Life update

I have been quiet recently and I am now staying home, as many of the people I know, and I must say I am lucky and privileged to be able to stay safe and have all I need.

Apart from home office, I am knitting quite a lot, and making good progress on the Bairn blanket and the Audierne linen pullover:

I even started drawing again… not much, but I feel that I need to keep in touch with the combination of nature, observation and scribbling. John Muir Law‘s videos are for me a source of inspiration, insight and cheerfulness. Even when I don’t draw along, I feel revived in my interest for nature.

And last but not least, a pair of wood pigeons chose my windowsill as the place to make their nest. I had a heather plant that didn’t manage to thrive, and they apparently found it a great start for a nest, to the point that they first laid an egg and then brought twigs. Then yesterday I was nearby when they switched nesting duty, and I saw a second egg! I am very curious on what will happen next, and will keep you updated too 🙂

That’s all for now, I wish you all to stay safe and healthy, and to be able to deal with these challenging times as best as you can.

Tangram

I first thought that my life would be a blank canvas, on which I would trace my own drawing.

Then I thought about it as a blank canvas, on which I traced a drawing under the guidance of other people.

Then as a puzzle, and I started noticing missing pieces, and the immense task of finding the right place for each of the existing ones.

Finally as a tangram, where the pieces have no predefined place, and there are minimal rules on how to compose a figure out of the seven geometrical shapes.

Gimpo airport stn line 5

If there will be any step after the tangram, it will be a variant where I can use less than all seven pieces, where I can develop the figure on more dimensions than the flat plane…

Unexpected whiteboard art

Yesterday I tried to clean my whiteboard at work, and discovered that the markers I used were not really whiteboard-friendly… but the half-wiped effect was unexpectedly artsy:

That’s all for today. It’s a quiet phase and I am monitoring nature for the first signs of spring. It’s still cold but the days are quickly getting longer. See you all in two weeks!

Knitting progress

I’d like to share a few pictures of my knitting projects. Lately I got up to speed to a point that I have three or four open projects, and I can resume each of them without having forgotten too much, or the stitches got the mark from staying on the needles:

Rye socks – my second pair, got a bit faster, and more regular in the double-pointed needles knitting
My second Flax pullover made with sock wool, it’s really comfy and easy to wash
My first cable project: a baby blanket, the pattern is Bairn from Julie Hoover

I like the combination of repetition and change that is in varying proportion in each knitting project. The Flax pullover had large parts of uniform stitches, while the Bairn blanket requires a lot of attention the whole time. I am not yet that good in picturing the result of a written set of instructions, so I am more or less surprised by what takes shape while knitting, and I hope that this sensation will stay. The silence and concentration are comfortable to me, and the presence of other knitters when we gather at our meetup is a mix of talking/sharing and of staying in our own bubble, busy with our current work. I find this less stressful than a social meeting based on chatting, because I like to listen and to observe, which is very interesting when each participant of the meetup brings a new technique, a gadget, or a story.

Today I bought some more kilometers of yarn at the yearly sock wool sale of my favourite shop… stay tuned for more colourful pictures! Too bad that the Internet doesn’t allow to share the texture of the wool, but maybe that will be implemented soon? 🙂

On different ways to scan the environment

In these past days I have been noticing two extremes of a range, in the way people scan the outside world. These will be my thoughts and observations, even if I can easily guess that this has been analysed before by other people and quite likely by domain experts. If you have sources related to this topic, please leave a comment!

I first thought that the extremes of this range could be similar to the prey and predator schemas of scanning the world, but I realised I know way too little about it, so I will not use those labels. I will use instead the terms “constant scanner” and “optional scanner”.

The constant scanners tend to check the environment (which can be the landscape, the email inbox, the task list, the servers in the network, the news…) quite often, with both the fear of having missed out an incoming problem, and of not being sure to look for the right signals for the problem. The constant scanners tend to be suspicious and look at things under multiple angles, and are reluctant to classify a signal without cross-checking multiple signals/information sources. They tend to be alarmed by small deviations from the usual data flow, as they are afraid it is a sign of a problem that can grow large if not addressed in time. They tend to assume they missed a sign, and try to get better at observing.

