Posting from the iPad about Persimmons

Thanks to our local Asian grocery store, Asian Pacific Market, Sarah and I have been all sorts of interesting new fruits and vegetables. When we first saw the bin of persimmons we wondered to ourselves, “what are these yellow tomatoes?” We had only been looking at the fruit for a minute before a man walked up with his wife and told us that they were tasty just like apples and this variety was not nearly as astringent as some of the other persimmon varieties. His wife’s advice on picking persimmons was “get the big ones,” with no mention of color or ripeness, though I assume that color does have something to do with it.

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The persimmons we were purchasing that day are known as Fuyu Persimmons and the have a light sweet taste and can be eaten just like an apple or pear. We ended up taking home a few and thoroughly enjoying them, thus leading us to purchase more upon our return to the market.

Once again Sarah and I find ourselves at the market and what’s this? Not one, but TWO different types of persimmons for sale this time! We’re feeling adventurous so we don’t think twice about getting two of these new “Hiyachi Persimmons.”

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Fast forward to today when we are ready to try our first hiyachi persimmon. I slice it up into nice thin pieces and I take a big bite. “Sweet” I think to myself as my mouth begins to contract on itself as though I’ve just taken a bite of black hole. To say this was astringent would be an understatement. Turns out that Hiyachi persimmons have to be fully ripened to the point of being a mushy jelly before that astringency goes away.

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Fuyu, notice how it is short and flat bottomed compared to the more elongated Hiyachi.

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The Hiyachi persimmon is often hung out to dry in Japan and then served as a delicacy.

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I also made a delicious pesto-ricotta pizza for lunch.

That’s all for today. These post on the iPad tend to be a little less polished but that’s just the nature of the beast I guess. Adios muchachos.

Painting and Modding Nerf Blasters for our Halloween Costumes

Sarah and I have been working on our Halloween costumes for this year and things are coming along nicely. Earlier in the year we decided to be Gotham City Impostors since the costumes would be easy to make and super fun. Since it’s a first person shooter our costumes needed weaponry and it just so happens that Nerf makes a great line of toy “blasters” that can be easily painted and modified.

While searching around on Amazon I started noticing mod kits from a company called Orange Mod Works that were custom made for certain Nerf models that effectively doubled the power and range. Being an awesome adult I decided that I must have one of these modded “blasters” since “one never knows when or where they may need to “blast” someone.” Dr. Dre said that I think.

Of course if you’re going to open a Nerf gun you might as well paint it and it might as well resemble a paint job from the game. Sarah’s is the Coveted “Snowflake” pattern that’s only unlocked through community challenges.

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Album Covers in Cheap Marker

I’m all about technique building; from cooking, to gardening, to art there’s always new skills to learn and build upon. That being said my current interest has been in markers, specifically really cheap markers that you’d send an eighth grader to school with.

Marker set purchased in Taiwan

I believe I paid less than $5 for this whole set.

I purchased said cheap markers in Taiwan with my good friend Alan Openshaw

Alan Openshaw sitting on a concrete fish in Taiwan

I love the look on Alan’s face in this picture.

Here we find Alan sitting atop a fish in the Port of Kaohsiung (gow-shung) when we traveled to Taiwan in 2010. It was a fantastic trip and I can not thank the Openshaw family enough for allowing me to go with Alan.

Let’s take a moment to talk about Alan and I’s friendship. It runs deep ladies and gentlemen, you’d do well to remember that.

Alan Openshaw and Devin Gustafson preparing to skydive

Long before Felix decided to come along and break our record Alan and I went sky diving for our birthdays (We’re only 12 days apart). Alan look thrilled while I’m trying to look hard to hide the fact that I’m terrified. #Tru-facts.

You see that photo? That was from the day Alan and I celebrated our births and our lives by jumping out of an airplane (Thanks Openshaw family ((again)) and getting the whole thing on video. If you ever want to see my video I’ll gladly let you watch it at my house, it’s only 8 minutes long.

Taichi Sato and Alan Openshaw in Tokyo Japan

What a great night that was.

Here we find Alan with another of my good friends, Taichi Sato. He lives in Tokyo and is just finishing up his schooling to be a seamen. Fishing is really big in Japan, which makes sense for a country that’s a large chain of islands.

As usual I set myself a few rules to abide by as I worked on this project. The first being that I had to listen to the album I wanted to draw as I drew it. Sometimes I finished the album before the drawing was complete and had to listen to it again. This happened with Abandoned Luncheonette: I did not mind in the least.
Second parameter, rule, what-have-you was that each album had to be a 3″x3″ square. This made getting any amount of detail into the picture almost impossible. This is where stylization comes into play and as you’ll see some styles worked much better than others.

I made 12 when I originally planned on 15, which I guess would have been the third rule but I filled up a full page with ink and this way I can keep it all together.

