Saturday, July 31, 2010

Taco Truck Taste Test

Mark Baratelli of thedailycity.com hosted the 5th Taco Truck Taste Test near Tacos Del Rio (9785 South Orange Blossom Trail). As Terry and I drove down OBT it started to pour. We had the usual difficulty in trying to see any numbers on the strip malls, dealerships and the bright riot of signage. We found one building number that was close and pulled into the parking lot. We then hop scotched up one parking lot at a time until we found a lot filled with a whole bunch of taco trucks. Thankfully the rain subsided. As we walked up to this truck we found a small crowd gathered and Mark was there holding a corrugated cardboard sign with The Daily City written in black Sharpe. Mark had asked a friend to work as an interpreter and the whole group started walking from truck to truck with the interpreter explaining the menu items.
I stayed behind at the first truck to finish my sketch. Several times Brian Feldman breezed by to fire a joke my way and then he was off again. Terry let me know that a group of people were going to go into the brick and mortar Tacos Del Rio so they could sit down. When I finished my sketch I went in to join them. Matt, Amanda, Terry and Mark were sitting in a booth at the back of the restaurant. There was an empty seat so I joined them. Terry was still finishing her meal. I tried to sneak a bite but she wouldn't stand for it.
I decided to get a few tacos myself. The line was short but when I got to the counter to order the guy shouted that he had to go to another building. He disappeared out the back door. A group of us waited for like 20 minutes. I should have gone out to the taco truck but I had already committed so much time to this line. The food wasn't that great. The meat was bland and they were running out of every topping. When I was eating Terry suggested I get some sour cream. When I got up to get it she snatched one of my tacos and tried to devour it. Amanda's loud laughter gave Terry away and I caught her red handed.
Later Mark Baratelli started video taping Sultana describing the finer points of marketing an Improv Festival. Matt, who was sitting behind Sultana started flexing his biceps theatrically for the duration of the interview. Amanda who was sitting behind Matt was leaning forward in embarrassment, trying to hid her face as if she didn't know Matt. Of course Sultana couldn't see what was going on behind her, and Mark behind the camera didn't notice. It wasn't until he played back the video that he noticed the hilarious background action. I laughed harder than I have in a long time.
The proprietors of Del Rio must have thought we were having too much fun, because they turned on the flat screen TV above out heads and blasted the audio of the cheesy Spanish soap opera. We left soon after.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Copper Rocket

The Copper Rocket Pub (106 Lake Avenue) held a fundraiser for the Mustard Seed Foundation. The Mustard Seed provides furniture and clothing to families is need in the Central Florida area. When I got to the Copper Rocket, I found the parking lot full of tents for food and merchandise. Finding a parking spot was a real challenge but I finally found a sweet spot on a grass lawn. I met Terry and the first order of business was getting some food. We sat down of a curb to eat. Behind us two women were dresses a hula girls with leis and grass skirts. I was torn between wanting to sketch and finishing my meal. My stomach won. There must have been costume contests inside because other woman were dressed as 1940's bombshells. How is it that those fashions ever went out of style?
When we finished dinner, Terry gave me the freedom to find a spot to draw. Rather than focus on the constantly milling crowd, I decided to sketch this van covered in graffiti by Black Chapel Tattoo parlor. The sun was setting so I worked fast. A bunch of motorcycles were also parked in this area and occasionally men would come over and examine the sleek lines of these slick machines. A very drunk woman approached me from behind and demanded to know what I was doing. Slurring her words, she said, "Hey thass not bad." She then tromped off to the bar talking to a friend on her cell phone. She approached me three more times as I worked.
AS I was finishing up the sketch, Terry came over and sat on the running board of a hot red 1940's pickup truck. Dina Peterson came over and joined her. They had a long discussion about buying food locally and the finer points of being a vegetarian. Vendors started striking their tents. A bombshell and her man started loading stuff into the Black Chapel van. When I finished, Terry decided she was tired so we headed home. From Dina I found out there had been costume contests in the pub. Oh well, I will have to catch that action next year.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

WLOQ Radio Interview.

Amanda Chadwick asked me if I would like to sketch a radio interview as she promoted The Children's Home Society of Florida on the radio. Amanda was a bit nervous anout the interview and she had just finished a gruiling morning moving hundreds of boxes and backpacks from a storage unit to the business park where the Children's Home Society resides. Amanda had to do a quick change of clothes and freshen up a bit before heading to the station. As we drove there in her Toyota Carola, I asked her questions from a sheet of questions she had prepared and sent to the talk show host. As times she let go of the steering wheel and looked through her notes to get the right statistics. I grabbed the wheel to keep the car on the road. My nerves were starting to get shot.
Robyn Austin the Morning Show Co-Host, on Smooth Jazz 103.1 WLOQ, introduced herself to us in the lobby. As we walked back to the recording studio she said she would have to check with the station manager to see if it was alright for me to sketch. I am used to being turned down any time I specifically ask to do a sketch so my stomach tightened in anticipation. She came back beaming and told us it would be fine. For all of her nervousness, Amanda performed like a pro when she was in front of the microphone. She was at ease and managed to tell several stories which illuminated the work of the Children's Home Society on a human level.
The Society will be handing out close to 900 backpacks this year to needy school children in the Central Florida area. Amanda told the story of noticing a little girl that was wearing one of the backpacks in the previous years style. The backpack was to large for the little girl so she knew the mom had not picked it out in a store. This bought her work right into her own front yard. The work the organization was doing affects children in all neighborhoods through out the area. Imagine trying to do your job without the necessary tools. Many children have to face this dilema every day as their parents have to choose between putting food on the table of getting school supplies.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Art of the Thriller

Thriller novelist Jamie Freveletti visited the Cagan Crossings Library in Clermont. Her first book "Running from the Devil" was nominated as the best first novel by the International Thriller Writers Association. When I entered the small room, she was talking about research she had done for her second book "Running Dark". This novel is about a cruise ship which is invaded by Somali pirates. To research the book she wanted to talk to cruise directors but they wanted nothing to do with a book about piracy. They said it would be bad for business and she shouldn't write the book. She finally got to talk to a cruise ship captain who was helpful. When she shopped the book around to publishers no one was interested until pirates made the news off the coast of Africa. Suddenly everyone was interested and she landed her deal with Harper Collins.
Jamie and her husband are both long distance runners. When she said she was planning to go to Somalia for research, he said "You can't leave me alone with the kids for that long, I am coming with you." She pointed out that she has always been a woman in a mans world. Her first career as a lawyer toughened her to this reality and now she is one of very few women thriller writers. She is shocked by the stellar success that her books have seen. She got a six figure advance for her most recent book. When asked if she uses an outline to plan her book, she said that she would like the reader to feel the same excitement as she does as she discovers what is going to happen next. Although she has some idea what her protagonist will do, she has no idea how the book will end. She almost excitedly started to tell us what might happen next in the book she is now writing but she held herself in check. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
She offered some advice to aspiring young writers about which publishers to approach when starting out. In all there were maybe 15 people in the small room listening to this talented writer but she was as engaging and excited as if she was addressing a crowd. She is humbles and excited by the success she has worked so hard for. After the talk she signed a few books. I was surprised to find her relaxing in a chair with now one standing around her asking questions. I asked her to sign my sketch.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

