Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Bloom

Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra were invited to a class on flower arrangement at In Bloom (325 West Gore Street). Terry gave me her invitation suggesting it might be a good subject to sketch. Hurricane Irene was spinning 200 miles off the coast of Florida sending outer cloud bands over Orlando. When I arrived at In Bloom, the sun broke through the clouds. I was impressed by a small garden of native plants that had been nurtured in front of the building. Inside I was introduced to John Kobylinski, florist and owner. He offered me a quick tour. A hidden black wrought iron spiral staircase lead us up stairs. This building had once been a Coka- Cola bottling plant. He lead me to a room with old wooden floors and an old sink. Here he said the Coke was mixed by hand in that room.

Back downstairs he lead a small group into a freezer room where boxes of flowers are stored at 30° Fahrenheit. He explained that all the flowers are shipped from South America. Roses arrived with 200 blooms per box. They are wrapped in groups of 25 although they are sold by the dozen. Several beautiful arrangements were stored for an upcoming event. Friends of the Philharmonic were sipping wine to relax before the arranging began. Ten to twenty orange clay pots were set out for the students. Wet green foam blocks were placed in each pot.

I decided to climb half way up the spiral staircase to get an overall view of everyone at work. Everyone was first asked to arrange yellow, orange and red roses so they looked like elegant round topiary spires. Smaller blooms and greenery were arranged at the base. The long blades of saw grass had serrated edges so everyone was warned to be careful. I rushed the sketch thinking that the arrangements would probably be finished quickly. I was wrong. Arranging flowers is a subtle art and it takes time and lots of concentration. My eye glasses were filthy. I kept tilting my head to look around distracting fingerprints as I drew. I took my glasses off when I painted. Everything was blurry but at least the colors were vibrant. Sunlight streamed through the shop's glass doors as the sun set.

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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Evoke 365

On the third Thursday of every month I like to go downtown to see what is new in the art gallery scene. My first stop was to see Parker Sketch who had his easle set up outside Nube Nove Salon in Thornton Park. He had three paintings he was ready to work on. One was of Bert and Ernie and another was of Jack Skelington. His easel was splattered with paint indicating it was well used. I really want to sketch Parker Sketch but he explained that he would be handing out business cards more than painting. Besides the sky was filling with dark storm clouds. I realized I should probably seek some cover before I started a sketch.

I walked to Blank Space where an event called "Blank Canvas" was taking place. Jon Glass Man Gardner was outside with a table full of vibrantly colored cans of spray paint. At a previous event he had asked to take a picture of my sloppy, overused watercolor palette. Greeting me, he said, "I wanted to challenge you with that limited palette you use." Jon had spray painted a spiral design on one of Blank Spaces windows. He told me that Pine Street had been shut down near City Arts Factory. This was news to me and I assumed something big might need to be sketched.

The street outside City Arts Factory was indeed shut down. A food truck was parked waiting for costumers. A makeshift stage was in the middle of the street along with a large screen. It began to rain and people rushed to move the amplifiers, microphones and band equipment under cover. Between downpours, break dancers dried off a dance floor with rags. The rain returned with a vengeance however. A lightning bolt lit up the street and the thunder was so loud and sudden that a woman screamed in surprise. My line jumped.

Two drummers started performing under an awning. I was dry thanks to the same awning. A singer started shouting out the lyrics to the beat. A man sat next to me and started telling me of his life on the streets when he was an alcoholic. Since I was focused on the drawing, I only half heard his story. I assumed that in the end, he wanted change. When he turned to leave, I saw "Trust in God" was emblazoned on the back of his T-shirt.

The performers were part of Evoke Ministries. Evoke began in 2010 with ten artists who vowed to do one painting a day for 365 days. The artists prayed, fasted and asked for god's direction as they pursued this artistic quest. They hoped their work might open a discussion on what faith means to this generation. They hoped to unveil the liberty, love and freedom of a life rooted in faith. The 1500 paintings, all executed on four inch square wooden panels was on display in the halls and galleries of the City Arts Factory. The paintings were simple and straightforward. Many relied on writing to express thoughts when images didn't fully express an idea. "A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having." An image of a farmer sowing seeds read, "Sow love." "Why a flood of love?" "Get your hand off your mouth... expose your flaws to someone you unbound and move forward." Proverbs 28:13

I was inspired with the artists passions to express themselves, unfortunately their visual journey didn't move or inspire me. Outside the rain continued. A small group of of people were clapping and swaying as a rapper made up devotional lyrics to the beat of a drummer. His rap was fun and inspired until the words got lost and jumbled, he choked. Everyone laughed and clapped encouragement. He dusted himself off and continued to sing.

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

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Pollock Project (Abridged)

Spending so much time working on the Mennello Museum Mural, I realized I never posted a sketch I did of the Beth Marshal production of "The Pollock Project." This one act play was presented in the Mennello Museum gallery when Jackson Pollock's actual paintings were on display. John Didonna played Jackson Pollock and Jennifer Bonner played his wife. I just saw them perform together this week in a music video being produced for Britt Daley. Douglas McGeoch played the part of a German photographer who wanted to photograph Pollack at work and get an interview.

John did an exceptional job playing the volatile and contentious artist. When the photographer questions Jackson's "style", the artist stormed out of the gallery shouting from another room in the museum. The audience who were seated in the museum gallery were right next to the performance. Jackson's wife managed to sooth his ego. The interview resulted in Jackson defending his work and vision, enlightening the audience in the process. Combining theater in the museum setting helped bring this artist's work to life in a new and exciting way. There was talk of bringing this type of production to other museums and I hope that idea takes flight.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Le Musee de l'impressionisme

Robert Callender wrote a show that takes you through Le Musee de l'impressionisme room by room, with live musicians, dancers, and singers. The show was produced once in NY, so this was a chance to see it in Florida at the Timucua White House (2000 S. Summerlin Ave). Each musical number was based on a different impressionist painter, like Renoir, Monet, Bazille, Morisot, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Once Terry and I got to the White House, I made my way to the third floor to start my sketch. I sat against the railing along with a couple from out of town. Terry went downstairs to open the bottle of wine we had bought. I knew the dancers were from Emotions Dance and I was excited to see them perform. Three female vocalists backed up Robert Callender and the band was talented and tight with two guitars, a sax, Trumpet, bongo drums, a full drum set played by Benoit Glazer, the evenings host, and a wind synthesizer.

