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Thursday, November 20, 2014

This little man ...

I met Hooper an and art and antiques store in Cleveland. He was so friendly, waddling up to greet me when I arried, and soft as a 6-month-old puppy, that I absolutely had to draw him. Hooper is actually 8. But he has a young spirit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Farm Animals and a Great Quote

Above are the farm animals. What a nice day I had.

Here's the quote, which has nothing to do with my day, except I read the quote today. But I just loved it so much I had to memorialize it here:

From James Parker, writing in the New York Times Book Review:
"From my fellow bakers, those yeasty intellectuals, I learned about industry and cohesion and the moral obligation to be cheerful. The last lesson was the most important, and extended out of the bakery and into life. If you’re depressed, maimed, crocked in some way, fair enough — let us know. But if not, then in the name of humanity stop moaning. Keep a lightness about you, a readiness. Preserve the digestions of your co-workers; spare them your mutterings and vibings. It’s highly nonliterary, but there we are: Be nice."

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Museum: Are You Doing It Wrong?

A concert took me to the Cleveland Museum of Art last Sunday. Work-related. An 11-year-old piano prodigy would be performing Haydn and Chopin and Rachmaninoff with skill that was several hundred times what I was able to master in like 11 years of piano lessons way back when.

But never mind. This is not about the freakish miracle of the prodigy. We will leave that for another time (though if it doesn't make you wonder about God, I don't just don't know about you).

Before the concert, I went to the museum early so I could draw a bit. I went immediately to the Buddhism space on the second floor -- drawn, I think, by the prospect of all those big statues and faces. There are wonderful watercolor book illustrations, too, but this (see above) is what I wanted.

There happened to be a bench where I could rest myself and cross my legs and splay my book and uncap my pen. And then I contemplated the head of the Boddhisattva for a while, as well as the woman who took her time really appreciating all the stuff in the case.

Most of us grow up learning that a museum is like a magazine -- something to flip through, to scan to completion. But if you have something like the Cleveland Museum of Art nearby, or even just a modest little place with a few interesting objects, the best thing you can do for yourself is visit often and spend a little time with just a Thing or Two. Get to know it. (Draw it if you like, or not -- if the guards don't yell at you to stop.)

In art school, they teach that the first layer of getting to know a piece of art is just to describe it to yourself as literally as possible. The terracotta godhead is massive, with flat, slanted eyes and a head dress that maybe looks like something a wealthy person might've worn, or maybe not. The left ear is broken off. The nose has crumbled away. The expression is serene. Et cetera.

If that's all you were to do, just contemplate what you see, you would bridge the gap between the person or persons who made the work way long ago and yourself, standing there with this object in 2014. It's not the magazine-flippage experience of the museum. For that, we have magazines.

For the sublime, we have this work of art.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A chicken

Two years ago when we went to the Jersey Shore we visited the little zoo nearby. Oddly, I remember best the chickens, as well as the fact that they had a snowy owl. Anyway, I shot a lot of reference photos of this bold rooster. He perched on a chain link fence and seemed to enjoy being admired. But then, don't we all?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Children's Book Conference Weekend

I thought you might enjoy seeing the page spread I created as a workshop "homework" assignment. We had to read text for a picture book, then illustrate one two-page spread (keeping in mind, of course, where the gutter will be and all that). The story is about two kids who love the library and find friendship in each other there. It's a real book-to-be by a writer who has not been revealed to us. 

I chose the part of the story that introduces the boy character, who wakes up surrounded by dinosaurs, which which he is obsessed. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Another illustrated recipe

You'll have to click to see the whole recipe -- a favorite from my mother's recipe box, and a staple of the 1960s housewife.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy Convocation

Today was Convocation at the college.

For those of you not immersed in academia, that's the official start to the new collegiate year. I like the idea of this tradition. I like the idea of our work lives broken up into chunks that coincide with the school year we knew as kids.

Convocation usually means listening to a number of speeches and the articulation of goals. I find it helps to concentrate if I draw, so I did that today. But I took notes, too, because our keynote speaker was worth hearing and I wanted to remember his hourlong history of the university/college tradition and culture.

Yes. Really.