Thursday, December 18, 2014

Belmont Park In San Diego is always bustling.

On the evening that Terry, Debbie and Paul Andreen went to their high school reunion, I walked down the Mission Beach boardwalk to Belmont Park to sketch the Merry-go-round. Of course choosing to spin something that is always spinning like a top is a bit insane, but I sketched in the calm moments as children clamored on board and saddled up. I found a nice bench where parents often sat while waiting for their children. The roller coaster loomed in the background and screams periodically overcame the Merry-go-rounds pipe organ music.

The Little Dipper ice cream booth had a constant stream of patrons. There was a fence around the Merry-go-round but I felt it cluttered the view, so I left it out. As I sketched dusk turned to night, so I kept darkening the watercolor washed. Sketching at sunset makes sense since the whole process of applying washes to a sketch involves building in the colors from light to dark.

When this sketch was done, I probably had time to do another sketch in one of the arcades. Sketching in such a loud crowded setting is exhausting however so I walked back to the beach front apartment. There I relaxed on the patio and watched the stars. Fire pits ignited all along the beach every 100 yards or so. It was several hours before everyone got back to tell me about what I had missed. The reunion venue overlooked the pro baseball stadium. It sounded like a great sketch opportunity, but that is why I wasn't invited, I can't put the sketchbook down.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Orlando's most increadible private Christmas light display.

Once a year I seek out the best Christmas light display in Orlando to sketch. Folks in Florida tend to be fanatical about their displays which start going up right after Thanksgiving. My online research this year lead me to Christmas in the Shire (14645 Grand Cove Drive Orlando FL). The display has moved this year and is bigger than ever according to passers by.

I parked quite a few blocks away to avoid any possible traffic jams near the display. Traffic however was thankfully light in this new suburban neighborhood. Road work was still in progress on streets as I drove in. I walked through the neighborhood in my black hoodie enjoying the smaller light displays along the way. As I passed a mom removing groceries from her car, she said to me, "Do you want to see that display?" when she turned to look at me, she said with a start, "Oh! I thought you were my son!" I laughed.

What is truly unique about The Shire is the number of Christmas trees both on the yard and inside the home. More than a dozen trees were illuminated in the yard with many more inside the home. Andrew Albertson began collecting Christmas decorations when he was eight. He has over a thousand plastic snowmen, and he only displays the ones that tie in with a theme each year. Inside the home are 53 trees. He owns over 300 artificial trees that are four feet and higher. In all he may have 100,000 lights in the display.  Other displays might have more lights, but he has realized over time that quality is more important than quantity. The front door was always open inviting people to come inside.  At the foot of the driveway was a donation box. When people made a donation, bright white strobe lights flashed throughout the yard in appreciation. This was the only blinking lights in the display. I like that they rely on the simple beauty of the display for a calming effect.

Christmas tunes played all night long. A young couple standing in the driveway started to waltz to the music. Other families children ran around playing tag and excited to find out what was inside the home. It was rather cold the evening I went to sketch. My fingers stiffened and the tablets warm processor is the only reason I was able to finish what I started. Working in watercolor wouldn't have worked. If you want to visit a spot that is certain to warm you up to the holiday season, then head to Hunter's Creek to visit Christmas in the Shire.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Analog Artist Digital World sketches are on display at West Elm.

Nine original sketches from the Analog Artist Digital World archives are now on display at West Elm, 4010 Conroy Road, Orlando, FL. The store offers modern home decor and modern furniture. Here you'll  find the bedding, furniture, room decor, and dinnerware you need to create a stylish contemporary home. The store is right near the Millenia Mall and Ikea, so if your shopping for Christmas, stop by and see some original art. Patrick Kahn from Snap Space curated the display. The work will be on display through the holidays and into the New Year.

I executed this sketch digitally since I felt it might be awkward to use watercolors in a store. I also chose to sit on my artist's stool rather than on one of the comfy couches. Jason Moore is the store manager who hung the show. He recognizes the importance of social  media to spread the word about West Elm.  I had planned to sketch a Christmas light display on this day, but rain made me realize I needed to sketch inside. It seems any time I choose to sketch outside, the weather has other plans for me.

