Subway Sketches Part CLXIII

Night Riders

Yesterday I settled in on the A train for my normal afternoon commute. I automatically scanned the car for interesting people to sketch and landed on a young lady across the aisle from me. After a few minutes of observing her I noticed a couple things: first she was not going to be still enough for me to sketch. She was very active, bouncing in conversation between her younger sister and a young man that I assume to be her boyfriend. The second thing I noticed was that she had some seriously bad teeth. They were white, and all in place, but they seemed to be too big and they stuck out at weird angles, to the point of distorting her upper lip a bit. I couldn't help but to continue looking up at her. I wanted to get a good look at what was going on in her mouth. After a few seconds she laughed deeply and opened her mouth really widely. It was then that I saw the source of everything... her canines were HUGE! About that time her boyfriend reacted to the same joke and let out a loud laugh I glanced at him and realized... so were his.

I took a second took a longer look at them. Both dressed entirely in black. Both had silver jewelry on and she was wearing a silver ankh pendent. He had long black fingernails that looked to be filed to a point. She was wearing a deep blood red lipstick. And they had fangs. Serious, dental application fangs, not the cheap plastic ones you get around Halloween. I was sitting across from two vampires.

Other than the teeth, it was subtle. They didn't look overly "goth-y." No heavy eyeliner or white face makeup. They hadn't even dyed their hair deep black. They were just... average run of the mill vampires. Nothing odd about that, right?

Subway Sketches Part CLXII

Subway Sketches Part CLXI

One More Present: A Short Play

Dramatis Personae
Our Hero (A cute (but modest) man recovering from a staggeringly good Christmas day)
Kid Flash (Handsome, tall, runner type, boyfriend to our Hero)

The Scene
After a holiday party, in a dark apartment with the Christmas tree in the background, and a few wrapping paper scraps still scattered about.

Act 1, Scene 1
Kid Flash: There's one more present to unwrap.
Our Hero: Really? How is that possible?

Kid Flash retrieves a small Altoids tin wrapped in pink ribbon from a nearby bookshelf and hands it to Our Hero.

OH: What's this?

KF smiles slightly mysteriously as OH unwraps to discover two shiny new keys to KF's apartment.

KF: I'm not sure what it means, or if it means anything, or if it even needs to mean anything, but I thought it was time.
OH: Thank you. All it has to mean is that you're tired of waiting by the buzzer to let me in.
KF: Well... let's say it means more than that.

They kiss as the lights fade.


Subway Sketches Part CLX

Holiday Haul

What an AMAZING holiday. I woke up this morning snuggled up close to Kid Flash trying to forget the lack of sleep that I had had. (We'll not discuss the live salsa band that was playing in the alley by his apartment building until nearly 4 a.m....UGH!) KF's friends quickly joined us for a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes, accompanied by a killer coffee cake that is tradition in KF's family. That was followed by a leisurely day of laying about in our pj's reading children's books and having a great time. We all tried to be very patient as we waited for KF's brother and his boyfriend to arrive so that we could get to the gifts and the actual merriment. In the meantime we listened to Christmas music by Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Muppets and John Denver, and the Cocteau Twins. I introduced everyone to the joy that was the Star Wars Christmas Special and the Star Wars Christmas Album. Around 3 everyone was finally accounted for and we began the present bonanza!

I received 1) The Visible Woman 2) A Tenorikuma tea towel 3) The Visible Man 4) Some Roller Derby posters 5) A Star Wars folder, 6) The Pop-up Book of Sex (uhm... Mark? Can we discuss the reasoning behind giving me a book of heterosexual sexual positions?) 7) Wooden Spoons, 8) The Lives of Shadows 9) I Am Not Myself These Days 10) Some 70% (!!) Dark Chocolate 11) Some "Elves Gone Wild" Christmas cards 12) Four quarts of Duke's Mayonnaise (he learned pretty quick, didn't he?) 13) Rachael Ray's Comfort Foods cook book 14) The Ultimate Head Massager 15) A new Moleskine (you can always use extras) 16) Some Cosmic Glitter Glue (with space debris!) 17) Hong Kong Comics postcards, 18) My Life, by Iris Dement, 19) A bottle of Dijonaisse 20) Some Red Pepper Balsamic Vinegar Sauce 21) A Tenorikuma rolling stamper 22) A super cute plate with pink piggies on it and 23) a drawing pen.

There's also still gifts in the mail somewhere from my mom and sister, and my gift to myself, a new MacBook dual core 2.0 GHz, with 1 GB memory and an 80 GB hard drive, which should be arriving on Thursday. (Yay!! I'll finally be able to see my monitor again! And have enough memory to run CS2!)

