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"Warm Sun" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/10, 1/100 sec, ISO1000
“Warm Sun” Austin, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today’s photo is of the notebooks that are on my work desk. I was chatting with a friend about journaling and writing in notebooks, and I thought about the barriers that prevent me from writing more. And by writing, I don’t mean writing stories or the great American novel. But just jotting down reminders, practicing kana, doodling, etc.

And I realize that one of the big barriers for me is just the proximity of the notebook and pen. For instance, when my notebook is in my bag on the floor, that’s too far. However, if I keep the notebook on my desk, opened to a blank page and a pen resting on top, then I write a lot more.

It’s kind of like photography for me. Since my X100T is so small and easy to carry around, I almost always have it with me, and therefore I take more photos. It’s readily available all the time.

So, making the pen and paper easily accessible has been key so far this year. My notebook might not be the prettiest, but it’s functional and I enjoy writing in it. It’s just another small thing that makes life a little more fun.

I hope you had a nice day!


Enjoy Shooting

"Cold Front" Leander, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/16, 1/1250 sec, ISO200
“Cold Front” Leander, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

I watched a great video by Kevin Mullins in which he talks about simplifying the photographic process. I agree with a lot of what he says and his idea of letting the camera do most of the work, and you just concentrate on seeing the scene. He also talks about simplifying your gear and amount of kit you carry. I think once you stop thinking about gear, the photographic process gets simpler and purer, and also more enjoyable.

It’s kind of where I am at (and have been for a while) with my photography hobby. I’ve gone through the evolution of buying lots of gear and maximizing specs, lusting after the latest and greatest cameras and lenses, and collecting many different camera formats (and spending a fair bit of money). Then I started gravitating to smaller cameras, ditching gear, and eventually landed with my X100T, which doesn’t even have interchangeable lenses. And I love it! It’s been my go-to camera for the past few years. I don’t need anything more than this. When I travel, I take this one camera, a couple batteries, and I am all set. It makes traveling much more enjoyable!

"Trusty" Cedar Park, 2017
“Trusty” Cedar Park, 2017

I am on a journey to simplify my life, and simplifying my main hobby of photography is a great step in the right direction.

Today’s photo is of the sky as a cold front arrived in Texas. The temperature will drop about 40 degrees in just 12 hours! Brrrr….

Keep warm!


Slow Sunday Activities

"Cat in the Corner" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/15 sec, ISO3200
“Cat in the Corner” Cedar Park, 2017


It was a relaxing Sunday at our house. Just check out the photo of Anko – she has the right idea!

I did do a few chores around the house and yard, such as folding laundry, washing the bedding, and some light tree-pruning, but even those tasks were done at a slow pace. Unrushed tasks are not really chores at all anymore. In fact, they can be kind of fun. But, sometimes I realize how pleasant they can be only after the task is done. So I am trying to get that mindset before I start the task, which will motivate me to get started on them.

In the evening I played a ton of Splatoon on our Wii U. I’m terrible at that game but it’s a ton of fun. Even getting splatted by other players is hilarious! What I like about the game is that even for someone who has terrible aim in shooters, there are “weapons” that don’t require a ton of accuracy, or have different purposes other than just splatting other players. For instance, I love the paint rollers because they can cover a lot of ground in paint, and the attack is very imprecise. It’s good for someone like me who is accuracy-challenged.

"Battle Ready" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.2, 1/320 sec, ISO200
“Battle Ready” Cedar Park, 2017

For dinner, I barbequed hamburgers on the grill. I tried a new technique for me, which is to not put the cheese on the burgers while they are on the grill. Instead, remove the cooked burgers to a plate, and then put the cheese on them while the patties rest. The cheese will still melt, but the grill won’t become a cheesy mess. It worked great… definitely the better way to make cheeseburgers! 🍔

I hope you had a nice Sunday. Here’s a nice relaxing tune from Splatoon. My favorite!



"Eraser Collection" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO800
“Eraser Collection” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight’s photo is of the erasers I am currently using as I practice sketching. I have found that I spend a lot of time erasing and re-drawing lines in order to get them closer to what I like. It’s actually really fun to erase and re-draw. I think it’s the instant feedback which is satisfying to me.

