Every Wednesday the software developers have a meeting to go over what they've been up to over the week. I don't care how brief this actually spans in minutes, these things are always too long. If I had my way, they would never happen. Or at least I wouldn't be there. Anyway, just recently, I had the idea of sketching people in the room to while away the time.

Now I haven't tried to draw maybe since I was 12 when I was damn serious about it, but last week I got Eric and Pradeep and was pretty pleased with the results. Nothing amazing, but ok enough. This week, I tried to sketch James. This was pretty hard, because he kept moving, but I managed to get distinct features in very faint lines, and if you place your imagination over the sketch, you get interesting results. I started to get playful, mixing thick outline drawing with faint sketchings and shading, and I was well pleased with what I had at the end of those never-ending 30 minutes.

On the way back to our cubicles, Pradeep asked me if I had a productive meeting. I said surely, and showed him my sketches by way of what I meant. He said, "Ah, that's a good picture of Eric.... But that, that doesn't look like James. Maybe if you" *he covers the head*, "then it looks like James, because James is always wearing t-shirts under polo shirts. But otherwise, I couldn't tell if that was James. You'd have to label him. But that picture of Eric is really good. I like that one." He sits down.

I tried to be a good sport in the face of criticism, so in response I said nothing of note. But it occurs to me that this pretty much illustrates the story of my life. I've since torn off both sheets of drawings, and threw them in the dustbin. Now that really makes this a cliche for me.

ps: This makes a lot more sense when I mention that until I graduated college, I could without hesitation have called myself a musician. A classical guitarist among other things. I gave up playing classical guitar because after playing countless events, nobody had said a single word about a piece that wasn't a party favorite. Screw audiences, man. Yet somehow, you need them too.

The painting continues.

A while back I decided to start painting again. Most of my life's work was destroyed when huge flooding hit the town, and the sewer systems backed up. You can't recover that which has literally drowned in cack.

It's been a good thing. A few years back I met this Russian dude who painted in the Classical Realist technique. He kind of looks like T-Bird in The Crow, but he rocks on the canvas, and I bought his training materials and spent some time discussing technique with him.

My first piece is a rose. It's taken some months. The canvas needs time to thoroughly dry - about seven weeks a layer. And I had the whole divorce/move/move back trip that cut into my time. So between the first and second and now the third - well, a matter of nine months. But the next layer will start two or so weeks from now.

I'm using paints that have been ground in walnut oil. Vassari suggested that one back in the day, saying that walnut oil gives the paint a beautiful, luscious appearance. I agree. The rose is roughly blocked in in rich velvety sepia tones I'll blend back to reality in the next few layers.

I like rich. Rich food, rich smell, rich taste. And oil paint has a wonderful quality - it's actually transparent and gets more transparent with age. Velasquez once decided he didn't like where a horse's legs were, and painted them over. Within a few years, he had a painting with an eight legged horse.

But if you paint in layers, and get the layers right, the light goes through the layers and comes back, like multiple layers of stained glass, a complex colour and wavefront you just can't get doing a once-over in alla prima.

When people look at the gorgeousnes of an antique oil painting, they're really grooving on that light interplay. And I'm adding to that body of work.

Photos don't do it justice. I'm loving it already.

Next: nudes. Any volunteers?

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