Thursday, December 31, 2009

Preparing for the Citrus Bowl Parade

Terry and I got up at 6:30 AM in order to get to the Police Mounted Unit Stable to help get the horses ready for the Citrus Bowl Parade. It was a very chilly 44 degrees Fahrenheit and when we arrived the horses were already out and wrapped in their blue blankets. Hoof Black was applied to all the horses hooves and green glitter was sprinkled on so they all looked like they were wearing emerald slippers. All of the horses whiskers were shaved the previous day. Terry told me they had to be muzzled in something called a twitch. It seems the horse is then so preoccupied with this twitch that it isn't freaked out by the act of having the whiskers cleanly cut off.
Decorative orange and green bows were tied to each horses tail and then volunteers painted oranges on the hind quarters. The front legs were also wrapped with white gauze. The blankets were then removed and the horses were quickly saddled up.
When the police were mounted at 9:10 AM, the Captain made a helicopter gesture with her right index finger and they headed for the street. Rather than get the horses in a trailer, it was easier for them to walk the one mile distance to the start of the parade route on Orange and Robinson. I joined the police pick up truck that would follow them on the parade route. Having a truck in the rear keeps the horses safe from any approaching traffic. As we rolled through Parramore, men standing on the sidewalks, probably waiting for some form of work, waved and greeted us. We went past the Coalition of the Homeless building where I sketched a few weeks ago. Terry who was in the passenger seat started playing with the loudspeaker and singing Christmas Carols. I was sitting in the back on some hay bails. I was asked several times to wave traffic around us since we were traveling at the horses walking pace.
The excitement built as we went through several police blockades and approached the start of the parade route.

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, December 30, 2009

Artists & Writers Crawl

The Artist & Writer Crawl I hosted made for a very fun evening. I met so many new artists and writers. After all the Crawlers saw "The Singing Menorah" we headed up to the Peacock Room at 1321 North Mills Avenue. I reloaded my water brush in the men's room an then sat at the end of the bar so I could get a good view down it's length. Karrie Brown and Tod Caviness are shown in the sketch diligently putting images and words to paper. Tisse Mallon followed the Crawl taking photos along the way. I would estimate that there were about 20 Crawlers all together. People came and went throughout the night. After a while it became impossible to distinguish the Crawlers from the regulars. A large group of people showed up, all of them coming from Bold Hype Gallery, where they saw the work of Andrew Spear. I spoke with someone named Nelson Martin who was trying to get the bartenders attention. It turns out he is a web designer and fine artist and we discussed art while I continued to sketch.
The walls of the bar were covered with paintings of women with really large eyes by Patrick Fatica. The work was highly polished, surreal and haunting. The paintings had long titles which would make you pause and wonder like "The angels have slipped through our landslide and filled up our garden with snow." This painting has a large eyed woman holding a towel over her bare breasts standing in front of a mist filled white landscape.
I had a beer at each bar we went to and after this sketch I focused a bit more on socializing than sketching. At the end of the evening only 5 artists remained. As we stumbled across the street from the Funkey Monkey towards Wally's we were almost all killed when a police car came screaming down Mills in the center turn lane at 90 miles an hour. It really was a close and sobering near miss. With our crossing attempt thwarted we had to run back to the sidewalk to avoid the new line of traffic approaching.
In Wally's I ordered my last beer for the evening from the sullen bar maid and sipped it while watching a man and woman who were rubbing noses and making out. When they left the woman tripped on a bar stool and could bairley keep her eyes open. Tod didn't like the music playing on the jut box so he got up and remedied the situation. It was 2AM when we all decided to call it a night.

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, December 29, 2009

Survive to Thrive

On a sunny Saturday morning I stopped by Christ Church Unity at 771 Holden Avenue for an out door barbecue and goodwill community outreach program called Survive to Thrive. Rick Kirby informed me of this event aimed to feed the homeless and working poor of Central Florida. I only had a couple of hours to sketch and then I had to get to work. I focused my attention on the tented area where volunteers were making sure that the Walmart giveaway bags were full. The bags contained travel sized shampoo, conditioner, soap socks, small towels, tooth brushes, tooth paste, chap stick and a drink.
As I was sketching children ran and played in the open grass behind me. It was a beautiful day. Several people who were just arriving walked up to me and asked where the food was. I pointed towards the outdoor grills. When the grills were fired up I could smell the delicious hamburgers and hot dogs.
There were 143 volunteers at the event and approximately 93 homeless guests enjoyed the food that day. Volunteers and guests all shared the same picnic tables as they enjoyed each others company. The afternoon was filled with live music and games for the children. Events like this humble me and make me realize the importance and true meaning of giving in this holiday season.

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, December 28, 2009

ICE at the Gaylord Palms

At a fundraiser several months ago for Hospice of the Comforter, Keith Salwoski, of the Gaylord Palms introduced himself to me and asked if I would like to sketch an event his hotel puts on called ICE. I of course followed up and he invited me to come down. I arrived in the early evening an was surprised that just to park would cost $12. I walked into the waiting area of the exhibit and discovered tickets cost $21. I called Keith and unfortunately he didn't pick up his phone. Rather that pay I decided to wander around the entry area exhibits. There was a Santa Claus seated in an area where photos could be taken. I sat down and started to sketch but immediately Santa got up and went on a break. A sign said he would be back in an hour. This just wasn't my night. I then wandered over to look at a model railroad display with a small village. I started sketching this and just as I was about to commit to inking things in, Keith introduced himself to me. He apologized and said his cell phone had been acting up.
We walked into the exhibit through the gift shop and he got me fitted in a blue winter parka. He also gave me a pair of gloves and some hand warmer packets. He gave me a full tour of the exhibit answering my questions as we walked. ICE has huge themed rooms filled with ice sculptures. The space is insulated with Styrofoam much like a beer cooler. It is kept at a frigid 9 degrees Fahrenheit using two huge air conditioners, each of which could cool the whole hotel complex. Should one unit fail the exhibit could still run using the back up. The sculptures have to be reworked every day due to damage from being touched. He pointed out that huge blocks of colored ice were always on hand behind curtains.
After seeing all the colorful rooms I decided to return to this ice slide room with huge reindeer sculptures. There was always a crowd of people at the base of the slide and a long line of children climbing the steps to get back to the top of the slide. There was constant screaming and laughter.
Working on the sketch was a challenge. My hands immediately got cold and it became hard to bend my fingers. I decided to place the heat packs in my palms and put the gloves over them. This helped. Then when I started applying watercolors, the water began to freeze on the page. The whole sketch shimmered like an ice rink. If I re-applied color over an area the ice would flake and fall from the page. One of the workers, probably an ice sculptor, told me I should have used Vodka to do the watercolors since it does not freeze. I wanted to ask him if he happened to have some on hand but he was gone before I could gather my frozen thoughts. Keith returned and offered me a hot coco and boy did that help.
With so many amazing and colorful sculptures I really wanted to do more sketches but I could only stand the cold for this one sketch. When I exited I placed my sketch flat on a bench and let the ice melt and the colors settled onto the page. I could no longer feel my feet or hands. I stomped my feet until they started to tingle again. Ice really is an amazing experience. If you are going to sketch however, remember to bring the vodka. Ice continues to run through January 3rd.

