Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Remeniscing about senior year at Melbourne's Lauriston Girl's School.

At Terry's high school reunion for Lauriston Girl's School in Melbourne, she met Josie Browne who offered us a chance to stay in her Lourne, Australia beach house. The house was designed by an architect for himself and it has unique panoramic windows that give the sleek modern interior a feeling of being open to the environment. Josie was incredibly open and sincere, we both liked her immediately. Apparently her husband is her polar opposite, being loud and always seeking to close the next big deal. The family dog is an incredibly intelligent sheep herding dog. His greatest joy in life is retrieving a tennis ball that Josie tosses down the beach using a plastic sling. The house isn't right on the beach but up a steep hill. The second floor balcony allows a sweeping view of the ocean over the neighboring roofs.

Josie's daughter was back home and working long shifts at the restaurant in a hotel at the bottom of the hill. Her love is animal husbandry and someday she may fulfill her dream of living on a farm with plenty of horses. As Terry and Josie talked about Lauriston, a Sydney horse race was on the telly. Horse racing is huge in Australia. It became a national past time right after the gold rush and money from the races helped build the city infrastructure.

At the restaurant at the bottom of the hill there was outdoor seating. Signs of the railing around the dining area said, "Don't Feed the Cockatoos". The entire trip Terry had been looking for cockatoos because she missed our pet cockatoo named Zorro. As we ate dinner, cockatoos landed on the railing to watch us eat. If you turned your back for a moment they would swoop down and grab some of your food. At a trash can by the beach, cockatoos had pried the lid off and were rummaging in the garbage. I put some of the trash back and scolded a cockatoo as if I were talking to Zorro.  A few minutes later, trash was once again being thrown to the ground. Come to think of it, Zorro never obeys either. The cockatoos also chew and destroy any wooden surfaces on buildings. To say the least, cockatoos are considered a pest in Lourne.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Winter Park Art in Chambers is to feature the daily sketches of Thor.

The City Park Public Art Advisory Board invites you to attend a free artist reception for the sketches of Thomas (Thor) Thorspecken from Refreshments will be provided. Mark your Calendar! The opening reception is Wednesday May 6th from 5:30pm to 7pm at the Commission Chambers and Chapman Room in Winter Park City Hall 401 South Park Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789 second floor. Stop on out and say hi. The show will hang through August 1st.

For anyone who wants to keep the Art Party going, I will be going to the British Invasion Body Painting Show right afterwards to sketch. That event is at the Majestic Event Center, 801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL. Doors officially open at 8pm. Watch talented body painters transform models into living works of art right before your eyes while getting a chance to interact with the artists and the "art." Some of Orlando's top entertainers will also be performing on stage throughout the evening. Enjoy the bar specials and browse the artists vending tables.
Entry is $10 presale or $15 at the door.
Get your tickets at

Monday, May 4, 2015

BASE Orlando "British Invasion" Body Painting Show is to feature plenty of talent.

I went to the Majestic Event Center, 801 North John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL to watch body painting artists get their models ready for a BASE Orlando Body Painting Event. The artists start early in the afternoon so that their creations are ready by the time the doors open at 8pm. I sketched the line up as artists set up. I've sketched Nix Herrera before and I love his work. Ironically Sierra Missed was his model at the previous RAW Orlando event so I wanted to be sure they were in the foreground. Sierra was energetic when she arrived, dancing her way into the venue. But when it came time to get to work, she became a marble statue.

Nix's first order of business was to get Sierra in a tight skull cap and to be sure pasties covered her nipples. He is a consummate pro and offered to help other artists glue down any rough edges on pasties. Models wore bikini bottoms but other than that they were a nude blank canvas to start. There is plenty of playful conversation to start but once brush touches flesh things get serious. There has to be an amazing amount of trust between models and artists. Sierra was quickly painted white from head to feet. Grey detailing was added at her joints that made her look like a mechanical android. One of the dancers from Corsets and Cuties was transformed into a green reptilian goddess. The theme for the evening was "Out of This World" and the results were just that.

