i1Display Pro…Newest Toy…Monitor Calibration

Hey Gang,

My X-Rite i1Display Pro is awesome.  Why? Because monitors look different from one another.  I can see the differences between my 2 monitors and a 24″ HD Touch Cintiq.  But, I cannot see if my monitors are reflecting my digital files accurately.   Previously, I calibrated my monitors using an eye-one display 2 from X-Rite.  I bought the device in 2008 and loved it.  But, unfortunately, X-Rite discontinued the product.  It was time to get a new display calibrating system.

I had been happy with my previous product and returned to X-Rite to look for a replacement.  I found the i1Display Pro replaced the eye-one display 2, but its listed price was $269.00, which after buying the computer was a bit pricey for my wallet.  However, I discovered that there was a promotion running, which brought the price down about $100.  But, dear readers, the promotion ends today, Dec  24th.  I’ll explain more about it later.

The i1Display Pro arrived yesterday.  I had not calibrated my monitors in a while and I had never calibrated the Cintiq.  All three looked different and the oldest monitor was noticeably darker than the others.  Because the oldest monitor looked so different, I had decided to replace it on the new system and use it with the old computer.  I was anxious to see how the older monitor looked after calibration.

There are three steps to the calibration process.  Setup, or step 1, was simple enough.  Insert disk and install hardware just about covers it.  Oh, yes, I did have to connect the i1Display Pro to the computer via a USB port and place the device in the center of my screen.  Once done, I started the software.  I had the choice of using the automated calibration or take complete control of the process.  I opted for the automated process, but even that requires setting a few options.  It was so easy; when you hovered over an option, its function and suggested setting popped up in a help window, which is a very nice feature.

I clicked “Start” for Step 2.  I did have a hiccup here.  The software didn’t recognize the i1Display Pro.  It took a few minutes to find my problem.  I had not selected the correct device in the setup.  Once corrected, I could click start.

At this point all I needed to do was sit back and watch.  The screen changed to a solid light gray and flickered between several various grays setting the contrast I believe.  Next it set the brightness…well…I set the brightness.  A window opens with a brightness scale.  All I had to do was adjust the brightness to match the scale.  It was easy.  The last part of the process takes about 2 minutes and is quite fun to watch.  The screen changes colors lots…looks psychedelic.

Creating and saving a color profile is the last step.  Again, that required a simple click.  The software saves the profile and opens an image and allows you to toggle back and forth between “before” and “after” versions.  But more importantly, after I calibrated all three monitors, they appeared the same.  I couldn’t tell any difference between them.  Even the old one looked fresh and new.  The i1Display Pro worked its magic.

X-Rite has another less expensive product called the ColorMunki Display.  I have never tried one, but I have heard good things about it.  I believe there are promotions on both products.  To get the best price for the i1Display Pro, I needed to buy from Amazon Prime or B&H Photo Video Pro Audio shop.  I use both online stores and can recommend both.  The cost on both sites was $199.00, but there is a mail in or online rebate available from X-Rite for $30.00 bringing the cost down to $169.00.   But, remember, to get this deal, I had to place the order by today.  The rebate requires proof of purchase for today or earlier.

Have a Merry and a Happy,



New Wacom Drivers, Win 10 Finally, and My New Computer

Hello Everyone,

Wacom released new drivers for the PC and the Mac yesterday.  As usual, my desktop center didn’t notify me, but my friend Miguel did.  If you aren’t having any problems, then you may not need to upgrade.  Per usual back up your settings, uninstall old drivers and install the new  drivers.  Disconnect your tablet, too.

OK, so I have told you folks that I was in the market for a new computer, but before I bought it, I wanted to install Windows 10 on my old system.  Many of you will remember my post about the difficulties I had with Microsoft support and then never got Win 10 loaded.  They did take copious notes.  But many folks told me it was my system or me or both.  It wasn’t.  A couple of days ago, I decided to try the upgrade again.  Fingers crossed, I started the upgrade.  It took less than an hour.  I had no problems…well…there was one minor one with Outlook, which is a Microsoft product.  I must tell you, everything I had seen about Windows 10 looked inviting.  I really wanted to use it from the get go, but it just wasn’t possible.   Maybe those copious notes did help, because now everything is working fine.