House Warming

For the past month artist Doug Rhodehamel has been living in a cardboard box which he sets up in peoples homes so they might have a "Artist in Residence ". Six different Orlando residents opened their homes and allowed Doug to set up his makeshift home. Doug always wanted to build his own home and he finally did so on a somewhat small scale. What did this artist in residence do? He made art! He constructed little cardboard bewilderbeasts for the homes. He just needed a spot in the house to set up his 6′ x 3′ home. The home can be folded up and transported to the next residence in his car.
On July 21st Doug set up his home on the red stage at Stardust Video and Coffee. When I got to Stardust I found a seat at a table up near the stage and then wandered off to find a beer. Carl Knickerbocker, a painter of primitive folk art, was also looking for a beer. He was studying the many bottles and I chose to go for what was on tap. We discussed our tastes in beer and found some common ground.
The sketch was a challenge since the place people tended to congregate and stand was right in my line of sight. It took nerves of steel and much patience to sketch areas I could see when I was blocked. On the loudspeakers, piano music from the Charlie Brown cartoons was playing setting a playful mood. So many beautiful people kept walking in to see. Doug would offer guided tours to select VIPs and they would crawl inside. I never went inside up I did take a look to see how the walls were decorated. A black hairy spider was perched on the roof above the entry and horse photos were galloping above the door. Window boxes held paper flowers and a small donate box was stationed near the entry.

Monday, July 26, 2010

From Dust to Life

I went to an art opening titled, "From Dust to Life" which featured the work of Jason Lee. The art was hung in the Peacock Room (1312 North Mills Avenue). The work will stay on display through August 15th. The Arts Hub and the Peacock Room sponsored the event. When I entered the bar, I immediately looked at all the paintings on the wall and then found myself a seat at the end of the bar so I could get an overall view of the room and bar patrons. Toni Taylor was seated right next to me on my left and next to her was, Jen Jacobson, a friend and fellow artist who has turned to Tony for painting advice. That is right just like in renaissance days, this artist has asked Toni to take her under her wing and share her working secrets. Together they are working on a huge 5 foot high canvas that will be on display at Tu Tu Tango's on July 30th.
On the ceiling of the bar Doug Rhodehamel had perhaps a hundred brown paper bag mushrooms suspended upside down. On the far wall of the bar an Andrew Spear mural was staring straight at me. I started my drawing by focusing on that beautiful face. All the perspective lines point straight at her. Toni's apprentice took an interest in my sketch so she sat next to me and watched for a while. I discovered she works at the Animal Kingdom training the birds that are in the shows. We talked parrots for a while, since I have a pet cockatoo. She lost interest and then she and Tony started talking girl talk.
Carl Knickerbocker, an amazing local artist is in the left hand side of the sketch. He noticed me sketching and came over to see my progress. I asked him about the idea of sketching him at work on one of his larger pieces. He agreed so I might visit his studio soon. Brad Briggs who helped organize the evening came over to say hi, he was with his partner Linda Brandt. I had sketched Linda as she worked with her pet dog, Otis, at Hip Dog Hydrotherapy. Brad checked back a few times and I felt he might be impatient with my slow progress. A group of artists stood behind me talking about various shows. Part of me felt I should be socializing more myself. I honestly know little about the Orlando Arts scene but I figure if I just keep doing my sketch a day, the rest will work itself out in time.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Boudoir Bombshells Calender Shoot

Kristen Wheeler invited me to a photo shoot for a Boudoir Bombshell calender. The shoot took place in Clermont which is way out on the west side of Orlando. Driving on 50 heading west there is still quite a bit of undeveloped land. Clermont is a quaint little old Florida town. the shoot took place in a small storefront business called Thyme of Day which offers yoga classes. When I knocked on the door, a boxer dog barked a few times and started spinning around in a circle. Kristen welcomed me and introduced me to an author who was at the shoot as research for a character in her book titled 3 Flavors. A character in that book is loosely based on her observations of Kristen. None of the models had arrived yet and Kristen was just starting to set up her backdrop. She suggested I get lunch at Cheeser's Palace across the street and after hearing her descriptions of some of the menu items I decided that was a great idea.
While waiting for my order to arrive, Marcie, an actress I had met before at the Fringe walked in and ordered the 5 cheese grilled sandwich. She had just gotten back from Alaska and we chatted for a while about sea otters and the unspoiled beauty of the Alaska wilderness. Marcie was the first model to show up for the shoot and she got her sandwich to go. When I got back to the photo studio more models had arrived and they were sorting garter belts , nylons and staring to apply makeup. Brooke had been assigned the task of blowing up as many red white and blue balloons as she could. In the back room of the studio the women began to get into their costumes. Timarie, or T, began to began to work on Marcie's hair. She used her curling iron to help establish the 1940's look she was after. When Marcie saw the final results in a mirror she was delighted.
The first model to be shot was Chloe. She had never done a Boudoir photo shoot before so Kristen walked her through a quick introductory course. Kristen said, "Now say your vowels but enunciate and exaggerate how you use your lips, A E I O U." The pursing of the lips on U made for a sultry Marilyn Monroe look and everyone laughed. Kristen had taken a number of shots of Cloe before Roz stepped in and asked Chloe if it was OK for her to remove her glasses.She pointed out that Chloe had beautiful eyes and they wanted to see them. Chloe was fine with that and the shoot continued. She then lay down on the floor and Kristen shot her from above. She held her legs in the air and announced, "O" for Kristen. Rosalind said, "Now push the girls together." Chloe adjusted her bra with the desired effect. She said, "I have never been complimented so many times in one day." It is true that she was told she was beautiful and a natural so many times it is hard to count. Dizzi, the boxer, is a bit of a ham and whenever she was let in the photo shoot room she would spin around and then find a spot where she was sure to be photographed or sketched.
Next up was Marcie who was dressed in a cute tight fitting sailors outfit. She was to represent July 4th and she stood in a sea of balloons. During her shoot all the other girls grabbed as many balloons as they could and they threw then up in the air letting them rain down on Marcie while the shutter clicked away. Dizzi, the boxer, was having a fit spinning in a tight circle and barking her head off. This was more excitement than any dog should be expected to handle. Marci is a pro and she knew how to play up the coy looks and come hither gazes. Whenever she would raise her left eyebrow, it bought about a round of laughter from everyone. The white backdrop behind Marcie will be replaced by an American flag for the calender.
Getting to sit in on a Boudoir photo shoot was very fun and there were so many other sketching opportunities. In late October or early November there will be a calender release party. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Project F Projections