The store wasn't particularly crowded on this evening right after rush hour. One couple however was diligently looking for a new piece of furniture for their home. When the sales lady asked, "So what sort of style furniture is in your home now?" "Our entire home is full of West Elm furnature." was his response. While sketching the store I got a strong sense of the warm uniformity of every item in the store. The color of the sketches on display were bright notes that broke up that uniformity. I was happy to see one woman stand in front of the display for the longest time. It made me happy that the work could be seen in a real world, brick and mortar setting. However, I just came back from Art Basel in Miami where a Pablo Picasso plate worth $85,000 had been stolen. The plate was smell enough where it could be slipped into a hand bag. I realized the woman viewing my work was holding a shopping bag large enough to hold one of my framed originals. Luckily that thought did not cross her mind.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The San Diego Urban Sketchers discover California history.

While in San Diego I arranged to meet up with the San Diego Urban Sketching group. Terry's mom was nice enough to lend me her car so I could drive up the California coast a bit to the Olivenhein Meeting Hall. When I arrived, many sketchers were already hard at work sketching the historic building. The colony of Olivenhein was settled by German immigrants who arrived from Denver in 1884. Each member was granted 5 acres and use of the community's horse teams and equipment. In 1895 the colonists erected this board and batten redwood Community Hall which featured a pot bellied stove, bar, and a stage. Dances, picnics and fourth of July celebrations were traditional meeting hall events. The meeting hall became a California point of historical interest in 1971 and was placed on the National Register of historic places in 1993.

I was fascinated with the light bark of the trees and the vibrant blue sky behind the dark sienna structure. I tried to squeeze in as many sketchers as I could, but some were behind me. When everyone was finished with their sketches, we gathered together and put all the sketchbooks on the ground to see the results.  Then we posed for a group shot while holding our sketchbooks. In all there were eight sketchers that day. Neither Terry or her mom had ever heard of the Olivenheim Meeting Hall, so the field trip had allowed me to sketch a rather hidden gem from California's past while getting to meet some talented artists.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mission Beach turns orange at sunset.

Terry and I rented a beach front apartment for a week along with Terry's high school friends Debbie and Paul Andreen in Mission Beach, San Diego. There was one bedroom that went unused which was a shame. We should have invited another couple. Anyway, every evening we would gather on the beach at a life guard station to watch the sun set. As usual, I was looking the opposite way back at the apartment. Our place is the one with the blue canopy set up in front.

Volleyball players keep playing until there isn't enough light to see the ball. Debbie and Terry are on the right side of the sketch having an intimate conversation. Paul was exceptionally nice to me offering to take me someplace each day to sketch. This was such a pleasure because he was content to hang out and chat with people as I sketched. It was like having an intrepid reporter who knew what questions to ask to get at the heart of any story.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The rollercoaster is the heart of Mission Beach.

 The beach around the Belmont Park Giant Dipper roller coaster gets really crowded on weekends at Mission Beach in San Diego. A competition was held to celebrate the coasters 100 year anniversary. Contestants rode the coaster constantly, only getting toilet and eating breaks. The final contestants stayed on the coaster so long that the final prize had to be divided up among the crazy few who refused to give up. Our beach side apartment was just four blocks from the park. This was just far enough so that we were removed from the shouts and screams.

In the mornings, life guards drove along the beach putting out cones to mark their driving lane and warning signs for any rip tides. A group of children gathered on the beach for surfing workshops. Then the volleyball players would arrive and competitions would happen all day long. We relaxed under a beach umbrella and watched life stream by on the boardwalk. It seemed like everyone was fit, trim and beautiful in California.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Weekend Top 6 Picks for December 13th and 14th.

Saturday December 13, 2014
3pm to 8pm Free. Frankie's BIG FUN Market. 659 Bryn Mawr, (College park), Orlando , Florida. Every second Saturday. Local college park businesses partner with creatives. The Main Hub is frankie's APARTMENT E (the Event's host location, and where you will get the night's map!) SPOTLIGHTING ALL of ORLANDO's local scene!

7pm to 9pm Free. “Violectric Holiday Show”. Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park, 99 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida. Concert Featuring All Your Favorite Holiday Tunes with a Twist. Following a monumental night kicking off the entertainment at the Grand Opening Gala of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Walt Disney Theater, the talented musicians of Central Florida’s rockin’ strings group “Violectric,” the electric string quintet with keyboards and drums, are ringing in the holiday season with their special holiday show.  Free and open to the public, the concert will feature traditional holiday songs like “Jingle Bells,” “O Christmas Tree” and “Hanukkah, O Hanukkah” mashed up with classic rock tunes like “Kashmir,” “Born To Run” and “Sweet Dreams,” which combined with audience participation, will deliver a fun-filled and highly-unique holiday show unlike anything you’ve experienced before.

