Monday, October 22, 2018

The Mystery of Irma Vep

The Orlando Shakes (812 E. Rollins St Orlando, Florida 32803) is presenting The Mystery of Irma Vep, a Penny Dreadful by Charles Ludlam through November 18, 2018. The title is the name of a character in the 1915 French movie serial Les Vampires and is an anagram for the word "vampire." The set by Bert Scott was fun with it's forced perspective that would lead your eyes to the doors center stage. Even the floor boards all radiated from this central focal point. This is a perspective trick I often employ in my own sketches so it was fun to see the idea employed in the three dimensional design.

I didn't glance through the program when Pam Schwartz and I entered the theater, instead I got right to work sketching. As actors got on stage I started populating the sketch and I wanted to be sure to get as many of the cast on the page as I could. First, I focused on the maid talking to Lady Enid and then I added Nicodemus who gestured up at the painting above the fireplace of the previous lady of the house, Irma Vep. When the sketch was done I put it aside and relaxed to watch the second act. That is when I finally realized that there are just two actors in this play. I had been duped by very different mannerisms and accents. Lady Enid was never on the stage at the same time as Nicodemus. Brad DePlanche played Nicodemus, Lady Enid, Alcazar, and Pev Amri while Chris Crawford played Jane Twistden, Lord Edgar, and an intruder. Some 35 costume changes take place in the course of the two-hour show.

The play is very tongue-in-cheek with lightning fast cross-dressing. There is plenty of sexual innuendo and comedic pauses with dramatic music and lighting cues to heighten the humorous mysterious mood. The director Jim Helsinger seems to be a master at milking a comic moment. The play has a dark and sinister past and features love, intrigue, and a sinister mystery. It was a fun night of theater and perfect for the Halloween season. Get your tickets today, but the Halloween performance is already completely sold out.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Genome: Unlocking Life's Code

The Orange County Regional History Center (65 E. Central Blvd. Orlando, Florida 32801) has installed and opened a new exhibit called Genome: Unlocking Life's Code.  This special exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution and the National Institutes of Health examines the complexities of the genome - the genetic or hereditary material of a living organism - through cutting-edge displays, animation, and fascinating real-life stories that reveal the links between generations and how our histories begin long before we are born. The exhibit also examines both the benefits and challenges the study of genetics presents to our society. The exhibit runs from October 13, 2018 to January 6, 2019.

Pam Schwartz, the History Center's chief curator, along with her staff, have added to the exhibit to make it tie into our Central Florida human history. As part of the project they asked five local Orlando celebrities to take DNA tests to track their heritage through She then began the painstaking process of researching their family trees.

Long-time mayor John "Buddy" Dyer has several generations of roots in Central Florida, so he was a natural choice. Research lead Pam to discover his family's roots in colonial America. In 1758 his fourth and fifth great grandparents were in Fort Seybert, a frontier fort in the Allegheny Mountains in what is now Pendleton County, West Virginia. They were caught by surprise by an Indian raid. The fort fell and those inside were lined up in two rows, one to be taken captive and the other to be murdered and scalped (at least as the European settlers story goes). Buddy's distant grandfather was tomahawked in the mouth by a Shawnee warrior, sending his teeth flying. He died instantly. His daughter fainted, her life was spared as she was taken captive. 20 settlers died that day. By a stroke of luck, a small boy from the Dyer family was away at a distant village when the massacre happened. This is the boy who kept the family lineage alive and why Buddy is here today. Pam was also able to prove that Buddy and his sons are eligible to apply for the Sons of the American Revolution status since the Dyer family was actively engaged in the Revolutionary War up several branches.

Jorge Estevez, a news anchor from Channel 9 News, discovered that his family was a prominent part of Cuba's early history. Documents contained signatures and seals from his distant relatives who were very prominent notaries in Havana. Cuban documents are not available online so a possible trip to Cuba could further bring this research to life. Channel 9 is considering sending Jorge there
 to dig deeper into his family's past.

