This year, I also bought my first home. It's scary to be spending all that money and be in this much debt. But also, it is nice to have a place to call your own. I believe in being comfortable, so I am enjoying my new place.
I should mention having the hobby of painting and drawing. For hobbies, I tend to start getting obsessed with one thing, then quickly throw it out. But this painting and drawing thing, it seems to have lasted the year. I started by taking an intro to painting class, earlier in the year, and been doing sketches, drawings, and paintings ever since. I think I'm getting better, but mostly it is great fun. I hope to do more next year.
Career wise, I got a promotion. And I got to do a few interesting things like build a performance testing system, and played around with grammar-based test case generation. Actually for 2011, I would have liked to do more, but organizational changes hampered some of that. Hopefully, things become stable in 2012 that I can sink my teeth into something good, technologically.
My parents came to visit in the spring, and I got to go to Glacier National park near the fall. And all over Washington state in between. It was not all roses, of course, but let's not dwell on the negative. All in all it's been a great year, and I'm grateful for it. Let's hope next year brings as many blessings.
I think it's becoming somewhat of a tradition that I put up my little Christmas tree at the last minute. I almost didn't do it this year, but I figured I should put it up now that I have my own place. Now all I need to do is wrap some presents.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Last minute Christmas tree, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
I've been remiss in not blogging about my trip to Glacier National Park in Montana with Pooja and Vishal. It's got the most awesome views. Around, and driving there from Seattle was also a great adventure.
Well, Pooja and Vishal drove there, I merely sat around taking in the views, since to my shame, I can't drive a stick shift; and they wanted to take their M3. No arguments from me. :)
There's really no words to describe the grand scale of the mountains that rise up and soon surround you. And even the pictures only give a sense of their majesty. If you ever have the opportunity to go here, I highly recommend going.
Glacier National Park, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
I can see why people who have Kindles totally love them. When people read a satisfying book, the transfer some of that good feeling to the device they use to read it. It's not a perfect device by a long shot, the $80 one does not have a touch screen, and typing in using the directional pad is not ideal. I think I sometimes see some faint ghosting of the previous page when I turn the page. I'd like for it to have better contrast. But all those issues just melt away when you're deeply engrossed in a good story, and by the time you're done reading, you associate that warm fuzzy feeling with your Kindle.
As for me, I think the weight of the Kindle is going to be quite helpful for reading really long novels or long plane trips. I'm sure I'm gonna be spending some quality reading time as Seattle's rainy season commences.
This time I begged off actually going up to the top. It's now $18 for general admission, yikes! I stayed down and sketched this iconic Seattle landmark instead. I should go down to Seattle Center a few more times, to get a more accurate depiction.
Space Needle, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
Rob and August brought me and a bunch of others camping at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades. It was my first time to go camping in the "woods". The campsite had real toilets and running water, so it wasn't exactly roughing it, hehe.
Sleeping on the ground was uncomfortable enough, however, that I woke up early. And got to sketch the scenery as the sun rose from behind the mountains.
Sunrise at Diablo Lake, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
This is a sketch from a photo that I took. Pike Place market is so much sensory overload, I don't know if I can draw it from life!
Sometimes the market feels like one giant tourist trap, but it's still one of my favorite places in Seattle.
Pike place market, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
I used to use just a regular pen from the office, but last week I bought these Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens. I don't think it's that much more different in terms of what you can draw out of them. But the Pitt pens sure feels nice to hold and to make a mark on paper. Which makes me want to draw more. Which, I suppose, is the point.
In case you're wondering, here are the colors in my palette:
Here's another sketch in my sketchbook:
I has a short conversation with another guy who was displaying California landscapes. When he found out that I painted as a hobby, he said it was good to find a pastime that was different from your job. He said since his job was painting, his hobby was playing tennis. I imagine painting all day then playing tennis is a fun way to live your life!
Lady with hat, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
Matt is one of the models in the portraiture class I'm taking. It's a drawing class, but I asked to take a picture of him, and then painted from the picture.
I used a grid here instead of freehand to get more accuracy on the proportions of his face.
Matt, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
Anyway, Marion is a much better documenter of trips than me. So mosey along to her blog about the trip instead!
I feel I got better even within just this one class!
Went out last night with Joel to watch Filipino-American comedian Rex Navarrete do a show at the Parlor Live in Bellevue. He was hilarious! Also, downtown Bellevue on a Saturday night is filled with beautiful people, lol.
Several times that night, I started wishing I brought a sketchbook with me. I guess I really caught the art bug. So it was great that Cindy and Pooja and I got to do some drawing today, sitting in a coffee shop.
Coffee and cheesecake, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
It's officially spring, I guess. It's the spring equinox, we finally have a warmish and sunny weekend, and the flowers are blooming. These ones I got from Trader Joe's though. Probably comes from California or something.
Flowers, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
It just wasn't looking like what I wanted it to be. As I was trying to figure out what to do, our instructor Cecilia Cooney-Wickett asked "are you having fun?" And to my surprise, I was! Despite all the frustration and the struggle, I really get a "high" out of the painting process. And no, I wasn't sniffing the paint.
Since then, I've been painting a *lot*. I've done 35 mostly small acrylic paintings so far, and I think I've been improving since my first paintings. At least I hope I am, because while I enjoy the process a lot, I'd like to get at least somewhat proficient at it. Or else y'all will be subjected to looking at bad paintings for the foreseeable future.
From what I've been reading though, you do get better at painting with practice. In fact it seems that "easel time" and not talent is the biggest factor in getting good. Which is great, since I don't really see myself as talented.
Last Friday was the last painting class, and I've enjoyed it so much, I'm taking Cecilia's figure drawing class next. I expect to be able to draw like this after the class. ;)
Oh, and here's my latest painting:
Maybe it's the change in weather (we just had the Seattle version of a snow storm), but I've been coughing a lot. Decided to skip work today, since I don't want to spread my germs around.
Thursday is no painting day, so I drew a couple of Ricola cough drops. Hehe, I think I need to also get better at drawing to get better at painting.
Ricola, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
I was kind of nervous to paint glass, it looks so difficult. So I'm pretty happy with the result here. It wasn't as bad as I thought, you dont have to paint much at all to get it to look like glass.
Glass and Plastic, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
More painting! Mine is on the left, Pooja's on the right. Cindy was here too, but she left earlier, she drew the skate park outside my window.
This is so much fun. I've started painting on paper instead of canvas board. I like the texture of paper a lot.
Sunday Group Art, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
In the couple of weeks since my last post, I've painted just over a dozen paintings. It seems like I got the painting bug. I've been reserving a couple of hours before bed on most days for painting something. Today, though, I spent some time with Cindy and Pooja to draw/paint something together. We chose to do Pooja's stuffed monkey toy.
It was so much fun, I hope we'll be able to do this more regularly.
Stuffed monkey, originally uploaded by flyingroc.
On the theory that it's all a matter of practice, I'm gonna try to document my paintings on Flickr, and you can tell me if I'm improving or not. Here's my latest one: