Friday, August 31, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Music Improv





SUNDAY AFTERNOON MUSIC IMPROV featured musicians from Central FL, Jax, and Miami. The session was on August 18th from 3-7PM at Urban ReThink (625 E Central Blvd, Orlando). When I arrived, Dan Reaves and Lucy Bonk were performing on stage using electronics and a wide assortment of found objects. Lucy used several kitchen bowls, using them like gongs. Dan's instruments were gathered on a sheet of corrugated steel. He used a foot pedal and a dial with his right hand to modulate the electric sounds which sounded like someone scanning a short wave radio for a signal. Several large nuts on a screw were turned and he had a cow bell, a brass bell which he would use for percussive effects. The performance was on the edge of absolute dissonance. At times the beat and rhythm was mesmerizing to sketch to. When they were done, the electronic sound persisted making it hard to know when, or if, to clap.


Four musicians set up on stage with more traditional instruments. They were Dan Kozak, Kris Gruda, Jim Ivy and A.S. Herring. They had a game show spinning wheel which could be spun to decide if the piece performed would be a solo, duo, or quartet. Large foam dice would be rolled just to pick which musician would spin the wheel. A laptop displayed a visual representation of the next performance but I never got a glance at the screen. Various sayings were used to inspire the performances. For instance one was, "Life is a lamp flickering in the wind" and another was "The fallen flower never returns to the tree." It was a fun idea to help structure the improvisation adding chance and luck into each piece. Perhaps ten to fifteen people were in the audience with new arrivals all the time. As I was getting ready to go, Chris Belt who organizes the Accidental Music Festival ran into the room drenched head to toe from the rain. Nothing will stop people who want to experience something new, cutting edge and different in Orlando.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Granted


I have three sketches on exhibit this month at City Arts Factory (29 South Orange Avenue). They are part of an exhibit called Granted which is showcasing the work of artists who received grants from United Arts. Between 2009 and 2011, 86 talented artists with a broad range of creative disciplines including visual arts, film, literature and performing arts, received grants ranging from $1,000-$2,500 for artistic projects or training. A total of $97,400 in grants was awarded during the three-year period in Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. I applied for a $1,000 grant which paid for most of my sketchbooks and pens last year. I've never hung my work in City Arts Factory before because they have a hanging fee. I've never seen the point in paying to have my work seen. The good news was that there was no hanging fee for the Granted exhibit. I still had to go to Michael's to find $8 frames. The show runs through September 15th.

I went to the opening and was immediately drawn to a back gallery that was filled with huge balloons and beach balls. Banks Helfrich had filled the room to promote his upcoming independent feature film called 7 Lives of Chance. There was no one inside so I immediately pushed my way in and found a spot to perch and sketch. Slowly small groups of people were brave enough to push inside. The film's soundtrack was playing from some speakers on top of a large roll top desk. Benoit Glazer had composed the soundtrack which had a distinctive French, light, breezy and fun air.

A large circular oak table had a pile of balloons that were waiting to be blown up. One guy worked his way under the largest balloon to pose for a photo as Atlas. Immediately after the photo, the balloon popped loudly causing everyone to jump and scream. He apologized profusely to me and I had to explain that I wasn't in charge.  Periodically as people explored a balloon would pop causing my line or a splash of color to jump. As I left a girl was busy stomping on the smaller balloons with her high heals. Every balloon's destiny, large or small, was to eventually be popped.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bat Attack: The Dork Knight Rises


Every month on the third or fourth Thursday, Sketchy Broads host a sketch session at Austin's Coffee (929 W. Fairbanks Ave. Winter Park, Fl). This month they dressed up as Batman characters from The Dark Knight Rises. They always come up with stunning outfits.

The modeling session costs $5 to sketch long poses from 6:30 - 8:30
$7 to sketch from 6-8:30 which includes 30 min. of short gestures, and
$10 if you wish to take reference photos.

I arrived and ordered a Yak which is a tasty iced coffee. There were only four of five other artists so it was easy enough to find a seat. I ended up on the big red couch. Sitting back in the cushions, I couldn't move my elbow much, so I sat on the edge of the couch leaning forward. Two white photographer's umbrellas lit the scene. Lindsay Boswell was dressed head to toe in black leather as an edgy and hip Cat Woman. It is a shame that Anne Hathaway's outfit doesn't show this much cleavage. Jenny Coyle was dressed in lace stockings, a tight bodice and frilly skirt skirt as a sexy and deranged Arkham City Harley Quinn mental ward nurse.

All my early sketches were tiny thumbnails and then I did a larger sketch towards the end of the session. I'm getting better at choosing the intricate details that are needed while letting other areas stay unresolved. Knowing how long the pose will last was a real luxury. I should get out to these sessions more often. If you are an artist you should come out to these sketch sessions, they are a blast!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stardust

I had been invited to the Market Colors Product Launch & Benefit Show at the new Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour (2810 Corrine Dr. Orlando). The event was to start at 7:30PM, and since I got off work at 5PM, I had some time to kill. I decided to get a bite to eat at Stardust Video and Coffee (1842 East Winter Park Road Orlando), which was just a block away. I ordered a humus plate and decided to sketch the Leopard Shark filled room. People gradually filled the bar stools as other patrons worked at their laptops. A group of women sat at a table next to mine and one woman discussed her divorce. As she put it, "Getting divorced is like having a car accident everyday for a month."

When I was done with the sketch and the humus, I walked over to the new Redlight Redlight. The place was obviously still being refurbished since I could see through the front windows exposed wall studs and gypsum board lying around.  The front door was locked. I checked my watch and it was a little after the event start time. There were supposed to be performances by Chris Burns, The Silver Fleece, Tigerweather, Civil Parish, and Rubox. This was to be the first time people will be able to see, touch, and buy Market Colors products.

