Four Talking Boxes 1594


Scanning a whole lot things is nowhere as easy as I always think it should be. Scanning one thing isn’t too much of a strain so I always think that scanning many things shouldn’t be too difficult. Wrong. It is difficult. Many years ago I scanned all of my film snapshots into my computer. I bought a dedicated film scanner and spent about a hundred hours scanning in thousands of photos. That was probably about the year 2005 and I’m glad I got it done. I’ve been using those photos for things and posting them on social media for years now. It was a lot of work but time well spent.

Cut to just a few weeks ago and my sister was asking me about film scanners. She wanted to scan in some of her old film snapshots. I said I’d leand her mine since it’s not something I use everyday plus I’ve got a backup non-dedicated film scanner that can do the job for me if I need it. I couldn’t locate all the parts and wires I’d need to give her right at that moment so it would be a few weeks until I could bring her the scanner. It was yesterday that I finally got everything unhooked from my machine and in one place. But then I decided to plug it in to make sure it was working. After all I had’t used it in a while.

I have a couple of binders that I keep my negatives in. They’re all in three ring archival plastic sleeves on a shelf. I knew I had one binder that had some negatives in it that I had never scanned in before. Odd and ends sort of stuff. I scanned in all my negatives that had people in them back in 2005 and the ones left were the stuff I didn’t care about as much and didn’t have the energy to scan in a decade ago. I thought there were a few sleeves worth of stuff in there that I could scan in now to make sure the scanner was in working order. An hour of my time at most. Boy was I wrong.

Turns out I had a lot of stuff in that binder. Stuff I wasn’t interested in ten years ago but I wanted to scan in now. First off there were a lot of my early street photos of NYC. I hadn’t done a ton of street photography in film but that is when I started doing it. I can see why I didn’t scan them in back them but they’re more interesting to me now. I think I can make something of the since I have a lot more experience with street photography now. Plus it’s fun to see some stuff from the 90s. Most of my street photos were made after I went digital in 2000.

The next cool thing I had was some multiple picture panoramas of some of my friends NYC apartments. Since even back then I was making my large cut together photo collages I would sometimes take panoramic pictures of places. There was no photo software in those days to automatically stitch the pieces together into one large photo so I never bothered to scan those ones in. In 2005 I’d have to put them all together in Photoshop myself and I had no interest. Nowadays Photoshop can do that automatically and so can a new (and cheaper) program called Affinity Photo. I think it even does that particular thing better than Photoshop. I tried it out on some apartment pictures and it worked well.

I also had a lot of old reference shots and assignments from back in my early college days. The mid 1980s. I had already scanned in the ones that had people in them so these were the less interesting ones. Still a few of them had potential so I just scanned them all in. That was easier than trying to figure out which ones were which. Maybe I can make something out of one or two of them.

The last category of photos is my still lifes. For a while there in the mid 1990s I was collecting little nicknacks and arranging them to make still life photos out of. That is where my dice collection started. I made a couple of cool photos this way but I found it very restraining. Since I was depending on your basic commercial photo lab to process my film and prints I mostly ended up with kinda lifeless little four by six inch prints. I had a couple of them printed larger and used some of them in my collages but they really went nowhere. They look much better on a big computer screen.

There really is one more category of unscanned photos and that is the miscellaneous category. I don’t know what they are. Odds and ends, whims, flukes, and whatever else. Back in the old days of film it was common to just snap a few photos to use up a roll of film so you could have it developed. I had a bunch of those in the sleeves. May as well scan them in now.

All totaled I ended up scanning in about six hundred photos. That is a lot. The scanner does most of the work but I have to pull a negative strip from the sleeve, put the strip in the holder, put the holder in the scanner, hit the scan button, and then wait five to seven minutes and repeat. About 175 times. I was doing things during the wait. That’s when I was making the panoramas, doing some inking, and even writing this. But all told it took about twelve hours. That’s a lot of hours of scanning. I’m tired now. I’m glad I got it done but is it ever a pain.

One more thing about scanning. Get organized. The only way I know these negatives have not been scanned is that over the years I’ve written “Scanned” on the negative sleeves after I’m done scanning them. I even wrote “Scanned bottom three” on some of them. That really helped. Now they all have “Scanned” on them.

I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.

