Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Mennello Museum Indie-Folkfest.

The final assignment for the Valentines Day Sketch Tour was for all the artists to explore and sketch the very crowded Mennello Museum Indie-Folk Festival. This was a chance for me to finally get out my own sketchbook. I immediately sat in front of the outdoor stage l sketch The Brown Bag Brass Band. I had just danced the night away several nights before, listening this band at a Mardi Gras celebration at Dexter's in Winter Park with a friend. We danced to the point of exhilarated exhaustion. That same energy was very much alive at this outdoor performance. Dancing however seemed reserved for the kids.

Indie-Folkfest puts a twist on the Mennello Museum's traditional Orlando Folk Festival turning it into a Valentine’s Day-themed family folk picnic that features local music, art and food. The museum partnered with East End Market for food, Joseph Martens for the music lineup, as well as local bars to throw a fun-filled picnic in the beautiful Sculpture Garden of The Mennello Museum of American Art. Approximately 3,000 guests, including plenty of dogs and kids, spread out picnic blankets, made Valentine cards and enjoyed a daylong lineup of music against the backdrop of Lake Formosa in the winter sunshine.It was the second annual day dedicated to Music + Art + Picnic + Love.

All the artists gathered back at our lakeside classroom to share our sketches and experiences. Sketching on location always opens the possibilities of meeting someone new or learning something new. It is a way exciting to go out in to the world and do what you love and share it with others. This is the message I keep trying to convey to a new generation of artists. We all posed for a group photo before class was adjourned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rock of Ages at the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts.

Scott A. Cook invited me to sketch a tech, dress rehearsal for Rock of Ages at the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts, (445 South Magnolia Avenue Orlando FL). The sound check took quite some time to balance the levels between the casts head mics and the band. Regina's mic was not working. The battery had to be replaced but it still didn't work. She had round glasses, rosy cheeks and long dreads tied neatly behind her. She wore a flowing rainbow striped dress and a long orange crocheted vest. Because she was such a highlight of the sound check, I assumed she must be the heroine of the story. I empathized with her plight of not being heard. The rehearsal covered just part of act two, so I'm not sure how important her story arch is to the overall show. In my mind there should always be more Regina. She reminds me of the 60s movement towards positive change.

Rock of Ages is a rock musical, with a book by Chris D'Arienzo, built around classic rock songs from the 1980s, especially from the famous glam metal bands of that decade. The musical features songs from Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Steve Perry, Poison and Europe among other well-known rock bands. Mixed into this is the story of an aspiring actress who joins a strip club to make ends meet. She wants to develop a back a story for her character and understand her motivation. Her first over acted attempts at being sensual are quite hilarious. The other bored dancers give the costumers exactly what they want (Any Way You Want It) without any effort. Despite her awkward beginnings, the new girl is a natural and she catches the eyes of several sleazy record producers.

A construction foreman plays an important roll in praising the ceaseless construction. In a German accent he shouts, "Isn't it beautiful?" Two scaffolds are wheeled out and dancers perform scaffholdography, by spinning and then dancing a round the scaffolds. Protesters arrive with signs and there is a squirmish with riot police. Regina is front and center in the protest. So she is the heroine I imagined. She and the entire cast sang a rousing rendition of We're not Gonna take It and I was humming the song on the long walk back to my car.

Rock of Ages runs from September 28th to October 9th at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.  

Show Dates/Times
SAT OCT 1 - 2PM & 8PM
SUN OCT 2 - 2PM & 7PM
SAT OCT 8 - 2PM & 8PM
SUN OCT 9 - 2PM & 7PM

Rock Of Ages - Ticket Prices:
Tue/Wed/Thu performances: $26.75, $29.75, $32.75
Fri/Sat/Sun performances: $32.75, $35.75, $38.75
There is a 12% DPC handling fee for all online/phone orders.
The 12% DPC handing fee can be avoided by purchasing tickets in person at the DPC Box Office.

