Monday, June 29, 2009

Holy Cow! Time to Catch Up (330-326)

Holy Cow! Between slow internet, no art supplies, and way too much food and drink, I have really lapsed. The blog was on my mind the whole time. However, it stayed on my mind, not on my computer.

Ok. I could blame it on Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, or Michael Jackson dying, but that seems a little over the top. And now infomercial guy! Don't let anything bop you on the head! The truth is that I just didn't make the time to get things down on paper. Unfortunately, my art supplies were not very good and, after an extensive search, I found out that noone on the Outer Banks buys art supplies in a store. Sucks.

On Wednesday, I took a trip to Whalehead Beach Club for an arts and crafts festival. There were some really nice works of art and craft (along with some so-so stuff). I went with several relatives including my wife's cousin's husband, Ace. I really enjoyed spending the week Ace, Alice, Ryder, and Lilly (4 3/4 year old twins). Ace made the mistake of saying to me that he liked artwork, but didn't really get the whole still life thing. I railed on for about an hour until he relented. He is a closet artist as well. Get working ACE! I saw a couple of pieces that I really liked. I also spent about 20 minutes discussing some excellent watercolor paintings with the artist.

On Thursday, I was the family photographer. You've seen those vacation family photos where everyone dresses in the same color or white and takes the picture on the beach. Well, we're just not white clothes kind of folks. I took the big group and then individual families and smaller groups. Of course, I had to take a couple of my beauties! For years we used to take a picture at the beach of them. They look pretty cute!

Friday, we were pretty tied up with the Michael Jackson thing. We had a big dance party on Thursday night and I took this picture of some of the libations for future reference. Maybe a still life for my boy Ace.

Saturday was pack and drive. We had to hit the road at 6 am to miss the one way traffic jam, which we did successfully. Got lost in Virginia Beach and then was able to cut the 2 foot tall grass when we got home. We cooked some steaks out on the grill--our favorite.

Sunday was church and recovery. Worked on the deck for a while. Thought about painting. Maybe tomorrow. I know, it's weak.

Today has been a scramble. You work two weeks worth the week you leave and two weeks worth on the day you return. Oh well. I will try to create something today, but I am not encouraged that this will happen. This is living life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Watercolor Mustang (331)

After taking the shots of the Mustang yesterday, I thought it would be fun to try to interpret it in watercolor. I tried to stay really loose with the paint and not get too tied down to reality. It looks like a horse on a dune.

Photo Safari I (332)

The Outer Banks has always been a source for interesting photos for me. The Corolla light is an image that I drew about 6 years ago and still get a great deal of pleasure viewing.

Early Monday morning, my brother-in-law Chris took cousin Alice and me in his 4-wheel drive car to the northern shore where you can drive on the beach in search of the wild Spanish Mustangs for which the area is famous. It was a little rainy going out, but not impassable.
We spotted one horse on the dune. As we pulled away, we could see that there was another horse on the back of the dune. These were the only mustangs we found in the morning. We were able to get a better view of them on the return trip.
When I got home, I used Photoshop to create some different effects on the images.

We also took a trip to Kill Devil Hills and the site of the first powered manned flight by the Wright Brothers. Six years ago, we were here when the centennial celebration was being planned. The flight was in December, so the celebration was planned to coincide with that date. But we didn't go to the Park then. This was a fun trip.

As many boys of the 1960s, I have always been facinated by air and space travel. My Dad was in the Air Force and liked to build models. We always had airplanes and spaceship models in our room and books about flight. When I was in the Air Force, I loved visiting air museums and seeing the static displays on the bases. So this was lots of fun for me.

An Epicurian Delight (333)

devoted to sensual pleasures, esp. food and drink "

I spent most of the day working with Lisa to prepare the evening meal for 18 people. Each summer, we try to have some kind of party. It usually takes three days to prepare for a couple of hours of eating. But we enjoy it. We decided to be the first family to prepare dinner for the two houses on the vacation.

We began Father's Day at an interdenominational Service. The nearest Catholic church is about 50 miles down the road, so this seemed a good fit. Barbara won a cookbook for having an orange dot on her bulletin. It was a different experience because our Mass is so ritualistic and this was more of a Bible study experience. But they were faithful people having time with God.

We went shopping for the food after that. For some reason it was a challenge to determine quantities. The menu was to be beef, chicken, and shrimp kabobs with safron rice and salad. We have been planning for weeks to try the "World's Greatest Maiti" recipe, so we got the remaining ingredients for that concoction.