All in all a fabulous Holiday. I hope yours was as well.

Happy Holiday!

Happy Holiday, no matter your flavor!

Santa's Diaries

To go with yesterday's post...

Have you ever wondered what goes on in the head of a department store Santa? Well, one of my fiends is doing just that this year. But he's not just any old Santa, he's a Macy's Santa. Check his blog here for the inside scoop.

Oh, and be prepared to cry a little.

Subway Sketches Part CLIX

Santa's Secret Files

Here's what the fat-man has to say about me: "Nice, but has naughty lapses. High marks in the good deeds department. Better than average manners. Hopefully, thoughtfulness will continue to be as good as last month. Neatness needs improvement!"

What does he have to say about you?

Validate me! Please!

Okay... I resisted for a year now. I figured that I already belonged to Friendster so why should I bother joining MySpace? I finally caved though... I can't take TOO much peer pressure... so if you are so inclined come be my friend.

S-s-s-somethin' From the Comments

(10 extra net-culture points if you get the reference in the title.)

Andrea writes: "I was wondering - have you ever taken life drawing classes? What is your opinion on them?"

Andrea, yes I have taken figure drawing classes, quite a number of them. Zdzislaw Sikora, the most infamous life drawing instructor on the Eastern Seaboard, taught me figure drawing nearly every semester for 3 years. Beyond that I've taken a half dozen other classes from other teachers as well. Obviously I am a firm believer in it. The human figure is the source of all good things in art. If you know how to accurately convey the human form you can do anything I believe. Architecture is based on our proportions, we share musculature and form with animals, (and even plants), our skin alone is a study in color theory, not even getting into eyes and hair, and if you can capture emotion or attitude in a figure drawing... well... that's just art at it's most sublime. Even if all you ever do is the most abstract of works it's my opinion that having a grounded basis in drawing the human form would be helpful, and would inform your work.

Now, having said all that... do I think that classes are necessary per se? Mmmmm... no. Like most things it can be learned through self study. There are hundreds of good books and other resources out there to help you learn. There is however something ineffable about being in a class, a dozen or so people all focused on the same subject, and the same lesson is a pretty powerful experience when it works properly. A good teacher will be able to lead you through a series of understandings that will stick with you forever (check my words about Zdzislaw here.) Even a bad teacher may awaken a thing or two. (I won't name names but I still think about things I learned in one of my first college classes that were more based on my teacher's bad choices than her good ones.) There's also a lot to be said for the bonding that can occur between students in these situations. Think about how great it is looking at other people's versions of the EDM challenges, and then imagine being able to sneak a peek at them in progress, or to have direct access to the artist to ask questions with the pieces in front of you. It can be great.

Holiday Crafts

This weekend was all about getting ready for the holiday. I've decided that I'm going to try to make as many of the gifts I'm giving this year as I can, partly out of money issues, and partly because it's just so much cooler. Saturday I was out and about picking up odds and ends of yarn, a belt buckle, some cloth, some thread, and a bunch of other cool crafty goodness. I won't be specific about what I'm making, or for who because some of them read the blog, but it's all pretty cool. I'll post some pictures after the holidays.

Kid Flash and I also picked up a tree for his apartment on Saturday night. We picked a very cute little short fat tree. On Sunday his friends came over and we spent the afternoon covering half his apartment in glitter and construction paper scraps as we made ornaments for the tree. It was like slipping back into childhood craft time, and it was great. A bunch of grown people sitting around a table covered in scissors, glue, sequins, glitter, pipe cleaners, and magic markers, arguing over the ribbons, and beads. There were a dozen or more snow flakes, a couple gingerbread men, a snowman or two, the classic construction paper chain, and lots of other cute ornaments generated. I made the topper for the tree, a Hello Kitty style angel. (I figured that was just sacrilegious enough.) Everyone was able to tap into their inner kid and produce some great ornaments. It's amazing how we never really forget how cool glitter glue and pipe cleaners can be, isn't it?

I'll be staying in town for the holidays because I have two shows opening in the week after New Years, so KF's tree will be the one that I'll be seeing the morning of the 25th. I have to say that it will be a cool tree to find my presents under, that's for sure.

Subway Sketches Part CLVIII

December 12 of 12

I decided that for this month's 12 of 12 (Based on a project started by Chad Darnell.) that I'd stick to close-up shots.

Morning at my place.

Work begins. I had to do a few last minute draftings for one of the shows that I'm working on.

I also took a second or two to work on some of the side projects that I have going, including this doll that I'm making for a friend for Christmas.

Mid-day snack.

Back to work, this time on a graphic design project that I've been working on.

Another small break to put together a deck for tonight's card game. (I play VS. once a week... yes, I' a geek.)

