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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Return to the VC* (with celebrity cameo)

Another page from my graphic diary, of sorts. No one could have been more surprised than I was by who showed up at the bottom of the page, quoting from his own lyrics.
Who can blame him for taking an interest, I ask you . . .

*visual confessional

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Return of the books

Perhaps you remember seeing the empty bookshelves a few weeks back. The carpet came up, the floors were refinished and, yesterrday, the books were returned to their rightful place on the shelves. Though I gave a few to the local library.

Sometimes I think home repair and renovation projects are the universe's way of forcing us to face all the stuff we accumulate over time. Speaking of which, the bowl on that coffee table is filled with C's collection of art glass marbles. As collections go, I'll take one that can be contained in a 12-inch bowl.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Here in the visual confessional . . .

Here in the visual confessional, I'm telling a short and shallow tale on myself. It's largely an experiment in visual storytelling. You must double-click on the image to read what I'm fretting about. This is just one, um, slice in a slightly larger narrative. I had such a good time with my ode to turkey vultures a while back that I had to try another.

It is weird incorporating invented objects, such as the conveyor belt full of junk food. Anyone who has tried such tricks before should feel free to offer helpful hints.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

My brother M recently gave me a vintage Thanksgiving postcard created in 1903 and mailed from some guy to his mother in 1910. The card had a painting of a turkey on it, which made me want to do my own turkey. They're such lavishly plumed birds, and all that plumage is both challenging and fun.

I did a rather painstaking pen and ink drawing, which I liked a lot (I found turkey photos on the web). I wasn't so fond of it once I threw on the watercolor. The varying colors, while sort of true to life, don't completely cohere on the page. Still, I had a good time, and it's a nice way to wish you happy tidings of the day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Egg challenge

The Every Day Matters sketch group challenge from last week - draw a carton of eggs - brought out the pink-lover in me.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I think of myself as not having much of a style or a personal aesthetic, if you will forgive the pretension (and you might not). But I seem to be operating under some guiding principles, anyway, one of which is variety. I like at least one drawing out of every four or five to be architectural or landscape, if possible. It's not enough for me to catalogue all the household objects that might be more comfortably drawn, especially as the weather gets cold. So it was nice to have a reasonable weather day to sit outside while the girls were getting their hair trimmed, and sketch a little of the local college. The thing in the foreground, by the way, is a garbage can. Whenever I'm trying to make a composition outside, I look for a really clean perspective from which to draw, rather than a crowded, chaotic one. Today I accepted the chaotic one and figured I could just draw the layers of objects, from the garbage can on back, and see how that went.

I think it went OK.
This is a Micron pen in the Moleskine sketchbook that doesn't take watercolor well, overlaid with watercolor, which of course resisted the paper all the way.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I took a week's vacation recently and spent one morning of it at the very unexpected funeral of a colleague. I did not know him well, and still he was a part of my daily life, and he left the planet much too soon. As is perhaps too typical, I learned more about him at his funeral than I ever knew about him by way of workplace interaction. I was sad that his life was so short, but I was happy to learn how well he'd spent it.

After the service, I stopped by a lakeside park near the house I grew up in, and spent a few melancholy moments remembering the people who have come in and out of my life in the decades - yes, decades - that I've been going there.

The leaves still held to the branches, and the sun turned the brightest of them into stained glass. It was a beautiful day in autumn -- the season that I once loved best. So many I've known, and some that I've loved, seem to take their leave in fall. Now it is my thoughtful season, the one that ushers me farthest inside myself to examine old bones. I come out the other end more grateful for life, and inching toward reconciling the impermanence of it all. Inching, mind you. Only inching.

Apologies, now, if you've found this morose. I go there sometimes, but I promise not to stay.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Guilty Pleasure

Lisa Williams, the new Lifetime Television Network clairvoyant (she talks to dead people) is completely irresistible with her British accent, giant eyes, wild, skunk-patch dye job and -- it has to be said -- large butt.

If she gets really popular, she'll consult a stylist who will immediately change her hair and make her lose 30 pounds. This will be tragic.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Among the many riddles I have yet to solve in life is this: Does demonizing certain food give it too much power, or are there foods that one should just never allow in the house?

I've long leaned toward avoiding certain "bad" foods altogether. It's been a short list, but doughnuts were always on it. The sight of a doughnut can make me abandon all reason. Or it used to, anyway.

After I started driving a long way every Sunday to do a little volunteer thing (see previous post re: turkey vultures), I got into the almost-habit of stopping for a coffee and doughnut on the way home. One large coffee, ONE doughnut. Once a week, or almost once a week.

