Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Heat of Battle

Field report from Captain Clay Kearney of the 2nd Florida Volunteer Infantry.
Your servant is honored to submit this report regarding recent activity in the Crystal River region.
On day one, the Fifth Company was summoned to support Colonel Robert Miepert's 5th Florida infantry. Our morning orders were to reconnoiter a region 1-mile west of camp suspected of containing enemy patrol and if any of the enemy was found, to engage them and collect prisoners if at all practicable. I am delighted to report this action was completed with total success. Our patrol commenced operations at 10 AM and returned to camp at 11:30AM with an entire Federal company under arms. This was accomplished, by dividing the company into platoons and positioning them in a way as to draw the enemy into a devastating cross fire. Reinforcements under the captain Cody, 1st Florida infantry, arrived at the most opportune time blocking the enemy's only line of retreat.
The leadership and brilliance of the enemy's Captain Paul Cyras of the 97th Pennsylvania, can not go without mention. Although his command was outnumbered, his field generalship was superb. The rapid movement of his troops required my command to expend at least 40 rounds per man. Upon relinquishing his sword, he was respectful to his command as were the rest of his unit. On our return march to camp, I am not sure who won the contest between Federals singing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and our boys singing "Bonnie Blue Flag" The roar of the voices was deafening but I felt it was favorable for the morale of the men.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Battle Begins

Finally the moment of truth. The Union forces fired the first volley of cannon fire and the Confederate troops then followed suit. After the Union guns would fire, an explosion would occur right in front of the Confederate lines. One of those blasts caused a fire to flash up in the dry grass and suddenly the lines between fiction and truth were blurred. You can see a small group of Confederate soldiers trying to put out the blaze with buckets of water on the right side of this sketch. They did not have enough water and the fire started to spread. When the fire spread to about 20 yards wide I started to think that the tree might catch fire, then the woods. At that point a truce must have been called because Union Cavalry charged across the battle field also carrying buckets of water. With the combined forces forming a bucket brigade, the fire was finally put out.
The battle then started to heat up again as Confederate forces started to form back in the woods and they marched onto the battle field with a rebel yell. It was a sizable force and rather intimidating. As I said before, there had to be 5 Rebels to each Union Soldier.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cannon Drill

Prior to the actual battle, the Union soldiers practiced firing the cannons. The officer in charge who shouted the order to fire is to the left. In front of him are two teen aged boys with large leather haversacks who seemed to be in charge of the ammunition found in the metal boxes. In this drill no actual rounds were fired but the unit went through all the motions of loading and setting the charge. They even covered their ears. The point of all the drilling seemed to be to reduce the length of time it took to fire off each round. To me they seemed like a well oiled machine, but the officer was not so easily pleased.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seven Pounds of Bacon

The group, Seven Pounds of Bacon, entertained the reenactment audience just after the battle of , Narcoossee. The instruments were a washtub bass with a broomstick and a string, a mandolin, and a guitar. They made use of such modern contrivances such as microphones and a sound system. A small crowd of spectators stood around the stage and some folks started to dance.
Earlier in the day I had seen the group trying to set up the stages tent like canvas covering with some difficulty, since the wind kept whipping it around. They also had to dig a small trench to hide the electrical cords so people would not trip on them.
After the performance they came down and introduced themselves. They were quite tickled that they could recognize themselves in the quick sketch. They reminded me that as an artist I should have skipped drawing the the microphones since they are not very historically acurate.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

97th Field Music Regimant

The 97th Field Music Regiment was playing as I continued to wander about the Union Camp. Setting up my chair, I noticed several dry cow patties that I had to kick aside. As is typical when I start sketching musicians, they immediately stopped playing. I waited them out drawing the tents and background. Then the drummer started by setting a beat and everyone started playing again. Later in the day I saw this regiment leading the troops into battle. It might be interesting to note that in the background of this sketch you can see a soldier talking on his cell phone. There is no escaping technology!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Captain Munson and Lieutenant Mosher

