big wolf

Two sentence fiction, illustrated:

cac8e97b43f12c2a390bb88a5104a08dProfessor Lykander found this old cigar box in the junk shop. “Not bad, ” he said, and he bought it for a dollar.

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the notebook, at the cafe, with cameras

cafecamerasfor-blog-tweak-resizeTook a disreputably long photography walk one day last week, and ended up, as so often happens, at the cafe.  Beside buying a coffee and a cinnamon scone and photographing my cameras* (“cafe cameras” is an ongoing series on my kekiongacomics Instagram feed), I hauled out the cartoonist’s handy pocket notebook.  The notebook, live at the cafe.

  • Life’s great quandary:
  • You’ve finally reached the head of the line at the cafe, but somebody outside has a really cool dog.
  • Hipster boy (flirting with hipster girl): Do you like olives?
  • Hipster girl: No.
  • Hipster boy: Why not?
  • Hipster girl (vehemently): They’re purple.  And salty.
  • Hipster boy:  Not the green ones.

*That’s the Fujimatic on the left and Mischief on the right.

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best of the drawing of the day: inktober, day 11

inktober-11-blogLet’s drop in on this month’s “Inktober” drawing challenge.  I’m trying it this year by combining my regular Drawing of the Day project with the prompt list and daily posting requirement of the online challenge.  (Read some of my thoughts about Inktober from the first few days here.)

Today’s prompt was “transport”, and I was glad because it gave me an excuse to draw one of my favorite sketchbook things, which is a line of people waiting for a bus or tram.  In this case, these people are waiting for a bus (or tram) in the City plane of Other Place, that place where the collective subconscious of all the timelines are made manifest and all that other cool stuff.  The OP is home to all kinds of individuals, including some peoples of folkloric origins as well as the baseline humans that constitute most of the audience for this blog. (I assume.)

So in this group, which seems to consist mostly of kids on their way to school, we can see at least one chimera,the hexapod girl giving her smaller friend a ride, a demonic girl wearing an oversized jacket, the tall boy at the far right who may be of mixed descent, and the adult at the end of the line who is probably Valley, in other words a Neanderthal.   Everyone else is probably a baseliner, including the person dancing on the concrete slab, whose horns and ears are attached to their hoodie, a popular fashion statement in many of the timelines, including our own.

The object on the far left is the bus (or tram) stop kiosk, consisting of a light on top that flashes when the bus (or tram) approaches, a screen under a lighted sunshade which displays the bus (or tram) schedule and other essential information from CityNet, and a large public trash can with the line and stop number posted on it.  You aren’t supposed to bring food and coffee on board, but everybody does anyway.

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cubic plants from the toy camera

Polaroid CUBE

My Polaraid Cube toy camera hadn’t been charged up in a long time, so while it was plugged into the computer I took the opportunity to download the images off its tiny micro SD card.

I seem to use this camera a lot in grocery stores and markets.  I love photographing both fruit and vegetables and things in piles, both of which abound in such places, and the Cube, being a more or less featureless little black box 35mm on a side, doesn’t attract the odd attention you seem to get when you start swinging a DSLR with a macro lens around in the produce department. Yes, I will do that in the middle of the winter, but right now there’s wonderful plant shooting outside in the garden, so I stick to the toy camera on grocery trips.

This camera can yield decent straightforward snapshots like the one at the top of the post. The mild distortion is part of shooting with a super wide angle.  The papery textures of the garlic and the shiny reds, purples and browns of the shallots are interesting to look at in spite of the low fidelity qualities of this very simple lens.

And then I started experimenting with taking deep crops, raising the contrast and dropping the highlights, and the further I went the more interesting it got.


Polaroid CUBE

More interesting.

Polaroid CUBE

The weird flattening or cut paper effect isn’t something I added deliberately– it just seems to happen when you go deep into these images and raise the contrast.  This is lots of fun.  I tried it with an outdoor shot and got this dogwood just starting to change color, and already starting to show the buds of next year’s flowers.

Polaroid CUBE

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skeleton rant


Halloween has gone a bit too far this year. Spiders do not have skeletons.


A rat, yes, but not a spider.


A spider has an exoskeleton. That means chitin (like fingernails or the shell on a shrimp) on the outside, not bones on the inside.

Also, a rat’s ears are made of flesh and skin and cartilage, just like your ears, not bone, and they would rot away with the rest of the rat before you even got to its skeleton. (And there would be nothing left of its tail but a scattering of tiny bones.)

Maybe I am overthinking this.

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color of the day

Just washing the dishes, watching baseball, and thinking about writing  just four or five sentences about something true.

You know how it is when you wash a wine glass that had red wine in it but never got rinsed?

And the wine has dried up in the bottom of the glass and it forms those little crystals?

They are sort of crunchy, and a red so dark it is almost black.

And they melt into a wet paper towel, leaving a trail of watercolor maroon.

Merlot, cabernet, bordeaux, wine red.


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“ferociously realistic”: the complete story

“Ferociously Realistic”

a picture story from  Kekionga

Part 1



At the beginning of the last week of September, Iowa went the Big Box Home Improvement Store with her friend Suki to buy supplies for one of Suki’s art projects.

“Normally, I’d give you a rant,” said Iowa, “about how disgusting it is that the store is all Halloweened up while it’s still September.  But considering they already have the Christmas stuff out, including the illuminated plastic Nativity scene that is set up


so it looks like that one Wise Man is eavesdropping on the Holy Family and just heard that they’ve already got more myrrh than they could possibly want… well, all the purple tinsel cats and spiders don’t look that bad.”