I’ve been using the computer and digital cameras for many years now so it is refreshing to use pencil and paper once again. I find myself really getting into how the pencil lead angle gives either a sharp line or dull line, and how different amounts of pressure leave behind grooves on the paper that an eraser cannot remove. It’s fascinating to me to observe all these mundane things. Is it strange that I find it kind of fun too?

The erasers that I use are the plastic-type. To erase large areas, I like the Sakura Arch Foam eraser because it picks up the marks so well. Today Mariko gave me a Pentel Ain Black eraser, and I just used it for a moment but it was fantastic. And then there’s the old Pentel Hi-Polymer which is pretty good, but not as good as the Arch Foam.

I also use the Tombow Mono Zero 2.3 mm eraser to get into tight spots. It’s so convenient to use to clean up thick, jagged lines and also to remove guidelines that are close to the elements I don’t want to erase.

And lastly, I just found a battery-powered eraser that my kids used to use. I’ve only used it to erase parts of the irises to create highlights, like in the photo above. It excels at that task. 😀

So, today’s sketch shows some progress. I sketched it without looking at a reference photo so I am pretty happy with how it turned out. It’s funny, but while sketching I find myself falling back into the style of drawing faces that I am so used to (and have drawn my entire life), but that I dislike. It’s a constant battle to resist that style and technique. It’s not frustrating, however, but just interesting. Like I can step outside my body and observe myself struggling to not get into the same ruts.

Looking at the photo, I want to redo the eyebrows. They are too delicate and timid… not really striking or strong. I mean, they are okay but are kind of boring. Since the kind of drawings I want to do aren’t realistic, but more leaning towards manga style, I should loosen up!

Also, I didn’t spend any time on the mouth except a very basic outline. I guess I haven’t really practiced how to shade them, nor how to shade or depict the nose. But I think that will come in time. Right now I just want to work on proportions and shapes, and not on shading. I spent too much time on the eye details I think.

To see all the sketches I've been working on, you can check out the Flickr album "My Sketching Journey", or my Instagram account barron.sketches which I created just for posting sketches, watercolors, and stationery items.  

I hope you had a nice day. Onwards and upwards!


Yakisoba and Face Study

"Yakisoba Dinner" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO1600
“Yakisoba Dinner” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight Mariko made a huge portion of yakisoba for the family. Our younger son (13) eats a lot these days, but he’s still so skinny. I think he had maybe 4 servings!

We have a really awesome electric hotplate, which has a number of different pans, including a yakiniku grill. It also has a water pan underneath so that things don’t get too messy. But tonight (and two nights ago) we just used the flat pan. It’s so nice to be able to cook right at the table! 😀

After dinner I sketched a bit while we watched the Dodger game. I wasn’t too happy with the previous night’s drawing. It looks really weird and the proportions and spacing are unnatural looking:

"Ugh" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Ugh” Cedar Park, 2017

The arrows indicate where things should move… but even after I did that digitally, it still looked wrong. Very stiff. So… I decided to look at the sketches of my favorite digital artist Ilya Kuvshinov to see how it should be done.

"Better" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO3200
“Better” Cedar Park, 2017

I used one of his drawings as a reference to figure out the proportions and spacing, and I think I learned a lot. What is surprising to me is that I would have never drawn the face shape like Ilya does. So this is a real eye-opener! It’s so interesting to see where the curves of the cheek change direction. I need to take note of that. The shape I have been using in my sketches looks like a boring almond. But the face that I copied has a much more interesting shape, doesn’t it?

I also used a ruler to keep things level and centered, and also used a circle stencil to draw the irises. I think it makes a huge difference… especially the circles.

Tomorrow I would like to continue with this sketch and later try to replicate it without looking at a reference drawing and see if I can remember the proportions and face shape.

I’m really enjoying sketching, especially faces. It’s so fun! There’s a lot to take note of and remember when I look at drawings that I like. It’s difficult but really interesting and challenging to see the spatial relationships between different elements.

And learning new things makes me feel pretty good. I’m not sure why that is exactly, but I want to keep doing it.

To see all the sketches I've been working on, you can check out the Flickr album "My Sketching Journey", or my Instagram account barron.sketches which I created just for posting sketches, watercolors, and stationery items.  

I hope you had a nice Tuesday.


Evening Routine

"Three Amigos" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125 sec, ISO5000
“Three Amigos” Cedar Park, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

I’ve settled into a nice evening routine, which I am enjoying quite a bit. It’s funny, but the things I used to think of as “chores” are now part of a routine that I don’t give too much thought to, and they don’t really cause any stress.

