Saturday, May 29, 2010

P's and Q's and Z's and SSS's

Another fun afternoon at the mall. Hey, now, I am telling the truth! I sent my wife away to the stores (poor thing), and I sat in a bench much like the ones you see here, and sketched away! When she came to collect me, I was still sketching, happy as a shopper! Happier even.

Today we went to Parrot Jungle Island, and I sketched the closest thing to a journal page that I have ever done. These sketches are from the shows we went to. So, one at a time, they would bring out the animals, and I would sketch. The animals would move; the trainers would move around. No big deal. It was just like the mall.

So I began thinking the other day for no apparent reason about the letter "q". This is true. Now, if you are wondering why anyone would think about the letter "q", ask yourself first why you would visit the blog of a person that would think about the letter "q".

See? There is plenty of blame to go around.

The thoughts came like this: I tried to remember what letter came before "q" - and I couldn't. I couldn't work backwards from "q". So I worked my way forward. It was "p".

My next thought was that "p" was such a lowbrow letter, makes you think of things like, well, bodily functions, and "q" was so highbrow, with its curly cue and all, that they don't really belong together. Or that maybe the alphabet is the most egalitarian of all groupings.

Anyway, I read the other day that people are controlled all their lives by their experiences as children - from their self-perception, to their choice of spouse and career, etc. This is probably true for me. But, even worse, I realized that I could not remember what letter came before "q" because "p" belonged to "l-m-n-o-p" and "q" belonged to "q-r-s", you the song. The alphabet song.

And maybe the alphabet is not so dispassionate after all, because "p" and "q" appear to belong to different clubs. Same song, different clubs. Just like the rest of us.

Are you still with me?

Because the real reason I am talking about letters is because of a post you may have read here on this blog, when I rambled on about the respect given to Zbigniew Brzezinski, and how throwing some z's in my name might make all the difference. Then, in my last post, came DZAN's cartoon dedicated to PAMO. Now, suddenly, to read PAMO's newest post, DZAN - my creation, who has a "Z" in his name, which I do not - is suddenly responsible for "pure art genius", and is famous, and has a cartoon dedicated to him by PAMO. So visit PAMO's blog to see.

Meanwhile, "Z"-less, I will plod along like the snail with this remarkable trail that I saw this week while I was jogging. This is my Shadow Shot of the week (for Shadow Shot Sunday). And, yes, I am aware that I created this shadow shot with my own shadow. Some may consider that cheating. Others might simply call it "pure art genius".

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fish Meets Girls, DZAN meets PAMO, & SSS...

I sketched these ladies at yet another restaurant, and showed them to Tough Critic No. 1, and Tough Critic No. 2.

Tough Critic number 1 said that I can't possibly post this picture, because the lady on the left looks just terrible. Most bothersome, she said, is the little curve I made on the poor woman's upper lip which she referred to as a Salvador Dali mustache.

She suggested a solution that I used some posts back, here at this post, i.e., the bag over the head. She also said that I had other alternatives as well: (1) I could turn her into a tree - some restaurants do have trees, you know, or (2) I could cut her out of the picture.

Tough Critic number 2, said that the picture looked fine, except for the lady on the left because she doesn't look right and has evil glasses. Most significantly, she looks like a parrotfish. For your convenience, I include the picture of a parrotfish, so that you can compare and decide for yourself.

I like and appreciate my Tough Critics, I learn from my Tough Critics, and sometimes I avoid embarrassing mistakes because of my Tough Critics. But I am posting this picture nonetheless. First, I am kind of proud of this sketch. The woman on the left kept moving her head, and that's the trouble in the field. Her Dali mustache was going to be a nostril! And it's waterproof ink, so what can I do? But I like the drawing overall, and am pleased with the composition. And maybe I'm losing it, but I don't think she's all that bad - prune-like sure, homely, shriveled, crabby yes - but I've seen folks like her. Maybe she's someone I wouldn't want to spend time with, but she's welcome in my sketch.

I also had fun with colors. I used different paints to achieve skin tones with each face. Now I'm forgetting (I should write these things down!), but I think it's something like this. From the right, on the first I used rose madder genuine and new gamboge, for the middle gal I used raw sienna and burnt sienna, and for the hag I used yellow ochre and permanent magenta. To all of them I added the smallest touch of french ultramarine or cobalt blue. It is amazing how like our arteries and veins a touch of blue makes the skin seem real. And finally, I used the cadmium red throughout very lightly as highlights to unify the picture.