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, December 27, 2009

Hand Made Holiday

Lorri Ethridge is an artist who came to my Sketch Crawl around Lake Eola back in July. At 7 AM that morning as I sketched the sun rising near the Japanese pavilion, I could see her sitting on the dock in front of the Pavilion looking out over the lake and sketching the skyline. We talked briefly at the second stop on the Crawl which was at Panera Bread.
Several months later she sent me a message asking me if I knew Karie Brown who makes hand crafted handbags. I was thrilled to be able to bring them together. Lorri organized an event in Winter Springs called Handmade Holiday. She asked if I could stop out and document the occasion. Tables were set up in Huey Magoo's in Winter Springs Town Center. Huey Magoo's gave a portion of all food sales to Christmas Dreams for Children, a foundation in Christmas Florida.
The event was held inside since it was one of the first cold nights in Orlando this year. I stood and leaned back to one of the restaurant booths. The table right in front of me offered hand made teddy bears, woman's purses and small wooden Japanese dolls. A UCF sports jersey was framed on the wall as "Art". People who came to the event lingered perhaps not wanting to go back out in the cold or just happy to spend some time to talk to neighbors.

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, December 26, 2009

Get Your Paint On

On Sunday November 15th The Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Community Center on Mills Avenue and some local businesses were vandalized with anti gay messages, slurs and swastikas. Signs of this mindless hate crime were quickly removed but the damage to the community lingered. An inspired proactive event was planned to paint a rainbow mural on the side of the Center. People who showed up to this fund raising event could paint a section of the mural with a $5 donation. Funds raised went to the Centers "Secure, Restore and Continue Challenge". The plan was to eclipse the hate with a message of understanding, acceptance and diversity. “We are not letting the vandals win by living in fear,” said Micheal Vance, Executive Director of The Center. “Instead people are becoming active in our community, in our fight for rights, and in our local organizations to ensure that the public continues to be educated that hate and discrimination hurts everyone.
When I arrived Dewey Chaffee and Douglas McGeouch were shooting video. We said our hellos and I got a warm hug. Also on hand were the Orlando Sisters who helped by holding signs out by the roadway and organizing the event in general. A family with their children arrived as I was sketching to work on the mural. The youngest boy maybe 10 years old, asked if the people doing the mural were Christians. The mother explained that they came from all walks of life. She then told him that some nasty people had painted bad things on the wall and that everyone was coming together to make a positive difference. The little boy had to stand on his tip toes to paint his section of the mural. Much later a young woman standing on a ladder said "We should also donate to the Adult Literacy League should this happen again." She was referring to the fact that some of the damaging messages looked to have been written by a grade school drop out. It is hoped that the Orlando community will remember the good work done on this vibrant and fun day rather than the hateful crime of last month.

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, December 25, 2009

Help Portrait

On December 12th, over 7000 photographers in 608 locations in 58 countries collaborated with a common cause. They used their time, talent and equipment to give back to the community by giving free portraits to those in need. The organization that made this all possible is called Help Portrait. Help Portrait was founded several months ago by Jeremy Coward and the idea spread like wildfire thanks to youtube.
In Orlando about 40 photographers went to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida to help out. The Coalition for the Homeless is more than a shelter; it is a comprehensive program designed to empower homeless men, women and children to become self-sufficient. In addition to food and shelter, the Coalition provides programs and services including education, job skills training, case management, licensed day care, child development programs and housing placement.
When I arrived at the Coalition with Tisse Mallon, we were given a quick tour of the facility by Michael Hajek and shown all the rooms that had been set up with lighting and backdrops. The rooms were small and filled with photography equipment making things cramped. Tisse set up a spot to shoot portraits outside using a large bush as a backdrop and started to work with two other photographers. My original plan was to shadow Tisse throughout the day but the thought of sketching thousands of leaves outside was to daunting. I decided to sit in this tight little room and started to sketch one of the two makeup artists. I didn't sketch the photo shoots themselves since each shoot was over after just 15 shots and that is to a hectic pace for a sketch.
There were several news crews shooting video right from the start. They interviewed one mother who was having a family portrait taken for the first time ever. She cried as she thanked the Coalition, God and all the people who had come out to make this photo shoot possible.
In one day the Orlando photographers shot over 350 portraits. For me it was rewarding to watch the woman's reactions when the makeup artists showed them how they looked. Amy Tacner who is the makeup artist in the first sketch, said that the makeup for a fashion photo shoot could take up to two hours. Here she listened to what each person needed and worked with them, sometimes just removing some of the shine from their skin and always spending the time to make the person feel and look special. She had an amazing rapport with each person she worked with. Everyone is unique, and beautiful, and on this day everyone was reminded of that. As photos were taken the room was filled with laughter as the photographers and their subjects worked together, joking, connecting and sharing. With so many photographers on hand they started to take pictures of each other as the flood of clients slowed. I believe the gifts given this day go far beyond the images captured. What was freely given was respect, human dignity and love. Some gifts as simple as they are to give, are priceless. On this day men and women helped change the world one portrait at a time.

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, December 24, 2009

Wheels for Kids

Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan organized this Holiday giveaway called Wheels for Kids. I found out about the event because Terry is a volunteer for the police Department's mounted unit and she was asked to help out by being a pooper scooper for the police horses. Terry and I walked the distance from the horses stables to the address on Robinson street, following the horses the whole way. The horses were on hand to look like reindeer in front of the fire engine as it pulled up. The mounted officers all wore Santa hats. As the ladder truck pulled up a black Santa waved to the crowd from the ladders bucket.
An excited group of children stood in front of the middle school where the event happened. Two trucks pulled up and quickly about 95 bikes were taken out and lined up curb side. TV reporters were on hand interviewing the children. All the bikes were for children of the Orlando Housing Authorities Reeves Terrace. Each child was also fitted for a free helmet. Kids looked serious and somber as they were fitted. A police officer helped a young girl balance as she tried her bike for the first time. This is what the holidays are all about.

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, December 23, 2009

Christmas Tree Tent

While driving across town I stopped at Barney's Christmas trees sales tent at the Central Florida Fairgrounds on Colonial Avenue. Trees start at $35. It was rather cold so I sat in the sun. I like the way the natural conifers blend it with the cut trees on display around and in the tent. I was almost tempted to get one but putting up a tree and then taking it right down again the next week seems like such a waste. I only saw one family buying a tree and there were plenty of trees inside so it looked tome like sales might be down. There was a large dumpster behind this tent piled high with tree branches, maybe I could do something with those? Pine needles to make a fairly good mulch. For all the Christmas themed events I have been sketching, I just haven't been feeling in the holiday spirit. Running around town every day to do a sketch is starting to feel like work. I find the commercialization of the Holiday uninspiring.
I have heard of random acts of kindness that have bought people together. For instance some of the cast of The Singing Christmas Trees will be Caroling for Margaret, a friends mother, who is at home in Hospice care. Margaret and her daughter, Mary, used to go to The Singing Christmas Trees every year. Of course this year they were unable to go. Simple acts like this are what Christmas is all about.

