Saturday, December 10, 2011

Return of the Floating Heads

Yeah, yeah.  You may have your glistening, crystalline, fairy tale snow.  You may have your mountains, and your quaint villages, and your farmhouses and fields. You may have your hills, and your wild animals and your enormous trees and your citiscapes.

Yeah, you may have all of these and more.

But I have something that you don't have.

I have the motley Miami bunch, and they are an inexhaustible resource.

These four characters came from one wait at the tire place, and are on a single page of my moleskine.  Proceeding clockwise from the top - the old man who really should have been drawn with a hand to his face because it kept migrating to his chin, keeping it covered half the time; the cheerful and friendly manager who clapped every customer on the back and passed out Cuban coffee - his skin was a shade dark with a greenish tinge (I swear); the gumby-shaped man with the elongated neck who looked something like Jeff Goldblum after he became "The Fly", and the ruddy-faced skipper, marooned no more.

And that's just one sitting.

Shortly after I started this blog, I began drawing what I call my "floating heads", the faces of folks that I have seen out and about.  I was a bit amazed that I could draw people in public with impunity - they were either too involved in their lives to notice, or too embarrassed to say anything about it.  Even now, it is my "default", what I do when I just want to relax.

Only once was I called out.  A lady, loudly so I could hear, said to her daughter, "look, dear, that man is drawing me."  If the sketch had been any good I might have walked right up to her, and shown her what I had done.  As it was I probably blushed and turned the page to conceal the evidence.  It was a particularly spectacular failure of a drawing.  Of course, now it'd be different since every drawing I do is perfect. (Ri-ight.)

This little incident kept me from sketching in public for a few weeks, but then I was back at it.  You can't keep an addict from his fix.

I've heard tale that some artists notify people before sketching them, and ask for permission.  I am not so bold.  Or so polite.  Or something.  I'm from Miami. That should explain it.

I've learned some tricks.  I look for evidence to see how long they've been there, and how long they'll stay.  I look for busy people, or people involved in conversations.  I most like to draw folks that are not directly in front of me, but at an angle - there is less chance they'll notice, and the drawing is more interesting than a side or frontal view anyway.

The young girl above was a bit of an experiment for me.  She is a much larger Floating Head than virtually all I have done in my Moleskines.  I enjoyed the chance for detail in the hair, and the watercolor seemed to swish more than usual in her blouse.  Swiiish!  Or that might be an illusion.   (Of course here I had a man looking on while I painted, giving me a sly knowing glance - looking at my drawing and then looking at her.  I love an audience, a co-conspirator).

This woman was particularly fun to draw. The big shame is that she was talking to a gnarly looking guy and the two together would have been just great. I ate first - that's what wasted my time - they were deep in conversation the whole time. Sometimes my hands resist getting started. Always make the first mark, then you have to go further.  That's a great rule I often ignore.

Do you know I never - and I mean never - have seen anyone else in Miami sketching people in public? I went to Art Basel last week, and saw a man staring towards a group of people and drawing in a small moleskine. I was ecstatic! I casually strolled behind him. He was sketching a potted plant. And I suspect he was from out of town.

Art Basel is an annual experience that I never miss if I can help it. I've seen so many wonderful original pieces of art that I would never see elsewhere, along with horrible outrageous but fun and thought-provoking things (they can only be called "things"). One item I saw there was a wire sculpture of a face, and I thought to myself I can do that!, and so I came home and grabbed some sculpture wire, and voila! He sits now on my piano. You know, the piano that no one plays.

I will sell the sculpture for $100,000, which is a low price, by Art Basel standards.  I will throw in a nice stand.  No extra charge.

Let me know if you are interested.



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Founder's Day

Ink and watercolor in large moleskine

Founders Day in Satellite Beach, a small town in central Florida.
The Rockies play I-Don't-Know-Who.
My nephew Jake has two runs!
Go Rockies!

I have a wonderful view.  Aside from watching Jake, I can plainly see the spectators for the other team.  They do not look well.  They look rather bored. There is no jumping around.  Hardly any movement at all.

Good for me.

Did I mention that in addition to my nephew Jake playing for the Rockies, my brother Neil coaches them?


Go Rockies!

It's fortunate that this was the off season.  This means, of course, that no one was following the score.  Luckily then, none of the spectators knew that it was 14 for the Rockies and 2 for I-Don't-Know-Who when they called the game.  This means that the spectators that I drew above had no idea that the game was halted prematurely at only 4 innings so it wouldn't be a total slaughter/bloodbath/massacre.  This means that when the poor spectators above took their young players on I-Don't-Know-Who home, they didn't have to call the kids' therapists.  This saved them thousands of dollars.

Did I say, Go Rockies?!  Yeah, I think so.  Yeah!

It was a delightful day in Satellite Beach on the day I drew this picture.  It was small town America in the place where I grew up.  There was the Founder's Day parade with the mayor, the high school band, floats, the Army, the Navy, cheerleaders, and such, and most notably, the baton troupe with my niece Ashley tossing her baton into the air with style!  Whoosh!

Happy Birthday Ashley and Jake, 11 years old!

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine

Just the day before Founder's Day, there was great food and greater fun at the special education homecoming dance - Pirates of the Caribbean Theme - for my son Matthew's high school.  Glorious happy spontaneous dancing - partners completely optional!  And in celebration of this freedom, I whipped out my small moleskine and tried to capture the mood as best I could in a quick sketch.  Not my best sketch ever, but I wanted to color and post it just the same.  So there!

So go Rockies!  Go Cobras!  And Boo Hoo to I-Don't-Know-Who, but you know who you are, I am sure that you do. Don't you?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tricks and Treats

10" x 8" watercolor on 140 lb. Fabriano Artistico extra white hot press paper
TREAT:  What a treat!  I found a spot with beautiful trees, a pathway, picnic benches, and an attractive building.  I thought it would be another great opportunity to paint loosely, to capture an impression of the feel of the place without excessive detail; in sum, to try to capture the scene in the way that Frank Eber recommends.  I attack my pictures.  I do not hesitate to scrape, rub, blot, drip, etc.  I decided to eliminate the building for simplicity and eventually, by rubbing, created a fog effect that I liked. 

At this stage, it looked like the picture below.  All in all I was quite pleased.  (The board the piece is taped on, by the way, is very special.  When I bought my house years ago, a very few items of an artist had been left behind.  One, this board, is pocked with holes because of his use of tacks.  It is still covered with cardboard from those days, tacked by ancient tacks.  I understand that he used to carry this lightweight board to the Everglades to paint the Indians from life.  I feel that I am carrying on, when I use this board.)