  • Paper Girls – 5
  • Saints – 5
  • Spawn – 260
  • Velvet – 13
  • Walking Dead – 151
  • Check them all out here:


    I just bought myself a big bottle of India ink. By big I mean 500 milliliters. That’s bigger than the 125ml bottle I bought last June. It’s my current favorite ink to use Sennelier. It’s nice and thick and black. The only drawback I notice when using it is that it can sometimes sit on top of the paper I’m using rather than sink down into the fibers. That can make the ink streak a little. I think that’s due to the thickness of the ink but it might also have to do with the paper. I mostly uses a Strathmore 300 Bristol but I’ve been using that paper for a long time and this is the first ill I’ve noticed it. It might also be that this ink is so dark and rich that I notice streaking in it a bit more than a less dense ink.

    Speaking of less dense ink I still have my big bottle of Blick Black Cat ink. That one is 473ml (16 ounces). I’ve probably used a couple ounces out of it but I haven’t dug into that one too much. The ink isn’t dense enough for my taste. I’ve only used it a little bit when I’ve wanted a slightly lighter line. It pairs well with marker. It caused me to accidentally mix the two inks up though.

    I put my ink into small glass jars. I’ve had those little jars for years. They originally had fabric paint in them. I must have bought the fabric paint in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I remember at some point the paint switched to using plastic jars and I didn’t bother to keep any of those. I bet the switch was in the early 1990s. I don’t even think they make that paint anymore. I liked the little (probably one ounce) jars enough to keep some of them all these years. I pour some of the ink from the big bottle into the small one and put the small one into my side tray attached to my drawing table. The jar is in a little recessed space well away from the sweep of my arm so I can’t accidentally knock it over as I work. I keep it in one spot so if I want to use a different ink I swap in the new jar for the usual one. Of course sometimes I forget to swap it back out again. I was working on a drawing the other day and started wondering why my ink was looking a little watered down. Of course it was because I had the less dense Black Cat ink. I made due.

    I dig the Rapidograph Ultradraw ink I started using again just a couple of years ago. I only have it in tiny 22ml (3/4 of an ounce) bottles but I don’t uses a ton of it. I used to use it back in the 1990s for my technical pens. It’s a special ink that has a surface tension breaker in it so that it flows through the small opening of a technical pen without clogging as often as regular ink. After a while in the 90s I stopped using it in my technical pens and stuck with my regular ink. It was much cheaper, I always had it around, and I cleaned my tech pens regularly anyway so they weren’t clogging much. Eventually my tech pens wore out and became yet another thing they don’t make like they used to so I stopped using them all together.

    I switched over to the thin black art markers they have so many of these days but the problem with them is they’re expensive and unreliable. You never know when one is going to run out of ink or how much ink is in it at all so you need lots of them around at all times. But I’m a tinkerer and years ago figured out how to refill disposable pens with India ink. Pull the plugs off the back of them, pull out the sponge inside the barrel, and wet the sponge with India ink from an eyedropper. I’d been doing that for years with my Sign Pen markers and started doing it with the thin black art markers too. The problem was that the thin markers clogged too easily with the regular ink. They’d work for a while but then stop. It was a bit frustrating but then I remembered the old Ultradraw ink and bought myself a bottle. Turns out it works really well in those little black art markers. Extends their life by a factor of ten. I can get with that.

    They don’t make my old favorite India ink anymore. They haven’t for years. It was T-100 drafting film ink. It came in a little one ounce bottle like all the Higgins ink did and I went through a lot of those little bottles. I’m not even positive what drafting film ink is but I think it was used for doing mechanical drawings on clear acetate. That’s just a guess though. Since it used to be easily found in art stores I’m sure most of it was used for regular drawing on paper. It was a dense ink that dried with a dark matte black finish. I miss that matte finish. I think another of the reasons the Sennelier ink looks a bit streaky to me is that is has a glossy finish. That tends to bring out the streakiness when the ink is used over a large area.

    That T-100 was my main ink for a lot of years. I always played around with other inks but I mainly used the T-100. I can’t remember when I stopped being able to find it but it was probably around the year 2005. Then I probably had no main ink until I found the Sennilier just a few years ago. Probably for about five years I just went from ink to ink looking for something I liked but nothing stood out. It was all just okay. These are the thoughts brought up by spending thirty dollars on a big bottle of ink.

    I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got ten new comics.

