Archive for November, 2010


Final Painting: Biking on CR3112

November 28, 2010

I’ve gotten the new painting finished, oil 16×12 inches. I may add a few touch-ups later, but I’ll let it rest for awhile first.


Share It

November 23, 2010

Remember that the phrase is “to give thanks.” Pass it around.


Painting Update: Biking on CR3112

November 20, 2010

Here’s the current state of the new painting with the top half covered. The bottom will be similar to the yellow-green tones of the trees. I still have to add the bike rider who will be in that opening on the right side.


New Painting Started: Biking on CR3112

November 18, 2010

I’ve finally managed to start up a new painting. Hopefully I can manage to get most of it finished before Thanksgiving. The subject is based on a photo I took near my Mother’s home. It’ll show a bike rider peddling down this tree-lined county road.

This one is in oil paint, for a change. The surface is a 12×16 inch panel I’ve prepared using 100# bristol paper that’s been sized with shellac and mounted to hardboard. I began with a quick outline using a red ochre watercolor pencil, and then loosely applied thin preliminary undertones of complementary neutral blues in a middle range of values.

Close-up detail

The medium I’m using is methylcellulose, which is a water and oil emulsifier that works well for oil paint undertones without requiring solvent and dries quickly. I thin it with water to the right consistency, mix in the paint and apply, being careful not to get it too thick. It will be touch-dry in half an hour at the most. I could use a solvent instead, like turpentine or mineral spirits, but this has more adhesive power and no need for ventilation.


19th Century Civil War Illustrations

November 9, 2010

The Century Illustrated Magazine ran a series of articles in the 1880s about the Civil War that they republished in book form as a four volume series, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. You can read all four of those original books online at

As it happens, I bought two of these several years ago at a used bookstore, volumes 2 and 3. They are reprints made by Castle Books in 1983. As far as I can tell they are about the same size as the Century books and the reproduction quality is good; although, the paper is not ideal and causes the dark areas to bleed out in most cases. The images are also most likely taken from reproductions rather than the original engraved plates. You can see more detail in the scans at; however, those scans are highly compressed JPG files so it’s a trade-off. These two books cost me about $6 each and you can find them online for about $10-12. I highly recommend them. There are also many lithographs and etchings included. In volume 4 a few photographs begin to appear. They contain some of the best engravings and line art I’ve ever seen, and there’s tons of spot and full-page illustrations on at least every other page. The art of Isaac Walton Taber is particularly special.

It’s important to mention the size of the prints. If they were reduced to a smaller size it would cause a loss of detail that many modern day reproductions of engravings do not account for. I notice this often in history books.

The text in these volumes is also very fascinating and quite accurate from a historical perspective, which makes it more worthwhile for anyone interested in this era of American history. The only index, by the way, is in the back of the fourth volume.

As I’ve mentioned before, when viewing these images on I recommend using their online viewer instead of downloading PDFs since the image quality is better. Zoom the viewer up to 100% and save the JPG (right click>save as.) The samples I’m showing here are only about ¼ the original size.


Restoring a Hard Drive Partition

November 7, 2010

I’m told it’s a law of physics that matter cannot be created nor destroyed. That doesn’t apply to the virtual world of digital files, however. Even files that were once present can suddenly disappear, or at least play hide-and-seek. Maybe this recent experience of mine can help others if they go through the same mess.

Last night I discovered to my displeasure that one of my two partitions on a secondary hard drive had decided to vanish for unknown reasons. There was an E: drive in the Explorer window, but no file size was displayed. Fortunately, that partition only had all my music files and a few other odds and ends; nothing critical. Still, I didn’t want to loose all those MP3s. When I clicked E: it asked if I wanted to format the drive. Nope, so I restarted the system (it’s Windows XP, by the way.)

CHKDSK ran automatically finding and fixing tons of errors on that partition, but when the system came up there was still no data showing on E:. Microsoft advice was to run CHKDSK again, and finally do a low-level format. Ugh. I ran CHKDSK from the CMD prompt (CHSDSK /F E:) and rebooted again. Still had no data showing on E:. That was last night, so I went to bed.

This morning I found a free file recovery and restore program, PC Inspector, made by the same folks who make the Clone-Maxx software I use for backups. I ran that and it found all the files on that partition, thank God. I spent a few hours copying over as much of them as I could (some had read errors,) managing to get most of them, which I then transfered to DVDs. I had some of those MP3s on a portable player, and some of the other files on an older backup drive.

Before I resorted to formatting that partition in order to copy all these files back to it, I thought I’d try CHKDSK again. This time there were fewer repairs listed, which looked promisiong, so I rebooted once more. CHKDSK ran again automatically, and showed no errors or fixes at all this time. That sounded good. When the system came up and I opened Explorer it showed the E: partition this time with actual file size used. I clicked E: and there were all my files, just as if nothing had ever happened. At this point I’m going to defrag the whole drive and do a full backup.

So, what caused the problem in the first place? No idea. At least it got me to make backups of my files and find a recovery program that seems to work well.