Wine wasn't allowed on the third floor so Terry never rejoined me. I got several texts from her where she praised the band. All of the dancing was improvised on the spot. I spoke with dancer, Cindy Michelle Heen, after the performance and she described how she lost herself in the music and the energy from the audience. Her body moved freely without the restrictions of second guessing. I sketched the dancers when they came out in bright red skirts for the Lautrec piece. For an inspired moment I felt like I was at the Moulin Rouge. Durring the second half of the performance, Paula Large sat at an easel in the back corner of the stage and she did a composite caricature sketch of the performers.

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

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Red Chair Affair Rehearsal

As I approached the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center the sun was beginning to set, illuminating the clouds a deep crimson red. The guard at the stage door asked if I was a performer. I decided to say, "Yes". She pointed me to the dressing rooms. I wandered the back stage halls searching for any sketch opportunity. Stage hands raised and lowered two shrouds which I suspect will be used by an Orlando Aerial Arts acrobat. I tried to stay clear as curtains were raised and lowered. The director John Di Donna offered me a seat on the front of stage right. After listening to the director's notes I now finally have stage right and house right straightened out in my mind.

A woman in a sleek black dress kept tapping the stage with her toes listening to the sound difference between the main stage and the temporary stage built over the orchestra pit. It turned out she was a Flamenco dancer and she was one of the first to perform. Her bright red shawl was removed from her neck as she danced. It fluttered to the ground. When her performance was over, John walked up to the cameraman seated in front of me and said, "I loved your close ups on her feet as she danced."

I sketched the Orlando School of Cultural Dance. The school's director, Julie Coleman lead the singing. Drums set the beat to an African Rhythm. Young children danced to the beat pushing themselves in a vibrant dance. Eric Yow introduced his dance company, Yow Dance saying, "Rhythm is the one constant in life." His dancers moved to the strumming of an acoustic Spanish guitar piece. Emotions Dance performed a piece called 5th Avenue which was about materialism in modern society. Larissa Humiston, the company's founder and choreographer hoped the dance might spark discussion. She also pointed out that, "Art brings people together."

The Red Chair Affair is a great way to see what is happening in the Orlando Arts and Culture scene all in one evening of non-stop performances. The Affair is happening TONIGHT at the Bob Carr. The doors open at 7pm and the stage show starts at 8pm. General admission is $22, students and seniors are $15. There is still time to get tickets, call 407-872-2382. You can also get tickets at the Red Chair website.

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

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Wine Wednesdays

Every Wednesday between 5pm and 8pm, the Global Beer Lounge and Grill (301 Church Street) across from the Amway Center, offers a $15 unlimited select wine and beer. I arrived shortly after work. Yvonne Coleman of WLOQ 103.1 FM was seated at a table using her laptop. The corner of the room was set up as a stage with saxophones and trumpets neatly arranged in a semicircle. I decided to camp out at the end of the bar which offered a clear view of the musicians. They were doing a sound check. Yvonne let me know that the musicians would start playing later as the place filled up.

I focused on the setting and composition. The musicians were sketched in quickly when they took to the stage. As expected the jazz was lively and entertaining. The musicians paced the room walking table to table. There was a table full of women and the sax player serenaded them with his saxophone and squealed as he reached his credcendo. After the first set, Yvonne introduced me to Guy Rawlings of WESH Channel 2 and Paul Stevens from a Circle of Friends.

When I packed up my art supplies, the place was packed. The evening was just getting started.

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

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Art Critique Group

Once a month Parker Sketch invites 16 artists to gather to talk about art. Each artist is allowed 10 minutes to discuss their art or process. Then the other artists offer their opinions. For the August gathering the event was fully booked within a day. We all met at Barefoot Spa (801 Virginia Drive). There were deserts and drinks on a folding table and the room was filled with folding chairs.

As artists filtered in they were invited to place their work in a back room. Names were written on Parker Sketch business cards and then placed in a bowl. Cards were picked at random to decide who showed their work first. Les Jarvela introduced everyone as they arrived. He must have a photographic memory. I sketched Chauncey Nelson who displayed a round painting which had a variety of different sized white balls arranged on it. The piece reminded me of Urban planning. It envisioned to me a city of the future. Chauncy had shown a realistic painting at the last art critique I had attended so this seemed like a departure for him into new territory. He did the piece with the idea of exhibiting the round painting in a square show. He used tapioca for the smallest spheres. Ping pong balls and a few larger balls completed the piece. Everything was white. He was considering painting one small ball red and titling the piece, "Why me?" He pulled a small Christmas light crown out of his pocket and put it on one of the balls. He considered another title, "Balls cried the Queen!" Everyone laughed.

Patti Ballard showed several of her multi media paintings of wide eyed children. She incorporated collage elements in exciting and unexpected ways. For instance a beach scene had a grid pattern hidden under the ocean. The girl's dress was an intricate fabric pattern. Seen up close this layering of elements really worked. The world she created had a solemn colorful sadness.

I showed some of my studies for the Mennello Museum mural and asked for advice on how to reproduce a watercolor sketch look to the large scale of the wall. There was a lively discussion on mediums and methods I could use to execute the work. I kept taking notes. Getting so much feedback this early in the process was exhilarating. I love that there is such a wide variety of work shown. Abstract artists offer new insight to representational artists and visa versa. Parker Sketch's paintings were already on the walls and he brought in a couple of new pieces. He asked how he should market his work. A long lively discussion followed but ultimately everyone agreed that in the end the work should speak for itself.

It was late when the last artist showed their work. Parker invited the remaining artists to continue the discussion at a bar across the street. I decided I should get home. Terry was already asleep. I crawled into bed and she didn't stir.

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spring Awakening Auditions

Jeremy Seghers invited me to the Orlando Shakespeare Theater a while back to sketch young actors as they gathered to audition for "Spring Awakening". A woman at a folding table had the actors and actresses fill out a form. Then they waited nervously in the hall. When actors gather for an audition it is like a reunion. The hallway filled with exited conversation. I had seen one production of Spring Awakening produced by Jeremy Seghers that stayed true to the original script. The play followed the lives of students in a turn of the century German University as they discovered their sexuality. A mother stumbled awkwardly as she tried to relate the facts of life to her daughter. She was unsuccessful. The daughter then ends up getting pregnant. Serious issues of rape and homosexuality are dealt with. I'm curious to see how music of Duncan Sheik and the lyrics of Steven Sater might ignite this story.