“I think it’s cool,” said Suki, and she got out her camera.



Part 2

Of course, the best Halloween stuff is always the werewolf stuff.

 You’ll be howling at the moon in no time!

 “Maybe they are sort of ferocious,” said Iowa, “But they’re not very realistic.”

“Which kind is your boss?  A grey one, a brown one, or a black one?” asked Suki.

“I’m not sure which is closer,” said Iowa thoughtfully. “But there’s one way to find out.”

Part 3

brown-wolf-to-cut-crop2-simplewarp-blogThe next day, vagely psychedelic versions of Suki’s best photographs of the Ferociously Realistic werewolves had mysteriously appeared on all the bulletin boards in the basement of the library.


“Which kind are you, Professor?”  Iowa spoke innocently from her work table in the corner as he stood in front of the display.


“I started out as a brown one, Ms. Ginsberg but I am rapidly turning into a grey one.  And furthermore I blame you, your friends, and your endless shenanigans for my transformation.”

Part 4

“And for your information,” the Professor went on, “This is what you might more reasonably call ‘ferociously realistic’.”


“Can’t argue with that, sir,” said Iowa.”At least somewhat ferocious, and undeniably realistic.”

“Indeed. More ferocious than you might suspect, Ms. Ginsberg.  Now, back to work.”

“I’ll make you some tea, sir.”

Part 5

sketchbookgideon3-cropandcleanup-blogWhen Iowa showed Suki her phone camera shots, Suki looked at them for a long time.

sketchbookgideon1-cleanupandcrop-blog“I’m not sure,” she said, “whether the spectacles ruin it or not.”


“But the collar and tie just make it more so,” said Iowa.

“Your boss is weird,” said Suki.


Suki’s small camera

(Happy last day of September, everyone.  October awaits.)

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the fujimatic: indoors and out


My pocket camera (the very secondhand Fuji X-M1) is a photographic superhero.  Most of the time it is a mild mannered prime lens compact, fitted with Fuji’s modest but very good small sized normal prime*.  But sometimes it goes super, super retro that is, with an old school fixed focus fixed aperture lens**, just like the one in an old Instamatic.  It becomes the Fujimatic, scourge of bourgeois mainstream concepts*** like sharpness, contrast, and reducing digital noise by maintaining the lowest possible ISO.  Just set the camera to aperture priority, point, frame and shoot.  The Fujimatic is liberating and the results it yields are always interesting, and sometimes oddly beautiful.  Here is our backyard burning bush, just starting to burn, and (below) a soft but colorful view of the corner of my studio.   Super high ISO there, too, but with the Fujimatic it’s all just retro cool.


*For camera geeks, that’d be the Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 pancake, offering the traditional 40mm equivalent field of view of the classic pancake prime lens.

** The Fuji XM-FL 24mm f/8 body cap lens.  Cheap, sturdy enough, tons of fun and sold only in Japan.  But you can get it from eBay and Amazon.

***”Sharpness is a bourgeois concept.”  Henri Cartier-Bresson.


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sidewalk fireplace


Strolling with a dog at twilight.  The October sidewalks of a small town in the Midwest. A maple tree with its own gas fireplace?

Surrealism with a pocket camera.

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sketchbook snapshot (and thoughts on inktober)

sketchbookbrick-tweakblogI decided to participate in Inktober this year, and already, here on October 4th, the results have been interesting.

Inktober is one of those internet art challenges where people attempt to do or accomplish something over the course of a month and post their progress daily on social media.  Inktober is a drawing challenge: participants attempt to make a finished drawing, in ink, every day for the month.  There are several sets of prompts floating around to give added structure if you want it; I’ve seen a general list, and one with a Halloween theme, and one specifically about witches, and one person I know seems to be basing his (excellent) drawings on scenes from classic movies but that might just be him.

You can see where this is going.  How challenging is Inktober going to be for me, when I am almost eight years and thirty eight sketchbooks into my personal drawing of the day challenge, where I do a finished drawing in ink every single day.  Well, the answer is: pretty challenging.

I am using the general prompt list, and I’ve never worked with prompts before.  I’ve decided to draw the first thing that comes to my head when I consider each prompt, and it’s quite exciting in a modest way.  More challenging, though is the daily posting part. While regular readers of the blog are used to seeing curated examples of the drawings of the day with accompanying essays and commentary (click on the drawing of the day tag in the tag cloud to see them all), and people who actually come to my house are free to leaf through the sketchbooks in hard copy, I have never committed to letting the entire world see every single one of the darn things for a month.

Scary.  They really have to be good, especially considering the top notch quality of the work I’m seeing from a lot of the other participants.  Among other things, this means I am doing these drawings earlier in the day.  The drawing of the day has usually been my after dinner project, with all the relaxed quality that suggests, but this month I am doing them in the morning.

Which means my schedule has returned (temporarily, I assume) to its Pre Drawing of the Day form, and I have gone back to scribbling in a big informal sketchbook after dinner.  And that’s why there’s a sketchbook page, drawn with the Zebra Sarasa 0.7 gel pen in “Porto” port wine red that I use for writing notes, there at the top of this post.

(For now, you can see my day to day Inktober posts on my public Facebook feed, along with links to this blog and my Instagram feed.  I may decide to put them elsewhere eventually as well.)

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