Thursday, December 31, 2009
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.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
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.
Monday, December 28, 2009
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.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
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.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
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.
Friday, December 25, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
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.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
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.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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.
Monday, December 21, 2009
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.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
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.
Friday, December 18, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
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.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
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.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
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.
Monday, December 14, 2009
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.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
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.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
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.
Friday, December 11, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
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.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
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.
Monday, December 7, 2009
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.
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.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
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.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
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!
Friday, December 4, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
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!