Four pounds of shrimp needed to be shelled and devained. Marinade needed to be created. Vegetables and meats needed to be chopped.

Lisa's cousin from Seattle, Washington and family were due to arrive at around 7 pm. The schedule was created to align with that time.

It took all afternoon to shop, chop, cut, marinade, peel, devain, and cook.

All promises were kept! The potion was indeed the "World's Greatest" and the Kabobs were perfect. Everyone was well fed and lubricated and went away happy.

Saturday: The Long Ride to OBX (334)

Not too much time for making art today. Mostly spent the time preparing to go to the Outer Banks for vacation and actually traveling there. It was rainy when we left, but cleared up the further south we went. I traveling down the lower shore and Virgina side of the penninsula. Norfolk is very congested, however, when you reach the North Carolina border you immediately slow your pace and relax. The ride from Kitty Hawk to Corolla is very narrow and slow, but I don't mind that at all.

Our house is very nice and comfortable. We listened to a book on tape, some music, and sometimes just rode in silence. Not many people can ride in silence, but Lisa and I are very comfortable with it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hustlin to Get Out of the Door (335)

From 6 am until just now at 10:35, I have been compressing all of next week's work requests and preparation for vacation into one long day. We took time out to see Pelham 123, which I thought was excellent. Denzel is, well, Denzel. John Travolta has redeemed himself from his escapade as Irma Turnblat, the Devine role. He is one sick mofo in this one.

Anyway, not too much time for fine art today. I had to get the last business cards out, arrange for a plaque, write and publish a newsletter, and do some proposal work. I also finished the comp for the two postcards that I was working on and related in the last post. Just another day in paradise.

The shop that does our award plaques is a small cottage business that a friend from high school and her father have in their home. The name of the company is the Alladin Shop in Oxford, MD if anyone needs that sort of thing. I look forward to visiting them because they have a business that I admire. They put together boat-loads of trophies, awards and other memorabilia. and the shop is one big stack of brass and wood. Jane is one of the most agreeable and unflappable people I know and her dad, Plato, is a saint--or at least he is trying his honest best to be one.

After hearing the latest on Jane's mom--she had some health issues--she told me her 83 year old dad was doing some rennovations. He walked in and gave his usual genuinely welcoming Eastern Shore greeting, where he makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world. Not bad for a 20 minute drive.

Now for my creative moment. A long-time friend is literally living his last days. This creates in me an introspective moment. So I took the opportunity to ask a true philosopher and as near to an apostle as I could muster on a beautiful Friday afternoon--when did he become aware of his mortality? Jane rolled her eyes and said "you asked him." Then she cruised to the back of the shop while Plato lived up to his name. I enjoyed hearing him regail about Fatima as the most misunderstood Catholic phenomenom. We talked for a few moments about his journey and studies and I told them about this blog. I will draw from the conversation in a future work.

My friends Dwayne and Greg offer me an opportunity to bat around the meaning of life. But I am older than both of them and it was important to get the perspective of someone much closer to the end than my little group. (BTW Dwayne got his Brown Belt and Greg got a new daughter. Yeah guys.)

I will be thinking about my friend who is leaving us as I go about enjoying this vacation. I am happy to say that, although I will be sad to not see him again, he never was anything but kind and gentle to me. He always had time to ask what sport I was reffing or coaching (and always had them mixed up). He is a caring physician who worked way beyond when he should have because there were people who needed his care. It reminds me of my father's passing. He was prepared by living a good life, and prepared us to live beyond him.

I am fortunate to know so many good people. I appreciate that.

One from the J O B (336)

Every so often I get a chance to do something creative or artistic for my j-o-b. I needed a picture of a senior waiting and the customer wanted it to be colorful. In the "customer-art director" role, colorful attracts attention and black and white aren't colors. It is the same mentality that thinks you should make the logo bigger; bigger, bolder, underlined type can't be used enough; and a flashing magenta starburst is the key to any successful design. But I digress.

When I was a kid, there was a very successful artist that lived and worked in our town by the name of Laird Wise. He was a painter, but was better known for his photography. He also combined the skills by colorizing or painting portrait photographs. At some point in his senior life, he accidentally injured his hands. He was very skilled. I remember a friend of mine had a portrait of his uncle in his Marine dress blues that was done by Wise.

