Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zombie March

The Zombie March happens every year as part of Spooky Empire's Ultimate Horror Weekend. This year the convention of horror was being held at the DoubleTree By Hilton at Universal (5780 Major Blvd. Orlando, FL). This is right across the street from Universal Studios which is perfect if people wanted to check out Halloween Horror Nights at Universal.

The Zombie March was scheduled for 4pm on Friday October 25th at Hooters which is about a quarter mile north.of the Double Tree on Kirkman.  I arrived about an hour early and zombies were milling around in the parking lot. Two zombies stood curb side moaning and flailing at passing buses. It was hot in the sun although temperatures are just starting to dip in Orlando. Make up artists were set up on the Porch of Hooters transforming people into zombies.

I sat at a table with a sheriff whose facial skin had been ripped off leaving red bloody pulp in its place. We talked for a bit. He has been coming to Spooky Empire for the past four years and he has seen the convention grow exponentially. He said that the money spent on alcohol probably has kept the convention growing. Attendees can rub shoulders with stars of horror. For instance he bragged that he got to chat with Shannen Doherty one year at poolside. He told me that the make up artist at the far end of the porch was doing the most detailed work, so I thanked him and moved closer to sketch the artist at work.

He was busy adding bruising to the cleavage of a woman who had on a Wonder Woman T-shirt. He had her tilt her head back and then poured blood down her cheeks and neck. Her skin was chalky white and there was a bite wound on her forehead and breast. Zombies don't understand social boundaries when it comes to feeding. Jason stood rock still watching the make up artist work. Talk powder was added to her hair so she looked like she just rose from the grave.  Wonder Woman put on her red cape and vogued for photographers along with her friend who were all zombie super heroes.

I was still sketching as the make up artist packed away his supplies. I should have come earlier to get several sketches. Zombies got riled up at the sound of a chain saw and they all began to shuffle down Kirkman towards the hotel. Several make up artists remained on the porch painting Day of the Dead ornate flowery skull make up onto the faces of Hooters waitresses. When they all were painted, they posed for photos, being sure to lean forward to showcase their exposed v-necked supple slopes.

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, October 30, 2013

White Wolf Cafe

Paul Horgan posed for the mural I did for the Menello Museum. I had to reconstruct the mural for a book I'm writing on Urban Sketching since the original file was on a now dead hard drive. Paul purchased the sketch I did of him on the evening of the mural's unveiling. Since he is prominent at the front of the line I felt I deeded to get the sketch back to re-scan. He agreed to meet me at White Wolf Pizza.

White Wolf Cafe, (1829 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL) was once an antique shop but is now a cafe and bar. I sat at the bar and sketched the line of nude ballet sculptures. The bar was empty until Larry finally sat down and started checking his phone for football scores. I ordered a German beer with an orange slice. It as quite good. A saxophone player, Gregory, who is Larry's son, began to play. He plays at White Wolf just about every Saturday.

All that remains of the antiques are a series of Tiffany styled lamps scattered throughout the establishment. The bar tender was quite intrigued by my progress and wanted to shoot a photo but no one's smart phone was working. When the sketch was done, I realized that Paul still hadn't shown up. I got a text from him explaining that the pizza place was down the block. I met Paul and Ed Anthony, half way between the establishments. I believe they were going to check out a show at the Venue. I rescanned his sketch that night and got it into the book. A few days later, I returned the sketch to him by leaving at the Shakespeare theater box office. He is so well known in the theater community that he said I could leave it with anyone and they would know how to get it back to him.

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, October 29, 2013

Roger Beebe Multiple Projections

On September 26th Roger Beebe gave a screening using Multiple projectors at the Gallery at Avalon Island (39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL). The films were often edited in camera with some shots only being 8 frames in duration. One film tracked companies that put A in front of their name in order to get good placement in phone book directories. Pages of phone books were chemically transferred directly to film giving a chaotic, hectic visual. Projectors ran simultaneously projecting on multiple screens.

The experimental films have shown around the globe from Sundance to the Museum of Modern Art and from McMurdo Station in Antarctica to the CBS Jumbotron in Times Square. In these films Beebe explores the possibilities of using multiple projectors—running as many as 8 projectors simultaneously—not for a free-form VJ-type experience, but for the creation of discrete works of expanded cinema.The show builds from the relatively straightforward two-projector films "The Strip Mall Trilogy" and "TB TX DANCE" to the more elaborate three-projector studies "Money Changes Everything" and "AAAAA Motion Picture" on finally to the eight-projector meditation on the mysteries of space, "Last Light of a Dying Star."

Some screens flashed repeated abstract planetary textures , setting the beat like a metronome while other screens showed animated clips of futuristic families. Beebe filmed one gas station using tight shots to create bold abstractions of industrial forms. He returned to the same station to film again, but something had changed, a pole had been removed giving the environment a completely new feel. His work documents suburban and urban sprawl by showcasing the repetitions of form and color that we tend to ignore when we wander the streets. One quick paces sequence showcased everything red, from cars and lights to signs and fire hydrants. Circular red objects pulsed on screen in quick succession.