Geraldine Thompson, a former State Senator, may be united with a close relative she has never met before. Pam was contacted by a man who has spent his life - 47 years - searching for his biological father. The man he had been told was his father took a DNA test, but the results confirmed that he wasn't this man's biological father.  Through her research, Pam was able to confirm the father was, in fact, the Senator's brother. Though he passed away in 2003, Pam was still able to unite the man with this new-to-him side of his family

Other family histories were for Toni Deion Pressley from Orlando Pride, and Brendan Bunting O'Connor the editor of The Bungalower. Each participant will receive a binder showing the breadth of what has been discovered so far. The rainbow colored tabs are a gateway to an amazing vibrant multicultural past. Each family tree will be part of the Genome Exhibit at the Orange County Regional History Center, check it out for more fascinating stories from these individual's families.

If you are curious about finding out about your family History, you should stop out to Lunch and Learn, which will  discuss Genealogy on November 2, 2018 at Noon at the Orange County Regional History Center. Guest speakers will include Elaine Hatfield Powell of the Central Florida Genealogical Society and Allison Ryall of the Orange County Library System’s West Oaks Branch and Genealogy Center. Bring a lunch or let them order one for you by calling 407-836-7046 – lunch orders must be made at least 24 hours in advance. Members are free; non-members $5. With lunch: Members $8; non-members $13.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Art Critique at Barefoot Spa

Mark your calendar, the next Artist Critique is going to be Monday, October 22, 2018 at 6 PM – 9:30 PM at the Barefoot Spa (801 Virginia Dr, Orlando, Florida 32803). This is an event for artists and art appreciators. Everyone is welcome and it is free!  Artists talk about their latest art and help each other grow as artists. You do not have to share art at the critique to attend and participate in the conversation.

All kinds of art is welcome. There have been oil painters, paper makers, glass artists, found object sculptors, video artists, composers, watercolor painters, ceramicists, artists who draw and collage, jewelry artists, print makers, etc. All experience levels are welcome. We have included artists who have never shown and artists who are nationally recognized competition winners. All artists and types of art are welcome.

Parker Sketch
has been hosting this event monthly for over 8 years. This is a grass roots learning, development, and support event. Artists and art appreciators gather and discuss art as peers. If you like local art, you should attend.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Friday, October 19, 2018

Weekend Top 6 Picks for October 20 and 21, 2018

Saturday October 20, 2018
9am to 3pm Adults: $19.50. Seniors 60+: $15.95. Children 3-12 years: $13.75. Children 2 and under: Free. Zoo Boo Bash. Sanford Zoo 3755 W Seminole Blvd Sanford FL.
Trick-or-treat at the wildest place in town during our annual Zoo Boo Bash! It’s a safe, fun, and not-too-scary event for young and old alike. Bring your treat bag and wear your costume for a wild time! Be sure to stop by the Welcome Station to see a full list of Zoo Boo Bash activities. This event is included in general Zoo admission.
Additional fees may apply for certain activities.
Annual Pass Holder black out date: All annual pass holders will need to pay $5 Special Event Admission per person named on their card to gain entry to the event.

6pm to Midnight $15. Year round. Mortem Manor Haunted Attraction. Old Town, Kissimmee 5770 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway | Kissimmee, FL 34746. The Old Town Halloween in Kissimmee is now open year-round Wednesday through Sunday at 6 p.m. Freak out with live actors in two floors of the haunted house ($15), and a new “buried alive” experience ($5). 5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway. 407-396-4888.