Since this production was based on the Broadway musical, each actor and actress came prepared to sing. The accompanist was late, so actors who came with a music CD to sing to got to go first. An actress went into the women's room where she started singing. When she was called into the Goldman, she turned to her friends and said, "Wish me luck". Behind the closed doors of the Goldman Theater I could hear her muffled singing. Actors who impressed the director, Paul Castaneda, would be called back another day for another audition.

Spring Awakening runs through September 4th at the Shakespeare Theater. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm and Sundays at 7:30pm. Tickets are $18 and $15 for students and seniors. Call 407-872-8451.

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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Marilyn Wattman-Feldman

Marilyn is a metastatic breast cancer survivor. I joined her when she went to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for ongoing treatments. She was diagnosed as HER-2 Positive. S This means that there is the possibility that the cancer could return. he returns to the hospital every three weeks for treatments. On this trip she was getting an IV of the targeted drug Herceptin. A nurse explained how the drug works. Hormones are what make tumors grow. Herceptin binds to receptors thus blocking them from triggering tumor growth. Yolanda took Marilyn's vitals. Marilyn has been to M.D. Anderson many times before. She has already lived through the rigors of chemotherapy. The Herceptin treatments have been working.

There is a small subdural port permanently inserted in Marilyn's upper chest. This allows for the insertion of the IV tube without any pain. She pulled open the neck in her T shirt so the nurse could hook up the IV. Marilyn outlined the many subtle changes in hospital policy she has seen over the years. The newest policy is that every patient must wear identification bracelets. She feels that the nursing staff at M.D. Anderson are the best. The nurses are skilled and do their work with compassion. Volunteers at the center are cancer survivors themselves and volunteering is their way to give back.

Marilyn's relaxed demeanor made it obvious that this is part of a regular routine. She was offered a box lunch and gladly accepted. "You should see the bills, of course I'm going to have lunch", she joked. Having sat through so many treatments over the years, she can quickly see when someone is new to the process. She makes sure to talk to them offering hope and reassurance. Besides the treatments, Marilyn exercises. Exercise is the one thing she can do to personally improve her health, the one thing she can control. She takes Zumba Latin dance classes, aqua aerobics and Tai Chi. She now has a blog that chronicles her fight against breast cancer. As she said, "Everyday in every way I am getting better and stronger." These are strong and inspiring words to live by.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sunday Art Market

Every Sunday, Blank Space (201 East Central Blvd) hosts an Art Market. The market is open between noon and 5pm. The Lake Eola Farmers Market is happening at the same time so I believe they hope to attract the resulting foot traffic. When I stopped in, 11 artists, most of them women, had their work on display. After inspecting all the art I finally decided to focus on the dark quirky work of Kassandra Kharis for my sketch. She had two circular tables shoved together with a deep red tablecloth draped over as a unifying backdrop. She had shadow boxes filled with found objects with blood red hearts being the unifying theme. Time pieces, springs, stilettos, money and spattered blood set the mood in these Goth images. The lost and found hearts were all punctured, broken, ripped apart and scared. The work had the intimacy of doll house miniatures with bold splashes of the grotesque.

Tracy Lulu Brown seated next to Kassandra had a landscape painting on her easel. She had a box full of painting supplies and a Jack Skelington bag. I kept hoping she would work on the canvas but she didn't. I sketched her quickly as she opened a paper bag. The walls were covered with delicate photos of flowers and intricate calligraphy. There was a constant stream of people who would stop and talk to the artists.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Joe David Bellamy Talk and Book Signing.

Author and writing your life instructor, Patricia Charpentier, hosted an evening with Joe David Bellamy at the Marks Street Recreational Complex (99 E. Marks Street in Downtown Orlando.) discusses the motivation behind writing, "Kindred Spirits: 400 Years of an American Family", his approach and how he accomplished this labor of love. Joe is very intrigued by family history and he became a dedicated researcher when he realized that much of what had been written about his family's history was wrong. He pointed out that we are living in a revolutionary time with the Internet making information easily available and DNA testing making genetic family ties irrefutable. Ninety two percent of the people who lived and died on this planet left no trace of their life.

When he spoke about the actual process of writing, he became animated. He said, "Writing should feel like play. Spontaneity is part of the pleasure of writing." He stressed that "finding your voice" is the most important part of becoming a writer. He told us the story of how his father met his mother. His father moved to another state and began selling vacuum cleaners to make a living. When he entered one home he was taken with a picture of a young woman on a mantle. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and he said so. He sold the vacuum. Several weeks later he returned to see if the vacuum was working. The woman was in the next room on the phone setting up a date. He walked in and said, "It's a shame you have a date because I was going to ask you out." She broke her date. Lightning struck them both.

Joe pointed out that statistically speaking, cousins often end up marrying cousins. He found the same thing happened in his family. Two sisters moved to separate states and each had children. When the children met, not knowing they were related, they were instantly attracted. Just like the mom was attracted to her own son in "Back to the Future." Joe's parents were kindred spirits and they never knew it.

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

Saturday, August 20, 2011

There Will Be Words

There will be words featured local authors reading excerpts from prose they had written. The event happens on the second Tuesday of every month at Urban ReThink. When I arrived I spotted Darlyn and Brad Kuhn who had recently been married. I congratulated them and hope to attend a celebration in their honor at the end of the month. I then sat next to Leslie Silvia to talk visual art as the stage was set. Lesly did the cover and all the headers for the "Best of Orlando" issue of the Orlando Weekly. She executed the assignment using silhouetted paper cut outs.

When the authors were ready to read, I went upstairs for a birds eye view. Jana Waring was introduced as being the "Best Local Author" as voted by Orlando Weekly readers. She read a short story in which the protagonist didn't like pets. She described manic and unpredictable pets from her childhood. With plenty of tongue in cheek humor, she indeed convinced me that owning pets is insane.

