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Chapter 21: get dirty

Aug 1 • Uncategorized • 14489 Views • 1 Comment on Chapter 21: get dirty

red baron fokker

I already used this image in the Prologue but it is a perfect example of three ways to get dirty: Modelling, photography and digital imaging, merged with my love for History. Nice Poker of Aces. The scarf is toilet paper (click for vintage version).


If you want to know what this blog is about

 Grit under my nails


I love it when my brain makes use of my hands. Looks like when you do something with your hands your brain goes elsewhere. And it is actually true with handy-crafts. But only the part that is worried about life, the universe and everything. The other part of the brain, the creative one, just gears in. I have always loved to do things, to make things with my hands. I am not particularly good at any of those things, just like in sports, but I really enjoy practicing them and I think they buttress my mind, they give me balance, they make me richer and help me think in a more complete way. Some of you say you do not like doing things, that it’s just for artists, for people with  some kind of skill or other. Let me try to say this in a soft, gentle and tactful manner. You are all just a bunch of cowards. You are not only selling crap, which might be understandable if done to feed children, you are buying your own crap yourselves. And all for nothing. The simple truth is that using ones hands to do things is a pleasure to any and everyone. There are just a few rules you need to follow to enjoy getting dirty…

Some simple facts about getting dirty


First thing you have to know is that doing something and getting a lousy result is of no consequence. In fact, I think it’s good. If you start doing something that requires some sort of skill and you excel right away it can be for two reasons. You are a genius, or it is too easy. Occam tells us the most likely of both. When things are too easy we run the risk of getting bored really quickly. So, bad results are only normal. What you should check is if you enjoy the process and then, if anything, whether you improve. Most things are not hard to do because the process is complicated, but because we do not know how to do them in the first place. The learning curves of anyone practicing anything at home were so much steeper before. You had to learn by trial and error, or find a really good book about it. If you were lucky, you knew somebody who could teach you. Nowadays, we have internet. Learning how to do something is just as easy as asking the right questions. That is the only tricky part. After that, all doors are wide open. Getting dirty is not expensive. Of course, you can take your budget as high as you want, but you do not need money to do things. You can do things from scrap, from old paper, from mud. All you need is ingenuity and attitude.


Papier-mache Smaug

Papier-mache Smaug. Newspaper, toothpicks, pins for eyes, wire, paint and sand. Discarded construction isolation cork plate for the base. Overall cost, less than $2. Nice dirty pass-time (click to see another version of this image with a fractal touch).


Getting dirty, the wider concept


Lighthouse on a Cliff Pointillist

Lighthouse on a Cliff. Pointillist Technique. Drawn with pencil and then inked with 0.1mm Rotring Isograph. Lines were used in only a few places. 99% is made of separate dots. This technique is really gratifying and easy to use (click to enlarge).

There are a lot of things that fall under this definition for me. Some of them do not get me dirty at all, but fit anyway because getting dirty is actually a state of mind. The following is not a list of things I am good at, but of things I have tried and enjoyed. I do not practice them all now, time is finite, but I go back to them some times.

  • My first hobby was drawing. I love to draw things and I can manage, but I never learned formally so I did not get too far. However, I love it, and it was a wonderful way to express myself when I was younger.
  • I build and paint model figures, planes, mostly, boats, LOTR figures, dioramas… I began gluing plastic and ended creating small dioramas. I made plastic bottle spaceships for my SW figures when I was a kid, plywood fortresses…
  • I painted a little, but that’s in store for the future. My mother started painting watercolors two years ago, when she was 75 and she is doing fine so there is time. She is the one who is sorry because she really enjoys it took hr 75 years to try doing something remotely artistic. Like it was not in her. Nonsense.
  • I like gardening. This one gets you properly dirty and I love it. Used to help my father in his orchard, but now he’s gone I keep to decorative. My neighbor, however is so happy taking care of his tomatoes and getting rid of snails.
  • I used to write songs, compose melodies and play them in my guitar and in a little band. We were terrible, but I loved it so much. I still torture my neighbors every now and then. I bring the rain when I sing, but I will never stop.
  • I carve wooden figures with my Dremel. Well this is maybe stretching it a little, because it is not something I usually do, but I have done it.
  • I make papier-mache figures. Dinosaurs, giraffes, dragons… last one was a terror bird, last Christmas. This is actually cheap and nice, and the sky is the limit. Much easier and lighter than clay, which I have also tried and has the issue of ending up needing an oven of sorts.
  • I used to have a dark room with all the chemicals. Now I have a computer where I create images. At first I tried not to screw up, then I tried to show things as good as they were and then I tried to show things better than they were. I do the three of them and love it.
  • I grow discus fish. Now this one can be expensive. I know people who own discus and through them I set up shop on a small budget, but discus fish need at least a 60 gallon aquarium and 5 discus. Serious time-consuming business.
  • I write. I have this blog, write in some forums and I wrote a book which has not sold badly, given the fact that it gets no promotion, it’s for a reduced market and in e-book format. Writing your own novel is like a double-blind. You are the god in your novel. You can do what you want with the story, the characters… but you only do it when the time is right and it just sort of happens through you. I love writing, but novel-writing is something I actually cannot control. It is like a compulsion. I can enhance it when I am in the mood but I cannot get it into motion to begin with. However, I feel lucky I can write every now and then.


