Spring is coming!

Blue Jay I drewThis is something I drew recently —over the course of a few weeks— as an exercise, based on photo I found online. I don’t draw very often, and used drawing this blue jay as a way to take small breaks in the day, away from the computer screen.

The lines of the grid I made initially to get a hang of the proportions of the bird are still visible. They helped in getting a first rough draft done quickly. The other thing that helped was to draw while looking at the photo upside down. This idea was taken from Betty Edwards’s book Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain (4th edition, 2012), where she observed:

“Familiar things do not look the same when they are upside down. We automatically assign a top, a bottom, and sides to the things we perceive, and we expect to see things oriented in the usual way—that is, right side up. In upright orientation, we can recognize familiar things, name them, and quickly categorize them by matching what we see with our stored memories and concepts.
When an image is upside down, the visual clues don’t match. The message is strange, and the brain becomes confused. We see the shapes and the areas of light and shadow, but the image doesn’t call forth the immediate naming that we are used to”

In this case, drawing upside down allowed for dropping some of the recognition and naming processes used by the brain to identify things as “known” or “new”. In the context of drawing upside down, much more attention can instead be given to texture, tone, and form, without worrying too much about distinctions such as foreground/background, figure/ground or container/contained.

It’s also always a surprise to see what the hand and the pencil have drawn when, from time to time, the drawing is turned back to its original upright orientation.

Frankentagine How-To


Two experiments were combined in one. First I wanted some way to cook meat glued parts to test out the transglutaminase. I also wanted to figure out how to cook a Moroccan tagine in a rice cooker. Turned out both were successful and delicious.

In a rice cooker combine:

– chicken or any scraps broth (recipe to come), enough to fully immerse the meat completely.
– 1 tsp or more turmeric
– 1 pinch saffron
– pepper to taste
– salt to taste
– at least 1 tsp ginger
– garlic, as much as you want
– cilantro, chopped
– chopped fresh parsley
– preserved lemon, one or two depending on size. For small lemons use two.
– generous stack of minced onion
– olives, to taste, I like a lot of manzanilla olives, the cheap kind stuffed with small pieces of peper (or is tomato?)
– 3 Frankenstein meat glued rolls (recipe to come).

You’ll need a rice cooker that has at least a « white rice » and a « keep warm » setting. Set the rice cooker to white rice first. When you notice it’s bubbling up put it to « keep warm », then forget about it. For hours, ideally the whole night and then a few hours more in the morning. It’ll be ready for lunch.

Prepare mashed potatoes from dry mix but don’t bother with hot water: use the tagine broth: it’ll have soaked up all the spice, herb and meat flavour. The turmeric will dye everything it’s on a really nice yellow. It’s a good sign and it’s good for you.