’s I’ve been working with two types of gesso.  A cheaper brand I bought from Michael’s craft store, and after hearing Larry’s speech, I went out and bought the more expensive gesso.  I can attest to the differences between the two gessos.

I used the cheaper gesso for my first two coatings.  Tonight I went over those with the Liquitex.  I can definately tell the difference.  The Liquitex is whiter and is brighter.  It is thicker as well.  I used both undiluted straight from the bottle.

Tomorrow when the top coat dries I’ll begin by sanding the boards down to a smooth finish and then begin to transfer a drawing onto the board.  If you are new to working with acrylic or oils, I would also recommend that you spend the extra money for the Liquitex.  I think you’ll find the results better than using your cheaper brands.  My guess is that they are watering them down and you will end up needing more coats to get the same coverage with the Liquitex gesso.

Research your community

Art, Blog

Call me SpongeBob.  Over the past several months I’ve been sucking up information on resources and techniques from other artist friends who have been doing what I hope to be doing soon.  Making and selling their art.

I’ve never wanted to have others dictate what I am supposed to draw.  Drawing has always been a very personal thing for me.  I didn’t want to be paid for art on demand.  After 11 years in the graphic design field I didn’t want to be under those same types of demands for my artwork.  Instead I only did my art when I was “inspired”.  As a result, I ended up doing little to no art for many years.  Anyway, I digress.

Since getting back into my art groove, I’ve been listening to the resources where my fellow artists are getting things done.  Where they have been getting art supplies, and hearing about their local print shops and how they have taken advantage of their local resources.

I’ve taken advantage of a couple of resources here in the Lansing, Michigan area.  Since taking my oil painting course with Larry Elmore this fall, I found some of the advantages of working on Masonite board instead of stretched canvas.  First off, it’s so much cheaper than stretched canvas.  Second, you don’t need to play with that spring a stretched canvas has when you are painting onto it.  This brings me to my first local resource.  LOWES.  Yup, Lowes hardware.  This is where I bought my masonite.  A sheet of 4′ x 8′ was only $8.97.  An employee assisted me and cut two sheets of it into 18 x 24″ panels.  I have about twenty cut and ready to be primed.  Pretty sweet deal, or at least I think so.  I think I have enough 18×24 boards for the rest of the year.

The second local resource took a bit of research.  I have a scanner/printer at home.  I thought I might be limited to a maximum size of 9″x12″ to scan in my artwork as this is the largest size for it’s screen.  I know there had to be resources out there for artists to scan in their work and get it on a digital file for reproduction.  I just didn’t know where.  I first called a business I used to do work with when I worked for Kinko’s many years ago.  They specialized in prints for museums, air photos, ect.  They were still in business and the guy I used to work with was running the business.  He couldn’t help me but gave me two other print shops to call.  I went online and checked the first one, their maximum scanner size was the same as mine.  So I checked with this third company.  Score!  It was Commercial Blueprint.  They had moved their office, but they said they could work with my drawings, inks, or paintings.  I asked about the masonite board, and they said they could do that as well.  Relatively cheaply too.  $15 per scan and if I provide my flash drive $5 additional.  If I want it on a CD then it’s a $10.

So this brings me to my point.  Know your local resources in your community.  It may be a while before I can afford an oversize printer.  Knowing who can make the things I want for a decent price is important.  Now it doesn’t matter where you live.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  Make some calls and search the internet for your community resources.  If you know other artists, ask them.  Listen their advice.  There are enough lessons in life and techniques to master.  Take advantage of the wisdom and resources that others have already tried.

And a special shout out to Larry Elmore, Aradani Studios (Mike and Paul), and Tony Smith.  You are all awesome!  Check out their work, and if you get a chance to chat em up at a convention you won’t be disappointed.

Larry Elmore teaching perspective

Larry Elmore teaching perspective

Portrait work #1


It’s been a long time since I’ve done a portrait.  I’ve just finished one that I am not satisfied with.  It may be that you will always be your own worst critic, but I think you know when you’ve done a good portrait.  First you can recognize the person.  Second, it looks like your source.  On this attempt I believe I’ve failed with both.

I will attach both my source picture and then my attempt.  I am putting this up here mostly to serve as a record of my efforts so that perhaps with more work and future attempts I can come closer to the source material.

My first error starting off, was chosing a family member to attempt to draw.  I’m out of practice.  I should have started with a subject without the emotional connection. Starting with a celebrity or a someone famous, might be a crutch but I think it would have been wiser.  I think others as well as myself would be less critical.  I’ll let people judge the work for themselves.  Drawing people you know or family may not be flattered by the work, or outright insulted.  If this ends up being the case this post will disappear.  I will likely try it again later when I work on some other portraits.

I’m particularly unhappy with the face, as I don’t think I got the youth or expression in this image.  Let me know what you think.  First the original, then my attempt.



Feast and Friends


Today, the big news and event was a trip to Kalamazoo to meet with my friend Channon Mondoux and her associates who were gathering to discuss preparations for Winter Revel.  Winter Revel is a SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event to be held in Ionia on January 19th.  I had volunteered to create the soup for the feast.  We met, feasted on foods some for the event and some other items that were brought.  It was a great time.  We had time to meet to discuss the event and make some plans and revise some.

As the event theme is a 16th century German feast that would be common fare for an inn or tavern, I was thinking of a Mustard soup.  Mustard soups are common in German and the Netherlands today, but unusual enough for the modern American pallete that I thought it would be a good idea.

After discussion of what had been requested and what we wanted we decided on a recipe in a German Cookbook that would be a lighter soup, as there will be plenty of food and we didn’t want to make it a heavy grain laden soup like a barley soup.  We will be making it vegetarian, a request for a split pea soup was made and any onion used will need to be purreed as one of our guests of note does not like the texture of onion.  We found a good recipe and I think it will be a good item along with the rest of the meal.  Other items in the meal will be two types of bread a rye bread and individual loaf of white to be served with the soup.  There will be smoked salmon, (we tasted smoked whitefish today — AWESOME), and venison sausages.  Saurkraut, and pickled carrots and beets.  For desert we will be making apple fritters which will be amazing when made fresh that day, and pears in honey.  For a ten dollar feast it’s going to be amazing.  

Channon has gathered some amazing cooks in the Michigan and I felt so fortunate to be amongst this crowd of creative and talented people.  Some of the people there, I had the fortune to meet at prior events but it was a great experience to be able to talk food, make food and share it.  Loved it.

And the weather was great for a road trip.  In all it was a very educational experience today and one I know I’m going to enjoy.


Art, Blog

A new year should always start with new goals and new endeavors.  Many people set new resolutions and this is the first of mine to be tried. My Blog will now be my art blog.  I will primarily be using this blog to promote my art and to share my thoughts as I  practice my art.

I have not yet decided on the name of my blog yet and I plan to cross-post it on my facebook page.  I hope this is something that people find interesting as you will find my art published here.

Happy 2013 to us all.  May it be filled with new challenges, new opportunities and opportunities for growth.

God Bless!