Back in the shade of some trees, I found Captain Munson and Lieutenant Mosher relaxing smoking a cigar and sipping some grog. Captain Munson explained that only the officers were permitted a drink in camp. I don't know what was in the brown bottle but they sure found it refreshing. It turns out that Lieutenant D. Mosher was a field artist himself. He went in his tent and pulled out a hand drawn map he has made of the battle field, so the Generals would have a good idea of the lay of the land. The map was drawn with ink and watercolor very similar to how I execute these sketches. Then lieutenant gave me a color copy of the map. I have no idea where he found a color copier in the 1860s.
A 21st century father and son wandered by curious as to what I was sketching. The captain took some time to share information with the boy about what life was like during the Civil War. He pulled out his saber and offered it to the boy to hold. The 10 year old had trouble holding the weight of the saber but he was thrilled. Then officers has a fire pit set up but they could not light it since they would have to suffer a $200 fine if they did.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Union Camp

My next order of business at Crystal River was to march across to the Union camp. The Union camp didn't have as much shade as the Confederate camp. Again the environment was totally calm with row after row of canvas tents. The Union troops on first inspection seemed to be outnumbered by at least 5 to 1.
Camp fires could only be lit in designated areas since it had not rained in weeks and it was feared that any fire would spread fast through the dry grass. Some women were still cooking over the few fires that were allowed. Officers seemed to be camped in the prime spots back by the shady trees. Everyone was aware that a battle would likely take place that day and they were preparing for the worst. One man was walking around the camp trying to sell life insurance to the soldiers who were about to go on the battle filed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Preparing the Charges

In the Confederate camp I ran across this group who were packing gunpowder into small white paper cylinders. The fellow sitting in the center was always working an angle. For instance he wanted to charge me for the right to do the sketch. He would run the same scam any time any other 21st century tourist would wander by with a camera. He wanted to charge me more than he was charging people for photos since "We have to pose so much longer for you". I mentioned that no one was actually posing, everyone was moving about as usual, just doing their thing. He never did collect any money, besides my currency would have been useless in the Confederated States.
A suspicion I have about reenactors is that they never die until they run out of ammunition. If you are going to take all this care to pack your charges, well then you had better get the pleasure of firing them all off.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Confederate Musicians in Camp

Wandering through the Confederate camp at Narcoossee Mill I was drawn to the impromptu music being performed. I became interested in reenactments from a small newspaper ad that I found in a local paper calling for recruits for the 2nd Florida Volunteer Infantry, Company E, The Hammock Guards, 5th Company, Florida Battalion. From that ad I contacted a Captain Clay Kearney and told him of my desire to draw the troops. He enthusiastically informed me where the next engagements were to be found.
Well after finishing this sketch and showing it around, someone said "Hey Clay that looks just like you!" I discovered that I had just drawn the good Captain without having ever seen him, or been introduced to him in person. He is the fellow in the red checkered shirt. It is very strange that among the hundreds of solders milling around camp, that I should sit down and immediately sketch the very man I intended to try and find that day. Artist's instinct I suppose. After much talk about outfitting myself with period clothing, I am one step closer to becoming a true civil war correspondent.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Confederate Camp Crystal River

I traveled to Crystal River to witness the Civil War re enactment held there. My first order of business was to wander into the confederate camp to execute my first field sketch documenting the days events. Walking through the lines of canvas tents I immediately felt out of place with my 21st century jeans and shirt. I found a large shady tree in the center of camp and set up my chair at a polite southern distance. Men were discussing orders being waged for the upcoming battle and the difficulties of the constant drilling being done. I was almost finished with the sketch before anyone walked up to me and asked me if I was a northern spy. I if course denied the charge stating that I was working for Harper's Weekly, the Journal of Civilization. I was asked about the brush I was using they had never seen the brightly colored material that it was made of. That material of course was plastic.
Life slows down the second you walk into camp. Camp fires were still burning and the simple choirs of cleaning dishes were still an ongoing task. I can feel myself being pulled back in time.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Fallen

