Year of the Monkey

Happy Lunar New Year! 2016 is the year of that wizard of the impossible, the monkey! Now is the time for creative energies and inventive minds to flourish: apparently, in the year of the monkey, all bets are off. According to this website, it's going to be a good year for my sign, the Rabbit. "Progress, finally!" it says. Sounds good to me.

I made a couple of collages for the Year of the Monkey. It seems to be all about experiments and new things, so it seemed appropriate for me to try to push forward in a new medium.

Planting Seeds

Reading around on the internet, I read that if you're a gardener (which I'm not), you have to plant bulbs before the winter if you want a nice display of flowers in the spring. It reminded me how much advance work goes into making things. How many drawings have I made to get to the drawings I make now? Last summer, a friend of mine said that it took him about half an hour to make a drawing, and I half-joked, "well, twenty years and half an hour," because every drawing is a direct result of all the drawings that came before. All those years, planting seeds!

I made this drawing last fall, from one of the beautiful reliefs on the staircase between Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. Each relief, sculpted by Jacob Wrey Mould, depicts a different season, and I think must be spring because the tulip is blooming, but the lotus isn't yet.

The GOP Debate...and the Donald

Last night was the GOP debate, and as promised, here's a drawing I made while watching. The stage was still pretty crowded, with seven candidates debating, which made for a much more crowded picture than the Democratic Town Hall. Cruz and Rubio are doing the best, so they're the biggest, with Christie, Paul, and Jeb still there, all trying to stay relevant. Fading into the background are Kasich and Carson. More prominent are the moderators, especially Megyn Kelly. Her profile's a lot higher thanks to this kerfuffle with the Donald—who takes the center, because even in his absence, he's doing the best in the polls, a black hole sucking all the sense and most of the air out of this race.

Democratic Town Hall

I missed almost entirely all of the Democratic Town Hall the other night, but happily, in the internet age, that doesn't mean I missed it forever. I was able to go back and watch the whole thing (or most of it. It was long!), and sat down and did some drawings. I'm posting the one I like the best. I started with some big patches of color that I put down just because. Those stages are so sterile and always red, white, and blue. I get it, they're being patriotic, but I wanted to get away from the flag colors and just have some fun. It's mostly Bernie and Hillary, but there's Martin O'Malley in the middle, drawn to about the scale of his polling numbers.

I'm getting ready to draw the Republican debate Thursday night (but not the Donald).

New Beginnings

January is always a mixed bag. On one hand, I'm optimistic about all that I want to make happen in the new year. On the other, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure! So today, I'm sharing a watercolor of Janus, Roman god of beginnings. Usually, he's interpreted as a man with two heads, one looking into the future and one into the past, but I made him into a lady, with some mixed feelings.

I'm not usually a resolution-maker, but this year, I'm taking a page out Samuel Beckett's Worstward Ho!: fail again. Fail better.


Happy Holidays

This year, I went a little cosmic with my holiday card. These are two experiments that didn't make the cut since I went a slightly different direction, but I thought I would share them here. 

Like a lot of people, I've been saddened by the violence I've seen on the news lately in the US and abroad, and by the extreme political rhetoric it's prompted. So I wanted my card to be a reminder that the universe is a big place, and we're just a tiny piece of it. We're all from different places, and believe different things, but we're all made up of star stuff, here for a short time. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson so eloquently says: 

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

We're all connected. Peace on Earth, good will towards men.

Happy Thanksgiving

Last summer, I visited Plymouth with the Dalvero Academy to do some research around the Mayflower. Thanksgiving seems like a good time to dust these drawings off and post them here. The ship was in back in Plymouth after spending some time at Mystic Seaport in drydock for repairs.

The Mayflower II in drydock at Mystic Seaport, undergoing repairs.

In fact, this Mayflower is only a replica, since the real one sank off the coast of England not too long after it brought the Pilgrims here. If the replica captures the spirit of the real Mayflower, you couldn't get me on it to go 200 feet, let alone cross the ocean. Really, the Pilgrims had to be desperate or crazy, or possibly both.

The Mayflower II on the water in Plymouth.

Plimoth Plantation features a 17th century English village (since the Pilgrims still very much saw themselves as English), and the Wampanoag Homesite. Both sites have interpreters to guide visitors through a rich and complicated history.

A Pilgrim garden, and a couple of Pilgrim chickens!

