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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cute as a ...

On our peach tree photo shoot at Eddy Fruit Farm in Chesterland last weekend, Lylah and I were briefly distracted by this winsome creature. I dig how well my little Canon Powershot takes macro shots. It has made me realize that I need not bother with a costly new lens for my Rebel. I mean, heck -- you can almost see the bug smiling here, don't you think?

I was photographing peaches to help me a drawing project. Lylah was shooting peaches because she likes to take pictures.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Peaches and Adam

This is a terrible, terrible drawing of my CIA friend Adam, but my excuse is that I was usuing only our recent cup of coffee visit for reference. I just tossed him down there on the page -- sorry, Adam! -- so as to remember that in addition to picking peaches on Saturday I also had coffee with Adam.

One of the cool things about going back to college later in life is that you surprise yourself by making friends with people who aren't normally in your sphere of operation. Adam is a very cool person I'm glad I've gotten to know.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

When your firstborn goes off to college ...

First, you eat.
Then, if you're a certain kind of person, you write. Which is what I did here for the PD.

Note that if you are coming across the page in, like, October, the link will be long dead.
But if you're reading me today, well ... please read me today? Thank you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where did they come from?

One day I run into a single red dice (die? I think that's correct but it's awkward) lying on the sidewalk. I yank on the dog's leash to get her to hold up. Shiny object: pick it up. Maybe it was meant for the trash, part of an old board game that hadn't mattered in a long time. There was something extra bright, extra brilliant about the red plastic shining on the gray sidewalk. It was as if leaving it there wasn't an option.

The raffle ticket was more hidden and less insistent for its drabness. Also, you have to admit: It was proabably a losing ticket. A trip or a set of golfballs or a bottle of wine not won, right? Stuffed in someone's pocket, maybe a pocket from which it fell one day while some other dog was being walked.

The key -- well, keys. There are two on the ring, I just didn't feel like drawing the second one. Now THAT was something important, right? Someone was really missing those keys. The thought almost allowed me to leave them there on the sidewalk, on the chance that someone might retrace his or her steps in an effort to find them. In the end, I couldn't leave them there because a story about their owner had already half-formed in my mind. They were lost by a woman in her thirties who moved in with her boyfriend and wasn't totally settled with the new arrangement. Maybe things were better before they moved in together. Now the dailiness of their relationship was introducing new tensions. She feels an ambivalence she didn't expect to feel. I will not go so far as to say that losing the keys was intentional, and in fact when she discovers she's lost them she's dreading telling him. He'd given her his extra keys, after all -- entrusted her -- and now, only weeks into their living together -- she must confess her irresponsibility. Well, anyone can do that, right? It's not even like losing something when they fall out of the pocket of a purse. It's more like a design flaw, where the purse is concerned.

But he won't understand; this is one of the things she has come to see about him, up close in this living-together arrangement. He only understands his own foibles.

She starts to wonder if maybe she can move out before having to admit that she's lost the keys.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sweet William

Meet William.
He's one of the children my daughter Kate spent her summer with at the Lighthouse Summer Day Camp in Cleveland. William is a virtually worldless little soul, but he loves words. He loves to be read to. Insists on it, really. The great mystery is to what degree William understands what he hears, and the conclusion is that it would be a mistake to underestimate his comprehension or intelligence.

I spent time with William and his friends for my bi-monthly feature in Ohio Authority, the new online magazine. Please visit. It's a cool site and a great place to be reminded of why Cleveland is an extraordinary city.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Does that make her a Dap-Queen?

Friday night we went to the Rock Hall for a free concert of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Not sure what Dap-Kings are, but Sharon Jones can belt out them tunes.
Which of course I listened to while drawing the U2 car suspended overhead. Because that's what I do. I don't dance. No one wants to see me dance.

Monday, August 09, 2010


OK, here's Pic No. 2 from my Illustrator Society work this weekend. As you can see, there's, um, a theme.
Carlo thinks it's "creepy-homey." Or something like that.