The goal of Market Colors is to empower crafts women from Kenya and Malawi in Africa by having them make very marketable iPad, cell phone and laptop cases. This creative endeavour should help these women raise themselves from the status quo of prostitution and AIDS. Proceeds from the event, were to be reinvested toward supporting the crafts women. Market Colors goal is to raise both awareness and funding to best support them.  I jiggled the front door handle again. Oh well, I might have missed a great fundraiser sketch opportunity.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center

Rachel Steele invited me to go to the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center construction site for a hard hat tour. Site supervisors Joe Brown and Joe Westgate met us in one of the construction site trailers. Rachel and I were issued reflective vests and hard hats. I had been instructed to wears long pants and close toed shoes. Since I always wear hiking boots, it was easy to comply.  I was read some safety instructions and then we were off.

We walked the muddy path to the Arts Center's skeletal structure. With Isaac looming in the Caribbean, Rachel asked how the  construction cranes ride out a hurricane. Joe explained that they are loosened and allowed to swing freely in the wind like a weather vane. Two towers stood apart from the rest of the theater complex. These will one day be stair wells. A large iron grid work structure was being assembled on the ground and it would be raised up to act as a support between the stairwell and the theater entrance. One such structure was already in place. We walked to the southern edge of the site to get a view of the Disney Theater that will seat 2700 people when it is complete. The proscenium was in place but re-bar was still being placed for the seating area. A large orchestra pit was lined in cement and a few balconies were assembled at the back of the hall. This space is intended for amplified performances including concerts, children’s shows and Broadway productions.

A smaller community theater will be in the center of the complex. Seating 300 people, the Jim and Alexis Pugh Theater will have a thrust stage for more intimate productions. A third Multi-Form Music Hall has yet to be started. Seating 1700 people it is impressive in that central seating rows can literally flip over using hydraulics to open up the space and even the walls move to adjust the space. A building was just demolished where this state of the art theater will stand but construction can not begin until more funds are raised.  The city is going to issue bonds to help raise funds. Construction on the two theaters started along with an arts education area and a huge outdoor plaza is slated to be completed by April of 2014. It was exciting to be on site imagining the future. Up in the Arts Center's offices in the round building on the corner of Anderson and Orange Avenue, I met the Arts Center mascot, a calm white bull dog named Lilly. From the top floor, I had an amazing view of the whole construction site. Dark clouds loomed slate grey behind the city hall as wind whipped sand and grit in my eyes as I leaned into the wind to get back to my car. Children's art whipped in the wind fluttering on the fence surrounding the site.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

2012 Carbon Flow Tour National Championships

The 2012 Carbon Flow Tour National Championships were held at Fantasy Surf, (5151 Kyngs Health Ave Kissimmee) on August 10th and 11th. The best flow boarders in the world battled it out for a chance at the National Title. Carbon is a company that manufactures the actual flow boards. They had a display in the crowded spectators area. The man working the Carbon table talked to me about possibly transferring one of my sketches to a board. I told him I would be interested and gave him my card. Large bleachers were set up to handle the spectators while the three judges and the announcer sat front and center against the glass.

The FLOW Tour had divisions for body boarders and flow boarders, men and women, boys and girls, amateur and professional, young and old. For the past ten years, the FLOW Tour has traveled to many of the 55+ Flow rider locations throughout the United States and has inspired an ever-expanding level of competition among body boarders and flow boarders around the United States – and it all comes to a head on the FLOW Tour which consisted of 10 stops across 7 different states. With a prize purse of over $27,000 dollars; it’s no surprise hundreds of riders from across the country travel with the tour to make their mark in the flow boarding community.

Competitions required a minimum prize purse of $2500 as well as the all-important point system. There were 10 events including the National Championships. Each competitor’s best 6 results, including the championships, were added together to bestow the 2012 season champions in their respective divisions.

I found a seat at a table and decided this was to be my best sketch vantage point. Spectators and competitors would often stand obstructing my view of the judges but I would patiently wait for my moment to strike. The Judges were Matti Griffin, Robert Pals and Patrick Boyce. One competitor entered the competition having never been on a flow board. He wiped out again and again much the the amusement of the judges and spectators. Of course most competitors were doing a series of advanced tricks. The air was thick with the sharp smell of chlorine. Since I was nursing a cold, I decided to leave as soon as I finished my sketch to spare my lungs.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beautiful Beloved


Kassandra Kharis was an exotic and beautiful local artist who unfortunately chose to leave this world. I never met Kassandra but I did like her dark and mysterious art. On MySpace she had 6818 friends and she reached a Facebook limit with 5656 friends. As she wrote in her Facebook bio, "I am an indecisive being, but loyal to a fault. An introverted extrovert, I get anxiety in the most 'usual' of places and go into agoraphobia mode from time to time, so good job we have the Internet, for the people who can't stand to be around people, yet don't want to feel totally alone either."

I went to Bombshell's Tavern, (5405 Edgewater Drive, Orlando), where a charity art event was going to he held in her honor. I went on the wrong date however, but I ordered a beer in her memory and did a sketch anyway. The pool table was active all night with the regular customers joking and competing for hours in this smokey dive bar. The jukebox supplied the 80s tunes. The game was briefly interrupted by the Olympic swimming event on TV.

The Kassandra Kharis Charity Art Event will be held on Wednesday, August 29st, 2012, from 8pm-2am. It is  being held to celebrate the life of our beloved friend and local artist, Kassandra Kharis. All proceeds will go to pay for her memorial services and excess funds will be donated to the American Humane Association in her name, since her love and concern for animal welfare was so great.

There will be Goth, Industrial and Alt Rock spun by DJ Spank, Burlesque by Grotesque Burlesque, an Art Auction and Raffles of donated prizes. Cover charge will be donation based only, so all of her friends can attend, but suggested donation is $5 - $10 for those that can contribute towards her fundraiser. The event will be ALL AGES so that ALL of her friends and family can attend, though after 11pm, the Burlesque performances by Kass' friends in Grotesque Burlesque will be taking place in the big stage room, which will be 18+ admittance. Any artists or local businesses who wish to donate items for auction and raffle at the event, or entertainers who would like to perform at the event, please respond here or message, anna@dracofelis.com. Full donation details can be found here.

