Nov 20, 2010

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Stargazing in November

Stargazing in November

Every year around this time (mid November) I have wished for a clear night sky, as it has been my desire for the last couple of years to catch a glimpse of the Leonid meteor shower and as far back as I remember it has always been cloudy.

This year my wish finally came true as we had clear skies for a couple of days including the peak period of the meteor shower.

Before the peak period I spend the early night surveying the sky, trying to figure out the name of some of the less known (to me) constellations,  their movement, taking note of the time and so on. Also surveying any areas that might offer a bit of darkness, as the place where we live is well lit, a negative aspect for stargazing (and a positive one for safety). Even with the light pollution the wide view of the sky is amazing when not cloudy.

During the various times I looked up at the sky I thought, hmm how about a night time SketchCrawl, catch where the constellations / stars are at various times of the night but frankly I was afraid I would miss a meteor and it was too cold too!  🙂

I did wonder if others had venture to sketch the night sky so I did a couple of searches and came across a site which contains quite a lot of information including a section for Astronomical Sketching Resources.

The other tool that provided great help was the StarDome found in the Astronomy Magazine site, as it gave me the ability to figure out exactly how the sky would look at certain times, and took some of the guessing (and freezing out in the cold) away from the experience.

Another application that proved helpful was Google Earth, as it has a Night Sky option. You can really spend some time exploring the constellations, and various other stars, etc.

Twitter of course was also helpful, by searching for #leonids I got a glimpse of what others were experiencing and/or commenting about the event (almost in real time – not a popular topic it seemed), it even allowed me to find another interesting site (Space Weather Radio – spaceweather.com) which allows you to hear the meteors and satellites as they pass by. This last site was quite interesting… continuous static and ping sounds every so often and once in a while a long beep sound (I have not idea what that was but it was exciting to listen to it).

Listening continuous static reminded me of the trips we would take to visit our grandparents when we were kids, my dad would drive practically all night so we would get there in the morning due to limited vacation times. We would often stay awake for as long as we could and would listen to the various radio stations as he drove from town to town. Back in those days, there weren’t many radio stations and you could practically hear static in between towns, we also got a few glances at the wonderful night sky.

While I managed to listen to various pings through that site, my many trips outside didn’t offer me any visual discoveries. I looked and looked, and tried for three days and nothing! hehe Do I regret the experience? not at all, I enjoyed it immensely and now that I have found the sites mentioned above I look forward to the next night sky event, who knows maybe the skies will be clear again.

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Mar 11, 2009

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Finally Tombow Mono 100 Pencils

Well life has been pretty busy lately at work so the little time available has been spent doing something else other than sketching for distraction, you ever heard of that game… World of Warcraft? lol

Seriously, I have been trying to locate the Tombow Mono 100 pencils locally and as you read in the previous post, while I did find them one had to purchase the whole set and only one grade. Well, I encountered someone online that lives in Japan that was able to purchase specific grades, so I got a few for my wife and I… they arrived yesterday.

They look very nice!  so far I have only used the H grade on my perpetual quest to sketch my long hair chihuhua dog, if he would only stop moving 😉

Hope everything is going well for you outhere. Remember SketchCrawl #22 is just around the corner so hope to see you at the forums and/or around San Francisco next month.

mono100pencils

Thank you for your visit.

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Feb 11, 2009

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Art Materials: A Discovery

Greetings,

Ah those moments of discovery are priceless!

While reading  a post about pencil geekery in Enrico’s Blog (Founder of SketchCrawl), I became curious about the pencils he mentioned (both the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and the Kuru Toga).

Initially I set to see if I could find the Kuro Toga (mechanical pencil) locally but no luck, not only that but it seemed the places I looked online were out of stock. Eventually I engaged a person living in Japan and inquired if it was possible to sell/ship me two mechanical pencils, and after a week of waiting I finally received them…

kurutoga

I wanted to share my discovery even before I received them but fearing that my wife may read this blog prior to me giving the pencil to her (the pink one is my gift to her) prevented me from posting 🙂

Up to this point the pencils I have been using for sketching have been those I purchased a while ago, a couple of sets and some single ones. In my room I keep three STAEDTLER (Germany) pencils (HB, 2B and 4B), while in my sketchbag I have two sets, the first is a 12 set of REEVES (England) sketching pencils (From 4H to 6B), and three FABER CASTELL (Germany) GRIP 2001. (HB, B and 2B). Of the pencils I carry in my bag the one I use the most is the FABER CASTELL GRIP 2001 (B).