I decided to take a hike in the wooded area just north of Mathew's hill. The woods were quiet and peaceful. I noticed a quick moving shadow on the forest floor, and when I looked up I saw a falcon soaring overhead. New growth was sprouting up everywhere. Yet for some reason there were a large number of up rooted trees like the one in this drawing. These fallen trees would often be supported by the trees around it as if they were trying to prop it back up. To me these fallen were the only symbols of the violent struggles that took place in these woods more than 140 years ago.
8th Georgia Infantry under the command of Lt. Col. W. N. Gardner
"Away we went straight into the teeth of the murderous fire. We entered a thicket and were within 100 yards of the enemy. Yet not a gun of ours was fired until the command 'commence firing' was given. Most of the men were cool as cucumbers - each would load, pick his man, and take deliberate aim. We stood the fire in that wood for 30 minutes, and had the order not been given to retire, not a man would have left his post."
- Pvt Robert Grant July 21, 1861
11:00 AM 2nd Brigade (Bartow)
I am feeling a bit uprooted myself, as I pack up to head back to Orlando.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Old Stone House

Built in 1820 this stone house stood right in the middle of the Manassas battlefield at the intersection of 2 large supply roads. When the Union General McDowell swept his forces down Mathews Hill, he set up headquarters right behind this stone house which would be in the foreground of this sketch. The building was used as a field hospital and the floor boards became soaked with blood. It seems amazing that the building does not have a single bullet hole to scar its facade. The h0use on the hill, the Henry House, was riddled with bullet and artillery fire damage. That home saw the only civilian fatality of the battle. Judith Carter Henry, 85 years old and bedridden refused to leave her upstairs bedroom as the battle raged on in the fields around her home. Confederate snipers were using the house. Judith was killed by a Union bullet meant for one of those snipers. She is buried in the front yard and a headstone marks the spot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Stonewall Jackson fighting at first Manassas

With the sun finally out, I decided to skip out on farm living and instead drove to the Manassas Battlefield, commonly known as the Battle of Bull Run. The battlefields were still muddy, but I walked for miles following the military drama that unfolded here on July 21, 1861.
The Federal General McDowell had the Confederate troops outnumbered, and falling back from Mathew's Hill, at a fast retreat. Confederate units had fallen out of line and were milling about in confusion feeling they had lost the battle. Confederate Generals Johnston, Beauregard and Bee quickly reformed the troops to make a final stand. Just then Confederate re enforcements appeared from the woods behind them. It was Jackson's infamous Virginia Infantry. Brig. Gen. Barnard E. Bee, exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Follow me." General Bee was then shot dead. This stand with the unexpected re enforcements turned the battle, and earned Jackson a lasting name in history.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I will admit I was fascinated by the Farrier. He worked with amazing speed, I could tell I was watching a true craftsman. It also takes quite a bit of trust to grasp a horses hoof between your legs like that. This large white horse was the only one with attitude. He resisted every step of the way. Dick warned me to watch out cause this is the one horse that might kick. He had to lean into the horse forcing him up against the stall doors to keep the horse off balance and under control. Also watching was Caroline and her two grandchildren Caylee and Bailey. Apparently the kids take care of virtual horses online, but this was their first experience on a real horse farm. They got to shovel the real thing, and this was the first time either had ridden a horse. They did great, very serious and determined.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Farrier

We woke up to cloudy, cold rain once again. Terry was exhausted and needed to sleep in. I knew the Farrier was coming to check the horses hooves, so I braved the cold and rain and made my way down to the barn. A truck backed up to the barn door and set up shop. Dick Bickel quickly got to work first trimming and filing the horses hooves then fixing any cracks or imperfections with acrylic resin. In all he worked on the hooves of five or six horses in quick succession. The last horse was the greatest challenge since he needed to rework the horse shoes. In the back of the truck was a furnace and an anvil to pound the shoes into shape. Once in a while he would hold up the red hot shoe to the horses hoof to check it for size. Sometimes he even pressed the shoe up against the hoof causing it to burst into flames in the cold morning air. I was amazed at how calm the horse remained through the whole process. Dick explained that he used to shape all his shoes from a straight bar, but with so many shoe manufacturers, that didn't make sense anymore. I asked if his was a lost art and he said, "No there are many training opportunities for the next generation." Debbie the owner of the bed and breakfast, also claims that Dick is something of a horse whisperer. He is able to train horses that are considered to dangerous to ride.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