 These were some of Kassandra's favorite quotes...
"Find out what you're afraid of and go live there." - Chuck Palahniuk
"The only way to possibly find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open." - C. Palahniuk
“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days" - Sylvia Plath

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Homestead

 There was a birthday potluck for Julie Norris and Amber Melendy at the Homestead on East Pine Street August 11th. Terry and I went bearing red wine, some humus and a small present for Julie. It had poured that day so there was little chance the outdoor fire pit would light up. The living room of the homestead was warm and inviting. Toddlers played as people chatted. Slowly people moved out to the porch. For the longest time I sat in a comfortable rocking chair On the porch. Terry was resting on Julies bed inside. Several women were discussing the results of a sexuality workshop. I met Russell Kramer who does custom bookbinding and he offered to make me a custom sketchbook. I hope to sketch him at work someday.

Greywolf agreed to kick things off with a Gong Flow at sunset. A Gong Flow involves vibrational energy cleansing in which participants experience the deep transformational opportunity provided by prolonged exposure to these therapeutic vibrations. Supplemented by singing bowls and sacred rattles, the core of the sound emanates from a 40” Chau Gong. The most mesmerizing sound came from the Buddhist bowls which would sing as Greywolf circled the rim with a wooden dowel. Everyone sat on the porch in the cool evening air as the flow began. Some sat quietly and meditated and others joined in with their own instruments and voices. The warm light from inside the home spilled out onto the porch. It was an epic journey of sight and sound.






Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Geek Easy

Some of the Skill Focus Burlesque girls will be going to Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia to spread the gospel of Nerdy Burlesque. Dragon Con is the largest multimedia, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the universe! This year, Dragon Con will be held Labor Day weekend (August 31 - September 3, 2012) in Atlanta, GA. Gas money is expensive though, so Ruby Darling threw a Free Dragon Con themed burlesque party at the Geek Easy to get folks drunk and sell them cupcakes! The Geek Easy is located in the back room of A Comic Shop (114 South Semoran Blvd. Winter Park).

Cherry Bob-omb and Ruby Darling were behind the bar. Cherry had a luscious display of cupcakes in front of her. I decided to get a spoors cupcake which was awesome.Cherry's other half, Mr. Bob-omb was next to the keg of free beer which was kept cool in an R2D2 ice bucket. There was a cardboard box for donations. The foamy Yuengling beer was quite good, and I stuffed some bills in the box. It is hard to write anything without sounding suggestive. Bob had to keep pumping the keg and done just right with plenty of wrist action and rhythm, it is hilariously suggestive.

At 11PM the Skill focus girls gave burlesque performances on two model stands that were arranged runway style. Shy LaBuff came to the event dressed as a Lord of the rings Dwarf. The fiery red bear matched her hair.  Her performance however was as Mario from the Mario Brothers Donkey Kong game. As always she was hilarious. Syber Digit added some sophistication to her routine and Ruby Darling really knew how to linger before each and every sensual reveal.

This brings me to another important reveal, The Star Wars Celebration VI is coming up August 23rd through August 26th at the Orlando Convention Center. The Skill Focus: Burlesque girls are going to celebrate Star Wars in their favorite way: Striptease!  They've got your light side and your dark side right here. The show titled Chan Shot First: An Intergalactic Burlesque Tribute, will be at Sleuth's Diner Theater (8267 International Drive Orlando). Enjoy a fancy adult beverage from our Star Wars menu of drink specials and be amazed as Skill Focus performs burlesque numbers as some of your favorite scoundrels, princesses, and various life forms. The show is Saturday August 25th starting at 8PM. Parking is ample and free. Look for Ripley's and the Crab House!

Tickets are $10 general public, $8 for members of the 501st
Doors and the bar open at 7:15pm
18+ only - nudity and nerdity!
Call 407-363-1985 to reserve your tickets now...seating is limited - don't miss out!
Star Wars themed drink specials will be available all night long, plus a full bar and appetizer menu.
For reservations, call 407-363-1985. Seating is limited!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Disenchanted: Bitches of the Kingdom


Disenchanted: Bitches of the Kingdom is having an extended run through August at Mama Mia's because performances kept selling out. Word of mouth travels fast and these Bitches are rising fast. This hilarious production features the songs of Dennis Giacino and is directed by Fiely Matias. I have loved this production ever since I saw it at the Orlando Fringe Festival. The incredible Michelle Knight has reprised her roll as a saucy Snow White and she shines in the spot light. She started out the show belting out a note and holding it so long, the audience started screaming, laughing and clapping endlessly.

The room had a small semi circular stage big enough to hold Dennis behind the grand piano and the princesses.  The audience filled the small room seated around small tables. The cabaret style show suited the intimate space. Jenny Lee Stern began as Belle who sang Insane! Her hair was tightly pulled back and her eyes fluttered wide and bewildered as she watched the other princesses perform. As The Little Mermaid, her hair came down and she added an unexpected hard edge to the part with a biker chick attitude and tattoos. I ended up sketching her twice by mistake. This production is still in development, but it is destined to be an off Broadway hit in 2013. The show is moving to  Missouri next. Auditions are being held Friday, August 24 for its production at Stephens College in September 2012.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Authors at the Drunken Monkey


My plan was to sketch an album release party and concert for Everyday Ghosts. I was early so I ordered some food and an iced coffee at The Drunken Monkey (444 North Bumby Avenue  Orlando). There was a group of authors seated at the table in front of me and I couldn't resist a sketch. Much of the conversation centered around self publishing and how that has changed the scene for authors. There was some discussion about how social media has changed how they promote their work. Each author had something unique to add based on their experiences. I really should have taken notes. I could have learned a thing or two. A woman who looked like a naval officer had dinner alone while reading her iPad. As a matter of fact all the other costomers were staring at computer screens.

When I was finished, I walked across Bumby Avenue towards the Plaza Theater. I was surprised that there wasn't a crowd at the entrance. Something was wrong. I stood outside the locked, darkened theater and double checked my calendar on my iPhone. Unbelievable! The concert was NEXT week! I was going to be out of town so I would miss the big premiere. Thank goodness I sketched while I ate dinner.

