Thursday, October 13, 2011

Foot surgery

Let's just gloss over the fact that it's been two months since I posted anything and just jump right in, shall we? Okay? Okay =)

For this post, I want to talk about my foot surgery. Yeah, on September 9th, I got up at 5:30 a.m., and went in for what is called a "Modified Lapidus Procedure". Basically, my first metatarsal and my big toe had a 36 degree angle to each other (see the pic below), so it caused me to walk funny, has affected my back, my knees, and god knows what else. They broke they metatarsal, cut some of it off at the base (so my big toe wouldn't look super long), screwed it back into my foot, and corrected my big toe.

The whole procedure took about two hours, then they woke me up and took an x-ray, ran down some post-op recovery procedures, gave me crutches, and I was on my way. Luckily I had Megan to drive me to and from the hospital. The block they had used to numb my foot was pretty dang strong - strong enough that I didn't have any idea what was in store for me that night. Worst pain of my life.

Now, I'm a fairly tough guy (not being egotistical, bear with me). I've been raised on a ranch, done plenty of manual labor, played football in high school... I've been knocked down, trampled, kicked, dragged around, and usually got up laughing afterward. But this - I ended up experiencing what felt like 12-14 on the 1-10 pain scale. A lot of pain. The block wore off around 8 p.m. that night, and I couldn't deal with it. My family was all here, so people were on the phone with Kaiser, trying to figure out what to do, and Megan was next to me the whole time. A lot of it is a blur, because I was seeing white. I think it was about 12:30 a.m. when we decided to call an ambulance and get me to the ER. The local fire department showed up pretty quickly after that, as the ambulance was coming from Petaluma, and they said it would be about a half an hour. The fire department administered 5mg of morphine pretty much straight away, and that didn't do much at all. 5mg more, nothing. Another 5mg, starting to feel my arms relax, but the pain was the same. A final 5mg - making a total of 20mg - got me relaxed enough to transfer me from my bed to the ambulance, and I was on my way back to San Rafael.

The firetruck, and the ambulance in the background. Can't really see me getting loaded up, but I'm there in the background too.

The entire ride, my mouth was so dry that it felt like leather. I guess that's a side-effect of morphine. The drive seemed to take forever, but I think we finally got there at about 2 or 2:30. Now, keep in mind that I've been up since 5:30 the previous morning, so I'm pretty dang tired by now. First, they started out by administering 5mg of dilauded, which is 8x stronger than morphine. That didn't do much either. 10mg of something even stronger than that, and finally the pain started calming down. 35mg of heavy pain killers, and my pain was down to about a 4 on the scale. So, they opened up my cast took a look at my foot to see if anything was wrong, and everything looked fine. They wrapped it back up, a little looser than it was, hoping that would help relieve the pain a bit. I also came away with a prescription to dilaudid, and zofran for the nausea it would cause. I slept for the entire car ride home, and finally got to go to sleep at around 6 a.m..

One heck of a day, but the trouble wasn't over yet. The pain started cropping up the next night, but it seemed to settle down. I think some of the drugs they had given me the night before were still in my system, so that helped to relieve the pain a bit. The day after that, though, the pain got really bad again. Back on the phone with Kaiser, and debating about another trip to the hospital. But, the advice nurse said I could take both the dilauded and the norco (which they had originally prescribed for the pain. Not nearly strong enough!) at the same time, and it wouldn't harm me. So, naturally, I did. For the next three days I was on a schedule of alternating the two medications every two hours. They both needed to be taken four hours apart from each other, and this way there was no 'down-time', so the pain would be much more manageable. This was the final solution to the pain, and I was finally able to recover in peace... Well, mostly.

Since then, I've been mostly just sitting around the house. I got 12 weeks off of work, and I go back on December 3rd. It's been a huge benefit that I only have one physical class this semester too. I'm taking two online classes as well, so I only have to go into town twice a week for just a few hours at a time. I definitely didn't go to class the first week after the surgery, though. At first, sitting in class was tough, because I was supposed to have my foot elevated, but now I'm able to go without taking pain killers, and with only minor discomfort.

