The artistic adventures of Dave Astels


This site used to be mainly about tech. It's not anymore. Now it's about my adventures ion Art. That's primarily art I create. You'll find articles on materials and techniques. You'll fin a portfolio of my featured work. I'll post most of all the work I do (even if it's not portfolio worthy). For higher resolution versions (with an option of physical prints) check out my Patreon page.

And here's something about me for those who don't know me.


I've always been a gamer to some extent. My earliest significant gaming memories are of high school era with an Atari VCS as and later my Apple 2+ and games like RasterBlster, LodeRunner, BurgerTime, and the like. I went through a serious DOOM and Quake I/II phase. Diablo II, and now Diablo III. WoW. iOS games, Nintendo 3DS.

I've worked for a company in the gaming industry (though not making games, making stuff for gamers) and am playing more (time and games).

I also casually GM the Pathfinder TableTop RPG (1st Edition) from Paizo.


I've been programming and hacking hardware in some fashion for about 40 years, on many systems in too many languages to remember. I'm the guy originally behind the idea that turned into sSpec (for Smalltalk) and then rSpec. I've written books on extreme programming, and test driven development. I've written articles, and spoken at conferences. Mostly I like hacking on code and hardware and using software to solve problems. Preferably hard problems.

I've rekindled my early love of working with hardware, especially embedded systems. This is the stuff I started my career with. These days it means things like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and specifically the boards from Adafruit. I've been freelancing for Adafruit since late 2017, and wrote a series on basic electronics for HackSpace magazine..


I've been interested in food and cooking since I was a teen. I started out by teaching myself to cook Chinese food using cooking shows and cookbooks (Wok with Yan out of Vancouver... Steven Yan, not Martin Yan).

My culinary interest/involvement ebbed and flowed over the years. What really kicked it into gear was working at Google, surrounded by incredible chefs and passionate foodies. That and having to fill out a kitchen more or less from scratch. More than anyone, kudos have to go to chefs Brian Mattingly, Jean Claude Balek, Justin Lucke and their crews.

I've always tended to stovetop cooking in various forms. I like tasting & fiddling as I go. Baking is chemistry: mix it up, apply heat, and hope for the best. Since becoming a rabid fan of The Great British Bake-off which is also shown on PBS as The Great British Baking Show. To guide me, I am working my way through Cookie Love by Mindy Segal of Chicago's Hot Chocolate. Yes I'm diabetic so I try not to eat many cookies, but it's not too difficult to find people that will help eat them.

Baking bread is my latest kitchen pursuit. I've been working on formulas from Peter Reinhart's books. I have a part whole wheat sandwich loaf and a pugliese that consistently turn out well.

Fountain Pens, Writing, and Calligraphy

I've used fountain pens off and on since my teens. I have vivid memories of using one to take notes in junior high: a red Sheaffer with Scripto Peacock Blue ink. I've also dabbled with calligraphy for even longer. As I said, it was off and on. For most of my career I had little need to use pen and paper, and my handwriting was attrocious.

In fall 2018 I was looking at approaches for improving my time mamangement and stumbled upon Bullet Journalling. It seemed worth a try. So I got an appropriate notebook and decided to give a fountain pen a try. This time I decided to get a decent one and not use cartridges, opting for bottled ink. I was hooked and currently have a small, but nice, collection of pens and inks. I have an Italian pen made from basaltic lava from Mt. Etna. I have a celluloid pen made in 1946. I have Bauhaus inspired German pens, and some lovely Japanese pens.

Early in 2019 I decided that, since I was using pen and paper, I should work to improve my handwriting. I picked up "The Art of Cursive Penmanship" by Master Penman Michael Sull and started practicing daily. Several months of that and my handwriting was good enough (IMO) to take out in public. I signed up with the Fountain Pen Friends Facebook group and started corresponding with several lovely people.

I've also picked up calligraphy again and making good progress on the pointed insular minuscule hand (aka the Anglo Saxon hand).


Coincident with, but unrelated to, the Covid pandemic I've gotten back into art. As a teen I dabbled with oil and acrylic painting along with the calligraphy. As my interest in technology and fulltime employment waned I decided to rekindle that interest and dive in head first. I'm still fascenated by technology and will never back away completely, but it won't be all consuming as it has been for a few decades.

I've taken up fantasy cartography, watercolour painting, and more recently poster colour (much like gouache). I currently have a long term projects creating maps for World of Warcraft, Copic marker colouring (typical of manga/anime scenes), watercolour painting of Japanese building and storefronts (inspired by and based on the work of several amazing photographers on Instagram), and learning to use poster colour (I prefer that from Nicker) to paint anime style landscapes/backgrounds (specifically in the Studio Ghibli style).