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Blog Entries posted by smb

  1. smb
    Originally posted in the forums: Jun 11 2005, 03:44 AM
    So now, after about 2 weeks of practice - and with the aid of the most excellent book:
    Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
    I have come up with a couple of passable drawings.
    Ok, I know that my attempts at drawing are far from perfect...
    Life doesn't have to be perfect and neither do my attempts at art!!
    The main thing is that I am happy with what I produced. Not bad, eh?!!
    When I made the second drawing, I seemed to have gone into some kind of a "state of "flow." I completely lost all sense of time and the drawing just seemed to flow from my pencil. (Well, Faye is extremely pretty and, I suppose, it helps when you are drawing your favorite subject!!)
    I have tried to repeat this experience but, without that level of success. I guess that it depends on how you are feeling at the time and various other circumstances? Even my other drawings of Faye haven't come out quite so well. Anyway, this drawing has given me the encouragement that I need to keep trying... And I hope that one day, I will be able to produce great drawings at will!
    Time for another beer!!!

  2. smb
    My first complete painting of 2011...

    Pretty Po Kami 001
    From a selfie taken by a pretty young teenage Filipina girl member of the Pretty Po Kami girls group on Facebook.com
    There was another painting that I finished in January but it was started back in November of 2010. It was supposed to be erotic art - but it is certainly one of the worst paintings that I have managed to produce in recent years:
    The struggle continues, as they say!
  3. smb
    Originally posted in the forums: May 10 2006, 08:36 PM
    I've been getting a bit carried away with my pastels lately.
    Here's a fairly recent painting that I was quite proud of:
    This was based on a newspaper photograph, depicting a couple of children trying to keep warm around a camp fire after an earthquake in Nepal.

  4. smb
    Originally posted in the forums: Nov 13 2006, 03:42 AM
    Rembrandts are a soft pastel?
    I don't think so!!!!!
    Depending on the colour, they range from hard to rock hard. You can keep them!
    And where did this all come about from? I've just wasted a PHP250.00 sheet of 300gsm watercolour paper and God only knows how much fixative and poxy Rembrandts - on a painting that I have just burned. Sorry... I should have taken a picture first, in order to show you how bad it was?
    In all fairness to the makers of Rembrandt Pastels, I can't blame them for my failure. But, to be honest, I DON'T enjoy painting with them. They are too Damned HARD!
    They are, however, about the least hard of all the pastels that you can buy in the Philippines - which is the only reason that I use the things!
    But Soft, they Ain't!
    Postscript Edit - dated November 18, 2007:
    Having just re-read the above entry, I think it was actually a little unfair! I have to say this, because I have, in fact, been using Rembrandts, (usually in conjunction with Schmingke and Unison pastels,) ever since I wrote that - over a year ago!!!!!!!
    OK. The Rembrandts are certainly NOT as soft as Schmingke. However, now that I have developed my technique a little, I find that quite useful in certain circumstances - like, for instance, when I specifically don't want to apply too much colour. I also use them as blending sticks. (I never did get on with those rolled-paper stick things - whatever they call them?)
    One other area that I do use Rembrandt a lot, is in the initial stages of a pastel painting when working on a heavy watercolour paper. These are usually landscapes. Because the paper is invariably white or off-white, I tend to block in large swathes of background colour with my Rembrandts - then turn these into very rough watercolour washes by going over them with a large "mop" type watercolour brush with plenty of clean water. That way, I create my own multi-colour tinted paper before I start the painting.
