Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This place is so cool. It's called Lilly, and the fuchsia-coiffed proprietor there sells handmade chocolate that's as beautiful to look as it is delectable to eat. Specialty beers and out-of-the-ordinary wines fill the rest of the shelves.
This Christmas, Lilly had a couple of bright-pink trees behind the plate-glass window. Oh, and good cheer and friendly service are always on the menu, too.
I know, I know. I sound like a commercial? I can't help myself. When I visit into places like this, I'm happy to live in Cleveland.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Blame Associated Press reporter Polly Anderson. My newspaper’s feature section today printed Anderson’s story looking back at the year’s celebrity deaths under the headline “They Won’t Be Forgotten.”
Perhaps there should’ve been a subhead reading, “…and they won’t get the last word, either.”
Anderson’s article is really just a “roll call,” as she herself writes. It’s a nod to those we knew through stage, screen, letters and music. The piece is decidedly not a column or analysis of the individuals’ value to the arts.
So when I got to this sentence, I stopped: “TV mourned ‘Prisoner’ star Patrick McGoohan, delightfully sharp-tongued Bea Arthur, ‘Kung Fu’ star David Carradine and the decorative Farrah Fawcett.”
OK, let’s get this out of the way. I’d never heard of Patrick McGoohan. And what comes to mind when I hear Carradine’s name is, sadly, not “Kung Fu” but the circumstances of his death.
Neither of those things bothered me, though. What I resented was Anderson’s self-indulgent choice of adjectives for the women in that sentence.
Arthur, she of “Maude” and “Golden Girls” fame, is lauded not just as “sharp-tongued,” which she undeniably was, but as “delightfully” so. I myself loved Arthur, but my own departed mother would’ve strenuously argued the "delightful," and she was not alone.
Fawcett, meanwhile, is dispatched with the single pejorative, “decorative.” In case you’re interested, the fine-art world uses “decorative” as shorthand for work that’s pretty but without substance.
So does Anderson -- who, of course, is entitled to her opinion. But why do I want it?
Taking an opinionated swipe at dead people – even mere entertainers – is bad form. In this case, it also appears to be mildly sexist, or maybe looksist.
Fawcett got famous off that red-bathing-suit poster for sure, and milked her looks for what they were worth. But she also earned critical acclaim for acting in her decidedly less “decorative” role as an abused wife in The Burning Bed.
Moreover, she was no more to blame for her beauty than Arthur was for her husky voice and mannish stature. Anderson’s single word seems like a weird, after-the-fact lob from the world of the resentful (and possibly less decorative?) living.
In the scheme of things, the writer’s decision to award neutral adjectives to the men in one sentence and loaded ones to the women doesn’t amount to much. Such micro editorializing is a common print-media misdemeanor, especially in feature sections. I know I committed it myself, perhaps dozens of times over a 26-year newspaper career. It often passes for "color," or "attitude," both of which were once sorely missing from newspapers and both of which are now over-valued by them.
Yes, micro editorializing is common practice, but it's bad practice. It’s one of the accepted almost imperceptible ways that journalists set themselves apart from the interests of their readers. More often than not, what readers want is reportage, information, maybe analysis and the occasional wise voice.
What they don’t want is to think they’re picking up a nice look back at the lives of celebrities only to trip over a snarky comment that might just piss them off and never needed to be there.
I suspect I’ll hear from people who are all too ready to say, “Yes! That’s why I don’t read newspapers.”
To which I say, that’s too bad for you, and it's shortsighted.
I loved my newspaper career. I love my newspaper. I love its indispensible place in our city and our culture.
And I’m really sad at the way newspapers are hurting now. So it seems all the more important for them to run a tight ship – from the biggest of the big-budget talks all the way down to the smallest adjective.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
A ball of something-not-from-nature
falls into busy hands
Some twine (golden but not gold)
winds around, dutiful to
instructions from a magazine,
a guide for housewives
Whose creative fires
ignite the making of babies
then baby meals and toddler clothes,
and pretty rooms and Christmas parties.
Remember the bull's-eye meatballs
when I was ten and you were
the executive's wife?
Ground beef with a cocktail sauce center: genius.
Your spirit, my memory
dangle from tarnished metal
you threaded through golden twist
twining your decades and mine.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The latest report from the files of the Language Fairies concerns the word "awesome": what it means, what it used to mean -- a general tracking of the sad degradation of the word.
The nicest people -- some of my closest friends and admired acquaintances -- have recently succumbed to the temptation to employ "awesome" as a synonym for "great."