At the last minute on a Sunday I got a Text Message saying I should come out to a Project F rehearsal because something new was in the works. I jumped in my car and drove way out to Bithlo where several actors, Ryan Price and Aradhana Tiwari were gathered. When I entered there was chocolate cake and red wine on the table. Aradhana's lovebird was flying about the place perching on peoples shoulders on occasion to say hello. I got myself some cake and opted to get a coke instead of a wine. From the dining room table where everyone was seated I could see a blue glow coming from the next room. Aradhana disappeared into that room and I heard her talking to Ryan. I grabbed my cake, soda and then a pillow I found in the hallway and went into the empty room. A digital projector was set up along with a laptop computer. Ryan had set up a cool way of projecting video where the actors image is sent through filters and processors which distort and create halo effects.
Becky Rankin was the first actress to try out the new imaging effect. She sat in front of the computer and acted like she was typing. The video effects distorted her image making intriguing imagery. Whenever she would move the negative space she had just occupied showed a Facebook page in a stuttered digital effect which resembled stop motion animation. Soon Ryan and Aradhana were experimenting with different ways to alter the imagery by waving such items as gauze clear plastics and the ultimate find an old doily. These items when waved in front of the camera lens would set a color tone over the image and add intriguing patterns and distortions. Whe the recorded video was played back on the wall, everyone would whisper, "Ooooh, Ahhhh!". Just as if they were watching fireworks. The process was fun experimental and fully interactive.
Soon Aradhana had the actors waking in front of the projector creating a viewpointing session like no other where the final result made the actors look like they were surrounded by a blue halo. If an actor stopped moving they would disappear from view and then they would reappear when they moved again. The final effect was ghostly and mesmerizing to watch.
Another filter was tried which pixelated the actors image to the point of barely being recognizable. Again Becky was the first to try out the technology. She sat and acted as if she were working at her computer screen. Ryan and I experimented with lighting and settled on using the projector lighting up the wall as a light source that he then kept moving to alter the image. What was really nice about these images is the fact that the Facebook blue was the primary color in the scene. It was a joy to be a part of this playful afternoon of play and discovery. The actors were giddy with delight when they saw the unexpected final video results. Chelsea Anderson had to use the bathroom. When she returned the light from the open bathroom door created an amazingly clear image on the computer screen. Aradhana asked her to enter the room again leaving the door open when she did. She then sat down at the computer screen and a fabulous scene was created all because of a chance combination of factors that bought the image to life. Such moments of pure serendipity are a spark of pure genius because everyone was open and ready for any new discovery. Project F is truly a cutting edge production.

Tomorrow Thor will sketch DRIP musician auditions at 4502 Old Winter Garden Road Suite E2 between 10AM and 10PM.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Manteis Project

In the red room at Taste (717 Smith Street, College Park), Terry and I stayed to watch the music act that was setting up on stage after most of the artists had left from an event called Blend. The heart of the group seemed to be an Apple laptop computer which put out vibrant pulsating sound effects. There was a sitar, guitar an a wide variety of drums. A keyboardist also had a laptop open above his keyboard. They were known as the Manteis Project. Behind the group the screen displayed animated lighting patterns. The music was mesmerizing.
Kenneth Raduazzo was working the sound booth. I glanced up at the sound booth and his wife Teresa was there with him. She had recently introduced me to an ashram. A couple of artists were still working on the collaborative paintings in the room behind us. I was seated in a chair right at the foot of the stage looking up at the performers. After the performance was over, Terry and I walked back to the car and on the way we bumped into Teresa. She had decided to go for a walk to get some fresh air. I thought she and Terry must have met before at the Kerouac House but I made the introductions anyway. We talked for a while but then Teresa had to get back inside to help break down.

Tomorrow Thor will sketch an Acrylic painting demonstration at Sam Flax on Colonial Drive near Mills between 3:30PM and 5:30PM.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First Fridays

The Baldwin Park Sidewalk art festivals were canceled, but organizer Brad Biggs immediately followed up with a similar event each First Friday of each month in the Lake Ivanhoe antiques district (Orange Avenue between New Hampshire and Princeton). I had to go to the first of these sidewalk art shows. There was an assortment of artists set up in front of all the businesses in the neighborhood. Terry and I walked the whole show to see everything. Karen Cali, had a table set up with prints of many of her figurative drawings. She sat in a lawn chair and was busy blocking in a sketch documenting the First Friday event. Brad had offered me a spot where I could display my work but I only had the sketchbook that I was planning to use. I might decide to display my work her on some first Friday.
My wandering eye finally settled on this band that had just started to set up. I set out my camping chair and leaned back against a telephone pole. The group's name is Chopper Stepe and I was happy to have this front row seat. Terry set up her lawn chair beside me and played with her iPhone. The group played an assorted mix of cover songs and original material. They had a seasoned feel and they relaxed right into the music.
I dashed off the sketch fairly quickly and just as I was finishing up adding watercolor washed, the group took a break. Terry and I walked the rounds one more time and said goodbye to Karen across the street before we hiked back to my truck.

Tomorrow Thor will sketch the Taco Truck Tast Test at Del Rio 9785 South Orange Blossom Trail between 9PM and 10PM.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sensual Saturday

Torria Hudson, who I had met at the Grand Bohemian Jazz Jam, invited me to attend a sensual, sultry evening of smooth Jazz and R&B music at Tavern on the Lake (6996 Piazza Grande Avenue). VIP tickets to the event were $55 and money raised went to an organization called Miracle of Love that raises awareness of AIDS and offers free HIV tests. Terry decided to join me. When we arrived, a woman was scrambling around trying to arrange seating for people. Since she was occupied I just walked into the seating area and started looking for where I would want to sketch from. Rather than sitting at a table, I decided the best spot was right in front of the sound board. A video camera was also set up in this area. I set my stool down and was ready to go. The woman arranging the seating found out I was there to sketch and she graciously arranged to get chairs for both Terry and myself.
When I started my sketch Live Hart was doing a sound check. I used that time to block in the composition lightly in pencil. Only a few of the tables were occupied so I knew I would have to add audience members to the sketch when they arrived. After the sound check it was another hour or so before the performers came back to the stage. I had to put my sketch aside and order appetizers. Someone came around offering raffle tickets for some original art work and Terry bought a few. We didn't win, though we did help a good cause.
Live Harts silky smooth voice was a joy to sketch to. Her alternative soul filled the room and swayed the spirits of everyone. The music was gentle, lyrical and heart felt. The lines flowed quickly to the beat. When Live Harts set was over, my sketch was complete. I packed up and started heading for the door. Torria stopped Terry and I before we left. She said I couldn't leave because I would miss the headliner act, Miki Howard. I don't follow the Smooth Jazz scene so I was unaware that Miki is a huge deal and she was flown in from Los Angeles for this show. Once we realized our mistake we ran back in and sat down. Miki was astounding. Her songs swept over me with a maturity and grace that left goose bumps. During one of her final numbers Miki had back up singers. She sang a song about the hard knocks of love. She wandered into the audience and asked a woman, "Are you in love?" The woman replied, "Yes I know I am in love?" Miki shouted out , "See, we are so certain about love yet it always finds a way to kick us in the butt." She asked the back up singers how old they were and one responded, "Twenty Two." Miki shouted, "This song is older than you!" Then her song educated us all on just how hard love can be and how we always come back for more.

Tomorrow Thor will be sketching the Emotions Dance Massquerade at the Peacock Room between 9PM and 2AM.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Silver Fern Writers Workshop

The Silver Fern Writers Workshop (263 Orange Terrace Drive, Winter Park) is held every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month. I was invited by Elayne Pierson to come to a workshop to sketch. These workshops are open to anyone from a novice to an accomplished writer working in all genres. The workshop is conducted using the principles of the Amherst Writers & Artists, providing a unique setting where a writer can grow creatively while developing their craft. The workshop offers a warm inviting and encouraging atmosphere without any emphasis on right and wrong.
When I arrived I was invited to share with the group my artwork and explain how this blogging experiment came to be. I of course explained about the new years resolution that went on to change my life and about how Disney Feature Animation bought me to Florida only to close down 10 years later when executives decided people only wanted to see computer generated films. I then showed everyone the Creative Mind Experiment film I created which showcased several hundred of my sketches in a 3 minute short.
Then everyone was invited to write using my art as inspiration. I was surprised my my wife's writing which had the added benefit of looking back over 19 years of our marriage exploring the art and our relationship.

Artist, Man, Husband or God?