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, October 28, 2013

Take Me Home

On September 19th I did the last sketch of Urban Rethink (625 East Central Blvd. Orlando FL) which unfortunately has since been shut down. I went to a Filmmaker's Brown Bag Lunch as part of the Global Peace Film Festival. I assumed I would get to learn about each filmmakers project with some kind of presentation. The dozen or so filmmakers gathered and chatted with each other on the couch and lounge chairs. When the brown bag lunches arrived, they continued their conversations in the conference room and at the scattered tables.

With the sketch finished, I realized that I hadn't learned a single thing about any of the films. As I was leaving, I stopped to write down some information a poster about some "Shampouch" dog washing event that might be fun to sketch.  A gentleman entered ReThink and glanced around in frustration. I let him know that all the filmmakers had just left five minutes ago. He let out a deep sigh, he had hoped to speak to someone about the film he was involved with. His name is Rick Peete. He had been homeless on the streets of Orlando for two years. Now he helps father John feed homeless people at the Greek Orthodox Church on Robinson Street right across from Lake Eola. In past years, the food sharing program helped 150-200 people a night. That number has swelled to 400 to 500 people a night. On any given evening 15,000 people go to sleep hungry in Central Florida, of those, many are children.

Director Fabian Morales-Botero spent a year and a half producing a documentary film called, "Take Me Home" that interviewed many of the people who make up the homeless population, who find shelter where they can in Downtown Orlando.  Getting to know these people shattered his stereotypes about "the homeless" and allowed him to see them as individuals with compelling stories to tell, with talents and contributions to make to their community and with fates that could befall many of us given the difficult economic recovery. He also got to know the workers and advocates fond dignity,r the homeless, trying to give them the hand up they need. These people may not have a home, but they have heart and dignity.

A week later I saw Rich Peete walking towards the Greek Orthodox church where he helps to make a difference. I remember how his face glowed as he explained to me how helping others changed his life for the better.

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, October 27, 2013

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest is located on S.R. 436, just 1/4 mile West of 17-92 at (1360 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL). This Halloween, experience the night-time terror of Central Florida's premier haunted scare trail. Within this Altamonte Springs haunted house, you will find over 85,000 square feet of sheer horror right in the middle of the forest. While at the outdoor Halloween festival, enjoy live bands, food, Laser Tag, Backstage Tours, and other surprises. If you are looking for a family-friendly, Halloween event conveniently located just outside Orlando in Altamonte Springs, this is it! The haunted outdoor trail is not just for adults. Even your younger spooks will find something to entertain them. Outside the scare trail, there are events that your younger family members will enjoy.

I contacted  Nichole Scott, the severed head of marketing in order to sketch a spot on the haunted trail. It was still light when I arrived and I parked in a rutted dirt lot along with what I assumed were the cast member's cars. The attraction is open every Thursday, Friday and Saturday through November 2nd. On the evening of November 2nd there will be a total eclipse of the moon so it is a perfect night to be scared. Surrounding the trail is a large wood slat wall. The theme of this year's trail is "The Museum of Mayhem". Actors sat at picnic tables chatting before the first guests arrived.

Kimmy Clark, a stage manager shouted out, "Whose House?!" "All the ghosts and ghouls shouted back, "OUR House!" "I didn't hear you, Whose house?!" "OUR HOUSE!!" "Boo Rah!" They all shouted, like marines. The stage manager explained that if a child had a glow stick, then they should ease up. Do to a new noise ordinance, the attraction could only be open till 11pm. Because of this, actors were told to "Scare forward." By scaring people from behind, they could keep people moving forward. Since foot traffic is high they can't afford to stop people in their tracks.

I was walked back to the "Haunted Swamp" by Sylvia Viles Vicchiullo. Dry ice vapors and green lasers created the effect that people were walking through water. When I sat, only my head appeared above the green layer of haze. Guests never noticed me. When the actors were kneeling they were "below water" and couldn't be seen. They could stand up right next to people and scare them out of their whits. The thing most people said as they entered, was "Wow, cool!" As they enjoyed the effect they would be startled by Spencer or Sam, a reptile skinned girl and a vampire in a top hat. In the cabin at the far end of the swamp, human remains were stored in mason jars as a sort of hicks gift shop.

The battery on my book light died and I had to consider the sketch done. I then walked through the whole forest to experience it all. I joined a group of 6 teens at the entrance. One girl screamed before even entering saying she couldn't go in. Her girlfriend guided her back out. Little Red Riding hood was in my group and I heard her screaming quite often. One emaciated ghoul shouted "I'm a starving artist!" Artists are often a scary sight. At every turn someone would jump out. I took the lead of my little group not because I was brave but because I knew most shocks would happen as actors rushed up behind us.

The trail was incredibly long with black light effects, chain saws and some startling banging from angry spirits. Just when I started enjoying the artistry involved, I would shout out, having let my guard down. Tickets for the trail are $17, but there are many other options like laser tag and VIP tours as well. You don't need to go to a major theme park to experience one of Orlando's premiere haunts.