Android BodyGuard

Android BodyGuard, a wonderful project that is probably dying too soon.


  • I designed an Android app. Created it from scratch with a friend of mine. We were naive and did not promote it at all so it was born with zero chances of succeeding, but we put a lot of love in it… for a while. The last update screwed something up and it does not install right, so it is in a limbo now. Available but not. My friend doesn’t seem to have the time to make a downgrade, so I am stuck there. It was (is) a wonderful app to keep your loved ones in touch and safe. There was a nice complete free version. I think of this app as my child, since the whole concept, the details and the visual design were ours original, and it makes me sad it is not in good working order now. If I get it going again I will display it on its own place on this blog. It was called Android BodyGuard.
  •  I used to mount big wooden frames with mats for my pictures, smaller ones for my paleolithic replicas and fossils and even learned to dry and spread butterflies last summer. I restore and recycle furniture. I make my kids’ carnival costumes (made an epic samurai armor once).
  • I was going to say I am sure I forget things. I had 33 yards of slot racing track inside a single room. This might seem childish, but we took it to another level. 33 yards of digital track, up to 4 cars running nice (could take 8, but I couldn’t find 8 worthy pilots), 9.05 seconds/lap (the record). We had cars with special tires, gears, cockpits, axles… so many things you could change to scratch some tenths or hundredths. I was at it for over two years. Then boxed the whole thing and only take it out for Christmas, when I assemble some 15 yards for my kids. It was so much fun.
  • And I am sure I still forget things 🙂


What is this all about


What am I trying to say with all this? Do things, get dirty. Do not give a damn whether you are good or not, just enjoy the process. All those things I have written about I remember with a smile. They all gave me so much pleasure I cannot explain it right. They still do and they will for a long time. Getting dirty, with or without the dirt, makes your life more complete than you would imagine, and it reflects in all aspects of your life. I said it looks like when you do something with your hands your brain goes elsewhere, and so it does. Your problems go to the background, your focus demanded by those tiny things you have to do that have no real importance at all. Those things force your mind to let go of the problems and to work them in the background. They are instrumental for a balanced life. Playing with things, getting dirty, is not a game. It is an essential part of life. Do something, do anything.

Get dirty.


Digital slot track

Part of my digital slot track. 32 yards. Fast, noisy, awesome. You can see the Smaug in there? (click to see a nice bookmark).



About the Pictures


Not much to say about the pictures today because most are not for sale. The Red Baron panorama: I normally do not create this sort of things. I shot the sky from an airplane above the Mediterranean or Italy in 2007. The triplane is a 1/24 model kit I assembled and painted myself. For those who might wonder, The Fokker DR-I had a service ceiling of 20,000 ft, so this image is possible. His teeth would be chattering pretty bad, though 🙂 .The Lighthouse is explained on its caption. The process for the arrow bookmark hidden in the slot picture has been done the same way. Both drawings are original creations from scratch. The Fire Smaug you will see if you click the dragon is a fractal processing of a HDR composed of 5 shots in natural indoors light. I also created the figure from scratch using wire to create the skeleton and adding sand to get a rough texture when painting.

You can find lots of images like these in my galleries. This pictures can be printed in photo paper, canvas, metal or acrylic surface from 8″ up to 48″ in some cases,  or in greeting card format. You can check them by clicking the images above. I am all in for customizing pictures. All of them can be retouched in many ways, texts added, altered, changed or deleted. Ask freely.

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One Response to Chapter 21: get dirty

  1. […] of moss. My moss cover is a nice patchwork blanket in different tones of green. I often say I am a willingly unimpressive multi-hobbyist. There are many pastimes and disciplines I love, but I have always favored quantity […]

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