In their report, the Language Fairies note that the problem with using awesome to describe, say, new shoes or the band you heard last night is that when something is ACTUALLY awesome -- well, no word remains to do the job.
Assuming the Language Fairy pictured here escapes with her life, she will be able to describe her encounter with a giant, vest-wearing mouse as "awesome," and because the language fairies are very conservative with their use of language everyone will understand that she was, in fact, in awe.
Whereas if she were to describe it to us, we'd just think the mouse had a cool-looking vest.
You see the problem, I'm sure.
She does. Sometimes. Like when she's sitting in any kind of an audience for any length of time.
This was one of the more interesting audiences to be in.
The art institute requires graduating students to publicly present their bachelor of fine arts projects. In the illustration department, this involves presenting the culmination of the work of a year or more on something like a book, a merchandising line, advertising campaign - that sort of thing.
Only a few seniors graduate in December, of course, but this was one of them: a young man who (quite painstakingly, I might add) wrote and illustrated a graphic novel about urban neighbors who band together to fight social ills. I don't want to spill too many details, because I'd like to see him sell his story, and I'd like to see the story not get stolen. Not that you, dear blog reader, would do such a thing. (Actually, I think instances of stolen ideas are way more rare than they're made out to be. For most people, having the "idea" is the easy part. Executing it is where the real work begins.)
Anyway, his presentation included a description of the story and a showing of the book and pages of art from the book; some action figures he had made based on his designs; and some posters advertising the book. For his presentation, he wore a T-shirt advertising his book.
These presentations are like the opposite of awards shows. They're inspiring because you get to hear about the thinking behind a project, and the process the artist engaged to get the work done. After the artist's formal presentation, a lineup of instructors poses questions such as "Why did you decide to do THIS and not THAT," or "What would you do differently?"
One of the softball questions is always, "What did you learn from this?" The answers are predictably both heartfelt and vague. "I learned I really need to budget my time." "I learned that I couldn't do any of this without the support of my family/girlfriend/boyfriend/teachers."
If I haven't mentioned it before, I should say that I really love being part of this world. I feel quite lucky.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Many apologies for the boring nature of this un-updated blog. I've been on deadline. Multiple deadlines, actually. I might get a half a breather soon.
In the meantime, here's a little something I did as an assignment, melding the Tasmanian Devil with the Michelin man. This is not the version I love. The version I loved was deemed to be not enough of a mix. This version also was deemed a failure. But there are things I like about this one, and it's more finished than the first.
If you feel like playing with me, tell me -- what would YOU do to this piece to make it better? Sure, I'm up for a public critique. My skin actually has grown thicker over time. Let me start the ball rolling by saying that one of my instructors wisely suggested I make the bag of chips from the Acme company. I wanted to hit myself over the head when he said that. OF COURSE they should be from Acme.
So there's one thing.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Swimming in a sea of deadlines, I haven't had a lot of sketchbook time lately. But here's a drawing a while back based on a real-life grocery store observation. It was one of those times I wished I'd had a camera (actually, they don't happen too often -- usually I just wish I could draw whatever it is I'm seeing).
Thursday, December 03, 2009
That's right, this is 2009, so not even the new Sunmaid Raisin girl (um - top) can go without breast implants.
I wonder if she, too, was dating Tiger Woods.
I ask you: Why did they bother hanging onto the bonnet? Are we supposed to believe that's what she wears to her spinning class?
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
A few years ago, I was writing a newspaper story about obnoxious catchphrases, most of which seem to be concocted like some venomous brew by the corporate world. I mentioned the then-ubiquitous "going forward," as in "Going forward, we'll be drilling down to our core mission and using best practices."
The article inspired a letter from a pleasantly surly gentleman who said -- and I couldn't believe this -- "...and why have so many people abandoned a perfectly good word like 'forward' and started saying 'foeward' instead?"
I was practically delirious. Until that moment, I thought I was the only one who had noticed this. What WAS it, I wondered -- and now I had company -- that had so many Midwestern people, particularly those appearing as guests on the radio, giving this strange New Yawk pronunciation to the word "forward"?
My theory is that some smart East Coast people with broadcast platforms grew up mispronouncing the word "forward" (it has TWO 'Rs' -- really!); started saying "going foeward" a lot on TV and radio; and it spread like the swine flu of language viruses. Otherwise sensible people living here in flyover country caught on and thought they might sound smarter if they dropped that nasty first R.