TRICK:  I know this was just another practice piece, and that I had only spent a few hours painting it.  I didn't expect to put it anywhere but in the drawer.  But at the same time I have a secret desire for everything I do to be a masterpiece - don't you?

I have a thick skin when it comes to my art.  At this point in my life nobody could say anything that could keep me from making art.  But at the same time, I have an artist's desire to have what I do liked by someone, for heaven's sake.  So, proud of my effort, I showed this to a couple of people.  They both said it was well done.  They also agreed that it was boring - that it lacked something.  They both pointed to that foreground as needing something there.  But this is a watercolor!  Don't they understand you cannot erase or paint over watercolor?!

Or can you?

TREAT:  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try inserting something into the foreground.  Not for the picture. For the challenge of it!  I didn't really care about the picture too much.  If I ruined it, so what?  And that pesky truth about watercolors - that they cannot be erased?  I knew it was a lie.  That I had not been too successful at ever making it happen only made me want to try again.

How did I know it was a lie?  This is because M.E. Bailey, the master watercolorist, had told me so.  I visited his blog, here, one day in early May 2010, and found he had made a large, particularly dark, section of his watercolor disappear.   I e-mailed him to ask how this miracle had happened, and he was nice enough to e-mail me back.  I figured that my problem in the past was that I did not follow his directions carefully enough.  So I pulled out his old e-mail and followed his directions meticulously, and it worked!!  Actually I was so happy that it worked that I wanted to stop at this stage and call it done!

Paraphrased, here are M.E. Bailey's directions on how to remove darks from a watercolor:
1.  Purchase "Mr. Clean Magic Eraser" housecleaning supply - make sure it is the "ORIGINAL" (there are 4 types).
2.  Cut it into thirds.
3.  Use tape to mask off areas where you don't wish the sponge to intrude.  Very important.
3.  Wet the sponge.
4.  Wring it out until it is damp - not wet.


Now I'm inserting a warning:  Here is the part where things can go really wrong - If you wipe or scrub with this sponge, you can (and probably will) rip up your paper.

5.  Mr. Bailey wrote "wipe, blot, wipe, blot etc."  But I'm telling you, don't wipe with this sponge.  Only blot with the sponge.  Then blot with a paper towel.  (He says you can wipe, presumably with the paper towel - and I'm sure if he said it, this is true, but blotting worked on this occasion for me.)  So I wonder if the directions should say "blot with the damp sponge, blot with a dry paper towel, blot with the damp sponge, blot with a dry paper towel, etc."  Be sure to keep the sponge clean with frequent rinsing.

Mr. Baily describes what is occurring:  "The sponge is actually a very fine abrasive, and slowly removes a thin layer off the paper."  He explains that small pieces of the sponge and the paper roll off as you work.  He assures that this is nothing to worry about.  Finally:

6.  Let it dry well, then paint right over it."

TRICK:  This mostly worked.  There were some very  light stains left that didn't lift, but nothing I couldn't work with.  I had scraped with the back of my brush, though, to create lines for the park bench.  The lines remained and would not leave.  So I decided to dress my characters in dark clothing.  This didn't fully conceal the lines - but you really have to look for the lines, I think, to know they are there.

TREAT:  For the figures, I used a photograph I had taken at an art festival.  They were walking the wrong way, so I reversed the image on the computer.  Both were looking the same direction - at an exhibit, at the show - and at first I drew them that way.  But then I thought it would be better to have the guy intent to get where they were going, and the gal to be distracted.  So I returned to the original photo where his face was actually facing that direction, and it worked!    I ended up throwing Eber's philosophy out the window and spending so much more time on the figures than I had on the initial sketch of the environment.  My thought was that the two figures up close would be more detailed (but not too detailed) as would be the close-up tree, which I enhanced, and everything else would be mostly lost in the fog. 

TRICK:  The dog was another story.  I had the hand in another position first .  She was holding a purse.  I had put in a dog.  The hand wasn't in the right position to hold the dog.  I almost turned the dog into a purse.  Poor dog.  In the end, I moved the hand, and the dog stayed.

I have this nagging feeling that there is still something wrong with the picture - and I can't pinpoint what.  I know some areas that I could have done better technically - but that isn't it.  If you have any ideas, I'd be interested to hear.  Or maybe I've just beaten myself over the head with this picture for too long.

Despite my love of watercolors, I also found the medium very frustrating this time around.  It seemed that every time I would lay down color, it would dry and sort of fade into whatever was below.  I colored with my son with crayons in a coloring book a day or so later, and liked that result better.  And by the end of this, I didn't want to touch anything so "traditional" for at least a short while. 

TREAT:  (The cure).  I went to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art recently and much of their vast collection of CoBrA art was on display. (If you don't know about the CoBrA artists, you can read about them here.)  The work of the CoBrA artists is bright, childlike, and often inexplicable.  My favorite in the collection is "Personality" by Karel Appel.  You can see it here.  (This photo does not do the painting justice).

My son Matthew, who is autistic, had drawn a picture in my sketchbook.  It has been calling for me to color it for a long time.  After wrestling with the park picture, now was the time.  I had great fun with it!  I got to play with the watercolors in all different ways, challenge myself to balance the picture's colors, and free myself from convention - in the spirit of the CoBrA artists:
Pencil drawing by Matthew Kent, Watercolor by me, in the large moleskine

TRICK:  For Halloween, just for you, then, is my special gift of two ghosts walking in the park...Boo!

They are history.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Watercolor Soda Pop

[Pssst...Message from the Editor of Another Blog:   Yeah, yeah, danscanvas is going to ramble about something or other and if you understand even a bit of it you are probably as demented as he is, but what he isn't telling you is that his favorite drawing of the week is at another blog - his joint blog with Raena, 2'nFro, so shoot over there to see what he did.  The link is here.  But then please come back as though you never left or he will figure out that this message is here and I will be in trouble and I will never get to direct you to good places again.  And leave a comment for good measure, why don't you, because if you don't he'll be suspicious and besides if he doesn't get comments he shrivels up and .. well it's just too awful to describe.]

The above experiment in watercolor is from my small moleskine.  At first my intention was for the page to be soft and monochromatic, but it turned out nothing like I expected. One reason I love to paint - surprises are wonderful.  I like the perspective, the drawing and painting of just the upper part of a room, intriguing enough that I will probably do this again someday.

Here is my latest revelation:  a good watercolor is like a soda, although a soda is easy to come by and a quality watercolor is rare.  But they share the same ingredients.

Examining, then the label of a soda:

Carbonated Water - Well, we have water, of course, and bubbles - magical things bubbles aren't they?
Potassium citrate - I have no idea what that is.
Potassium benzoate - No clue.
Acesulfame potassium - We are going from bad to worse. 
Artificial color - Now that I understand!