Jared Silvia read a hilarious piece about Lobster Fest. I laughed the whole time realizing I'm just as much of a misguided geek at heart. Darlyn Finch read a touching story about a present she had brought for her ill brother. Knowing he had recently lost the battle, often forgetting those who loved him before he died. Darlyn has a way of writing from the gut that I admire. Small collectible books called "chapbooks", were hand bound of each of the author's stories. The evenings host, J. Bradley, announced that we should buy them now before the authors died and the value of their words escalated. There is something very rewarding about being in a room of people sharing their stories. Events like this remind me that Orlando has a thriving literary community.

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

Friday, August 19, 2011

Drinks at Taps

A friend of Amanda Chadwick's named Matt Rankin was in town visiting from Washington D.C. Amanda arranged for a group of friends to get together to meet Matt. First we were to meet at Mitchell's Fish Market (460 North Orlando Avenue Winter Park). Terry was there when I arrived. It was raining. Amanda and Matt arrived soon after my Martini. I had met Matt a few times around Orlando before he went to D.C. to apartment sit. He and Terry started telling jokes. Outside there was a musician playing guitar and singing cover songs. He was pretty good. Terry and I ended up ordering the same dinner. It was a delicious cod with a crab stuffing over asparagus shoots all baked in a light butter sauce. Everyone else was running late and they planned to meet us later at a bar called Taps. When we finished dinner we went to search for Taps. Google maps on Terry's iPhone indicated it was within walking distance. We walked out the door and it was directly across the street.

We sat at a table outside and soon Wendy Wallenburg, Nikki Mier and Sarah Austin arrived. When I wasn't sketching, I spent most of my time talking to Nikki. She had some wonderful suggestions about places and people I should sketch. Wendy kept asking for the darkest beer in the bar. She claimed there was a beer so dark and thick that it was impossible to see light through the glass. Several servers tried to find this dark beer for her. Samples littered the table. Terry, Nikki and I all ordered hard ciders. Mine was sharp and a little bitter like green apples. Nikki's cider had a buttery after taste that was nice.

Nikki showed me an adorable picture of her as a child and some really sweet pictures of her dog. One photo of the dog eying a treat on a table was hilarious. Only his eyes and ears were visible and the treat was located where his nose would have been. Another photo showed the pup asleep with his nose tucked into a corner. The black oval spots on his coat receded as if in perspective. She called it her Escher shot. We were all finished with our drinks before I could finish my sketch. I ended up adding watercolor washes at home.

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

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Help

Terry sent me a text message Friday saying she would like to see a movie at the Cinemark Theater at Festival Bay. Festival Bay is a mall that was built a few years ago at the head of International Drive near all the outlet malls. It was built at the height of the real estate boom. Walking through the mall most of the store fronts are shut with giant posters making it look like it will one day be a great place to shop. It has been that way for years as more stores shut. The only reason Terry and I ever go there is for the Cinemark. I arrived early to sketch.

We went to see "The Help" based on a book Terry had read in book club. She joked with me saying it might be a chick flick. In the theater she did a head count and found 5 other men in the half full theater. The row directly in front of us was full of women. The movie was fantastic. A young 23 year old woman decided she wanted to write a book from the vantage point of the black maids in Jackson Mississippi. This was a dangerous proposition for the maids since segregation was the law and the civil rights movement had just begun. The maids raised white babies with love and compassion but they were required to use a separate bathroom. A maid was arrested and beaten when she was accused of stealing a ring. Violence against blacks was the norm. Just talking to a young white journalist was dangerous and against the law.

The movie celebrates the courage required to speak the truth in an age of oppression and prejudice. A scene of people watching the John F. Kennedy funeral on TV sparked one of my earliest memories, reminding me that segregation existed within my lifetime. The story was told with warmth, sincerity and showed the hard truth of bitter prejudice which happened at quaint tea parties as white house wives jockeyed for the power of oppression.

We all have a voice, a story that needs to be told. We can't drift through life, invisible, following the path of least resistance. The movie left me feeling good knowing that a journalist willing to uncover the truth can help bring about change. Change always comes at a cost and it never happens quickly. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I highly encourage you to see "The Help."

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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Abbey

The Orlando theater community gathered for a pot luck dinner at the Abbey (100 S. Eola Ave.) The space offers a bar, cabaret and a small stage for intimate downtown productions. Small tables filled the floor space reminding me a bit of Casablanca. A digital fireplace flickered near the bar and a large circular stained glass window decorated the ceiling. Terry and I made our way through the long line for food and then we sat near the stage.

I did this quick sketch when we finished eating. People networked and went table to table. I thought their might be some sort of presentation or announcement but that never happened. This was just a chance for the theater community to eat, drink, and be merry. Britt Daley and Scott Wilkins joined us at our table. Britt described all the work going into a music video she is producing for her recently recorded song, "One and Only." Scott will be shooting and editing all the video. The video will be shot at the Orlando Repertory Theater. Britt is recruiting the help of many actors, dancers and other talented artists for the shoot. I of course asked to sketch on the set.

Our table at the Abbey was right in front of a huge speaker and the music got loud making it impossible to talk. We all moved to a table closer to the bar, behind a wrought iron railing overlooking the open seating area. Actors kept strolling across the stage inspecting the space. They might stop center stage and look out at the room squinting into the bright lights. No one performed. Finally Britt and Terry went on stage and they danced to the sixties retro pop that was playing. Red and green lights flashed and spiraled on the walls and floor. Scott shot video on his iPhone as they danced. I clapped loudly for their impromptu go-go dance.

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

David & Buster's

After reading a review of David & Buster's by Kelly Fitzpatrick, I decided I had to venture out to International Drive to see this adult million dollar midway for myself. The large building just south of Sand Lake Road has been fully renovated. What really appealed to me was the free parking which is rare in this town. An employee in a tailored white shirt opened the glass door for me. As I ascended up a large staircase I started to hear the chimes, rings and commotion of all the arcade games. Entering the large open space is overwhelming and exhilarating. Lights flashed everywhere as hundreds of games shouted for attention.