Monday, August 20, 2012

RDV Ice Den


Matt McGrath invited my wife Terry to watch him play hockey at the RDV Sportsplex Athletic Club (8701 Maitland Summit Blvd. Orlando). His team is called "The Fire Ants" and he instructed us to go to the second ice rink away from the entrance. The RDV Sportsplex is immense. Entering the building which is right across the street from EA Sports, I passed an indoor Olympic sized pool and then walked a boardwalk looking down on a sea of work out equipment. The Orlando Magic corporate headquarters are in the building as well. Basketballs with player's hand prints were on display as well as monster sized sneakers. I wonder if they will be removing Dwight Howard's sneakers when he follows Shaq to Los Angeles. Once again, Orlando seems unable to hold onto talent.

There were indeed two ice rinks and I went to the one furthest away from the main entrance. There were a few people in the bleachers, all of them women. I had never seen an ice hockey game in person before. When Terry arrived, I was half finished with my sketch. She discovered that The Fire Ants were playing in the other rink. Terry went to watch the Fire Ants while I finished my sketch. I walked down to the two women seated below me. I asked them the names of the teams. The EA Hammerheads in blue were playing Orange Crush in orange. The fans told me I should root for the EA team since they were. Orange Crush had a female goalie which had me thinking that I might have stumbled onto an all women's team. After much study however, I decided all the other players were men.

Orange Crush was leading the whole game. In the 4th quarter the EA goalie skated to the sidelines allowing an easy goal for the Orange Crush. The final score was Orange Crush 5, EA Hammerheads 3. Terry told me Matt played a pretty good defensive game. I think that the Fire Ants is a great name for a team. I get itchy just thinking about it. The RDV Sportsplex offers endless sketch opportunities. I wish it was a little closer to home.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ALAK Block Party

Not every sketch is a gem. This was a rare case where I tried to do a watercolor in the rain. The ALAK Block Party invitation put the address as 715 N Thornton Ave. Bands on the play list included Attic, Surfin Serf, Permanent Nap and of course the California based headliners ALAK. When I arrived, I didn't notice any stage but I did see a food truck pulling into a parking lot.  That had to be where the event was. I parked down the block and hiked back. A musician was unpacking a drum set from the trunk of his car. It had just started to drizzle. He carried the drum set to the back of a small deserted alley. The La Espinada Food Truck didn't have a generator, so she backed the truck next to the alley and then she searched for a power outlet. A tenant on the second floor apartment let her run an extension chord up through his window, tapping one of his outlets for a small fee. I sketched as quirky cat banners were hung around the alley. This small alley was dubbed "Cloud 9" by the event organizer. A young crowd slowly gathered as the rain continued to lightly fall. I tried to salvage the sketch from the constant rain with no success. It became such a wet mess that I couldn't work on it anymore. I called Terry and we agreed to meet for dinner at Dandelion Communitea Cafe. I bumped into Julie Norris as I was about to order. She had been busy storing a whole bunch of restaurant furniture and cookware.  Ethos Vegan Kitchen had just moved into a new location in Winter Park and the new space was fully furnished so they donated their unneeded furniture and equipment to Julie. A win-win for the Orlando Vegan community. I ordered an all Garden of Eden themed dinner that tasted great.

After dinner, Terry and I walked back to the Block Party to see if it had been rained out. By now the rain had stopped and die hard hipsters were still partying. Terry wasn't impressed, so she headed home. I considered a second sketch, but I was still wet from the first sketch so I went home as well. I'm sure things heated up as it got dark.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thursday T&A


I went to Graffiti Junction (900 E Washington Street, Orlando) for Thursday T&A (Trivia and Arts). I arrived a bit early right after work. T&A happens each Thursday from 7 to 9PM. I decided to sketch the ornate fountain that slows traffic through the Thornton Park District. I wonder how many drunk drivers ran into the fountain before they decided to put all those steal barricades around it. I leaned back against the new Mother Falcon Bar. Tables were being set up outside anticipating the evening crowd. Melissa Felcman who is an amazing supporter of the arts, came out and shot a photo of my sketch in progress. For once I didn't feel like I was in the way. I heard the announcer across the street and when I finished the sketch, I went inside Graffiti Junction for a burger and Trivia.

They were just starting the second round of T&A when I arrived. Here are some of the questions. If you know the answers, you can leave them in the comment section. People were instructed to close laptops and put away cell phones to avoid cheating. The Mission Impossible theme kicked in.
What character smoked a hookah pipe in Alice in Wonderland?
What gives the Red Sea its red tint?
What is the Indian Religious concept called in which a soul returns to a new body?
What is the hormone responsible for male sex characteristics?
Word Jumble! NAIGLCABN
Snoop Dogg changed his name to what?
True of False. Wimbledon games are played on a grass surface.
What is the State capital of Washington?
What makes women more creative? Flowers, loose shoes, or chocolate chip cookies?
What comes after the turn in Texas Hold em Poker?
True or False. The Grey Wolf is also known as the Timber Wolf.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts Construction

I went downtown to the construction site of the Dr. Phillips Center of the Performing Arts. My plan was to sketch the children's art that covers the fencing surrounding the site. As I walked down Magnolia however, I couldn't resist sketching the Methodist church spire against the dark storm clouds. A building across the street from the church was being demolished to make more room for the Arts center construction.

Dark rust colored beams were beginning to rise from the construction site. The buildings were taking form. A web cam tracks the building's progress 24/7. Part of me wants to get on the construction site to do a series of sketches  documenting the progress. Then again it is boiling hot outside with little hope of shade on the site.

I thought I would be sketching in the crowds of people rushing home at 5pm, but the streets were eerily vacant. Only the vehicular traffic left the impression that Downtown was bustling. A bus driver stopped next to me and the doors opened with a hiss. I was about to explain that I wasn't waiting for a bus, but she said, "I just wanted to see the sketch with the color, I saw you when you started the sketch." I held up the sketch so she could see and she gave me a thumbs up. One fellow wearing a tie stopped to see what I was doing. He said, "That's my building!" Apparently he must be the architect. A lightening flash blinked brightly on the horizon. The rain held off long enough so I could get back to my car. Then it poured.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Central Florida Theater Community Potluck


There is an undeniable irony that the semi-quarterly July Theater Potluck dinner was held at Starving Artist Studios, (801 Orienta Ave, Suite 1000, Altamonte Springs, FL). The potluck was held Sunday, June 24th from 7pm – 10pm. There was a torrential rain storm on my drive up I-4. I figured the rain might thin the crowd, but when I entered, the place was packed.