After the Ride

The day started cloudy, cold and rainy. Terry got up at day break so she could help out in the barn. After feeding the horses, we went inside for our own breakfast. The rain let up enough so the horses were prepared for a ride in the arena. Debbie, the owner of the bed and breakfast, actually lent us a couple of Australian slickers which really helped since it was so cold out. After the lesson, the horses had the saddles removed and they were then brushed down and put back in their stalls. I worked on small quick sketches in the barn to catch all the grooming action. I must do five or six of these a day. Virginia seems like an ideal place to live, if it wasn't so rainy and cold. Tomorrows forecast calls for a 90% chance of more rain. I kind of miss the Florida sunshine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lantern Lane Farm

From Washington DC we rented a car and headed west to horse country. When we arrived at the Lantern Lane Farm we were warmly greeted at the door shown around the bed and breakfast and then immediately Terry signed a waver and went out to the barn for her first ride. I of course tagged along and kept sketching. Terry had to show off her skills in the arena so that Sheryl, her trainer, could judge her skill level. As I walked up on the arena, I was struck by these Icelandic Highlander Bulls munching grass in the foreground. That light brown fellow stared me down for a while, but he never did charge the fence. It was windy and cold. I think I might need gloves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mirian Anderson Tribute Concert

Mirian Anderson, a talented African American singer, was denied permission to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in 1939. Instead she sang for 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. This was a defining moment in the history of protest against inequality in America. To commemorate that historic event , Denyce Graves performed the same program at the Lincoln Memorial and even wore one of Anderson's dresses. The defining moment in the concert for me was when the Chicago Children's Choir and the entire audience sang "We who believe in freedom can not rest". The whole audience was swaying and clapping its hands in unison. One feels that sense of unity and human potential so seldom. It was exhilarating. After the performance General Colin Powell helped several hundred people from 56 different countries gain their US Citizenship. The new citizens got a standing ovation from the audience. The heartwarming ceremony made me realize the civic responsibility we all have to give something back to the community . Colin's voice broke as he read from Lincoln's second inaugural speech: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Port City Java

I was supposed to meet a group of DC artists in the morning for the 21st World Wide Sketch Crawl. It was raining however and when I got to the meeting spot, a stone Japanese lantern, I found no artists, so I gave up on the crawl and spent the day visiting family. We met Terry's niece, Allison, and stopped in this coffee shop to catch up. While we talked a group of Morris Dancers assembled outside and started jumping and spinning. The dancers were wearing lederhosen and other Tyrolean gear. A dancer would come in once in a while to use the bathroom. The bells on their legs would jangle loudly. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sleepless over Washington DC

Analog Artist Digital World is heading out to Washington DC and Virginia for a week long spring break. The flight to DC was a short hop of about two hours. Terry slept the whole time leaning on her snack tray. She woke up just in time to panic about the landing. "Why is he flying so low?" "Does he have to turn so sharply?" "Isn't he to close to the buildings?" Though I rather enjoy flying, some of her panic manages to rub off.
I am entering type with handwriting on the tablet PC and it is slow going, so expect short captions.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Panther and the Crane Rehearsals

Rehearsals for Panther and the Crane went on all day long. It was rather windy at first which caused some problems with the screen that was tied up between some trees. A hard gust caused the screen to collapse and it had to be re-tied up. You can still see the ladder leaning up against the tree. Besides the inflatable gator there were also several bronze gators and a statue of a gator wrestler which are permanent fixtures in the park. By the time I sketched this the puppeteers had already run through the performance at least twice and they were getting ready to get some supper. This sketch gives a good overall view of the staging area they had to work with.
Heather Henson introduced herself to me while I was sketching. Actually she didn't mention her name at first and was just talking about my blog. She was wearing shorts and a blue tee shirt, she had bright green tape hanging off her shorts for some reason and I assumed at first that she must be a stage hand running around taping together anything that needed taping. She was unassuming in every way. When she did mention her name I did double take but was very pleased to finally meet her. She once again stressed that I could sketch at will and I couldn't have been happier. I knew this was a very busy day for her so I got to work and let her run.
For the performance that night, I put my sketchbook down and just watched the show for the first time. It was a beautiful performance. At one point I spotted the mother crane sitting on the nest I had seen Tamara fixing that morning. Two puppeteers were needed to perform her graceful motions. I then saw the egg she was sitting on and I was shocked to tears when it cracked open and she lovingly preened the chick. There is magic in puppetry.