So there is water and there is color and all these indefinable somethings that make it great. Then magic floats to the surface!


On another page of my moleskine, there are three ladies drawn in public on three separate occasions.  Now they are together forever in an unending conversation.  For me, though, the word well is a bit dry today.  So I think I'll just have a soda.
[Pssst...Message from the Editor of Another Blog:  Shhh..Go, go to 2'nFro is you haven't been there already.  Our little secret, right?]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Swerving Along the Artistic Road

8" x 10" watercolor on Arches 140 lb. natural white cold press paper

Something is going on here, and I'll bet you're looking to me to tell you what it is.  Well I can't.

I'll bet you're thinking,  If you don't know what's happening, then I certainly don't.

That, I am sure, would be a perfectly reasonable position for you to take if I had any idea what is going on myself. But I don't.

So you, my friend, are being unreasonable.

No offense.

I do have three theories though.

Theory number 1:  I am a Groupie. I can't help it.  I am as helpless as a schoolgirl at a Justin Bieber concert.  To test this theory, I popped into a Justin Bieber fan club site, to see just what a groupie is like.  Quotes from the fans included:  "justin bieber is following me on twitter now :::::::)))))))))) supper [sic] happy" and "Sooo i was eatin [sic]at a restraunt [sic] and i had fries…and they had suger [sic] on 1 side of the tabe [sic] and salt on the other, and i didnt [sic] see the i accidently [sic] put suger [sic] on my fries soooo groooosssssss!!!!"

Okay, maybe not.

But I feel like an art groupie nonetheless.  The truth is that I go from art blog to art blog, art site to art site - some are modern, and some are traditional, some are creative, and some are skilled - and often when I see something I like, something I looooooveeee :::::::)))))))))), I worship that artist, drool a little, and want to do the very same thing.  More than that - I want to do what he or she is doing all of the time.  I want to live his or her life, step into his or her shoes, and wear his or her pants.

Okay maybe not the pants.

Case in point, the other day I was surfing and went to Chris Beck's watercolor blog, "I am Painting As Fast as I can", here, and he dedicated a post to Frank Eber, another signature member of the National Watercolor Society.  From there I sailed to Frank Eber's blog, here, and BOOM, infatuation.  I read every post in his blog.  Yes.  Every post.  Swoon.  Because I liked what I saw and maybe he said something there I could learn from so I could try what he was doing.

The above picture is my humble first effort.

One of my longest art crushes has been Celeste Bergin.  Her blog is here.  In oil she has an experimental and impressionist style that I greatly Desire.., but oil is a long way from watercolors.  And here was Frank Eber, doing en plein air in a loose impressionist style with my medium.  Sigh.

The problem with this is that some of you may recall a few short posts back my infatuation was .. well, we'll get to that in Theory no. 2.

[Note:  I do not want any of you to get the wrong impression, so perhaps my analogy for theory no. 1 should have been as follows:  I am tobacco spittin' sure bowled over by that Magnum .22 he's a shootin'.  Yeah.  That's closer.]

Theory No. 2. I am as Loose as a Goose with a Masseuse.  So here I am, under Frank Eber's spell.  In my "fine art"- type watercolors I have often spent a lot of time concentrating on details, like shape, color and light.  It has often been a slow and methodical process.  Frank Eber, however, abhors detail.  He is washy - mostly wet-on-wet.  He simplifies, focusing on shapes and values, saying we should connect the shapes to provide unity in our paintings, and instructing that values exceed color in importance, which is most certainly true.  I wish I could quote him, but I must respect his copyright and have no time to request permission, so I encourage you to visit his blog.

So with all this in mind, I grabbed a larger brush than usual, and tried to be loose, simple and free!

I am one of these people that cannot be massaged.  I am tight.  I run from masseuses.  But today, I was loose.  I couldn't find my pencil (Frank Eber at least pencils in general shapes).  So I just started applying paint to paper.  I was en plein air, sort of.  I was outside, kind of, with only my car's windshield between me and the Town of South Miami.  So I was en plein air conditioner.

I was Michael Jordan.  I was Gumby.  I was the Dali Lama.  How loose was I?   I was so loose that I lost track once or twice where I was going and what I was doing - I had to remind myself that impressionistic did not mean careless, so that the skyline ended up changing a bit.  It is a different South Miami, than South Miami.  I was Caravaggio.  A loose Caravaggio.

But, going back to theory no. 1, my infatuation just two months ago was with Andrew Wyeth,  His work is  not wet, but dry, and hardly impressionistic, but greatly detailed.  So what does that mean?!

Theory no. 3. I am thoroughly lost.  It was great fun doing this painting, and I will do more in that style I am sure even though I know it is not what I will do the most and will not be where I ultimately head.  I will do more of that just as I will do more drybrush, more ink and watercolor, and more detailed watercolors that are somewhere in between.  I am fine artist.  I am illustrator.  I admire fine artists.  I admire illustrators.  I sketch.  I draw meticulously.  I am careless.  I am detailed.  I want to learn acrylics, monoprint, perhaps oil, and who knows what else.  I like still lifes, portraits, cityscape, and everyday portrayals of people.  I admire traditional art, and more recent isms, and modern design.

So where am I?  I am everywhere!  I am nowhere.

I believe - I hope - that this is the definition of a student.  I have found my passion, and my infatuation.   I travel down many roads and one day I hope to find my road. At the start of this blog, I wrote its tag line: "Swerving along the artistic road with every sight a potential target."  When I wrote that, I was thinking of subject matter.  Without understanding, I also seem to have summed up the journey of finding artistic voice and method of expression. 

And that is where I am.  Everywhere.  Nowhere.

So something is going on here, for sure.  I hope.  And someday I hope to look back and know what.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memory of Those Lost on 9/11/2001

at our table
an empty chair,
negative space

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quandary

Ink and watercolor on moleskine (comic books for sale)

Great Art Thoughts about ink and watercolor:

I ink therefore I am.

I still live, I still ink: I still have to live, for I still have to ink.

He who learns but does not ink, is lost! He who inks but does not learn is in great danger.

watercolor, drybrush, in large moleskine

But should I ink?

To ink, or not to ink, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous line,
Or to take arms against a sea of scribbles
And by opposing end them.

It occurs to me that even if you have read many of my posts, you do not really know me.  So an example from my life is in order.  Step, then, if you will into my bedroom..

My wife is stripping the bed.  When she unfurls the sheet, a tv remote tumbles onto the floor. 

She is looking around just as I enter the room.

"Where's the clicker?" she asks.

At first I am confused.  I am wondering why she is in the bedroom asking for the garage door opener.  She holds up the tv remote and then asks again: "Where's the other clicker?"