Here we go!

jamiroquai_dynamite_marker

Cross hatching for black. Disappointing results.

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Jamiroquai “Dynamite”

I tried using cross hatching here and there on this project and found that for large flat colors the best rendered with patience and in solid blocks.

Tennis, Young and Old markers

Yay for bands from Denver.

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The cross hatching here came out nicely since it’s in isolated pockets.

stVincent_actor in marker

I made her face too wide. Scaling mistakes pop up periodically in this project. 

stVincent_actor

Skinny face is skinny.

Scaling issues will ruin a piece.

theymightbeGiants_joinus in markers

This one is pretty close.

theymightbeGiants_joinus

Whoop Whoop.

howler_americagiveup

Cross hatching ruined this piece to hell so fast. I’m tempted to just go in and fix it by blocking out the rest of the color.

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failing grade.

hallandoates_abandonedLuncheonette in markers

I love this album and this cover.

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Headshot!

thelonelyisland_turtleneckandChain

Scaling issues again. Notice how I realized that markers can be layered to increase opacity on this piece (turtleneck shadows).

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The Lonely Island “Turtleneck and Chain”

This album is hilarious.

suckers_candysalad in marker

Proud of this one.

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Suckers “Candy Salad”

Good album, well done cover.

drdre_thechronic in markers

This album is incredible from beginning to end.

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Dr Dre “The Chronic 2001”

Blaze up some chronic and then go draw with some markers…

rickross_portofMiami in markers

ROOOSSSSSSSSssss

rickross_portofMiami

He’s the CEO of Ross stores, btw.

Erreday I’m hustlin’

sleighbells_reignofterror in markers

This may be the best cover in terms of matching the original.

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Sleigh Bells “Reign of Terror”

Pump this album through your headphones for brain melting guitar riffs and vocals.

dandeacon_america in markers

I’m pleased with this one as well.

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Dan Deacon “America”

So there’s that. I’d like to do this project again on a larger scale and see what the results look like but it will have to wait since I’ve got a bunch of other stuff to create in the meantime.

Now I’ve got to go disassemble Sarah’s nerf gun so I can paint it for her Halloween costume.

-Devin

Working at the Colorado Springs Independent

Indy Insider cover

I recently picked up a gig at The Colorado Springs Independent (henceforth referred to as The Indy) laying out ads part time. Long story short it has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve gotten 10 times more familiar with Indesign than I was a few weeks ago, and I now have a much deeper understand of just what goes into the creation and delivery of a physical newspaper.

Friday I was offered a position with the paper as a full time Account Executive, which I must admit came as a shock. After I texted Sarah the news I called Grant on my walk home and talked about what I should do. His vote was yes. Sarah’s vote was yes. My vote was yes.

So I accepted the position. Once I know more about it I’ll let you all know.

-Devin

Pup sketches, internships, and dinner party menus.

Well hello again everybody! It’s been too long between posts so I’m going to try my damnedest to get two of them up and written today.

I recently started interning at CoPilot Creative and have really been enjoying it. I honestly had to think long and hard about whether or not I wanted to take an unpaid internship, but in the end I decided the experience and free lunches were worth it. The very first day I was doing things that I would have never done on my own, liking making banner ads,editing large brochures in Indesign, and creating Ebooks.

CoPilot Creative logo

I get to look at this as often as I want.

On Tuesday, Austin shot me an email from a lady at the Colorado Springs Independent who was looking for a part time graphic designer to help with ad layout through the end of the month.

Colorado Springs Independent building front

By the end of the day I had myself a job at the newspaper! I’m pretty damn excited to be quite honest.

Chardog

Look at his Eyebrows!

After seeing a post on Pinterest that Sarah found a while back we randomly add eyebrows to Char god. Doesn’t he look great?

Chargod's brows making him look concerned

I mean come on!

Pad Se Ew

Pad Se Ew. I’m getting pretty good at making Thai food and using my wok.

I’m also getting quite good at making Thai food in the wok, as you can see by the Pad Se Ew pictured above. Protip: The trick to getting authentic tasting Pad Se Ew is to really crisp the noodles. You want to get a nice toasty flavor on everything.

Devin and Sarah menu for lunch with Fixer Creative

We had Fixer Creative at our house for lunch one Sunday. We had New Mexico style green enchiladas and lemon brownies.

We had Fixer Creative over for lunch one Sunday. It was lovely and we’re looking forward having lunch with them again.

Watercolor pug in a kimono performing a Japanese tea ceremony

I painted Theo in a kimono performing a Japanese tea ceremony

I’ve wanted to do an art piece like this for quite some time and I finally got around to doing an early sketch. Looks pretty good eh?

Marker and watercolor pug shooting a lazer beam.

Markers and watercolors!

I’ve been working with markers more as a start for later illustration work. See the following.