Four weeks after the surgery, I went back in to get the cast removed, and get a walking boot cast. I'm still not allowed to put weight on my foot, though, not until the 27th of this month. Anyway, above you can see what my foot looked like then. Straight! Perfectly straight! Though, I wasn't able to enjoy looking at it at first. I had what is called a "vasovagal response". Basically, when my eyes caught sight of what my foot looks like now, my nervous system went "What? That's not my foot! But it's on my body!", and I almost passed out. Luckily I told the doctor, and he had me lay back and not watch while he cut the stitches out. It was the craziest feeling, seeing a body part modified like that, and looking back I'm not surprised that I had such a reaction. It's also weird to think that it wasn't a conscious reaction I was having, but just that my nervous system had no idea what the hell to do, so it started shutting down. If you want to know more about it, here's a link with more information:

I think that pretty much covers the highlights of the ordeal... I've just been getting around on crutches since the surgery, going on 5 weeks tomorrow. I've actually started getting callouses on my hands from them... But, only 14 more days, and hopefully I'll be able to walk again! Just when I started mastering the one-footed-shower, too...

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

In Waves

Wow, I guess it's been quite some time since I made a post. Unfortunately I haven't done much drawing since you guys heard from me last, but what I did do is shown on the right. I should note here that my scanner didn't really get it right, and I had to play with it a little in photoshop just to get the image to show up. No real image editing, just adjustments made to the contrast, etc..

Now first, I'm using a different medium in this drawing. Previously, I've been using just a regular sketch book, which was a bit rough. At least, it was compared to the Bristol board I'm using now. Michael's was having a sale on it a few weeks ago, and when I opened the pad and ran my fingers over the board, I was amazed. Completely smooth. Which really helped contribute to a much more crisp, evenly shaded image. Speaking of shading, this image was drawn without the use of any burnishing tool, tissue, or blending stump. Purely done with shading technique, and this is exactly what I've been trying to accomplish. It was a bit of a hurdle, because I couldn't use a tissue to bail me out if I had some white showing through in the shading. It made me pay a lot more attention to the details, and I will admit that I feel pretty accomplished having drawn this.

I may not have done a ton of drawing over the last few weeks, but I have been playing a ton of guitar. Trivium came out with a new album recently, "In Waves". I can't stop listening to it. The guitar work in it isn't anything ground-breaking for them, though. I honestly think a lot more attention was paid to the riffs and solos in their previous album, "Shogun", from a technical standpoint. But at the same time, this new album is more catchy. I say that in the sense that if I play a song off this new album, with no other instruments or vocals backing it up, the song still makes sense, and it still sounds good. That seems to always have been a problem with most the stuff I play - if you haven't heard the song before, it doesn't really make much sense. Of course, that could just be an issue of my own skill, but anyway.

So, I've already learned seven songs off the album. Well, mostly. Two of the songs I've learned in their entirety - solos, leads, rhythms, everything. The other five, I have at least 70-75% of it down. I'm still working on my soloing skills, so that's the usual story for the things I learn. Hey, I'm teaching myself here, cut me some slack ;-). I wish I had some videos or recordings to share to show what I'm talking about, but I simply don't have the equipment to record anything decent enough.

I realize that this is the first time I've talked about music here, so maybe I should go into a bit more of what I play. In the first years of playing, I spent a lot of time trying to cover songs from Avenged Sevenfold, off their albums "Waking the Fallen" and "City of Evil". Played around a little bit with trying to learn a few things from Between the Buried and Me, but it was just way to complicated for me to understand at that point. Had a little stretch learning songs from Killswitch: Engage, which is where I started tuning down to Drop C tuning. From there, I decided to start learning some Bullet for my Valentine after their album "Scream Aim Fire" came out. I don't play much off that album anymore, but I do still have fun playing songs from their other two albums, "The Poison" and "Fever", and their self-titled demo album. Along the way, I also learned Fade to Black by Metallica. That is one of the few songs I have learned in it's entirety. The day I got the solo completely down for Fade to Black almost felt like a turning point for my confidence in playing music. It was amazing.

For the last year, though, I've focused a lot on Trivium. I can only stick to learning songs off of "Ember to Inferno", "Ascendancy", and "In Waves", though. Their other two albums they released were played solely with seven-string guitars, and there's no practical way (that I can see) to emulate that sound with a six-string. I've probably learned about 50% percent of the music on those albums, which is quite a bit. Lots of triplets, speed picking riffs, and some damn difficult rhythms that have helped skyrocket my ability (at least, in my opinion).

