Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Travis Blaise Works on His Cintique

Travis Blaise worked with students at Misty Forest to help create storyboards for a short animated film titled "Rosalie and the Bottle Tree." As I sketched Travis, he told me about the equipment he was using, and I decided to purchase the same scanner and printer he was using. The Epson has been serving me well. Misty Forest is a small private school that offers kids creative courses after regular school hours. A bottle tree consists of bottles stuck onto branches and they are created to bring good luck. Travis had the kids create all the storyboards and he was using the Cintique to edit together the images along with the sound track.

Travis is an amazing animator that worked at Disney Feature Animation when hand drawn animation was in it's hay day. He is a master at working straight ahead, letting the scene develop organically.  He showed me how he uses the Cintique to animate using Flash. I was amazed that the program could be used to create organically drawn animation. I always assumed that Flash created flat, cut out type characters that were then moved like puppets.

Travis ended up leaving Orlando to work at Digital Domain, a computer animation studio. Digital Domain then closed down and I'm not sure where Travis went after that. Working in the animation industry is like tap dancing on quick sand.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Riding Horses on Vacation

My wife Terry used to love to ride horses. She used to volunteer for the Police Equestrian Unit in Orlando riding the police horses  to make sure they got enough exercise. On a vacation to visit my family in Pennsylvania she went for a trail ride while I sketched the horses in the coral. She stopped riding abruptly when a police horse got spooked and threw her to the ground. She ended up with a huge bruise down her leg which had her limping for a week.Horse riders say that it isn't a matter of "if" you will be thrown, but a matter of "when" you will be thrown. I have never trusted horses and I have never sat on top of a horse. I suspect they don't have my best interests at heart.

 On a vacation to the Canadian Rockies this year, Terry once again went on a trail ride that went for miles up a muddy path to a glacier lookout. I stayed behind and did a sketch. The trail horses were super calm and she didn't get thrown or injured. Perhaps as the saying goes, she is back in the saddle. The trail horses had Western saddles that have that horn to grab onto. The police horses have English saddles that leave a rider with nothing to grab if they loose their balance. Regardless of the saddle though, I still prefer to sketch horses rather than ride them.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Shift to feature a Multiple Dance Company Ccollaboration

Emotions Dance  founded by Larissa Humiston is teaming up with Orlando’s best in modern, improv, and contemporary dance to engage and enlighten audiences with new, experimental, and in-progress works all under one roof. After the performance, there will be a Question and Answer session with the Artistic Directors to allow audiences to provide feedback as well as gain insight into the creative process. A one-of-a-kind annual event hosted by Emotions Dance Company, The Shift: Calm and Chaos focuses primarily on shifting our perception of movement, dance, and art while allowing companies to grow and change as artists. Companies participating this year include: Voci Dance, Yow Dance, Dawn Branch Works, Canvas Creative Coalition, Red Right Return Dance Company, Mary Love Dance Projects, Coby Dance Project and more!

Mark Your Calendar! The Shift: Calm and Chaos  will be performed on Friday September 19 and Saturday Sept 20, 2014 8pm at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center’s Mandell Theatre (812 E Rollins St. Orlando FL). Presale tickets are available Aug 12 until September 12 GA- $18 Students/Seniors (65+)- $14 At the door- GA- $20 Students/ Seniors (65+)- $15 Discounted tickets available for parties of 10+.

Also on the horizon is  7 Deadly Sins happening October 17-25th at The Venue (511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl). 7 Deadly Sins is an original work that combines contemporary dance, visual art, performance art, poetry, music and culinary art to examine topics of temptation and sin. Lust, pride, gluttony, sloth, wrath, envy and greed come together to entice audience members through an interactive art gallery setting. 

Featuring performances by Emotions Dance Company, visual art by award winning body painter and Skin Wars Season 1 contestant, Shannon Holt, visual art by award winning body painter, Brit Lytle, artwork by Patrick Fatica, Amanda Wegman, Scott Hodges, Thomas Thorspecken and others, spoken word performances by E.J. Younes, J. Bradley, and Ashley Inguanta, aeral performances by American Circus Academy, and a variety of refreshments from local food vendors to satisfy your inner glutton.

