Hot bacon grease dressing

Posted on: May 24th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly
  • 4 ounces of bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, minced (optional)
  • ½ cup mild vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of mustard

Dice the bacon, this will serve as bacon bits after it has been fried. Mince the onion. Fry bacon to a light brown; remove the bacon bits and into the hot grease add the minced onion; fry lightly. Add one-half cup mild vinegar. Finally add the salt, sugar, and mustard and stir well.

Pour dressing over the greens or your choice (dandelion greens are nice) and mix well. Garnish with bacon bits and hard-boiled eggs (sliced), and serve at once.

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Painting

Posted on: May 22nd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art.

A Very Artistic Library

Art Manuals: Painting

Learning to paint — how to make a compostion, sketches, different painting techniques, tools, supports, etc. These four works give a comprehensive review of painting, from painting what you see, to painting what’s impossible to see, to explaining what it is that you actually see. These are the books that you should pour over, read repeatedly, and constantly review year after year.

Alla Prima II by Richard Schmid with Katie Swatland

Richard Schmid breaks down the components of the craft, techniques, and process of painting. It’s no longer in print, but if you can find it, it’s an excellent resource.

Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist by James Gurney

Imaginative Realism isn’t about painting aliens and dinosaurs and dragons. OK, it isn’t just about painting aliens and spaceships and dragons. It’s also about painting real things that you’re unlikely to see: ancient civilizations, historical personages, and extinct animals. And to top it off James Gurney reviews what you’d need to consider in the process of getting work done — everything that I learned in Commercial Art — thumbnails, color studies, drawing from photographs, and more.

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Oil Painting Techniques by Patrick J. Jones

Patrick Jones gives us another comprehensive look that serves as a complement to Imaginative Realism. While James Gurney explored the traditional process, Patrick Jones gives more detail for working from photos and using digital painting.

Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney

Color and Light is well worth the price if all you take away from this book is the understanding of the following gem: “Under normal lighting conditions, the rods and cones cooperate to give you an interpretation of reality.” but the book contains so much more and many more gems just like it.

How am I going to pay for this?

Posted on: May 20th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

My daughter is earning her college degree. Which is a peculiar phrase because really she’s paying for the degree. Which is another peculiar phrase because most young adults fresh out of high school don’t have $80,000 or more to pay for a four-year degree. So I guess the actual phrase is more like she’s promising to pay for the degree. In the meantime that leaves us with a question. I’ve started a journal in which I hope to answer this ultimate question: How am I going to pay for this?

The Best Art Instruction Manuals: Drawing

Posted on: May 18th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Over the past two years I’ve been working through a series of books on Art, from histories to theory to manuals. I’ve decided to share some of the best works that I’ve come across. I’ll be adding all of these, and future works, to my Very Artistic Library page. It will be an up-to-date list of recommendations for people who want to learn more about how to create art. I’m kicking off the series with Drawing.

Drawing is the first skill that you need to learn as an artist. Initial sketches are used in every other art: painting, stained-glass, jewelry, sculpture, and more. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards will teach you how to learn to draw what you see. If you can’t make art in simple black lines then it makes it so much harder when you try to add value, shape, and color. Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin will teach you what you should’ve been taught in art school: the process that classical and master artists used to create their drawings and a good foundation for creating thumbnails and sketches that will eventually become other works of art. These two books together will help you create the drawing for your painting; what the Renaissance artists would have called the composition or cartoon.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition by Betty Edwards

Drawing Atelier by Jon deMartin

Being Bad

Posted on: May 3rd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

I don’t think I’m getting my thoughts out properly. It feels like there’s a gap between what I want to say (portray, write, etc.) and what I actually say. I’m clumsily groping for the words to express what I’m trying to say. The solution: allow yourself to do things badly.

  • Make 1000 bad drawings
  • Paint 1000 bad paintings
  • Write 1000 bad blog posts
  • Play 1000 piano songs, badly

It’s not that I’m setting out to make anything that’s bad, but that I’m making things and allowing them to be bad. The only way to get better is to allow yourself the opportunity to do bad work.