    So, whilst what I wrote in the original post above was what I found to be true at the time of writing, I have now revised my opinion of Rembrandt pastels. I DO find them very useful and I sincerely apologize to the makers of Rembrandt pastels for my previous, hasty, and not very accurate comments!
  5. smb
    I'm just on my way back to Manila after spending a very pleasant week in a very remote farm in Davao del Sur, Mindanao, (in the Southern part of the Philippines). 'Extremely primitive conditions but the hospitality was great and I had a whole stretch of clean, clear and warm river water to myself! And it was great fun riding a motorcycle with four of us on it, going to the local market... Me, the driver and two very pretty and innocent country girls - one 17 years young and the other one just turned 15.
    I only wish someone could have photographed the smile on my face!!
    Whilst I was there, I decided to give the family and the other people in the village a break from my prying camera. But I did manage to get loads of photos of light shining through tropical foliage, the rice paddies, the river etc., etc. I also spent a lot of time and effort trying to get a decent shot of a very beautiful cockerel. The chickens there are totally free range and the damn cock kept roaming around! I also spent some time taking photos of different types of light, (morning, noonday, evening, sunny, cloudy etc.,) shining through the water onto the river bed. Hopefully, these will provide some good practice material for learning how to paint natural bodies of water.
    I only have two regrets with that trip - and both of these were missed photo opportunities caused by my own stupid shyness and lack of confidence with people photography...
    The first one was when I was sitting in a nipper hut, right beside the path through the woodland along the riverbank. My camera was in my hands and I was already busy snapping away at the early morning sunlight shining through some banana tree leaves. Like I said earlier, I had already decided to give people photography a rest during this recent trip - but then some opportunities are so fleeting and too good to miss. So you really have to grab the moment and take the shot? I was suddenly amazed to see three very young children, (probably aged between about 5 and 7 years old,) riding along the woodland path on a fairly large horse. No doubt, they were riding to school and they just looked so care-free and confident on that big beast! By the time I had rustled-up the courage to brave their inevitable shyness and laughter the moment they should see my camera pointing at them, it was too late and all I could see was the backs of the children and the horse's great bum! I hadn't even raised my camera from my lap...
    The other missed photo opportunity was when, early on my last morning there, I was down by the river - busy trying to get some close-ups of some riverside flowers... So, obviously, I was ready and obviously, my camera was with me - primed, in hand and ready to go... But I wasn't expecting the family's 15-year-old daughter to come down to the river to say goodbye to me before leaving for school. And it wasn't until Jelyn turned to go that I realized what a pretty picture of carefree youth and innocence she was. With the beautiful, unspoiled rural scenery and that wonderfully soft, early morning light on her cheeks, this was another rare and not to be missed photo opportunity. All I had to do was to call back to her and just mention the word "pictures!" It would have been so easy and Jelyn loves having her photo taken. But, again, I was just too damned shy to ask- and then she was gone...
    Mind you, these lost photo opportunities may just be the prodding that I really need, in order to encourage me to start painting from the memory and using my imagination? Now that is definitely going to be a big step for me - getting away from painting exclusively from photographs...
  6. smb
    This thing had been sitting around in my living room, half finished for about nine months:

