Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blue Skies

If any of you have wondered why I have been away from this blog since the 3rd of January - making this only my second post of the year - there is a reason.

It's because I have only just thawed.

South Florida temperatures have finally eased their way up into the 70's and 80's. I can move again.

I know that it has probably been much, much colder where you are and may even still be. I know that if you have a blog, you have probably not missed one single post. You may even have ventured outside in 15 below weather to do fun stuff like paint in watercolors and see it freeze, or to dance or something.

This, of course, is impressive, but there are perfectly reasonable explanations for your ability to handle the frigid temperatures, and South Floridians' inability to handle merely cold weather.

Firstly, I have it on good authority, that South Florida's cold is different from your cold. I am quite sure that none of the hundreds of visitors to the University of Miami Beaux Art Festival this year were South Floridians, except my wife and I. We felt adventurous that day. But even visiting artists were chilled to the bone. Case in point: I met an artist couple from Vermont, Christopher Castelli and Christine Brenner. In my opinion their work was the best in the show. Their website is here. They do en plein air paintings.

Anyway, Christine Brenner said she could not wait to get inside because of the cold! Not one to mince words, although we had only just met, I taunted her, saying: "What?! You're from Vermont!" She said that she had been in 7 degree weather in Vermont that was more tolerable than our 20-plus degree weather. She blamed our humidity.

See? You can handle your cold, sure.

The other reason is that the people and all of the other creatures of South Florida are simply not made for temperatures that drop as low as the 20's. One person I know here in Miami said, before her hibernation, "I can't stand these extreme temperatures!"

During the record breaking cold-snap, the beautiful iguanas that hang out in trees here, froze in position and fell to the ground. Large turtles had to be rescued and laid out on blankets, their legs splayed in exhaustion. In Central Florida Manatees swam into shallow canals, 30 or 40 at a time to cuddle against one another. Here in Miami, they swam to the power plants' warmer water I am sure. In short, these temperatures turned South Florida residents into refugees. Our habitat was gone.

We are back now.

I have been getting somewhat acquainted with my new Winsor & Newton watercolors, and been trying to color neglected drawings in my Moleskine. I feel I need to get them out of the way before I can move on, you know? The above drawing was done in September, and colored a few days ago. This gentleman was in Einstein Bagels. I decided to put him on a train traveling cross-country through Arizona. I have no idea what the interior of such a train looks like, but he looks comfortable enough.

For Shadow Shot Sunday, I contribute an old warehouse and the setting sun:

A final note: I am so sorry for the terrible tragedy that has struck the people of Haiti, and extend my deep sympathy. One of the true reasons for part of the delay in posting on this blog was because I wanted to paint a special tribute to the Haitian people before continuing my usual frivolity. But I could not think of what to paint. I scrolled the web for ideas, exploring Haitian culture and landmarks and history. Nothing. If a picture paints a thousand words, for this event, there are no words. My sincere wishes and hope for the recovery and success of the Haitian people. If inspiration strikes, I will offer the small gift of a picture, for what it is worth.


  1. Great post! I am sorry you were experiencing such cold and glad to hear it has warmed up a bit for you. I won't bother to mention the cold weather we had recently. I like your colored version of this drawing. I have been on a train going through Arizona while traveling cross country and wish I could go again. Bagel shop or train he looks like he is enjoying a relaxing moment.

  2. Greetings Dan,

    There is nothing wrong with taking some time off from blogging even if it is due to the weather.

    Here in Northern California we have had our cold moments but no where near what is being experience elsewhere in the US. Therefore I am very pleased to learn how the wild life in your area is doing because I had otherwise no idea.

    Thank you for sharing,

  3. Glad to see you back. You should come to England if you want to see proper cold! We have only just thawed out and are now back up to a balmy 40 degrees which feels almost opulent it's so lovely and warm. I think we had the biggest freeze we've had for years and years.

  4. Hi Dan,
    So happy to read your interesting stories and see your sketches again ! I like this man on the train, he does look warm and comfortable.

  5. Happy to see you whenever you find time to post. Thoroughly enjoyed seeing the plein-air works and appreciate your thoughtfulness including the link. You caught character in your guy - engrossed but detached, and I really like your sky so subtly but obviously seen through a window. Got increasingly interested in form vs cast shadows during my workshop...Shadow Shot Sunday sounds like a terrific way to study them more. Thanks!

  6. Good to have you back, you and your entire habitat :)

    I know what you mean by the different types of cold, but right now I think I'd still prefer your cold to my cold (we have around 10 centigrades below right now, don't know what that is in F, and that is still a lot warmer than it's been). Brr.

    I like the reading man, he does indeed look very comfortable.

  7. Glad to see you back, Dan! I've missed your optimistic outlook and sketches. Your shadow shot has such a warm, buttery, nice. And being from Louisiana, I do know the damp, cold is worse than the dry cold. It sinks into your bones!

    And as for Haiti, I'm there with you, too. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it? Thoughts and prayers go out.