By now, you might be thinking, "Who peed in her eggnog? What is wrong with this woman?"
To which I reply: Go ahead, listen. Listen, say, to NPR on and off for a day. Perk up your ears the next time you're stuck at some kind of corporate luncheon, and someone decides to talk about the future -- that is, "going forward." They won't say "forward." I promise you, they will say "foeward." I was reminded of this just two days ago, when I heard the head of a Cleveland cultural institution on the local NPR affiliate talking about going foeward. It seemed to me that she was trying harder than she needed to to sound really smart. I immediately knew she wakes up at 3 every morning with an attack of impostor syndrome and has to pop an Ambien, which she regrets at her 9 o'clock meeting.
(Aside: I have seen this same woman go bare-legged in backless shoes when the temperature read 10 degrees; she has very nice legs, though.)
A fairy unicyclist would find such all such affectations absurd.
Coming up: The fairies consider "at the end of the day," how to screw up a phrase like "sort of," and perhaps, as a gift to my daughter, the purposeful mispronunciation of "often."
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I used to be the one who faithfully posted sketchbook entries.
Yes, well, I've been sketchbooking all right, but for a project, not to create nice sketchbook pages. I got a temporary breather today, so I decided to return to my Pen in Hand roots.
What to draw, what to draw, I asked myself. What to draw just for fun?
Then I went in to move some clothes into the dryer, and I saw it: the mother lode of orphaned objects grabbed rattling from the inside of the spinning tin can, after dancing with sheets of Bounce.
I am here to tell you (in case you haven't discovered it yourself) that Cherry Chapstick just isn't the same after it's been washed and dried. Cowrie shells hold up. Surprisingly, Sharpie highlighters still highlight. I don't know about that nasty, weird bullet of lip gloss, which came from god-knows-where. Ain't mine.
Anyway, I had fun. Hope you're having fun, too.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Class project: Do some ad materials for a campaign or business. I picked national Banned Book Week (already over for this year, folks), presented by the American Library Association.
I did slightly different designs for a poster, a bookmark and this totebag. I liked this one so much I'm having it actually made into a totebag at Zazzle.
So you don't have to squint: Alice is holding "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and saying, "When I'm not falling down rabbit holes, I'm curling up with a banned book."
Of course, the term "banned book" is a bit loaded. Some have pointed out that we live in the land of the free press. But plenty of people have tried to yank particular books off the shelves of public and school libraries in an effort to decide what's best for everyone.
(Should you want a closer look, you can click on the picture here.)
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
He was a good boy, that Oscar. Suffered many an indignity in his day, at the hands of small children and large dogs and the occasional inconsiderate adult. He bore most of it stoically and kindly. Not your usual aloof cat. He preferred to sort of melt in your arms, or on your lap. And if he was less adventurous than most (his twin brother met an early end playing "chicken" with the cars in our old neighborhood), that was OK. He enjoyed sunning himself on the pavement. He liked the shade of our little Japanese maple on a hot day.
Just last week, he even deigned to share the couch with the giant woof. It took him a moment to decide, when Pearl leaped up on the couch next to him. You could see the old man sitting there, thinking, "Well, shitttt. I'm arthritic and half-deaf and my kidneys don't really work anymore. Is it too much to ask to have a little couch time by myself?"
He thought about leaving. But I think his old bones were weary enough that after a good long moment or two of considering his options, he decided he could stand to have her back pressed up against his shoulder. They stayed that way for a long time.
I'd post the picture I took that day, but it doesn't seem right to make him share the spotlight today.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Yes, so for one of my illustration classes, we put our childhood selves in an imaginary picture book based on things we liked to do or wanted to be when we were little. I remembered how a neighborhood friend (who, I'll admit, looked nothing like the curly-haired kid in the background here) and I used to teach ourselves walkovers and handsprings and whatnot. We thought we were pretty good.
In my imaginary story, though, we are not equally good -- my friend is better than me. At gymnastics, anyway.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Well, children, it is time, at last, for the one-sentence ghost story to come to its conclusion, and I have to say I was torn -- torn, I tell you - by the truly macabre entrees. In the end, I settled on four finalists, all of whom are deserving of prizes. As were others (and if you didn't win anything this time, please keep entering these contests, because your time will come -- I swear).
