How to Fail an Experiment

First, watch the instructional video only one time.

I enrolled in one of Sketch Book Skool’s recent remix kourses, Art Smorgasbord a couple weeks ago, and in the second week, Penny Dullaghan teaches us how to make our own carbon paper using black oil paint and paint thinner.



Her sole intent – to create an expressive but organic line. Her video seemed without urgency, calm, and collected. Except, I’ve been carrying around this desire to try this exercise for too long. So, yesterday, I sped off to the art store to pick up the needed supplies, and then made plans to do it today.

Instinctively, I reached for my large Moleskine sketchbook – the one where I’ve collected old works, and scraps of this and that, and not so gracefully have glued them in – and chose a photocopied print of mine, because I thought it would be an easy, but interesting image to transfer.


√ Second, don’t test the transfer, just go at it in a mad scientist sorta way. 

I wish I had a GoPro strapped to my head during the process so everyone could see my fury! Both of my biceps experienced the brunt end. Maybe this much pressure isn’t needed, who knows, this was my first time. The most noticeable part in this experiment was the feverish upside down strokes of my brush – exhilarating! Something was being released.


√ Third, use a rather large, complicated image, with intricate contrast and hard-to-see shadows. 

This process was so new to me, I threw self-discipline out the window, speeding through it to reach the end result. On one hand, it felt like work, yet on the other, a pleasurable experience. Perhaps something on a smaller scale would be less of a workout.


The fourth is not advised. I didn’t take any photographs of the aftermath. I should have so you could see what happens when you add water to oil paint and thinner! This might be embarrassing to admit, but the clean up for this technique (at least the way I did it) is thirty minutes of torture! The process was forty-five minutes by the way, then plan on cleaning not once, twice, or even three times, but FOUR!

My hands were black; mum’s hair dryer was black; somehow, my closet door frame was black; my drawing board, of course, black; and the brush ended up in the trash can. Luckily, Dawn worked wonders on the fourth pass.

I expressed my exhilaration, and my exhaustion, to a couple of friends during this experiment (which was also new and exciting), and I described the aftermath like this:

  • Tortuous! (On my back, legs, knees, and as I mentioned – biceps)
  • Messy! (I mean, it was like I murdered a person, and the blood was everywhere!)
  • Ancient and Medieval! (I may have been channeling some relative of Michelangelo, or something Baroque-like)

© Kristian J. Duncan                           2019


A Spectacular 4 1/2 Month Velocity – Pt. 1


For over twenty years I have kept a daily writing journal, which honestly was not consistent until 2003 (when I discovered my first pocket Moleskine). Prior to this special day my writing was all over the place, but the majority has been kept in a Moleskine.

In 2009, I switched to the largest lined journal they offered at the time, and this has been my journal of choice. These journals contain 192 pages (give or take) of my thoughts, ideas, story outlines, character development, poems, and a lot of note taking.

The four I have completed in this size have taken me somewhere between 1 1/2 to 2 years to complete – but as you can see, this one broke my record!

It started off well, and I began this journal with a new intention: be more visually creative! And then I experienced a pen and journal crisis that I wrote enough about to fill a pocket cahier notebook, but thankfully it was not the end of days like I imagined.


Once the dust settled, I began experimenting with my new Lamy Alstar fountain pen, with an EF nib, and Platinum Carbon fountain pen ink (which dries quickly, and is waterproof).

First, a clever sketch:


Then, in some later pages, I got brave, and threw in some yellow ochre watercolor over some mark-making:


Somehow I made this happen:


I thought it was horrible at first, but I kept going, and during a poem, I created this:


And lastly, this hand drawing that I made with the very scary Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, scary because it takes a lot of patience and breath holding to get finer lines. I am very proud of this drawing:


I learned so much from this journal that I could possibly post an e-book on the matter. Actually, that’s a great idea! Consider this part one, then.

© Kristian J. Duncan                           2019

A Woke Poem

Well I guess some pain happens for a reason. I already was rudely awakened by this damn hip, leg, and knee pain once this morning, around 3 a.m., and then again at 8 a.m., but to my surprise I was able to write a poem.

Nocturnal are the night sea birds,
The fish swim against the bride’s curl.

Nocturnal she is, without sun
On her face, deep vibes roll and run.

Water rippling, red fishes
Swimming free, her locks all twisted.

Water cooling the night sea bride.
Her tale of song, as smooth as hide.

And blow she does, nocturnal shade –
The scum on the bottom, for taste.

Blow the red fishes, all gills hold.
And night sea birds and night sea bride,

Fight for the red fish delight, under
These waves, nocturnal, cool, plunder,

In the twisted locks, a fair tow –
Nocturnal water blow.

This poem was written from a three-word promt: Nocturnal, Water, Blow.

And in 100 words, a story or poem.

If anyone is interested look up the Facebook group One-Hundred Words.


© Kristian J. Duncan                           2019

Ain’t This the Pitts

And no, not every post will contain a negative title. I had intended to use the title, “Poor Mrs. Pitts”, but I could not crunch away a story, or poem, or hardly a sketch. So, I journaled instead – that’s all I had time to do, while having to work twelve hours today.


So, here’s part of my process – the scratching, and scribbling that comes out in words. Sometimes there’s a bit of trying this, and trying that, done right in my writing journal. I’ve done a few of these pages that aren’t horrible.

I’ll show you those on down the road in another blog, or possibly add a page to my blog of stand alone images.

© Kristian J. Duncan                           2019

Externalize the Pain

…or “just breathe”, they say.

I can do both when making art, or writing. But at the moment, this pain has yanked me out of my slumber – the sharp jabs to my hip, back, and now my knee. I’m not sure the cause but it feels like the start of a severe charley horse but without the muscles actually constricting, and in a few minutes it will turn into the dullest of aches.

If I had the will, I’d pick up my dip pen and scratch side to side, up and over, to make marks in my sketchbook – which is all the hands can muster – maybe with the Higgins Black Magic or Sepia, like I did here a few days ago:


This is the externalization my body needs right now, but I prefer sleep. So, later maybe, if my new job allows a few moments, I’ll get some relief in the pages of my sketchbook.

© Kristian J. Duncan                          2019

Problems R Us

It’s not that bad though, well, some problems are, such as health, but I’m referring to all the other things I usually think are problems but, they really are just little obstacles that I have yet to overcome.

Like this blog. On, then off. At first, it was going to be me posting my own thoughts on various topics, including myself, because I’m all about self-discovery. Then it turned into me wanting to help other creative types. I think I liked the first idea more.

Well, I’m back again, this time going further with my first idea – this blog is going to follow my creative life, all of it’s journey, hopefully every day – so, many posts will be short, which is fine by me.

I may repost some old images because I like them a lot. And, one of my goals is to add more images, because that was my intention with the previous bout of blogs.

They say I should plan. They say I should schedule. They say to add this, and not include that. Well, screw all the shoulds and should-nots, because they only cause more problems!

I recently learned this past December to wave and smile. I just turned 41 last week, and I finally get it! It’s so much easier going through life in this manner.


© Kristian J. Duncan                           2019