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, December 22, 2009

Aloha Holidays

The Maitland Art Center hosted an event called Aloha Holidays. The street in front of the arts center was blocked off making way for an assortment of crafts tents and food vendors. I wandered the tents looking at all the tropical delights. My attention was immediately drawn to the music act and a fellow who had to be the real Santa Claus. His beard was real and his Hawaiian print shirt and shorts fit in nicely with the tropical theme. Periodically children of young families would pose with him.
Aloha Productions was the name of the music group and they played non stop. At one point two chairs were placed in front of the musicians and two Polynesians demonstrated how to weave a basket from palm fronds. There was a lively Hula dance demonstration as well. A Polynesian rendition of Over the Rainbow was one of the more memorable numbers. The song is very relaxing and for a moment the rush of the holidays no longer mattered. The producer of the group saw me working and he gave me his cards saying I should sketch at weddings. He said that with the economy going south, that more couples are getting married. I would have thought the opposite would be true but he should know.

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, December 21, 2009

The Nutcracker at Lake Eola

The Russian Ballet of Orlando presented a free performance of The Nutcracker at The Lake Eola Band-shell.It was a freezing cold night, well down in the 40's anyway, so I dressed in 3 layers a sweatshirt, fleece jacket and a windbreaker. Even with all that I was rather cold. instead of sitting in the theater benches I picked a nice tree to lean up against. This gave me a good overall view of the band-shell and audience. This sketch was done on the digital tablet. The tablet is good for getting bright colors and it has the added advantage of getting nice and hot when the processor is being put through a workout. It worked as a nice hand warmer. I am making a commitment to use the tablet more often when sketching at night and indoors.
During a fifteen minute intermission a group of children ran screaming after a swan causing it to swim as fast as possible away from them. The father rather lamely asked them to leave the poor bird alone but they continued the pursuit. At one point during the Swan Lake number the swans started to honk loudly lifting their tall necks. Then they went right back to searching for food under the water.
I can't offer much of a review of the Ballet. There was always someone standing between me and the stage but I did catch quick glimpses. I can tell you that the dancers who were standing off stage were freezing. I could see them huddled together and jumping up and down to try and stay warm. The cold weather made this feel like a true Christmas performance.

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, December 20, 2009


För åttonde natten Hanukkah, Brian Feldman värd en dynamisk händelse med sin mor i IKEA Orlando på 4092 Eastgate Drive. Jag kom några minuter för tidigt och hittade Chris Blanc, Jeremy Seghers och Mark Baratelli väntar inom restaurangområdet i butiken. De diskuterade om de skulle få lite mat innan Brian kom. Jag bestämde jag kunde inte skissa och äta på samma gång så jag väntade. Brian anlände sent. Den grupp människor som sakta samlades gick till ett bord på en lokal vid toppen av rulltrappan där vi kunde se posten vägen till affären. Seth Kubersky i Orlando Weekly sa att förra årets tillställning var mycket lika. För diner Seth beställde lox vilket är en mycket Judisk skålen med svenska köttbullar som säkerligen inte är. När Brian kom han sökte efter ett eluttag för att koppla in sin elektrisk Menorah. Den första kontakten fungerade inte och jag hittade honom ett annat utlopp. Fru Feldman delade ut dreidels för alla och förklarade spelen betydelse. Ett högt tillkännagivande om butiken intercom meddelade att restaurangen skulle stängas i 15 minuter. Strax därefter Brian reste sig och började göra tillkännagivanden av hans egna som översatt från hebreiska till svenska. Låntagare vid andra bord började sneglande över tänkande Brian skulle kunna tala i tungor. Brian leder sedan monterar folk på en rundtur i IKEA talar i hans översatta svenska manus. För att avsluta skissen jag var tvungen att stanna kvar. Porttelefonen meddelade att butiken skulle läggas ned i 15 minuter, så jag började jobba snabbare. När porttelefonen meddelade att butiken var stängd jag fortfarande dröjde tillsätta några sista tvättar. När jag gick ner till första våningen, fann jag gruppen i slutet. Jag frågade vad jag hade missat, och ingen kunde egentligen kan erbjuda en tydlig förklaring. Brian hade separerat från gruppen vid ett tillfälle och de förlorat kontakten med honom. Jag börjar tro att hela poängen med ChanuIKEA var för alla att uppleva semester rusa på turné i ögonblicken innan butiken stängd.

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, December 19, 2009

Hialeah Racetrack Re-Opens

The Hialeah Racetrack first opened in 1921. In 1979 the track was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988 it was designated a National Historic landmark. In 2001 the track was closed and it has sat idle for 7 years. On Saturday November 28th the Racetrack re-opened and I went along with Terry, Elaine, and Derrik to experience the excitement. There was a huge line of cars perhaps a mile long waiting to get into the parking lot. Derrik maneuvered his vehicle onto a post office lawn and we walked a block to enter the track. while walking down a long drive we could see a large flock of Flamingos flying in a tight circle around a small lake in the center of the track. Loud Cuban music was playing and people were dancing. The track was located in a Cuban neighborhood and these folks know how to party! Entire multi-generational families were swaying to the rhythmic beat.
The event was very crowded. We watched the horses and jockeys as they made their way to the track. I thought horse number 4 with a bright yellow jersey was looking fit and I picked him as the winner. Derrick made his way to place a bet, and Terry and I went to the stands to watch the race. When the horses entered the starting gates everyone got to their feet. when the race started there was an instant roar from the crowd. I was shocked at how short the race was. These were Quarter horses and they only sprint the straightaway in front of the stands. My horse didn't win. He wasn't even close.
After realizing I shouldn't bet on the races, I went outside and did this sketch. Between races people would come out to enjoy the sun and check their racing forms. The 8th race was the last race of the day and we decided to get out early. People were still streaming into the track as we were leaving. They were showing up for a live concert. I have never experienced anything like this boisterous event in quiet Orlando.

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, December 18, 2009

The Miami Herald Press

The day after Thanksgiving, Elaine, our hostess had to go in to work at the Miami Herald. She had some last minute errands to run for an event she was planning called "The Herald Hunt". At 6AM every female in the house made a bee line to the mall to shop on Black Friday. Elaine came back from the shopping madness and as agreed she took me to the Herald to sketch the printing press. She was a bit nervous about getting me in since security was beefed up in the building.
Shown in the sketch is the silent room where workers periodically check to see if the printing press needed adjusting. They would leave the room and run up the steps to make adjustments to the press. The foreman suggested I wear earplugs and I took his suggestion. The noise is deafening. A long line of printed items flowed up a conveyor belt through a hole in the ceiling. Elaine explained that papers are bound up on this upper floor. Sketching opportunities were endless. I walked past the machinist shop and sparks were flying as the machinists worked.
After a while the foreman stopped by and looked over my shoulder. Rather than try to shout over the noise, he gave me a thumbs up.

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, December 17, 2009

Lotto Pool - Brian Feldman

I traveled to Miami Beach to see Brian Feldman's first performance there. Brian sat in the lobby of the Carlton Hotel in South Beach 1433 Collins Avenue. There he sat at a small table decorated with Lotto playslips. The goal of this performance was to pool $1 from as many people as possible and then purchase the number of tickets corresponding to the number of people who entered the pool. The hotel owner had reservations about allowing Brian to stage his performance here. He was concerned that it might seem like Brian was selling tickets right in the lobby. Brian had to keep a low profile to keep from being booted out.
This same evening, there was a Pool Art Fair being held in the hotel in conjunction with Art Basel Miami Beach. Art Basel Miami Beachis a huge art fair with gallery owners from around the world displaying their wares. Much of the best art work in the world is flown into Miami for this event and it it almost impossible to see it all. Terry and I both gave Brian a dollar and had to sign a "Lotto Pool" agreement. If one of the lotto tickets purchased won then Brian would purchase a piece of art from the Pool Fair or a parallel fair of Art Basel Miami Beach and he would divide the work by cutting (if a canvas or paper) or breaking (if sculpture or mixed media) the purchased art into the number of pieces corresponding to the number of individuals in the lotto pool.

