Brilliant Corners

A relaunch, and a sketch

This last Wednesday, I finally posted another interview on The Tools Artists Use, after letting it sit unloved for over two years. And I couldn't have asked for a better interviewee than Tommy Kane to start things up again. I've been a huge fan of his work for years, and I was overjoyed that he agreed to an interview. I've received replies and confirmations from many other wonderful artists, so I should have a fairly steady supply of interviews for months to come. I'm really glad I got the site up and running again.

Below is a sketch of another one of the Everyday Matters challenges. I'm not going through them an any sort of order, and the reason I chose this one is because it was easy to complete while I was sitting in my son's guitar lesson. Although I do get better and better working directly with ink, I've found that a light pencil outline ahead of time can make things look a lot better as I sketch.

2012-08-19 04:29PM — #art #projects #sketch #the tools artists use — Comments

Sketching inspiration: books

A list of books I've recently read, or re-read, that have helped me get the pen and pencil to paper and sketching again.

  • Everyday Matters, by Danny Gregory

    Danny Gregory writes about how sketching was one of the things he turned to as a release when his wife became paralyzed after an accident. It's a moving and inspirational memoir.

  • The Creative License, also by Danny Gregory

    Here Danny Gregory offers plenty of creative and inspirational advice for those wanting to start sketching themselves. The book's subtitle, "Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are," says it all.

  • An Illustrated Life, edited by Danny Gregory

    This book, that looks through the illustrated journals of many artists, was the first of Danny's books that I bought. And since it also points out the tools the participants use, it started my obsession with all kinds of artists tools, and what spurred the creation of The Tools Artists Use.

  • The Art of Urban Sketching, editied by Gabriel Campanario

    This book is a recent analog companion to the wonderful Urban Sketchers blog. I've been following the blog for many years, but I was overjoyed to receive this book as a gift, as it gives me an easy way to browse through some of my favorite sketches and artists from the blog.

  • Artist's Journal Workshop, by Cathy Johnson

    This is my most recent book, and it was hard to put it down. I don't think I'll ever do a true "journal" with lots of writing along with my sketches, but the lessons and inspiration are still quite relevant.

  • What It Is, by Lynda Barry

    This is actually meant to help spur creativity and inspiration for writing, but it does just fine for creating art as well. The life stories intermixed with mythology and creativity-boosting tips are wonderful. And you can't beat the lovely collages, making every page a work of art. Lynda Barry has another book meant for artistic inspiration, called Picture This, but I liked this one much better.

  • Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon

    A short collection of inspiring quotes and mantras for creating your own voice, whether you're an artist, a musician, or writer.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones that have made the biggest impression on me, or that I'll occasionally pick up and flip through.

2012-08-06 10:29PM — #art #books #inspiration #sketching — Comments

Reviving a favorite project

Right about the time I started my current job, I put a project I started a couple of years before on hold. Instead of just taking a break while I acclimated myself to my new job, I let the project sit and gather dust. I would think about it every couple of months, and before I knew it, two years had passed. Now, after a couple of weeks of late nights spent working, I'm just about ready to bring it back from the dead.

I'm happy to say that I'm going to start posting artist interviews over at The Tools Artists Use again. It may be a week or so before I get a new interview ready, but I've started sending out interview requests already. And since I'm considerably more busy now, I probably won't be able to post as often as I used to. But at least it's coming back.

And now that I'm starting to pick up sketching again, it'll be nice to have a resource for more art supplies ideas (that I probably don't need, but will buy anyway).

2012-07-27 09:20AM — #art #projects #the tools artists use — Comments

Sketching again

One of the primary reasons for bringing this weblog back to life was to start sharing some of my sketches. Of all the hobbies I've had throughout my life, sketching is one that I've particularly enjoyed.

Unfortunately, the actual practice of sketching would go in spurts. I'd go strong for a couple of months, only then to not touch a sketchbook for months (and sometimes years). But in the last year or so, I've been making a effort to practice more. I want to be better at putting what I see down on paper.

Now, on to the sharing. Here's today's practice, from the Everyday Matters challenge list of things to draw:

2012-07-10 09:48PM — #art #sketch — Comments

RSS changes

As I begin to dust things off to start posting again, I thought I'd clean up all the RSS feed links that I've used over the years, and just consolidate them into a single place. For a long while, I was using FeedBurner as a feed masher by taking the blog posts here and adding in any Flickr photos I happen to post. But, since I don't use Flickr for much these days (other than an Instagram dumping ground), I figured I'd take the photos out. So, why use that service at all then, right?

Pretty soon I'm going to remove the FeedBurner feed and from now on just use a single location for the feed: It's also linked to in the sidebar.

If you're not directly subscribed to that RSS URL above, then at some point you may stop getting updates. I think I can set up FeedBurner to redirect any stragglers, but I don't think it's permanent.

And for those still subscribed by any means, thanks for sticking around. More is coming.

2012-07-03 09:29PM — #site news — Comments

Building Vim on OSX Snow Leopard

Although I haven't abandoned TextMate as my editor of choice for day-to-day coding, I have been taking the time to really learn Vim and all it can do. I've used Vim for 10+ years, but with only the most basic of commands for editing files on remote servers, or quick changes to various config files. As I learn more, I'm finding that Vim can do just about everything I'm used to in TextMate, and in some cases, more.