First Prize for Meshing Sex, Love and Bone-Chilling Fear in a Sentence of Splendid Rhythm And Cadence goes to Roark o' the Blogosphere for this:
"Windshield steamed and their lust sated, the two lovers fell back in joyous exhaustion, then turned to gaze at the clouded moon that silhouetted their car in the remote cornfield -- and saw a row of bright eyes peering through the half-open passenger window."
First Prize for Writing an Entire, Especially Sinister Episode of the Twilight Zone in a (kinda) Single Sentence goes to John Campanelli for:
“Piece of shit raccoon -- I just had these aligned,” muttered Frank as he squatted next to the tire and waited for his eyes to adjust to the county-road darkness and make out the torn remains of the creature that had sent his Cadillac into a rattling rage back there on 57; instead, wrapped around the treads, Frank saw mud, blood, and a sparkling swatch of shredded leotard.
And -- last but definitely NOT least -- the Edgar Allen Poe Special Prize for Writing A Really Long One-Sentence-Story That Resembles Pen in Hand's Own Nightmares During the Spring When Our Allergies Are At Their Worst goes to Debbie Parker for:
"I woke up the Eve of Halloween to a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream of being awaken by a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream of being awaken from a dream by a loud crash coming from downstairs, afraid, knowing that I was the only one home at the time, laying there listening to what was to come next, beginning to shake hearing footsteps coming up toward my room; heavy footfalls that sounded like no friend of mine, with a sudden bang of my bedroom door being opened by the intruder about to enter my quarters only to find that I am awaking from a dream that I cannot awake from."
Thursday, October 29, 2009
At first I was convinced this was a wolf spider. We tend to get 'em out on our woodsy deck about this time of year. I'd seen his/her web develop over the last couple of days, but didn't see the creature itself till I gazed out there in the low afternoon light, when the web was practically glowing.
After looking up "wolf spider" on Google, I'm less convinced it's a wolf spider, but since Mr. Wolff here agreed to be in some of my shots, I can, with confidence, call it a Wolff spider.
Whatever it is, it's beautiful. Not that I want it, say, on my lapel. But it gorgeous all the same. If you're the kind of person who loathes spiders -- well, you're probably not still reading. But if you like to gaze at spiders and want a closer look, click on the pictures.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I've come to really like my illustration-department colleagues, and I'm no longer aware on a 24-7 basis that I'm old enough to be their mother. Heck, I'm probably OLDER than some of their mothers. They're -- dare I say it? -- fun.
Yes. They're fun.
Monday, October 26, 2009
More observational drawing.
That was my command to myself the day before yesterday. So today I decided to put that into action by sitting on top of a 5-foot ladder erected on my porch so I could catch a slightly elevated view of the car here. I know, it doesn't look that elevated. All I can say is that I wouldn't be able to do it on a 12-foot ladder.
Halfway through the sketch, I got an Important Phone Call (caps intentional), and was quite relieved to climb down in order to take it. Hours later, the car I'd been drawing had gone on an excursion. So I had to park my car where Carlo's car had been -- we drive the same model -- and try to re-create the approximate scene. Then I had to climb back on the ladder.
What the neighbors must think....
Sunday, October 25, 2009
I'm learning a new technique called tempera resist.
This image started out as a photograph I took at a sketchcrawl a few months back. Cute kid with dreads wearing a Bob Marley shirt. Beautiful mother.
When it came time for the tempera resist experimentation, I made a drawing based on the photo, editing out Mom and the Marley shirt (too detailed).
I drew the image on a piece of tracing paper, then used white tempera paint right on the tracing paper, painting everything I planned to keep white.
After letting that dry, I glued the tracing paper to a piece of illustration board and let it dry. Then I painted the whole she-bang with Higgins black India ink. I mention the brand because an earlier attempt at this technique failed spectacularly, and I think it was because the ink I used had shellack in it.
OK, so now I have in front of me a piece of illustration board with, essentially, a totally black rectangle that's grown a bit wrinkly where the tracing paper has buckled. (That's good; the wrinkles will create texture).
After the India ink dries, I take the whole thing and put it under the sprayer nozzle in my kitchen sink. That's right, I'm washing my drawing. And as I do, the tempera paint starts to lift up and wash away, leaving white pretty much everywhere there should be white. The black ink that was OVER the tempera also washes off. But the black that went directly onto the tracing paper and board, unprotected by the tempera, stays nice and black.