Then I realize.  She is asking about the second tv remote.  We call both the garage door openers and the tv remotes "clickers."  (In the name of progress, our cable company Comcast now requires that we use two tv remotes, and one is missing. My great-grandchild will have 10 remotes.  And god forbid one of them is misplaced.)

So we search and we search.  It has to be in the bedroom because that's where I last used it.

Suddenly my wife stands stock still.  She has had a sudden epiphany.  She strides to my end table without hesitation, opens the drawer and plucks out the clicker!

I am astounded.  I had put it there, certainly, but I don't remember doing it.  It doesn't belong there, and I never put it there.

"How did you know?" I ask.

"I know how you think," she says, and leaves the room.

I have an excuse, though, an excuse for my distraction - and here, dear reader, is the key to who I am:  I am always busy thinking GREAT ART THOUGHTS.

So there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Teapot and a Fish

5" x 7" Watercolor on 140 lb Fabriano Artistico extra white hot press paper

This watercolor painting is based upon a photograph by Edwina Jill Mordasky, affectionately known by all those who love her in the online world (including me) as Winna. Her photo is here, and it so utterly captivated me that I immediately wanted to paint it. Winna graciously gave me permission.

Her photo is an object of beauty I think. Maybe it is all of those wonderful negative shapes, the brightness, the color that attracted me - but that would be trying to put a rational analysis to my innate reaction.

Thinking about it, maybe it is just the teapot and the fish. Possible reasons:

1. I drink tea. (But I don't fish.) But I eat fish.

2. Maybe it's a memory from my childhood, and Dr. Seuss:

"You SHOULD NOT be here
When our mother is not.
You get out of this house!"
Said the fish in the pot.

Then again, this is a wooden fish - it must be, right?

3. Maybe it is nostalgia. When my wife and I were engaged she was responsibly selecting items for the bridal registry - silverware, china. I insisted on only one thing, a foot-long wooden fish. My brother bought me that fish for my wedding.  He painted its lips bright red.  I was delighted.  Needless to say the fish was never displayed in my house.  That my wife could control.  The fishlips were wiped clean and it was at my in-laws for a while. I don't know what happened after that. Maybe it just swam away..

Enough analysis.

For a watercolorist, I am a closet oil painter I think. Watercolorists refer to "overworking", but often when I look at their work, I can't fathom what they mean. Other watercolorists brag that they use hundreds of layers and still keep things light. I've created a rather heavy look for a watercolor I guess.  I insist, though, that this piece is not overworked.  Underpaid, perhaps.

So thank you Winna, thank you fish. Thank you teapot in a dish.

OK, there is no dish.

So much for analysis.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Ink and watercolor in large moleskine

You know what to expect when you enter a doctor's waiting room, right? You will see patients sitting in chairs, sometimes with their spouses. Many of the patients will be thumbing through magazines. If the room is not too crowded, the patients will have discreetly left empty chairs between them.

Only couples will sit together. Sometimes the couples will whisper, but mostly they will remain silent, thumbing through their magazines. Patients will never speak to one another though, and for that reason it is very quiet.

You will walk to the window which is closed and sign the sheet on the clipboard on the shelf with the attached pen. You will then turn to the magazine rack and select a magazine that is of little more than vague interest to you. You will look for a chair that is at least a seat away from everyone else. Finally you will sit and quietly thumb through your magazine. You will not even whisper unless you are with your spouse, and even then, only occasionally.

Unless you are in Miami.  I have a wonderful old-time Cuban doctor. When I walk into his waiting room for the occasional checkup it is like stepping into Cheers, although nobody knows my name. When I enter everyone looks up, and says the Spanish version of "Hey!" It is as though they have been waiting for me all morning. I sit with my magazine, but don't read it. I am too busy watching complete strangers bouncing from chair to chair, conversing enthusiastically. One gentleman comes to me and starts gesticulating. When I shrug he asks cheerfully, "What,you don't speak Spanish?!" So he talks to me in English for a few sentences, but I'm not nearly as interesting as those ebullient Hispanics that fill the rest of the room, and soon I am left to watch, my eyes wide.

Did I ever tell you that I love Miami?

I have lived in Miami for 26 years. Yeah, yeah, I should have learned Spanish by now, but I haven't. But I kind of like being the outsider looking in.

The other day I was at Balado Tire, getting my brakes fixed. I sat to wait. The cheerful round-faced manager behind the counter conversed with everyone. Folks - strangers - bounced from chair to chair conversing. They would find their talking partner and strike up a conversation. One man came to me, and then walked away when he got no response. No matter. I am an artist. I love being separate. Another man hung out at the counter. Why? I don't know. Every now and then he would talk to the round-faced man, but mostly he was just waiting. When the round-faced tire guy wasn't cheerfully offering everyone cafe' con leche, I was sketching the man at the counter, and that is my sketch above.

We were in an open waiting area next to the bays, all facing a parking lot.  While I was there, an old bent Cuban man walked by, pulling a wagon piled high with mangos.  He yelled something to the group of us, which I suppose was, "Hey guys, any of you wanna buy some mangos?"  He got no takers.  But as he walked by the second bay, one of the workers threw down a tire, pulled out a wad of bills and bought a bunch of the fruit.  I guess that old man knew what he was doing.

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine

My wife and I both wear glasses.  That is a good thing.  The waiting room at the ophthalmologist's office is of the boring dismal type and too small for me to discreetly draw anyone.  So every year my wife and I will set our appointments together, and she will go in first.  I will stay in the car and look for something to sketch or paint.  I was extra lucky this year, because parked on the street was this tractor, waiting.  Waiting for a driver, I suppose.  But also waiting for me to draw her.  While I was waiting for my appointment.

Watercolor, 2-1/2" x 3-1/2"

I am in the middle of a still life. Some watercolor painters paint thin washes and - voila - they are done. That has never been the case for me. I have always layered or mixed or glazed or who knows what, even from the beginning when I knew even less about what I was doing than I know now. I am waiting for the still life to finish, because it is taking a good long time. Not that the process isn't wonderful, mind you, like reading a good book that you don't want to end.

Sometimes I watch (listen) to documentaries when I paint, and while carefully painting this still life I saw a film about a painter who is wonderfully, skillfully sloppy. He would sometimes paint outlines of faces on seemingly random swaths of color. I was absorbing this information when I glanced at the scrap of watercolor paper that I was using to test colors before laying them on the still life. I ran and got a scissors and cut out the most promising section, ACEO size, and painted the face in the span of a minute or two, and voila! (See, I can voila too.)  But mostly I have to wait.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prior Incantato

Watercolor in moleskine, approx. 5" x 7"
I introduced my new possession with a slight trace of embarrassment and an abundance of barely suppressed pride.  "It's my only frivolous purchase," I said.