I have known Tom for 23 years. I am still not sure if I fell in love with the artist or the man. Is it possible to separate the two? When I view his art I am not able to separate the hands that have held me from the hands that have held the pen and paintbrush. Tom doesn’t have four hands so I guess I just have to pick two hands. Then again, he only draws with one hand so maybe I can love the right hand of the artist and also love the left hand of the man. I am fairly certain that Tom is not a God although his German name is often mistaken for the Nordic name of Thor, god of thunder. I often think that Tom the husband and Tom the man enjoys this extra title, not only because everyone gets the name Thorspecken wrong, but also because who wouldn’t want to be confused with a god, even if it is a mythical god as opposed to a Judeo-Christian god.
I often wonder what people experience when they view Tom’s art as opposed to what I experience. I have watched Tom create images from an empty page for 23 years. My human nature of craving attention is served when I am in one of his drawings. Early in our lives together I frequently posed as a model for Tom. I was never a good model. I am too fidgety but I loved seeing myself reflected through his eyes. Nothing is more erotic than seeing yourself as a sexy figure in your husbands eyes.
What do other people see? Is a drawing fact or fiction? When I read historical fiction I believe if it is well researched, it is probably more truthful than history which has over time been told by mainly a white male perspective. If Tom draws in real time then what he draws is fact, yet since it is not a photograph and loosely rendered through Tom’s heart and mind, is it in fact fiction?—that is a rendering of an historical event that is open to interpretation?
The NYC street artist evolved into a Disney animator and has morphed back into a street artist. Albeit with many night clubs, theaters and restaurants thrown in. I suspect as the years go by I will always ask the question is Tom an artist, man, husband or god? I suspect the answer will always be elusive but be full of discoveries and joy.

-Terry Thorspecken

Tomorrow Thor will be sketching Doug Rhodehamels house warming party at Stardust Video and Coffee.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best of Orlando

The Orlando Weekly held a readers choice voting for the Best of Orlando. Analog Artist Digital World won third place as the Best Local Blog! The Weekly held a celebration party at Club Firestone for the winners. I wasn't invited. I suppose only the first place winners were invited. Luckily Brian Feldman won first place as the Best Experimental Act; being in South Dakota he gave his two tickets to Katie Windish who then invited me, so I could get a sketch of the event. When we got to the club we had to text Lindy Shepherd, an Orlando Weekly writer, so she could come out and give us the tickets. As we were going in Swamburger was coming out complaining that none of the food inside was vegan. He was heading up to the Cameo to party. Once we got past the velvet red rope and entered the club we were hit with the pounding bass of the music. Certain beers were free and there was a long line for food so we muscled past Wonder Woman and Batman, up to the bar. Once we had our beers the food line was smaller so we grabbed some food and then searched for a spot to sit. I saw a spot at a counter but before we got there two guys moved in. We finally found large cushioned benches in a room where back massages were being offered.
After we finished eating, I started searching for a spot to draw from. I had seem a walkway that had an overview of the dance floor and we started going up stairways until we found it. It was hot up there and no one else was around which meant I could sketch in peace. Katie went downstairs to talk to people and I got to work. I placed my beer on the counter and got out my book light so I could see what I was doing. When I was about half way through my sketch, my bottle of beer crashed to the floor shattering everywhere. I couldn't figure out why it fell. I hadn't touched it since I started sketching. I picked up the shattered base and placed it back on the counter. I then realized that the bass of the music was so loud that the counter was vibrating and the bottle was once again making its way to the edge to jump. I had the same problem with my sketchbook which I had leaning up against the counter. I put two pencil erasers in my ears finally to cut back some of the volume.
Much of the focus of the sketch is on the card tables which were set up for gambling. In the upper left corner an area was set up where artists were working on a painting. The painting had Blue Moon Beer logos integrated into it so I considered it too commercial to get its own sketch. On the dance floor a giant taco was busting some moves. A photographer tapped me on the shoulder and asked if it was alright for him to shoot some photos. I guess he thought I was staff. He shot some flash photos of a beautiful model.
On three movie screens the names of the winners were being projected. I got to see my name when the Best Bog category came up, but I was at the bottom of the list with my bronze. Once my sketch was done I found Katie and she introduced me to several Orlando Weekly staff members who said I should approach the new editor about getting my work in the paper. With a new editor comes new ideas so anything is possible.

Tomorrow I will be sketching the Speakwasy at Will's Pub on Mills Avenue between 9 and 11:30PM.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

World Cup

I put out a request on Facebook asking where would be the best place in Orlando to watch the World Cup Soccer match. Someone responded Graffiti Junktion (400 East Washington Street in Thornton Park) so that is where Terry and I decided to go. When we first entered there was literally not a seat available. Terry wanted to go to a quieter bar down the street, but I knew this is where I needed to sketch. When we went back in the bar area, I found a spot in the corner of the room and I leaned back against the wall and started sketching. This meant I would have to stand for the duration of the game, but I thought it was worth it. Terry couldn't find a seat so she asked me for my car keys and went back to get my portable stool. Right after she left a table opened up and I sent her a text to that effect. It turns out she had left her purse with me and her phone was in the purse. She ended up walking the 4 or 5 blocks and when she got back she realized she didn't need the stool anymore.
At the table right in front of me there were several lesbian couples who were very affectionate. I found out that the two countries competing, Spain and Portugal, both recognize full marriage equality for all citizens. In other words, marriage need not only be the union of a man and woman. The fellow with the face paint was very boisterous. He was shouting and screaming the would game which then set the stage for a very loud crowd. He noticed me sketching and he climbed over to see what I was up to. The ink work was finished and I was about to start adding watercolor washes. Thankfully he loved what he saw and he took the sketchbook from me and started showing around to friends. When I got it back I started painting.
There were several moments where everyone in the room jumped to their feet and shouted. The moment the game winning goal was scored the place went ballistic. People were shouting and hugging, it was pure pandemonium. Since the people in front of me were rooting for Spain and had on orange and yellow face paint, I thought the team with the orange jerseys were from Spain. When the game was over I found out I was rooting for the wrong players the whole time. The orange jerseys belonged to Portugal.

Tomorrow Thor will be sketching "From Dust to Life", the art of Jason Lee, at the Peacock Room (1312 North Mills Avenue) between 8PM and 11PM.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Chaplain Visits

On a return visit to Margaret Hill, she was able to get up with much help and eat at the dining room table. I joined her and Mary for lunch. Mary grew concerned watching her mothers breathing worsen over the course of lunch. She helped her mother get back into bed. Margaret's breathing grew shallow and harsh. She began to struggle for each breath and began to panic. Mary placed her left hand on her mother’s brow and then held her right hand over her mothers chest. She made a gesture like she was crumpling a sheet of paper and then she threw it away. Mary did this several times, breathed in deeply and then turned her head away and exhaled into the corner of the room. It appeared as though Mary was in a very deep meditative state. Instantly Margaret calmed down and her struggle to breath lessened. In a matter of perhaps 15 minutes she fell fast asleep. I had never seen anything like this. I was mystified. Mary is a Christian and has absolute faith in the healing powers of God working through her as his instrument. Mary also has a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology, participates in various healing/creative art ministries and studied various healing tradition in California, before returning to care for her mother.