    Mindanao palayan - almost ready for planting rice
    I finally got around to finishing it a few days ago.
    'Feels good to be back in the swing...
    I was almost starting to get really cheesed-off with the thing, as I frantically tried to get it finished the other day. But I managed to resist the temptation of over-doing it and ending-up with a complete mess.
    It's only a bit of crappy amateur art. And having taken 9 months over the thing, it is hard to say that I really enjoyed doing it. (Well, I always enjoy the actual time spent working on a painting but I couldn't get in the mood for art for months on end when I was supposed to be working on this one.) But, I have to say, I am pretty well satisfied with this painting now that it is done... I quite like the richness of the colors - especially the greens...
    And the half-finished work almost became a fixture in my living room for such a long time; I might even frame this and put it up on my wall!
  7. smb
    Today, I managed to get started on a new pastel painting. (Apart from finishing-off another one that I started last year sometime, this is my first art of 2012!!)

    The initial outline of my painting, at the end of the first session.
    Up until today, I had only ever painted from photographs. Photography is a hobby of mine and, as much as possible, I try to use my own photographs as reference material. However, my printer has been out of ink for some time and I have not been able to buy a replacement cartridge.
    So, today was different! For the first time ever, I started something purely from scratch, using nothing more than my imagination.
    Having just about run out of excuses, to put off the day when I knew I had to pick up a stick of pastel again; I attached a blank sheet of paper to my board. And then I sat there and just stared at it, refusing to leave my studio until a scene came into my mind and pastel had been applied to paper. At one point, I even considered taking-up abstract art painting! I thought about just putting a few random strokes of colour on the paper and then seeing what developed from that. Later, I almost started to attempt a mighty steam locomotive pulling a train past a station platform - which, for some reason, was going to be full of people completely wrapped-up in their cell phones...
    Anyway, a pretty tame scene that I knew I could handle purely from imagination, with no reference material at all, came to mind. It's nothing more than a simple view of a garden, as seen through the kitchen window of a country cottage with pink walls inside the kitchen. Not very ambitious, I know - but I just wanted to get started with something and I figured that it needed to be a simple scene... Maybe, once I get back into the swing of things, I can try something a little more ambitious?
    I have wanted for the longest time to be able to paint from memory and also from imagination. Now, just because my printer is out of ink, I have finally been forced to give it a try.
    This is not even the slightest hint of a shuffle for anyone else - but it is one massive leap for me!!
  8. smb
    The title to this entry is an allusion to the break-up of my first, slightly unsuccessful marriage - and my descent into the pits of hell with the second.
    That was all over ten years ago but, today, I find myself wondering why I devote so much time and energy, (never mind money,) to a bunch of websites... It costs me well over $US 400 a month, just to keep them "on air." I can only take so much of my paid job, so could this just be a diversion to keep me busy and keep my mind away from thinking about the past? Then there is the fact that I invariably, deliberately mess-up any kind of developing a relationship with the opposite sex. I certainly don't feel ready to get hooked again. Not just yet... Maybe not in the next ten years. Maybe when I am already dead?!
    Then there is the art. Making amateur art, without any kind of pressure to pay the bills with the proceeds, is quite a relaxing pass-time and, like the web sites, it does keep my mind occupied on mundane things.
    Sometimes though, it is a real struggle just to get motivated; pick-up a stick of pastel and make some kind of mess on a sheet of paper. Even that takes a real effort when I am not in the mood. It's just as well that I am not into oil painting... I'd never even get all that gear set-up!!
  9. smb
    The completion of my latest painting represents two 'firsts' for me!
    Firstly, having been struggling with issues of lack of inspiration, finding the time and actually being able to complete my previous painting, (started last year sometime) - this is my first complete painting of the year 2012
    Secondly, this is my first ever painting that was not based on a photograph - and no photographic reference material was used - not even for the large (lily-like?) flower...
    The koi pond, right in the middle of that lovely, rough and very green cottage garden lawn was just my idea of a perfect view from my ideal kitchen window!
    Let me know what you think!

    Window With a View
  10. smb
    Originally posted in the Forums: Nov 13 2006, 03:51 AM
    Oh, Here's one that I didn't burn... A sexy, very pretty blonde girl with lovely breasts!!

    I know that most people will think it is a pretty corny painting but, who gives a damn?! I enjoyed doing it, and I like it!
    And, I have to admit, it was done mostly in Rembrandts...
    So why am I getting hot under the collar about Rembrandts? Because I have completely run out of my Schmingke SOFT pastels, I can't afford to order any more over the internet, at the moment - and I couldn't have done this...

    without them! ...Reason being that the above painting uses a lot of acrylic modelling paste, mixed with sand, in order to get the textures for the grass and the rocks. If you try to use anything other than a really soft pastel for this, when you try to cover up the sanded modelling paste, most of the pastel ends up as dust on the floor. And, if you are not careful, you can wear your fingers down to the bone!!
  11. smb
    Originally posted in the Forums: Dec 25 2006, 06:08 AM
    Here's my latest attempt...

    Sheine Mae and Jelyn
    It should have looked something like this...

    Sheine Mae and Jelyn
    I'm not aiming for photo-realism here - (even if I did have the skill and the patience to do it). In fact, I like a little bit of style...
    But, looking at the photo and the painting together like this, I realized that I made Sheine Mae's head far too big. I'll have to try this one again sometime...
    The struggle goes on!!
  12. smb
    Originally posted in the Forums: Jan 2 2007, 08:04 AM
    Not so much of a struggle now! Here's my latest 'work in progress...'

    Jelyn Nakaupo sa Motor ni Ate! - (In progress)
    Who knows how this will turn out. All I can say is that I am enjoying myself here!
    Watch this space!
  13. smb
    Originally posted in the Forums: Jan 21 2007, 11:58 AM
    And the finished product:
    Pastel painting of a pretty, smiling teenage country girl in the Philippines, sitting on her elder sister's motorbike.