I've been using MacVim for learning, which is a full-featured, native app for OSX. It has built in support for everything you want to do or add on: 256 colors, Ruby support, etc. But if you're in and fire up vim, you'll find that some of your (my) favorite plugins that work fine in MacVim, do not work (specifically: Command-T needs Ruby support, and ConqueTerm needs Python support). The default Vim install in OSX lacks a lot of the niceties that come by default with MacVim. Here's how I built a new version of Vim for using in

The Vim download page suggests using Mercurial to fetch the latest version of the source if you want to compile it yourself. Here are some options for installing Mercurial on OSX. Once that's done, you'll want to find a place to fetch the source. I put mine in ~/tmp/.

# fetch the source into a vim directory
hg clone vim

cd vim

# make sure you're up to date
hg pull
hg update

Now that you have the latest version of the source, it's time to compile your own version of Vim:

# configure to install in /usr/local/bin and make sure Ruby and Python
# support are built in
./configure --prefix=/usr/local --enable-rubyinterp --enable-pythoninterp --with-features=huge

# build

# after it's finished building, you can double check that the support you 
# want is now built in with this command:
./src/vim --version

In the output from that command, you should see +ruby and +python which signifies that both Ruby and Python support are built in, and that's what I needed. Since the newly built Vim is what we want, install it:

make install

In order to make sure that this Vim is used when typing vim at the command line, make sure that /usr/local/bin comes first in your path. This way our full-featured Vim at /usr/local/bin/vim will be called instead of the OSX built-in version at /usr/bin/vim. For reference, this is how I set path in my ~/.bashrc:

export PATH="/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/pgsql/bin:/usr/local/php5/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/mysql/bin:$PATH"

And now you have a version of Vim that should allow you to add on just about any plugin available. But, if you want to take advantage of themes with 256 colors, you won't be able to do that in, but a replacement like iTerm2 would work just fine.

If you ever need to recompile a newer version, or just to try some different configuration options, you'll need to clean up the build directories and update the source beforehand:

# thoroughly clean the source tree
make clean
make distclean

# update vim source
hg pull
hg update default

Then you can proceed with the configuration and build steps above.


2011-02-15 09:28PM — #osx #vim — Comments

A better way to install MongoDB on Ubuntu

My last post on installing MongoDB on Ubuntu is quite popular. Sadly, they aren't the best, or the most up to date installation instructions. While I don't really mess with MongoDB anymore, I feel a little bad with so much traffic coming from Google to those outdated instructions. In fact, it's super easy to install MongoDB on an Ubuntu server these days.

Basically, all you need to do is add a new source to your /etc/apt/sources.list. For the latest Ubuntu (10.10 at the time of this post), you'll add:

deb 10.10 10gen

Once you've added the new source, you'll need to import MongoDB's public GPG key in order to download from the official servers:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv 7F0CEB10

Once that's done, run sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install mongodb-stable to get the latest stable release. Once installed, you can configure via the configuration file at /etc/mongodb.conf.

The full instructions, including the source URLs for older Ubuntu/Debian versions, can be found on the MongoDB website.

Edited 12/15/2010: Added the GPG key step.

2010-12-14 06:10PM — #mongodb #ubuntu — Comments

Simple bash aliases for Jekyll

As I get a little more comfortable with how Jekyll works, I've found a few Bash aliases that have been helping out. Below are four aliases I have set up to make blogging with Jekyll easier (with a little explanation for each).

# let's write an entry (cd to path and open up TextMate)
alias timetoblog="cd ~/code/blog && mate ."

# start up Jekyll for local preview of blog
alias serveblog="cd ~/code/blog && jekyll --server --auto"

# delete the existing built site and rebuild
alias buildblog="cd ~/code/blog && rm -rf _site/ && jekyll"

# use rsync to push the weblog to my host
alias deployblog="cd ~/code/blog && rsync -rtz --delete _site/"

Each of these assume a little on how you have Jekyll configured, so you will have to adjust each for your own setup. You can see my own configuration options on Github.

Some of these tips originally came from the Jekyll wiki and various weblog posts.

2010-09-20 11:01PM — #jekyll #bash — Comments

Trying out Jekyll

I'll keep this short: I've yet again relaunched the weblog using yet other kind of weblog software. There are several not-so-well thought out reasons for changing everything again, but the main ones are:

  1. Since I didn't write this software, I won't be too tempted to rewrite it
  2. I have other ideas I'd rather be working on instead of rewriting weblog software (which I seem to have a problem with)
  3. Jekyll generates static files, which should lessen the load on my VPS

This one should hold me over for long enough. At least long enough to write another post.

2010-09-09 12:30AM — #ruby #github #jekyll #site news — Comments

Updated my s3 backup script to support MongoDB

Given my recent interest in MongoDB, I figured I should update my Ruby backup script to now support the exporting and backing up of MongoDB databases.

I've updated the code and placed the changes up in my Github account: simple-s3-backup.

2010-02-11 01:34PM — #mongodb #ruby #system administration — Comments
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