Hall and Oates marker drawing

I love Hall & Oates

You seeing those handsome mugs? I’m thinking of doing a series of marker drawings of album covers that I like.

marker drawings and sketches of dogs

Drawing those pups

I’m working on developing a style that I like. It’s always a work in progress.

Vase of flowers drawn on Paper on the iPad

More work on Paper.

Paper is fun/frustrating with its color limitations. You have to mix colors and pens to get the desired colors. Notice how I made two different purples by using the wash with a white pen stroke and a purple pen stroke.

Vase of Flowers on a table

Here are the flowers IRL.

Ok. That’s about it for now. Catch you on the flip side (later)

-Devin

How to Slice Watermelon like a boss.

I love watermelon, and it deeply saddens me that it will be a long time before I get to eat a melon from the Texas valley again. The melons here in Colorado tend to be smaller due to the shorter growing season and they’re definitely more expensive in the store. The upside to seeing melons in the store and at the farmers market is the definitive proof that it IS possible to grow watermelon in Colorado. Come Springtime I plan on growing my own batch in cloth bags in the front yard. Wish me luck.

Sarah and I went to the Farmer’s Market right by our house on Thursday at 1:00 pm right before they closed which is the perfect time to go get fresh fruits on the cheap. I convinced one nice farmer to sell me two watermelons for $6 which makes me one happy camper.  Sarah also snagged us a bunch of peppers and sweet onions to cook with later.

Pears, Onions, Peppers. Watermelon

Our haul from the farmers market.

In my years of life I have attempted to cut watermelon several ways, “traditional ways” you may call them, and none of them work nearly as well as the way I’m going to teach you shortly. I learned this method from watching Giada De Laurentiis in passing at Will and Britt’s house. This method maximizes the amount of red flesh you get off of the rind and is incredible simple.

*Side Note I often confuse Giada De Laurentiis with Gianna Michaels and I like to think that Gianna would also host a really enjoyable cooking show. But I digress.

Gianna Michaels in a yellow skirt SFW

Not quite the same as Giada. Better, some would say?

Let’s slice some melons shall we?

Watermelon and Santoku knife on cutting board

Prepare your tools and your workspace.

First you’ll need to secure your melon, cutting board and knife. I prefer a really sharp Santoku knife to do my prep on fruits and veggies. If you’re interested in learning more about sharpening kitchen knives I suggest you read this great tutorial on the eGullet forums.

Watermelon being sliced in half

The step is to cut your melon in ‘twain.

Once you’re ready to get down and dirty cut your melon in half perpendicular to the stripes, or short-ways so you have two melon ends to deal with. We want to be able to set the melon on its cut side so it has a stable base for the next step.

Half of a watermelon on a cutting board with a santoku knife

Halved melon is in halves.

From this point we’re going to start shaving the rind off of the delicious melon meat hidden within. Confused yet? Keep reading and all will be revealed.

Watermelon half being shaved with a santoku kinfe

Shave the melon at a nice shallow angle to start sneaking up on the red meat inside.

By starting at the stem at a shallow angle and slicing the rind off you can get right to the edge of the edible fruit and not waste any of it.

Watermelon having the rind shaved off

First shave. Note how only a little red was exposed with the first cut.

Continue in a circle around the melon until you have the rind completely shaved away. I’d guess that it takes makes 10-15 solid slices to get the rind completely removed.

Watermelon with half of the rind removed

Half shaven at this point

Remeber the key is only to remove green and white material with each cut, if you’re seeing red on the rind you’re cutting too deep or too much at once.

Watermelon without it's rind on a cutting board with santoku knife

That melon is naked!

Once you’ve shaven the rind off take a moment to admire the sculpture you’ve just made. i always think of a geometric turtle shell once I’m done. The turtloid from Sonic 2 springs to mind honestly.

watermelon cut into slices

Vertical slices first.

Once the melon is naked (with the rind removed) it’s ready to be cut however you choose. I like to make cubes or spears depending on how I’m feeling. Today I opted to just make spears which requires one less step than cubes.

Start your slicing by making 3/4″ vertical slices through the fruit.

Gridded watermelon

Horizontal grid.

The next step is to slicing the melon again in 3/4″ horizontal stripes, effectively making your melon a 3/4″ grid of melon spears. From this point you could cut the melon spears again to make 3/4″ cubes, but I prefer spears so I can eat them with my hands and fit them in a bowl easier.

Sliced watermelon with a glass bowl over top

See how nicely it all fits into that bowl?

I put my bowl on top of the melon and then flip the whole cutting board so the mellow lands right side up and all together in the glass bowl.

Limes, lemons and a santoku knife

Now we add the secret ingredient.

Limes! There’s something about their tart sweetness that has always called to me. A glass of iced sweet tea with Lime is perfection defined to me, so it’s no surprise that I add lime to my water melon.