Part of me wanted to win and another part didn't want to win. I didn't want to be a part of destroying a great work of art and yet it might be fun to see some bad art cut up. A friend told me a parable about two women who went before a king both claiming to be a baby's mother. When the king could not get to the bottom of the issue with just questions, he decided to cut the child in half and give each woman half. One woman pleaded and said she would relinquish her claim if he spared the child's life. The king then knew she must be the true mother. With that in mind, I let out a sigh of relief when Brian sent me an e-mail informing me that none of the lotto tickets purchased had won. At least I got a decent sketch.

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, December 16, 2009

The Herald Hunt

An estimated 5000 people showed up for the Miami Herald Hunt. The hunt offers teams of players a chance to win a 7 day Costa Caribbean cruise if they can find all the clues located around downtown Miami. The insanity began with a print out in the Miami Herald. There opening multiple choice questions were posted which would help locate coordinates on the supplied map to help pinpoint where clues were located. Here is one of those questions...
In August Sen Mel Martinez resigned as one of Florida's U.S. Senators. Whom did Gov. Charlie Crist appoint to replace him.
D. Gloria Estifan.
G. A live six foot nurse shark.
H. Some Lackey.
Well it wasn't Gloria, and not a nurse shark, so it had to be some lackey. Even I got this one right. The answer of H was then combined with a number given by Pulitzer prize winning author Dave Barry from the main stage to give a coordinate on the hunt map. This clue lead us to Trinity Cathedral a block away. Most of the crowd scattered. Terry and I were working with Hailey and she was the one who quickly got the map coordinates in place. As soon as the hunt began however some Carolers stepped out on the stage and started singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". Well hark means listen and this event was put on by the Herald so we stayed and listened. It soon became obvious that the two singers dressed as angels were not singing all the verses. They only sang verses 3, 5 and 11. In the paper 3511 was one of the clues. I thought, hey this is easy! We were off and running.
When we got to the Trinity Cathedral however we got bogged down. There volunteers gave each team a rubber bracelet and said "put it on your wrist". P 3 was stamped on to the bracelet. While everyone sat around looking at page 3 in the paper, trying to solve a letter jumble, I decided to just count the number of letters in "Put it on your wrist." That made the answer 16. I was excited and sure I was right but the rest of the team didn't agree. After half an hour of agonizing we decided to move on having not solved the puzzle. We even went so far as to count the number of bracelets on a mosaic located at the front of the cathedral but that was a false lead. After the event was over I found out 16 was the correct answer but for an entirely different reason. The jumble had "Put it on your wrist" within the jumbled letters and if you put the bracelet on the answer 16 letters were contained in the space. Ugh!!!
At this point I felt our team had no chance of winning and I started hunting for a sketch instead. At the Arsht Center Plaza, Juliet began calling out to Romeo from a balcony high above the crowd. She was so high up that Romeo has trouble hearing her and he yelled out that Juliet should call him. This clue lead astute hunters to a fake ad in the paper for an Italian restaurant called "The House of Montague". When the phone number in the add was called a message said "Where fore art thou has four syllables No, yes, no, yes." In other words pay attention to the second and fourth syllables. fore thou or 4000.
Another clue was given in the theater where a young white man named Jack was lying on the stage with a sword stuck in his chest. His friends tried to figure out who murdered Jack before the police arrived. As the actors were reenacting the events of the evening the house lights went out and the audience was told to stay seated while they fixed the problem. When the lights came back on the actors became concerned that something had changed. The murdered Jack had been replaced by a black actor. The answer to this puzzle was Black Jack or 21.
Other clues scattered about downtown consisted of an IV bottle and stand located outside the theater and a radio broadcast of a field goal. The answers would be 4 and 3. These were to help solve a Sudoku puzzle found down by the docks. Since my main goal now was no longer to win but to sketch, I returned to the main stage to sketch the carolers who had been performing every 15 minutes during the the event. As I was sketching, Dave Barry walked onto the stage and offered the final clue of the Hunt. He said, "I'd like to give you the final clue but it's just too gross." A gross is a dozen dozen or 144, two gross would be 288 this lead to a 6th clue in the paper that said "If words were inches". The insanely clever souls that had solved the 5 clues from around the city then counted the words in the 5 clues and got the answer of 48 words. 48 inches is 4 feet. On the Herald Hunt map, 4 feet were drawn near the theater and several teams sprinted in that direction. The location offered 4 bricks which were inscribed with the names of 4 made up donors all named Foot. The winners had to figure out the donors ages from dates inscribed on the bricks and from that they could assemble a phone number which when called announced them as the winners. Of course I never got that far, I was too busy sketching. Perhaps next year the Orlando team will be more of a contender.
It is a shame Orlando does not have such an exciting, fun, quirky way to get people excited about the arts and discovering the treasures of downtown. When the event was over I met Dave Barry and had him sign my sketch.

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, December 15, 2009

Striking the Trees.

When I went to the opening night of the Singing Christmas Trees, Aradhana, the director, told me that the lighting would not be at its best since the performance was being done for the TV cameras. I was told that if I wanted to see the show with Jeff's amazing lighting, I should come back one more time. I finally made it back on closing night. I greeted Jeff when I arrived. I was informed that the house was sold out. Seating was assigned so I decided to sit up in the balcony. He had a framed sketch I had done of him leaning up against his lighting console. The director had given him the sketch that night as a present.
People kept filing in even as the show was getting started. I texted the director to let her know I was seeing the show one last time. The pastor joked with the audience saying that on the final night the cast would most certainly get it right. When the music grew louder and the Kabuki curtain dropped I could hear the couple next to me whisper to each other, WOW! Huge snowflake animations on the walls of the worship center bought a similar reaction just as if they were watching fireworks.
Though I loved the show, my reactions were more subdued than the first time. I recognized this quiet, somber, feeling. I suspect I always feel this way on a shows closing night. It is like Christmas came and went to early for me. Having sketched the cast for so long, I identify with their sometimes unsure hearts bolstered by faith. I didn't want it all to end. I also felt that I might have missed many sketching opportunities. This diamond had so many facets. My humble observations seem to have only scratched the surface of this huge production.
When the show was over a small army of men and women began to crawl all over the Trees like ants, stripping them of their banners and ornaments. The orchestra pit disappeared just as quickly. A few children ran around the huge Worship Center weaving in amongst the pews shouting and laughing. Large wooden storage boxes were rolled down the isles and the trees were quickly disassembled before my eyes. The huge space was filled with the sounds of people yelling orders and the rush of activity. When I finished this sketch I found Jeff again and we talked for a while. The budget for this show had been cut drastically. The director had wanted artificial snow and because of the cuts she didn't get it. It is possible that the Trees might not go up again next year. The arts are hurting everywhere.
When I got into my truck to leave, I saw a slip of paper shoved into my windshield wiper. Annoyed I stepped out of my truck to get it. It wasn't an ad but a note that said "The Singing Menorah was here!" I laughed out loud and suddenly felt happy knowing the arts will always shine bright.