Online Tickets:
Box Office: 844.513.2014
Group Sales (8 or more): 407.455.5550 or
Mon-Fri 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm

#iwannarock #roatwf2016 #roapartytrain #orlandosbiggestpartyever

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pulse employee Neema Bahrami.

Pamela Schwartz, the Orange County Regional History Center program manager, is conducting Or I history interviews with people associated with the Pulse incident.  Neema Bahrami never wears red. Yet on the night of June 12, 2016, he wore a red shirt to his job as the Latin Night event organizer at Pulse. Someone joked with him that he should change his shirt since red is the cause of evil. Toward the end of the evening he walked to the front of the club to cash out. There are chains that hang over the entry. He  didn't see the shooter enter the club. He thinks he must have entered by the back gate. He later learned the gunman's car was parked back there. Then he heard the bangs. There is a DJ that incorporates the sounds of gun shots into his music mix, but he was not the DJ that night. Neema looked into the dub and saw muzzle flashes. People ran toward him. A young boy fell on him. He gathered the employees up front and got out. There was a policeman right outside, who told everyone to go to Dunkin' Donuts. The gunman came to the entry at a glass waterfall and began shooting towards the cop. Neema wrote on Facebook "Omg I can't believe this please God." Followed by, "I am safe everyone give me a minute trying to make sure the staff and guest that are with me are safe."

When police arrived, they began firing into the club entry. Neema was concerned about friendly fire. Outside, he got a cell phone call from an employee still in the dressing room. He informed police that he was on the phone with someone inside. People inside had to live through three hours of the worst fear imaginable. Dancers hid in cabinets. he realized, that if an air conditioner unit was removed, then the employees could crawl out through a hole in the wall. He drew a diagram for police. There were nine employees trapped in that room. Police didn't take his advice. He says he was near the AC unit when he heard a loud explosion. Police had blown open a wall to the bathroom. Moments later, the gunman was shot dead.

Unharmed survivors were herded into a bus to go to the police station. Neema's interrogation took just 5 minutes. No phones were gathered as evidence. After the interrogation he was released with no ride, out into a sea of waiting reporters. His dear friend Eddie Sotomayor didn't make it out alive. When he finally got home Neema collapsed and cried. He sees signs of Eddie everywhere he goes. In the weeks that followed, a comfort dog sat in his lap. The dogs name was Eddie. A tree had the names of all 49 victims and, as he stood looking at the tree, Eddies name fluttered free and dropped to the floor at his feet.

The next day, he found a paper heart taped to his door. It said,"Love is free, hugs are free, we all love you." Because of this sign of hope Neema decided to create the Hang a Heart Foundation, which promotes love regardless of religion, race or gender. He feels that, if any good came from that horrible night, it is that people are learning to accept the gay community. It has opened peoples hearts. Churches invite them in to make paper hearts.

Neema has been traveling with Pulse club owner Barbara Poma to NYC Pride, Memphis Tennessee Pride, and Palm Springs Pride along with a endless string of fundraisers. He said, that if Barbara rebuilds, Pulse will be bigger and better than ever. He showed a photo of a gorgeous rainbow colored tree. "Wouldn't that be gorgeous in the club" he said. In the meantime his life is on hold. His only income is from donations. He is angry at officials who said they would help. He filled out form after form seeking help. However only people who were shot will eventually get funds.

One month after the shooting he returned to the club. In the empty space, he felt the souls touching him. The place was stripped bare. "They took the TV, they took the money." He walked into the dressing room and all feeling left his body. In the bathroom he could feel the trauma. There is no greater terror.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Valentines Day Sketch Tour notes.

