Pilbeam Engineering

A Little Bit of Everything

Book Review - Oil Painting Essentials - Gregg Keutz - 2016

I received this book free for an honest review.

Oil Painting Essentials covers the concepts and procedural essentials for several different genres of oil painting. It covers several genres: still life, interior, landscapes, portraits, figures, while also incorporating a section on plein air painting (painting 'on location', which is necessarily a different style).

In each section Keutz provides pictoral examples of his own work that exemplifies the conceptual and process essentials he is expounding. This is done to good effect, especially with regular use of in-progress examples showing the progression of a work from start to completion.

Of course, given that the discourse and examples come from one artist, these essentials are geared toward his style of painting, which may not necessarily bring fulfillment to all aspiring oil painters. That said, many of the general concepts carry through to any style, especially the light/dark near/far concepts that are presented throughout the various sections of the book. Discourse on perspective is also a universal concept, unless of course you aspire to be the next Picasso.

This is not a 'how-to-paint' book. There is no technical discourse on the use of oil paints, mixing, fattening of paint with oil for higher layers, etc. are not covered here. This book exemplifies artistic concepts that can help those who know the basics to better grasp the principles that will enable their painting to be more believable and catching to the eye. 

While I do not have a lot of time to pursue oil painting, I will be hanging onto this book so that I can, hopefully, pursue the hobby and have a head start with the principles laid out in this work.

Chicken Coop Peril!

Wednesday morning, I went out before work to let the chickens out for the day. Since my wife was going out for the day as well, I just let them out of their coop into their run, not leaving their run open to the outside world as we often do when someone is home. I was surprised when, for the first time, I saw that someone had been trying to dig their way into the coop!

Not cool!

My plan of attack is to install chicken wire fencing, staples into the ground, around the coop. In the short term, however, wide and heavy pieces of slab firewood should provide a barrier to the varmint.

Fixing a sink sprayer

Over time, the sprayer for our sink has developed a rat-tat-tat water flow when squeezing the handle. The whole sink rattles and rumbles and water does not come out consistently. Finally frustrated with the situation, Sarah asked me to take a look at it. I posited a possibility of water pressure issues (we're on a well, and it's been dry), but after doing a little reading I decided minerals in the sprayer handle could be the problem.

We have severe issues with mineral build up that only a water softener could really resolve. Our whole-house filters do a good job on taste (carbon filter) and the rust (5 micron sediment) that we have, but can't touch the minerals.

The mineral buildup

If minerals were clogging the controls, as well as the obvious spray head clogs, I figured I could clean it out. I opted to remove the spray handle from the hose. I sprayed CLR, or something similar, into the handle and let it sit for several minutes, while also spraying some on the end of the hose itself. Another option would be to soak the whole handle for awhile, though I don't know what that would do to the finish. A small toothbrush worked over the spray nozzle itself cleaned that up pretty substantially. As can be seen in the video, the result was no more machine gun (water hammer?) and a much more robust spray.

At the cost of these spray heads, which I believe is about $8, it could be considered a toss up as to whether it's worth the time to fix the sprayer, but since I don't like waste, I took the time.