Seasonal Tradition

Unlike most traditions for this season it isn’t about mince pies, trees, or gifts.

Well, it’s kind of related to trees. If you know where paper comes from (and I do). This tradition of mine goes back as far as 2004-ish? Maybe earlier. I can’t remember when I first went to this particular art shop, nor when I started going there frequently, but given I had just started exploring graphic markers around 2002-2003 this is a good guess. As that was one of the first things I bought there. Went in with some Christmas money and came out with £60 worth of markers.

Since that Christmas it has been a yearly tradition to go back every Christmas.

Of course, much to the lamentation of my wallet- I go there more than once a year. Last year I probably went there about ten-twelve times. Mostly to improve the various materials I use for painting (brushes and canvas paper primarily) which was a long overdue affair. (Mostly because I’d been using the same basic watercolour and brush set since I started painting in 2009.)

You might wonder what there is to buy year on year as once you’ve established a set of materials you’re mostly good to go. However, being a traditional artist means my materials are finite and they might need to be replaced. Mostly this would be pencils and paper. I haven’t gone through too many tubes of paint (watercolour or acrylic), I haven’t run my ink pens dry, I haven’t exhausted my brushes, and I haven’t run any of my graphic markers to the end of their time. Yet. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be new things to buy or interesting new materials to sample.

Seasonal Tradition
This is but one stack of materials.

For instance, when I first picked up the Copic Multiliners, that was a test to see if they were more appropriate to my needs than the Faber Castell Pitt Pens. A test that has since cost me £30-40 in pens and nibs and replacement ink. Despite the fact that after years of use they still have some ink in them. You can never be too prepared, though.

Which seems to be the main reason I go there these days- stocking up.

I do buy new things from time to time, but, for the most part, I’m just there to increase my stocks so I’m not in danger of running out. A few erasers here, a half a dozen replacement pencils there, a few pads of paper here, and a knife blade or two just in case. I have found some love with the recent (new?) range of Daler Rowney cartridge paper which ranges from the incredibly light 130gsm to the incredibly heavy 250gsm. The latter reaching the weight of the Winsor & Newton/Daler Rowney Bristol Board I use. It’s kind of funny because I would avoid cartridge paper like the plague years ago. I used to primarily use Winsor & Newton 170gsm acid-free paper.

I guess that’s my own little artistic evolution right there.

I actually started using the Winsor & Newton/Daler Rowney Bristol Board to replace the Tria Letraset marker pads which were significantly lighter (70gsm opposed to the 250gsm of Bristol Board). They also resembled tracing paper. They’re pretty good for certain kinds of work and not so great for others. There’s also the matter of personal preference in that I just prefer the heavier smoother surface of heavier papers and boards. It’s not for everyone, though. Tria Letraset marker pads are also cheaper.

In any case, as it’s Christmas, and we’re being all festive, I figured I’d talk about one of my quirky seasonal traditions.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Steam. Summer. Sale.

It’s like a horror movie that never ends but you somehow enjoy the slaughter of your account balance.

In all fairness I have to say that I really do like the Steam seasonal sales as they encourage me to find games at cheap prices and play them and then realise how wrong I was for not buying them before. RAGE? Steam sale. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning? Steam sale. The Witcher? You can bet your Orens that was in a Steam sale. It’s also a great time to pick up things like DLC which you haven’t bought yet or games you are fully intending to buy but aren’t interested in paying the full price for.

Not that I have anything against paying good money for games- quite the opposite- but in some cases I’m not going to pay £30-40 for something I’m not sure I’d get more than twenty hours out of. That happened with Batman: Arkham Asylum as I had fully intended to pay full price for it even as far as putting it in my Amazon basket but pulled out at the last moment. Now, while it can be said there’s a lot of additional content, and there is, it is mostly content that you don’t complete with the story. The story for me lasted about sixteen hours. While I could say the same of things like Fallout 3, it’s not entirely impossible to complete most of that content as you find it. Whereas, with Arkham Asylum, there’s a lot of back tracking once you have new items. Good in a way… but it’s a bit difficult when the story is boxing you into certain locations until the next objective is complete.

As I paid something ridiculous like £2.26 for it I’m not too bothered that it hasn’t much actual story content. Had I paid over £25 I would be a bit miffed that essentially I would be playing the story for sixteen hours and then stringing out the rest of the hours searching for items in obscure places.

This aside- I’ve been spending! It’s a good time for people who know me and are friends with me on Steam as they get free stuff too. I also collect the cards and make the badges for the current seasonal phase just for the fun of it really. I spend enough that I usually get enough cards for one badge if I play the Marketplace by selling doubles and buying the ones I’m missing. I’ve rekindled my love with Dynasty Warriors with the eighth instalment that is a mammoth of a game. Originally, I had Dynasty Warriors 3 on the PS2 and bought the PSP version but I wasn’t that impressed with it. Not being a console gamer nowadays I am not inclined to buy them on XBox so when they announced there was a PC version I was interested in seeing how it plays out.

It’s also the time of year that I go through the available demos for titles I’m interested in. It’s rather annoying that these days the demos are either insanely short or they are simply non-existent as sometimes I’m curious about a certain aspect of the game, but with no way to test it, I won’t buy it. Bastion is one of those games where I’ve played the demo and felt it’s not for me. While I feel that Shadow Warrior may be as it’s quite funny. Violent, bloody, and steeped in some mismatched tradition- but funny. That’s one I’m keeping a close eye on as I don’t know how that will play out later in the final chapters.

I also took the plunge to buy Fable: The Lost Chapters. It cost less than a cup of coffee from Starbucks and I have a history with the game in that I don’t like the particular save style they use but there’s always the Forbidden Zone if I don’t like it. Pinched from Fallout: New Vegas’ hilarious DLC. (It’s a little category I have in Steam that has all of the games that are either unplayable or I don’t enjoy at all. At current there are three of them but who knows how many more there will be?)

I’ve been going through the lists and checking for everything I might be interested in. This year, for me at least, is not really a great one for gaming. The Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t what I expected it to be and I haven’t seen any great advancements in next generation RPGs. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due for release next February so that’s something to look forward to. But it’s not something I will buy now even though I could. I can count on one hand the number of games I’m interested in on Steam and it’s a shame as I rather hoped there would be more. But it gives me time to catch up with things like Tomb Raider (the reboot), L.A. Noire, and a few other titles that were released one to three years ago but have caught my eye.

I must apologise for not doing more art and actually finishing anything.

It’s been a pretty awful couple of weeks and what with work, finances, things going wrong, things catching on fire, sleep, arguments, more things catching on fire, trying to capture the north to realise Cao Cao’s ambition, and generally feeling like I haven’t got enough time to eat I haven’t got around to it. Stay strong, brothers! I shall return soon. Hopefully. Maybe. Or maybe I should choose a successor, aptly named Moggie II, to replace myself, while I sit and turn into a pile of unproductive sludge that seems to spend his life fixing everything everyone else does wrong with no recognition.

Bitter? Me? Never! I am about as bitter as a lemon!

Have a good weekend, all!