  8. It's good to have you back, Dan. I hope the iguanas and turtles have recovered from their ordeal as well as you have! nancy

  9. Welcome back, Dan and another great post.
    Your words and images are truly a joy to view and read.

  10. Love your sketch, Dan!

    I lived in Boise, ID for eight years and it is, of course, very dry. I tried to get my parents to move up but they took one look at our temps and said "no way!". I tried to convince them that it was a "different" cold and they wouldn't believe me. But it is different, very different! At 50 d there, I would be wearing shorts and a long sleeve shirt, walking on the greenbelt. Here at 50 d, I am bundled up. It is the humidity. No question for me!

    Great to have you back, and I thoroughly enjoyed your story on your last comment to my blog!

  11. Our first visit to Florida ended 1/6/2010. A bat flew on the screen of our patio and froze. I'm really glad that you are now warmer. Sacramento is going to experience rain this week, but no record setting cold. Your view of getting life in perspective is always welcome.

  12. I heartily agree with Raena about the humidity. However, in Michigan, we have a lot of humidity from the Great Lakes and still, 50 degrees in Michigan is a shorts day, whereas my sister in Florida swears that 50 degrees in Florida is cause for jeans/sweatshirt. She says that after being in Florida for over 10 years, her blood has "thinned" and she can no longer take the Michigan winters, or even the mild Florida ones.

    So, I can fully appreciate how Florida natives are ill-prepared to deal with the cold, be it ordinary residents, farmers, or even lizards. Glad you've thawed out enough to start drawing again.

  13. I never been here before I guess but to tell you honestly, I LOVE YOUR BLOG! Man! you sketch? That's awesome.

    Living in Sweden isn't easy to find a perfect shadow shots due weather problem.

    Anyways, your contribution this week, is well done. Dramatic, artistic (it's in your blood) and so I can't ask for more. Marvelous...


  14. I'm with you one the cold, Dan. I am just not meant for it. It completely immobilizes me. Give me 85 to 95 degrees and I'm happy! Although that humidity in FLA...well. I was there one time about 15 years ago and got dressed to go out. I did my hair up all nice, hit the door and looked like a shipwreck survivor. I think I belong in the desert.
    Anyway, welcome back and I think that your drawing looks just like a train! I like him. He looks relaxed and rested. Travel agrees with him, whether he knows it or not. It's good to see you're enjoying your watercolors too! Excellent! And you're right about Haiti, of course. What a horrible tragedy.

  15. Wow, Dan, your SSS photo is amazing! The color and feel are breath-taking. Thank you for the inspiration and for stopping by my blog. Happy SSS! Christine :D

  16. Hi Dan,
    Great Shadow Shot and your sketch is amazing! I am a native Floridian, born in Miami, raised in Ft. Lauderdale and now living on the west coast near Sarasota. Are you sure it's warmed up? I'm still afraid to go back out there, LOL! That was the worst cold snap I ever remember in Florida. I know we've all recovered, but I don't know if our poor yards ever will! And yes, Florida cold is much, much colder than other state's cold. Nobody believes it until they experience it!
    Nice to "meet" you :-)

  17. I am so glad I am back Dan, and I've missed all the beautiful drawings you guys have been doing, especially yours too. And no I won't stop drawing and I won't let marriage life get in the way. ^^
    I was looking at your "Our Tilted World" and I really really like that! You know how much I love looking at people's expressions in drawing, and that one has a whole lot of those!
    Apart from human expressions, I also love cars... and of course I am going to notice that white Range Rover Sport, is that your car?! :) If you do own that, then I know for sure that you have good taste is driving too!

  18. Very nice colours on your sketch, warm and sunny, like in your beautiful photo of shadow. You've been missing the sun, it shows.
    No comment, though, on cold, colder, coldest...always so relative

  19. Welcome back. I'm so glad you have thawed. I don't at all cope well with cold weather either. Winter temps are quite mild here in tropical Queensland, but due to the extreme heat experienced throughout the rest of the year, the slightest bit of cold is a shock to the system. Well, a shock to my wimpy system at least.

    Your shadow shot is exquisite!!!

  20. Love the character of your gentleman. Good picture. It's amazing how cold the humidity makes things. I have experienced this and understand what you have been talking about. I have been colder on a 40 degree day with humidity than a 20 degree day without it.

  21. Thank you all so much for your supportive comments! I hope you all know that I meant this "tongue in cheek" - didn't mean to insult the rest of the country. In truth, I wouldn't know what cold elsewhere felt like. I have never even been in snow! (Yes, it's true.) I was surprised to hear about how humidity affects cold (and I am still suspicious about it) and I'm not eager to encounter the conditions many of you endure. Anyway, Alex - sorry to disappoint you - it's not my car! Maybe I'll have good taste in my next choice of vehicle!

  22. I've been in Fl over 25 years and I start shivering at 70 degrees. I like your traveler. He could be in Grand Central waiting the Long Island train home. He's definitely not on Tri Rail.