Home Improvement and arguably Life Improvement tip of the Day : Light

As we get older it’s amazing the revelations we, if not learn, finally accept and integrate into our lives. Such as staying away from high Fructose corn syrup and modified corn starch/MSG. What you didn’t get the memo? :).

Yesterday after decades on this planet, I finally switched from regular bright light or warm light light bulbs, the kind that I guess make up 99% of the type of lights most people are living or working under in America, to full spectrum/daylight light bulbs.

Great Caesar’s Ghost!!! What the heck was I waiting for??? There is a negligible price difference and the quality of the light is noticeably easier.

What do I mean by easier? There’s always the sense in the human condition that we are fighting things, ourselves, others, nature, the tools we use to do our job, even the chairs we use or the lights that keep us from the dark.

There was always a bit of strain or glare or if not discomfort, at least awareness of otherness in the artificial light you use when the sun goes down. Artificial is the word, however I accepted it as a given, and compensated with brighter bulbs or angled reading lamps, etc.

Yesterday when I stuck those 5000 and 6500 kelvin bulbs in my floor standing lamps, what I felt when I turned them on, is the tension I always keep around my eyes in preparation for the coming of the light, I felt that tension let go.

I was prepared for something to fight against, the human condition, and instead this light flowed over me like a breeze, like a hand, and the light in my house and I… were no longer at war.

Since that revelation I’ve added 6500 Kelvin lights to my kitchen, helps the plants grow, and 5000 and 6500 Kelvin lights throughout the rest of the house. I keep one room with the standard artificial light, that I spent most of my life living, and working, and breathing under, I keep that room there to remember the fight, and in its contrast to the rest of the house, it reminds me to always appreciate… the end of fighting.

Most full spectrum lights you’ll find are CFL lights (Compact Fluorescent). Just about all of us now have CFL lights in our house, but very few of us have the full spectrum daylight bulbs. As I said, it in my estimation is a no-brainer regarding full spectrum light bulbs… they are must haves. The issue with CFL’s however is the one there has always been, they contain mercury. Mercury for an element that we rely on so much, it is one of the most toxic substances to human life.

And as a guy who has used CFLs for years, they tend to blow… a lot. I have never found CFL claims of longevity to be accurate in the real world. They blow faster than incandescent bulbs in my experience. And over years of use you’re going to end up breaking your share. And even if you do manage, not to eat mercury over the cost of usage, you still have the issue of disposal, which is a big one. Because of the mercury content you cannot just toss it in the trash, it has to be taken to your local hazardous materials site or recycling site for proper disposal.

So there’s a lot of issues that become part of the mix when dealing with CFLs.

Which makes this push to LED light bulbs (Light Emitting Diodes) quite understandable. Though I have yet to find an LED that will work in the 6500K range and even the ones that work in the 5000K range, while producing that easy relaxing light, there are issues with them not truly being full-range. And depending on the brand, they also have flickering issues.

So yeah, I can definitely understand CFLs becoming less and less popular because of their Mercury issues (I would think a mercury free CFL bulb shouldn’t be an impossibility, why manufacturers have not pursued that option is a mystery) however as of today there really is no great equal or replacement for them in the 6500K Kelvin range (particularly great for growing plants).

So for the time being I use a combination of CFL daylight lights (making sure to be careful with the CFLs and properly dispose of them)and LED daylight lights, and in my house they are a hit. The light is a more pleasant experience than the harsh light that we had before, and we are better for the switch.

You just might agree as well. Try some Daylight bulbs for yourself here (and when you find the 6500K version you like, stock up as they are getting VERY hard to find):

Cree Daylight Dimmable Led 75w Replacement Bulb. Uses Only 13.5 Watts Ba19


“Finding Truth is difficult and the road to it is rough” –Ibn Al-Zahid. SEEKERS OF THE TRUTH




I was turned on, introduced seems the wrong word, to the art of Mark A. Nelson via his coverage in SPECTRUM, Volume 15 or 16.

One of his penciled drawings, rich with detail just stood out from the rest of the Spectrum pages, just compellingly good. I immediately knew I needed to get an artbook from this artist.

And having acquired FROM PENCILS TO INKS, I have to say Mark A. Nelson’s work in quantity… lives up to expectations and exceeds them. The book itself is a slight softcover volume, but is worth acquiring for the pencil and ink work alone. There are also examples of sequential work in the book, but the real selling point is the pen and ink full page spreads.

A staggering amount of texture, and just a boundless creativity and imagination. This volume can be a bit hard to find, but it’s worth the hunt. Strongly Recommended.
From Pencils to Inks: The Art of Mark A. Nelson: Price it Here!

p.s. Quick update. I’ve been informed by the artist himself (way cool)that you should also be able to get this book, prints and other items worth your patronage… here: GRAZING DINOSAUR PRESS!.

Now go peruse some art! 🙂

Artbook Review: MIDDLE EARTH:VISIONS OF A MODERN MYTH by Donato Giancola

Another art-book I wanted to give attention to is MIDDLE-EARTH:VISIONS OF A MODERN MYTH by Donato Giancola.