Each night I will clean the cat litter box, which only takes a minute, but I would visualize how awful a job it is and fill my mind with negative thoughts like, “why am I the one who has to do this?”. 🐱 But these days, I just do it and my mind is thinking about things other than the cat poop. Does that make sense? It’s like I am on auto-pilot and since I don’t think about the chore that I am doing, it doesn’t affect my frame of mind negatively. My body might be scooping poop, but my mind is enjoying talking with my family, thinking about drawing, or listening to the baseball game that’s on the tv in the living room.

Another task that I do almost every night is washing the dishes. This is less of an “auto-pilot activity”, but I look at it as an opportunity to chat with the family in a relaxed environment (just after dinner, everyone is usually in a good mood). Or, if everyone has left the kitchen area, I can catch up on some podcasts. So, it’s a productive time of my day.

The same goes for brushing my teeth in the evening. I admit I used to often skip the nighttime brushing 😇. But for the past couple years this important task also has become an “auto-pilot activity” and I will listen to a podcast while I do it.

So those are my “tasks” that I do every evening. I also have a few other routines that are on the fun side, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Tonight’s photo at the top of this post is of my three watches that I like to wear. My Seiko SKX007 (on the right) is what I wear every day, my Timex weekender is a watch I sometimes wear to bed. It’s so light and the band is so soft that I don’t even realize I am wearing it. But I find the audible ticking noise to be relaxing and helps me sleep. The watch in the center is my Seiko 5 SNK809, which I don’t wear as often, but once in a while, I will throw it on. What’s nice about the automatic watches like the Seikos I own is that they don’t use batteries. Just a few shakes to get them going and then they will power up by just regular body movement. I love that!

Lastly, the photo below is my latest practice sketch. I tried drawing it without referencing the proportions video that I needed to watch for the previous sketch. I guess it turned out OK, but I’m still not very happy with it. It’s a little “off”. Still, it’s good to practice.

"Practice Sketch" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Practice Sketch” Cedar Park, 2017
To see all the sketches I've been working on, you can check out the Flickr album "My Sketching Journey", or my Instagram account barron.sketches which I created just for posting sketches, watercolors, and stationery items.  

I hope you had a nice Tuesday!


Have Fun Along the Way

"Traveler's Notebook and Fountain Pens" Austin, 2017
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/40 sec, ISO64
“Traveler’s Notebook and Fountain Pens” Austin, 2017

こんばんは。How’s it going?

At my work, we have 6 core values, and my favorite one is “Have Fun Along the Way”. It’s actually a great value to live by, isn’t it? Anyway, whenever I pick up a new hobby, I tend to get obsessed with it and do so much research, watch videos about it, spend lots of money, etc. I’m sure I’m not alone in this! But what I am trying to do with my current watercolor/stationery hobby is to slow down, take it easy, and not go overboard. I want to make sure I don’t burn-out over it. And by going slowly, I make sure that I maximize the time that I am having fun along the way!

As I grow older (I am 48 as I type this), I start to think about making things last for the rest of my life. For instance, the things I buy like bags, penswatches, or sandals… will these last me (and will I want to keep them) for the rest of my life? That now goes into my purchasing decision.

And then I think about the things I do… will the new things I learn add anything to my life? I know that interests change, and that’s fine, but as the years go by it seems to be more important to focus on things that have real importance. When I was debating on whether or not to get the regular tickets or VIP tickets to see the band Scandal, my friend asked me, “When you are on your deathbed, are you going to be happier that you met the band or happier that you saved $50?” Of course, I bought the VIP tickets.

I think about that a lot when I have to choose things in daily life… “On my deathbed, will I be happier that I binge-watched another episode of Parks and Rec, or that I worked on a painting?”

When I was in high school and college, I loved creating things. And in my career, I’ve always had a job that involved creativity. I haven’t really given it too much thought to be honest. But it’s something that I can be proud of, and happy that I lived my life this way. So, my “new” hobby of watercolor painting is something I can fully enjoy, without any guilt. And it certainly fits the “Have Fun Along the Way” value!

"Color the Trees" Cedar Park, 2017
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO800
“Color the Trees” Cedar Park, 2017

I hope you had a nice day!