Gator Devours IBEX Rehearsal

As I approached Orlando Regional History Center, I heard music which I assumed to be for the rehearsal and then I was surprised to see his huge inflatable gator throwing his head back like Godzilla on a rampage. This is not a regular feature in downtown Orlando and was in place just for tonight's performance of Panther and the Crane. You can see several members of the IBEX Puppetry cast in the small outdoor amphitheater behind the Gator. I noticed one woman manipulating a catfish puppet, she and the other performers I noticed moved with the grace of dancers. It was fairly windy and several times I feared that the gator might get blown on top of the cast. He held his ground however while constantly threatening to move. Tourists leaving the History Center were surprised to see the huge gator, so I assume he was inflated while they were inside. While doing this sketch I probably got to see half of the performance being rehearsed. There was a constant crowd of people watching the rehearsals so I felt I should be able to blend in. I wanted to move in closer...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tamara Marke - Lares

After pouring herself a cup of coffee, Tamara got started on all the last minute fixes that were needed for tonight's performance of Panther and the Crane. While she replaced some Velcro on several costumes I started laying in the sketch for the room. Quite honestly I was a bit overwhelmed, every square inch of space was crammed full of interesting visual details. I took a deep breath and got started. I had to assume she would later be working on the contraption sitting on the high stool.
The device she was working on was to be worn over the shoulders by a puppeteer sort of like a base drum in a marching band. Tamara started hot gun gluing leaves to the shoulder supports. She burnt her fingers a couple of times and said " This is why I usually don't use a hot gun." I couldn't really tell what it was I was sketching, but she explained that it was a nest and sticking out of the nest was a shell with a young chick inside. In the sketch you can only see the chicks wing and a small stick which I presume controls the chicks head movements. Tamara actually took a moment out of her hectic day to show me some of her own sketches. They were amazing! The sketches had twisted organic ink line work and vibrant color, they had a touch of the macabre and yet were very playful. After everything was glued and set, Craig came back with the car from an errand and it was time for them to load the repaired items back into the car and head down to the History Center where rehearsals were going on all day right up until moments before the show at 7:30PM...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Henson Studio

While sketching at the Florida Film Festival wrap party, Margaret Nolan introduced herself to me. This was the first time I had met her in person. I requested to become a facebook friend with her when I saw that she had tagged some colorful photos of a production of Panther and the Cane. Margaret's tag lead me to research the Ibex Puppetry Company and I discovered a whole series of wonderful development drawings produced by Heather Henson, for the show. I immediately e-mailed Heather and asked if I could tag along for rehearsals and any last minute creative work being done. I was thrilled when she e-mailed me back. She explained that she had obsessively kept sketch journals at different periods of her life and so she fully understood my mission.
Heather suggested I go to the Henson studio and watch Tamara Marke Lares who is an amazing artist, working on the costumes for the show. The studio is located in this colorful old building downtown. I knocked on the door but there was no answer. I looked in the doors glass panes through some light lace curtains and saw a fantastic explosion of shapes and colors. Blue gossamer birds hung from the ceiling, a mannequin head was on the mantle piece with pins sticking out of its head and assorted bits and pieces of colorful fabric were everywhere. There was no chance I could walk away from that door. I assumed Tamara wasn't in yet so I did what any artist-journalist would do, I camped out in front of the house and began to sketch. Before the sketch was complete Tamara and Craig, her husband drove up. Since we had met previously, the introductions were short and sweet and Tamara quickly got to work...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sam Rivers Jazz at Maitland Art Center