This is almost true. I rarely give in to buying whims. Even though I  had bought  it a week before, I  had no regrets, and I have no regrets now.  I am still thrilled with the purchase.

"What is it?" my friend asked.

I gestured with flourish to the spot on my shelf where the object has been displayed like a museum piece.

"A chopstick?" my friend asked.

I was horrified.

"Of course not," I said. "It's a wand!" A thin foot-long slightly tapered charcoal-colored wand, with intricate runes carved on the sides. Certainly not a chopstick; if anything, a fine baton.

I bought it at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. It is Sirius Black's wand which means it is a symbol of loyalty and sacrifice for all that is good.  But mostly, for me, it represents imagination, master storytelling, and unbridled creativity.  And magic, of course.

My friend doesn't have to understand.

I am lucky. I create a little magic every day. And each day it takes a new form.  I begin with a blank sheet of paper.

Sometimes I am amazed at what a sheet of paper or canvas can display.  Other times not so much.  To have the ability to wield a pen or a brush and create an image that wasn't there before:  that, I could tell my friend,  is magic.  I don't need a wand.  But it is nice to have the reminder on my shelf of so much that I admire, and of so much that inspires me.

The truth, of course, is that no wave of a wand will do. To imagine effectively we must exercise the mind. To create we must exercise the hand.

I have been nearly obsessed lately with the Helga watercolors by Andrew Wyeth.  Andrew Wyeth employed drybrush in many of his pictures, in which most of the moisture is squeezed out of the brush, to create his emotion-laden images.  I have read forums online in which watercolorists have been both baffled and amazed by his results.  [Wyeth's wand:  Stupefy! (You can see a list of Harry Potter spells here.)] 

At least a year ago I found an article about his technique which you can read here.  I revisited it recently.  According to the article, part of how Andrew Wyeth described his process was this: "You weave the layers of dry brush over and within the broad washes of watercolor."

I hadn't caught it the first few times I read the article, but it made sense - he employed both washes and drybrush.  So as a study in my moleskine above, I started the face of the woman above as a wash, almost as I always would.  Only then did I employ the drybrush technique.  For me it was a very slow process - a gradual build up of transparent layers, almost like sculpting, and I was amazed at how the areas in the face began to acquire depth.  This was very different than using the other watercolor methods.

I reached a point where I felt the entire face needed more color, and again thought of the above quote.  Andrew Wyeth did not simply lay a wash and then apply drybrush, but employed a weaving of the two.  So I laid a wash over what I had done, unsure whether that would unsettle everything.  And it worked!  And then resumed the drybrush.  So this was a successful experiment I think.

I don't know that I have done anything like what Andrew Wyeth has done in technique in that I have never been able to examine an original Wyeth piece (I am a mere fledgling artist, self-taught/self-teaching, and even were I to stumble somewhere close, I am nowhere approaching the quality of his work, of course.) One great thing about Andrew Wyeth was that he did not feel limited by any one watercolor technique and felt that he could use several in one piece.  So I tried to do the same.

Except for some initial trials, I used the watercolor medium, gum arabic, for the first time in this picture - and only in the hair.  The description on the bottle says gum arabic "increases brilliance, glosses and transparency of water colours.  Controls spread of wet on wet.  Reduces staining."  I bought the gum arabic because I have not always been satisfied with the vibrancy of the colors.  I do not see that the colors are especially more vibrant than elsewhere on the page.  The texture of the paint did seem to change, and I did note that if water was placed on the hair after it dried, then the hair would vanish [Evanesco!], so staining was definitely reduced. 

It is interesting that in drawing any person, problems can result, sometimes in the most surprising places.  In this one I had a problem with the shape of the shoulders of all things - I mean who ever thinks about the shoulders?  (Except perhaps Henry Raleigh whom you can see in this post of the excellent "Illustration Art" blog, and whose work so impressed me that I could not draw for two days).  It just shows that you can't ignore any part of the body, and must learn - eventually - to control each and every part.  [Imperio!]

There is no substitute for practice. Only then will I learn.

So join me, won't you? Pick up your brush, your pencil, your pen, or whatever it is that you use, and repeat after me:  Wingardium Leviosa! (Make sure your emphasis is on the "o".)  And may all of your creative efforts hereafter rise to new heights.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Small Surprise

5" X 8" pastel on watercolor sketchbook paper

Wrestling with watercolor. Restless.

Never do watercolor when you are restless.

So I pulled my pastels out of a drawer. Dusted them off.  Whipped out this little sketch in a flurry of restlessness.

And colorful dust flew everywhere.

Surprised?  Me too.

(I'm posting this on an impulse just after it's done - hope to like it in the morning.  Good night.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Left-brain/Right-brain (Or Much Ado About Nothing)

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
Warning:  Mind at work.  Use due care as you step into my mind as the left-brain and right-brain are hard at work in developing the above page.

Left-brain:   It's a crowded room, and there are lot's of people.  It's a good chance to sketch.
Right-brain:  Must draw!  Must draw!  Pen.  Pen. Where pen?!  Thank God.  Pen here.  Draw!
Left-brain:   Now who should I draw?  Maybe that elderly woman.  She doesn't seem to moving around too much, and she can't see me from this angle.
Right-brain:    Face. What a face!  Angst!  Such angst!  Circles. Circles.  Round and round.  Pen.  Pen!
Left-brain:  Let's see, the nose is at about a 10:00 angle, and it is about so long..
Right-brain:  Sliding Pen, curves..curves!  The face.  Here. I feel - the line here! Ooooh!

Then, after a similar left/right collaboration when drawing a man onto the page:

Left brain:  I want a whole statement.  Not just two unrelated faces on a page.  I think I'll draw a line to connect them - kind of like what Barbara Weeks does in her sketchbook here.  Now to color the faces:  I think I am beginning to get a glimmer of what Andrew Wyeth does with his skin tones.  It is not just drybrush, but an initial wash plus drybrush, or perhaps multiple washes alternated with drybrush.  I've got to try that.  It's like when I completed the figures in this page, I applied drybrush in various places over wash, and I like the effect:

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
Left brain:  I need to experiment with this drybrush over wash, to see if I can mold contours of a face.  Let's see - here's a drawing in my moleskine I don't like so much.
Right Brain:  Brush.  Here!  More here!  Ooh!!  Over here!
Left brain:  How each layer shows through!  I think I forgot as I did this where the light source was, but a successful experiment nonetheless!  Now let's try it on this other page!

Back to the page with the man and the woman, and the right and left brain collaborate on applying colors to the faces.  But something doesn't seem right about the background:

Right brain [viewing the painted faces on the white page background connected by a line]:  Boring.  Emotionless. Need Color.  Color!!   [Proceeds to put color all over the page recklessly, and with abandon.]