I forgot that I was doing this (this blog; this artwork; etc.) for myself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfectly crafted for display to others. Sometimes it’s more important to get the ideas out as they happen. That’s the reason why I promised myself to do 50 posts in a year. Some of it will be rushed, premature, poorly thought out, but the main goal is to just get it out. This isn’t a place to withhold.

Doing something badly isn’t a waste of time. The biggest unknown challenge for an artist is to get good before they realize that they’re doing it badly. That’s why so many people give up art when they’re still children. They realize that they’re not very good. People who do art well into adulthood blissfully keep making art until they’re well past the point that they realize their childhood art wasn’t very good. They’ll look back at their early art and think to themselves, “I can’t believe I thought that was good.”

The hardest obstacle to get over is for an artist is to not be very good; to know they’re not very good; and yet still need to do art, to know that they need to do art to get better, and to know that they won’t get better without doing the art that they know will be bad.

2018 goals: first 3 months

Posted on: April 6th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

The bitter cold and late snow has slowed me down in some of my goals, but it’s still early enough to make gains. Here’s the current status of my 2018 goals…

By the end of 2018 I’d like to have:

  • Painted 50 paintings: Expected: 12; Actual: 0.
  • Ran a cumulative 1000 miles: Expected: 250; Actual: 42 miles.
  • Written 50 blog posts: Expected: 12 Actual: 7 (with 4 more in the chamber).
  • Posted 12 videos on YouTube: Expected: 3; Actual: 0.
  • Created a portfolio of 12 graphic design works: I have a list, I have thumbnails of some of the items in the list, and I should start churning them out soon.
  • Practiced the trumpet for 50 hours: Expected: 0; Actual: 0.
  • Run a 5k race in under 24 minutes: Expected: not yet; Actual: Race season just started.
  • Run a marathon in under 5 hours: Expected: not yet; Actual: Race season just started, but I feel good about his after the Love Run in March.
  • Lifted 1000# in the big 3 lifts: Expected: not yet; Actual: I will get there.
  • Settled my remaining SF/F/H debts: working on it.

Projects I’d like to complete this year:

  • Launch a new SF/F/H online magazine with an associated podcast: gearing up in Q2; launch in Q3?
  • Edit and publish one anthology/collection: in the queue.
  • Create and publish a mobile app: v1 requirements are being worked on.
  • Write and submit a technical article: no, but I know what I’m writing.
  • Write a fiction story: no.
  • Write one non-fiction book: no.
  • Write a novel: no.

Additional notes for the past three months:

Made some minor updates to several of my existing sites.

  • Read ¾ of the Art books that I had set aside at the beginning of the year.
  • I’m about to tackle Vasari’s The Lives of the Artists. It’s dense, and I want to wring everything out of it that I can. It might take me most of the rest of the year to finish this.
  • Began refocusing on some technology.
  • Began addressing some smaller technology projects.

Podcasts for an Aspiring Artist

Posted on: April 2nd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

I’ve been listening to a wide variety of podcasts since I began my art reeducation. Here are the best I’ve found so far, related to Art and the creative process.

Your Creative Push

Your Creative Push is the podcast that pushes YOU to finally pursue your creative passion, whatever that passion may be.

If I could only listen to one podcast, as an artist, it would be this. Every interview gives you some small insight into being creative, whether the episode’s guest is a musician, writer, visual artist, or some other type of creative professional. As you listen to the artists speak about art you’ll notice some very distinct patterns and trends about how different types of artists generally approach art in the same way, with similar creative methods (inspiration, flow, etc.).

Tides of History

Everywhere around us are echoes of the past. Those echoes define the boundaries of states and countries, how we pray and how we fight. They determine what money we spend and and how we earn it at work, what language we speak and how we raise our children. From Wondery, host Patrick Wyman, PhD (“Fall Of Rome”) helps us understand our world and how it got to be the way it is.

I believe that to understand art you need to understand the period in which it was created. I started listening to Patrick Wyman with his The Fall of the Rome podcast as I was researching Roman Art. He does an excellent job of helping you to understand the events that lead from the fall of Rome to the rise of the Modern era, beginning with the Renaissance, from both the large scale view and the view of what the history would look like to someone living in that time.

Philosophize This!