Mark Your Calendars! On Wednesday, May 6 at 8:00pm at the Majestic Event Center, 801 N John Young Pkwy, Orlando, Fl, some of Orlando's top entertainers will also be performing on stage throughout the evening for the British Invasion. Enjoy the bar specials and browse the artists vending tables.
Entry is $10 presale or $15 at the door.
Get your tickets.

Body Paint Artists:
Mandi Ilene
Sierra Rose
Lori Jessup
Nix Herrera
Ajay Schweiger
Della Morte
Melanie Cochrane
Jeff and Caity Simon
Chris Davis and Lauren-Rae Chismar
Tabitha Sclafani
Justin Davis
Emma Kenemer
Tifinie Boutot
Juan Pantoja 
Robert Six-Round
Chuck Davis 
BalaChandra Belly Dance
Corsets and Cuties, a Burlesque Cabaret
Rock Hard Revue
Team Rush
Is there an age requirement?
Yes, since the event features artwork on nude models, guests over 18 are welcome.
Can I bring my camera?
We ask that you leave your cameras at home since we will have some incredible photographers on hand. Taking photos with your phone is fine, but leave the heavy duty photography to our professionals! You can see the photographers’ work after on our website and on our Facebook page.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Ferry to Manly offers great views of Sydney.

As a day trip from Sydney, Terry and I decided to take a ferry to Manly Beach in Australia. The Ferry docks are right near the Opera House and that whole area is tourist central with street performers fighting for tourists attention and tips. Several aboriginals sat playing their didgeridoos. One guy had a high wire act where he balanced above the crows riding his bicycle on a wire. Terry and I didn't stop to watch the chaos. Our ferry was leaving in a few minutes so we rushed through the terminal.

The hour or so ferry ride was very pleasant. It was early spring in Australia so a few people were still bundled up. Sail boats dotted the entire harbor. When we docked in Manly, we walked a quarter mile or so down the main street which lead to the beach. We both ordered a frozen yogurt cone with plenty of fixings and then we found a shady spot on a ledge that overlooked the beach. There was a large group of school children learning how to surf. Others tossed Frisbees or just lay in the sun like harbor seals.

On the ferry ride back to Sydney, I put the sketchbook away and just enjoyed the ever changing view. These ferry rides are a real deal and it is a great way to discover Sydney very much the way British explorers did hundreds of years ago.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Orlando Ballet brings the magic of Coppélia to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

On April 30th I went to the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts to sketch a dress rehearsal of Coppélia. In Greek Coppélia means "young lady" and this comic ballet premiered in 1870. The performance was set to he music of Léo Delibes. Terry decided that she wanted to see this rehearsal, so she met me in front of the Center. When I opened the stage door, I was surprised to see a crowd of journalists. At Earth Day, I bumped into Jim Cundiff, the Interim Executive Director at the Orlando Ballet. He told me about an exciting collaboration between the Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic, and Central Florida Community Arts. It turned out that this rehearsal was the platform to officially announce this collaboration.

Robert Hill, the Ballet's Artistic Director, David Shilhammer, the Executive Director of the Orlando Philharmonic and Joshua Vickery the founder and Executive Director of Central Florida Community Arts stood on stage before the rehearsal.  Since it's inception in 1974, the Orlando Ballet has relied on recorded music for it's performances. Starting in October of 2015, the Philharmonic Orchestra will perform in the pit to bring all future ballet performances to life. David Shilhammer explained that recorded music limits the performers from taking chances and varying their rhythm and timing, The orchestra can adapt to each performance allowing for greater flexibility. In April of 2016 the Ballet will collaborate with Central Florida Community Arts which has 800 singers in multiple choirs. This is a win win for all the organizations and audiences. As the Dr. Phillips Center was being constructed, critics assumed that local arts groups would never stand to benefit. This incredible collaboration proves that they can and will endure.