Friday October 17
Saturday October 18
Friday October 24
Saturday October 25


The Venue (511 Virginia Drive. Orlando FL)

Presale tickets- $20 (available Sept 19-Oct 12)
At The Door- $25

This program contains some mature themes and may not be appropriate for children under 13.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Creative Mind Project was the Birthplace of Dog Powered Robot

At Fringe two years ago, I was invited by Jessica Mariko to be part of the Creative Mind Project. A select group of artists were given the same music and told to create a theatrical presentation based on what they heard. I decided to edit together a series of sketches to create a video montage paced to the music.

On the opening night, I had to be backstage as the Creative Mind project was presented. My only responsibility was to walk out a projector when my piece was to be presented. I also had borrowed a film screen that I had help setting up. From backstage I peeked out from behind the curtains to see the other presentations.

This sketch is of Tisse Mallon and a cross dressing male performer right before they went on stage. I never actually saw their performance. The cardboard buildings they are standing in front of are set pieces for Dog Powered Robot. When it was Dog Powered Robot's turn, the audience went wild with laughter.

 Evan and Christie Miga had build a simple blue cardboard robot with a square head that rotated with wild abandon. A center chest compartment opened to showcase their adorable Pomeranian dog named Fisher. As the music played, Evan as the narrator waxed poetic about his childhood dreams of living in the city. Then a loud nuclear warning clamored, and Dog Powered Robot walked out into the cardboard cityscape. Like Godzilla in a cheap B grade sci-fi movie he began to destroy the city. The odd sight of this cute dog powering the robot's rampage was hilarious and people in the audience shouted "Dog Powered Robot!" with delight as they laughed. I only saw glimpses of that first performance from backstage, but the riotous audience was easy to hear.

Dog Powered Robot is still going strong today. They staged their own Fringe show twice and just this week, they made an appearance at the Maker Fair in the Orlando Science Center. I'm convinced that someday the stars will align and Dog Powered Robot will become an international cult sensation. Kids love these cardboard robots but adults can't get enough. Jessica Mariko is still bringing together creative minds by hosting Local Arts Nights at Drip (8747 International Dr #102, Orlando, FL) every 4th Thursday of the month.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Creature From the Black Lagoon Screened at the Enzian

As part of the Cult Classics Series, the Enzian Theater screened the original 3-D version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon made in 1954. Gina Stanley, the actress that was the Creatures on screen crush was at the screening. In the film she wore a stunning white swimsuit that was quite revealing for its day. Much of the film was shot in Florida swamps. In the film, Gina is screaming every time she sees the creature. The actor inside the creature suit, Ben Chapman, who was 6 foot three, played the creature on land. He was a former Polynesian dancer under contract with Universal Studios. His height and size made him perfect to play the creature. A second actor, then a college student, Ricou Browning, played the "underwater Creature" for the film, and he wore the "underwater Creature suit" for the sequences shot in Florida

Julia had an incredible career as an actress outside the lagoon. She starred opposite Tyrone Power, Glenn Ford, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, and Charlton Heston. Working on a horror film was considered a step down for many actresses so she almost turned the film down. It is ironic that today, this is the film she is most known for.

There was a somewhat disastrous design of the Creature's head, that almost made it into the final film. But a screen test at the eleventh hour convinced the studio head that the look of the creature did not work, and the head was redesigned and became the classic we know and love today. The film was impressive on the big screen and it became clear that many scenes were staged to take advantage of the 3-D effects. After the screening Gina signed autographs and I had her sign my sketch.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for August 23rd and 24th

Saturday August 23, 2014
11am to 2pm Free. Orlando Shakes Open House. Orlando Shakespeare Theater, 812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL. Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF invites the public to a free Open House on Saturday, August 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Theater staff will lead guests on a tour of the building, providing them with behind the scenes access, insider info, and fun facts about Orlando Shakes. Visitors will also enjoy a sneak peek rehearsal of this fall’s highly anticipated production, Les Misérables, and may enter to win tickets and prizes from Orlando Shakes and other local arts organizations. Families are encouraged to participate in fun crafts and photo opportunities with costumed characters free of charge.

7pm to 10pm Free. Eat your Art Out. Homegrown Local Food Cooperative 2310 N Orange Ave, Orlando, Fl. Homegrown Local Food Cooperative is pleased to present original artwork, for ONE NIGHT ONLY by Orlando artists Victor Bokas and Dawn Schreiner.
Homegrown Local Food Cooperative welcomes you to our store to launch the Exhibit while mingling with friends and enjoying music by Sharon Center Lowe and Ben Tiptonford. Delicious local food will be served, including kombucha by Living Vitalitea, baked goods by Olde Hearth Bread, sweet treats from Sweet Utopian and other Homegrown goodies. There will also be other drinks available.