I circled the huge space several times constantly looking for a place to sketch. The Wheels of Fortune were always crowded so I stood at a table across the way and got to work. The machine behind me chirped and buzzed for my attention like R2D2. People carried long strings of tickets which sometimes flickered to the floor and had to be folded back up. Buckets sat on tables to be used when people hit the jackpot. A game beside me involved dropping a rubber ball onto a rotating circular disk. Holes along the edge were there to catch the ball. The guy playing hit the jackpot and he raised his arms in victory as the lights flashed. Couples and families kept playing the Wheel of Fortune but there were no big winners that I noticed.

I went to David & Buster's in the afternoon of an average workday and the place was bustling. I truly felt like Vegas. A large restaurant was to the right of the entrance. Next time I come I plan to enjoy the full, "Eat, Drink, Play" experience.

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

Piano Bar Cabaret

Amanda Chadwick gathered some friends together for brunch at Dexter's (808 East Washington Street.) Tables were pushed together to accommodate everyone. Everyone ordered Mimosa's or juice. My omelet was reasonably good but lacking in spices. After we ate some of us went to Parliament House (410 North Orange Blossom Trail) for the Sunday Piano Bar Cabaret that occurs every week from 1pm to 4pm.

When Terry and I arrived, Kelly Richards was still setting up. He draped a black cloth over two small tables and used that to support his electronic piano. A tall tips chalice was rimmed with Mardi Gras beads. Amanda, Denna Beena and Travis Fillmen were already there. Mark Baratelli arrived soon after us. Mark performed early in the line up. He sang a Jason Robert Brown song but he improvised all the lyrics. It was pure genius and hilarious. I was surprised when Terry got up to sing. She sang "Send in the Clowns" tentatively at first then with feeling. It felt as if she was singing to me. I kept tearing around while she couldn't move. As life throws it's challenges at us, we are finding ways to laugh and tear up this town together.

Once again I was coaxed up to sing "Somewhere Out There" with Amanda. I'm always surprised when the whole audience joins along with the chorus. Amanda did a little soft shoe shuffle between verses. The most heart warming moment of the day came when Kelly asked all the singers to stand together on the small stage. We all sang "Seasons of Love". All our voices blended and harmonized beautifully. Terry lowered her head to my shoulder as we sang. It was a simple glorious moment but soon forgotten in the crush and demands of everyday life.

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Britt Daley Recording Session

Britt Daley invited me to sketch the recording session for her new song, "One and Only." Sound Lounge Studios is located near Full Sail University. I pulled into the complex of warehouses and wondered if I was in the right place. I passed rusted out cars as I drove to the back of the complex. The sound studio door was open. I hesitated, then pushed my way in. I half expected to see an automotive strip shop. Inside it was dark. All the walls were painted black. As my eyes adjusted, Britt welcomed me. She introduced me to Mike Stebe, the sound designer. She apologized and said they were going out for lunch. That was perfect since I hadn't eaten all day. I got in the back seat of Britt's car. As we drove to Whole Foods she popped in the CD they had been refining in the morning. The car stereo speakers were right behind my head. It took me a minute before I realized I was listening to Britt singing. "Are you gonna be my one and only or you gonna leave me hanging dry? Together were super sonic, gin and tonic..." The song is catchy and fun. That morning Britt and Mike had added an catchy electronic riff. It is hard to imagine the song without it now.

After a healthy lunch at the salad bar we headed back to the recording studio. Greg Shields was waiting there. He was there to coach Britt when she sang the lyrics again. The microphone where Britt sang was located in another room. She stepped into a closet sized space that was covered in foam panels. A foam panel door was closed behind her. A small portable air conditioner kept the sound booth cool but her room was sweltering hot. She screamed when she saw a translucent spider crawl behind the sound panels. Mike went in to get rid of the spider but they couldn't find it. Then Britt realized she didn't have any water to sip.

Britt warmed up her voice with some scales before she started recording. The song was broken down into short segments. She would sing a line and Craig often had advice on pronunciation. He lounged on the orange couch looking just like Jim Morrison of the Doors. He listened intently. He wanted to keep her from sounding to breathy. At times the subtly of what he was asking for eluded me. Britt appreciated all his feedback. After multiple takes she always got it.

After several hours when she was done recording she joined us back in the sound booth. Mike played with the recorded tracks adjusting them in a program called Logic Pro. The sound waves from the tracks were clearly visible. He polished individual words at times shortening the track to eliminate inhales or other noise. He could even slide a word up or down affecting the pitch. It was a fascinating process to watch. Britt shared her new web site design she had done. I had no idea she was also a graphic designer. Some people always surprise me with their talents.

Britt explained that the beat and structure of her song is Pop. As a singer, songwriter her background was more folksy. She went on to describe her music as Electro Pop, Indie Pop, and even Folktronica. Some of her songs are grittier and more Indy Pop. But "One and Only" is a pure and simple song that is fun to dance to. Britt will be shooting a music video of the song at the end of August. I of course hope to sketch the rise of this talented Orlando Pop Star.

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

Saturday, August 13, 2011

22nd Annual Taste of the Nation

Great food, great drink for an even greater cause. In America more than 17 million children struggle with hunger. That is close to one in four children. For 28 years Second Harvest Food Bank has helped feed the hungry in Central Florida. With the help of the food industry and the community, millions of pounds of wholesome food is distributed each year to 500 local feeding programs. Yet in today's economy the need continues to grow.

Taste of the Nation was held at the Orlando World Center Marriott (8701 World Center Drive). Terry and I arrived a little early so I could get started on a sketch before the event got too crowded. More than 2000 people were expected to attend. We bumped into Paula Large who is an excellent artist. Paula's husband was working the event as a chef on stilts. I saw Maria Diestro, who is the Second Harvest Communications Manager. She had invited me to sketch and report on the event. While Terry went to shop for reading glasses, Maria walked me into the ballroom. The room was immense. All the vendors had donated their time and food to the cause. Maria said I had to the Royal Plaza table to try Chef Jean Louis's famous bananas foster. This was the first place I stopped. Jean Louis put butter in the frying pan and the banana halves sizzled. He then drizzled something in the pan which lit up causing a fire ball. Oddly Jean had no eyelashes. Sure enough the bananas foster was fabulous! I was content and fired up to start sketching.

Walking the room I was attracted to the orange African sunset behind Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Chef Bob Getchell was preparing the spicy Durban Chicken. He demonstrated to everyone working the event how much food should be served. The dish had to look good as well as taste good. The spicy Durban chicken was served on a bed of Basmati rice with mint chutney and papadam. The dish was a little to hot for my taste. I wished I had a beer to cut the spices.