Out the door for the rest of my day.

This afternoon's project? Finishing up costume measurements for the OTHER show.

I passed this on the street and couldn't pass it up.

My evening snack, while playing cards.

At the game. (By the way... my deck didn't work very well. I got STOMPED.)

Wrapping up the day the way I started it, only with my secondary toothbrush (at Kid Flash's house.)

Gallery Photos OR "I'm a Bad Blogger"

Okay... I'm a bad blogger. I've been meaning to update and add these photos all week but life just exploded when I got back to the city. While I was way one of the shows that I'm working on lost it's costume designer and they asked me to take up the design! Great news for me, but that means that I am designing both sets and costumes for two different shows that both open within a week of each other. That the equivalent of 4 shows worth of work! Regardless I decided that since I was uploading my "12 of 12" for yesterday that I would finally upload these as well. Enjoy!

Subway Sketches Part CLVII

Subway Sketches Part CLV

Paying Attention

One of the most frequent questions I get about my subway sketches is whether anyone ever notices me or objects to what I'm doing. Well it's in San Fran, not NYC but I offer this as proof that no one pays attention to or is bothered by ANYTHING that might happen while on public transport:

If the embedded file above doesn't work you can see the movie here.

Foreign Christmas Wishes?

Looking over my hit logs for the time while I was away I'm noticing an odd trend... I've gotten several hits from google for the phrase "Christmas wishes" but they are all from outside the US (Lithuania, Poland, Italy, Turkey, the Philippines, Latvia, Belgium, Germany, the UK, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Netherlands...). What is going on out there across the Atlantic?

At The Gallery: Day 3: OPENING NIGHT!

Day 3 started early. My gracious host Berkley had to take his poor pomeranian to the vet which was semi-close to the airport so he agreed to drop me off there. My mom's flight in was at 9:20 at Bush Intercontinental and then we had to grab a rental car and get Houston Hobby by 11:30. After a false start at the car rental (the first car they gave us was too small) we were off!

Houston is NOT an easy city to navigate. There are lots of roads that don't seem to go where they should really, and not a lot of signage. There were several near misses of exits, and a little bit of arguing, but we made it to Hobby with time to spare. Mark and Kid Flash followed along pretty quickly and we grabbed some (truly awful) coffee and headed back to Bush to grab Michelle. On the way we found out that Michelle's plane was delayed. The winter weather that had swept through Houston the day before was wreaking havoc in St. Louis and had grounded the flight crew of her plane. She was going to be 2 hours late. There'd still be plenty of time if we could pull everything off perfectly.

The four of us had a leisurely lunch at a Middle Eastern place then swung by the gallery to check in and see if Jessica needed any last minute help. Jessica had hung the blow-ups and was starting to set up the tables and seemed to have everything in hand. After some advice about roads she suggested that I go ahead and take off even though it seemed like to me that we still had plenty of time. We arrived at the airport with time to spare again, so there was more sitting around and waiting for the flight to arrive.

We finally retrieved Michelle and got back on the highway at 5. I was supposed to be at the Gallery by 7. Even though we had done this trip once already we fell victim to poor signage and ended up on the wrong highway which was just a parking lot full of traffic. Turning around getting back to the correct road and then fighting traffic into town took over an hour. We checked into the hotel at 6:15. I rushed upstairs and into the shower while Kid Flash ironed my shirt and touched up my jeans. I was holding my breath the whole time and trying not to panic.

At 6:45 we were out of the hotel and onto the street again but the northbound lane, where we needed to be, was completely closed by construction! Now I panicked. Improvising a way to get between places and avoid traffic is easy if you are familiar with streets, or if the streets are laid out in a logical way, but in this case neither of those was true. With KF holding my hand and whispering in my ear to keep me calm I managed to navigate a way through it, but we didn't arrive at the gallery until 7:20.

As soon as we got to the gallery my nerves and apprehensions melted and I felt completely at ease. The show went off flawlessly. It was easy and comfortable to talk about my work and to meet the patrons who came through the gallery. I got to meet some great people who were truly interested and interesting. Some of the highlights included a former art teacher and her daughter who were a true pleasure to chat with. There were some members of the Everyday Matters chat group that were in the local area who came by, Kay and Sharon(you can see Sharon's reviews of the show here and here). Some members of the local art community came through, and several members of church that hosts the gallery. My friend Karen, who I met in my first year of college and who I haven't seen in over 8 years made the long drive over from Fort Worth which made me enormously happy. I tried very hard to chat with everyone who bought a piece and to tell them as much as I could remember about the people in the sketches, but I don't think I managed to catch everyone. Even still I talked more in that one evening than I have in months. My throat was dry and I was a bit hoarse before it was all done.