Although I am still baffled by what I saw, from my perspective, it seems to me that Mary is able to deflect diseased energy, then channel a very intense healing energy where it then flows to the person she is in prayer for. There was an overwhelming calm and peace in her mother’s room.
As her mother slept, a chaplain and hospice nurse arrived. The chaplain comes to the house frequently to address Margaret's emotional and spiritual needs. Mary talked to the chaplain for some time discussing her mother’s physical and emotional states. Copious notes were taken as the mother and daughter’s needs were evaluated. In the kitchen, where Mary and the Chaplain are talking, there is a photo of Margaret in her prime on the wall. It’s as if she is looking over the Chaplain’s shoulder, perhaps to observe and grace these emotionally charged and sometimes heart-wrenching discussions.

On a trip to a doctors office Mary recited a poem she was inspired to write about healing, how it flows through her and how God has used others to heal her as well. She agreed to share it, with gratitude and blessings.

A Place to Meet

Meet me…in the stillness of my touch
Allow me to feel your pain, it won’t hurt quite as much.

Meet me…in the safety of my soul
Tell me your stories, the ones you’ve dared, but never told.

Meet me…in the solitude of my heart
Lay down your sorrow, welcome healing’s start.

Meet me…in the center of the earth
Surrender to its wisdom, awaken to your rebirth

Meet me…far beyond the ageless universe
Bask in love’s perfection; nothing’s better, nothing’s worse.

Meet me when you’re willing, meet me when you can
It’s there I’ll give my best to you - my mind, my heart, my hands.

-Mary J. Hill 2005


Friday, July 16, 2010

Wedding Dinner

Terry and I drove to Greensboro North Carolina for the wedding of Terry's cousin, Miriam Dolin. It took all day to drive up there and when we got there we collapsed in out motel room from exhaustion. We were given a little gift bag from the lady at the front desk. Inside was a map to help us find the home where a pre-wedding dinner part was going to be held the following evening. The home was gorgeous in a really nice neighborhood. The food was served on the center island in the large kitchen area. People would fill a plate and then sit in any of the rooms on the ground floor. I sat in the kitchen's breakfast nook and started to sketch. At events like this I tend to only hear the overall din of all the conversations. Someone can be standing right in front of me talking and I just hear all the ambient noise. Doing this sketch calmed my nerves although doing the sketch was a major challenge because of the constant movement of all the people as they loaded their plates in a clockwise ebb and flow.
Miriam seemed very calm. She worked the room, greeting all her distant cousins and other relatives who had come from out of town. She had once played Mary Poppins at the Magic Kingdom so she has a consummate warm grace around crowds of people. She was the center of attention and she relished and was quite comfortable with that. Her fiance tagged along trying to learn all the names that were being thrown his way.

Tomorrow I will be sketching Boudoir Bombshells in Groveland.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

B-Side Artists

On the third Thursday of the month, I went down to the City Arts Factory (29 South Orange Avenue) to do a sketch of the B-Side Artists show opening. This group of artists had seven original members lead by Swamburger and more artists have joined the ranks over the years. The B-Side name came from the flip side of Albums in the 1980's, it was common knowledge then that the B-Side of the album would have the more experimental and cutting edge performances. Some of the work in this show had the feeling of emerging from the streets, having an urban feeling whose roots go back to graffiti. B-Side Artists is the urban youth underdog that continues to surprise pop-culture with it's style, bold content, & willingness to create in artistically a-typical conditions.
Sketching a gallery opening is an insanely difficult challenge. I leaned back against a wall on my portable stool and got to work. The difficulty comes from people standing in front of you as you work. I have trained myself to not get frustrated but instead to wait or look elsewhere and draw some other detail not blocked by the person in front of me. Swamburger greeted me with a warm handshake and smile. Outside he related to me the dream he has of someday finding a project where all the arts groups in town can come together and collaborate on a project which shows the world what the Orlando arts scene has to offer.
Guerrier Peterson was the artist who's work was on the wall opposite from where I was sitting. One painting had elephants across the base of the painting and then rising up behind them was the torso of a woman with no head and a knot of organic looking roots twisting upward out of the neck. Another painting depicted a demonic looking freak show clown with a long tongue. The longer I drew and studied the work, the more I liked it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Betsy Dye

Betsy Dye will be the featured artist in the July Mobile Arts Show, July 15th from 6 to 10PM. The Mobile Art Show takes place in a U-Haul van parked across the street from City Arts Factory (29 South Orange Avenue). I exhibited my work in the Mobile Art Show, and had a blast.
Betsy's studio and apartment has a fresh retro feeling of the sixties and seventies. The walls are painted a submarine grayish green and everything in the place makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. She collects records, that's right real vinyl, and that collection fills a huge bookshelf in the living room. Arranged by recording artists the albums are all in their original sleeves and she must have the complete works of such groups as the Beatles and Moody Blues. She collects owls and hand crafts owl dolls. On a table in the living room there was a basket full of white rabbits with huge black eyes. These rabbits are cute and yet strangely demonic. Also on the table were a bunch of round mirrors which were framed and encased in old Boys Life magazine adds. The sexist ads were light hearted and very funny. The Bob Dylan poster on the kitchen wall turned out to be a rare collectors item. Only a few of these posters were printed to promote a new record label. Betsy bought the poster for cheap and later researched to find out about it's history.
Behind Betsy in the sketch is a blue cardboard tube tree that she plans to mount in the truck. She plans to place nests in the tree where she will then place her felt stuffed owls. In the sketch she is painting a sloth onto a wooden plaque. She has a whole series of these plaques which will be hung on the U-Hauls interior walls.
Everything about the space was warm and inviting. Sketching I felt like I had stepped back into a time when things were more tangible and less hectic. Something about the retro feeling of the place made me feel like I was finally sketching in the right time period. I felt so at ease and the sketch just flowed. I experienced a playful feeling of bliss.
As I was working on a second sketch, a friend of Betsy's stopped in named Gina Yolango. She helped Betsy out by painting several of the cardboard cockoo clocks with a bright base coat of paint. Seated in the corner of the kitchen I really couldn't see Gina so she never made it into the sketch. Betsy told me to pick out an album from her massive LP collection. I searched the titles of some time until I saw that she had Pink Floyd. The album "Wish You Were Here" was my immediate choice. I delicately removed the album form it's sleeve and placed it on the antique record player. Lowering the needle was strangely rewarding. The needle gave off a familiar hiss and the album began with its delicate guitar melody. I couldn't see Betsy working if I sat on my stool, so I stood the whole time I sketched while swaying to the familiar music. Since I was in the living room I was put in charge of the music and I fully enjoyed the responsibility.
Gina finished 2 cuckoo houses and got ready to leave. She gave Betsy a present which was a demonic little voodoo doll complete with pins piercing its blue heart, an earring and stitches for eyes. Betsy loved it and laughed out loud. As soon as Gina left, Elizabeth Cason arrived. She kept Betsy company as I finished off the last of the watercolor washes. When I was finished and showed Betsy the second sketch, she invited me to join Elizabeth and her for a bite. We went to Taco Bell. On the trip back to Betsy's studio, it started to rain. This wasn't just any rain, it was epic. On a mad dash back to my truck I was soaked to the bone. Every event of the evening was punctuated with laughter. You will see that humor in every piece in the show. So close up Facebook and come on out!