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, December 14, 2009

The Singing Menorah

Brian Feldman had been ribbing me for some time about all the Singing Christmas Trees sketches I have been posting here on Analog Artist Digital World. At an 8 AM Meeting of MOOM (Meeting of Orlando Minds) on Friday, Brian suggested he might stage a performance of the Singing Menorah at the Track Shack which is at 1104 North Mills Avenue right in the area where I planned to host an Artists and Writers Crawl. He pointed out that Track Shack had one of the few storefront Hanukkah displays in Orlando. The Crawl was only a day away but Brian managed to throw together a stellar performance. He had help from Omar Delarosa who co-wrote many of the lyrics and performed on guitar. Knowing the times of the stops along the Crawl route we agreed that he could start his performance around 8PM when the Crawlers were moving from the first stop, The Peacock Room to the Second stop, Wills Pub.
The Crawl developed a glitch from the start, when Tisse Mallon and I arrived at The Peacock room to find that it would not open for another two hours. I wrote a note and stuck it on the door so other Crawlers would know to go to the second stop, Will's pub. Because I wandered around and introduced myself to all the people who arrived at Will's, my sketch was not a very focused. When it was time to wander up to the next stop, I was still splashing watercolors on the sketch. Other crawlers headed out but I kept working. When I arrived at Track Shack where Brian was to perform, there were a crowd of Crawlers sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk looking into the storefront window. Omar was playing guitar. At the appointed time Brian walked out having to squeeze in the space between the plate glass and the display wall.
The performance was hilarious and fun. New Hanukkah lyrics had been written for a number of pop tunes. The Menorah that Brian was sporting consisted of cardboard tubes wrapped in tin foil. There were Hanukkah cards leaning up against the storefront window and for some reason a small Mickey Mouse sat watching the audience. Emma Hughes handed out dreidels to everyone in the audience when Brian sang a dreidel song. For the final number, Brian called in his back up dancer named Willoughby Mariano. It seemed most appropriate that she had a cast on her left leg from her foot up to the knee, but she still performed and gave a new meaning to the saying, "Break a leg". Later, Emma handed out sparklers and when the performance was over everyone lit them up and the lights and sparks danced. Unfortunately, I didn't get a sparkler since I was still scratching away in my sketch book.
Several times, cars stopped dead on Mills Avenue to see what the excitement was about and several cars honked. However, my attention was sharply focused on the show. This is without a doubt the greatest Singing Menorah performance I have ever seen. Well, yes, it is the only Singing Menorah performance I have ever seen. For the remainder of the Crawl I heard people commenting on how surprised they were that Brian had such a good singing voice. Brian truly gave the Singing Christmas trees a run for their money.

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, December 13, 2009

The Trees - Main Stage

This sketch was done on the day the core group of actors and dancers first took to the main stage. The trees structures had not yet been erected. The choreographer is pointing out where people should be to start the dance number so the whole stage area is used. When the performance began, the choreographer was yelling "Shatzi, Shatzi, step out, come in, out, together out!" With all the clutter there was much less room than expected and the dance number ran into some difficulties. Rather than try to iron out the hot spots the director decided to move the rehearsal to the mirrored dance space. There were no complaints and the second half or the rehearsal saw major improvements. Setbacks left room for unexpected and inspired steps forward. Throughout the night things fell into place even when they were not asked for. For instance a microphone was needed and a tech person just happened to wander into the rehearsal space with a microphone. Miracle or coincidence? That depends on your outlook.
Experience the Trees for yourself!
The final showtime for the Singing Christmas Trees is:
December 13, 5:00 PM
Tickets range from $8 to a $42 Dinner package.

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, December 12, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

When I walked into this rehearsal, Aradhana , the director, had the core group of actors in a circle and she was conducting a warm up exercise. She had everyone mime the act of digging a hole and burying a star. "A tree grows from the star. Feel the energy soak through your chest, neck and head. Let the stars light shine through your face." All the actors who had been bent over slowly straightened back up stacking one vertebrae on top of another till they stood tall and straight.
Much of this rehearsal was handed over to the Amy, the choreographer. The director can been seen in the far distance behind the room dividers working away on her lap top. Amy had a series of dance steps plotted out on a sheet of paper and she lead the group as everyone learned the moves. "Step, cross, back. left, slide, ball change, slide, ball change!" The steps were rehearsed again and again till everyone was on board. Having now seen the final production, I can see that all the hard work paid off and the number seems effortless and fun.
Show times are:
December 12, 3:00 PM
December 13, 5:00 PM
Tickets range from $8 to a $42 Dinner package.

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, December 11, 2009

Folio 2010 Events Calender

The 2010 Folio Events Calender is out featuring 2 sketches from Analog Artist Digital World. Coming soon to a refrigerator near you.

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

Trees - Glory in the Highest

Having seen the final production of "The Singing Christmas Trees", I now know that "Glory in the Highest" is one of my favorite numbers in the show. Here Jenine, the choreographer, is teaching the children the dance moves. The children are arranged with the smallest in front and the tallest in the back forming perfect wedges. A proud father sits on the side lines shooting digital pictures of his child.
In the final production the core group was on the main stage doing hand signs to the music's lyrics and the children were on the steps leading up to the stage. They were all dressed in flowing white robes and the long sleeves billowed as they moved. The hand signs were graceful, slow and beautiful when timed to the music. I have to sing every time I hear this song. I always like to skip a beat and then belt out "Highest" a moment after everyone else. The great thing about this show is how everyone rose to the task. Not everyone was professional dancers or actors but after months of dedicated rehearsals everyone came together as a group and put on a stellar show. If someone needed extra help to learn some dance moves another cast member would step up and offer help. Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.
At the beginning of one rehearsal a cast member pointed out to the circled cast that she had wanted to give up on the show. The work was hard and endless and she just wasn't feeling any joy in the process. Her voice broke as she told everyone this. She read that night a verse that struck a chord in her. "In humility count others as more significant than yourself." With that thought she decided to rededicate herself to the show, trusting in the director and the cast. When I saw her beaming on the stage swaying to the music during this number, I was filled with wonder and joy celebrating the strength of the human heart.

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, December 10, 2009


Based on a reader tip from Patricia Charpentier, I had to go see this lighting display on the corner of Harmon and Clay Streets. Patricia said she laughed her head off when she saw this display of Christmas cheer. I drove to the location straight from work and when I arrived it was still light out. I knew immediately that this would be a fun sketch. Shortly after I started a woman arrived saying "Don't worry, I 'm not sneaking up on you, I just saw this house and I have to get a photo". She took a shot with her iPhone and then asked what I was up to. I showed her the very early stages of this sketch and told her that if she wanted to see the final, she should check this blog. She got back in her car and just as she drove past me, all the Christmas lights flickered on. She threw her hands up off the steering wheel in frustration and parked a second time to get another photo. The Ditto sign however was still not lit. Patience pays.
This home comes complete with animatronic Mr. and Mrs. Claus in a window. Santa is also trying to get in the chimney while solders guard the candy cane lined entry. There is a nativity, carolers, candles, wreaths, reindeer and garland. Quiet Christmas music can be heard. The home owners came out a few times to straighten lights in the flower beds and to snap a few photos. The decorated house is owned by the O'Brien family. Mrs. O'Brien stopped over to see what I was up to and we chatted for a while.
Several times cars simply would stop in their tracks to take a look and commuters in a rush to get home, would have to honk to get them to move it along. This display has been been going up for 25 years. Terry O'Brien explained the the house with the ditto sign had once been owned by her mother. It was her mother who began building this Christmas light display over the years. Now Sara, a niece, lives in that home and she doesn't have time for all the decorations. Mickey O'Brien set up the Ditto sign for her.

