Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pen Kimonos

As anyone who has followed my blog or visited my website can attest, I am a penman.

Don't get me wrong. I love working with pencils too, and I wouldn't start an adventure without one (or more) of my pochade boxes. But I'm certainly fascinated (my wife would sometimes say, "obsessed") with fountain pens; I like their history, their technology, their feel and appearance, and most of all I like drawing and writing with them.

the current selection of pen kimonos -- all one-of-a-kind!
Top Row: 1.Teapots, 2.Tropical, 3.Cowboy Boots, 4.Artic Wildlife
Bottom Row: 1.Sunflowers, 2.Fishing Lures, 3.Boots Too, 4.Teacups

Some folks (especially those with large collections) may opt to keep their fountain pens in display cases, where they are safe from dust and grime. But I like to have at least two in my day bag whenever I venture out of the house. Unfortunately, that raises the possibility of damage from the aforementioned dust, grime, and even dings, dents and (every penman's nightmare) drops.

my 24-year-old "daily carry"

Fortunately for me, my wife is creative in a wider range of media than I and came up with a lovely (and equally functional) solution several years ago -- the pen kimono! Using attractive fabric patterns for the pouch exterior, the "kimono" has quilting (to protect against shock or damage due to accidental drops) and two compartments (to prevent abrasions that would otherwise be caused by rubbing up against one another.

I've been carrying the original for over 24 years with no sign of wear or tare to pens or kimono!

applying bias-tape to one of the kimonos

Now my daughter (whose is quickly assimilating the artistic interests of both of her parents) has partnered with my wife to produce a new line of handmade one-of-a-kind kimonos for other fountain pen fans (a bargain at just $12 each!) If you count yourself among this group and see something you like, PM us. Please specify the kimono you're interested in (for example:.e member that these are one-of-a-kind. So, it's first-come-first-served. We invite queries regarding designs that have already sold, and will be happy to let you know if a specific fabric is available for special order.)

freshly ironed and ready to go! The difference between this one (which 
my daughter made for herself) and the two "Cowboy Boot" kimonos shown 
in the top photo demonstrate the one-of-a-kind nature of these pen carries.

Shipping within the U.S. is a flat rate of $6. If you live outside the U.S. PM us with your city and country for a shipping quote. All shipping comes with a tracking number. Please note that, in order to protect your financial security, all billing is done through PayPal. (No PayPal account? Not a problem. PayPal is happy to accept all major credit cards.)


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Back to Basics -- Facial Anatomy

In this week's lesson for the Back to Basics workshop I demonstrated step-by-step how to create a portrait on toned paper (http://www.strathmoreartist.com/artist-studio/about/). As a supplement to that video I thought it might be a good idea to offer some information about the structure of the human face for anyone who may be interested in this subject but who is approaching it for the first time.

We'll begin with a few general notes: first, all measurements will be based upon the overall height of the head (from the top of the hair -- NOT from the hairline on the forehead -- to the tip of the chin) and overall width (from temple to temple); and, second, this system of measurements is intended as a general "ruler" -- each person is unique in a variety of subtle ways, noting how your subject differs from the "rules" and depicting those differences is how you will achieve an accurate portrait.

centerline of the nose

First vertical measurement -- beginning with the face looking straight-on at you, imagine a line down through the center of the nose, from top of the hair to tip of the chin. Dividing that line in half will give you the (general) position of the eye line.

eye line

Second vertical measurement -- divide the vertical line segment running from the eye line to the tip of the chin in half and you have the position of the base of the nose.

base of the nose

Third vertical measurement -- divide the line segment running from the base of the nose to the chin in half and you have the position of the bottom of the lower lip (not the line between the lips.)

bottom of lower lip

First horizontal measurement -- with the eye line extended from temple to temple, note that the vertical centerline divides the face in half.


Second horizontal measurement -- divide the eye line segment running from the temple to the vertical center line in half. This gives you the position of the pupil of the eye.

inner corner of eye

Second horizontal measurement -- divide the line segment from the pupil point to the vertical center line will give you the position of the inner corner of the eye.

outer corner of eye

Third horizontal measurement -- divide the line segment between the pupil point and the temple will provide you with the outer corner of the eye.

NOTE: Each eye is one eye width. The distance between the two eyes is one eye width. The distance between the outer corner of the eye and the temple is half an eye width.

"wing" of nose

When the subject's face is relaxed (showing no emotion) --

  • the inner corner of the eye lines up vertically with the outer edge of the nostril (the "wing" of the nose)
  • the inner edge of the iris (the pigmented part of the eye) lines up with the outer corner of the mouth
corner of mouth

ear alignment

When the subject is looking directly at you, the top edge of the ears line up with the eye brow and the bottom edge of the ear lines up with the base of the nose. (If the subject pivots his/her head up or down though be careful to observe how the facial features also move up or down respectively.)

ear alignment with head rotated down

ear alignment with head rotated up

If the subject turns his/her head partially toward profile, note that measurements on the far side of the nose decrease due to foreshortening.(See the article on foreshortened circles for a review of foreshortening.) while the distance between the outer corner of the eye and the temple increases dramatically.

The neck is half the height of the face.

And, finally, once you have mastered the anatomical proportions of the head you can use it as a "unit of measurement" for the rest of the body (7 1/2 to 8 heads high, depending on the system you subscribe to.)

I hope you find this helpful (and human anatomy just a little less mystifying.) Watch for two more Back to Basic posts (which will conclude this series) soon... along with a sneak peek or two at some of the new adventures we have in store.