Tomorrow I will be sketching Jazz, Art on a Summers night at Redlight Redlight (745 Bennett Road) sometime between 7PM and 2AM.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Red Umbrella

As I walked past this woman reading in a rare moment of calm between Fringe performances a friend said, "That is a beautiful scene, you should sketch it." This was a rare moment where someone actually encouraged me to take the time to slow down and do a sketch. When I am among friends and family, I usually think they would get annoyed that I am sketching rather than taking part in a conversation. At parties I often quietly listen to the conversations around me, thinking the whole time that I would love to sketch a persons expression or the warm ambiance of the room. Being invited to do a sketch therefor was thrilling.
I walked up to the woman to see how long she might be reading and to make sure she was comfortable with being sketched. She was waiting for a show and would be reading for another half an hour. I sat down and got to work.
As I was sketching Ryan Price walked up to me with his video camera rolling and he asked me a few questions. The sound quality on the video is off sync and hard to hear but it is interesting to see the way I managed to answer his questions while still working. The whole time I was being interviewed I was hoping the woman wouldn't get up and walk away.
When the sketch was finished I rushed off and headed into another Fringe show called "The Bike Trip". This was the best show I saw a Fringe this year. It was a one man show about one mans quest to find the origins of Acid. The monologue was quick, lively and full of humanity. It made me feel more connected to the people around me. I never asked the woman's name that I sketched, she will always be "The Lady in Red" to me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Second Annual Bastille Day

On Saturday Terry and I drove to the Audubon Park Garden District to find out what Bastille Day was all about. Of course in France Bastille day is a celebration of French independence from the rule of monarchs. When we drove past Stardust Video and Coffee there were one or two tents in the parking lot and a water tank set up to dunk a mime. We almost left since it looked like nothing was happening. I expected to see waving flags, a huge crowd and plenty of French costumes. We wandered the side streets looking for a parking spot and braved the heat to walk over to Stardust. A thermometer in Terry's car indicated it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit outside.
The door I usually use to enter Stardust was locked. We entered the door right in front of the food counter. I could hear a trumpet wailing in the room to my right so we walked that way. We were stopped and told that it would cost $10 to see the concert. I was annoyed since the event page said nothing about a $10 entry fee. He went on to explain that we would get 2 free drink tickets with the price of admission. I was ready to leave but Terry said, "Well, we are already here. Lets go in." She obviously has a higher entertainment budget that I do. So we paid and got orange wrist bands (not red, white and blue?).
The Benoit Glazer Quartet was on stage. Terry and I sat in an empty booth close to the stage and I got to work on my sketch. The last time I had seem Benoit playing trumpet was at a concert at his home where he played with his kids. Once a month Benoit opens his home, referred to as the White House or Timucua, to musicians and artists. The quartet was really good and Benoit would end each song with some independence themed riff. The fact that he would introduce each song with his authentic french accent added to the days Bastille theme.
Between sets Darlyn Finch came over with her fiance Brad Kuhn and Beverly Browning, an author who had been on Yo Soy Latino a radio show with Darlyn that morning. Darlyn broadcasts a show called Scribblers Corner which talks all about literary events in and around Orlando. I was still rushing to finish my sketch. I was in a panic since Benoit and the other musicians were getting off the stage so I was quickly noting the colors of their clothing. I quickly threw down washes on the performers even as they packed away their instruments. I might have seemed rude but I couldn't stop just because the music had stopped.
The next performers were Serina Jung and Lisa Firestone. Both are performing moms and their children were in the audience. Serina's beautiful voice and acoustic guitar playing set the tone of the performance. Lisa offered back up on several of the songs on the piano but later she got off stage to let Serina serenade the audience on her own. The whole time she sang I was finishing up my sketch of Benoit adding delicate layers of watercolor washes. When she finished my sketch was complete.
Terry and I left Stardust in search of other events that were going on such as a Waiter race, a fencing demonstration and a dog show to see which mutts could best look like a french poodle. We walked over to Park Avenue CD's and looked around the air conditioned store. The Moulin Rouge stage was still under construction. A few more craft vendor tents were set up. The Orlando Sentinel had a tent and table but no one was there. I joked with Terry that they must have all been fired as soon as the tent had been set up. We never did find any of the other scheduled events. We decided to get back in the air conditioned car and head off to hear some jazz.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

4th Fest

On July 4th I went with Terry down to Gaston Edwards Park on Lake Ivanhoe to see what 4th Fest was all about. For $5 you could hang out in the park and see about 20 bands as they performed all day long. I sat down and sketched Dirt McCoy & the Trailer Park Refugees. The harmonica player had on a tie died red white and blue shirt. The music had a hard hitting southern flair. The set lasted just 20 minutes and then Mumpsy took to the stage. I debated about starting a second sketch but something told me I shouldn't. To the left of the stage a group of girls set up with Hulla Hoops. When the music started they danced to the music while Hulla Hooping the whole time. A definite future sketch opportunity. I noticed that the drummer from The trailer Park Refugees was the lead singer of Mumpsy.
The sky turned gray and then it opened up with a torrential downpour. To Mumpsy's credit they kept right on playing. The audience ran right up to the stage to get under the edge of the tent structure. Everyone continued to dance and the crowd grew much more intimate. Amanda and Matt stood face to face their red and yellow umbrellas overlapping. I had a very torn and tattered umbrella that was a joke. Some spokes were broken and the fabric was torn away from the spoke tips. Terry and I decided to head back to her car. As it turns out my cell phone got soaked on the trip to the car and it no longer allowed me to enter numbers or look at texts. From here Terry and I drove down to Celebration where we planned to watch the free fireworks.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

July 4th - Celebration

Terry and I drove down to Celebration to catch the fireworks display. When we first entered the complex, there was a parking lot where we could then catch a bus to the downtown festivities. The place was packed and there was a huge crowd surrounding the main stage where an Elvis impersonator was singing and a group of 1950's dancers were performing. I didn't feel like sketching the huge crowd or the ever changing dancers so I wandered until I found a nice relaxing spot next to this Chinese food concession stand. The meals were prepared to order so the cook was in constant motion trying to keep up with the demand. Right next to the Chinese food was a beer tent which had just as much of a demand.
Several times mothers stopped to point out the artist to their children. I never stopped working and in time they wandered off. On little girl kept watch for close to half an hour before being dragged off to find a perfect fireworks viewing spot. Terry wandered around and found us a spot behind the hotel where she wanted to go to view the display. When the sketch was finished we went over to the hotel. There was now a guard at the door who told us we had to be guests of the hotel in order to get in. Terry was furious since she had gotten in earlier. We finally sat down on a grassy knoll and relaxed. There was a dramatic count down from ten but it was a false alarm. When the fireworks finally lit up the sky they were dramatic and well timed to the music. I saw some explosions that were new to me. Some mortars had secondary sparks which then buzzed away like bees. Terry and I muscled our way out of the crowd before the last of the mortars lit up the sky. Our bus was the first to leave the crowded downtown area.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Public Feeding Ordinance