I think I hear my guitar calling my name, I should go see what it wants...... =)

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Work in progress

I've been doing a lot of surfing around, trying to find any tips or advice I can get on drawing, shading, and any techniques that I can find. Shading has been my main focus this week, and I feel some good progress has been made. My secret weapon? A tissue. Somewhere in my travels I read that a tissue can help create perfect skin tones when blending, and I am so glad I found that out.

I've also been working a lot on slowly building values up, working from light to dark, and better placement of my shading. It's amazing how just one or two (properly placed) shadows can bring a picture to life, or totally define the expression on someone's face. Achieving the realistic quality I want in my art is going to depend on my skill in shading - I've always known that, but now I feel I have a good foundation of knowledge to practice on.

But... now I'm going to be moving on to a subject that scares me to no end..... Hair.

As I'm sure you saw in the title, this drawing I've been working on is just a work in progress. I've cropped the picture above a little bit, because I don't want to reveal the unfinished parts yet. Such as the hair. Drawing realistic hair... I don't even know what to say about it. My first attempt turned out, well, just okay. Not really realistic looking, or what I was going for in any way, but still achieved a slightly cool effect that resembles hair. I don't think I totally botched it to the point of giving up in despair, it's just going to take a lot(!) of practice to get it down before I try and draw out the hair in the picture above.

That's all for now. Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think. Critiques are always welcome!

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

I love it when

a random doodle actually turns out to be something kinda decent. This is going to be a short post, cause I'm at work (and probably shouldn't be doing this, haha). This was drawn with a bic pen on the back of a phone message in all of about ten minutes, and I'm (surprisingly) pretty pleased with it =). The thing I was happiest about was that I didn't use anything for reference - strictly freehand, right out my imagination. Considering the troubles I've been having lately (especially with proportions), I think this is a pretty good accomplishment =).

Anyway, back to work... Thanks for reading!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Looking towards the future

I was able to test out those new pencils last night. They work beautifully! They glide so well on the paper, without leaving dents or scratches, so it makes it really easy to remove any values (or mistakes) that I don't want.  Unfortunately, though, my hand wasn't working as well as the pencils, so I don't have anything new to upload... Still. I was attempting another female figure, but the proportions were off quite a bit again. Still feel like I'm learning and making progress, though.

A sunset from the ranch
Work on the ranch didn't quite work out either, yesterday. Well, for the most part. We didn't end up shearing as we intended. It was kind of hard, considering that overnight the sheep busted through the fence holding them. As we drove up to the pen I had to laugh, because there was one left in there that had already been shorn, so immediately my dad said, "Well, I guess we're done, then!" We ended up patching the fence, then I ran down to get the four-wheeler and my sister so we could try to bring them in again. Well, after running out of gas halfway back up (thank goodness for reserve tanks!), and a few other frustrations, we ended up talking for a little bit in the barn. We decided early in the conversation that it wouldn't be very smart to try and get the sheep back in to finish the job. Since they got out, we'd have to rile them up getting them back in, and they have food in their bellies. That makes them especially hard to shear, because with all the different positions they're put in throughout shearing, any food in their stomach can push against their lungs and they might suffocate.

Creepy when the buzzards sit like this. Sorry for the bad quality,
couldn't get any closer or they would've flown away.
The conversation in the barn was a very good one, and exciting, too. We talked a lot about the future of the ranch, and our family business. We're going to be putting in a lot of work getting the ranch to the point where it has sustainable, livable income. Currently, all of us are working separate jobs, because the income off the ranch isn't nearly enough to live by. But, with enough blood, sweat, and tears, we can do this. We actually ended up talking for about six or seven hours about everything we want to do and how to do it. Not just in the barn, though. We came back down to the house, talked for a while, took a little break right before dinner, then talked more during and after dinner. I've been very excited about this since we all talked, because being on the ranch is what I love. It's where I grew up, and it's a large part of who I am today. As cheesy as that sounds, it is incredibly true.

So, research begins today after my sister gets home from the hospital. My brother in law has had a lot of stomach trouble the last week, so I hope they're able to do something to help fix him up. We're going to need all the help we can get! Haha, mostly kidding, I just want him to be in good health. Anyway, I've got some time before I have to go to work, so it's time to break out the pencils again, and give it another go.