Not to compare, but I reached back into that memory and thought it would be interesting (and colorful--to attract attention) to try that approach for the picture I needed. Here is the result. I think it is kind of neat. It has an old-time appearance. Let's see what the customer thinks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Even the Rain Knows When to Leave Me Alone (337)

For many years, I have looked forward anxiously to the coming of summer and Monday evenings. Why Monday? Because that's when "Old Man Lacrosse" kicks in. For years, courtesy of the efforts of Steve Hurley and others in Cambridge, Maryland, a group of die-hard lacrosse players have been able to come together for a couple of hours on hot summers evenings to play the game that we love in the way that it was intended. (Sorry for the run-on Dwayne)

I look forward to it in the way that a kid looks forward to the trip to the toy store promised for good behavior. We meet around 6:30 or so (time becomes unimportant) and play till it gets dark and someone hollers "play to 5." No score is kept--it's irrellevant. No referee is needed. It doesn't mean there aren't fouls, but you would think we were playing golf in the manner that we become gentlemanly about slashing. There is no hate for the other guy, nor pulling of punches. And at the end, with enourmous smiles and sweaty heads, we pack our bags, grab our sticks and head off to have a beer or two and tell some lies.

We've had a good deal of rain this summer so far. But even the rain knows that this game will persist. And for a moment last week, the rain respectfully let the old men have their game.

Coming back to Easton, I crossed the Choptank River Bridge and saw the front waiting in the wings. The storm was awesome, but the river was calm. This is a Photoshop painting of the sense of the moment. I don't know how I would feel if I lived too far from the water, but I am thankful that the storm allowed us our moment.

Jimmy Buffet

Changes in Lattitudes Changes in Attitudes

think about Paris when I'm high on red wine

I wish I could jump on a plane

So many nights I just dream of the ocean

God I wish I was sailin' again

Oh, yesterday's over my shoulder

So I can't look back for too long

There's just too much to see waiting in front of me

And I know that I just can't go wrong

With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes

Nothing remains quite the same

With all of my running and all of my cunning

If I couldn't laugh I just would go insane

If we couldn't laugh we just would go insane

If we weren't all crazy we would go insane

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Removing all Doubt (338)

My Guru of Glib, Dwayne, wrote an article on his favorite subject--Mark Twain--for the monthly corporate newsletter. I took the opportunity to do an illustration for the article. I wanted to get a different look. I wanted an ambiguity in his glare, or stare, that relates to Dwayne's topic. Once the article is published, I'll post it here.

Today's title comes from my favorite Twain quote...
"Better to be perceived a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

For my part, once again I used a number 2 pencil and card stock. I really wanted this to look rough. I like it.

Played Lacrosse, Designed at Work(339)

Didn't have time to do any artwork outside of my regular design stuff on Monday.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pictures of Tour of DC (340)

Sunday I went with Alexis on her Ford Fiesta Movement Mission to the District of Columbia. FM assigned her to take a Segway tour of the nation's capitol and she took me along as her "human camera." I had a Webbie video camera attached to my helmet and my Canon Rebel over my shoulder. This was very interesting. I can't wait to see her finished mission video. (check out her agent page and look for her technology mission)

I took a few pictures of the day, but mostly we just toured around on these amazing machines. The Gay Pride Festival was in town, which made for interesting navigation. Because of the nature of embassies, I was able to travel to Canada briefly as well. I was the worst rider in the group, but got it under control quickly and enjoyed the event. We'll have to go back to go inside the museums soon.
The hydrant was just a cool thing that I saw. I was impressed with how polished it was and the way the red handles popped against the stone and brass.

Web work (341)

I worked on revising a web tool for a product that I did a storefront design last month. I really can't post what it looks like because it is under development. Coached in Pennsylvania in the afternoon and evening. Drove back in a torrential rainstorm.

Even Better (342)

Changed logo to have three snowflakes. This looks better. I spent a good part of the day creating a branding strategy which took most of my creative time

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A More Developed Logo (343)

I had a chance to put some time into developing the Sneak Peek logo from a couple of days ago. I was really unhappy with where they were going. My client came up with an idea that I developed tonight into what is now the finished look. I think it works well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Iris from the Garden (344)

This is a pencil sketch that I have scanned into Photoshop and digitally painted. I think it has a nice spring feel. I worked from a photograph that I took in front of my house a couple of weeks ago. Taking a moment to stand back, I really like this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Graphic Day (346)

Monday was an overwhelming day of design. No time for any "fine art." These are some really bad logo designs that I cranked out for one of my regular customers. She came back with a better idea that I will develop. Sorry to say this is what I have to show for today.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sunday Cartoons (347)

I promised a friend that I would do something I haven't done in a long while--a tee shirt cartoon illustration. About 15 years ago, I used to do a lot of illustrations for a tee shirt company that another friend owned. It burned to the ground and that stream of work ceased. Every once in a while I will get a request for this, the last being a product endorsement for a Clam Club promotion.