Starving Artist Studios, run by Tim Evanicki is a brand new facility that teaches dance, acting and music. Each room is themed after an area of NYC.  The room where I settled in to sketch had pictures of Union Square on the walls. A large mirror lined one wall, so this room was set up for dance. All the walls were freshly painted and several rooms had pianos and drum sets.

Everyone brought a plate of great food, drink or dessert. There was plenty to choose from. Conversations bristled as people shared good times and good conversation with friends from our theatre community. This wasn't about performing, this wasn't even about networking. It was a chance for people to be themselves and take a moment to breathe with all the people making our Central Florida Performing Arts Community VITAL! I kept bumping into people I know in the food line. John DiDonna joked with me about sketching. "Can't you put the pencil down just once and have a drink and relax?" "I'll relax as soon as I finish this one sketch, I promise."

In the next room, Terry Olson started a theater trivia game. He said, "Name a theater production that features rain!" "Singing in the rain!" someone shouted back. "A Steady Rain!" "Rain on Broadway!" "The Diviners!" "Twelfth Night!" The answers kept coming. These theater folk know their stuff.

Tonight is Third Thursday.  "Granted", at the City Arts Factory (9 South Orange Avenue), is a showcase for artists who had grants from United Arts.  I received a grant last year to help  with the expense of art supplies for this blog. Three of my sketches will be on display and for sale. The work will be on display through September 14th.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lets Make a Movie!

I  stumbled across a meet up group online that was meeting at Perkins Restaurant and Bakery (6425 University Boulevard, Winter Park) . A guest speaker, Todd Thompson of Stars North Productions, a locally based independent film company, was lined up.  He outlined a long list of credentials. He made his first three movies by the age of 11 using his Grandfather's Super 8 movie camera, using action figures and stop motion animation. He worked on the Tom Hanks mini series, From the Earth to the Moon in 1998. He worked on The Green Mile in 1999. He was told that producing independent shorts was the best way to break into the industry. So he did just that, and won awards along the way for films like Time & Again, and Once Not Far From Home. Chance meetings at film festivals lead to other contacts and productions. It seems film making is all about persistence, drive and chance encounters.

His current project, The Highwaymen, sounded like it could be a fantastic film. The film centers around a talented African American painter named Alfred Hair, who is unable to show his work in galleries because of his race. He meets a white landscape painter, A.E. Backus who taught him everything he knew about painting. He took this information and taught 26 other African American men how to paint. They produced over 100,000 paintings which they would sell on the road side for like $20 a painting. A.E. Backus would produce maybe one painting a month whereas these guys were producing at least a painting a day.  Some of the Highwaymen could produce up to 30 paintings a day, working in series. The paintings were quickly executed Florida landscapes. An art critic "discovered" the work and after he wrote an article, the price of the work skyrocketed. Highwaymen paintings are probably still scattered in peoples attics with the owners having no idea as to the value of the work. I love the premise of this film, the mentor ship, and overcoming the racial divide. The original artists have been interviewed and a huge wall was set up that follows their intertwined lives. I'd love to sketch and document the shooting and post production of this film.

People began introducing themselves and discussing their interest in film production. The introductions weren't in any order and perhaps half way through, order broke down and lively discussions erupted. A short script for a SPCA public service announcement was on the table and I believe a number of people in the room were going to be involved in shooting the project in an animal shelter. When I realized I didn't have to introduce myself, I slipped away.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tr3, Vaughn and Jen Outside Urban ReThink

I went downtown to Urban ReThink, ( 625 E Central BlvdOrlando), to sketch a hacker sound workshop. The workshop offered musicians an opportunity to create instruments from old electronics. I imagined a sketch with tables loaded with old discarded electronics. As I walked towards Central Boulevard, I heard, "Thor!" echoing down a long apartment causeway. I backed up to greet Tr3 Harris who was also on his way to Urban ReThink. I told him about the exciting workshop, but when we went inside, the place was deserted. Joyce Mallon was behind the counter of The Spork Happy Food Cafe. She confirmed that the workshop was scheduled but that only one person showed up. He waited around several hours and then left.

Tr3 had a table set up outside to sell some art, so I decided that would be my sketch opportunity for the day. I decided to order something sweet from Spork as well. Joyce suggested a build your own waffle. I decided on peanut butter and chocolate chips as my toppings. I also wanted plenty of caffeine to get my fingers twitching. I sat outside and Joyce brought out the waffle when it was ready. It was a scorching hot Saturday. Vaughn Belak was there with his girlfriend Jen Woolf selling his macabre paintings. Some of his pieces were prints on canvas that he could sell for incredibly cheap. He in fact sold a piece to a passer by for $40. I didn't catch Vaughn in the sketch. He stood behind the red table to the right much of the time. Tr3 worked on a painting as he waited for costumers. The bike rack stood empty.

The sky grew dark and ominous. Jen checked a weather app on her cell phone that predicted rain. The tables were broken down and the art packed away in a matter of minutes. The chocolate chips had melted on my forgotten waffle. I continued adding color to the sketch long after the actors left the stage. The rain held off long enough for me to finish my sketch. It started to rain as I drove home.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Other Shoe


It was open mic night at Bullets Lounge. Apparently the place is usually much more crowded on Open Mic Night. Most of the bar stools were occupied but the tables were empty. I sat in a folding chair by the pool table for an unobstructed view of the first band, "The Other Shoe." They sang originals written by the bass player Joseph Perricone. Candles illuminated the tables while red and green stage lights illuminated the band. It was Joseph's birthday and Deborah Vicino had baked enough cupcakes for everyone at the bar. Man that cupcake was good, especially washed down with the beer.