Leaving was a real adventure. The cast lot I had parked in was blocked off by several cars. Some teenage girls were back in the woods and one had her shirt off, I don't know what that was about. A parking lot attendant helped me back out and inch my way through a ditch to get out. My little Prius isn't build for off-roading and it bottomed out but never got stuck. I literally had to drive through the unpaved forest to find a way out. That in itself was worth the adventure in an evening full of uncertainty and fear of being trapped in tight spaces.

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, October 26, 2013

The Barber of Seville: Press, Blogger, Tweet Night

On October 23rd there was The Barber of Seville: Press, Blogger, Tweet Night, at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre (401 W Livingston St, Orlando, FL), which was the final dress rehearsal before the show opened. An usher informed me that there was no photography allowed, but I was ready with my sketchbook. I had to use the book light to see, but thankfully there was no one seated near me. The Orlando Philharmonic's semi staged operas usually have the orchestra on stage but for this production they have been moved to the music pit. Emily Lindahl, the Philharmonic)s PR person, said that the musicians are much happier down there. For her there is magic in seeing the musicians lit from below like a Degas painting. It feels more like an age old opera. Projections kept the simple set lively.

The Barber of Seville  by Rossini opened October 25. The 3-hour production left me plenty of time to sketch in the first act. Since I was busy sketching, I didn't have time to read the subtitles. In general the Opera seems to be about a lecherous barber Wooing a married woman. She instantly fell in love when he sang to her as she stood on her balcony. There were several funny scenes where her husband wandered outside and the barber hid by lying on his back like a rug, or pretending to be a bush. The old man must have pretty bad eye sight. No wonder his wife's attention wandered.

I only know the music because Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd performed in dueling barber chairs. One scene reminded me of the one aria sung by Citizen Kane's mousy girlfriend. The opera was actually based on the novel Salammbô by Gustave Flaubert, which was a much more straightforward sword-and-sandals story of a princess, barbarians and that sort of thing. Susan Alexander Kane just didn't have the chops for the job. In the Orlando Philharmonic Barber of Seville production however the music was sublime. My mind just always wanders as I sketch.

Mark your Calendar! You only hare one more chance to see the Barber of Seville!  
The next performance is October 27, 2 p.m.
Venue: Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre
Address: 401 W. Livingston St.
Phone: (407) 770-0071
Price: $20-$82

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, October 25, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Saturday October 26, 2013
10am to 6pm Central Florida Veg Fest 2013. The event is free! Parking for attendees is $5 per vehicle at the west side of Festival Park. From N. Primrose Drive, head east on E. Livingston Street to the parking entrance at the midpoint of the park on the right. Please carpool or ride your bike to the free bike valet off Festival Way. Orlando Festival Park near downtown Orlando. The event will include healthy living and eco-friendly exhibitors, speakers, and presentations; non-profits; fun and games for kids; dog and cat adoptions; restaurant booths; food preparation demonstrations, and live music and entertainment. Central Florida Veg Fest will draw both committed vegetarians and those who want to learn more about how to protect our health, the planet, and its inhabitants. You can promote your business or group to thousands of people who want to learn more about vegetarianism and the varied products and services that support a veg-friendly and an eco-friendly way of life. All money raised will be used for local vegetarian education and outreach.

11am to 8pm. Spooky Empire. The Double Tree By Hilton at Universal (5780 Major Blvd. Orlando, FL). One day tickets are $45 at the door, or $65 at the door for a weekend pass. Spooky Empire has quickly become one of the most respected horror event promotions companies in the United States, bringing to life two of the most popular horror conventions in the nation, with fans attending from all over the world.

9pm to 2am. The Biggest Halloween Party of the Year Returns! Free. Put on your dancing shoes and do the Monster Mash for a night of dancing, drinks and fun at Eden Bar. We will have horror films on the big screen outside, a DJ spinning all night long, specialty Halloween cocktails and jello shots, and delicious treats like hot dogs, loaded tots and dirty chips. Throughout the night, secret judges will be roaming the party for the best dressed gal or ghoul. Winners will be announced at midnight and prizes will be given to the winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd).   During the party, there will be a midnight screening inside the theater of EVIL DEAD II. Tickets for EVIL DEAD II are $10 for general admission, $8 Students/Seniors/Military and $7.50 for Members of the Enzian Film Society.

Sunday October 27, 2013
10am to noon. Super Joy Riders. Free. Eastern entrance of the Lake Eola Farmers’ Market. Participants dress as superheroes and ride en masse around the city as they check off their scavenger hunt-like list of Do Gooder Duties; collecting litter, helping senior citizens cross the road, returning shopping carts, basically performing small acts of kindness for an hour and a half of hilarity and love. You + Superhero Costume + Bike = Best Sunday Ever

11am Maitland Symphony Orchestra. Free. Maitland Presbyterian Church (341 US Highway 17-92 Maitland FL).

1pm to 3pm Irish Music. Free, just order a beer. Olivia's in Eustice (108 N. Bay Street Eustice FL).