    Jelyn Nakaupo sa Motor ni Ate - (More-or-less finished)
    I will probably have to work on the hen and chicks some more. Jelyn's shirt could also do with some more white and shading. But, if at all, I will do this immediately before framing...
  14. smb
    'Not too much time for painting in recent years... I have a portrait of my youngest daughter on the go - and I will definitely finish it one day. (I started it when she was 16. She is now 19 - so I will have to finish it while she is, technically at least, still a teenager!)
    Photography... Well, this little blog of mine is also supposed to be about some of my attempts at photography, so here are a few snaps I took of the Shinkansen, on a recent (work-related) trip to Japan.
    The photos I posted on Facebook created quite a few comments and I have reproduced some of these below:
    Vic Rolfe I was talking about the Shinkansen to a friend in Kokura. He said he couldn't understand what was so special about the Shinkansen! "It's just a train, right?" Just a train??!!!! Well... I suppose - for Japan, yes!!   Luis Reyes Ordinary train lng sa kanila   FB Friend:" Beautiful, wish we had those here in Australia. "   Vic Rolfe Ideal country for it... Japan has spent a stupendous amount of money over the years building that network. At least, you wouldn't need too many tunnels, for a start off!   Vic Rolfe City center to city center, all over Japan. Every station on the Shinkansen network is surrounded by hotels, so you just get off the train and walk for two minutes to your hotel. In Japan, unless you are going from one end of the country to the other, it is actually quicker than flying, by the time you get stuck in a traffic jam just getting to the airport. Then you have to check in and get through security.   Luis Reyes Ganda ng train   Vic Rolfe These things don't spend all day in the station, either. They arrive on time and they have to leave on time - exactly to the second. Hence the announcement as you slow down on the approach to Hakata (Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka, Japan) "If you are planning to get off at the next station, then you need to get all your stuff ready NOW and start making your way towards the doors.." (or words to that effect!!) I am not sure how long they stop for - but it can't be very long! That's for sure... 1 minute? 2 minutes max!!    
  15. smb
    I love the Philippines. Filipinos are, without a doubt, some of the friendliest, most fun-loving, outgoing and easygoing people in the world. And that is quite an awesome combination!
    I call Manila 'home' - and PAL (Philippine Airlines) also happens to be my favourite airline.
    I also quite like Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)... It's nothing special in terms of modernity or facilities but checking in, Security, Immigration, Customs and all of the usual rigmarole generally work pretty smoothly. You can even get a smile out of an Immigration Officer - sometimes! Now that is saying something!!
    And you always get a nice welcoming chorus somewhere in the arrivals area at Christmas time. 
    But... (Moaning Poms!!)
    How long will it be before Watsons realise that they do need to stock up on antacid tablets before Christmas and the New Year? (Not in the middle of January.) IE, When the demand is bound to be higher and supply chains are always severely disrupted? Or, how long before suppliers in general start to realise that essential supply chains do need to be maintained over the Christmas and New Year period?
    ...Or that it is actually quite a good idea to have more than two or three taxis working NAIA, the main international airport, on New Year's Day? (Not just let them all take the day off because they have hangovers from celebrating on New Year's Eve?)
    Funny as hell, that! When I cleared Customs at NAIA (MNL) the other day and saw the state of the queue for the official airport taxis, I managed to bluff my way past the guard who was insisting on preventing people from going upstairs to the Departures area - (where you can generally hop into an incoming, non-airport taxi that has just dropped off a departing passenger) - even though the queue for taxis at Arrivals was probably about five or six hours long...
    Basically, I used the momentum of my heavy suitcase to get myself onto the escalator up to the Departures level. Then, once I was safely on the escalator and moving steadily upwards, I made a big show of looking for my onward domestic ticket... By the time the guard realised what I was up to, I was already halfway up and it was too late!
    There was no angry exchange and there were no hard feelings. I just lamely explained to the Guard that the queue for regular taxis was ever so slightly on the unbearably long side - and we both smiled as we said goodbye!!
    The Philippines! I just love this place! ❤️
  16. smb
    Originally posted in the Forums: Oct 16 2007, 09:44 PM

    I just had my first - (totally disastrous!!) exhibition - where I didn't even sell a single painting...
    I was ripped-off for PHP40,000 by the Lilet Artista Art Gallery in MH Del Pilar Street, Ermita, Manila. The half page press release that I was supposed to get in the Manila Bulletin, ended up as a single paragraph in Tikatik - or some such cheap rubbish tabloid newspaper. 😂 No flowers, as promised - and not even a tin of Skyflakes for the opening ceremony... 😕
    All my paintings were crammed together on 3/4 of ONE wall of the gallery in question. No attempt at any form of curating - and they were up for less than 36 hours!!!!!!!!