Coppélia concerns an inventor, Dr Coppelius, who has made a life-size dancing doll. It is so lifelike that Franz, a village youth, becomes infatuated with it and sets aside his true heart's desire, Swanhilde. She shows him his folly by dressing as the doll, pretending to make it come to life and ultimately saving him. The rehearsal was playful and magical. The mechanical dance choreography was delightful. I had never seen this ballet and I am glad I finally did. I also admired the gorgeous painted backdrops which had a rich deep impressionistic use of color. I would think that the dancers might hold back a bit in a rehearsal, but everyone danced full out. Many of their athletic moves defied gravity.

Mark Your Calendars! The remaining performances of  Coppélia are today May 2nd at 11am and 8pm and May 3rd at 2pm at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 445 South Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL. Tickets  starting at $38.75 are available online or at the box office. This really is an amazing production, and bring your kids, they will love it too.

Looking ahead...
October 30- November 1, 2015 Gisselle with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
December 17 - 20, 2015 Nutrcacker with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
February 5-7, 2016 the world premiere of The Firebird with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
March 18-20, 2016 Don Quixote with music by the Orlando Philharmonic.
April 29-May 1, 2016 the world premiere of Beauty and the Beast with Central Florida Community Arts.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Weekend Top 6 Picks for May 2nd and 3rd.

Saturday May 2, 2015
10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday. Free. The St. Johns River Festival of the Arts. First Street, Historic Downtown Sanford FL. Be a part of the magic when Downtown Historic Sanford transforms into a premier art festival and art experience! Over 125 regionally and nationally accredited fine artists and craftsmen will line our charming brick streets with a selection of paintings, pottery, sculpture, woodworking, photography, jewelry, blown glass and much more. Enjoy hand crafted food at the Culinary Arts Court and see live artist demonstrations.

Noon to 7pm Free. Earth Fest 2015. Lake Concord Park, Triplet Lake Drive, Casselberry, FL.  Earth Fest 2015 will be held once again at Casselberry’s beautiful Lake Concord Park on May 2, 2015 from 12 to 4 pm with planting workshops, live entertainment, fun activities, door prizes, a Recycled Art Exhibit, Kids Zone, and more.
Starting at 5 pm, the event features a free exciting Voices of the Wekiva  Concert! Partial proceeds will benefit Wekiva River cleanups and tree plantings.
Earth Fest 2015, a cooperative effort between the City of Casselberry, Casselberry’s Friends of the Park and Keep Seminole Beautiful, aims to stimulate awareness by bringing environmental, green, healthy lifestyle, recycling and sustainable activities to the Central Florida community.
Bring your family and friends and walk, bike or drive your hybrid to the best environmentally safe, eco-friendly events in Seminole County. For more information, please call (407) 262-7700 ext. 1507 or visit Casselberry's Friends of the Park website.

8pm to 10pm Free. Outdoor Screening of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. Loch Haven Park at the corner of Mills Avenue and Princeton Street. Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF invites Central Florida to its 3rd Annual Free Movie Night in the Park on May 2, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. Presented in association with Enzian Theater, the free screening of the cult classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail is open to the public. The Theater has also partnered with The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar to offer guests the opportunity to purchase dinner before the movie starts. The outdoor event will take place along the lawn of Loch Haven Park at the corner of Mills Avenue and Princeton Street. For further information call (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, visit, or stop by in person at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E. Rollins St.). 
Orlando Shakes’ Dinner and Movie Night in the Park coincides with the 40th anniversary of the U.S. release date of the popular film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail. An absurdest send-up to the legend of King Arthur and his knight's quest for the Holy Grail, the film stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin.
“We’re excited to celebrate this cult favorite on its 40th anniversary,” said Artistic Director Jim Helsinger. “It’s the perfect way to gear up for our upcoming production of Monty Python’s SPAMALOT this fall!" A giant Trojan Rabbit will also be on display.
Prior to the film screening, food ​will be available for purchase from ​several of Orlando's most popular food trucks starting at 7:00 p.m. “We’ve teamed up with The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar to make the evening even tastier! Arrive early to grab a delicious dinner before settling down to watch our movie under the stars!” said Helsinger. Select food trucks include SwedeDish, Up in Smoke BBQ, and Eat My Treat Cupcakes!. Cash and credit cards accepted.
The Daily City Food Truck Bazaar, the nation's original food truck tour, visits eleven Florida cities a month with six to twenty bazaar-approved food trucks. It was created in 2011 by Mark Baratelli and is the first event of its kind in the nation.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail runs 91 minutes and is rated PG.