Band members were out in the parking lot smoking as I left. They joked with me as I asked about the band's name and I scribbled notes in my pad. The drummer said, "Be sure to get Joseph's license number." I shot back, " I just need his credit card number!" It is amazing the talent you find in even the smallest hole in the wall bar.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Swamp Sista LaLa Friends


Swamp Sista La La Friends began its inaugural year as an annual event on Saturday June 23, 2012. It was an epic celebration of mostly southern music, women, independent businesses (which happen to be mostly owned or ran by women), and the hippest community in Orlando (also managed by a woman). It took  place outside and inside Park Ave CDs, from 7PM – 11PM. The evening was a gathering of Swamp Sistas, soulfully connected women, (mainly) Southern women who love to keep their roots at the surface while also branching to a more contemporary sound. Audubon Park Garden District, Park Ave CDs, and Beth McKee joined to bring Swamp Sistas together for music, fun, vendors, beer, and food in Audubon Park. Beth McKee’s Swamp Sista group includes diverse and talented women from all over the South and also from all over Central Florida. The goal behind this Swamp Sista La La is to raise awareness about local independent retail stores, especially record stores like Park Ave CDs, and local entrepreneurs, which Audubon Garden District often champions. By having a Swamp Sista La La at Park Ave CDs, Beth utilized the Swamp Sista network to bring people from all over the area to Audubon Park, showing them what a special place it is.

The parking lot outside Park Avenue CDs was crowded with merchant tents while Viveca Averstedt's swedeDISH Food Truck hummed on the road. I sat next to the outdoor stage to sketch Laney Jones and her band as they performed mellow folk tuned. I'm pretty sure I sketched her performing solo outside infusion tea once on a rainy dusk. It was a hot humid evening and by the time I was done sketching I decided to go. The swedeDISH Food Truck had a Thor hot dog which was supposed to be immense. I was tempted to order one but decided to hold off. A band was also performing inside Park Avenue CDs where there was air conditioning. Terry and I negotiated and then left.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Denna and Travis Update their Relationship Status


Denna Beena and Travis Fillmen were married Saturday August 4th in the Winter Garden Theatre. It was pouring rain as I drove straight from work. Terry let me know that she saved me a seat. The Winter Garden Theater has been the home to some amazing theatrical productions such as "The Diviners", and "Driving Miss Daisy". This wedding had a flair of the theatrical and plenty of Pink. Denna's hair has always had a shock of pink, orange and purple. Her brides maids each had a pink dress of their choosing and long streaks of pink in their hair. Groomsmen and the ring bearer, manikin Hans Hausboi, all had pink bow ties and flowers. Groomsman, Mark Baratelli had a crazy, day filled with drama leading up to the ceremony. But that is a story for another day. Bridesmaid, Amanda Chadwick, with a bright pink coil of hair on her forehead, had flown from Seattle to be in the ceremony.

Before the actual ceremony, the theater curtains opened and friendly trivia was projected on the movie screen. Denna and Travis's first date lasted ten hours. They met thanks to OKCupid.com. Denna kept getting Travis's bio and she ignored it five times. She finally decided that the guys she usually dated were all wrong for her, so she took a chance. They might be bipolar opposites politically but deep down the found happiness and creative unconditional love. There was a small canvas center stage and as part of the ceremony, the couple painted a heart together. Young Chloe and Naomi Borchers recited the lyrics to "Personal Penguin." Mike Carr explained, "Why Love is Like Owning a Dog."

It was a ceremony in which laughter was a fine compliment love. The officiant, Mike Carr, earned his ability to unite this couple from the internet. When the knot was tied, Denna and Travis took out their cell phones on stage and updated their Facebook status to "Married". The audience cheered. As everyone filed upstairs for the reception, I rushed to throw color on the sketch. A black and White film flickered onto the movie screen as the projectionist got ready for that evenings showing. As the colors dried on the page, I went upstairs for plenty of awkward yet enthusiastic dancing.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Fantasy Surf


Fantasy Surf, (5151 Kyngs Heath Road Kissimmee, FL 34746), has the ultimate indoor wave. Referred to as "flow boarding", a super strong stream of water rushes up a smooth blue embankment allowing experienced surfers an endless wave. I went to the facility to talk to Adam Mulls about sketching the National Championships. The place was constantly full of participants and spectators. It is located right behind a hotel which supplies many of the younger newbies who crash and burn when they try to stand. Falling, you are pushed up and over the top of the wave by the force of the water flow. Eager parents recorded the carnage on iPads and cell phones.

A blond haired teen mounted a water proof camera to the glass with a suction cup. She stretched like an Olympic swimmer and then took video of herself riding the wave. She was able to flip her board and negotiate every inch of the wave. An even younger boy was doing tricks effortlessly.  They now have trampoline jumping as an Olympic sport. Flow boarding would be an awesome Olympic event to watch. Adam stood at the top of the wave acting as the life guard. He rode the wave once, showing some mad skills.

 Fantasy Surf is hosting the 2012 Carbon US Flow Tour National Championships during the weekend of August 10-12th. The public is encouraged to take part as spectators as the best flow boarders in the world battle it out for a chance at the National Title.  If you are a FLOW Tour competitor or follower, looking for event lodging, please visit fantasyworldresort.com to book reservations for a 2 bed room condo and full amenities and sleep 6 people. When booking online use the PROM CODE: FLOW to receive a special $99.00 per night rate. Click here for the competition entry form and waiver.

Complimentary rider practice begins August 10th from 3:00pm- 9:00pm. Bleachers will be set up for spectators and the lounge will be reserved for contestants only. Outside, tents will be lined up with skateboarding, merchandise and food vendors. The competition should offer an awesome weekend sketch opportunity.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Flight Home

I arrived at the Santo Domingo Airport several hours early. I was shocked that there were no lines. I had to fill out all the customs forms and breezed through security with no wait.I sat and watched the crowd slowly gather at the gate for my flight. A nun sat stoically never moving, while a brother and sister fidgeted the whole time. Domino's Pizza was set up to sell slices and the ads reminded me of the domino players enthusiasm in the park.

On the flight, I sat next to a young missionary who taught English and math to students in small villages around La Cucarita, in the Dominican Republic. She explained that the schools were makeshift but the central village now had a cinder block building. She had to pay her own way to get to and from the Dominican Republic and she couldn't wait to get home to her own bed. He T-shirt read, Love God, serve people, change the world.