My Mom, Mark, Michelle and KF were all very gracious checked in with me on and off through the night. KF was great, he held me together in my panic before we got there, and he held my hand several times while I tried to gather my wits to chat with the patrons. Mark was in charge of the photography and took some great shots of everything. It meant more to me than I can say to have most of the important people in my life in one room, and it made the night go a lot easier. Especially considering that my mom and Michelle came from so far away and Michelle endured delays and bad travel to get there.

In the end it was one of the most enjoyable evenings I've had in a while. Besides my family I owe big debts of gratitude to everyone who came, to Jessica for arranging the whole event and convincing me that it would work in the first place, Eric for his ingenious hanging system, Berkley and Ann for hosting me and letting me run around town in their car, Ash for his DJ services, and everyone else at the gallery and at Ecclesia in general. Thanks to all of you!

After 4 hours at the gallery, the five of us, hungry and tired found a place to eat and then went back to the hotel to crash. My nerves and the tension and apprehension and all the talking and standing at the gallery equalled quite a wave of exhaustion.

The next morning greeted us with more travel worries. The flight that Mark, KF and I were supposed to be taking home was cancelled. Because of the rental car and Mama and Michelle being at the opposite airport, we ended up being stuck at Hobby for nearly 5 hours. Needless to say it was not enjoyable. Neither the Jetblue wireless, nor the wireless that is supposed to be available in the airport itself was working and the wing that our gate was in housed one small newsstand one restaurant and one bar. It was boring to the extreme, and the reason that this post is late!

I'm back in the city, with a brand new sketch book and ready to get started on the next show. (after a nap, okay?)

p.s. Look for more photos soon, I have a little editing work to get them to a showable point.

At The Gallery: Intermission

Okay... we got in from the gallery last night at nearly 2 after an evening of meeting, greeting and drinking wine!

I'll leave most of it until I get back to the city... but just as a quickie... the show was an enormous success! I was able to meet and greet the patrons from 7:30 to almost 11, the show didn't seem to want to end! Everyone just stayed and chatted. I sold 20 pieces already!

I am exhausted though. My voice is a bit weak this morning from talking so much last night and this little sleep is barely gonna hold me until I get to the airport.

Mark was in charge of the camera last night and he nearly filled a memory card with photos (over 200 shots!) so I'll edit those down and get them posted this afternoon. Look for a complete update later!

At The Gallery: Day 2

Last night I went to bed in the warm humidity of a Texas night. This morning I woke up in the arctic. Yesterday's high was 80. When I checked the weather to prep for this trip the high today was supposed to be 55. In actuality it never got above 35. Needless to say I didn't pack for this.

I had most of the morning to myself so I decided to try on my outfit for tomorrow. No, I hadn't done it before. Yes, I understand that I should have. I saw immediately that parts of it weren't going to work. The tux jacket primarily was a problem. It was double breasted, which I hadn't realized, so the all important vest would have been covered. So I set out to find a new jacket. My quest took me to several places, but the best choice was at the Gap, so that's what i ended up with. It's cute, a textured wool with epaulets, it will look great with the vest.

Afterwards I went to the gallery and put together the hanging rigs for the enlargements, which was quite a feat. Eric, one of the curators, is an architect so the plans for the hangers was a complex series of foam core strips glued in layers. After completing that assembly I went to the printers to retrieve the prints. They look great at scale, and I think I picked some good pieces for enlargement. I hope so at least.

The rest of the evening was spent doing the final hang, sorting through the pieces and confirming the prices, which ones get rotated and which don't, making sure that they were hanging in the same order they are listed on the price sheets, etc. With 115 pieces it took quite a while and Jessica and I calling the titles back and forth quickly started to sound like a code of some sort: "A 5, 27 6:15 and D 5, 27 8:30 double sided." Anyone listening in was surely mystified by the whole process.

Around 11 Jessica and I called it a night. Tomorrow she will finish hanging the enlargements (we were short a tape measure which caused some issues) and arrange to tables for the reception. I feel a bit guilty leaving her alone to finish it but I will have a full day myself simply driving back and forth between the airports. I have 4 people to collect on 3 flights. My mom arrives at 9:30 at Bush Airport, Kid Flash and Mark at 11:30 at Hobby, and then it's back to Bush to retrieve BFE Michelle at 2:30. Whew!!

By the way, thanks to everyone who has sent me well wishes and who has been checking these updates. My regular hit count has more than tripled in the last few days and I have fielded 40+ emails from members of three different on-line groups that I belong to, and various friends and family members wishing me well or asking for directions or any number of other things. Thanks to you all!

Tomorrow night look for photos from the opening!