OK, so what computer did I buy?  As you know, I was considering going Mac.  I looked at a Mac Pro and an Alienware Area 51.  Both machines looked mighty fine, but I went with the Alienware Area 51.  Why…old versus new is the answer.  The Mac Pros haven’t been updated in a while and talk on the street indicated that there would be a new Mac Pro out last August and continue to this day.  I had to buy before the end of the year.  I simply couldn’t wait any longer and I didn’t want to buy the current Mac Pro and have a new one come out a week or two later.  I know…I’m crazy, but that is how I was thinking.

So, what did I get with my Alienware Area 51.  It is a screamer!  Here are some of the basics.

Intel Core i7-5960X (8-cores, 20MB Cache, Overclocked up to 4.0 GHz w/ Turbo Boost)

32GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133MHz (8GB x4)

Dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 with 4 GB GDDR5 each (NVIDIA SLI Enabled)

512 GB SSD 6Gb/s Main + 8TB SATA storage

Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 @ 5GHz + Bluetooth

Alienware 1500 Watt Multi-GPU Approved Power Supply

Win 10 Pro (64 bit) English

OK, that’s enough stuff.  I’m sure you don’t care about key boards, monitors, speakers, and optical drives.  Maybe I will take some pictures it is all set up, or not.  In the meantime, check these screen shots from Alienware’s web site.  I do love the design of it.  It is so much easier to get to the ports.

My new Alienware Area 51

My new Alienware Area 51

Ports are easy to access. I will probably have mine on top the desk, though.

Ports are easy to reach. I will probably have mine on top the desk, though.

I did purchase one thing that has been a big disappointment.  I got Laplink’s PCmover with a high-speed cable.  They offer 24/7 free installation service as well.  Don’t believe it.  I tried contacting them for three days and stayed on the phone about 30 minutes each time.  At the end of the 30 minutes, I would get a recorded message telling me they were having trouble with their phone systems and to call back later.  I was able to do all the required setup without tech support help, but when it came time for the actual transfer, it was going to take 156 hours.  What?  Instead, I have reloaded the software manually and am transferring data via my network.  I was really disappointed in PCMover.  The hype promised to move software and data…sigh.

Well that’s it so far.  I have a few more goodies coming and I’ll talk about them next time.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Holiday Season and the Best New Year ever.


Hightail Update and a Few Photographs

Dear Friends,

Let me start by saying that the problem I was having at Hightail was several months old and I had a long service ticket.  I didn’t suddenly decide to sever ties; I based the decision on a long-term issue that wasn’t getting fixed and the service rep was not forthcoming about the issues.  So, a couple of days ago, I completed a survey in response to my service ticket, which the rep closed without my knowledge.  I was very frank about the poor of service.

Yesterday, I received an email for a Customer Service Manager who apologized for the problems and basically accepted that the fault was Hightail’s.  She said:

“Hello Skip,

Thank you for responding to our Customer Support Survey. It is my goal that we provide you with the best possible service experience and I am disappointed we weren’t able to do so with our previous interaction.

After looking through the ticket it does look like it was closed without any communication back to you. I sincerely apologize!

The issue on our end cannot be fixed so unfortunately the files will not be retrievable in this instance. Our rep should have reached back out to let you know this information. We migrated to new servers and some files were affected with a few customers and in this case your files were part of that small group.

In this case I would like to offer you a free year on us and refund this past charge for $159 you had to incur.. It isn’t going to fix the problem but at least we can give you your money back this year for the frustrations caused. Please advise.

Thank you,”

I have to say, that I am very grateful for the refund and that Hightail responded at all.  So, I must give them high marks for that.  I did thank her and accept the offer of a refund.  She responded nicely and did say that she hoped I would give them another chance.

To be honest, I cannot say that I will give them another chance.  I lost trust for the company and I’m not sure I can gain that back.  And, I have an alternative solution, which I have already started as I mentioned in the last post.  But, I did want to let everyone know that Hightail has at least accepted responsibility for the problems and is refunding my annual costs.

I do find it sad I had to complain very loudly to get anyone’s attention.



PS:  I think I’ll post a couple of more photographs.  I am not a professional photographer; I am an obsessed amateur.  Think of these pictures as show and tell about places I visit or where I live.

Here is another picture of River Bend on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  The bend in the river is in the distance.  The water closest to me isn’t moving with the river, but is river fed…at least that is the way it looks to me.

River Bend, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

River Bend, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

The Dog River Reservoir, located a couple of miles from my house, has a few picnic tables and you can rent electric boats for fishing, but that is about all.  None the less, it is a very pretty place.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover Mountain Laurel all over the place.