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, December 9, 2009

Holiday Isle - The Keys

Terry wanted to stop at this spot in the upper Keys to get a drink at a 3 story high Tiki Bar. I ordered a Margarita and Terry had some frozen pink drink. Once I had finished my drink I got antsy and wanted to sketch. I walked to the docks where all the charter fishing boats go out.
Terry and I had taken a snorkeling charter from this marina some years ago. I spent most of that snorkeling trip on my back on the upper deck of the boat, with numb extremities, hoping I would live to feel firm land beneath my feet again. We had gone out with a group of scuba divers. After all the divers had left I was encouraged to jump in the water since then I wouldn't be rocking back and forth. The struggle to get my flippers and mask on made my sea sickness worse and just before I jumped off the boat, the last of what was in my stomach came flying out onto the churning ocean. I fell forward into the filthy water. The flippers I had rented were to big and one slipped off my foot and drifted down to the distant ocean floor. Once in the water I found myself surrounded by jellyfish which proceeded to sting me every time I touched one. Needless to say I don't really have fond memories of this particular dock although I was eternally grateful when I finally made it back to land. Before I finished this sketch a huge truck parked in front of me blocking my view. I filled in details that could still be seen. So much of the trick about sketching on location is learning to accept setbacks and avoiding frustration. It started to rain so I declared the sketch finished and I ran for the cover of an awning.

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, December 8, 2009

Ice Skating Rink in Winter Park

Winter Park has installed an outdoor ice skating rink right near Central Park. I went to the opening ceremonies on Saturday. The rink is perhaps 20 yards long and 10 yards wide. It is enclosed in a party tent which protects the ice from the direct sunlight. Even so the temperature was in the 80's so it must be quite an effort to keep the rink open in the heat. Teenagers in blue vests were always on the rink to help anyone who fell down. It was fun to watch because lets face it not many native Floridians are talented skaters. People were falling down left and right. I sat at the top of some metal bleachers that were set up on the side lines. I should note that I had no desire to skate myself. I have week ankles and that ice is slippery! Skate rentals were $10 for all day. The rink was installed as part of "Winter in the Park Holiday Festivities".
Besides the rink itself there was an old fashioned sleigh set up with a photographer to take family pictures. In the background of my sketch you can see a group of skaters leaning against the rail who have gathered to watch an abridged performance by the Orlando Ballet School of "The Nutcracker". A makeshift stage was erected directly behind the skating rink where sugar plume fairies and a troupe of dancers dressed like flamenco dancers performed. Everyone looks beautiful at the Ballet. I am sure the graceful dancing must have inspired the ice skaters. Most skaters however struggled just to stay upright, forget about pirouetting or standing on point.
The rink will be open Monday to Thursday 3 PM to 9 PM. Friday and Saturday, 10 AM to 10PM and Sunday Noon to 6 PM. Don't ask me when the ice might melt.

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, December 7, 2009

Artist & Writers Crawl Revised

"The itch to make dark marks on white paper is shared by writers and artists." -John Updike.

Escape the Holiday rat race by attending this FREE event hosted by Mary Ann de Stefano of MAD about Words and Thomas Thorspecken of Analog Artist Digital World. We’ve joined forces to create time and space where your poems, stories, and art can happen, where you can push yourself past your usual limits, where you can connect with other creative people.

Thanks to Tod Caviness for his help with planning our Mills 50 Neighborhood itinerary. The route is detailed in the graphic above. Join us for the whole night or any part of it. We reversed the order of the locations where we will meet. Be sure to check this post for the correct information.

Everyone is welcome! Don’t be shy! This will be a friendly, fun event!

There is no fee or registration required, but if you’re planning to come, it would be fun if you’d let us know.

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

Seven Deadly Sins - Sloth

The Cameo Theater on Colonial near Mills was the venue for an Emotions Dance Company event called Seven Deadly Sins. When I arrived, the first thing I saw in the theater's plate glass windows was Brian Feldman who sat on a worn and tattered recliner staring at a TV which was showing nothing but static. Brian had a remote control, but for this 30 hour performance he was personifying Sloth so he never had the ambition to change the channel. There was also a fake aquarium with animated fish swimming about. I immediately sat on my portable stool and started to sketch. Several times people passed by that I knew so I paused for a moment to say hello. A drummer set up camp right next to me, leaned over and asked "Hey, I love your stool. Any chance I could borrow it?" I was working so I had to say "No". He began putting out plastic buckets of varying sizes and before I knew it he was banging out a very loud beat. He must have banged on those cans for close to an hour and I found it hard to concentrate. I probably rushed this sketch a bit since I wanted to get inside away from the noise. If Brian noticed the drumming, he never showed any interest, he just stared listlessly at the static screen and ate Cheerios.
Tisse Mallon, who organized the event, came outside and said to me, "Brian is very proud of the Game of Life that is in the foreground. He replaced LIFE with SLOTH". Feeling a bit slothful myself, I hadn't even noticed, so I went back and added that detail to the sketch. Inside the theater, there were semi-nude dancers painted to represent the 7 deadly sins. I spent some time trying to figure out which sin each represented. They moved in slow motion constantly gesturing in an abstract sinuous ongoing performance. There were also staged acts throughout the night. This was a fun event and sketch outing.

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, December 6, 2009

The Trees - The Chorus Loads In

I sat back stage to watch the Chorus load into the trees. The Chorus enters the trees by 2 ramps on either side of each of the 45 foot high structures. Below this level is another staging area where the chorus enters the lowest levels of the tree structures. It sort of reminds me of the opening scenes of "Titanic" with huge crowds going up the gang planks to board the unsinkable ship.
The tree rats enter the structure via two ramps in the center. The rats are on hand to massage legs and place all the wooden boxes that make everyone look 6 feet high. The tree rats entered the tree structure first and they are not in costume. Air conditioning ducts were piped in to supply cool air inside the trees.
In order to capture this sketch I worked diligently on the perspective of the huge space when no one was around. Then when the chorus lined up I had only minutes to capture where they were in that space. I found it interesting that the chorus doesn't wear long flowing robes but rather only the part of the robe that will be seen by the audience when they are standing in the tree. This must because of the immense heat generated by all the lights on the trees. I was surprised more people didn't wear shorts. The woman seated on the right was the first chorus member to come out. She had two pillows that she also stood on. She is seated beside a baptism pool which is full of water.
All this backstage activity is hidden from the audience by huge white curtains that are draped behind the trees. I was glad that the fabric is rather sheer which meant that I had plenty of light to work with when the show was going on. The show itself was inspiring, uplifting and fun. I know all the tunes by heart now and I can't help but sing them as I am working.
Show times are
December 6, 5:00 PM
December 11, 7:30 PM
December 12, 3:00 PM
December 13, 5:00 PM
Tickets range from $8 to a $42 Dinner package.