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, October 24, 2013

WPRK Local Heros

Daniel Pacchioni, the host of 91.5 WPRK Radio's "Local Heroes", suggested that I sketch the newly renovated radio studios, "Hey, by the way if you ever want to come and sketch at WPRK again let me know. We added a new studio, studio B in the CD library and also my show does all the live performances there. Just let me know, you are welcome to come any Wednesday at 5pm."The station is located in the basement of a building in Rollins College in Winter Park. Julie Norris of "Front Porch Radio" was just getting off the air. Carolina Suarez-Garcia was in the studio with Julie probably offering plenty of information about the exciting Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory Exhibit and Block Party coming up October 17th starting 6pm at the City Arts Factory (29 S Orange Ave  Orlando, FL). I rushed in to say hello to Julie as she was leaving.

An it turned out,  the Wednesday I went to the radio station was the one day that there wasn't a band playing live in the new studio. Instead, I crowded into the old studio to sketch Daniel conducting interviews. Nick Palmer and Shea O'Rourke from Real Feel Recording got behind the mics. The recording studio, located at 182 Oxford Rd. Casselberry, FL is one of the finest most affordable recording studios in Central Florida. They were having an open house to show off their studios to the public.

I was called up to the mic for a quick interview as well.  never hurts to introduce a new audience to the site. Daniel threw me for a second by asking what my favorite sketch subject has been. With well over a thousand events sketched and documented it is close to impossible to pick any one, but I recovered and simply talked about my mission and passions. I have a book being published called Urban Sketching in several months, why on earth didn't I think to promote that? I suppose it doesn't help to second guess the interview. It was what it was.

Next up behind the Mics were Alex Lenhoff and Andi Perez from The Orlandoan, which is a local events blog. They came up with a great T-shirt that simply says "Orlando Doesn't Suck." Their blog offers plenty of ideas about what to do in Orlando under a $20 budget. They spoke briefly about Page 15, which is committed to providing supplemental reading and writing education for all students living and attending public schools in Orlando, Florida. Their FREE after-school tutoring and creative writing workshops are dedicated to enhancing communication skills, encouraging personal creativity, and inspiring a lifelong passion for the language arts. Phil Zoshak has started a new program that inspires kids to be creative using his passion, video games.

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, October 23, 2013

PechaKucka Orlando

I usually write a commentary about events I sketch. This time I felt that Darren's entire talk from the Friday September 20th  PechaKucha needed to be shared. 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide, a wide variety of presenters.

Imagining Real
By Darren McDaniel

"Over the past two years, a particular image has played a prominent role in my life.  It’s the wallpaper on my phone, the art on my kitchen wall, the sticker on the back of my laptop, and the ten-foot tall mural high on the wall at 625 E. Central.

I’m the founding director of Urban ReThink, a community workspace and programming hub in Orlando's Thornton Park. When I got the news a few weeks ago that we'd be losing our space, the thing that hit me the hardest, of all things, was the thought that I’d no longer have daily access to this mural that I know as GoogliAnn.

I teach Digital Storytelling to designers at Full Sail, and I preach the power of symbols—how a simple icon or graphic could be loaded with meaning, representing far more than its collection of marks, or—in this case—scribbles.

In the 18 months it’s been on the wall, the mural has been a fueling station for me.  It reminds me of why I do what I do.  The artwork came from a self-portrait my niece, GraciAnn, had given me on her 5th birthday.  It’s come to embody my immense affection for my nieces, for our community, and for all that’s been accomplished under GoogliAnn’s over-lordship.

Here’s how it happened.  Upon returning to Orlando, I crudely Photoshopped GraciAnn’s art on the wall and shared it with my sister, asking her to get GraciAnn’s reaction—a reaction that turned out to be all-too matter-of-fact: “It’s not real.”  I took this as a challenge.  And I thought, “Yeah, but imagine if it was…”

And I shared the notion with Dina, and Pat, and Kitty, and Kim, and Fiona, and Ryan, and Julia, and Anna, and dang near anyone else who happened through.  “What if?”  What do you think?”  “Can we do it?”  “Surely, we can do this.”  And thanks to their affirmation, support, and resourcefulness, we made a way.