Dog River Reservoir, Douglas County, Georgia

Dog River Reservoir, Douglas County, Georgia

I live in rural Georgia, but I am about 40 miles from downtown Atlanta.  I am at the end of my driveway looking down my road.  For those not familiar with the Southeast United States, it is really like a forest.  Walking or driving on a road, the forest surrounds us by green walls with a strip of gray-blue sky above.  Folks who moved into the area feel claustrophobic.  I know when I lived in Arizona, I always felt exposed and I never could judge distances.

Skip's road, Winston, Georgia

Skip’s road, Winston, Georgia

When I go for walks, I like to take my camera.  This particular shot was just a bunch of weeds on the side of the road.  I marveled at the range of colors and the variety of leaf forms.  I reduced the size of the pictures I have posted so far.  I didn’t reduce this one.  So, if you download it, and open it with a photo viewer of some type, you can zoom in and look at the details.  I enjoy that exercise because I will see things I missed when I was taking the photograph.  Nature truly is amazing.

Weeds discovered on my walk, Winston, Georgia

Weeds discovered on my walk, Winston, Georgia

OK, one last photo.  I am standing on my road looking at the front right corner of my yard.  Were you expecting a manicured grassy lawn?  Really?  Well, there is a small controlled area, but this area is bog like.  The big leafed specimen that you see is a Magnolia macrophylla or big leaf magnolia. These are not rare, but somewhat rare in my area.  This one sprouted on its own.  When we first bought the property there was another one near, but it died.  I am hoping this one lives long enough to bloom, which could happen next year.  Interesting facts:  It is a primitive tree with leaves that are 12 to 36 inches long.  It’s flowers are 8 to 12 inches across pollinated by beetles, which is another nod to its being primitive.  They are not very large…reaching a height of around 50 feet.  If you get a chance, google images of big leaf magnolias.

Big Leaf Magnolia, Skip's yard

Big Leaf Magnolia, Skip’s yard

OK, enough show and tell for today.



Severing Ties with Hightail

Hello Everyone,

I have used Hightail for some time to store and link brushes and other stuff for the blog.  I can’t remember how long I have been with them…about 5 years I imagine.  But, over the last year or so…after it changed hands and became Hightail…the service and support has dropped considerably.  It is really quite sad.

In the last week, I have gotten more comments about the links not working.  And, I have decided enough is enough.  I have spent the day changing the links away from Hightail.  I didn’t want to do this.  I would have preferred to stay with Hightail, but after working with their customer support for months and still not getting the problems fixed, I decided to leave.

Sadly, I have lost data, too.  For some reason, many of the links are empty.  You can see the file name and size, but the download is empty.  So in some cases, my files were lost.

I am sure there are Hightail customers who are completely happy, but I am not one of them.  I cannot recommend the company even marginally.

But enough complaining.  I fixed links back to Sep 2012, I will continue with the rest as time permits.  I did notice a few problems that I will have to research.  Certain files download the contents instead of the file.  So, if you get an odd download, just let me know and I’ll let you know what to do at that time.  I am talking about 3 or 4 files out of the 100 or so on the blog.

I hope this will solve the problems experienced with Hightail.  If you do have a problem, please let me know.



Thought I would throw in a photograph I took when I was in Mississippi a few months back.  This is on the Natchez Trace Parkway about 30 minutes or so north of Jackson.  I’ve been told you can see alligators here, but unfortunately…or fortunately…depending on your point of view, I haven’t seen any.

River Bend, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

River Bend, Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

Corel Painter Master 2016 Application Process Is Now Open

Hello Friends,

Have you ever wondered about how Corel chooses a Painter Master?  You are not alone.  Previously, the selection process was somewhat clouded in mystery…meaning I wasn’t sure what the process was myself.  But now the process is open; anyone can become a Corel Painter Master 2016 by applying.  Click here for the Application for Corel Painter Master 2016.

If interested, do apply.  I can tell you my experience being a Corel Master Painter Elite has been rewarding and so much fun.  And, there are a bunch of benefits.  Take a look at the link I provided and check out the entitlements.  Of course, there are obligations, too, but they are enjoyable and benefit your marketing efforts.  Make your application today.