These are thumbnail studies made at the Valentines Day Sketch Tour. Kelly Medford from Rome was offering advice on making simple value studies. I used a blunt black colored pencil to quickly fog in some grey valves and line work. Although the exercise wasn't about color, I couldn't resist adding a few watercolor washes. The color swatches were added to show the colors available with the palette we gave each student. First a thick swatch us added with plenty of pigment. Then the color was thinned with to of water to show how light values cool be achieved. Our lakeside classroom felt a be in like a Colosseum with the gentle arch of the shoreline.

After all the mornings sketches, we all took a lunch break an found food from vendors in the Mennello Museum's Folk Festival. After lunch it was my turn to inspire artists to try and populate their sketches. I posed and the had several students pose to give everyone an idea of how to quickly block in a figure. Then I explained one and 2 point perspective and had student create a for grid plane. They then took the figure studies the Did and added them to the grid plane. Large figures were is the foreground and small figures were is the background. Then we all explored the crowded Folk Festival, with the objective to incorporate as mane figures in one sketch as was possible. We agreed to return to our quiet lakeside classroom to share the results.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Valentines Day Sketch Tour.

On Valentines Day, Kelly Medford, a plein air painter from Rome came to Orlando and co-hosted a Valentines Day Sketch Tour at the Mennello Museum Museum of American Art. The Mennello Museum was having it's annual Folk Festival. All the artist met by the lake close to the foot bridge.

We gave each artist a Strathmore Sketchbook, a travel sized watercolor palette, a pencil, pen and water brush. Kelly began the morning by introducing the supplies and getting everyone started doing Blind contour drawings. From there we started doing simple thumbnail studies. It was nice to sit back and be a student again.  I did these two sketches using just watercolor washes followed by minimal line. I usually finish the whole drawing in line be for I start adding watercolor, so this was a liberating departure. of course with more time, I could refine and ad detail, but I like the freshness of splashing watercolor first. My challenge now is finding ways to mix larger puddles of color to cover more of the sketch at once. I'm considering just using a bowl as a palette.

We had a good crowd of artists show up for the day. It is wonderful to see everyone unique approaches. The Folk Festive was just setting up as we were doing these sketches. You can see the first tents popping up just on the on the other side of the wrought iron fence. All of these loose instructional sketches were shared with everyone in the workshop online. I will not post them all on this site. There are far to many events and news to report on.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sketch Orlando Workshop at Lake Eola.

I co-hosted a sketch outing with Greg Bryla, a Senior Landscape Architect at Dix.Hite + Partners. Viviana Castro and Kristen Koehnemann helped organize the event. Every artist that attended, got a small travel size watercolor palette, sheets of watercolor paper, a pencil and water brush. We all met outside the Eola House (512 E. Washington St, Orlando, FL). The newly formed Orlando Urban Sketcher's group joined with landscape architects for a morning of sketching a the Lake Eola Farmers Market. We met in the open field next to the Eola House and all the supplies were placed a folding table for artists to pick up. A bicycle cop stopped by and told us the table wasn't allowed in the park, so it was broken down and supplies went on the ground. Artists are all about breaking rules.

Greg and I gave short talks about how to catch a quick scene in a sketch. Then we all scattered to do a 20 minute sketch. I usually take an hour to two hours to complete my sketches so I really had to pick up the pace. Luckily the sheet of watercolor paper was small allowing for just a quick thumbnail study. I focused on the BBQ guy setting up for the morning. He had to stoke the fire and put out all his wares. I just sketched him over a over again to populate the scene. There was only enough time to throw in a few light washes before heading back to the base camp.

We all placed our sketches on the lawn to see what worked and what might need improvement. It is always wonderful to see how different and unique each sketch is. Variety is who makes sketching so exciting. Two artiss couldn't draw the same scene the same way if they tried. Each sketch involves millions of decisions that make each sketch unique. Any advice is just a guiding suggestion. I would never want to change the way an artist interprets a scene. Instruction is just a way to help artists truly see. Most of sketching is patience and perseverance.