Karen Rigsby helped me figure out the eyes.  Anna McCambridge-Thomas said she knew the perfect artist, and she wasn’t kidding.  Carolyn Schultz was every bit as impressive as the art she produced. In a day and a half, she swept in, climbed up, and made the magic happen, one grid-square at a time.
As it neared completion, I got giddy and sent a picture to Cris Phillips-Georg with the caption “the audacity of play,” and she said that’s what you should call it.   “The Audacity of Play.”  A dedication that marked the first anniversary of Urban ReThink…and a bold new theme for the year ahead.
Months later, GraciAnn was coming to town, and, much to her surprise, we staged a grand unveiling.  Kathryn Neel even made the eyes work.  And Thor was there sketching and my family and friends, and the moment I’d dreamed about since "It's not real.": the big reveal.  From astonishment to head-burying embarrassment on GraciAnn’s end; from triumph to tears on mine.
Then: discovery.  The mural was complete, and the eyes moved.  Regulars would jump when they caught a first glance.  When kids would come in, I’d point up to it and watch their expressions turn from perplexed to wide-eyed.  I’d tell them “Somebody your age drew that,” and I’d see the possibility swirl around them.  “Can I put my art on a wall?”
One of my favorite pastimes became juxtaposing the events and speakers with the googly-eyed girl.  The PBS Newshour’s nationally-televised debate panel.  The chief data scientist from  Business meetings.  Coworking. Highfalutin parties. And, of course, Gloria Steinem.
Less than 2 weeks from now, the doors close on Urban ReThink, and—unless I can find a way to liberate a ten-by-ten-foot piece of drywall from its well-secured perch—her always-welcoming arms will be waving goodbye, her eyes will close, and she’ll forever lurk behind who-knows-what paint.
But you know what, Orlando?  Symbols carry their meanings.  And we’ve still got ours.  And we’ve got high-res pictures, and we’ve got printers, and the Transformation Village in Bithlo ready to become GoogliAnn’s next home in some form or fashion.  Beyond that, we’ve got the legacy we’ve built, and we’ve got each other.
I moved back home to Central Florida a dozen years ago and made a feature film. When it was over, I wanted to do something to give back to this community that helped make my dream possible—something that could make many more dreams possible through gathering and cross-pollenating enterprising creatives from all walks of life.
Forty months ago, an opportunity finally arose to make that real. The time since has seen scores of collaborations and hundreds of cultural events. It’s brought the majority of tonight’s presenters and so many other treasures into not just my life but each other’s.  It’s inspired visitors to shift their Mickey-Mouse views of Orlando and even move here.
At the surface, there’s something rather ridiculous about a googly-eyed vision.  Untethered, quixotic, not always on the same page…  But it’s also a vision with broader perspective and heightened possibility—one that honors imagination and contributions from even the most unlikely of sources…
My mission continues : To gather and showcase Orlando's independent-minded, community-spirited doers for economic, community, and intellectual growth. Why? Because we have treasure in our midst: from the talent pool of recent graduates, transplants, and the underemployed on one hand to the creative, the curious, and the volunteers-to-be on the other. I call them gappers. I’m one of them.
And I'm minding the gap because our support structures haven’t kept up with the societal change that’s creating more gappers by the day.  Yet, it's gappers that will ultimately generate our solutions.  After all, we’re the entrepreneurs, innovators, and enhancers.  It’s in our collisions, conversations, and collaborations that imaginations become real.
One thing is certain: There’s a need for an Urban ReThink and for opportunity structures like it.  There’s a need for a new social institution—something that fuels gappers by combining elements of work, play, family, school, church, and library.  We’ve pioneered that—right here in Orlando. But we’re not finished.  And I’m not stopping.
As Urban ReThink, we’re losing our space and our scope, but not the audacity of our play, nor the tenacity of our purpose. GoogliAnn.  She’s the spirit of our future.  And she’s looking to us to get her where she needs to go.  People say things happen for a reason.  Let’s make that reason.  Imagine the possibilities.  They’re real.  And they’re spectacular."

Darren's talk had me in tears. I felt a warm glow knowing so many family and friends who create and inspire change. I hunt for collaborators and creatives, and the resources found in Orlando are unlimited. ReThink was a creative epicenter that fueled my daily sketch habit. I have over 50 sketches that were done there. The bricks and mortar might change ownership but the people who see and bring about change are still here.

Mark Your Calendar! The next PechaKucha is February 7th at 7pm at The Orange Studio, (1121 N. Mills Avenue, Orlando, Fl).

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, October 22, 2013

The Mudflappers

At Florida Blog Con the closing keynote by Pat Moore of Marketing Nutz. Nothing she talked about made any practical sense. I glanced around the auditorium and most people seemed to be surfing the web or checking their Facebook status.

There was a Ford after party in Full Sail's back Lot. Sysco provided the food, and Pinnacle Vodka provided the drinks. The Mudflappers provided the entertainment. I pulled over a chair and sketched. One woman and her child danced to the music but for the most part the music was something people shouted over. I'm sure I should have mingled but it is just as important that I do what I do. The performers thought that I was writing an extensive review. I last saw the Mudflappers at a Fringe Fundraiser at Hard Rock Live. Their music is lively and fun and I tapped my toe as I sketched. Their music pulls its influences from the outlaw country of Johnny Cash, the blazing bluegrass of Earl Scruggs,  the roaming melodies of gypsy swing à la Django Reinhardt, to the prohibitionary jazz of your local speakeasy. This sonic gumbo is held together by the sultrily celestial harmonies of leading lady Sarah Elizabeth Patrick the violinist who, as it turns out, is expecting a baby. Her flapper's dress hid that fact quite well. Soon there will be a little Mudflapper kicking up his or her heels.

 When the band stopped, one performer stopped over to see what I was up to. He knew my work and said one of my sketches was being used as his laptop desktop. I smiled, but groaned inside, there was another use of my work where I wasn't getting paid. Then all the performers started coming over.
By the time I was done, most people had left. I had some pasta , a coke and some incredible peanut butter cupcakes and then headed home. I learned plenty at the conference and now it was time to implement changes going forward.

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, October 21, 2013

Florida Blog Con Speakers

The first speaker I heard at Florida Blog Con was Katy Widrick, she explained why bloggers need a media kit and branding plan. She is the executive producer at Growing Bolder Media group and she has seen media kits that are good, ban and ugly. This is the first time I've considered the need for a media kit but now it is on my to do list.

