Gamblin 1980 Oil Paints

In my other online life outside of writing reviews, I’m an amateur portrait artist. In the past, I mostly used colored pencils. But recently, I’ve started trying to learn oil painting. I’ve done just over 20 paintings now, and have used four different brands of student grade paint. Paint brands typically have different tiers, but most offer at least one higher level artist grade and a lower level called student grade. Because I’m an amateur, I use exclusively student grade paints. I’m still trying to learn the ins and outs…

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Adjustable Proportional Divider and Art Caliper

I just recently learned of these proportional dividers from a video by “The Paint Coach” Chris Fornataro. All this time, I’ve been using a ruler and multiplying the measurement in my head to help with portrait proportions. Yet this incredible solution had been sitting here the entire time! Well, regrets aside, I’m glad I finally got to use one of these things. As of this review, I’ve used it for three paintings and it’s helped a ton. My video review is much more useful in this case, because you can…

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Steam Deck

This is a review I have been waiting a lot time to have the opportunity to write. Years ago, I starting using a video game controller made by Valve called the Steam Controller. Over time, I came to rely on the Steam Controller for any game that used keyboard and mouse inputs. I wrote a detailed review on the Steam Controller, but unfortunately reading it isn’t valuable outside of nostalgia, because Valve discontinued the device. It was long rumored that it was discontinued because Valve was designing its next iteration,…

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Jisulife Portable Handheld Fan

During a recent extended trip, our group purchased several of these portable fans made by Jisulife. We actually didn’t all plan on buying the same fan, but three of us all gravitated towards this one on Amazon due to the price and excellent reviews on Amazon. The fan folds into itself for portability and is roughly the length of a smartphone with the thickness of a small flashlight. The blades are a flexible plastic and are pretty safe – the fan stops automatically when it hits something. The fan has…

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Neekfox Lightweight Travel Backpack

In advance of a recent lengthy trip that would involve extensive outdoor walking, I set out to find a good lightweight daypack. Essentially, I was looking for an ultra light weight bag to haul around some necessities like a water bottle or two, portable fan, some small kids toys, passports, and various other small odds and ends. Basically, I needed a bag that wouldn’t add much weight to that load, but also had plenty of pockets and storage spots. I purchased and returned several more expensive options before getting my…

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Elden Ring

I’ll start this review for Elden Ring with some comparisons. The first From Software (Elden Ring’s developer) game I played was Dark Souls. I am not especially skilled when it comes to games, so I died quite a lot. I also became frustrated enough to stop playing fairly often. Strangely though, I grew to love the game; it was memorable due to the difficulty, sense of accomplishment I had when finally overcoming something, and its uniquely beautiful but melancholy in-game world. Elden Ring is a natural evolution from Dark Souls;…

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Figma Archetype Next Figure

This review is primarily about authentic Figma Archetype Next branded models…but I will also talk a bit about the extremely widespread bootleg versions that are readily found on sites like Ebay and Amazon. The real, Figma-branded drawing models in the Archetype Next line are quite excellent. Available in either the “He” or “She” varieties, they come in either gray, peach, or bright orange. These figures are manufactured by a company in Japan called Max Factory and typically carry a number (01, 02, 03, or 04) designating how recent the release/version…

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Tales of Arise

Back in the early 00s, the “Tales” series from Namco captured my interest with two incredible games – Tales of Symphony and Tales of Destiny II. These games, along with Star Ocean 2, introduced me to the “action RPG” style that would become one of my favorite gaming sub-genres. Essentially, these games still utilize the classic RPG stables like HP (character life meter), MP (available magic), and various stats to govern player strength. They also feature variants of fantasy world adventures, like swords, dramatic villains, and constantly battling monsters. The…

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Itoya Original Art Profolio

These art portfolios are listed at retailers by quite a few name variations, so I actually had some difficulty figuring out a correct title. Itoya is always the brand, but they may be called some variation of “The Original” or “Original Profolio” with other modifiers like presentation book, portfolio, and art book. Regardless of the exact name on the listing, this review is about Itoya-branded, top-loading art books with 24 pages, clear sleeves, black inserts, and spine inserts (model IA-12-9). I originally found these when browsing art supplies at a…

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Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

In my other online life outside of writing reviews, I’m an amateur portrait artist. My primary medium is colored pencils, which I use a heavy blending style with thickly-layered color to try to achieve an almost paint-like effect. To avoid that “sketchy” pencil, I need a pencil with a relatively soft wax core. A softer core typically means easier layering, which in turn means it’s more likely to get this smooth blend in the final result. Although I haven’t tried every colored pencil brand, I have sampled a few; I’ve…

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