Today I bought this box for the kids, and it did not call my name when I put it away. True, I haven't lost any weight. But I haven't gained any, either. I think doughnuts are losing their power over me.

I think maybe there is application for this principle in the greater world. Perhaps if certain self-righteous leaders stopped demonizing other people for their personal lives or the people they love, they'd stop finding themselves so fascinated by the forbidden, and consequently in the unhappy position of having to apologize later to their constituents and congregations for their own transgressions.

I'm not suggesting they eat the doughnut once a week. I wonder if it wouldn't be enough to simply allow the box to sit quietly in the cupboard while they think about more important things.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Buzzard to Vulture

As I was driving on I-71 yesterday, a soaring turkey vulture caught my eye, and all of a sudden I knew I wanted to do a paneled approach on the subject of buzzards.

Click on the image to enlarge and read the text.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Saturday Quickies

I've been sketch-challenged this week, so I thought I'd drop in a couple of quick ones I did on Saturday. The top one is a gesture sketch I did of the girls raking leaves. They weren't raking all that diligently, but they were moving around enough to make it a challenge to capture a pose. The one right thing I did (eventually) was focus tightly on the position of Lylah's hands (left) holding the rake. I drew the rest of her around that.

The building is half barbershop, half bar. I studied it for a few minutes in my car in the drugstore parking lot.
Again, neither one is a big splash, but the practice is good.

Monday, November 06, 2006


The carpet is coming up today (thanks to the dog), so I spent much of yesterday emptying two rooms. The people who are doing the work said they'd move the big stuff. We'll see what they think of the piano. :-) The dog is lying there that way because she finds such a disruption very unsettling, and usually assumes we're going away when things change like this. I hugged her and told her everything would be all right, but she remains unconvinced.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Football holds as much interest for me as stamp collecting, which is to say none (although there ARE some very nice stamps out there), but I found myself drawing the face of Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells yesterday. The New York Times had a special sports magazine out and he was on the cover. After I'd drawn him a few times I found myself wondering about him. If I'd been able to turn the magazine over and shake out all the extra football details, it would have been a perfect profile of Parcells, who (I'm sure you know this) has made a career of fixing troubled teams.

No stronger case can be made for the power of art than to say that drawing Bill Parcells' face made me want to know him a bit.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Bon Voyage

All eyes have been on today as C has been preparing for a big international trip - the very sort that excites him and produces anxiety in me. We shall hold down the fort, as they say.

Incidentally, this spread was done in a new sketchbook called Hand Book, made by Global Art Supplies out of Kansas City, Mo. I bought it because it's the size of the Moleskine I like but the paper was billed as accepting of "light washes," which the regular Moleskine sketchbook can't brag about. (Meanwhile, when Moleskine made a watercolor sketchbook, they changed the dimensions and added that stupid perforation to the page.)

I like the Hand Book so far. The cover is hardbound cloth, not that nice substance MS uses, but there's an elastic tie and a plastic envelope in back for collecting ephemera. I'd love to hear from other artists who've used the Hand Book. One of our local art supply stores had a big new display of them, and it sort of seemed like they were choosing this over the Moleskines. If Moleskine would come out with a 5-by-8-inch book with watercolor paper and no perforations, they'd have me for life.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


A couple of years ago I spent too much money on a digital camera that I figured would give me single-lens reflex-type pictures. It didn't. It DID acquaint me, however, with the vagaries of digital photography, so that when I finally went out a couple of weeks ago and bought the camera I really need, I wasn't completely intimidated. So that first camera was a bit of a waste of money but not a waste of experience.

Yesterday I stopped at Huntington Beach and practiced on fall foliage. I'll use some of those images for sketch references in the coming days. They turned out really well, and the action on the new camera (pictured here) is wonderful.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sighting (and EDM Challenge #90)

In summer and early fall I regularly saw two red-tail hawks perching on power lines along the road I take to get to the raptor center every Sunday. More recently, they haven't been there, which made me think they'd moved on. (Hawks don't technically migrate but they do move depending on food availability.)

Yesterday I drove out there to do a little food-prep work. For the sake of readers with delicate sensibilities, I will leave the description at that.

On the drive home, I saw one of "my" hawks in its usual spot on the wire. He (or she) was watching prey below, and just as I was about to pass him (or her), some unfortunate creature happened to wander into sight. In a flash, the hawk dropped down, legs extended, and that was that.

All the creatures we see at the raptor center are injured. Some never make it back out into the wild, though of course that's the goal. It was great to see a hawk being a hawk.

Micron .05 in watercolor sketchbook with colored pencil.