If you want to keep posted on my progress, or the events of the ranch, or if you're just interested, be sure to follow my page ("Join this site", on the right) before you leave ;)

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, July 28, 2011


Alright, so I made a little mistake... I was browsing around, looking at random things related to drawing and art, and came across some photorealistic artists. I was so impressed with their drawings! It's insane, that level of detail that they are able to render in their drawings. I decided then that that's the level of skill that I want to achieve. I want to be able to draw photorealistic pictures.

Photorealistic art by Linda Huber

To the left here is a picture drawn by Linda Huber. I also want to link to the page I found it from here. Yeah. Incredible, right? Also, very, very intimidating. Well, since I found that page, I decided to try and pull out a picture and see what I could achieve myself. I knew that it wouldn't end up being of the same quality, but wanted to try anyway to see if I could learn something along the way. Yeah, I believe I did learn a thing or two, but I was also very right about the quality being way lesser than that of a photorealistic drawing. I'm not uploading what I did because it's not done yet, and I might just scrap the whole thing and try again later when my skill has improved.

I also got some new pencils, and God they are beautiful! I have yet to give them a test run, but I cannot wait. 24 pencils, ranging from 9B to 9H. I'll talk more about them later, and hopefully be able to draw with them later today.

For now, though, I need to head up on the ranch and get some work done. We're shearing the sheep today... It's crazy intense, and I'm probably not going to want to move afterward. But, we'll see =)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Almost two weeks later...

...I finally get some more drawing done =).

It's been a couple busy weeks. Camp was excellent, as always, and I can't wait to go back next year. I didn't end up doing any drawing while I was up there. I was much too busy with other things, and frankly, a little skittish about attempting the beautiful scenery of the forest. I almost thought it would be sacrilege to try and capture it, being the beginner I am.

I just got back from a four day retreat with my girlfriend, which was a much needed vacation from things. Watched some movies, relaxed, went swimming (she swam, she's teaching me how), and art. We joked about having our little arts and crafts corner - she does a lot of awesome knitting projects. I admire the quality of her work, quite often, and hope that she admires mine as well ;).

Anyway, I've placed the latest drawing of mine in this post, and updated the gallery as well. This one took me a couple of hours to complete, and I remembered why drawing hands are so. freaking. hard. I had actually intended for her to have her right hand stretched above her head, but I simply couldn't get it right. So, I decided (with a little convincing) that it should just lay at her side, out of view. I felt a bit daring, attempting this piece. I hadn't touched my book on Female Figures at all, out of sheer intimidation, but decided to go out on a limb. And, I have to say, that I am very pleased with the outcome =).

Let me know what you think!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Matters of proportion

So, turns out I didn't do much drawing since my last post, up until last night. I continued on with the same book I've been using, the next lesson being an "excellent study of proportion". Which turned out to be sadly mis-proportioned by my hand. I'll give it another go soon, but the first drawing definitely will not be posted to the gallery, it's that bad, haha.

Also did a little experimenting with some blending tortillons. Shading, blending, and texturing are really what I want to be able to get down, but it seems that the books I have at the moment don't cover it very much. Does anybody know of a good book that covers shading? Or even an online resource?

In fact, what other books would anybody recommend for the beginning sketch artist? I currently have four books, which will probably keep me busy for a while, but they are a bit short.

I'm going out of town for the next week, going to be volunteering at 4-H camp - and no, it's not all about animals. It's more of a youth-development and leadership week, and it always turns out to be tons of fun. Perhaps I'll bring my drawing pad with me... I will be stuck in the middle of a forest with no cell service or other kinds of civilization, maybe I can find some good nature scenes to attempt. Either way, looking forward to an awesome week =)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Let's get started...

Hello, everyone! Alright, so last week, I pulled out my sketch book (after a few years of collecting dust) and decided to see what I could put down on the paper. I pulled out my How to Draw 1 book that I'd received for Christmas a few years back, and managed to draw what resembles an apple... Not totally satisfied with it, but I don't think it's too bad.

Last night, I decided to give it another go. Using the same book, I sketched out some holly berries and some tulips. The shading on the tulips didn't go nearly as well as I'd hoped. One of the problems I've always had is with good shading techniques. Practice makes perfect, though. I'll upload those pictures to the gallery in a little bit. Overall, I don't think I'm off to a bad start, but I've got a long ways to go to reach my goal. Definitely not producing anything that I feel comfortable signing, yet. Hopefully I'll be up to drawing some more tonight after I get off work.