Sunday May 3, 2015
Noon to 4pm Free. Locally Grown Words Summer Book Fair. Bookmark It 3201 Corrine Drive, Suite 109, Orlando, Florida. Head to East End Market on Sunday, May 3rd from noon to 4pm for Bookmark It's Locally Grown Words Summer Book Fair. Over 40 local authors, representing a variety of book genres, will be on hand to help you find the perfect summer reading stack for your whole family!

1pm to 3pm Free Yoga. Weekly. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL.

3pm to 5pm Free. Art and Craft Closing Celebration Event. Snap! Space / Snap! Orlando 1013 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando FL. On Sunday, May 3rd, 3:00 – 7:00PM, bars, restaurants and artists will host a grand Art & Cocktail celebration event at Snap! Space / Snap! Orlando (1013 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, 32803). Bites provided by Cask & Larder and The Ravenous Pig. DJ Nigel will be setting the mood, and all 8 cocktail bars will be bringing their very best cocktail of the week for you to sample and enjoy. Advance tickets are $40 online and $45 at door.
'Art & Craft’ is Orlando’s First Annual Art & Cocktail Week. It is a collaboration between the city’s best cocktail bars & restaurants partnering with world renowned craft distilleries, and Orlando’s most engaging and cutting edge artists.
Each night from Sunday, April 26th to Saturday, May 2nd, participating establishments will feature a special live art and cocktail event.
• The Courtesy Bar
• The Woods
• Hanson's Shoe Repair
• The Rusty Spoon
• Cask & Larder
• The Ravenous Pig
• lil indies
• Siro
• St. George
• Compass Box
• Tequilla Ocho
• Fernet Branca
• William Grant
• Smooth Ambler
• Bulleit
• Zaya Rum & Templeton Rye
• Woodford Reserve
• Johannah O'Donnell
• Chris Tobar Rodriguez
• Jaime Margary
• Skip Franchise Artist
• Raymond Klecker
• Bo Spencer
• Peterson J. Guerrier

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Orlando Philharmonic presents Puccini's Tosca at the Bob Carr.

Opera is very much alive in Orlando. I went to a rehearsal of the A fully-staged performance presented by Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the Bob Carr Theater. This was the first time the singers got to block their scenes using the set, which was still under construction. Actors walked the stage, getting used to the many steps that hadn't been present in prior rehearsals.

Mario Cavaradossi, (Adam Diegel) worked on a large portrait of the Madonna that he based on a woman in the churches congregation that he never met. As he paints, he compares the Madonna's blonde beauty to the beauty of his dark haired lover, Tosca (Keri Alkema). Tosca is a full figured fiery Prima Donna who loves the artist, but she suspects his love of art. She recognizes the face in the painting as the beauty in the congregation and accuses the artist of being unfaithful. He assures her of his love but jealousy still tears at her. Since I was sketching, I seldom had time to look up at the sub titles projected above the stage. I discovered the emotional context of every scene by watching Keri's facial expressions. Her performance acted as my translator.

The artist gives refuge to a political prisoner essentially making him an enemy of the state. Baron Scarpia, (Todd Thomas) chief of the secret police, is searching for the political prisoner. His investigation leads him to the artist's studio. There he finds Tosca and he is smitten. He shows her a red fan he found which she realizes as belonging to the beautiful woman in the painting. Her worst fears seem confirmed and she bursts into tears. She becomes trapped between her allegiance to her rebel artist lover and the scheming of Scarpia, who will stop at nothing in his unquenchable lust for her. The artist is imprisoned and Scarpia claims he will free him if Tosca surrenders to his sexual advances. The explosive triangle comes to a hair-raising conclusion in one of opera’s bloodiest, most intense dramas.

