Happy Lunar New Year! When this website told me that the 2016 (the Year of the Monkey) was going to be the "wizard of the impossible" last year, little did I know how true that would turn out to be. I don't remember a year when every piece of conventional wisdom was turned on its head. This year, I am ready for the Rooster when it says "I am alert/ ready to take action" because that's exactly how I feel. "Never give up or in," the Rooster says. If these first few days of the new administration are anything to go by, we have a long, hard road ahead of us in the next four years, and I, for one, am taking the Rooster's advice.
During the summer and fall, the park downstairs from my house hosts a lot of volleyball games and tournaments. The teams are made up of local middle and high schoolers, and are co ed. They'll spend the whole day playing and cheering each other on, practicing their digging and their setting on the sidewalks of the park. I thought I would play around with watercolors, but after a few disasters, I packed up my bag and came home. I pulled it out a few weeks later and, thinking back to that day, added in the black ink to define the court and the trees, and the buildings from across the street. Finally, I made a few (tiny) volleyball players and collaged them in. Another good reminder that just because it didn't work out on location doesn't mean you can't salvage it at home!
I read my first Victorian novel at the tender age of 14. It was Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and I was an immediate fan. I admired the titular character's independent cast of mind, even as she grew up under the thumb of cruel guardians, teachers, and punishing circumstances. The author's biography was another reason to love her. As an adolescent in the hinterlands myself, with mainly books and my imagination (and, ok, TV) to amuse me, I felt a kinship with Charlotte and her siblings. Tampa may not have been Haworth Parsonage exactly, but my 14 year old self wanted to believe we were kindred spirits. Back then, books had such a hold on my imagination, they were more real than my waking life; their characters and their creators walked the school halls with me, whispering commentary in my ear as I made my way to class or tried to concentrate on a lecture. I'm happy to say that even now, Jane Eyre still satisfies. I read it every couple of years, and I'm always impressed with Jane's insistence that she live her life according to her own ideas, and no one else's. So here's a portrait of one of my favorite writers, with the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire moors of her home. Couldn't you just see her sitting at the back of the classroom, whispering ironies in my ear?
This past weekend, I attended a life drawing class at the Dalvero Academy. Life drawing is always a jolt to the system, but this weekend, we had the chance to work with three fantastic, very different models with different ways of moving, different energy, and different graphics. And, as always, Ronnie and Margaret kept us off-balance, forcing us to abandon our comfort zones to push into new territory.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
I don't draw very often in Adventureland, since I'm always too busy in Fantasyland. Drawing the Swiss Family Robinson tree had me feeling like maybe I was missing out all that time!
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.
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.
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!
I've drawn Central Park in all weather, and it never disappoints.
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.
When I was drawing the Corwith Cramer a few weeks ago, this little fireboat was in the water, parading around with all its jets pumping. Was it just a drill? Clearing the pumps? I have no idea, but it was so fun, I just had to make a drawing.
Last weekend, I finally had the opportunity to do some life drawing at Dalvero Academy. It felt great to be drawing the model at long last! I have a lot of drawings, so I'll be posting them in parts (although those of you who follow me on Instagram got a preview). Today, I'm posting drawings from May 15th's drawing social, of Sailor Moon, and from the morning of the 16th, of Patrick.