Beginner friendly if listened to in order! For anyone interested in an educational podcast about philosophy where you don’t need to be a graduate-level philosopher to understand it. In chronological order, the thinkers and ideas that forged the world we live in are broken down and explained.

Another thing that I believe is that you also need to understand what people were thinking about, and what questions they were asking, to understand why they were creating art. Stephen West covers not only the content of the various philosophies, but also why they were important and how they influenced each other.


Unseeable forces control human behavior and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions. Invisibilia — Latin for invisible things—fuses narrative storytelling with science that will make you see your own life differently.

In the Modern era the artist’s state of mind is more important to the understanding of art than ever. The current seasons are hosted by Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin for National Public Radio, previous seasons were also hosted by Lulu Miller.

The Renaissance: A History of Renaissance Art

A podcast devoted to the art and artists of the Renaissance.

At the juncture of art and history Dennis Byrd presents podcast that’s very informative about art and artists (and some other people who were influential) of the Renaissance. It hasn’t been updated since mid-2017 just as it was getting into the Northen Renaissance, but the content is evergreen. I’m looking forward to future updates.

The Art History Babes

Four fresh Masters drink wine and discuss all things visual culture. Regular episodes: Discussion and critical analysis of art historical topics fueled by alcohol. Art History Babe Briefs (Art History BBs) : quick, to the point art history facts minus the expletives. Hot Takes: The Babes mix it up, chatting about topics outside the realm of art history & making connections to visual culture.

I started listening to this because there are few Art History podcasts out there. They’ve won me over. Excellent discussions of Art on topics from Edmonia Lewis to Art of the Sublime to F*** Gaugin.

The Jealous Curator: Art for Your Ear

ART FOR YOUR EAR brings you stories from some of my favorite contemporary artists. When I studied Art History, the best part was, well, the gossip. I loved finding out why artists did certain things, what was going on in their personal lives, and behind-the-scenes details about other artists they knew and worked with. This podcast is exactly that … inside-scoop stories from the artsiest people I know. You’ll hear first-hand from these talented, successful, full-time artists (who also happen to be regular people with hilarious stories) BEFORE they’re in the Art History books. – Danielle (aka The Jealous Curator)

A down-to-earth podcast featuring interviews by Danielle Krysa with contemporary artists. One of the nice things about this podcast is that it often shows the side of being an artist that’s grounded in normal day-to-day life (being a parent, being a friend, etc.).

Artist Decoded by Yoshino

“I started this series as a means for exploration, an exploration of self and an exploration of the perspectives of other artists. This series is an unabridged documentation of conversations between artists. It’s a series dedicated to breaking down the barriers we tend to set up in our own mind. I want to inspire future creatives to have the courage to explore and experiment. This is about making dreams a reality and not about letting our dreams fall to the wayside. My intention is to give my audience a sense of real human connection, something that feels rich and organic. When I was thinking of a title I thought of the word ‘movement’. In relation to the Renaissance period in art, my goal for this program is to signify a rebirth of consciousness towards the way we look at contemporary art.” – Yoshino

Yoshino’s podcast leans towards the more mystic, spiritual, theoretical, and psychedelic aspects of being an artist.

Medieval History for Fun and Profit

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about the middle ages but were afraid to ask! Two professional medieval historians answer questions from the audience about anything and everything to do with the middle ages. Did they know about other kinds of sex? How long would I really have lived? Who was the best medieval? What were the best swearwords? Listen and find out…

I started listening to this when I started learning about Medieval Art History. I keep listening to it because it’s entertaining and I like the Medieval period. Dr. Alice Taylor and Dr. Alice Rio answer user questions about what life may have been life for everyday people.

Myths and Legends

Jason Weiser tells stories from myths, legends, and folklore that have shaped cultures throughout history. Some, like the stories of Aladdin, King Arthur, and Hercules are stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories you might not have heard, but really should. All the stories are sourced from world folklore, but retold for modern ears. These are stories of wizards, knights, Vikings, dragons, princesses, and kings from the time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous and wonderful place.

Similar to understanding what was going on in people’s daily life (history) and what was going on in their minds (philosophy) I think it’s also important to understand the stories that they told each other (mythology and fiction). That’s where the Myths and Legends podcast comes in.