Many of you who read this blog know PAMO (otherwise known as Pam Huggins). She does wonderful cartoons and videos, often pairing the videos with the cartoons. She is very creative, but, well..if she were in the 19th century she'd take a knife to all her canvases, so she could move on. In the 21st, she blew up her blog, to my horror, and ever since she's been floating like a ghost from blog to blog, blogless, and I, like many others have felt the absence.

So I am thrilled to learn that PAMO IS BACK! She has a beautiful web page where she has put all of her work including my favorites Champ the Chair, and Yard Shoes, with the famous Walking Video. The website is here.

I've been thinking of doing what follows for a long time, because DZAN, you know, has an extra letter, just like PAMO, and this is the perfect occasion. (And Pamo gave me permission once to do a cartoon - remember Pamo?). Dzan attempts to imitate Pamo's style. So Pamo, remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you don't like this, blame Dzan, not me. If you like it, you can have it if you want - I'd be pleased to send it to you. And this was loads - and I mean loads - of fun to do. I see why you do them!


Finally, it has been so long since I provided a shadow shot for Shadow Shot Sunday. April and May have been crazy. I am hoping to have more time for creativity in the summer months. So here is my contribution for this Sunday:

And that's all for now..

[The photograph of the male Bicolor Parrotfish above (do you believe he's male with that lipstick?!!) is a portion of the photograph by Richard Ling taken at North Horn, Osprey Reef, Australia on August 8, 2005].

Monday, May 10, 2010

In Honor of Law Week

I saw a sign the other day that said it is "Law Week". I don't know if it is Law Week everywhere, but apparently it is down here in Miami.

On second thought, I think I saw the sign last week. And it looked like the sign had been up for some time, so maybe Law Week was weeks ago here.

But it is Law Week somewhere, I am sure.

So in honor of Law Week, here is a sketch of a court reporter that I drew a week or so ago during a long wait (maybe, unknowingly, during Law Week!) This particular court reporter is a nice guy, and he wears bright clothes that reflect his upbeat attitude towards life.

I colored it today. The funny thing about my use of watercolors lately: I am not satisfied with thin washes. I have to layer and layer before I am content, so quick sketches of watercolor are out of the question. To me watercolors are all about layering - whether wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry, true depth only seems to come with an investment of time. So my watercolor sketches, are, in fact not sketches at all! Go figure. There ought to be a law..

Monday, May 3, 2010

Decrepit, Despondent, and Drained, but Hopeful

There was an empty chair at the Coconut Grove Art Festival back in February, so all I had to do was sit and sketch the scene. This week I colored the drawing in spare time increments (which, unfortunately, is how I always seem to do things these days). That last session I was tired when I started, and not at all pleased when I finished. I half-heartedly scanned it and couldn't think of one good thing to say about it. I could barely write a word. I was exhausted.

On her blog, Katharine Cartwright (my art philosophy guru) has just started discussing a book that I highly recommend, Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of Artmaking, by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I love this book, and truly believe that reading it was one of the reasons that I picked up a brush again after decades. It's also a book that I read from time to time whenever I need a boost.

One thing that Kathy mentions from the book, is that artists are very concerned with process. The viewer of the art is not at all - the viewer of the art only cares about the end result. In this way there is a disconnect between artist and viewer.

And, oh, about this picture I could think of so many things I did that I shouldn't have done, and, oh, what I could have done if I'd only done like I should've, and man, why didn't I have a better grasp of watercolors after all this time, and shoot, why didn't I keep my eye on the ball - where the light was coming from, and blasted, why didn't that color lift and why hadn't I tested the staining qualities of my pigments like I'd been meaning to do, and so on. Process.

And then I showed the picture to my wife, who is always an honest arbiter of my work, a fierce critic both for and against. I don't always agree, but she's handy to have around. (I think I'll keep her.) And she liked it. She didn't have a bad thing to say about it which I chalked up to her lack of hard knowledge of the craft. So decrepit, despondent, and drained, I went to sleep.

The next afternoon, the sun was shining, and I ventured another look inside my Moleskine. And, you know? I kind of liked it. Not as good as it could be, maybe, but better than I'd thought. Maybe I was the viewer now.

And what is the hope anyway? That in a year I'd open the book again and smile at my efforts and think of how far I've come, and of the journey yet ahead.

The idea, I think, is to open the book and draw and paint, and then close it..and move on.

Celeste Bergin, a marvelous painter, once commented on one of my posts that painters know that there's PAIN in the word PAINTING. But she said, "Painters have to be willing to fail over and over." That, I suppose, is because they do.

Say..I'm a painter!!