Then it started to rain, so we all ran to World of Beer (431 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL) where we sipped beers and sketched on the outside patio. I sketched the artists on the couches refining their sketches. The shower was short lived, just long enough to down one beer and pay up. The landscape architects had one more surprise up their sleeve. Across the lake they had a table set up with a delicious Polynesian pulled pork lunch spread.  I must say that landscape architects really know how to organize a sketch outing. Remnants of the Pulse memorial items still surrounded the lake. There were tons of candle holders and dead flowers everywhere. Had it not rained this emotional refuge would have certainly been the topic of my sketch. A bicycle cop once again stopped to inform us that it is illegal to serve food in the park. The table was broken down and the buffet was dropped in the grass. Once again the artist, anarchists were caught trying to picnic in the park. After the mass murder of 49 people I would think the police might have loftier goals.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekend Top 6 Picks for September 24th and 25th.

Saturday September 24, 2016 
10pm to 4pm Free. Orlando Elks Vintage Faire. Elk Lodge 1079 12 N Primrose Drive Orlando FL.

7pm to 10pm $15 49 Portraits opening. Gatlin Creative 4940 S. Orange Ave. Orlando 32806. The 49 Portraits were created by Orlando artists on the evening of July 3rd, 2016.
Thomas Thorspecken, of Analog Artist Digital World, hosts a monthly drawing event called ODD (Orlando Drink and Draw).
For the July event, they decided to create 49 portraits of the Pulse Tragedy victims in one night.
Over a dozen artists answered the call and they each had to complete about 4 portraits to finish by the end of the evening.
All the artists worked in silence, focusing on the task at hand. It was a creatively challenging and highly emotional evening.
Now to honor them, Thomas, in collaboration with The Gatlin Creative, will be hosting an exhibit of the works of art. These portraits are to be given to the families in memory of their loved ones.
There will be a $15/person donation at the door with a portion of the proceeds going to support the victims and families of the tragedy.
Beer, wine and entertainment will be provided
Entertainment TBD
All ages
For questions call: 323-420-8663
The participating artists include:
Betsy Brabandt
Colin Boyer
KC Cali
Bob Hague
John Hurst
Lisa Ikegami
Lauren Jane
David McWhertor
Tony Philippou
Plinio Pinto
Charles Richardson
Shelaine Roustio
Mitch Scott
Andrew Spear
Wendi Swanson
Thomas Thorspecken

10:30pm to 12:30pm Order food or dink. Son Flamenco. Ceviche Tapas Orlando, 125 W Church St, Orlando, FL. Hot blooded flamenco dancing live on stage. 

Sunday September 25, 2016 
Noon to 2pm Order food or drink. Florida Gospel Jam. Fish on Fire 7937 Daetwyler Drive Belle Isle FL. Every 2nd and 4th Sunday. 

2pm to 4pm Order coffee. Irish Music. Olivia's Coffee House, 108 N Bay St, Eustis, FL.

2pm to 4pm Free. Yoga. Lake Eola Park, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Prints at Art Systems.

When clients order prints of my work I get them made at Art Systems (1740 FL-436, Winter Park, FL 32792). The great thing is that the store is just a 10 minute drive from my Winter Part Chateau. Nadia is an animation major at UCF and is an artist. She likes to flip through my sketchbooks when I have them on hand, which is always. She gives me prints with perfect color matching to the original. Watercolors are tricky because color is created from light shooting through thin layers of pigment and then bouncing off the white page.  When I paint opaque paint on the same sketch it throws of the color that the scanner and computer see. It takes a keen eye to spot and correct the limited senses of a computer.

There has been a change in the print shop. The former reprographics manager left and all the prints were removed from the walls. A new manager, Sarah Jane Rozman  took his place. She is an artist who loves to paint birds. She is a pretty amazing artist. She handled the print I brought in and got the colors spot on. A person running the print shop is much like a barber or bartender. The client waits as the print is being made and conversation lightens the wait. Sarah and I started talking about events following the Pulse shooting, and I found myself in an emotionally charged conversation that I didn't expect. Sarah listened with compassion and understanding. Hopefully this is happening all or Orlando as the city heals. Three months after the tragic event I am more caught up in trying to understand what happened than ever. I am sketching Pulse employees and survivors from that night and the conflicting stories keep me thinking as I lie awake and try to sleep at night. 