Later in the evening at the Florida Film Festival Wrap Party the 83 year old Sam Rivers and his band really began to poor on the heated spontaneous Jazz. Each musician would break off and rip into a long rapturous solo, and then the group would join back together and build off of the soloists riff. A group of about 30 or so people crowded around the stage tapping there feet and swaying to the rhythm. Up front 5 photographers kept snapping pictures the whole time. I couldn't help but think that the photographers were missing the boat. Where was the joy in capturing an image by pressing a button. I was standing there tapping my foot and every line was thrown down to the beat of the music. It was magic, I wasn't thinking anymore, just doing. No measuring or second guessing just the simply joy of taking a line for a spin. This might not be the best drawing I have ever done but boy was it fun to do. When this last set wrapped up the crowd was cheering for more, but 10pm was quitting time for this wrap party and sadly the event was over.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wrap Party

I drove up to the Maitland Art Center for the Wrap party. Joining me tonight would be Jana who who would search the crowd for hidden human interest stories while I sketched. I arrived early and went down to the water front to enjoy the sun and watch the water skiers ride the wakes. I pulled out a sketch book and splashed on some watercolor on an unfinished sketch to pass the time. When I heard the music start up I went over to the entrance to wait for Jana so I could get her in. I waited, and waited. I pulled out the sketch again and messed around with the colors while leaning against a light pole but my heart wasn't in it now, I was getting annoyed. When Jana did show she said she had been writing and lost track of time. As an artist I suppose I should understand that, but right then I didn't understand anything.
When we got in, there was Travis Blaise an animator from my old Disney Feature Animation Days. Travis and Jana introduced themselves. (I should have done that, but I could not think straight) A photographer swooped in and herded us together for a photo. When Travis and Jana started talking, I took that as my cue to move on and start casing the room looking for a sketch. I was immediately drawn to the music so I sat on a wooden bench and pulled out the sketch book. With the first lines my mood softened. The music slowly charged my lines with rhythm.
With one sketch done, I decided to get some food. With some chili in one hand and a Coke in the other I heard Jana call my name. She introduced me to her friend named Jennifer and since we couldn't shake hands we did an exaggerated cheek kiss. I assumed I would touch base with Jana after the event was over, but she left with her friend early without saying goodbye, which left me wondering if I had insulted them in some way. I haven't got time to sort it all out. I am having to much fun sketching to the jazz beat.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Got Milk?

Orlando had dubbed a new neighborhood "The Milk District". It can be found south of the TB Lee Milk Factory behind the Colonial Plaza. A huge "Milk Shake" party was thrown to christen the new neighborhood. Businesses in the neighborhood include: Vinyl Richies Wiggly World of Records, Drop Shop, Retro Records, Sportstown Billiards, the Bull and the Bush and the Drunken Monkey among others. The "Milk Shake" party was to include DJs, live bands and plenty of food and drinks in a parking lot.
As I approached the neighborhood the sky grew dark, I heard the sound of music, and the rain drops began to fall. I ran for cover about a block away and sat down hoping to wait out the storm. I realized I had a wonderful view of the white factory towers silhouetted against the dark sky, so I got to work. Setting up my chair I noticed that there were 3 bullet holes in the plate glass window above my head. I wonder what that was all about?
Once in a while 20 somethings would run towards the music with coats shielding their heads or people would be running the other way on beer runs. One huge teddy bear of a man with dreadlocks stopped to see what I was up to as I got close to finishing the sketch. He was MC Swam and he had just finished his shift as a DJ. He said I was keeping it real and if I could draw like that I should be making a mint doing t-shirts. I gave him a card and said I am always up for any freelance. When the sketch was done I realized I had what I came for. I didn't need to see the bands, or watch kids getting drunk, I already had my high for the day.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Original Cinema