Tonight and Saturday 8pm to 2am $14. Corsets and Cuties- A Burlesque Cabaret! The Venue 511 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Fl. Join us for our encore performance of a sold out weekend. Lovely ladies and one not-so-gentleman sing, dance, and take their clothes off in a rollicking 90-minute full show!

Sunday August 24, 2014
Noon to 5pm Free but grab a beer. Sunday's with Smiling Dan. The Falcon Bar & Gallery, 819 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL. DJ music to rock your Sunday afternoon.

 Noon to 2pm Free. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday

1pm to 3pm Free. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 North Bay Street, Eustis, FL.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Psycadelic Spirals at Alice Takes Wonderland

Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland has infused its way into so many productions in Orlando. At this rehearsal, Tisse Mellon and dancers were busy painting spirals onto cardboard disks. They were all hung in the entry as people entered the venue which was on Hanging Moss Drive right near Full Sail University. The black box theater was a nice big warehouse space and unfortunately this is the only production I ever saw staged there. Linda Eve Elchak of  NAO Dance choreographed this playful production.

A whimsical, playful post show environment was created with a minimal budget using little more than cardboard paint and fabrics. The theme as audience members entered was the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. These spiral disks were suspended to create a dizzying perspective. Actors arms jutted out from behind black curtains holding trays of sumptuous treats. The dance performance itself was incredibly playful, incorporating dancers improvisational contributions as well as crisp choreography.

NAO Dances mission, is to explore honest perspectives in the human condition through movement that inspires, enlightens, and entertains. When you dance only from your ego or your conscious mind you are just skimming the surface. Develop your voice and imagine what is really possible when you dance from your authentic person. The Nao Dance Collective is not interested in programming individuals, instead they let every dancer have their own voice and allow them to develop themselves through self-discovery.

Nao Dance Collective, pronounced "now" came from the word Tao which is "the way of life". Ancient Chinese considered Tao as the highest, omnipresent order of universe. A life following Tao implies a life with the highest fulfillment. Nao Dance Collective company members are bold, intuitive, risk-takers with a strong base of technical training. Linda offers classes in the NAO technique on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday's .  Classes are located at different Dance Studios every Sunday from 5pm to 630pm $10.00 drop in rate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Kentucky Derby Galloped Onto Winter Park

On May 3rd "Derby on Park" was held at the Winter Park Country Club (761 Old England Avenue Winter Park FL.) Event organizer, Anthony Dinova, invited me out to sketch the event. This was on the same day as the Kentucky Derby so women came out with their finest wide brimmed hats. I decided to sketch the well heeled crowd waiting outside for food. Several golfers were using the putting green when I started blocking in the sketch but they left when it started drizzling. Inside there was live music, wine and of course the Kentucky Derby was on TV.

The exciting ambiance of the well-renowned annual Kentucky Derby was brought to Winter Park. This themed event boasted unlimited craft beer and wine along with samplings of delicious food and desserts from various local vendors for all in attendance. Guests were encouraged to dress in their finest Derby attire with prizes for best-dressed in several categories. With a complimentary private-labeled bottle of wine for each guest, live broadcast of the Kentucky Derby, Fashion show and live entertainment, the prestige and energy of this coveted signature event provided guests with the most sophisticated and stylish afternoon outside of Churchill Downs.

As I worked on the sketch I heard the crowd inside start to cheer as the race started. The roar grew louder until the horses crossed the finish line. Terry was inside to catch all the action. There was a small retaining wall at the edge of the putting green and people used it as a bench to sit while sipping their mint juleps.  A women who came outside to get away from the claustrophobic crowd inside sat on the ledge and then unexpectedly fainted. Luckily she fell back onto the soft grass rather than forward onto the brick patio. She was revived by her friends and event organizers called the fire department and EMTs to check her vitals. She hadn't been drinking so she couldn't figure out why she fainted.