Left brain:  Hmmmm.  Don't like the way this one came out really.  I think I'll have to post this with the white page in the back.  I'm glad I scanned it.
[But left brain then shows the page to his Most Valuable Critic, an invaluable female whole brain, whose mouth says:  Nah, I don't like the colors - too pastelly.  I think grey would be better.]
Left brain:  Why not?  It'd be a neat experiment!  I can see if I can use different complimentary colors over all of the different colors for many different grey tones, and if that proves too unwieldy I can just spread Paynes Grey over everything - it's semi-transparent, colors should show through to some degree for interest.

Right brain [after Payne's grey is spread over everything]:  Whoa.  Somber.
Left brain:  It's amazing what a background will do.  White didn't do this.  Color didn't do this.  The grey has connected them.  They are family.  He has done something terrible.  He looks for foregiveness but she cannot forgive.  What he has done is irredeemable.
Right brain:  Yeah.. [Sigh].  What he said.

Where I stand today:

Left brain: Now to use a much larger pencil drawing of a woman's face to try this technique - wash first, then drybrush, then glazes perhaps, then more drybrush.  A larger drawing allows room for detail.  The absence of pen makes me rely entirely on painting.

[At first it looks horrible, but gradually, layer by layer it builds thanks to the intuition of the Right brain.  This method is slow!  But could it be working?]

The left brain is useful and the right brain is necessary, but the fingers are indispensable.  Because right now, the fingers are crossed.  We shall see..

"I am continuously seeking, trying out new ways.  It utterly absorbs me.  I am continually producing drawings, although most of them don't ever develop into anything because I get another idea of something that is better than that initial, sharp, idea." - Andrew Wyeth.

Both brains agree.  Or maybe you could say that both brains are of the same mind.  Hmmm.  Makes you think, doesn't it?

Friday, June 10, 2011

I am not Clark

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
I am Dan KENT - The Dan Kent. Do not confuse me with Clark.  Sometimes I step into my closet and I re-emerge - as, you guessed it .. Dan Kent! I live in South Florida, and the humidity gives my hair the ability to fly! Or to puff, er, up. I have T-Ray vision, thanks to my trusty trifocals. I, little people, am a superhuman being. Or a super, human being. Or at least I like to think so.

So imagine my joy when, eager for folks to draw, I discovered a crowd of fellow super heroes and nerds weaving in and out of the Florida Super Comics store in Davie.

Discretely I parked my Kentmobile.  Wielding my trusty Moleskine, with my faithful sidekick Pigma Micron-cron-cron-cron (that is an echo in case you haven't figured it out) at hand, I captured those characters on paper and instantly transformed them into the comics they craved! Wham! Bop! Zowie! I colored them later - take that! And that!

Excuse me.  No.  Pigma Micron-cron-cron was home that day, I think, and it was my SKB SB-1000! Zap!! Kerplooie!

Okay, so my memory's not so good.

But I have never felt so powerful.

Ink and watercolor in moleskine can turn a boring speech into an event!

You, mere mortal, imagine if you can the power to turn boring speeches into events, and still hear not a single word being said! Kapowie!

It is, my friend, the POWER OF THE PEN. With the pen, I can explore and never leave the room, I can learn and never crack a book, and I can create and never be bored again! And if I do it right, and if I do it enough, it will be like when Gandolf the Grey became Gandolf the White! Yeah!!!  Well, no, not yeah, excuse me.  Shazaam!!!

And being as super as I can't help being, I have Super Friends as well -  Friends from All Over The World.  And one of the Superist of the Super Friends is Mari of Colour Blob Design in Ontario, Canada.  I won a prize at her blog, thanks to her trusted sidekick Charlie:  two beautifully hand-made travel tags that you can see here.

But what really blew my mind was the hand-painted envelope that it came in!  It was a blast of color and shape that only a super person could create, for sure.But that wasn't enough for Mari.  She gave me tea fashioned by the Inuit people (formerly known as "the Eskimos") - how cool is that?! - and a beautiful handwritten postcard with a picture by a member of the Group of Seven, a cadre' of artists that I hadn't even heard of, that you can read about here.  Thank you, Mari!  I was blown away!  Shazowie!!  (Note:  Lest you think that Supers needn't thank other Supers, manners are necessary even when the world is saved, thank you very much.)

Acrylic, by Mari Brown, on an 8-1/4" x 10-3/4" brown envelope

Now I must go.  I have images to catch and stray lines to save.  UP, UP, AND AWAY!!!

[What was that?!  Was it surreal?  Was it abstract?  Representational even?!

Who was that masked artist?
I dunno but I'm sure glad he's around!]

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Playfully Incomplete

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
A lunch at Scotty's Landing, a cafe' by the water in Coconut Grove, Florida. My son, Ian, visiting from college. So there we were, my wife, my son and I. It was the first time any of us were ever there. There was an awning above us with fans and water mist spray to keep the patrons cool. A bar behind us, and in front of us the view - the ever-changing water, the boaters sailing by, and a soft breeze blowing our way. And of course I was exciting company - this was a view I could not ignore - so I took out my pen and drew what I saw. I snapped a shot with my cell phone, but that didn't come out too well. I would figure out how to paint it later.

Then, unexpectedly, I was returning a few weeks later, this time with my in-laws, and my sister-in-law, and my wife. And my wife told me before we went: "You can paint the page when you go!" "Wouldn't that be rude?" I asked. "Of course not," she said, "we're all family". I wasn't so sure. But excitement trumped manners, and they didn't seem to care. They were a bit amused by it, I think.

This time it was the weekend. This time again, good company, soft breezes, relaxing view. This time a guitarist playing tunes by Crosby Stills and Nash, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, and the like. Art and Good Music and Food at a dockside cafe'. And a chance to paint the scene on site. I was in paradise.

This page is not complete, but a few folks have told me they like it this way, so I decided to share it like this - playfully incomplete. Eventually I plan on filling in the faces though. I was observing (coincidentally) a bald man with his back to a plate glass window the other day. He had a penumbra of light at the edges of a face that was a bit darkened by the light backdrop. I want to paint that.

I have trouble leaving parts of pictures incomplete. And need to work on doing that, creatively. But at this stage the background is emphasized beyond the people, and the people are important to me.

Graphite in sketchbook, approx. 7-3/4" x 6"
The other day I saw a wonderful half-hour film at the website, Art Babble. The film is called "Conan O'Brien as seen by artist John Kascht." You can find it here. If you have limited time, at least watch the first two minutes twenty-five seconds. In those minutes, a beautiful portion of the film, John Kascht, mirrors my feelings on sketching from life. He says, for example: "I know from experience that most of the freshness of a drawing comes from the accidents. Drawing isn't exactly planned - it emerges as a kind of artifact of the struggle between what I intended, and what I did not intend." But watch the rest of the film and be prepared to be launched from pure enjoyment to total amazement!