Now I have no interest in the subject matter, being not a fan of Tolkien’s mythology. I enjoyed the audio books well enough, and loved Peter Jackson’s first LORD OF THE RINGS film, while disliking the last two. And generally have no interest in the upcoming Hobbit movie. So yeah the subject matter of this art book leaves me cold, and had anyone else done it, I would have avoided the book.

However, Donato Giancola is an artist/painter of unrivaled, awe-inspiring talent, whose work yearly in the SPECTRUM Art Book, is always the most memorable and striking of a celebrated field. Unfortunately very few collections of his brilliant artwork is available, outside of his self published collections/chap books.

So any chance to see Donato’s Caravaggio/Classicist style in one place, in one book, in one quality hardcover book, is a collection to be sought after… and to attain.

Having done that with this book, while the subject matter still underwhelms, Donato’s artistry does not. It’s a wonderfully constructed tome, with a solid stitched binding, slipcover, and lavish glossy pages, deserving of showcasing Donato’s oils. It’s a scant 80 pages, with very little text, but the images speak for themselves.

Shifting between his penciled roughs, and his finished paints. Not all the drawings grab me (again my disinterest in the subject matter) but the ones that do… make the whole book worthwhile.

And did I mention the book smells great!? I’m a bibliophile, what can I say, things like smell and touch and presentation mean something to me. Yet another reason art-books have nothing to fear from digital. 🙂

So until there is a better collection of Giancola’s work available, for less than $25 this is not just an enjoyable purchase, but I think a must have one to any true fan of this artist. At these prices buy two. One to own, and one for resale value. :).

Final Grade: The subject matter is not my cup of tea, and the selections chosen are hit and miss, sometimes coming off as filler, but that said the ones that do work… work well, work majestically.,,, Are the stuff of modern myth. Recommended! B+!

Middle-Earth: Visions of a Modern Myth – Support this blog. Buy this item here and this blog gets a few pennies on every sale made through this link! Thanks!

Favorite/Best Art Books of 2011

This was a relatively easy list to decide on. My 3 favorite artbook purchases of 2011 were:

3. Zdzislaw Beksinski- I’m putting this on the list even though this isn’t a 2011 publication. Finally managed to pick up this 1992 English Language House Arkady (love that name) printing of BEKSINSKI.

2. SPECTRUM 18- Every year this annual showcase of the best of fantastic art, is a welcome purchase. And this year continues their streak.

1. REBUS- My number one artbook of 2011 comes from Chronicle Books, and is the drop dead gorgeous James Jean’s
REBUS. Having had this for a month I do not get tired of flipping though those stunning red gilded pages. The book is a work of art just in terms of design, even before you get to the art within, which is masterful, and beautiful, and disturbing. Just simply gorgeous. Trust me, If you at all have an interest in artbooks, you need to own this one. Highest recommendation.

There you go. Come back next installment as I start looking at 2012 artbooks to put on your must buy list! Price your copies by clicking on the links below:

Zdzislaw Beksinski

Spectrum 18: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art



“I was wondering how… from where we began we got to this dark place.”
“One step at a time, my dear. One step at a time.”
—Henry II

— paraphrase from THE LION IN WINTER

My read pile as always overfloweth, as does my to watch pile, but here’s at least one recent purchase I’ve been able to get to.

OUT OF THE FORESTS: THE ART OF PAUL BONNER- If you, like me, try to always pick up the latest volume of Cathy and Arnie Fenner’s yearly, lauded and laudable, art anthology, SPECTRUM THE YEAR’S BEST FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION you know that every few years an especially talented artist rises, phoenix like, above the pack.

I’ve been following the long running series, about to begin its 17th consecutive year, for most of those years, and while it is always chock full of great artists, I’m generally content to get my art-fix from the work on display in the pages of SPECTRUM.

Only a select few of those artists, in going on 17 years, have hit me with such impact, that I immediately knew, SPECTRUM wasn’t enough, I needed to own an art-book by this person (this excludes established names such as Frazetta, and Jusko and Vallejo, etc. whose work I was familiar with and a collector of, long before SPECTRUM, no I’m discussing for the most part the relative new discovery that SPECTRUM is known for giving exposure to).

Names like Donato Giancola, and John Jude Palencar I was introduced to by SPECTRUM, and immediately I knew I wanted more. These guys were the bright and shining art stars of a brand new day, and it was clear in every line and every stroke.

The latest such ‘discovery’ Paul Bonner, has stood out for me in the last few SPECTRUMS, with his muscular reworkings of middle earth dreams, and dark castle nightmareS.

For me, his images and visions, are the ones that stay with me, long after I have put down the latest volume of SPECTRUM.

The good people at Titan Books, no fool they, realizing exceptional talent when they see it have released the pointedly titled, and gorgeously produced OUT OF THE FORESTS:THE ART OF PAUL BONNER.

Titan Books has a reputation for quality product, and TAOPB is no exception. From cover to cover it’s an essential and must have exploration of the rich and wonderful work of Paul Bonner.

I’ll not do a disservice to Paul Bonner or myself by trying to give you a play by play of what you’ll see in the pages of the book, or a dissection of the art of Paul Bonner except to say, his work fits quite nicely between the world of Caravaggio and the Hildebrandts.

Beautiful realism, married to stunning fantasy. Highly Recommended! Nuff said. Go, see, Buy!