Perhaps interestingly, I went searching for inspiration in an album of old photographs, where I came across a picture of my parents from some trip they took. Where? I don't know. Perhaps Europe. Perhaps not. The photo was compositionally pleasing to my eye, and looked SOMEWHAT like what you see here. There was indeed a couple walking in the other direction. The child and dog were my additions, and of course my parents weren't wearing masks. Nor were there any cats in the original. Nor did the trees look like geometric cut-outs. Nor was it fall.

Isn't art fun?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Hello, My Name Is ...

The theme for the 2010 Northern Ohio Illustrators Society's annual show is "About Face."
That was just enough of a prompt to get my narrative brain rumbling in fourth gear this weekend. This is one of two pieces I did for the show, which happens in September.

If you have any ideas about what the title should be, I'd love to read them. As usual, click on the picture if you want a closer look.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Portrait of Lylah

Over the years, I've probably drawn Lylah more than any one person. She's a willing and available model. And she's got an artistic soul, so she never seems to resent me pressing her into service.

Today's drawing is actually a portrait of her from a different angle. I think it's interesting how our hands are as strong an identifier of ourselves as our faces. They tell the world about us in all kinds of ways. Mine speak to my dad (my hands are structured the way his were); about the day when I was 6 that I caught my finger in a garage door; about my tendency to gain and lose weight.

So it with all of us. And so it is with Lylah's hands.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Odds and Ends

I thought I'd point my non-Cleveland friends to a couple of pieces of work I've done in regional media here.

First, a review of a cool new novel by an Ohio psychologist and writer, Noam Shpancer, which ran in the Plain Dealer on Sunday:
The Good Psychologist. I'm so delighted to have a great new Ohio book to crow about.

Second, another outing with Sketchbook Cleveland for Ohio Authority. Had a wonderful breakfast-and-art session at Lucky's Cafe in Tremont. The sketch up top -- a meager portrayal of the very wonderful cantaloupe soup with goat cheese -- is just an appetizer for the large piece I did for Ohio Authority. Ya gotta read the real thing there!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What she does on her summer vacation

My kids make me proud in different ways.
One way Katy makes me proud is that she loves -- LOVES -- to work with other people's children.
Not everyone does, you know. When people say, "It takes a special person to do that," they aren't kidding. Last week I visited the daycamp where she presides over 4-year-olds.
You'll be seeing more about that.
But I was looking over pictures I took, and kept coming back to this one. In part, it's because this little kid kills me. But it's also the expression on my girl's face. What she does every day doesn't always inspire unmitigated joy (I witnessed a wearing tantrum or two), but look how joyful she is.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Door wide open

One of the joys of art, if you can get there, is letting go of literalism.
Maybe what I mean is that it's fun to go BEYOND the first interpretation of something. We know this from studying contemporary art (if we have indeed studied contemporary art), but it's something else to know it as the person making the art. It's something else to let go of one's own literalness or direct consciousness and simply put down what comes to mind.

Let us say you drew a portable car vacuum cleaner for no other reason than that it was there. You could leave it at that, and contemplate the need to take the vac out and suck up the glitter your kid had spilled all over the passenger's seat of your car. Or you could say, "But I don't think this page is done. What does it need?"
To which something in the back of your brain might answer, "an elephant."
And so then you might draw an elephant going trunk-to-trunk, so to speak, with the vacuum. Only it would be a very small elephant -- though it wouldn't have to be, it could be just the very tip of the trunk of a very large elephant.
And then you could be done, and you could contemplate the things in your life that suck. Or the fact that you still recoil a bit from the phrase "that sucks!"

Or you could say, "But I don't think this page is done yet. What does it need?"
To which something in the back of your brain might answer, "a girl sucking on a straw."
And after adding the girl with the straw (it's a strawberry milkshake, by the way), you could contemplate the word "suck" some more, in its iterations, or you could decide that it doesn't have to be about that at all. It could be that you decided that the responsible part of your brain -- the one that should take charge of finally cleaning up the dang glitter -- is always fighting with the child part of your brain. That's the part that wants to drink milkshakes and make purple elephants and draw floating flowers.
You could wonder whether other adults still feel a strong tug from their most childish sides, and if that's normal.
You could wonder, too, what other people would see in your picture.
And you could decide that the stuff you write below the vac and the elephant and the girl and the flowers need not have anything to do with what you just drew.

You could leave it all open. No answers. Just questions.