After I finished my sketch, I texted Terry and we found one another in the cavernous room. She had been sampling dishes while I sketched. She introduced me to the dishes she liked the most. A wild Boar soft taco was delicious as was a sweet pork belly. I was thirsty from the salty meat dishes so I searched for water or a soda. I couldn't find either one so I settled on a white wine. Seating was only available in the VIP area which was roped off. After an hour of standing I was getting tired. I can't imagine how the women standing in their high heals managed. When Terry wandered off in search of more food, I sat on my camping chair. A chef walked by and, pointing to his temple he said, "You were smart to bring your own chair."

There was a chef throw-down competition on the main stage. The competition only lasted 10 minutes so I didn't try and sketch. 150 Keys were being sold for $25. One of those keys would open a door to a wine cellar containing thousands of dollars worth of wine. At the end of the evening a long line of people gathered to try their luck at unlocking the door. It only took five attempts before a woman's key worked. She shouted in delight. Taste of the Nation Orlando raised $167,500 to fight hunger in Central Florida that night.

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

Phase 10

My older brother Don Thorspecken came to visit with his wife Val and son Kyle. They spent a solid day at Universal Studios which cost more than $80 a person. They asked if I wanted to join them for the day but I declined. I gave them two bright yellow Mickey Mouse ponchos in case they got caught in a late afternoon shower. I worked on the Mennello Museum Mural instead. They of course explored the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. Don and Kyle waited in line for well over an hour. Kyle decided he wanted a magic wand but that chop stick cost $29! He decided he didn't need it that bad.

It started to rain. Don had his poncho, but Kyle had left his in the car. Even with the poncho, they were soaked to the bone. It was a family adventure dashing back to the car in the torrential rain splashing through puddles. They wanted to meet us for dinner but I was no where near Universal Studios. Terry's office had pizza brought in for lunch since it was a difficult day in the stock market. She brought home a whole leftover pizza pie and that is what we had for dinner.

After dinner we all played Phase 10. In this card game there are 12 cards each with a unique color. 10 cards are dealt and the point is to get rid of all 10 cards to end the hand. Phases consist of card combinations like five of a kind and three of a kind or seven cards all of the same color. Our pet cockatoo, Zorro, watched the game intently. When Terry screamed in delight, Zorro screamed even louder causing everyone to laugh. Terry was in the lead most of the game. She is very competitive. Kyle however started winning every hand towards the end of the game and he was the first to complete Phase 10. The game didn't end until well past midnight. The Thorspecken clan must have been exhausted. Heavens knows, after many hours in the Florida heat, I was.

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Faery Festival

On Saturday July 30th Avalon held it's annual Summer Sale and Faery Festival. It was a hot day. Six or so crafts vendor tents were set up in the parking lot next to Avalon (1211 Hillcrest Street.) Faria Maieed was painting a henna dolphin on a little girls hand as her father watched. I contemplated a sketch but the dolphin was almost complete. People were relaxing on massage benches. The massage looked particularly tempting. I went inside Avalon and looked at the wide array of crystals, spices, enchanted crafts and incense. The store wasn't as crowded as it was last year so it was easy to browse.

Back outside, Florida Tribal Dancers were gathering in one of the tents. People started gathering in a semi circle around them in anticipation of a performance. I set up my stool in the shade of a tree and started blocking in a sketch. Lacey Sanchez, dressed in her gorgeous blue tribal dress, asked the assembling crowd to back up to give the dancers room to perform. Once the dancers came out, people stood right in front of me. I had to move out onto the hot pavement to re-start the sketch. I had to sketch quickly since the dancers twirled constantly. A huge gust of wind lifted one of the tents and people caught it's poles to keep it from toppling. Lauren E. Lee pointed to the sky. I glanced up as a clear plastic bag danced in the wind swiftly rising up towards the clouds. When the performance was done, I was still adding color washes to the sketch. A woman walked up behind me and said, "You're neck is going to be crisp as a lobsters hide if you keep sitting in the sun." After I assured her I would be done soon, another woman approached and warned me about skin cancer. I was getting annoyed since in an ideal world I would of course be sitting in the shade, but life keeps pulling me out into the sun.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wednesday Night Food Truck Pod hosted a food truck pod (6-7 trucks) an the Trinity Downtown soccer field (Ruth Lane at Amelia Street) Wednesday August 3, 2011. The pod will offered a relaxed, quiet, family-friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy delicious food from some of the area's top food trucks.

I decided to go. I called Terry who works downtown and she said it was raining really hard. I looked out my window at home and the sun was blazing. Getting into my truck I knew I was driving into the storm. Sure enough, half way into town it began to pour. It was the kind of rain that made me feel like I was driving in a waterfall. The wipers couldn't work fast enough. My passenger side wiper came loose and the rubber part was barely in the mechanism whipping chaotically through the air. It was so bad I considered turning around but I plowed straight ahead hoping the rain would clear long enough for me to sketch. By the time I parked north of Lake Eola, the rain had stopped.

I love the old wooden houses on Amelia Street. Some look like the historical homes of Savannah. One house was gutted, getting a full renovation. Most of the homes date back to the 1920's. This is the type of old neighborhood I would love to live in some day. I knew I was close to the food trucks when I could hear generators. The soccer field grass was wet, moistening my hiking boots. I leaned back against the goal post and got to work. Thunder rumbled on the horizon.

The field was populated by about 50 or so people who had braved the weather. Two workers from the Korean Taco Box Truck came over to watch me work for a while. They liked that their truck was in the foreground. When I was finished I decided to get a shrimp Po-Boy sandwich from the Fish Company food truck. The sandwich and a coke came to $12 which was more than I expected. I sat on the soccer field bleachers with many others. Poppy seeds from the sandwich kept raining into my lap.

I spoke to Mark Baratelli who organized the event. He said he only had 3 days to promote the event. He was carrying 11 by 17 inch posters promoting the Wednesday night event. I left feeling satiated. When I got back into my truck it began to rain again. A soft drizzle followed me home. Back home I watched weathermen as they tried to track Tropical Storm Emily.