On the other end of the range, the optional scanners tend to classify signals and issues once and for ever, check the environment when they decide it is time for it, and address problems when they grow beyond a certain size. They tend to expect the environment to send signals in their own language, i.e. that they don’t have to interpret or fill up with further information. They are often complaining that the signals from the environment are not clear enough for them to act, and tend to hold the environment responsible.

There is of course the whole set of nuances between those two, and the same person can fluctuate along the range, depending on time or on the activity.

I find myself very often near the constant scanner extreme, and I realise I spend a lot of time trying to notice incoming issues even outside my own area of responsibility, mostly because I wish to spare other people the burden of a problem grown too big, and therefore I lend them with pride and even joy my sharpened attention to details. But sometimes I feel like the dog that barks to warn about the incoming storm, and is asked to stop: I know I am not 100% sure it will be a life-threatening storm, but I would never forgive myself for not barking for a really serious event. I wish this could be seen as a positive skill, that allows others to focus on their activities, knowing that I’m keeping a vigilant eye on the surroundings, and would warn them in time.

That’s it for now. I look forward for your comments and for links for further reading!

Yearly bread update and goodbye 2019

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last post… so here is a long-due update about my baking! I got to bake bread #107 last week!

I have a few favourite recipes, but also like to try new ones or add some extra ingredients. Baking has been one of the hobbies I enjoyed most this year, and by far the most relaxing.

I wish you all a great start in the new year, a bunch of fresh energy for your plans and projects, and memorable moments with your dear ones. Take good care of yourselves!

Drawing update – the cormorant

Hello all again, here is my first post after a while, and I wish to share some insights in my drawing process and a few thoughts and observations here and there.

First sketch

This first version of the drawing served the purpose of getting myself familiar with the shapes and proportions of the bird in the picture. I draw birds only seldom and I have no model in my mind to follow, so I have to take some extra preparation steps before diving into the final drawing. Cormorants are water birds, but they lack the substance to make their feathers waterproof, so they spend quite a lot of time standing like this to dry.

Every start is a blank canvas. How do I know how much of my previous experience will be useful? What awaits me this time?

Rough shading

I copied the outlines of the sketch on a new piece of paper, with a light pencil, and started filling the spaces with a uniform and quite light shading.

That looks familiar, I guess that’s a good sign.

Adding the first darker layer

This part had been my favourite. It required me a change of mode, because I fully focused on the shapes and the contrasts between the various parts of the picture, and forgot about the big picture. The fact that this layer of darker and more detailed shading took a long time made it even more valuable to me.

The magic is in the details. Observing while staying still, almost disappearing, and the observed live their life undisturbed. How I loved that feeling when I was out in the field, silent spectator, invisible to the wildlife (if they acknowledged me, at least I hope I was considered a harmless human)!

Taking shape…

The middle part of the bird required me a marked change in texture. I was initially having a hard time rendering the small ruffled feathers of the neck and the shiny feathers of the shoulders. I was very hopeful for the tail, but it didn’t come out as I wished. The point in the whole drawing is that I always added shades and never erased: some parts would have been way easier to fill up with a dark tone and then edited by erasing the tiny light strips of the feather spines – but I went for the slower and less forgiving path.

Am I trying to prove to myself and you that I’m worth it? Do you need that? I guess not, but it’s a very old habit of mine and it will take some more time to fade.

Almost ready…

I was pretty happy with how it turned out. It looked sort of flat, but it’s how I prefer my drawings to look like. I like when they don’t reflect the picture or the reality as close as they could. I want them to be a filtered representation, and the filter to be visible. So I could have considered it done, at that point.

There is rarely the chance to get anything 100% ready anyway. We would wait the whole time in front of a stalling progress bar.

One more layer of 6B pencil – signed and done

Here is the final step, one more layer of dark pencil to enhance the contrasts. I didn’t smooth out the hatching lines on purpose, and I wished I had used a coarser paper. Time to visit one of those wonderful stationery shops where you get in needing nothing and get out with a bunch of incredible stuff!

That’s my gift, my time, my attention, my patience. The little shared moments shine like fireflies.

Thanks for reading, and see you at the next update!