The next speaker Jennette Scott explained how to make money blogging. This was a real eye opener. I tried setting up Google Ads on the blog last year and didn't see a cent from it so I disabled the service. With Google ads, you make $1 for every thousand impressions. I never made a dollar. The turning point was when I started seeing Full Sail ads on AADW. I immediately dumped Google ads. Jennette explained affiliate marketing which is her primary way of making money from her blog. Any time someone clicks on a link on her blog, she makes money. I use links extensively so this feature seems a no brainer. She collaborates with IZEA which is an Orlando Internet marketing group that has celebrities market products using social media. Other ways Jennette makes money blogging include direct sponsorships, freelance gigs, paid content, and free items that she is given to write about. Amazingly she makes more money now than she ever did in her previous 9 to 5 job.

After lunch, Jason, the founder of I wear your shirt spoke about "How to sell Yourself Without Selling Out". He was hilarious. He started asking companies to pay him if he would wear their logo on a tee shirt for a day. Amazingly this turned out to be a very lucrative way to make money in the age of social media. Even his dog began wearing company logos and the dog became an instant Internet celebrity. Jason's advice included...
1. Be different.
2. Build an audience.
3. Be interesting.
4. Under promise and over deliver.
5. Know what you control.
6. Find your niche. What is your style?
7. Build your list. Building an e-mail list of people interested in your site is important.
8. Create content and syndicate that content.
9. Sell that shit.
10. Be different and work hard. You don't get what you don't ask for.
11. Give people their crack, interact!

Jason actually sold his last name. He put out a Facebook invite for any company to buy his last name. The highest bidder was who paid him $30,000 for the rights and so is Jason's last name. I have much to learn as I begin to monetize, and market Analog Artist Digital World in a brave new world.

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, October 20, 2013

Florida Blog Con

Central Florida Top 5's Bess Auer began the annual Blog Con three years ago. It has been an annual pilgrimage for me to cover the conference. This year's conference, on Saturday, September 21, was at Full Sail University in Full Sail Live. It was a one-day gathering of the state's biggest bloggers and social media pros. One of the sponsors was Bahama Breeze and a spokesman got up to the podium and announced that one lucky conference attendee would win an expense paid trip if they were seated at a table that had a Bahama Breeze certificate taped underneath it. Darn it, I wasn't even seated at a table! Everyone scrambled, first feeling blindly under the tables with their hands and then getting on all fours to look. The lucky winner was in the back of the room. The theme for this year's conference, was "Be Awesome!"

Pat Williams, an author, blogger and Senior Vice President of the Orlando Magic was the keynote speaker. His message was about how to be successful in life and blogging. "In tough times, you're very teachable. Don't waste those moments: turn suffering into lessons." he said. His advice can be summed up in a ten step process...

1. Think the right kind of thoughts.
2. Say the right kind of words.
3.  Be specific in your goal setting.
4. Be responsible.
5. Seek out the right kind of friends.
6. Turn set backs into strengths.
7. Go the second mile.
8. Never give up.
9.  Character counts.
10. Love life and have faith.

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, October 19, 2013

Alice Lost in Wonderland Dress Rehearsal

Alice Lost in Wonderland written and directed by Rob Winn Anderson had its original world premiere at the Garden Theatre (160 West Plant Street, Winter Garden FL.). The show marks Beth Marshall Presents' 9th production in partnership with The Garden Theatre. The first thing that struck me was the wonderful Steam punk mental asylum set by Tom Mangieri. It was vaguely reminiscent of the set for Wicked.

Actors gathered for a group photo and then ran through a fight sequence choreographed by Bill Warriner. Becky Eck, who played Jane stood on stage alone as other actors got into place.  I assumed from the title that I should look to sketch Alice, but it became quite clear that Jane was the lead character. I had sketched auditions and heard several dozen actresses read for the part of Jane. When I saw the monologue performed by Becky in the context of the play, I was floored, astonished at the meaning and implied emotion in her performance.

  Alice Lost in Wonderland, uses Lewis Carroll’s classic book to inspire the story of Jane's frantic search for what she has lost. Years of falling in and out of mental institutions have broken her and now she finds herself in a terrifying situation where chances are final and journeys into dark places are both wonderful and haunting. This whimsical psychological thriller steps out of reality and into a shattered mind to create a classically creepy and intriguingly creative journey through wonderland.

In one compelling moment Jane is stripped of her cheerful childhood clothes by grey institution patients. She stands bare for a moment in her bra and panties and then the patients slip the dingy grey institution uniform over her head. It becomes clear that her Wonderland quest makes her one of them. I was delighted to see Tod Caviness as the Caterpillar. He gave the character a hip 60's flair that only a poet could perform.

Jane's search for Alice in Wonderland is actually a way for her to avoid horrible memories from her past. As these memories surface, the play takes a dark sinister turn to face the worst in human nature. This is NOT a kids show. Issues and horrors faced are all too real. The show is quick witted and light when in the Wonderland fantasy then grey and sinister when facing the realities of doctors who consider electroshock therapy an enlightened practical approach to mental health. This show is a perfect addition to the Halloween season.