During the first two minutes (and 25 seconds), Mr. Kascht sketches a woman, and for a short time, the video shows his model as the artist sees her. Well, that was enough for me. I had to pause the film and draw her myself in my sketchbook. I drew this fairly quickly. I could make slight adjustments to my final drawing to get a better likeness - to the nose, and to the chin, but have decided to let it go. I have portrayed a mood and don't want to destroy it. I note that John Kascht's caricature changes the shape of the nose as well - his nose bows in, while hers is flat with an ever-so-slight bump, so although her nose is more pointy than my drawing shows, I am not alone in letting some things pass, it seems. Watch the whole film and I am sure you will agree that John Kascht is brilliant. So if he can do it, why not me, right?

This is only my second post this month, so I want to catch you up a bit on my activities. I've been engaging in some research and development of late. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I want to improve my drawing of hands. So I've given myself a minimum daily quota on hands to draw. My hope is that I will one day be able to sketch hands just as I do faces and bodies at a public place, despite the shifting and movement. It is quite a challenge.

ink and watercolor in moleskine
One day I was restless. So I began randomly putting paint on a page in my moleskine. I smeared, I blotted, I swished and swirled. When I was done, I sat back and decided to find objects in the shapes, and this is the result. I am not really satisfied with the page, but parts have possibilities to me. Exciting possibilities for future works, I think, beyond washes over large areas. (You can enlarge the image by double-clicking, and perhaps you will see what I mean). One person told me it reminded him of Chagall. I'll take that.

3-1/2" x 6-1/2", watercolor
I took a watercolor class at the Bass Museum of Art this weekend. I have never painted in a group before with other artists. I have never taken a watercolor class. The class was for "emerging artists age 13 to adult". Thirteen-year-olds are truly emerging, I think. It was for "all skill levels", and was only $15 at a time when I was able to go. So even were I to be surrounded by seventh graders, I figured it'd be fun. As it was, there were all adults, except one, who was the child of one of the students. And it was great fun.

One exercise was to cover the paper with water and and let the watercolor spread. This is a basic exercise. We were also invited to play a little afterwards, which I did with the brush handle and in other ways. But what a reminder of the vividness and delightful unpredictability of watercolor! When I got home, I examined the page, and split it into two parts, and think the semi-random marks of this exercise are awfully fun to look at.

7-1/2" x 1-1/2", watercolor

I even named them. The tall one is "Sunspot", and the square one, "Amoeba Love." Why not?

But the most exciting part of the class was the large paper the instructor provided, 15" x 22". He said we should figure out what to draw. I had no clue, so I grabbed my moleskine and pretty successfully laid in color on a very large quick sketch of a man originally pocketsized! I had never painted in watercolor so large!

Then there is my sketchbook. Somehow in my moleskine I have restricted myself to these little ink and watercolor representational sketches. I find that my idle sketches on post-it notes and cheap paper are much more creative and free. So I've bought a sketchbook I take with me now, just to scribble, play with shapes or ideas, warm-up, or experiment. No self-imposed pressure to make a great picture. Like this sketch on the left - would make an interesting painting, don't you think? And it is more playful with line than when I stalk an image.

So there you go. This is my State of the Artist address. I see possibilities everywhere, and different directions to go. So much to learn. Much to experience. It is good to be restless, to be playfully incomplete.  I strongly recommend it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Still Here

Ink and watercolor in moleskine, sketched on site, colored later

Ya gotta hand it to James Taylor. I didn't know quite what to say in this post - I had too many words or to few, and then he sang it in only a few simple words: "So the sun shines on [a] funeral just the same as on a birth, the way it shines on everything that happens here on Earth."

Good 'ole James.

The sun continues to shine no matter what happens.

The old doomsayer in the news got it wrong. All he managed to do was give millions of young men across the globe the chance to use the greatest line ever for seducing young ladies, starting with "baby, the world is ending tomorrow.."

But the world is still here, and will hopefully continue to be here for some time yet. The headline on Google News this morning was "World Still Here". And this is good.

Ink and watercolor in moleskine, sketched on site, colored later

I grabbed my wife's Good Housekeeping magazine the other day (June 2011 issue) because there was an interview with Michael J. Fox, whom I greatly admire. He has Parkinson's Disease, and seven years after he was diagnosed, Mr. Fox had a revelation, and we can all benefit from his hard-learned lesson.

He says that having such a disease is like being in the middle of the road in cement shoes with a bus heading straight towards him. He knows it's going to hit him some day "but you don't know when".

Life for all of us is like that if you think about it, although more subtle. We never know what will come next. We do know where we will all end up, though, although we don't know when or how.

It was difficult to be diagnosed with such a disease. But eventually Mr. Fox remembered being taught as an actor to play each act in turn and not to focus on the final act, no matter what might or might not take place then. And he realized that he didn't have to "play the result" in life until the end either. Until that day, "there is all kinds of room in that space."

We can borrow his philosophy for our lives as well, of course. We can worry about all of the things that might happen in a given situation, but that's playing the result, isn't it? We can dwell on what might occur or dwell on a past event, but then we are not playing the act we are in.

We can give ourselves permission to play, to imagine, to enjoy, in our space.  That is truly living.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In Memoriam

5"x 7" watercolor and ink on Arches 140 lb. cold press paper
This watercolor is based upon a photograph by Morten Liebach. You can find it here. I was amazed by the complexity and beauty of the pattern in the dragonfly's slender body. As the wings were difficult to discern from Mr. Liebach's photograph, I snatched the wings from another photograph, taken by Dean Gugler, which you can find here.

In this watercolor my goals were to achieve texture, and to explore the effect of luminosity as described by Faber Birren in his book "Creative Color", and in the more accessible book "Exploring Color" by Nita Leland. Both of these works were introduced to me by Myrna Wacknov. She was kind enough to send me an e-mail about Nita Leland, and unless you want a more scholarly tome, Nita Leland is the authority I'd recommend. I return to both books now and again.

I am dedicating this small painting to the memory of my father. Joel G. Kent, a victim of Parkinson's Disease, was released from years of suffering and decline on Monday. His death falls on the calendar just 7 days after the anniversary of the death of my daughter, Taylor. Last year's post, in Taylor's memory, is here. Perhaps they are together, comfortable and whole, casually reading this blog post via heavenly connection by modem to the world-wide-web. I hope so.

Joel Gilbert Kent, March 13, 1933 to April 25, 2011.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

One Day

Ink and watercolor in moleskine

A day that sings softly and subtly,
Its tune a gentle breeze,
Its lyrics whispy white clouds drifting.