10am to 5pm Free. Winter Springs ARToberFEST. There will be over 100 art vendors at Winter Springs Town Center, Blumberg Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Guests can also enjoy German brats and beer while dancing to live German bands all weekend. 407-278-4871 or

Sunday October 21, 2018
11pm to 8pm $15. Festival Calle Orange. Spanning 10 blocks near 4000 S. Orange Ave. Central Florida's largest Hispanic festival celebrates its 20th anniversary of bringing together people of many nationalities, religions and backgrounds to enjoy food, music and dancing in the streets. This celebration of culture includes four stages with numerous bands, sampling, souvenirs, food vendors and much more. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. $15 admission; kids 10 and under are free.

Noon to 9pm Florida Harmonica Championships. Beach side Tavern 690 East 3rd Avenue New Smyrna Beach. This 13th annual championship brings harmonica players to Beach side Tavern competing for the "best in show" trophy. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 690 E. 3rd. Ave. 386-314-5718.

10pm to Midnight. Free but get a coffee. Comedy Open Mic. Austin's Coffee, 929 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL. Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Interplanetary Acoustic Team

Poet Brian Turner invited me to sketch a performance of the Interplanetary Acoustic Team at the White House, Timucua Arts Foundation (2000 South Summerlin, Orlando, FL 32806). Jared Sylvia had an amazing knot of electronics set up on three tables. Wires flowed everywhere. He set up a relaxing loop track as ambient music as people arrived. Brian Turner was front and center with guitar and occasional poetry. Two more electric guitars filled out the soundscape. Brian had asked me to sketch the group live and I hoped to do a digital sketch that would project above the stage but I couldn't figure out the way to hook up an iPad to the projector. Pam Schwartz had helped me set up the tech once before but she was at a onePULSE Foundation meeting. I messed with all the possible connections for an hour and had to give up. The digital sketch would have made sense considering all the electronic tech on stage but I went about sketching the old school way with pencil and paper.

The Interplanetary Acoustic Team is a group of musical explorers whose mission is to listen to the stars, to record the deep gravitational waves rolling across the wide sweep of time, the voices carried on those waves. The music was haunting and moving

On their debut album "11 11 (Me, Smiling)" Ilyse Kusnetz created a lyric meditation that spans the universe, encompassing everything from the Big Bang, to the creation of life as we know it, to cybernetics, to the uploading of human consciousness for a journey into the unknown. Her husband, Brian Turner, has collaborated with her to intertwine their vision and create this album. Ilyse's voice was recorded for use in one of the songs and Brian explained that this evening would have been his and Elyse's wedding anniversary. Ilyse lost a battle with cancer but her poetry and lyrics live on. Beauty lives on when every something is created.

Brian Turner--Vocals, Bass, Guitars, Horns, Modular Synths
Benjamin Kramer--Bass, Keyboards, Theremin
Jared Silvia: Modular Synths
Sunil Yapa: Guitars

The next Interplanetary Acoustic Team event is at Valencia Winter Park campus, Oct 18, 201 at around 7pm. Then for a Burrow Press book launch on Nov 10, 2018.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Green Lady Lounge in Kansas City

The Green Lady Lounge (1809 Grand Blvd Kansas City, Missouri 64108) has live jazz 365 days a year. The place definitely isn't green, the walls are all blood red. When Pam Schwartz and I entered,we had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the dark before finding a table. We got there just before the musicians arrived and set up their instruments.  The Tim Whitmer Quartet was on the bill for the night. They epitomize Kansas City's Swing Jazz legacy. The drummer was the first to set up. But unfortunately when the other players pressed into the small staging area, I lost sight of him. At the Green Lady there is never a cover charge and seating is open.

Each table had an artificial LED candle, Pam secured me a second candle so I could see the sketch page. Even with the flickering light it was impossible to see colors or values for that matter. The first brush stroke of red looked like pure black in the low light. In some ways painting under such conditions is thrilling since I only get to see what I did once the event is over.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Casa Feliz

This is another demo sketch from my Sunday morning Crealde Urban Sketching Class. We sketched the historic Casa Feliz (656 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789) as an exercise in perspective. I was very pleased with this group of artists they applied the principles I suggested and some amazing work was created. Each student had their own particular way of putting lines and washes on the page and that is what makes sketching a pleasure to look at. Like handwriting each artist brings their own touch to an image they create.