This is not hand soap

Posted on: February 8th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

People think in symbols but the symbols in our mind are not the actual objects themselves. That is to say: when you think of an apple, that apple is not real. This is the treachery of symbols. The symbols in our mind don’t always match the reality of an object. We think we know how to use an object based on the symbol in our mind that we apply to it.

This leads to encounters with objects like this:

We automatically interact with an object as if we know what the object is based on the symbols in our mind. It’s second nature.

This object is perfectly functional: push on the top; liquid squirts out. But good design isn’t just designing an item that functions. It’s designing for expectations. No matter how well designed a widget may be, people expect certain things in certain contexts. They expect certain interactions to produce certain results.

The Joshua Tree

Posted on: January 23rd, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

As preparation for launching Space Westerns magazine I began researching Western-genre fiction. I wanted to be familiar with the tropes, plots, themes, stock characters of a Western so I’d recognize them in a Space Western story. So I read John G. Cawelti’s The Six-gun Mystique, and David Mogen’s Wilderness Visions, and Jane Tompkins’ West of Everything, and Matt Braun’s How to Write Western Novels. Now when I watch Star Trek, I don’t just see colonists and Starfleet and Klingons; I see homesteaders and the U.S. Cavalry and the Mexican Army. When I watch Star Wars I don’t see Han Solo and Chewbacca and Boba Fett; I see The Lone Ranger and Tonto and The Man with No Name. It dawned on me: this is just another example of designer Robin Williams’ The Joshua Tree Principle:

Many years ago I received a tree identification book for Christmas. I was at my parents’ home, and after all the gifts had been opened I decided to go out and identify the trees in the neighborhood. Before I went out, I read through part of the book. The first tree in the book was the Joshua tree because it took only two clues to identify it. Now the Joshua tree is a really weird-looking tree and I looked at that picture and said to myself, “Oh, we don’t have that kind of tree in Northern California. That is a weird-looking tree. I would know if I saw that tree, and I’ve never seen one before.” So I took my book and went outside. My parents lived in a cul-de-sac of six homes. Four of those homes had Joshua trees in the front yard. I had lived in that house for thirteen years, and I had never seen a Joshua tree. I took a walk around the block, and there must have been a sale at the nursery when everyone was landscaping their new homes—at least 80 percent of the homes had Joshua trees in the front yards. And I had never seen one before! Once I was conscious of the tree, once I could name it, I saw it everywhere. Which is exactly my point. Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You own it. You’re in control.

I see “Joshua trees” everywhere now.

Neanderthal Art?

Posted on: January 17th, 2018 by Nathan E. Lilly

Neaderthals lived in Europe and parts of the Middle East approximately between 200,000 and 30,000 years ago. We’re discovering that they are more like modern humans than we previously thought they could be. How to Think Like a Neanderthal gives a good overview of what we currently know. Neanderthals were social, cooperative, family-oriented, planned ahead, and displayed mechanical skills. They made tools, wore clothes, used fire, and possessed some form of language.

The fact that they possessed language, no matter how simple it may have been, is interesting. Language is a symbolic communication system. In the strictest sense, a symbol is a (sometimes arbitrary) mark, sign, or sound that is understood to represent some other thing. If Neanderthals had language then they must have been capable of thinking in symbols.

They were capable of thinking in symbols, but did they create art? They certainly made artifacts. They made stone and composite tools; we have evidence of fire-making. We also have indications of artifacts that we can intuit no useful purpose for: lines carved in stone; lines incised in avian bone (raven’s wing with seven regularly spaced notches). We can’t say that these markings were symbolic, but we can say they were most definitely done purposefully.

We know that they gathered pigments (black manganese dioxide and red ochre), but we don’t know if it was for what might have been body art or for what may have been medicinal purposes. The evidence for painting is slight. One contender for a potential Neanderthal cave painting exists in Spain. It shows a series of mandorla shapes with lines drawn across them. These works are dated to the time and location where Neanderthals may have coexisted with early Modern Humans, so it may end up not being work by Neanderthals at all.

It’s still possible, it may even be likely, but we currently have no conclusive proof that Neanderthals created anything that modern Western culture would recognize as art.

Neanderthal art resources:

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