In September I sketched the organization, Food Not Bombs as they feed the homeless at Lake Eola. At the time they were allowed to serve food because of a September 2008 court victory which stated that denying this group the right to feed people would be a violation of the groups first amendment rights. On July 6, 2010 the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal reversed that opinion and there is once again an ordinance against feeding people in the park. The city attorney claimed that the feeding of people in the park was considered " an abusive use" of the park.
I went down to the park right after hearing about the ruling to see if Food Not Bombs would still offer food even when there was an ordinance that restricted such an act. When I arrived there was a small line of people waiting for clothing. A channel 13 news van was on site and video cameras and photographers were wandering around. I passed one angry man who didn't want to be on camera. He shouted, "Why do they consider this so news worthy now? What is so interesting about a bunch of people trying to get something to eat?" A woman next to him said, "I don't care if they take my picture so long as I get something to eat."
Someone shouted out that if people wanted clothes they should get in line. People sorted through the clothing for well over an hour. I started to think that maybe Food Not Bombs was going to get around the new ordinance by simply focusing just on clothing needs for now. But then I caught a whiff of some food being cooked behind me. A news helicopter hoovered above the small crowd. The loud sound was unnerving but I tend to gravitate to events where helicopters are needed.
In the picnic area with a nice wrought iron fence around it was now crowded with people having dinner conversations and sharing stories. Huge trees spiral up in this corner of the park, their thick trunks showing signs of hundreds of years of growth. A large white banner was hung on the fence that said "We will not stop till every stomach if full." It was obvious that Food Not Bombs was not about to cower away from their humanitarian mission because of some new legislation. This issue of public feeding had been bounced around the courts like a ping pong ball. The day may still come again when it is perfectly legal to help feed the people around you in need.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blend

Blend was a live painting event held at Taste (717 West Smith Street in College Park). Frankie Messina and Tracy Burke helped organize this unique collaborative event. Blend bought together artists from a wide variety of disciplines and had them all work on a series of canvases together. When I arrived with Terry, we made our way back to the red room where the lights were blazing and we could hear the conversations of all the artists at work. Jeremy Seghers and Amanda Chadwick were in the restaurant and I suggested Terry join them as I finished up a sketch. Plastic was draped over the walls and floor to avoid paint getting everywhere. Even with these precautions, someone stepped on a palette and stomped red paint everywhere. The mess was quickly cleaned up. The art styles were varied and in some ways disjointed when placed side by side on a single canvas. It took some time and effort to see some of the canvases find a unified vision. A man wearing a Viking helmet had horns which had diodes inside that would light up and move up and down to the beat of the music. After the event, I learned that the artist in the foreground of the sketch is Maisy May Marrs. She did a fun quirky painting of a serious redheaded girl in the cornet of the canvas she was working on. She stares up at a stick figure girl on top of her head. the image is strangely unsettling.
Since I hadn't been invited to join the effort, I just concentrated on my sketch. I later found out that both Terry and Amanda had contributed to a piece so I suppose I should have made a contribution. Louise Bova whose work is expressionistic and representational, decided to just add swirling brush strokes which added to the pattern of a painting. Once I finished my sketch I joined Jeremy Amanda and Terry out in the restaurant. I ordered some tater tots and a drink. The dinner conversation was lively and well greased with some drinks. Jeremy and Amanda had to get to an 11 o'clock SAK comedy club show so they took off. Terry and I stayed behind and waited for the band to start playing in the red room as many of the artists packed up and left.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kundalini Yoga at Baba Siri Chad Ashram

Teresa White Raduazzok invited me to join her on a trip to the Baba Siri Chad Ashram to experience Kundalini Yoga. The Ashram is located at 404 East Center Street Altamonte Springs. When we arrived Teresa showed me around the meditation garden. The garden was gorgeous with tall bamboo making it feel like an exotic secluded forest. Ancient statues covered in moss were found is quiet corners of the garden and a small gazebo housed a place where two people could sit facing one another on pillows. Also in the structure was a large bronze statue of a muscular man named Baba Siri Chand who was a farmer in India who became enlightened. Instead of secluding himself on a mountain top , he continued farming and helped bring enlightenment to the people.
I had bought a yoga mat but was very self conscious about it because it was foam and bright pink. Teresa had a beautiful old quilt and I suspected I might stand out. At the entry way there was a place to put your shoes before entering the building. The interior is amazing. The room was filled with golden light from the huge windows facing the garden. Every wall was covered with intricate murals with images of snakes coiling around cylinders and shapes that mirrored one another and seemed to spiral up the walls in organic and flowing patterns.
Teresa mentioned to the instructor that I would be doing a sketch. The instructor said to me, "This isn't a spectator sport, I expect you to do some of the exercises." This left me feeling nervous, I was certain I would get kicked out of the Ashram. I worked with extra speed to get as much of the sketch finished as I could before I was given the boot. I did the breathing exercises, called rapid breath of fire, and some of the upper body work. I would close my eyes on occasion to fully experience the flow of energy but soon I would open them and continue my sketch which is my way of merging with the universe around me. Breathing consisted of fast staccato inhales and exhales for an extended period of time. The movements were more relaxed and gentle that yoga I had taken in the past. Kundalini in Sanskrit means "That which is coiled", it is conceptualized as a snake that is coiled three and a half times at the base of the spine. When Kundalini is awakened it brings the person pure joy, knowledge and love.
When everyone lay down for meditation, I decided my sketch was finished and I joined them. The instructor got out large bronze and glass bowls. She took a wooden mallet and used it to rub along the outer lip of the bowls. A warm humming note was generated which could be felt right down to the spine. She sang a series of vowels along with the resonant note. Everyone's breathing grew heavy and relaxed. A man in front of me was snoring. The instructor recited verses which told us we should shine out light out into the world, that our influence should extend beyond Orlando, Beyond Florida and we should envision the whole world engulfed in this loving light.

Longtime Sun Song:
May the longtime sun shine upon you:
All love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide your way on.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mellow Mushroom

Every Monday night at about 8:30PM the Mellow Mushroom (11680 East Colonial Drive), holds an event called Drink & Draw. I heard there was prize money for the best sketch, so I couldn't resist going out for a pizza in the name of art. A waitress seated me at a booth at the edge of the room. I didn't notice any sort of staging area so I asked her about the event. She pointed to the sound system set up on the opposite side of the room. She said a DJ would announce the contest and then a model would pose on some chairs for 3 five minute poses. The prizes were as follows:
1st place would be a $25 Mellow Mushroom gift certificate.
2nd place would be a $10 Mellow Mushroom gift certificate.
3rd place would be a Wild Garlic Ball appetizer.
I ordered a vegetarian pizza with the works and a Mountain Dew. The announcer walked around to all the tables and handed out paper and pencils. I took a sheet of paper to be polite but I had already started the sketch in my sketchbook. The model, dressed as Bat Girl stood on a couple of chairs and took heroic poses. The lighting left her in the darkness and with so many tables in front of me I seldom had a clear view of her. I finally had to get up and walk to the front of the room. I leaned up against a 10 foot tall fiberglass mushroom and quickly jotted down her pose. When it came time to judge I of course was still adding watercolor washes. I didn't win anything since I was still at work.
KC arrived and joined me for a second round of sketching. She ordered a soda and I offered her some of my pizza which I couldn't finish. The second model was dressed as a rock and roll musician and she held a guitar. I was still working on the color washes but this time I took perhaps a minute each to jot down the poses. I wasn't inspired by the stiff poses and the drawings sucked. KC moved to a closer table and worked diligently while I went back to my sketchbook. When the prizes were announces for the second set of poses, KC was the grand prize winner. She used the certificate to pay for the pizza and drinks so my sketching adventure that night cost me nothing!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Margret Sleeps

Mary Hill has been caring for her ailing mother for the last five years. Her mother has pulmonary fibrosis, among many other problems. Margaret Hill is at home, bedridden and under the constant care of her daughter along with private duty help. Recently, she is also under the medical direction of a local Hospice. I met Mary at a writing workshop and it was with a refreshing openness, curiosity and acceptance of the beauty of this thing we call life and death that Mary told me about her mother. I expressed an interest and love of sketching people in diverse scenarios. It was then with a tremendous leap of faith and generosity that Mary invited me to her mother’s home to meet and sketch her Mom. When I was introduced to Margaret, she clutched my hand with a surprisingly firm grip the whole time we talked. A CD was playing soothing Christian music by Ruth Fazal and when we weren't talking Margaret would close her eyes and hum to the songs. She falls asleep every night to this same music and at her request listens to these same songs many times a day. “They are my favorites,” she shares with a smile. I asked her if I could sketch and she gladly agreed. A rocking chair, and a great source of pride, as it is the same rocking chair that Margaret had rocked all 5 of her children and many grandchildren to sleep in, sat at the foot of her bed. I sat down in the seat of honor and quietly blocked in the scene and before long Margaret was fast asleep. Mary felt my presence and attention had a soothing affect on Margaret. Mary left the room to afford me quiet, focused time to sketch. Her mother breathed evenly with fresh oxygen being supplied by a noisy oxygen concentrator that was down the hallway in the living room. The machine made a constant sound much like a scuba diving apparatus.