Mark Your Calendar! This show runs through November 3rd. Show times are Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $25 for adults ($21 for seniors/students). There will also be an Industry Night on Monday, October 28 at 8pm. This show is open to the public with $15 tickets for those in the theatre industry. Pilars Bar next door will be open and offering drink specials for patrons on Industry Nite Monday Oct. 28th. Get your tickets now at or!

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, October 18, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Weekend Top 6 Picks
Saturday October 19, 2013
10am to 2pm. 4th annual Asian Cultural EXPO. Free. Village Lake, Downtown Disney West Side Walt Disney World Resort.  Showcase the Culture of China ● Japan ● Philippines ● Polynesia ● Taiwan through exhibitions, performances and crafts. Bring your lawn chair to enjoy these exciting performances.

3pm to 7pm. Cruisin' Downtown DeLand Car Show. Free. East Indiana Ave Downtown DeLand, Deland FL Classic cars & rods.  Live DJ, giveaways, shopping & dining. Fun for the family! Every 3rd Saturday night.

7pm to 2am. Haunting at The Haven. Free. Haven Lounge 6700 Aloma Avenue, Winter Park, Fl.  An all night, exclusive Costume Party. This 18 and up event will feature some of the hottest and most controversial artists in underground music as well as a costume contest with a grand prize of 2 FREE passes to Halloween Horror Nights 23 at Universal Studios Orlando! First runner up will receive a gift card of $25 to spend as they like!

Sunday October 20, 2013
5pm to 9pm. Orlando Food Truck Bazaar. Free to enter. Fashion Square Mall 3201 East Colonial Drive Orlando FL.

9pm to 11pm. Solo Acoustic Spoken Word. Free. Natura Coffee and Tea 12078 Collegiate Way. (407) 482-5000.

10pm to 12am. Sick Of It Presents: Rancid Karaoke Cover Set. Will's Pub 1042 N. Mills Avenue, Orlando, Fl. You come up out of the crowd and sing your favorite Rancid songs with a live band...YOU'RE the singer!

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, October 17, 2013

Sugar Skull Decorating Workshop

Carolina Suarez-Garcia held a Sugar Skull Decorating Workshop in CityArts Factory (29 S. Orange Ave, Orlando FL). The dozen or so attendees learned how to make sugar skulls using sugar and then how to decorate the skulls using colored icings. Kattya Graham performed traditional songs on guitar as everyone worked on their skulls.

All the skulls decorated All were eligible to be exhibited in the 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory Exhibit on October 17th. Carolina explained that sugar Skulls are decorated in a relatives memory. The relatives name is often written on the back of the skull. It is believed that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31, and the spirits of all deceased children (angelitos) are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.

In most villages, beautiful altars (ofrendas) are made in each home. They are decorated with candles, buckets of wild marigolds mounds of fruit, peanuts, plates of turkey mole, stacks of tortillas and big Day-of-the-Dead breads called pan de muerto. The altar needs to have lots of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water for the weary spirits. The living feast on the alter at the end of the evening.

Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

Mark your calendar! The 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos and Monster Factory Exhibit and Block Party starting at 6pm to 11pm on October 17th promises to be Bigger and better than ever. The award winning block party and exhibit will have Live Music by Tacatantan Records featuring Los Nadie, Kattya Graham, Doomino and Kevin Stever, Live Art Performances by ME Dance, Salvador Live and Phantasmagoria, Giant Mojiganga Puppet Procession and Exhibit, Artist and Vendors, delicious food by Wako Taco and The Vegan Hot Dog Cart, a Costume contest - Win a Prize Pack which includes 2 tickets to Spooky Empire Weekend of Horror!!!, Kids Craft Area from 6pm-8pm sponsored by the Young Artist's Group, Face Painting, and much more!

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, October 16, 2013

Phantasmagoria: Hell Hath Risen

Phantasmagoria began with two wayward travelers, the Brothers Grimm, in the woods searching for a band of storytellers. Projections throughout the show offered a macabre sense of place. The Mandell Theater in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center, had it's seating was arranged in the round, with bleachers on three sides. With a flash the cast began to appear. The Phantasmagoria cast had been telling their tales for centuries. The brothers had written down some of the tales but watered them down a bit so as not to terrify children. The brothers were despised for this treachery, for these stories, when told right, spring fully to life as horrifying as that might be. Children in these tales are the murderous ones as seen in Grimm story “How the Children Played at Slaughtering.” The entire crew of well over a dozen players kept the energy high.

Poe, Dickens, and other literary masters
Poe, Dickens, and other literary masters
Stories are told at times in unison by members of the cast. The atmosphere was perpetually dark and sinister. My book light died half way through the show. I've seen enough "Ghost Hunters" to know that spirits will drain a battery in order to manipulate objects in the material world. I was left to guess at colors and values. Stories included  “Myth of Pandora”,  Edgar Allen Poe's “The Cask Of Amontillado”  and Charles Dickens “A Mad Man’s Manuscript” which did not star Don Draper. The stories remain true to the originals written at the turn of the century. There were skull lined catacombs and murderous husbands. Dead loved ones returned as skeletal remains. Blades were brandished. The cast lived these stories and once a story was started it had to be finished much like a game of Jumanji.