I leave behind some piece of myself  everywhere I go. I forgot my umbrella at Art Systems and Sarah held on to it for the three weeks or so when I returned to make another print. Nadia was there as well and she insisted I see an animated film by Leica Studio called Kubo. I took her advice and it as an amazing film. Go see it! Characters are given time to breath and think. Stop motion, CGI and traditional animation are all used to breath life into an incredible hero's journey. I went to a late night screening alone and was blown away. " When we grow stronger the world gets more dangerous." 

So my trips to the print shop for clients are not just business as usual. I go knowing I might learn something new, become a bit more emotionally grounded, or be inspired. A trip to to the print shop is an adventure.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

History is collected at Pulse.

Pamela Schwartz, the curator of exhibitions and collections at the Orange County Regional History Center has spearheaded the effort to collect and preserve items left at the Pulse Memorial. She let me know that September 16th was a big day of collection. TV news cameras were there in force. They surrounded Pamela as she explained the collection efforts.

That morning I saw a Facebook post from a citizen who was concerned that the American flags at the site might not be disposed of properly. He wanted a boy scout troop to collect the flags. I can say without a doubt that the History Center Staff know how to collect, restore and preserve better than any boy scout.

Barbara Poma, the club owner was on site to oversee the collection. I have been sitting in on interviews with her employees and vastly admire the way she has supported her staff since the Pulse shooting.

A new silk fence shield has been created that features work from local artists. Amazingly no one told Barbara about this new addition. It is colorful but it will be ripped and tattered by tourists and locals who want to see the building. People have a macabre need to see bullet holes. The new fence will be moved closer to the club so that there is less need for the cement barricades that now are in the road to protect tourists

Items were collected and stored in custom museum boxes. The staff will then clean and restore items as best they can. Of course it rains almost every afternoon, so water damage is prevalent. They also clear away wax, and catalogue everything. Organic items like dead flowers are recycled as mulch in local city gardens. Pamela and her staff are doing an amazing job.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Orlando Urban Sketchers outing to Pulse.

On September 11th, I hosted a sketch outing for local artists to the Pulse nightclub. This was the site of the horrific shorting that happened on the morning of June 12, 2016 that left 49 people dead and 53 injured from the gun shots of a madman.  The fence that was put around the nightclub has become a memorial where people come from around the world to pay their respects to those that died.

I chose the date because September 11th was the date that 9/11 happened in New York City and September 12 would mark 3 months since the June 12th shooting. I decided to set the time at 6pm since sunset would happen at 7:30 that evening. It would be cooling down and there would be shade from the fence.

I started sketching as soon as I arrived. One other sketcher, Viviana Castro stopped by with her boyfriend.  When you sit with a sketchbook in your lap at a site like this, people consider something of an expert. A man in green military shorts told me that he had visited the site often and he had brought his girlfriend from Ohio to the the site for the first time. "It changes every time I come here." He informed me.

He shot cell phone photos of the items that he liked the best. As I was rustling through my art bag for supplies, I came across a gold foil butterfly that a fashion designer had given me a while back. For the first time, I decided to leave something behind, and I let the butterfly flutter to the ground. I noticed a ten year old girl writing in a notebook and her dad watched what she was doing. It turns out she was sketching and her dad brought her out to the sketch event. She drew teddy bears, a heart and a church. Beautiful Latina women inspected the site. one wore a tiara. There must be millions of cell phone photos shot of items at the memorial. Two large cable spools formed a shrine in wh7ch wooden panels honored the 49 lives lost. Hours could be spent reading all the notes left behind, but soon it becomes emotionally overwhelming.