Botanical Portraits in Colored Pencil by Ann Swan. Easily the best book on scientific illustration I’ve seen. I keep checking this book out at the library until my limit is up.
The botanical artist, Ms. Swan instructs, accurately record how a plant grows, what color it is, and what its structure is like. Even if the work is not for any scientific purpose, it must be accurate. Any looser interpretation, she suggests, is merely a flower painting.
There’s fantastic information on colored pencil selection. Ms. Swan likes Faber Castell Polychromos pencils because they hold their point well, which is a must for detail work, especially as compared to the softer Prismacolors, and because they have a decent selection of natural greens and greys (which are used to deepen the tones of colors without changing their hue. (Didn’t know that!) She recommends 22 of the 120 available Polychromos colors as a good starter set. As for Prismacolor, which most of us who work in colored pencil are familiar with already, Ms. Swan finds their strength in that they mix well with the oil-based Polychromos pencils even though they are wax-based. Also, she finds they have a good selection of colors useful for drawing berries, such as dark purples, violets & reds. But she finds their softness annoying for detailed work. Prismacolor points (not talking Verithins) are prone to snap easily; I’ve learned this myself! Also included are other colored pencil recommendations, but it’s clear that the Polychromos line is her baby. This is very useful information. I myself have never used, nor can I easily find at the two major art stores in town, a selection of Faber Castell colored pencils so I may investigate them further.
Ms. Swan helps you get your studio together as well by compiling a basic start-up kit, most of which those of us who draw regularly already have. She tells you which other tools you may find useful for botanical work.
Ms. Swan advises even on which side of hot-pressed paper works best for colored pencil work, where to set up your work environment, how to protect your work while in progress and after completion.
As to the botanical artist’s subject - plants - Ms. Swan’s work is exquisite. She is very generous with her instruction, and I’ve even used some of her advice toward my oil pastel work. I have a deeper understanding of color, as well as a new understanding of how to break down complex subject matter.
This is a book that I’m going to eventually add to my collection, and I believe it will be invaluable to anyone who loves plants and doesn’t know where to begin when it comes to drawing them.
I cooked a pot of pinto beans today. I had soaked some in a soup-and-salad-sized Gladware container, which holds about 3 cups. I put a cup of beans in there a 1/3 cup measure at a time, rinsed them, and filled the container to the brim with warm water before I went to bed last night.
By the time I was ready for first meal, the beans had swollen and were partially out of the water in the container. Sweet. I washed out my 3 qt. steamer pot. I didn’t even take the time to pick the beans over that thoroughly, because for one thing Sprouts Farmers Market has good beans and I’ve never had any rocks come out of the small quantity of beans I usually buy at a time. Secondly, the soaking water and the rinse water would’ve taken care of any surface dirt. So I throw the pinto beans in my steamer pot, rinse them one last time, and fill with enough water to cover them with no seasoning, no nothing.
My usual recipe for beans is boil them hard for 10-15 minutes, then turn the heat down completely and simmer - barely bubbling - for at least one hour. While that’s cooking, I prepare a mirepoix of finely chopped carrots, celery, and onion. I cook them in the oil I cooked my first meal’s turkey bacon in and I seasoned the mirepoix with cinnamon and cumin.
I used this as an opportunity to practice my knife skills. I’m no Jacques Pepin, but I get the job done. I cut the organic carrots on a severe bias and julienned them, which means cut them into matchsticks, then I dice the matchsticks. I cut my organic celery stalks in halves or thirds depending on how wide they were, then diced those. Half a white onion was also diced. The diced veggies went into my cast iron skillet to soften, then they were added oil and all to my pot of simmering beans, which by that time were pretty nearly done.
This was the time to add salt, not at the beginning of cooking the beans, because salt toughens beans. I wanted to use my Himalayan pink salt grinder that I found in TJ Maxx last week. When I picked it up and started turning it to grind, the cap fell off. Oops! Shit! I’m hoping too much salt didn’t fall in. Luckily Himalayan pink salt is a rock salt, so maybe that saves my meal. I put the lid back on the pot and hope for the best.
Recently, I discovered the joy of eating whole tomatoes out of a can. They are packed in their own wonderful juice, and ice cold, they are just shy of heavenly. Whenever I open a can, I put them in a 5 cup Gladware and store them with their juice in the refrigerator. This makes for wonderful snacking later when they are cold. I chopped up three of them with a half cup of their juice for the bean pot.
After my timer sings briefly telling me the hour is up, the moment of truth. I taste the beans….and am relieved. True, it was saltier than I usually like, because I normally don’t use that much salt, even though my body craves and needs the minerals. At any rate, I didn’t register any excessive – read inedible – amount of salt in my food.
The beans were delicious.
#MJFam Michael Amir Williams vs AEG
The suit contends AEG never paid Jackson’s staff as required in the January 2009 contract with Jackson.
"After the contract was signed and performance begun, Michael Jackson had problems keeping up with the pace of Tour’s rigorous schedule and physical…
That’s all Michael Jackson was to AEG: merchandise.
The National Security Agency has collected almost 200 million mobile phone text messages a day from around the world, British media reported Thursday, in the latest revelations from the Edward Snowden files.
The Guardian and Britain’s Channel 4 News revealed that the NSA used the messages to extract data on the location, networks and credit card details of mobile users.
The secret files say the program, codenamed Dishfire, collects “pretty much everything it can,” the news organizations said. They cited an internal NSA presentation from 2011 on the program and papers from Britain’s electronic eavesdropping facility GCHQ.
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
#MJFam Michael Jackson on a bus screaming and holding signs to express his disgust versus Sony ….. his fans now in bed with Sony ….. something is not right… what happened post 2009 to fans and fans’ communities ?
Amen to that. Sony doesn’t get my business anymore
Thank you to all the fans out there who have supported me this last year. Through the highs and lows you kept me going. Happy new year love you guys.
This week in EW: Our obsessive guide to Downton Abbey keeps our Winter TV Preview issue classy.
In a classic movie poster, there’s no way in hell Michelle Dockery’s photo would have been larger than Dame Maggie Smith’s.