Wow, if you are into pencils and mechanic pencils, that blog link (Dave’s Mechanical Pencils) Enrico posted is fascinating.. there is so much information, you can  spend some serious time reading the various posts.

This Kuro Toga is the first mechanic pencil I have purchased in a very long time, unfortunately I don’t know much about the various other choices out there, (plenty to read in Dave’s blog) but it seems to be an interesting concept. I will have to use it for a while to see how I like it.

While reading the “other” blog Enrico linked… equally interesting, I became curious not only about the Mitsubishi Hi-uni but also about the Tombow Mono 100, same story as the Kuru Toga, local stores do not carry either of them, so looks like it will be a while before both my wife and I (I am sharing some with her) get to try either of these.

DickBlicks does offer a similar pencil to the Tombow Mono 100, will have to check that out too (Tombow Mono Professional).

Below are a few links (DickBlicks) of some of the products mentioned above.

Staedtler Lumograph Drawing and Sketching Pencils


Tombow Mono Professional Drawing Pencils


Faber-Castell Grip Pencil

If you know of a place in the Bay Area that sells the Tombow Mono 100 pencils, please let me know.

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Jan 20, 2009

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San Francisco SketchCrawl #21

For me SketchCrawl events are more than the participation of the event itself, they are also opportunities to discover a little more of San Francisco and  any other location I may be visiting. I believe I am not the only one participating in this discovery. I often hear people say “this is the first time I have been here” or “I always wanted to come here but for some reason have not.”

This last SketchCrawl was once again a discovery, I live about one hour away from San Francisco and after all these years of driving thru the Golden Gate and the Waldo tunnel (the tunnel with a rainbow painted on it) I just cant help to continue to marvel at the beautiful views from various locations as well as other structures / buildings. Strangely enough I have not fully explored all the areas of the city as much as I would like, however I hope to be able to spend more time doing so in the future, so that I can concentrate more on the actual event of sketching.

This time I thought it would be great If I could drive to the Legion of Honor museum, and perhaps sketch outside and around the area. I also read that if you pay to enter the Legion of Honor museum, you can also enter the de Young museum with the same ticket on the same day.

I spent some time a day or two before the event analyzing the area via google maps, to figure out what path to take to get to the museum, so I was technically all set to get there, except I didn’t really get there (oh, I drove by it on the way to the meeting point but didn’t stop – I ran out of time).

Back to the story… after I crossed the Golden Gate into San Francisco and was driving on Lincoln Blvd (part of the 49 Mile Scenic Drive) heading towards the Legion of Honor museum. I noticed a small parking area to the right of the road with what appeared to be a path leading to the coast, so I thought hmm since I have never been here… lets stop for a bit and check this area out.  It was an opportunity to view the Golden Gate from the opposite side of Fort Point. The view is nice and there are a couple of trails, one leading down to the ocean.

sc21presidiotrails

I managed to do only two sketches, I spend a good portion of the day just enjoying the view, going down the trail with a sense of adventure and then working my way up a lot slower, meeting along the way equally challenged individuals resting, for once it was nice to be in the shade… no fog on that day.

Below is the view from the top of the trail, facing west towards the Pacific Ocean.

sc21batteriestobluffstrailv

On the way down the trail there is a viewing area, where you are able to see most of the Golden Gate.

sc21viewpoint

If you know of any other places to discover, please share!

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Jan 9, 2009

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SketchCrawl #21

Here we are once again getting ready for SketchCrawl #21

Artist in 95 different locations will be participating on January 10th, 2009. I can’t wait to see all of the artwork of SketchCrawl. It is going to be great, it always is… I really enjoy viewing the artwork at the end of the SketchCrawl event both in person and online. It is always interesting to see how different people interpret and express on paper the same item and/or environment that you are also looking at.

I also wanted to share with you a picture of the “Official SketchCrawl T-Shirt” yeah! Very nice T-Shirt – Top Quality material and print, well worth the price.

sctshirt

For more information about participating locations for this and future events, please visit the official forum.

You can purchase the Official SketchCrawl T-Shirt at the following location.

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