  • Beauty – 6
  • Deadly Class- 18
  • East of West – 24
  • Outcast – 15
  • Revival – 36
  • Saga – 33
  • Savage Dragon – 211
  • Southern Bastards – 13
  • Pencil Head – 1
  • Monstress – 3
  • Check them all out here:


    I feel like writing at the moment but can’t think of anything I want to write about. That happens. Sometimes I look for an idea but I can’t find one. So I looked around for a moment and decided to write about one of the first things I saw. Two of my Tiny Monster Art Cards. That’s the one good thing about writing about my own art, I have a lot of it laying about the place. So if I can’t start out with an idea as I write maybe I can end up with one. Or maybe it’s just an exercise in writing. That’s okay anyway. I can always use some exercise.

    In looking at the two Tiny Monster Art Cards that have dates and numbers on the backs of them. The purple skinned fella is number 26 and has the date of June 20, 2015 on it. The red skinned fella is number 38 and has the date of June 29, 2015 on it. These dates might be a little misleading because I did these cards in two stages. First I drew them in black and white and that’s the way they were supposed to stay. They’re art cards so they’re 2.3×3.5 inches, the size of baseball cards, and I originally drew a whole bunch of them. Probably around forty of them. Sometimes I get into a particular thing for a short while. I probably liked the pen I was drawing them in and had a good time drawing little monster cards. Then they sat for a while.

    I just checked my calendar where I write down such things and it wasn’t until November that I added color to these cards. I was probably having a hard time figuring out what I wanted to work on, saw the black and white cards, and decided they needed a bit of color. That happens to me from time to time. Often deciding what to do is the hardest thing for an artist. If it’s work that you’re getting payed for it’s easy to figure out what to do. It’s whatever you’re getting paid to do. But when you’re on you’re own making art figuring out what is the best use of your time and effort isn’t easy. That’s why I like little things like these cards. They can keep me going when I can’t figure out a direction. They may not quite be bread crumbs pointing me in a direction but they’re bread crumbs I can eat until a big meal comes along.

    First of all these Tiny Monsters are cute monsters. They’re not very scary or terrifying. They may be weird but they’re not giving anyone nightmares. They might not be so cute that they make people say, “Awwwww…” but no one is looking away in horror. They’ve got fairly cute proportions. That means they have big heads for their body size. What keeps them from being really cute is that their eyes are not so big. One of the cute rules is the bigger the eyes the cuter the drawing. In these the eyes are just big enough to be easily seen.

    These were ink drawing which means I didn’t do any pencilling first. I drew in ink and so couldn’t erase anything. So I kept it simple. The masters are standing there not in complex poses. They’re just being. I also drew the legs very short. This helps with the composition as it makes the monsters rectangular so they can fill up the space of the card better plus it makes them appear a little bigger. That’s because it’s their upper bodies that look more muscular and that’s what we count for “Big”. If I was to draw them as if they were nine feet tall on these little cards they’d probably end up looking tall and slender. It’s better to go for big and broad.

    The color is made with my Copic markers. Though I like markers of all types the Copic brand ones have ended up being my favorite because they are refillable. It’ll cost you a bit up front. A marker and refill are about six dollars a piece but for your twelve dollars you get the equivalent of about ten markers. That’s a lot plus you get the security of knowing that your marker isn’t going to run out on you in the middle of a drawing leaving you high and dry. You can refill it and keep going. It took me a few years to build up a stock of markers and refills but as of now I’m all set. It’s funny though because I always see new brands and types of markers that I want to try, some even refillable, but in the end I decide I’m pretty well set so there is no reason to spend extra money.

    Of course the best thing about markers is that they’re instant color and the color is dry and stable the moment you put it down. As much as I like paint it’s not instant. Watercolor is the fastest of the paints and even that take a few minutes to dry as I use it. But not marker. Lay it down and it’s done. That makes it fun to work with.

    As I look at these two cards I notice I took opposite approaches with the colors. On one I made the skin tone a bright color and the shirt a neutral and on the other I made the shirt a bright orange and kept the skin close to a neutral. With both I went for brown shoes to ground the drawing a bit. It’s mostly simple color with only a hint of shading but I generally find the color to be effective. It gives a little life to the drawings. I like the choice I made of a light yellow halo around the figures. It’s subtle but lifts them off the background just a bit. The yellow and white fight a little to see which is going to be the whitest white of the piece and that gives it some life.

    There you go. A couple of little drawings that gave my writing a little life for a bit.