    Almost enough to put me off panting for life!! (I gave the bloody lot away - every single one of them!) ...'Only saving grace was, there were plenty of eager takers for the free paintings among some of the Ermita bar girls!

    When one potential customer tried to haggle the price of one painting down to, basically, the cost of the frame - I decided to withdraw the whole lot from sale!

    Later that same day, I got a friend to come around with his little "owner" jeep. We gathered up the entire collection of exhibition paintings and proceeded to go around Ermita, Manila - giving them away for free!!

    I am very happy to report that Hotel La Corona were willing recipients of two of my paintings, (although, I suspect - because I have been a long-term guest of the place - this may have been more out of politeness than anything!?!!)

    Anyway, the rest of the paintings went to various people like, as I said, some of the local bar girls - who really could not afford to buy one; not even at cost price for the materials.

    I am happy to report that there was something of a scramble for the paintings - with the whole lot gone in less than an hour and nowhere near enough to go around for all the people that wanted one! It done me a power of good to see my collection going to grateful recipients and, for the time-being at least, I am going to forget about even trying to sell any of my own work, for the time-being - and just concentrate on painting for fun... Basically just giving away the finished paintings to anyone that wants them.

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  17. smb
    I've been manically busy with this and some of my other websites for most of my present vacation, (from my work as a seaman.) And yes - I have also been going through one or two pretty minor depressions. Nothing serious, you understand - just the normal stuff that anyone would suffer, when they have been putting their heart, sole, all their energy and almost every waking hour; day after day into a task that they know may or may not eventually reap rewards - or might just as easily end-up in complete failure!!! Not to mention the fact that although I do enjoy building websites - I'd much rather be painting. Or taking my lovely Pit Bull terrier for long walks!
    Anyway, when I was just about at breaking point with the amount of time and energy I was spending on constructing and running websites, I decided it was time to take a break and get back into some painting before I got called back to my job at sea.
    The below effort was about my third attempt at painting a pastel portrait from a photo of a lovely Thai girl, called Tussinee. Each attempt was getting progressively worse than the previous. When I finally realized that I just wasn't in the mood for painting, I lost my patience with it and defaced the thing completely. Then again, when I looked at it, I just thought; "Hey! I'm going to keep this one!"

    Tussinee - One (The Manic-Depressive Art Version!)
    The disaster with "Tussinee - One" did help to get something-or-other out of my system. Somehow, I quite like that painting. I decided to keep it, as it represents a small part of my life... Anyway, the fact that I had something that I actually wanted to keep - rather than burning, along with all the other failed attempts, prompted me into starting my 4th attempt at doing justice to the lovely Tussinee...

    Tussinee - Two (The 4th Attempt!!)
    Still not quite what I wanted... In many ways, more scary than my "Manic-Depressive" version of this painting in Tussinee - One!! Still... I feel myself getting back into the mood to paint - which has to be a good thing. At least, it has to be more healthy than sitting in front of a computer screen the WHOLE day?!!
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  18. smb
    I haven't had much time for painting lately but one I did manage to finish recently was a little commemorative pastel for a lovely dog...

    Jumong and Shoubi
    Just a small pastel painting that I done as a way of remembering Shoubi's best mate, Jumong - who sadly died while I was away on my recent commission at sea.
    The official story that I was given was that Jumong got sick and died. Not surprising really, as he spent most of the last months of his life in misery, tied up on a short piece of chain and hardly cared for. More likely though, he would have been killed for food? Despite the appalling conditions under which he was being kept, Jumong was a tough little dog...
    Anyway, whether he died, or was killed, I know for a fact that Jumong's carcass was not wasted. He did not get buried and he certainly had no flowers. So I decided to use a bit of artistic license and put some in the painting for him...
    Whilst in the mood for painting dogs, I decided to do a portrait for my Pit Bull Terrier cross, Shoubi. The first one came out a bit dark and Shoubi ended-up looking quite "foxy." I had another go and, for the first time ever, my second attempt at a painting resulted in an actual improvement over the first.