The Pilgrims had a lot to be thankful for. Without the friendship of the Wampanoags (and Massasoit, their leader), they wouldn't have survived those first years. Of course, the history is a lot more complicated than the myth, and if you're Native American, that myth can be painful. My next visit to Plimoth Plantation will focus on the Wampanoag Homesite, and I can't wait for that. For now, I'll be reading up on why Thanksgiving is a National Day of Mourning as well as a time to give thanks.

Journey of Transformation

I'm very proud to announce that my work is going to be in a show with that of other artists of the Dalvero Academy opening this Saturday November 21st at Mystic Seaport Museum. We spent a good portion of 2014 chasing the Charles W. Morgan on her historic 38th Voyage, and reportaging as much as we could of her stops at different ports of call along the coast of New England. I'm sharing here a study I made in preparation for the piece that is in the show, "Sea Change." The show, Journey of Transformation, will be on view through the winter, and into the spring of 2016. I do hope some of you get a chance to get up there to see it! You can see more sneak peaks and some thumbnails at the website for the show, and more of my work, and that of my fellow Dalverans on the school's instagram feed.

Debatorama

Last night I went out to watch the Republican debate with friends. The down side of that is that I didn't get to hear too much between bar patrons and the Mets game that was going on in the front of the bar. Luckily, I don't need to hear the debaters to draw them! Aural context always helps, but so much can be picked up from their expressions and body language, it's not really necessary.

Rubio and Rand

Carly Fiorina

Jeb Bush

By far, Trump is the most fun to draw. It's not just that he's always pulling hilarious faces, but he has great theatrics. His gestures are as outsized as his rhetoric.

Sycorax

Today's drawing is of the island from Shakespeare's play, The Tempest. I made the island into Caliban's mother, Sycorax, who is never actually seen in the play. It's the island that succors Caliban, that endures Prospero's colonization, and survives to see him leave her shores. Good riddance, I hear her say!

Night Parade II

You can be forgiven if you're asking yourself "where's Night Parade 1 if this is 2?" Well, it was way back in 2008 that I posted my last Night Parade. This one is the Main Street Electrical Parade, and it's a sweet one they've been doing at Disney off and on since 1972.

And a few details:

The High Line

I went to the High Line a few weeks ago to spend some time drawing the unique combination of people, city views, and flora. I really don't know of anywhere else where the three come together in quite the same way. I think it's one of the nicest places in the city to spend an afternoon, and judging from the crowds, a lot of people agree with me!

Below the High Line, the new Whitney Museum offers bright green chairs for people to hang out, check their phones, and take a break. It's a pretty stylish crowd.

Untitled-2.jpg

And when I saw this crowd of servers from the Whitney's restaurant Untitled having a meeting, I couldn't resist trying to capture the rhythm of their black pants, grey aprons, and red straps.

Happy birthday, Herman Melville!

I was all set to do a post with some people drawings, but then my friend Carly Larsson reminded me that it was Herman Melville's birthday with her drawing of the Seaman's Bethel in New Bedford. I read Moby Dick earlier this year, and since then, my regard for Herman Melville is through the roof. Not just for his brilliance in examining America through the lens of whaling (although, yes!), but for the absolute unique quirkiness of the book and the voice that animates it: thoughtful, philosophical, tender-hearted. I mean, it is really one of a kind, and if it didn't exist, I don't know how one could even imagine it. (If you want to find out more, but maybe don't want to read 700+ pages, check out the Studio 360 show on it.) So, here's to unusual personalities that make astounding art! I've drawn him with the ocean on his mind, dreaming of whales. Happy birthday, Herman Melville!

Times Square Part II

A couple more drawings from Times Square. All the buildings and signs and televisions screens make it a fun place to play with patterns and marks.

Summer in the City

You would think most people would head somewhere cooler in the summertime, but Times Square is packed at all times, all seasons, wall to wall! I went up there and made a few drawings last week and found everyone and their mother sitting at those red tables. Introduced a few years ago as a traffic calming feature, they've proven a popular place to sit and rest those aching tourist feet.

 These two looked more like natives than tourists, but there's no reason locals can't enjoy the amenities too!

These two looked more like natives than tourists, but there's no reason locals can't enjoy the amenities too!

 This family had a stripes/solids thing going on. Pool-lovers or just a coincidence?

This family had a stripes/solids thing going on. Pool-lovers or just a coincidence?

The Corwith Cramer

A few weeks ago, Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 had a visit from the Sea Education Association's (SEA) ship, the Corwith Cramer, from Woods Hole, MA. SEA is an educational institution that takes undergraduates to sea for a semester to study and explore the ocean alongside professional researchers. What an opportunity! The ship was only in Brooklyn for the day, so I made sure not to miss it. I took the afternoon to get down there to make a few drawings!