This is for a propane gas company and the tee is for the Delmarva Chicken Festival, one of the summer staples here on the eastern shore of Maryland. This is the land of Purdue Chickens along with a couple of other big poultry companies and you can't spit without hitting a chicken house round here. Makes for interesting hot days in the summer.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Saturday (348)

Spent Saturday coaching girls lacrosse north of Baltimore, which didn't leave much time for making any paintings or drawings. I like to think that it is a creative effort coaching teenagers.
I will be drawing and designing on Sunday.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Knowledge Nebula (349)

Today was a particularly creative day. I am caught up with this post so that the days remaining is on the correct post day.

My wife is still not feeling well. Each year, at this time, I go into her class and hold a session on cartooning. The kids have completed their exams, turned in their books, and Lisa has to get creative with instruction. Past classes have enjoyed these visits and today seemed to go just fine. I was glad that I could give her a break once again. I like to encourage the kids to keep being creative and not let judgemental people stop those inclinations. Sameness is boring.

This digital painting is a cover illustration for a proposal at work. It is supposed to signify knowledge transfer. I like how it came out. Very internetty.

More on the Dog (350)

Worked more on the napping dog painting last night. Almost done.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Got to Get Caught Up (351)

This is from Wednesday night's work. As I said, I had started working on a painted version of the graphic poster that I did last week. This is still a work-in-progress, but I like it so far. I still need to do the afghan and then figure out if it needs anything else to the rest once that color is in place.

Generating a piece of art a day is really challenging. I think I have been pretty successful after two weeks, but I would like to get sharper. Getting the time to blog is a juggling act as well. Vacation is two weeks away and I hope to do some painting in the Outer Banks. Yeah vacation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Splintaaaa (352)

On Tuesday I worked on the first sketches for converting the sleeping dogs poster into a painting. But I also worked on organizing and processing some photos.

This is Splinter. She is my daughter Erin's cat and is living with us while Erin finishes school. This is a very funny creature. She loves living in our house and idolizes our old grandma of a dog, Sadie. Sadie tolerates Splinter. After having a dog for so many years, we are amazed at how flexible Splinter is and totally entertained by how she makes herself comfortable.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Bird Came Knocking (353)

Today is perfectly beautiful outside and I am sad to be locked inside in a cubical. For the past few weeks, a little bird has greeted me at my window each morning. She seems to show up when I am looking at artwork or photographs and knocks on the window. I think she must have a nest somewhere in a bush outside my window and sees me moving as a threat. I know that is what she is really doing, but I like to think that she looks forward to seeing me like Sadie and Splinter do each day. She just wants a clearer view of the artwork or photos I am examining.

I am listening to Derek Trucks Band Already Free and it rocks. In the liner notes (do they call them that any more?), John Snyder talks about the band and how they "embody The Seven Creative Virtues." Although written for these musicians, I would like to adapt them to visual art. So here they are:

1. Personal Exploration--an ongoing search for new knowledge. Simple. Direct.

2. Community Participation and Enhancement--being a "down to earth" person having a network of like-minded and similarly-skilled friends and associates.

3. Honor your Talent--feed and care for your art by practicing and developing a better understanding of "why we create."

4. Humility--keep it real. There's always someone smarter, better, and more talented and you don't know if you are talking to them next or not.

5. Honesty in Life and Art--my mom had a mantra of "be true to yourself" that she repeated over and over to us growing up. I try to be true in my day to day life. I am trying to discover who I am truthfully as an artist.

6. Purpose Driven Life--try to have a purpose behind what you do each day. In art, have a purpose for the outcome, whatever that might be.

7. Love of Family--peace, love, and happiness. I hope for so much more for my family than I have had and that motivates me to be the best that I can be.
By the way, my little friend was sketched with a 2B pencil on white card stock. The song is Sweet Inspiration.

Sunday Sucked (354) for Art

I was trying to do a little landscape on Sunday and it started out fine. The sketch looked the way I wanted it to. But that was when the the bottom fell out. I couldn't get the color of the sky to look good, but I pressed on thinking that it would work out once I put other elements in. I started working on the background trees, and I couldn't even come close to what I wanted. After overworking it for about an hour, I covered it up and realized that it wasn't happening.

Success without failure is a lie. You can't possibly know if something is good if you don't know what is bad. Hopefully, the struggle will not persist for too long.