A tram

Last week I had a day off and went into the city to drink tea and draw. I am not sure shy one needs to ride a bike for 45 minutes to be able to do that, but the exercise was good for me I think.

A tram.

Over the past year I have been struggling with fatigue on and off and with ramping up my marathon training it came back and hit me like a brick. So I finally did something I have been wanting for a while, arrange for a 4 day week. This tram is from my first day not working on Monday, which is supposed to be my regular day off. This day is for me, for my hobbies, projects and for my rest and relaxation.

Let’s see how it works out, I plan to evaluate in August to see if it had any impact.

Oh, the argument can be made to do less running and I have been considering that but that also would mean giving up on the notion that I am capable of running a marathon with an average of 6:00 min/k and I am not ready for that yet. But getting close, it looks like my body is not made for endurance sports.


Part of a strange group of internet artists, gathering in the chasms of hidden invite-only discord servers, our protagonist received a challenge. He was to create “Nothing”.

Thinking long and hard, the decision was made to paint a black hole using the medium this unlikely hero knew best: Water colors. From the vast hoard of paints, a work shall be created by slathering pigments on paper in a single go and it has to be as black as possible. But what black is the best black, the deepest, the richest, the vacuumest, the most Nothing?

This comparison is not fair, he knew, not all paper is created equal and watercolor is well known for avoiding real black blacks, seeing it relies on opaqueness for light and dark to be at play. What may be a perfect dark shadow in a landscape will turn out to be a dull blue, what shows as raven black hair is in honesty and isolation a purple.

And then there is the artificers themselves, selling this adventurer whatever wares they can. No matter the darkness promised, he was disappointed and elated alike upon discovering the real hue.

These here are his attempts at making the most of Nothing.


At first, there was the disappointment named Hematite genuine. Not to much time was spend here, either it needs more attempts, different paper or more paint in general, the novelty of painting with ground up gemstone did not hold up. It would be amazing to say “Nothing to see here, move on.” but the only makes it worse.


While it can not be expected of a paint who’s name includes the word “glow” to be very dark, it is applied rather light here on an interesting hot press cotton paper by Daler & Rowney (discontinued now). Using either a cold press paper and more pigment should make it darker and it no matter how one looks at it, the colors are lovely for shadows and night scenes.

Schmincke came out with a line of super granulating colors. This paper is not even that smooth. None of the colors is very black. Glacier Black was the blackest of them and it leans more towards a cool grey. Disappointed, the challenged artist moved on, there has to be better blacks out there that are not Pbk6?

Lunar Blue

Lunar Blue by Daniel Smith is an amazing granulating blue-black, very good for night scenes and so delicious to work with. What this paint needs is an artist that knows how to do skies, clouds and seas. Unfortunately, the artist at work is not that person and the assignment clearly said “Nothing”, not “Sea Skies” so we have to move on, this princess is in another castle.

Shadow Violet

More and more, we reach into the shadows, with Shadow Violet and how much the hero loves what he finds. Out he comes, dripping with shades of purple, blue, red and black. If there was only one color he was ever allowed to use for any shading, this would be it.


Now our hero was done, look at this blackness which seems to come from the deepest corners of space itself. The richest of Indigo took all the light, was made so dark that one got some doubt. This is a darkness that is not natural, this is a darkness that must contain…. Lamp Black, also known as PBk6. While mixed with Indanthrone Blue, there must be no PBk6 in this challenge. Too easy and too false. This Nothing is cast aside like it is Something and that is Not Good.

Jane’s Grey

A hero of old, her travels in the lands of color and mixing well known and documented, created this mix for easy use. Nothing but Ultramarine and Burned Sienna in equal quantities leaves us with a cool grey that is versatile for shadows, darkening in a natural way and by itself to give feel to a dark object which is illuminated by the light of the sun.

The hero said to himself, I am done, here is the most absent kind of “Nothing” I can do, I need to go home and rest. Submit my Jane’s Grey and hope for the best.

Upon packing his bags, mounting his sable horse and making himself ready to leave, a single tube of paint fell out of his pack. As in slow motion it tumbled down, on the rock and in the dust. The label turned upwards read “Sodalite”. He frowned, how did that get in his bags? Faint memories of the mentions of Sodalite bubbled up, from the depths of his tired mind came the words of Steve Mitchell who named Sodalite as one of his favorite colors ever.

“I must have bought that once and forgot about it, my palette was full after all.” He mused. And then his eyes opened for the truth.

Sodalite Genuine

His best Nothing was here.

A sketch of the Mitsui shop in Suruga in Edo

The eleventh piece in this series already, it was done faster than I anticipated as the sketch took ages and then the inking took even longer.

江都駿河町三井見世略図 Kōto Suruga-cho Mitsui Miseryakuzu

Best part about the work is the very few colors it uses. Indanthrone blue, Ultramarine, Serpentine, Quinacrodone Gold and Moonglow.

I did not try to get all the texts right, not even attempting it as that would end in shame and misery for anyone who would stumble upon this.

Vacation drawing

A bunch of drawings from my holiday, where I tried to draw daily and succeeded mostly. I’ll post them here with or without comments, whatever makes sense and in order of creation.

We arrived on the 2nd and on the 3rd I did not draw (much). This is a hospital at a lovely courtyard in Colmar.
When spending time at the pool, I drew the pool and instantly hated this paper. Saunders Waterford 190 gsm sucks up the water and paint like a sponge making blending and wet on wet very difficult. Do not buy, it bled through the page! This is the worst cotton paper I ever had my hands on and totally misplaced in this fancy sketchbook.

Weirdly tho, the reviews all over the internet were raving so something must have gone wrong with the sketchbook, shipping or this batch. I decided to try again with much less water.

The 5th, my birthday. I was gifted Lego and made this on the same paper. When going very easy on the wetness, it worked reasonably well.
Some more time at the pool looking after the kids.

Went from a lined journal to a sketch type of journal that takes watercolors well.

Back at the pool
At night in the trailer we rented, I agonized over my inability to draw faces and just let the pencil wander and do the work.
A lot of other campground people dropped by to comment, most amusing was the bubbly mom to a bored kid, explaining everything that was there and trying to interest him into art that was happening in front of their faces! He just wanted to throw rocks in the water.
Cars have nice lines.
I went for an early run and this is the cold grey sky behind a mountain ridge lines with spruce trees. It was a good run.
A few more bottles added, how does one spell “functional alcoholics”?
Then I took some time off alone and wandered around into some graveyard as I wanted to draw the church in the town center, managed to capture this view.
And this in the wc journal. I had to sit on the wall of the graveyard to be able to view the tower between trees, it drew far less attention than I feared.
We got more and more bored with the campground and surroundings so we drove an hour to a small town called Epinal where we got slammed with the heat as we left the mountainous area called “Les Vosges”. We ate some very good pizza and pasta, the SO went shopping, the boys chased lizards and I arted this art. Good times were had.
In the afternoon, more time at the pool. Running out of shit to draw there.
The 11th was special sort of, this is the morning at the pool once more. Then we had lunch and she looked at me and asked “How about we just go home?” So we threw everything in the car and drove 7h to be able to sleep in our own beds again. As a result, no WC journal entry.

And now that I wrote all this down, I realize that instead of drawing shapes, a chair or umbrella, the poolside would have been great for practicing super fast gesture drawings. Ah well, there is always a next time.