The theme for the Florida Film Festival this year is Original Cinema with Cin underlined. This of course stressing all that is sinful and sexy in film. The animated shorts screening that I attended was a fun romp. My favorite was a short called "Tales of Mere Existence" by Lev Yilmaz. It really isn't animation, it is more like half finished drawings that are completed while the narrator talks about the simple futility of his relationships. It was non stop laugh out loud funny and the narration read very much like the inner monologue of a blog. My second favorite short was "Horn Dog" by Bill Plimpton. In this short a rather scruffy bug eyes male mutt falls madly in love with an sleek slender dog but in his pursuit of love all goes horribly wrong. Very funny stuff.
Bill Plimpton attended the screening and was going to do a meet and greet afterwards. I had to get to work right after the screening so I actually had to sneak out before the last short was finished. I am glad I did because Bill, (notice we are on a first name basis now!) was in the lobby talking to a few people. I noticed him but I might be late to work, great excuse, so I headed out the door. I stopped myself once I was outside. That was Bill Plimpton, I at least had to shake his hand. So I turned on my heal went back in and marched up the the small group of people he was with and held out my hand. I beamed like an adolescent and told him I was a fan of all his films. He thanked me, and then we swapped stories about our childhoods, simpler times and the joys of creating animation (just kidding, I wish). I rushed off to work but felt great. In the world of animation Bill is a huge celebrity.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Florida Film Festival - Eden Bar

I finally made my way over to the Enzian Theater to enjoy the Florida Film Festival. This event has been going on all week and this was my first chance to stop over. I decided to view the animated shorts #5. I left the studio with the assumption that I would sketch the theater building but the radio on the drive over kept squawking tornado warnings. However when I got to the theater the sun burst threw the clouds. I arrived 2 hours early to give me time to sketch prior to my screening. After I got my tickets I walked around the building trying to find the perfect angle, but the theater is dwarfed by huge Live Oak trees which hide much of the architecture from a distance, so I started walking toward the entrance. I stopped in my tracks when I came across the Eden Bar.
The Eden Bar has murals painted by Oscar nominated animator Bill Plimpton. I sat at a table and ordered a glass of white wine and started to sketch. About midway through the sketch a fellow stumbled up to my left side and stared at what I was doing for a while. He leaned in towards me and wavered a bit then blurted out "Heyyyy!" He continued to watch my hand waving across the page and then he said "Get OUT! He then jerked forward and stomped towards the entrance of the theater swaying from side to side. Later another fellow approached me on my right. I braced myself. He said "Hey, are you that fellow that has a blog?" I said "Yes?" He said "What is it called?" I told him. And he explained that he has been following it for some time. He disappeared and came back later and said "Look, I am the Director of Operations, I have a proposition. I would like you to come to the Revel 18 Party on the final evening of the Festival to cover it in your blog." He then gave me two complimentary tickets. Jana has agreed to find the human interest story while I sketch. Yet another curve ball that proves the arts are alive in Orlando!
Post Script: I just found out from an anonymous reader that Bill Plimpton is in the sketch I did of the Eden Bar. He is in the foreground with the high rise red socks and a green shirt. Apparently this was the first time Bill had seen his mural since it had been completed. I never even saw his face at the time. Did you hear me! I got to draw the back of Bill Plimpton's head!!! How wonderful! How amazing! What a small world! Oh god, he must think I was staking him that night.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Finola Hughes Interview

In a whirlwind of e-mail activity I arranged to head out on assignment with Jana Waring while she interviewed Finola Hughes for Playground Magazine, Central Florida's Hip Sophisticated Parenting Magazine. Finola who was once a soap star on "General Hospital" and who is now on "How Do I Look" was in town to host Fashion Funds the Cure held at Saks Fifth Avenue. This is a fashion show in which young girls who are battling cancer make their debut on the fashion runway. The young girls beam with delight at this once in a lifetime opportunity.
I was impressed at how Jana and Finola spoke as if they were sisters right from the start. In some ways arriving in a wheel chair has its advantages Jana said, it shows your human frail side right out front and it sort of empowers me to take chances and ask sincere questions. Finola was describing in detail the trials and heart breaks of adoption and the need to accept situations as they stand. She painted a picture of her family life in broad clear strokes.
After the interview I got a chance to sit down with Jana at the Florida Mall food court. She joked with me that she wouldn't have minded being adopted by Finola herself, and Finola seemed so genuinely entranced with her, that I think that could have been arranged. We both agreed that the interview went really well. Since the interview was only a half hour it was a bit rushed from a sketch perspective but I got the major details in place and finished up back at the studio. Actually my presence may have helped Finola to talk about some of the more creative aspects of family life. For instance her husband is a painter and she says the children are encouraged to draw. Getting to work out in the field with Jana was an exhilarating experience.