This was Jet Blue pilot, Kevin Kelly's, last flight. He was leaving Jet Blue after 30 years of service. The first thing to flash through my mind was that the Titanic captain was retiring after his last voyage. Everyone on board cheered when we had a smooth landing. Jet Blue has a tradition in which two fire trucks spray down the plane with water for a retiring pilot. We were told not to panic. The plane taxied forever. I figured they might be going to a hanger for the ceremony, but then I saw the firetrucks with their tall streams of water arching over the plane. My window went liquid and the green trucks shimmered. Everyone was shouting and clapping. You don't see THAT every day. It was good to be home.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fiesta


The closing ceremony for the Santo Domingo Urban Sketching Symposium was held at the Museo de las Casas Reales. As we walked inside, a regal peacock strutted through the lobby. Long tables were set up with all the artist's sketchbooks on display. There was also a silent auction set up with some of the instructors work up for grabs. Everyone was crowded around the tables flipping through sketchbooks. Some people moved clockwise and others counter clockwise. I lost patience since I couldn't see all the sketchbooks fast enough, so I wandered off to get a coke. There were also finger foods available so I ate dinner. I had a quick chat with Gabi Campinario. He seems to be moving away from sketching across double page spreads. The last few months, I have been doing the same, choosing instead to sketch in larger spiral bound sketchbooks.

Frank Ching from Seattle was doing a sketch of the spacious courtyard. Since I was still intent on seeing the rest of the sketchbooks, I decided this wasn't an event I would be sketching. All of the Urban Sketchers were asked to stand in the courtyard where they were each called up and issued a certificate. It was just like a graduation. Since all the sketchbooks were now being ignored, I decided to sneak away to flip through the remaining sketchbooks. When my name was called, I trotted out like a triumphant Olympian, picked up my certificate and jogged right back to the sketchbooks.

When we left the closing Ceremony, we discovered that a Fiesta was being staged at Plaza de Espana. Historic fortifications were illuminated a rich orange behind the makeshift stage. Dancers were changing costumes in the lot next to the Museo. On stage a singer and keyboard player were performing Meringue. An official sat beside the stage while hundreds of locals sat in folding chairs set up in the Plaza. Unfortunately, this was the last act and as technicians broke down the stage, I rushed to throw down color washes. The Urban Sketchers had gathered at a bar across the plaza, so when I was done, I walked over for one last drink with this incredibly talented international group of artists.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dominos

On the afternoon of the final day there was a SketchCrawl in Santo Domingo's Parque Colon. I had done several thumbnail sketches of domino players in Veronica Lawlor's, The Decisive Moment Workshop. I decided to try and get a larger sketch done. The game is rather fast paced usually punctuated with loud arguments in Spanish about moves that could have been made. It is rather nice that people linger in the park all day. This game of dominoes would migrate periodically to keep the board in the shade of the parks trees. Along with the locals, there were 100 artists gathered in the park this day.

 One of the men viewing the game looked after me by shooing away anyone who stood between me and the board. I smiled and gave him a thumbs up for his assistance. Melanie Reim was just as infatuated by the game and she did a lively series of sketches from her spot sitting on the grass. I did a few more loose thumbnail sketches in the park before all the Urban Sketchers gathered for a group photo in front of the Cathedral.

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Last Urban Sketching Workshop

My last Capturing the Event Workshop took place on the street leading to Puerta del Conde. I knew the ancient fort would close it's gates at 5PM so there wasn't much time to get a sketch inside. I was really pleased that Urban Sketcher Nina Johansson from Sweden sat in on this workshop. I admire her vibrant watercolor sketches. It was cloudy out which meant we didn't have to hunt for shade. I sat in the middle of the street sketching the architecture. The previous day, a cocoanut salesman and guitar player showed up on this corner and I hoped they would return. Sure enough, when I was halfway into the sketch, the cocoanut salesman arrived on his tricycle loaded down with cocoanuts. He cut open the coconuts with a machete to serve it.

It began to rain and I backed up into a shop vestibule. One of the shop assistants gestured to offer me a spot to sit. This happened to me while I sketched in the park as well, a gentleman offered me his seat on a bench. They seem to take pity on aging artists in Santo DomingoLapin showed up as the rain began to ease. I gave him a quick rundown on the workshop and gave him the class notes. I caught him in my sketch as he stood sketching a mannequin. Then he started asking people if he could sketch them. A crowd gathered around him as he sketched.

I gathered up the troupes and we shared our sketches. We then posed for a photo in front of the sign that I had sketched. There was a wonderful variety of styles. Everyone weathered the storm.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Decisive Moment

0n the morning of the final day of the Santo Domingo Urban Sketching Symposium, I took Veronica Lawlor's Workshop called The Decisive Moment. I have always admired Veronica's loose spontaneous sketches. The idea of the decisive moment came from photo journalist Henri Cartier-Bresson. As he said, "There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment" Veronica pulled out her iPad and showed us sketches by Ronald Searle from his Paris Sketchbook. I have a copy of this sketchbook and it is a prized possession. She also showed us thumbnails from Gustav Klimpt. She suggested we explore Parque Colon doing small quick thumbnails instead of detailed sketches. She explained that her first impulse when on an assignment was to do as many thumbnails as possible.
I found doing the thumbnails quite liberating. Each sketch had to begin with a frame. I probably could have organized the thumbnails better on the page, but I was just focused on getting each image down as quickly as possible. I worked straight ahead using ink and watercolor washes.

The first thing that caught my eye was a young man feeding the pigeons. If anyone walked too close, they would take flight all at once. I sketched a candy cart, the monument to Columbus and then became infatuated with the men who played dominoes all day long. The cathedral was a cool reprieve from the hot park. The chihuahua named Pancho belonged to a couple who stopped to talk to me in English. The owner was an artist herself and I suggested she join us for the SketchCrawl later in the day.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Urban Symposium Panel


Right after lunch each day there was a panel discussion where instructors from  the Santo Domingo Urban Sketching Symposium would get up in front of the room full of artists and talk about their experiences sketching that day. I had this sketch fairly well layed out when Gabi approached me and asked me to be on the panel. Sigh, I would have to finish the sketch the next day. I sat center stage, sandwiched between the amazing talents of Veronica Lawlor and Nina Johansson. Gabi Campanario, who founded Urban Sketchers, had heard about my run in with the guards at Puerta del Conde and he wanted me to relate the incident. My main point was that it was important to always finish the sketch, come hell or high water. This was the first time that the person who insisted I stop sketching was carrying a gun.