Bowl of watermelon with a lime being squeezed on top of it

This is where the magic happens.

Add as little or as much as you like; I like to use one whole lime for one whole watermelon which results in a nice balance of sweet and sour.

Watermelon in a bolw with a lime wedge

This is my idea of the perfect healthy snack.

That’s it! Now all you have to do is eat the melon before your friends and family starting poking around and asking for a piece.

Next time I’ll show you how I brew iced tea.

-Devin

Watercolor Sunflowers for the CSK Group.

I’ve recently been meeting with designers and showing my portfolio around in the hopes of getting constructive criticism and jobs. After my interviews I always like to send a handwritten postcard of my own design as way to show my skills and stand out from the crowd.

I decided to do some technique building exercises as postcards to knock out two birds with one stone for two of the cards. The exercise was to help me learn how to mix my three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) to make all the other colors I needed. I’ve learned that by using only 3 colors to create the rest of your palette your final result tends to be a much more cohesive painting.

Two color wheels and a color bar

Showing the differences in blending warm and cool colors

I actually mixed up my reds on these wheels which makes makes them incorrect. I will make a new set eventually. The Color bar on top is a proper 12 color palette made from 3 cool color primaries.

Color bars in watercolor

Here we find color bars showing cool/warm reds blending with cool/warm yellows and blue.

Notice the way you can make many, MANY different shades of green by using a cool yellow mixed with a cool/warm blue.

Ink drawing of Texas with the Texas flag

Austin is from Texas so I had to show him some love.

I also added a quick pen drawing on the back of each of my cards just for kicks.

Ink drawing of an eggplant

An eggplant for Greta because why the hell not?

That’s a pretty sweet eggplant right?

I also sat down recently with Keith, Cristi, and Lori of the CSK Group for an interview about freelance design work so I made them a card as well.

Sunflowers from Google Image Search

This was my reference photograph.

The plan was to paint a field of sunflowers using CSK green as one of the main colors.

Sunflower Watercolor, initial sketch

Here’s the initial sketch I made after dividing the image into 4 quadrants.

My first task was dividing the image into a 4 equal rectangles and then sketching those onto the canvas to plan out my painting. I enjoy using a hard pencil to do these sketches to get nice light lines, something in the H4-5 range.

Sunflower Watercolor, first wash of color

First light wash of green to get started with color.

Once I was pleased with the sketch I mixed up a green and diluted it quite a bit to give myself a nice light green wash to put down on the paper. The green looks more brown/yellow here due to the warm light I have in my craft room.

Sunflower Watercolor, stems and leaves first color

Putting the first bit of CSK green down on paper.

At this point I’ve put the first yellow wash on the flower petals and have added the CSK green I mixed up to the stems and leaves of the plants.

Sunflower Watercolor second wash of yellow on the petals

Second wash of yellow on the petals

I then added a second wash of yellow on the petals and a darker green on the stems.

Sunflower Watercolor, petal shadows

A purple grey was mixed and added to the flowers to add a sense of depth.

I’ve learned that adding more of the same color does not result in deep shadows as one might expect. To do proper shadows a grey color made from the opposing color on the color wheel is often best. The sunflowers actually have a very light purple wash across them to create the shadows.

Sunflower Watercolor, seed wash

Adding a brown wash with a green center.

At this point in the painting I’m still very pleased with it. I honestly could have stopped right here and been perfectly content, but I opted to keep going for a more realistic flower, the results sadly are not to my liking. These things happen though and by making the mistakes now you learn not to make them later. Notice how I used a wet in wet wash on the center of the seed to give a grown to green flow without a hard edge.

Sunflower Watercolor, sky wash

Added the wash for the sky, and the shadows below

At this point the painting has taken on a much different feeling. I added the blue wash to the sky and added the light wash of dark green for the under shadows of the leaves(leafs). The paining is suddenly much cooler thanks to that under-shadow wash.

Sunflower Watercolor, seed texture

Seed texture with varied amounts of success.

I was nearing the end of the painting and it was time to add the final details. Details can make or break a painting, especially if it’s a botanical watercolor for documentation purposes. I added the seed detail with a varied level of success. You’ll notice varying levels of paint density on different flowers which unfortunately cause hell on the depth of the painting. Sometimes you have to know when to say enough is enough I suppose.

Sunflower Watercolor, darker shadows

Adding darker shadows

Looking at the reference photo I realized that my darks weren’t nearly dark enough and added a little more to bring it around. The biggest hurdle when painting is determining how much detail to add, this was the same hurdle.

Sunflower Watercolor, complete

Completed painting with a nice photo filter

Here’s the completed Painting after it had been posted to Path and filterized. All in all I’m pretty pleased with the way this painting turned out. I hope they enjoy it (and hire me for some freelance work soon).

-Devin