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, December 5, 2009

Trees - Opening Night

Opening night I arrived a little early, walked into the First Baptist Church and made a bee line for the lighting booth to see how Jeff Atkisson was doing. He seemed to feel everything was ready and in place. He had some concern about the Kabuki Drop which reveals the trees. It seems that the air conditioning was causing there to be less pressure on the inside of the drop and so the curtain was billowing inward toward the trees. He feared it might fall into the trees becoming tangled. I said hello to Aradhana Tiwari, the director, and then she had to go back stage to rally the troops. Later when she stopped back she looked a bit nervous. She offered me a better seat but I rather liked sitting behind the camera woman. I had started this sketch and needed to finish. A small family knelled down behind the pew in front of me and ushers later bought them some folding chairs. The director graciously offered her seat to a woman and child and then she turned to walk to the back of the theater. I offered my chair to the the director but I think she needed to keep moving to calm her nerves. I returned to the sketch.
I recognized the camera woman as being the same one who had taped the Caylee Marie Anthony Memorial Service earlier this year. When the Kabuki curtain dropped and the two huge trees were lit up for the first time with the music building, the little 8 year old girl sitting next to me was watching, saucer eyed, chin up, sitting on the edge of her seat rapt and unable to move. Her mother glanced at me and we both smiled. I worked quickly and often in the dark. During one of the jazzy dance numbers I suddenly realized that the young girl was paying no attention at all to the stage but was instead watching my every move as I sketched. She was again mesmerized, and later I apologized to her mom fearing I had been a distraction. The mom wasn't upset at all but was happy that her daughter had taken such an interest. Maybe another artist was born.
Bottom line though, the show was fabulous. The pace quickened and became more up lifting with each number. By the end I wanted to dance in the isles and finally a singer came out who encouraged the audience to clap. I couldn't help myself and I stated singing the songs out loud. I felt a warm glow for the whole cast as they danced, especially the ones I had come to know over the course of many rehearsals. I knew of many personal hardships which had been faced and overcome. Health troubles, drug side effects, caring for an aging parent, relationships eclipsed by time, all while devoting many hours to rehearsals every week since September. So much sacrifice and yet so much all out joy! Getting to this point took grit, patience and heart. Now they were giving their all and it was glorious!

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, December 4, 2009

The Trees - Lighting Booth

On the final day of rehearsal Jeff Atkisson worked late in the lighting booth. He looks to me like a concert pianist with the way he taps away at the lighting buttons. Just look at the reach he has on that pinky finger. He pointed out to Aradhana, the director, that they needed to get a few last minute cues locked down just before show time. Aradhana walked back and playfully acted jealous like I was paying to much attention to her lighting designer and not enough attention to the hard work being done on stage. As the rehearsal progressed she released groups of actors as they finished with the scenes they were in. Many of the tech people had to stay late for the rehearsal and she offered them Christmas cookies as an added incentive to stay.
The carousel movement in one of the dance numbers was running slow so she was encouraging the actors to pick up the pace. Trusses that represent attic roofing beans were in place and the set was now complete with some decorative woodwork paneling. For this sketch I experimented with using a small book light for the first time. It worked great and I wish I had been using it throughout the process. Jeff had to leave before I finished the sketch. He glanced at the sketch and pointed out that I had gotten the colors wrong on a couple of the console lights. I made corrections but it still isn't totally accurate. He left the trees lit for the sake of my sketch and he showed me which leaver to pull down in order to turn the lights off when I left. I felt so powerful when I pulled the leaver and the huge 45 foot high trees went dark. After Jeff got home he decorated a small tree with his girl friend and posted a picture on facebook.
The remaining show times are:
December 4th 7:30 PM
December 5th 3:00 PM
December 6th 7:30 PM
December 11th 7:30 PM
December 12th 3:00 PM
December 13th 5:00 PM
Tickets range from $8 to a $42 Dinner package.

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, December 3, 2009

Trees - Full Dress Rehearsal

Back from the Florida Keys I immediately went to see how the Singing Christmas Trees had progressed. This was the first full dress rehearsal and all the elements were in place. For the first time I saw the tress with a full chorus and all the performers had vibrant costumes. The Orchestra was also on hand for the first time instead of the usual recorded click track. A TV cameraman recorded some close ups of isolated lines from the show which slowed things down a bit but overall the show flowed uninterrupted.
There was one major technical glitch when an actor walked off stage and his mic wasn't turned off. You could hear his heavy breathing and his off stage conversation while the poor actress on stage had no mic and thus couldn't be heard. The scene fell apart. Thank God it happened in rehearsal so corrections could be made.
This was the first time I got to see the trees light up and let me tell you it is breathtaking. Jeff Atkisson did an amazing job setting up this light show. The huge curtains behind the trees also offer an area for some interesting projections.
After the rehearsal was over I sought out Aradhana Tiwari, the director, to say good by. She was talking to the actor who had been talking off stage. This is of course a major mistake. There were other staging issues that she was quickly working out with him. She grabbed one of the costuming ladies and showed him how he should open up his staging to offer more interaction in the scene. She decided that the whole scene would have to be rehearsed again that night till it became second nature. She said to him they had to get it right or she would have to cut the scene in its entirety from the show. I didn't stay for this added rehearsal but I am sure that with such high stakes and with show time looming things would get done, and done right. Everything depended on it. The show must go on!
Show times are:
December 3rd 7:30 PM Opening Night tonight!
December 4th 7:30 PM
December 5th 3:00 PM
December 6th 7:30 PM
December 11th 7:30 PM
December 12th 3:00 PM
December 13th 5:00 PM
Tickets range from $8 to a $42 Dinner package.

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, December 2, 2009

Mallory Square

We only went as far as Key West one evening to watch the sunset. Well actually I had my back to the sunset to watch the tourists. I was leaning against a chain link fence and as the sunset a crowd of tourists pressed up against me to get a better view. Many resorted to thrusting their cameras in the air trying to get a perfect shot. Two bag pipers were wailing the whole time. A mystic sat at a table offering tarot card readings. There were performers in every corner of the square. Some juggled fire while others acted like statues. This stands in stark contrast to Orlando where street performers are banned.

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, December 1, 2009

Dolphin Encounter Duck Key

Terry and I took a week off and went to the Keys. It was about a five hour drive from Orlando. We stayed at a place called Hawks Cay Resort on Duck Key. The room rates were surprisingly low. On the second day we went over to see the dolphin encounter which happens on property every morning. It costs $60 for the encounter on the docks but the porch overlooks the lagoon and seating is free. The dolphins did the usual tricks like wave hello, splash and jump. A hotel worker who was walking by trying to sell convention space to several prospects said "The owner considers the dolphins his best employees. They start nice and early and don't complain."
After the show,Terry and I went snorkeling in a small man made lagoon I like to call the Mud Puddle. There were jellyfish on the bottom and a few fish. The day before I had been stung in the face by a jelly, so I was cautious about swimming in saltwater again. Here the jellyfish stayed on the bottom belly up. Jellyfish are evil!