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Captain America WWII Burlesque

Terry and I went to see "Captain America the First Avenger" on it's opening weekend. Ultimately we were disappointed in the film. There was plenty of fist fighting and no character development. The predictable romance was unsatisfying; the actors had no chemistry. The constant fighting and explosive action became boring after a while. That evening there was going to be a World War II themed Burlesque party at the Comic Shop. Sophie Lamore one of the organizers of the event told me that my name would be on the list so I could sketch the event. Since the event cost $9, Terry decided to hang out with friends at Redlight Redlight while I sketched. It was Chad Bruce's birthday.

When I got to the Comic Shop there was a large group of people at the back of the store waiting to get into the Geek Easy, a separate social gathering room in the back of the building. I noticed some Captain America comics on the bookshelf across from me. I had arrived a little late, so I was surprised that no one was allowed in yet. Though there probably wasn't enough time, I decided to sketch the people waiting. A few women had on WWII themed dresses and a couple of guys wore military cargo pants. As I sketched people started filing in. When everyone was inside I walked up to the admissions table and told the woman my name so she could check the list. It was a bit odd announcing I was Thor in a comic shop. My name wasn't there. I told her to check with Sophie who I had talked to about covering the event. From inside the venue, Sophie didn't remember putting me on the list. The message was relayed to me. I was offered a discounted ticket, but realized it was a good excuse to get back to Chad's birthday party. Besides I already had a finished sketch. My job was done. I drove back to Redlight Redlight to hang out with Terry and to wish Chad a happy birthday. As Terry and I left the bar, Chad offered me some eggs from his very own hen house. It was a farm fresh evening.

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

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fill the Grill Cook-off

Whole Foods Market at Phillips Crossing (8003 Turkey Lake Road) hosted the first of three celebrity chef cook-offs. In this high stakes battle, renowned local chef John Rivers of 4 Rivers Smokehouse competed against Alec Cheak of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Each chef was given $20 and 20 minutes to speed shop for ingredients. They then had 20 minutes to make a delicious, creative summer meal using only a grill. They stood side by side with their shopping carts as the announcer counted down to the start. As the chefs wandered the aisles, I remained behind sketching the grilling area. Oriane Lluch who helped organize the event, gave me a press release. A Sentinel reporter video taped the competition.

Both chefs spent $19 and change on their ingredients. John Rivers hit an unexpected snag when he realized that the calamari steaks he had purchased were frozen. They were sent back and fresh steaks were ordered. Then John discovered that his grill wasn't working. Unfazed, he ran to a grill in the far corner of the kitchen to grill his fresh vegetables. I began to wonder if the competition was rigged. Whole, fresh, local and seasonal ingredients were used by both chefs. Alec grilled a Pacific Cod over a bed of grilled spring leaks, jicama and mango, accompanied with a balsamic orange, blackberry reduction. John prepared a grilled calamari steak with cilantro along with grilled red and yellow peppers and fresh carrots, topped with a ginger BBQ sauce.

Three judges tasted the light summer dishes deliberating with each taste. The announcer stirred the crowd raising the excitement. After some deliberation, chef Alec Cheak was declared the winner. He smiled broadly. On August 16th Chef Tuan Tran of Crave will face off against Chef Steve Saelg of the Crooked Spoon. The winner of that cook-off will then face off against chef Alec Cheak in the final cook-off on August 30th. The cook-offs all happen at Whole Foods at 6:30pm. I realized as I was leaving that I was hungry. I went home and popped a frozen diner in the microwave.

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

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Carl Knickerbocker Film Screenings

Urban ReThink hosted a screening of two Carl Knickerbocker animated puppet short films as well as "The Painting Lesson", a live action film that is loosely based on Carl's art and life. I really liked "The Painting Lesson." In this film an artist who really looks like Carl was painting in a night club to make ends meet when he meets an alpha business woman who asks him for a painting lesson. One thing leads to another and they end up sleeping together. She has a dream about Carl's blue and green dogs. The animated dogs circle each other sniffing butts. She is rude to him from that point on. They fight. He paints her pooch green and in the end she creates a huge angry mural on the street in front of his home. He realized this is the best painting she had ever done. She didn't need lessons from him anymore. The media embraced her. I absolutely love this film. It is a shame it was never distributed.

"A Dog Goes from Here to There" was a short animated piece that Carl wrote and directed. His vibrant Urban Primitive paintings are bought to life to illustrate a whimsical poem written for children. Carl's most recent film, "SP #2" is surreal and non-linear. He just recently finished the production and is now sending it out to film festivals.

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

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Secret of Nimh

On the last day of the 2D Animation class at Full Sail each month, Kathy Blackmore lets the students vote on an animated movie to watch. Before they voted, students asked the instructors about their experiences in the animation business. One student asked, "What was a highlight or defining moment in your career?" I described the day when I found out I was accepted into the Disney internship. "This might be way before your time, but it was a Mary Tyler Moore moment. I danced in the streets of NYC and threw my cap in the air!" Kathy described the pride she took in one particular Stitch scene where she did every drawing herself. Alex Kupersmidt the lead animator paused for the longest time when he looked at it. Such a pause usually meant he was contemplating a change or fix to the animation. He said, "It's perfect." He then turned and walked away. Such praise from an animation legend isn't often offered.

The class had a split vote between Secret of Nimh and Lilo and Stitch. Dan Reibold really wanted to see the Secret of Nimh since he hadn't seen it in a long time. Kathy's heart warming stories about working on Stitch might just throw the voting in favor of the Disney film. Dan decided to pick up the Nimh DVD case and he made up a story about how this movie was the reason he wanted to become an animator. The students didn't buy his story, they laughed. Kathy decided to show the movie to keep Dan from crying. Some students continued to work on their animation flip books as the movie played. This has to be the best animated feature Don Bluth produced. It is a classic.

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

Friday, August 5, 2011

Emotions Dance Rehearsal

When the dancers got into the main dance hall they started by using ballet dance bars. I was pleased to see several men involved in the class. Apparently in Orlando male dancers are in short supply. The dancers were then split into groups and each group moved across the room showing off the dance moves they had just learned. It was hard enough to get the mechanics down, but Larissa stressed that the dancers had to follow through, with expressive emotion being the most important goal. Music was turned up high and I tapped my foot as they all danced to "Evacuate the Dance Floor!" The class was also an ongoing audition so dancers gave their all hoping that they could make the cut. When a particularly difficult combination was being worked out, Larissa asked Dion Smith to do the piece solo. Her performance was stunning and expressive. Larissa didn't need to explain what Dion did right, the point was obvious and clear.

