Feeling my new SUV, trying digital drawing, and learning Italian

by Rob Tiller


At Durant Park

Getting used to a new car is kind of like moving into a new house — everything’s a little confused, but also fresh and exciting.  This week I’ve been figuring out the fine points of my new Mazda CX-5 (a/k/a the Tiller Advanced Photographic Expeditionary Vehicle), pushing buttons and turning knobs, and occasionally consulting the owner’s manual.  I’ve always thought of myself  as a person who doesn’t much care for SUVs, and I got the TAPEV for more practical reasons (getting to outdoor adventures) than romantic ones.  But unexpectedly, I may be falling in love!  

The biggest challenge for me is getting clear on where the outer edges of the vehicle are.  Because of my left eye injury, I don’t have very good depth perception, so getting into tight parking spots is a bit fraught.  At Gabe’s suggestion, I did some practicing in an empty parking lot, using some old paper boxes as obstacles.  It must have looked odd, if anyone noticed, but it helped.  I only mashed one box.  


Along with getting oriented in my new SUV, I’ve been learning to draw with digital tools.  I got an Apple Pencil to go with my iPad Pro, and have been refreshing on drawing fundamentals — lines, curves, shapes, shading — and trying some figure drawing with online models.  I found some helpful YouTube drawing lessons by Stan Prokopenko.  The Apple technology works great — it’s easy to vary the line, use  different colors, and erase.  It’s very portable, and the risk of embarrassment is low, since I can delete the things that don’t work, which at this stage is almost everything.  I enjoy it.  

An American Lady at Raulston Arboretum

I’ve also started studying Italian, trying to learn the fundamentals and maybe a little more for our trip to Venice this fall.  I put my German studies on pause, and got a discount on the Rosetta Stone Italian course.  What a gorgeous language!  It’s a cliché, but also true — it’s very musical.  The R’s are challenging, but I’m starting to get it.  I’ve got my basic greetings, colors, and numbers, and can accomplish a few simple things, like asking for a sandwich.  


The landscapes here were taken yesterday morning at Durant Park in north Raleigh, and the flowers and insects were taken this morning at Raulston Arboretum.  At Durant, I was hoping to get some close views of dragonflies, but didn’t.  It was hot, but also peaceful by the water.  I used the tripod on all these shots, which made the process slower and more deliberate.