Since I would walk around and offer individual notes and suggestions to each student I didn't take much time on this sketch. I'm finding that dashing off a sketch quickly has it's advantages. The has to look more spontaneous when you are throwing things on the page with wild abandon. Teaching students to be this careless is one of the most important lessons. When they start they want photographic accuracy, but a camera is much more suited to capture that. This is a case where teaching is making me much more aware of where my work needs to go moving forward.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Monday, October 15, 2018

Aloma Bowl and the Frankenstein Effect

On Sunday mornings I teach an Urban Sketching class at Crealde School of Art and the goal is to get the class out to sketch in the community each session. We take the first half of the class to discuss a premise and do an exercise and then we apply that lesson out in the field. I had prepared course materials for something I call the Frankenstein Effect. When drawing on location you seldom have more than 5 minuses to draw a person. On many occasions you might only have 30 seconds before the person walks away. The goal of this class was to get the students to get a very fast gesture on the page within that 30 seconds and then add details to the sketch by borrowing body parts from other people. The head might be from one person, the torso from another and the legs from yet a third. Details of fashion are also mixed an matched.

To get started each student posed for a brief moment and we would sketch just their legs to start. The next student would pose and we would sketch the torso and a third student would pose so we could sketch their head. The results were surprisingly consistent and as an outsider you could not tell that the figures had been "Frankensteined" together.

The Aloma Bowl (2530 Aloma Ave. Winter Park FL 32792) has bowling leagues each Sunday, so it offered a great place to sketch to sketch active poses as people bowled. One bowler was interested in buying one of my students sketches and I am trying to get them hooked up. The trouble is I'm not sure which student might have sketched him. I contacted two of them and will show him both their sketches too see if I can find the sketch he wants.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Mon Petit Cheri

Returning to Mon Petit Cheri (331 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789). I decided to push for a more complete sketch that encapsulated how I feel about the place. This Central Florida gem feels the closed to what it might be like to relax and sketch in a Paris cafe. Locals come here to have a coffee and to sit and chat.

I always ordered a chocolate filled croissant and a coffee that was a pleasure to nurse as I sketched. I only did this sketch after doing a series of thumbnail sketches (shown in the sketchbook). The wicker chairs also became the subject of a spread on the different types of furniture to be found in cafes.

New age coffee houses are cropping up all over Central Florida now that feature coffee and a wide selection of plants. The general notion of what constitutes a cafe keep evolving.

Though the book never became a reality, it was nice to explore and sketch the various cafes in town for a while. People offered plenty of suggestions of places I should suggest. That is the strength of social media. It is possible to crowd source to find the most intriguing places to sketch. We are living in an amazing time. Slow down once in a while sip a drink and take the time to soak in your surroundings.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mon Petite Cheri in Winter Park

I was asked by Querto Press in London to execute a series of sketches of cafe's for a possible book about how to sketch cafes. Now Orlando isn't Paris, but I started to search for the best cafes in the area. It is quite calming to slow down and sketch a cafe while sipping a coffee and chocolate croissant. Mon Petit Cheri (333 South Park Avenue Winter Park, FL 32789), seemed to feel like the most European cafe that I could find.

I stopped in several times doing thumbnails and final sketches for possible spreads in the book. Thumb nails are a really great way to organize your thoughts and create quick compositions without committing too much time on a finished sketch.

I also wrote copy to help in creating finalized layouts that showed ow the book might look. These spreads were shown at a London Book Fair to pitch the idea to prospective publishers. Unfortunately the book was not green lighted.

In this digital age it is nice too see that there are some places where people still sit an chat over a drink rater than hiding behind their phones to communicate with the hive. Perhaps my sketching is a similar anti social behavior that happens in slow motion, but for me sketching helps me truly feel a part of any new place I visit.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at