When the class was over, the core group of Emotions Dancers stayed behind to do a full run through of a piece they will be performing at the Bob Carr for the Red Chair Affair. When the performance was over, the dancers were all exhausted, sweaty and spent. I had stopped sketching and enjoyed the dance uninterrupted. Amazing.

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

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Emotions Warm Up

Larissa Humiston the choreographer and founder of Emotions Dance hosts a contemporary dance class every Tuesday evening at 9pm at Turning Point A Dance Studio (470 E Lake Brantley Dr. Longwood, FL). When I arrived dancers were stretching in the hallway since an aerobic dance class was going on in the main dance hall. Several of the dancers had a serious sunburn. I suspect the dancers as a group had an adventure in the great outdoors. Amanda Miller, one of the dancers asked that I not sketch the bandage around her thigh. Since they were all in constant motion, it would have been hard to catch that detail anyway.

Larissa had all the dancers go into a smaller room where they stretched and warmed up. There were actual bleachers in the hallway and a glass wall for spectators like myself. I sat next to one of the dancer's boyfriends and started sketching. The class offered intermediate to advanced contemporary dance. Contemporary dance fuses lyrical, modern, ballet and jazz dance to give dancers the ultimate in body technique and overall artistry. The class included ballet barre, across the floor with jumps and turns and a contemporary combination with improvisational movement. The class was just $10 and offered the chance to dance beside some of the most expressive dancers in Orlando.

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

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Southern Fried Fun

After sketching several musicians at Will's Pub, I went outside to sketch. I walked across the street to Wally's Mills Avenue Liquors. Beside the pub, the Psycho City Derby Girls were offering a bikini car wash. As the car was washed by the lovely ladies the driver could get a free beer while they waited. Unfortunately the suds were not flying when I walked by. A woman sat in a dunk tank waiting to drop in the cool water. I finally sat in a parking space behind Wally's facing the Hula Hoopers. Two women were busy for more than an hour shaking their hips and keeping the hoops in motion. They could raise the hoops up to their chest and neck then settle it down to their hips again. At times children joined in. This physical activity was no match for the games to be found on a smart phone.

One fellow who was about to back his car out of a spot said, "Hey I like your ride, Is that a compact?" "Yes, it saves on gas." I replied. We were of course talking about my camping stool which was hogging a parking spot. Some folks who had been drinking noticed me working. My sketches really seem to appeal to folks who have a buzz going. The husband of one of the Hula Hoopers thankfully appreciated my sketch. He also loved that I caught his daughter playing video games on her phone. It was getting near the end of the day and the light was golden. A tent was struck down and I packed up my supplies. From here I headed out to the Food Truck Bazaar for dinner.

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

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bastille Day

Bastille Day in the Audubon Garden District celebrated all things French. Falling on a weeknight this year, it was a much smaller event than last year. I went to Stardust Video & Coffee right after work to meet Terry. There was no hint of Bastille Day, or the romance of Paris, so I ordered a Coke and asked where the French might be found. I was told to look at a poster on the door. The poster offered no other clue. I was in the right neighborhood on the right day but other than that, I was lost. After Terry arrived we were finally directed to go across Corrine Drive to Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux. It was a hot muggy night. There were a few tents set up in the parking lot. In Brighton Boutique there was a black and white film being shown. Bonnie Sprung had a tent full of her French themed paintings. There was also chocolates and fine wines.

Amanda Chadwick, Sarah Austin and Wendy Wallenberg started chatting with Terry. When those women start talking, the conversation heats up like an episode of "Sex in the City." I wandered off to sketch. A live band caught my attention but they stopped playing the second I put a line to paper. I shifted my attention to the people sipping wine and talking at the tables. One woman wore a dark beret. Night settled in quickly. When I finished my sketch, I re-joined Terry. She was seated in a lone chair and I sat beside her in my camping stool. Amanda convinced me I had to try the wine. When I got to the wine table I glanced back and saw that she had decided to occupy my stool. The wine required tickets. The guy standing next to me offered me his ticket since he had to drive home. He offered me a second ticket and I told him to offer it to Amanda. I asked him to have her get up to accept it and I would steal my seat back. He offered her the ticket. She hesitated at first, then when she reached out, he backed up. She caught on fast shouting, "You're trying to get me out of this seat aren't you!" What is the world coming to when we can't accept the kindness of strangers?

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

Monday, August 1, 2011

Central Florida Blogger's Conference

The Central Florida Blogger's Conference was hosted by Bess Auer of the Central Florida Top 5 Blog. When I entered the Maitland Middle School gym, Marc Middleton was giving an inspiring and insightful presentation about his National program called "Growing Bolder." His presentation stressed that we can achieve anything we set our sights on. He punctuated the point by showing video of a woman who was 109 years old who loved blogging. She said writing every day kept her sharp and always curious.

At lunch I got to meet Laura Tellado who runs a blog called "Holdin' Out for a Hero", which promotes Awareness of Spina Bifida. I learned about her cause and we batted ideas back and forth about blogging. She introduced me to the QR code which magically brings up a web page using a smart phone. The first thing I did when I got back from the conference was to design a new business card with a QR code on it. Working daily on my own blog I never realized the wide variety of specialty blogs out there. When so many specialists mix it up there are unexpected and exciting results.

The day offered many new ideas and concepts. I am still trying to digest all that was discussed that day. I feel that I have a whole lot of catching up to do and I am proceeding one step at a time. I was told by a fan of my blog that I don't tweet enough, so I will work on that. So many people at the conference were professional Public Relations and marketing experts. Which was both intimidating and exhilarating. Everyone offered me new insights and leads. Although this conference was smaller than the izea Fest Blogging Conference I sketched over a year ago, it had the advantage of being more intimate, offering more opportunities to meet fellow bloggers. At the Eden Bar afterward, I got to talk to Maria Diestro from Second Harvest Food Bank. This chance meeting will result in my sketching and reporting on the great work this organization does.

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