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, November 30, 2009

Black Friday - Miami

I did not head to the malls at 6AM like everyone else in the house. I was only convinced that I was missing a sketch opportunity late in the day by Margaret Nolan via facebook. I had already drawn The Miami Herald presses so I should have been satisfied. But when Terry and Elaine said they were going back for a second round of shopping, I decided to go. I thought I would be battling huge crowds but the mall was relatively quiet. The sound system piped in constant Christmas music like,"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". I swear that song is haunting me.
When I started to sketch the sun had already started to set. Christmas lights started to light up on palm trees and on topiaries. Some shoppers looked exhausted while teens patrolled chatting on iPhones. Santa had set up shop in an outdoor booth behind me, but I wasn't in a mood to face him just yet. Besides he looked nothing like the Macy's Parade Santa so he must have been an impostor. A mall security guard came over and looked over my shoulder. My stomach muscles tensed. He said "Wow did you do that just now?" Part of me wanted to be a smart-ass, but I just replied "Yes, thanks."

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, November 29, 2009

Trees - Core Line up

The night before I did this sketch, I saw the movie, Chorus Line, based on the long running Broadway play. In that show the dancers who are auditioning are asked to reveal intimate, sometime painful details of their life as a performer in order to stay in the show. When I entered the First baptist Church and saw the core group lined up, I instantly was reminded of those scenes where the cast waits in a Chorus Line as the mysterious director sits in the hall with a microphone calling the shots. Here the director, Aradhana, has the group lined up in order to decide if the winter costumes all in blue, gray and white, are working. Actors were asked to bring in whatever they had in those colors from home to save money on costuming costs. Sometimes they were asked to trade items with each other such as scarfs or coats. It was decided that some items would have to be purchased such as blue and white striped shirts. The actors are going to have to dance in these outfits and there was some concern about how hot they will get under the stage lights. When the costuming choices were made, the core group rehearsed the Winter Medley which is an energetic dance number. Joshua, who I believe has never lived in a cold climate didn't have a coat or scarf. The director at one point asked if he could trade his shirt with another actor but then thought better of that idea.
I wandered behind the trees and found that work is still being done to wire them for the show. Jeff has just finished with the computer programming of the lights so the 45 foot high trees should be lighting up soon. Microphones are now mounted to the trees every few tiers. The orchestra pit now stands ready for the music to begin.

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, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving in Miami

Terry and I spent Thanksgiving Day in Miami with Terry's long time friend Elaine. The Macy's Day parade was on TV as preparations were going on in the kitchen. Derrik made a fabulous appetizer with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat cheese and olive oil. He is working on that appetizer in the sketch.Terry as usual is fingering her iPhone. The turkey was in the oven being basted in ginger ale. Elaine's sisters showed up as did friends. In all twelve people enjoyed an amazing Thanksgiving feast. The dinner conversations were loud and boisterous. This was in stark contrast to the Thanksgivings of my youth where the only sounds were of knives and forks scrapping on plates. After the feast, Terry and I joined Elaine's daughter Hailey and Rebeka for a walk around the neighborhood. We walked along some beautiful canals and past many Suburban homes which had noisy celebrations still going on.
This morning I suspect I have been deserted as all the women invade the stores for Black Friday deals. Elaine has offered to let me sketch the huge presses for The Miami Herald so I should get an interesting sketch for today .

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, November 27, 2009

Libra Party

Every year Kathy and Eric have a Libra party because both their birthdays are on the same day. I work for Kathy at Full Sail helping teach traditional animation to a packed room full of new students every month. Eric's hobby is home brewing and every year he experiments with new flavors of beer for the party. At the far end of this outdoor patio there is a gong and Eric gives it a resounding ring whenever a keg of beer bites the dust. Kathy and Eric also have an outdoor fire pit and they keep that fire burning bright for the duration of the party. I always meet interesting people at this party this year I met a ballet instructor and a fashion designer. Someone showed up with several homemade Didgeridoos and they were fun to try and play. The trick is to keep your lips vibrating but I never figured out how to circle breath to keep the note going indefinitely.
Later in the evening after I had a few beers I decided to try out the Jacuzzi which was fired up and ready to go. I sat on the ledge and removed my shoes and socks then dipped my feet into the soothing bubbles. I had a tall glass beside me and since no one else seemed to want to join me I decided to sketch. So if you have ever wondered what I might draw like when I am drunk, this is it.
The group seated in the foreground are mostly teachers and they talked for some time about students and university politics. I didn't follow the conversation closely I was to busy relaxing with my beer, sketchbook and watercolors.

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, November 26, 2009

Michelle Shocked at the Plaza

Michelle Shocked had a concert at the Plaza Theater on Bumby. My wife bought front row seats for the show knowing I would want to sketch. The event did not sell out and after Michelle started singing, Terry moved back a couple of rows because she couldn't stand being right on top of the action. The concert was great. The poster behind Michelle was painted by her artist husband on her wedding day. They are now collaborating on a series of paintings and songs about famous women. He is doing the paintings and she is writing songs for them. She explained that most of these women are so famous that you do not have to hear their last name to know who they are. For instance Georgia ________, Audrey ________, and Vanessa ________. He is working on a painting of Ann Frank right now. I love this collaborative idea and can't wait to hear the music.
When Michelle was called back for an encore, she took out her iPhone and called her husband who she missed and had the audience shout out "Hi Dave!" She then insisted that he tell a story about his youth when he delivered newspapers. He said he was a very reliable newspaper delivery boy. He won an award as the best local newspaper boy in town. But one day a young girl propositioned him before he finished his route. She said if you come over right now you will get "it". He was quite torn but in the end he left the pile of papers on the street corner and went over the girls house. He never did get "it" and when he returned to the street corner, his manager was there and he was fired. Michelle said she instantly fell in love when Dave simply sat behind her at a party and wrapped his arms around her waste.
Michelle said she is tired of divisive politics and I was surprised to find out she doesn't have medical insurance. She stressed that music is an important way to bring people together and build a feeling of community.

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, November 25, 2009

Max Howard at the Orlando Film Festival

Max Howard gave a talk at the Orlando Film Festival held at the Plaza Cinema downtown about the marketing potential to be found in independent animated films. Max was running the Disney Feature Animation Studio when I was hired there more than a decade ago. He helped found and build the Florida Studio. he left the studio shortly after I started to work on the Disney Films. I remember him as a straight shooter so I couldn't resist going to hear what he had to say. It turns out that many other former Disney artists living in Orlando had the same idea.

Max began by showing clips from many of the animated films he helped create some of them being films I had worked on. He began with a history lesson in the finances behind many of those films. In terms of traditional hand drawn films Disney earned 80% of the market share and other studios divided up only 20% of the market share. This showed that back in the 80s the Disney name carried clout. If you look at computer animated films however, Disney - Pixar earned just 55% of the marked share while other studios share 45% of the market. This means that computer films are judged not just by a company name but by story. Animation has proven to be very profitable compared to live action films.

After the talk the former Disney folks went to Urban Flats for some food and drink. There I got to catch up with some old friends. When Max was asked if he remembered everyone, he said "Well there seems to have been some squash and stretch over the years. The shapes seem to have changed."

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