It was incredibly rewarding to hear students from my first workshops relate what resonated with them.  I thought that instructing and standing in front of a room full of piers might be stressful, but the opposite was true, I felt at ease and at home among artists who shared my desire to document and record events by sketching. The next day, I sketched Marc Holmes, Lynne Chapman and Liz Steel into my unfinished sketch from the day before. Lynne, smiled broadly, radiating good humor and Liz had filled an entire sketchbook already. I had taken Marc's class and it made me realize that it helps to be thrown outside the usual sketching comfort zone when being asked to think about sketching in a different light.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tea, Milk and Honey


I've long been an admirer of Mark Taro Holmes' watercolors, so the first workshop I took was his, Tea, Milk and Honey Watercolor Workshop. The fifteen or so students hiked to the Ruins de San Francisco. The first order of business was to find a shady spot from which to paint the ruins. We couldn't go inside the structure since it was unsafe. We all sat on some stone steps across the street from the building. Marc wanted us to all follow along as he went through the steps, doing a study of a stone window on the ruins. I admired his set up which consisted of a camera tripod on which he mounted a flat board and an arm which held his large palette.

Rather than follow along, I watched intently as he mixed colors and applied washes. The first step, pour the tea, consisted of light washes of local color. That first step had to dry before the second step, a touch of milk, which involved only adding semi-opaque paint to the shadow shapes. The third pass, sweeten with honey, involved thick gel-like paint added to emphasize contact shadows. A woman walked past the ruins with a basket of bananas balanced on her head and a mule pulled a wagon laden with a whole family. As we all worked, a lively basketball game began on the court behind us. Sometimes the ball would go out of bounds, bouncing into an artist who would then toss it back.

I lost interest in the ruins and turned around to sketch the animated game. There was plenty of arguing, all in Spanish of course. Players became aware that I was sketching them and they stopped on occasion to see my progress. One little boy obviously wanted to be in the sketch and I pointed to the player shooting the basketball. It was a little white lie, but it made him happy. A little girl would pick up my brush or pencil anytime I dropped it. She was very attentive.

After we were all done, we assembled on the steps for a group photo. The workshop forced me away from using line to define shapes. For me a light bulb turned on as the sketch became more about painting.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Puerta del Conde


For the afternoon, Capturing the Event Workshop, I invited students to sketch on the city block leading to Puerta del Conde or inside the Puerta. I leaned against a pole and worked on the view down the street to the fort. The street bustled with merchants selling everything from sun glasses to art. The tropically themed art all looked the same as if it was pumped out of a factory. One of the sketchers can be seen working in the lower right hand corner of my sketch. I knew that two other sketchers were seated on the benches at the next light post down the road. The remaining sketchers went inside Puerte del Conde to sketch.

Residents of Santo Domingo were curious and inquisitive. Once one person stopped to look over my shoulder, there would soon be a crowd. Questions would be fired my way, but all I could do is shrug and say "No Espanole." In a way, not knowing the language was a major advantage in that I didn't have to interrupt the sketch to answer questions. I didn't feel rude working away as they talked amongst themselves.

As I was finishing up my sketch, the students came as a group to let me know that the monument had been shut down before they finished sketching. I looked down the street and sure enough, an iron gate blocked the arched entry. I gathered up the remaining sketchers and we all put our sketchbooks on the street to compare notes. It was a strong afternoon's work. What a delight to mentor such talented sketchers. A musician started playing guitar behind me and a coconut merchant hacked open coconuts with a machete. The events were there to be found but my sketch was done and I was hungry for dinner.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Capturing the Event

I was teaching two workshops on the second day of the Urban Sketching Symposium in Santo Domingo. I had seven students for the morning class and we all met at the Centro Cultural de Espana. A sheet of letter sized paper with a bold letter B was taped to the wall. So we could find one another.

My  morning workshop, Capturing the Event, was less about technique and  more about how to make Urban Sketching a daily habit. I'm convinced that artists have a roll in making others aware of the communities in which they live. My most important lesson was that you always have to finish the sketch, no matter what happens. I offered several examples of incidents in which people tried to interrupt the sketch but I still managed to get the sketch done. We walked along the water front and through the stoned streets of the historic city towards the workshop site.

The Workshop took place in Parque Independencia which is a fortification at the end of El Conde Street. There was a monument inside with three large sculptures reminiscent of the Lincoln Memorial in DC. It was a hot day so I advised everyone to find shade. Barbara Boulter, (BJ) and I were drawn to the stoic guard at the entrance. BJ knew some Spanish so she asked if it was OK for her to borrow a chair. I had my own chair so I sat opposite her in the shade of the large stone arch facing the guard. I noticed two officers in camouflaged military fatigues arguing in the background. Then one of them approached me and started gesturing and speaking quickly in Spanish. I didn't understand a word, so I kept sketching. Through his hand gestures, I became vaguely aware that they must have had a problem with my chair. I then stood and continued to sketch. The senior officer seemed to be loosing patience with me. Finally one of my students, Natali Ovalles, a native of Santo Domingo, came over and translated.

Apparently there was some issue with my being visible from the street outside the fort. It was perceived as a breach of security. BJ was seated in a small alcove which hid her from passers by. With Natali translating, I negotiated for a spot from which I could draw. I sat diagonal to BJ and sketched the stoic guard from behind. The armed guard who had made me move stood behind me the whole time and watched every line that went on the page. A cannon was aimed out over the historic city. The bottom line is that I got the sketch done. Our group assembled near some park benches and compared notes. Kalina Wilson asked pointed questions that helped me further outline my thoughts as I execute each sketch. Minus the run in with armed guards, it was a fun first class. In this case, capturing the event, became the main event.