The final image is OK -- I like the rugged, almost woodcut look to it. If I were to do it differently, I would be more cognizant when painting on the tempera, and really make sure I'm getting the kind of lines and coverage that I want. But there's something quite thrilling about playing with a technique where a certain amount of variability is built into the process. Some of the black, for instance, seeps through the tempera if the paint is put on a bit thinner. It's really fun to wash off that tempera and have the piece emerge.
What people generally do, then is make a print on, say, toned paper, and use other materials to enhance the piece. When I do that with this one, I might re-post. But I did another tempera resist image today, too, which is still drying.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
I thought you might need a little inspiration in the one-sentence ghost story contest. (For details, see previous post.)
Pen in Hand already has received some excellent one-sentence stories, which will soon become public, but the management encourages more participation.
Don't forget: Make it creepy. And if you can't make it creepy, make it funny. Or sad. Or cheerful. Well, no ... let's leave cheerful for Christmas.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Greetings, and happy fall. It's feeling awfully autumnal out there, isn't it? Yes, I believe so.
And speaking of fun (weren't we? well, LET'S!), it is time for another one-sentence story contest.
If you missed it the first time, please take a look here to see the start of Pen in Hand's summer writing contest. Three winners were declared. (You'll have to look for subsequent blog entries yourself if you want to find them. I have things to do.)
And so it will go again. This being Halloween season, however, I'm looking now for one-sentence spooky stories. Or scary stories. Or silly Halloween stories. All. In. A sentence. A single sentence. Long, or short. Just like the one-sentence love story. As a matter of fact, you could have a one-sentence ghost story that is also a love story, if you're feeling creative.
Like before, the winner gets lots of sticky compliments from Yours Truly, PLUS an illustrated version of his/her one-sentence story. To keep. Yes, we post it here on Pen in Hand, but should the winner be you, you will ACTUALLY GET THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATION.
I say that because, well, not everyone actually wanted it last time. I found that strange and vaguely upsetting, because if someone wants to draw me a picture, I want the picture. But never mind.
In any case, clearly the motivating force behind the dozens of entries that poured into PIH headquarters here was the gift certificate. Yes, the winners get a gift certificate. Or, in Jackie's case, I force the winner to have lunch with me, and I pay. And I declare as many winners as I like, because that's how it works here. If you don't like the rules, you maybe appeal to the Rules Committee. Which is me.
Anyway, we don't have a WHOLE lot of time before Halloween, after which one-sentence spooky stories will suddenly bear the stink of past-season staleness, much the way all that Christmas frou-frou suddenly looks horribly depressing on Dec. 26.
So: Get writing. Send me your entry here in the comment section, or by email at ksands7(at sign)aol.com. Or you can Facebook me, if the blogger software is giving you grief. You can be public about it, which is ever so much fun, or you can be shy.
One more very important thing: This actual blog post seems to be haunted. The illustration at the top -- the one with the blue cast and all the blue printing? Well, it's ... oddly blue. In real life, the writing is, uh ... red. Seriously. The jpeg appears red. Everything appears as it should. But when I upload it to blogger it turns blue.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 05, 2009
About a month ago, I posted this here sketch of a She-Robot that I did while thinking about robots. I kinda liked her.
Today I post a more "finished" (though not quite finished) colored pencil rendering of a new version of her. I do like her better.
This is what art school teaches you: that there's a more interesting composition you could try. Or that the drawing would be improved by the addition of a dog (who got cut off in this photo, but not in the painting itself). Or that yes, you really should deal with the reflection in the mirror rather than trying to avoid it because you don't know how to render it.
The downside of art school is that it also teaches us to see the flaws in our own work. Well, how else to make it better, right? But it's true that in a general way, I liked my art better when it was worse because I didn't see what was wrong with it. That's bad. And that's good. So while I like this version of the robot, what jumps out at me now are the flaws.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
It would be interesting to know why Halloween has evolved into what some adults consider to be their favorite holiday. Is it that baby boom refusal to grow up? Is it diehard sexy-witch/muscular ghoul fantasies? Or is it the idea of raiding the jumbled, treat-filled pillow cases of unsuspecting children, knowing that stolen candy has no calories?
Dunno. But here's your first "BOO" of the season.
All righty, then.
I'm enjoying myself, even though my husband pointed out to me that I misspelled "beneficence" in my last post. He's correct, of course. He's usually correct about these things. Actually, I'm usually correct about these things, too, but alas - not quite as reliably so as C.
And speaking of C ...
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Some of you might remember Art.
He's a couple of years old now, but I dragged him out for the purposes of giving him some color here courtesy of digital technology. Art has been a T-shirt, too, by the way, as well as stickers I put on my letters.