Wacom Releases a new Driver for Macs

Hello Friends,

Wacom released a new driver for Macs on 9 Nov 2015.  I am unsure what is new, but I imagine more stuff for El Capitan.  I am hoping to see a release for PCs soon, too.  There was a windows update last night and this morning I had trouble booting my machine.  After contacting Microsoft, which wasn’t helpful…sigh, I contacted Alienware support and they were able to get me up and running.  However, I could only boot up if my Cintiq HD 24″ Touch was not connected.    All is fine if I have the Cintiq turned off during boot up and turn it on after all is up and running.  This isn’t a major problem, but it is a bit annoying.  So I do hope there is a new driver for PCs coming soon.

I should tell you the last driver released on 8 Oct 2015 fixed the issues with names for the On-screen controls (Radial Menu). I blogged about the problem a few posts back.  I was so excited about the fix because it makes using the function so easy; before it was difficult to find commands.

OK…Mac users, you can download the latest driver if you want.

Don’t forget Holiday Open Studio begins Saturday, 14 Nov 2015.  Hope to see everyone there.

holiday os




Holiday Open Studio Starts 14 Nov 2015 at Digital Art Academy

Are you ready for Holiday Open Studio Registration; I am.  OMGosh, by the looks of it, I’m really, really ready.  It all starts Saturday, 14 Nov 2015.

Santa Skip by Corel Painter Master Elite, Karen Bonaker, Corel Painter 2016

Santa Skip by Corel Painter Master Elite, Karen Bonaker, Corel Painter 2016


Have you registered yet?  There is still time to register before Holiday Open Studio Registration starts this coming Saturday, 14 Nov 2015.

holiday osThe instructors for this year are Corel Painter Master Elite, Karen Bonaker plus professional painter and educators, Elaina Moore-Kelly and Winifred Whitfield.  Oh…me too…I will do a bit of a song and dance the last week of the four-week class.

Karen Bonaker starts the class with Winter Trees in Snow.  Karen demonstrates watercolor, liquid ink, and how to use selections and the image portfolio to create lovely landscapes.  I am looking forward to her week; I love her artistic innovations.  Karen is always an inspiration.

Where is my peace, Watercolor, Corel Painter 2016, Corel Master Painter Elite, Karen Bonaker

Where is my Peace, Watercolor, Corel Painter 2016, Corel Master Painter Elite, Karen Bonaker

DAA closes for Thanksgiving Week, 21 – 27 Nov 2015

In the second week of class beginning 28 Nov., Elaina Moore-Kelly continues with watercolor, which is something new for her.  Since watercolor is my favorite medium, I can’t wait to learn her approach.  Elaina explains using fonts in Painter and adds creative selections to the mix.

Happy Thanksgiving, Corel Painter 2016, Elaina Moore-Kelly

Happy Thanksgiving, Corel Painter 2016, Elaina Moore-Kelly

Winifred Whitfield takes the reins in week 3 creating images inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, the American Pop Artist from the 1960s.  His work defined pop art through parody and he used comic strips as his inspirations.  He used heavy black lines, dots, checks and all sorts of patterns.  Winifred capitalizes on all aspects of Lichtenstein’s work and provides patterns and papers for your explorations.

Corel Painter 2016, Winifred Whitfield

Corel Painter 2016, Winifred Whitfield

And that brings us to week 4, my week.  I planned to demonstrate painting a poinsettia in watercolor, but that may change.  I am waffling.  I spent the last couple of months making pastel variants for Painter.  The new features in Painter 2016 add so much to the look and feel of pastel variants…so…I may switch my week to pastels…or not.  Hey…who knows, I may just do both.  Here is an example of a photograph I took while walking around my neighborhood.  I live in rural Georgia.  And following is the pastel image I did using the photograph as a reference.  It was loads of fun, but I better get with it and decide what I am doing.

Poole Road, Nikon D810, Skip Allen

Poole Road, Nikon D810, Skip Allen

And the image in pastels.

Poole Road Stream, Corel Painter 2016, Custom Pastel Variants, Skip Allen

Poole Road Stream, Corel Painter 2016, Custom Pastel Variants, Skip Allen

OK, if you have read this far, here is a bit of sad news.  Holiday Open Studio has been an annual event at the Digital Art Academy (DAA) for eight years.  But, Karen Bonaker has announced that this will be the last one.  Yes, that is right, this will be the last one.  If you have never participated in a Holiday Open Studio, then don’t miss this last one.  They are so special.  And, if you have been a regular, then do join us for a farewell to Holiday Open Studio.

OK, that’s it from Santa Skip. I hope to see all of you in the class starting Saturday, 14 Nov 2015.