Joel Revzen is the guest conductor for the Philharmonic although at this rehearsal only the piano was on stage. Henry Akida is the stage director. He worked diligently during the rehearsal to keep the staging clear. At one point, the whole chorus came on stage in a processional with candles and one large red banner. Henry realized that the banner blocked some audience members view of Scarpia who stood elevated on the platform. To resolve the issue, the banner holder was moved far to stage right. These are the kind of issues that are only discovered as staging and props come into use. Lisa Buck created the stunning projections that depicted huge domed ceilings. The images lap dissolved between scenes giving the story an added depth. So many elements have to work together to make such a big production a reality. Amazing productions are truly miracles.

This is Central Florida’s biggest opera event of the season. Don't miss it.

Friday, May 1, 2015 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, May 3, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Bob Carr Theater
401 W Livingston St, Orlando, Florida 3280
Tickets starting at $22

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A quick flight back to Sydney.

Getting too and from Ayers Rock is exhausting in and of itself since Australia is so large. Virgin Airways always served a decent meal for each flight and the stewardesses had tight little buns in their hair that made them seem like they stepped off of a 1960's airplane.  Back in Sydney, we walked the streets and explored the parks and historic museums. There was gorgeous architecture from the gold rush era and then modern skyscrapers going up everywhere.

By this time, I was getting a little tired of sketching the view down the length of the airplane. I'd love it if I could swivel my seat and sketch the view looking back. Perhaps someday I'll set up my artist stool in the aisle looking back. It would be just my luck to then get run over by a rogue snack cart. I think this digital sketch is the first one I wrote a date on. It is a good practice and I've continued the practice moving forward. I've recently been seeing tons of ancient ruins and the only thing that remains from centuries past are rocks. A library was empty and the few sculptures found have been moved to museums. What will become of digital art in the future? Will there be an Internet a thousand years from now? I keep pouring my sketches and thoughts into this new digital medium, but will it last?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Emerald Creek Falls offers bird watching for experts and novices.

Terry and I tagged along on a day trip with two expert birders. Our destination was Emerald Creek because there was some internet buzz that a rare Australian bird had been spotted there. We stopped quite often on the drive over since birds were being spotted left and right. When we got to the creek, I started to sketch while they explored with binoculars and spotting scopes. The last time I was on an outing like this it was with a group looking for a rare elusive three toed woodpecker. The pack went off into the woods and I decided to stay in the parking lot in the warm car. A three toed woodpecker flew right into the parking lot giving me a front row seat. When the pack of birders returned they were upset since all their calls and high tech equipment had failed to yield a single sighting.

In Australia I wasn't as lucky but I got a fine sketch of the creek and the poor tree that had been scared by the love affair of Roy and Kat. Perhaps these two got matching tattoos as well. Perhaps in a decade the tree's scar will heal but they could take their tattoos to their graves. I worked quickly on the sketch and finished just as the birders returned.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Morning at Jabiru Safari Lodge.

Terry went on an early morning jeep safari with the other avid birders at Jabiru Safari Lodge in Australia. That left my morning open to sketch the lodge. I was seated right next to the lake as I sketched. I started hearing splashing noises behind me and was surprised to see a wild boar skinny dipping in the lake. He would dip his head under the water and let it roll off his back. He splashed around for a good ten minutes or so before he got out shook off his coat and started walking down the trail towards me. When he finally noticed me sitting there, he took off with a grunt and darted into the woods with a few nimble bounds. I'm glad he was more startled than I was because if he chose to charge, I would have been screwed. I was wide awake and thrilled. What a way to start the day!

When the jeep got back Terry and I had breakfast on the patio. Terry was excited by all the species of birds that had been spotted. The expert birders could pick out birds by their calls and knew how to spot them at great distances. Over breakfast Terry noted the birds she had seen on her Australian bird list. She had purchased a bird book in Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens and already most of the birds pictures were checked off.