With the sketch done I went inside to spend time with Terry and to grab a bite to eat. A new batch of pasta was being warmed up and I waited for a bit. The crowd thinned out fast after the race but Terry and I stayed to see who won the best bonnet award. One woman had a huge bouquet of flowers on her bonnet and I was surprised that she didn't win. Perhaps connections are more important than flourish.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Snap! Space is a New Hip Cultural Hub in Orlando

On May 2nd I went to the opening reception for Edge of a Dream at Snap! Space (1013 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando, Florida). The show explored the fine line between figurative narratives, reverie and the familiarity of reality while resembling a dream. Curated by Patrick and Holly Kahn, the exhibit featured the works of eight nationally renowned fine art photographers, along with sculpture, installation, fine art origami and jewelry. Guest artists were in attendance. Cocktails were offered by 'The Courtesy Bar', and music was by resident DJ Nigel John.  I was most intrigued by the photos of Richard Tushman. His "Hopper Meditations" series showed an isolated couple in a bedroom. The lighting and compositions made the photos look like Edward Hopper paintings. The photos had a surreal quality to them. It wasn't until after the opening that Patrick explained that the rooms were miniatures created by the photographer. Looking at the photos again I could see that the curtains didn't hang quite right.

At the opening I sat next to the reception desk to sketch the bar. Snap! girls volunteer at these events and field any questions people might have. Holly came to the desk with a prospective client and sold a small sculpture made from vintage watch gears and pieces by Mike Nuriel. Sketching the Courtesy Bar was a challenge, since the line kept moving as people picked up their drinks. My artists stool wobbled as my crossed legs grew tired. I have a nasty habit of leaning back in a chair until I'm balanced on the back two legs. Unfortunately the small artist stool couldn't handle my maneuvering.  The back legs folded under me sending we toppling backwards in slow motion. A lamp cord was strung behind me like a clothes line to the outlet, so as I fell, the lamp flew off the table. The Snap girl acted with quick instincts and caught the lamp like a professional baseball outfielder. I landed squarely on my ass and flushed red as I got up and reset my stool with what little remained of my dignity. "Great" I thought, "Save the lamp and let the artist flop down like a rag doll." Actually I was very grateful. Patrick and Holly had "borrowed" the lamp from their son's bedroom. Had it been broken, I would have felt horrible. I finished the sketch without incident and then looked at all the art one more time before I slipped out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Making Nails

In July, the Thorspecken Clan descended on Orlando. Cornelia and her daughter Nini came from Wiesbaden Germany, Don, Val and their kids, Nichole and Kyle came from Connecticut. Carol and her kids, Anna and Kristen came from Upstate New York. Terry and I drove to the hotel where everyone was staying on the first night. Anna immediately wanted to borrow my watercolor paint supplies. I gave her a watercolor palette and a brush and for the rest of the evening she created a tropical sunset on a paper plate. Mark Bishop took a test drive in Terry's new Porche, and his animated excitement about the ride was fun to watch.

Anna then began to experiment with painting fingernails and toe nails. She created pink strawberry toenails  with bright green leaves and then neatly placed black seeds. Other nail designs included smiley faces and floral nails. Every woman left with fully painted toe nails and finger nails.When everyone came to our house for a visit, Anna set up a little lab on our kitchen table. A blue plastic cup was filled halfway with water and then fingernails paint was poured in. The nail polish floated on the top of the water and then she would pour in another color into the center creating concentric rings of color that floated on the water. She would drag a small stick into the slick and pull it outward much as baristas do with patterned foam in a coffee cup. The result was a sort of colorful spider's web. She would then submerge a fake fingernail under the slick and try to get the pattern to appear on the top of the nail. The experimenting went on for hours and Terry helped out by attaching nails to sticks.

I'm still experimenting with a tablet to draw, and the results are a bit garish as I get used to the interface and controls. I haven't yet found the tools that can give me a spontaneous took that I usually get from splashing real watercolors on the page. Like Anna, I need to keep playing until I get the results that I want. Terry hates the look of the digital sketches and feels I should stop trying to use technology to sketch. I'm stubborn however and I'm convinces that in time I'll get amazing results. I'll keep throwing spaghetti at the wall until it starts to stick. If I look back at the sketches I did the first year I started this blog, I have to admit that there was plenty of sketches that just didn't work back then. I just need to find the tools that work for me. Right now I'm fighting the machine but eventually when it becomes fun to work with I'll improve. One step forward, two steps back, that is what it takes to keep growing as an artist.