From where I sat at the foot of the bed, I could see Mary down the hall at the kitchen table writing in her journal. I thought she might be curious about my drawing so once I had the features of Margaret's face set down in ink, I got up and quietly walked down the hall to show her. I tapped her on the shoulder and showed her the early stages of the drawing. She was moved to tears at the startling reality and solemn beauty of her mother. She said I had captured the essence and expression of her mother right down to the slight worry lines that often furrow her brow. I had never had someone cry when they saw my work before. I felt I was doing something important by documenting this fleeting moment. When I returned to work I proceeded with quiet deliberateness. Drawing and listening to Margaret’s breath left me with a sense of peace and a certainty that this was an important drawing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Unity

I was invited By Sultana Fatima Ali to attend Unity Church of Christianity (4801 Clarcona - Ocoee Road). She was going to be singing two solos this Sunday and I was looking forward to the performance. The church was modest in size set back a way from the road. I pulled into the dirt parking lot up front and made my way to the sanctuary. I felt a little trepidation as I entered but those thoughts were quickly set aside. Unity is not your average church. Their Christianity embraces ideas from Buddhism, Native American Culture and Metaphysics. This more open minded approach is unexpected and illuminating.
The sermon by Robert Marshall was inspiring in ways I didn't expect. His whole sermon centered around the idea of light. As an artist this is one thing I am thinking about all the time, and his sermon offered up the subject with creativity. I liked the idea that we are beings of light, that we radiate light into the world and affect others. He stressed that light is all about motion while darkness is stagnant. Darkness is a manifestation of the world's physical limitations that bind us and hold us back, whereas light brings us peace, joy and illuminates our pure creative potential. When we are filled with light we can experience enthusiasm and we discover and embrace our unlimited potential. He touched on the idea that light can act as a sort of armor that casts away fears and the inevitable thoughts of "I can't". There is an unlimited part to our inner being that just needs to be illuminated. When the sermon was over, I was fired up and ready to unleash my full creative potential. I was of course sketching the whole time he spoke and I worked with a renewed sense of energy and urgency.
Near the beginning of the service people were invited to stand and greet their neighbors. Everyone was hugging and I soon found myself hugging strangers as if I had known them for years. The first song Sultana performed was "Coming out of the Dark" by Gloria Estefan. This tied in perfectly with the days theme of light, joy, enthusiasm and infinite possibilities. After her performance the congregation gave her a standing ovation. This sort of excited outburst was unheard of in the Methodist church of my youth. Sultana's second song, "Just Around the River Bend" from Pocahontas came about from a conversation I had with her once where I pointed out that life can present you with a crossroads and she concurred. She knew also knew that I worked on that film.
At the end of the service everyone joined hands and sang together. I left feeling a warm glow of fellowship. In a back room of the church food had been prepared and I was invited to have some lunch. The amazing scents filled the hallway as I went back. My spirit and body were recharged and ready to take on the world. I actually stayed for the second service since I needed more time to finish my sketch. I had just enough time to finish up.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Spring Awakening

Jerehmy Seghers directed Spring Awakening, a Children's Tragedy at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. I sketched a reading of Spring Awakening many months ago in the Broadway Across America offices. Much of the cast had changed since those initial readings. Sarah Villegas who had read the roll of Wendla Bergman, now had a roll in "9 Parts of Desire." I am sure this conflict was the reason she no longer played this lead roll in Spring Awakening. At this rehearsal she sat right under the large oval shaped theater light. She laughed and applauded the work of her fellow actors.
There is now a musical version of this play but Jeremy went back to the original German translated script for this show. All of the sexual repression and the difficult transition from child to adult have strong relevance today. The play was written back in 1891 but remains very much relevant today. A scene where Melchior rapes Wendla in a hay loft is brutal and unexpected. In another scene Wendla asks a friend to hit her with a stick since her parents never beat her. I am reminded of a Eurythmics song that shots out "Some of them want to use you, some of them want to get used by you."
Unrequited love and uncertainty about sexual identity causes major tragic events to unfold with authority figures flapping their lips about moral order. Children are expected to discover their sexuality while blind folded.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Third Annual Job Fair

Congresswoman Corrine Brown from the third Congressional District of Florida, helped organize this much needed job fair for Central Floridians. A job fair is an opportunity for participants to meet and possibly interview with potential employers from a broad range of industries. This year there were over 63 employers participating. This fair was held at the Amway Arena (600 West Amelia Street.)
When I arrived I was handed a slip of paper that required me to fill out all my personal information. Since I wasn't actually participating in the fair, I decided to write in typos for every bit of information to avoid getting inundated with political mailers. Once the form was filled out I was given an orange armband and I was ushered into the arena along with everyone else arriving. The ushers filled up an entire section of the stadium seating. I started a sketch from this vantage point but then more people started marching in, blocking my view and leaving me no elbow room. I moved to am empty section to the left but then that started filling up as well and an usher told me I would have to squeeze up front. I got up and started walking back up the stadium steps. Ushers kept shouting at me telling me to sit in my assigned area. I finally found a manager at the top of the stadium level. He told me that to sketch I would need not an orange arm band but a yellow arm band. He pointed me in some direction and I started to wander.
I finally picked a spot to sit on the opposite side of the stadium away from ushers and job seekers. I never bothered to get my yellow arm band but I did cut off the Orange arm band since it gave the ushers an excuse to tell me where I could and could not sit.
The Star Spangled Banner started to play and there was a long pause before the participants realized they should stand. This was followed by the pledge of allegiance. A woman took to the podium and shouted out OK everyone go get them! Everyone in the section I had been seated in stood up and started to move towards the ramp to the stadium floor. Ushers started to shout out, "You can't go down right now. Have a seat!" A participant shouted back, "But she said go get them!" The usher had to explain that only one section at a time was going to be allowed on the floor. There were about 5 sections filled up at this point and another section was filling up as well. Many hundreds of people if not thousands were waiting for their chance to show their strengths to prospective employees.
Directly in front of where I was seated, Aflac and the Social Security Administration were busy talking to people. Forms were being filled out frantically at a table in the foreground. Each of the theme parks were represented as was the major branches of the military and police departments. Most of the participants wandering the floor were dressed in their Sunday best but I was also surprised to see some people dressed in tee shirts and shorts. From my quick glimpse of this event it seems obvious that the recession is far from over.