Someday Art's duck might become yellow. But not today.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This is just a sketch, folks. A messy, icky, pen and pencil, here-is-my-brain-in-motion kind of sketch.
It turned into something more finished, which will be yet further finished. After which, I'll post that, too. But you know how I love the voyeurism of other people's messy closets. So here's mine.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Been busy. Still busy. But I did a threesome of potential Karen logos. Like any of them? Note that a) You can click on them to make them a bit bigger and b) there's a lot of white space between them because of how the original computer file was made. Sorry 'bout that.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I've been drawing alligators lately, in various forms, for various projects, for reasons I cannot quite identify. 'Cept they're fun.
This one I did for school. Crummy photo (the piece was too big to fit on my scanner), but you get the idea.
There's more work to be done on it yet, but I like where it's going.
And, as always, should you want a closer look you can click on the image. Though in this case you'll be clicking on a slightly out of focus image.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I was working on an assignment for school, and started doodling robots in pencil in my sketchbook.
Later, I was at a concert, and -- being someone who evidently needs constant visual stimulation -- I started going over the pencil with pen.
Then, despite the fact that the sketch is sort of falling off the page, and despite the fact that the point of view, perspective and composition are off, I could not resist finishing it off this morning with a little color.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
You'd love me to tell you these came from the craft store, wouldn't you?
But that would be lying.
I found them during my recent dog-walk.
Yes, I know they're lovely.
And fall is lovely.
And late fall is lovely.
And even early winter is lovely.
The trouble is that the Eeyore in me looks at these lovely red leaves and says, "Yep, and then it's going to be January somethingorother, with gray snow and sub-zero temperatures. And it's going to be that way forEVER."
Monday, August 31, 2009
I said, "I want a whole fish."
The Bulgarian fishmonger said, "We got carp, we got white fish, we got halibut, we got bass, we got ...".
"What's that one?" I asked, pointing to a tall, slender fellow looking uncomfortable on his bed of ice.
The fishmonger seemed unsure.
He seemed perplexed, actually, as if most of his customers arrive at his counter already knowing what kind of fish they want.
Then I saw the big fat guy on the right.
"I think I want that one," I told him.
He hoisted it out of the case and slabbed it on the scale. It would cost $19.19.
That seemed a small price to pay for a beautiful, horrible, stinking model such as this.
As you might have read a couple of posts earlier, he offered to gut it. When I told him I wanted to draw it, he didn't understand at first. I made a drawing motion with my hand, and then he perked up. Now THIS was interesting, he seemed to think.
Then he told me about someone he knew back home who did a giant sculpture out of steel. I think he was pleased that his fish wasn't headed for the usual panko-and-fry-pan routine.
He smiled as he handed me my wrapped fish.
For a moment, I thought about asking him how I'd go about gutting it myself - you know, like whether there were any tricks of the trade - in case I decided to eat it after I drew it. But who would I be fooling.
By the way, this drawing was a homework exercise. The textures in the picture are largely borrowed from various objects by way of putting paper over the object then moving my Prismacolor black pencil over the paper. For example, the fish scales came from various parts of a flat kitchen grater; the stripey fin and tale were stolen from uncooked spaghetti; the face of the fish was borrowed from a vinyl jewelry case; some of the texture on the tray was lifted off my husband's hairbrush; and my favorite, the bread, came from the living room wall, which is painted with Ralph Lauren "suede" paint. A nod to irony: the lemon rind was textured by using an orange rind. Take that, citrus fruits!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Perhaps you've been wandering in your yard or your neighborhood lately, and have looked down to see what instantly strikes you as the biggest beetle EVER.
Congratulations: You've just found the source of that amazing, swelling, chirping noise that overtakes us in late July and August.
This is cicada season, which some folks regard as "locust" season, but that's something else altogether, and never mind right now. Cicadas abound. They live and mate high in the trees, thrive for a month and then die after they've left a new generation.
It's common to find dessicated husks about this time of year. Less common is to find a nice intact example like the one that died on my porch. I found it just after the rain, when the water on its transparent wings glistened like ice. I did not capture said glistening here, but I did get a decent grasp of the intricacies of wing and exoskeleton.
As I drew it, I was thinking about Albrecht Durer's fantastic Rhinoceros woodcut. Not emulating it, understand, but thinking about his luxury of detail.
This is what happens. One day you start doodling in a sketchbook, and the next day you're picking dead things up off the porch.