7pm to 10pm Free but bring a dish. Robert Metcalf Welcome Potluck. The Kerouac House 1418 Clouser St., Orlando, FL.

Sunday December 14, 2014
10am to 6pm Free. Grandma Party 2014. Stardust Video & Coffee 1842 E Winter Park Rd, Orlando, Florida. Grandma Party is you and me and all of us making it happen. NEAT STUFF: VINTAGE, JEWELRY, SCULPTURE, ART, HANDMADE, PAPER GOODS, PHOTO BOOTH, POLYLUST, LEATHER, FUNDIPPED, RAFFLE, MORE!!!!!
11:30A: ARK
4:00P: ADJY

11am to 2pm Free.  Parrot Adventures. Albert Park, Edgewater Drive College Park, Orlando, Florida. Parrots of all shapes and sizes gather with their owners for a public meet and greet.

11am to 5pm $5.  Big Bang Bazaar Holiday Spectacular! Maitland Civic Center Inc 641 S Maitland Ave, Maitland, Florida. This is a 2-DAY EVENT DECEMBER 13th and 14th from 11am -6pm n Saturday and 11am-5pm on Sunday. Kids under 12 FREE. KICK ASS CRAFT, ART AND VINTAGE VENDORS - TONS of your favorite indie vendors from all over! FILM FESTIVAL - We'll be showing your favorite movie classics at the stage at no additional charge! YUMMY FOOD!!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mission Beach is always active.

We spent most of our time at Mission Beach in San Diego California sitting in front of the beachfront apartment watching life stream by on the boardwalk. A sign on the beachfront wall pointed out that the speed limit was 8mph, but I'm sure some bicyclists exceeded that limit. Everyone was out for a walk, jog or bike ride. Every day volleyball players would compete at the nets on the beach. They were serious competitors knowing how to set the ball after 3 hits. Sweaty and covered with sand, they would use a water spigot at our place to rinse off after the game.

Every day the smiley face parachute would rise above the water taking parasailors up for a ride above the waves. I only dipped my toes in the water which was freezing cold. When it came time for Terry's reunion I found out I wasn't invited. That night I watched fireworks explode behind the beach from the nightly show at Sea World and then I walked down the boardwalk to sketch at the Mission Beach amusement park.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We head west for a San Diego reunion.

In August, I joined Terry on a trip to San Diego for her snerfurtieth high school reunion. Debbie and Paul Andreen picked us up at the airport and drove us to Terry's childhood home. Debbie and Paul were high school sweethearts who got married shortly after graduating, and have been married ever since. Terry's mom, Marcia Lawson lost her husband Alfred several years ago. He was fit and always exercised, so his sudden death shocked everyone. As his health slipped, he began to write a memoir about his childhood memories. Marcia now has a male companion whom she met at a VFW dance. He came over the house and watched the news on a small TV by the breakfast table as I sketched.

Surprisingly the Lawson home has no WiFi connection, so I took a field trip to the bottom of the hill to get connected at Starbucks. In San Diego the hills are really hills not like the subtle grades in Florida. By the time I got back, I was winded. Terry's plan was to rent a beach front condo at Mission Beach along with Debbie and Paul, but for the first night we slept in her mom's house.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The romantic glow of digital devices at Stardust illuminates interactions.

Once again I found myself at Stardust Video and Coffee on the evening of the Audubon Community Market. As I ate dinner, I sketched people absorbed in the glow of their computer screens. Since I was sketching on my computer, I fit right in. Outside tents were going up in the parking lot for the weekly Audubon Market. The couple in the foreground remained focused for the duration of the sketch. Eventually a conversation fired up and the gentleman moved closer to talk. I was surprised that people could meet in person and have face to face conversations. She was an actress who had just arrived in Orlando. He had her laughing much of the time. They agreed that they should stay in touch before they both returned to their screens.

I was pleased with the warm glow of the sketch. I would never get such pure rich color with watercolor washes. As I was finishing up, my Coke bottle fell from the wobbly round table I was sitting at. It crashed to the floor making an insane racket as it bounced repeatedly, yet thankfully it didn't break.  I must have been beet red as I picked it up. I walked around the market and stopped for a moment to listen to a local musician but I decided against doing another sketch and I headed home. I keep selling the idea that sketching helps me become part of the community, but it also isolates me, making me an impartial outside observer. I'm fully engaged and alive as I'm working, but when the sketch is done, my mood slips and it feels like life is slipping by.