A day disguised as any day,
That winks in delight, and waves
One hand as though it dons a magic cloak.

Beside me you rest as I sketch the day
And the children, the cotton candy, and trees,
But all that I know is you, your touch and your smile.

When lifelong companions are one day old,
And under the spell of a day,
We remember together that day, and no more than one.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Construction

Ink and watercolor in small moleskine

I was attracted to the industriousness of the workers, the grays and yellows, and the geometry of it all.


I sat across the street from the construction site in South Miami, sketched in ink in my moleskine, and then colored as much as I could in watercolor. Then I went back a few days later and finished painting. I was constructing as they were.

Mine is, of course, an illusion.


One hundred and fifty years ago, none of the buildings I see around me existed. If I could return to that time, I would recognize nothing. One hundred-fifty years from now, with few if any exceptions, the same will be true. It will be a different place. I think about that sometimes.

The idea that their building is representative of the world around me is as much an illusion as my picture.

Ink & watercolor on 3" x 2-1/2"140 lb Fabriano Artistica hot press paper
I found a card I had cut from watercolor paper, smaller than an artist's trading card, only 3" x 2-1/2", and drew and painted another building just blocks away from the construction site. I had to draw quickly before - poof - it would disappear. Or before I would. Just kidding.

As an artist I am constantly thinking about construction: composition, value, shape, color, line. This blog has featured mostly ink and watercolors in my small moleskine. I am capable of detailed ink drawings, such as the one in my February 13th post. But I enjoy attempting to manipulate the watercolor for nuances of value, and so have refrained from doing other than outlines. I am getting restless though. Line filled with color - people see my moleskine drawings and say they are like a comics drawing. "They are not!" I say emphatically, even though I am interested in doing those too.

a quick idle sketch
a loose sketch from life

I sketch from life in much of my spare time, and sometimes from other sources. Some of the sketches I am finding most engaging these days are those done loosely and quickly. I will continue what I am doing as well, but I suspect there may be some experiments in style in the coming months.

And after a year of talking about it, I have finally bought a drafting table. It is in a large box. Now if I can manage to clear the space for my studio and create a good working area with the new table, my easel, and proper lighting before all the buildings around me disappear, then I have grand ambitions for a series of paintings on a large scale. How will it work? I don't know. I will need to reinvent what I do. I will need to learn more about how to do it. It's exciting..

on a receipt

In legal parlance, the word "construction" means "interpretation". And that is what I do. That is what we all do, whether artists or not. We take what we see and interpret to match our image of the world which is every bit as flawed and personal as we are.  Of course, that is what makes our creations so special and so unique. 

For this week's Shadow Shot, for Shadow Shot Sunday, I lay down the cones because there is work to be done. There are boxes to build and to break from. Bur most of all there are wings and floors to add. Why? So I can fly and still stay grounded, of course.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pamo vs. The Old Man (And No, I am Not Talking About Me!)

Pamo and I have finished our virtual comic Tic-Tac-Toe Game. And we have Simulblogged (or something like that) so you can see all about it!

So first please go to Pamo's blog, here, and see our finished tic-tac-toe board. There Pamo will tell you the story of our collaboration. And then - don't forget to come back!! Promise?! Come back please, and there is more..the pictures in order, and a story.


Back so soon? Great! Here are the pictures we made in order. After that is a story that Pamo wrote (and that I contributed to) that is based on the pictures:

Square 1

Square 2

Square 3

Square 4

Square 5

Square 6

Square 7

Square 8

Square 9

Pamo vs. The Old Man

Square 1

It was a sunny day full of promise and sunshine. Pamo looked at Scooter and said, “Let’s go to Circle Park and have a picnic lunch.”

“Woof! Woof!"

Square 2

Pamo and Scooter jumped in the car, top down, picnic basket in the back, excited to be going to Circle Park where the trees grow tall and the grass feels silky. “There’s that nice Old Man enjoying his daily walk.”


“Hi!” Pamo shouted and began to wave. “See you in the park.”

Scooter wagged his tail and barked, “Woof! Woof!” to the bird flying above. And they continued on their winding path to Circle Park, leaving the Old Man to enjoy his exercise.

Square 3

The Old Man relies on his daily walks to keep himself in shape. He uses his cane. He doesn’t really need it much, but it keeps the dogs and birds at bay. Circle Park is the perfect place to exercise and then relax.

As the Old Man sat down on the bench, SPLAT! The bird pooped on his head!

“Darn bird! Watch where you’re flying up there,” he yelled as he shook his cane. He pulled out his handkerchief and wiped the bird poo off his head. He thought, Maybe now I can get some peace and quiet. I think I’ll just rest my eyes. He began to snore.

The bird liked the Old Man. His head was shaped like a giant cue tip, with curly cotton hair, perfect for her nest! “Tweet, tweet,” she sang and then swooped down low and PING! She plucked a strand from his head.

He woke with a start. His hand flew to his head, “Ow! Bird! Stop pestering me.” His arms shot up and he grabbed for the little bird.

Square 4

“Got you now, Bird!”

The little bird looked at the Old Man who now held her tail feathers in his hand. She dangled there not quite sure what to do.

Square 5

“Drop the bird Old Man!” Pamo couldn’t believe her eyes! What a cruel old man! Poor little bird!

Scooter sat watching the bird when suddenly Pamo threw the apple from the picnic basket at the Old Man.

Square 6

In a flash, the Old Man and Pamo balled up in a fight, the bird just above the fray. Scooter barked, “Woof! Woof!” The apple lay on the ground while the bird flew high in the sky.

Square 7

Suddenly, the Old Man went sailing overhead, the little bird soaring with him. Pamo landed on the ground while Scooter gawked in amazement.

Square 8

When the Old Man tumbled down, he was wound up like a pretzel. Pamo folded her arms, and practically floated with pride and confidence.

“Have no fear! I can fix you! I’m practically a doctor!” she said. She began to unfold the Old Man.

Square 9

The Old Man worried that all was not well. “I don’t think you fixed me right,” he said, as he looked himself over.

But Pamo knew better. She was satisfied with a job well done. She had fixed the old man, and made her dog happy too.

“Oh, you’re fine,” she said, as she bit into her sandwich. What a beautiful day it was!

Scooter was satisfied too. Oh, you’re fine, Scooter thought, as he bit into the giant and juicy bone that Pamo had given her. Pamo was wonderful! It was a great day!

And the bird was happy too. All that curly cotton hair, here for the taking, and no one seemed to care. She was going to have the best nest ever!


Thank you to Matt Madden who came up with the idea for the collaboration, which was great fun and very rewarding for Pam and me. You can see his post about it here.