    Shoubi - Two
    Still far from perfect, I managed to get the coloring of her coat a bit more like the real thing. I need to work on getting the texture of the fur right, next time I try to paint a dog - but this will do for now...!!
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  19. smb
    Benjemin - One (Pastel painting of a German Shepherd dog)
    Well. The landscape background might be a bit crude but I can honestly say that this is the first painting that I have made that I am truly satisfied with!! I could say that I was deliberately concentrating on the dog, in order to "bring it forward" or something - but that would be a lie. Notwithstanding, after three years of trying hard, I can honestly say that I am damned chuffed with this one!
    Four months in the making - (interrupted by the necessity to go back to sea four three months and earn some pennies) - but I got there in the end! And OK... I must admit, I am currently struggling with "Benjamin - Two" but, hey, after three years of struggle, I am not complaining if they don't all come out right first time. One good one that I am personally satisfied with is good enough for me!
    Image Description:
    From a photo of my friend, Mr Timothy Penycate's German Shepherd (Alsation) dog. I took the photo when I was out for a walk in the woods with Benj - and I think the excitement shows clearly on his face!! Soft pastels on Waterford rough watercolor paper
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  20. smb
    Well... Another failed software upgrade, resulting in the site "hanging" yet again, was the final straw!
    Cut a long story short - but I actually asked Liquid Web to just cancel my server contract and delete my two remaining websites.
    It was only when I remembered that I still need a couple of the artfreaks.com email addresses, that I decided to keep artfreaks.com going, in some form, at least.
    The other site is now well and truly history. I personally deleted all the files for it, on my old server - and I didn't bother to make any sort of back-up copy.
    And now I am down to one site only, I might even have a bit of time to try and get artfreaks.com back into some sort working sense?!!
  21. smb
    Originally posted in the forums: May 29 2005, 02:20 AM
    At the tender young age of 47 years, I've finally decided to have another go at making some art...
    I was never any good at drawing but, at around age 14, I did once produce what I considered to be a pretty good oil painting of an A4 Pacific- (steam locomotive) hauled train, speeding down the tracks (supposedly! ) on its world record-breaking 126mph run.
    Having spoken to a few artist friends, I have come to the conclusion that I need to brush-up on my drawing and sketching skills before I can take my art any further. I was touched by Hermes Alegre's story of how, when he was a boy, his mother had to fork out on a blackboard and some chalks for him when he got into a fight with one of his friends. Apparently, his family didn't have enough money to buy paper and pencils so he used to draw by scratching his sketches into the earth. The fight started when his friend erased one of his drawings - as kids do!! :roll:
    I've bought a couple of books on drawing and I'll be giving you my reviews on these - together with some pretty awful "before" and, hopefully, slightly less awful "after" examples of my attempts at drawing and sketching - when I have finished reading these books and (tried!) to put some of what I have learned into practice.
    Watch this space!
    If any one else would like to share their story, tips, suggestions - or comments on mine or others attempts at making art, please feel free to post your comments here or, if you prefer, you can also start your own thread in this forum.
    Please check-out the top tips for artists and photographers in the Articles section of this site.
    (The link is in the main Navigation Bar at the to of this page - or in the Main Menu, if you are using a mobile device...)
  22. smb
    Originally posted in the forums: Jun 4 2005, 04:45 AM
    Ok... Now I have exposed myself to ridicule!!!
    It's about 33 years since I last attempted to make any of my own art so these are very much the "Before" drawings. Hopefully, the "After" (reading a few books and a lot of practise) ones will be a little better...
    Learning to draw is an exciting challenge for me. And although the standard of my work is a bit of a joke at the moment, I have to say that I am NOT in the least bit disappointed with it. Far from it! I just feel chuffed that I've finally managed to pluck up the courage and have a go at doing something that I have always admired in others - drawing life-like images.
    I am currently working my way through an excellent book called "Drawing on the Right side of the Brain." I'm well impressed with it so far and I'm planning to do a review of it, once I have finished it. What I can say already, though, is that far from being a big heap of technical instructions, it is an excellent tool in breaking the psychological barriers that can prevent people from drawing.
    Right...! Time for a beer to celebrate!!!!
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