The silks were used between stories by Dion Smith and Mila Makarova while Gina Makarova worked her ring routine. Skeletons danced in a mysterious blue glow among silks but the final battle against a huge dragon puppet that took three puppeteers to operate was a climactic moment not to be missed. Few survived. John explained that the Halloween day performance would continue the last story resolving the cliff hanger ending. I look forward to seeing this show each year and this is definitely the best production so far. This is an October tradition that will chill your bones for the horrors to come. John DiDonna, the director, debated about weather he should have the cast come out for a bow. The ending is so shocking that it might make sense for the audience to leave in devastated silence. I however hope they allow for the chance to break the spell with thunderous applause.

Oct 11th – 31st 2013
Fri, Sat, Sun @ 8:30pm
Special shows Monday Oct 21st and 28th and Halloween show on the 31st! All shows at 8:30pm
(Halloween show includes a very special epilogue not seen on other nights!)
All evening performances at 8:30pm (Box opens at 7:50pm/Doors at 8:10pm)
Mandell Theatre, John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL
General Admission $20.00 / Student and Senior $15.00
Reserve (for will call cash at door) 407-328-9005
Credit card orders
Parking available in lots directly in Loch Haven, or in Science Center Parking Garage off of Princeton (Next to Mennello Museum of Art)

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, October 15, 2013

Phantasmagoria Dressing Room

I went to the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center,(812 E. Rollins St., Orlando, FL), to sketch a dress rehearsal for Phantasmagoria IV: Hell Hath Risen. DiDonna Productions and The Empty Spaces Theatre Co(llaboration), is proud to present the fourth installment of their Macabre Halloween Celebrations. John greeted me when I entered and gave me a quick run down of the evening's timetable. Since it was over an hour till the start of the run through, I asked if I could sketch the actors getting into makeup. With a flourish, John opened the dressing room curtain and introduced me. I already knew dancer Dion Smith, so I felt at home. An actress even told me that the two chairs next to the costume rack were free so I quickly sat and got to work.

Make up can take well over an hour for a show like this since skin is supposed to have a sinister ghostly cast. Eye lashes were exceedingly long and multiple layers of eyeliner accentuated the eyes. Seth Kubersky, one of the co-directors, entered and joked saying, "Three years sketching the Orlando Arts scene has been just a cover so you could sketch in actresses dressing rooms." He has a point, this is as good as it gets in terms of back stage access. This is a subject that can never get old.

A stage manager shouted "Five minutes till fight rehearsal!" Actors shouted back, "Thank you five!" Not every actress was in costume. They quickly got into their Victorian dresses and went out for the fight sequence rehearsal before the run through of the show. When they were done, they quickly returned to the dressing room to finish up. There is a chaos and energy to these final moments that is quite addictive. As the actors rushed to get ready, I rushed to finish the sketch.

John gathered the entire cast and had them hold hands in a circle. "It has been four amazing years. For 2000 years this has been going on. Make the audience think. Live each story to the fullest. See you on the other side!"

Oct 11th – 31st 2013
Fri, Sat, Sun @ 8:30pm
Special shows Monday Oct 21st and 28th and Halloween show on the 31st! All shows at 8:30pm
(Halloween show includes a very special epilogue not seen on other nights!)
All evening performances at 8:30pm (Box opens at 7:50pm/Doors at 8:10pm)
Mandell Theatre, John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Loch Haven Park, Orlando, FL
General Admission $20.00 / Student and Senior $15.00
Reserve (for will call cash at door) 407-328-9005
Credit card orders
Parking available in lots directly in Loch Haven, or in Science Center Parking Garage off of Princeton (Next to Mennello Museum of Art)

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, October 14, 2013

Boycott SeaWorld

Recently I saw the documentary film Blackfish at the Enzian Theater (300 S Orlando Ave, Maitland, FL). The film is about Tilikum, (Tilly), a killer whale who killed a SeaWorld trainer several years ago. The film opens with the 911 call to retrieve the body.  Tilly was captured in the wild. The killer whale pod split in two with the females and children going up one estuary while the males went another way avert the pursuing boats. Spotter planes however redirected the pursuit. In a horrible west coast floating sea park called Sea Land of the Pacific, Tilly had to spend each evening in a cramped pitch black holding module 20 feet deep and 28 feet in diameter with two adult killer whales who attacked him every night. Each morning he had new bloody wounds. Tilly attacked and killed a handler named Keltie Byrne at that park in 1991.

When that sea park folded,  Sea World Orlando purchased Tilly on January 9th of 1992 because they didn't have a male killer whale. Tilly was responsive and bright but his dorsal fin was misshapen, sagging sadly to the side. This never seen in the wild. It is not unusual for animals in circuses, zoos, traveling exhibits, and amusement parks to injure or kill trainers. On July 6th 1999, Daniel P. Dukes a park patron hid and stayed in the Orlando SeaWorld park overnight. He had the brilliant idea to swim in Tilly's enclosure. The next morning they found his nude dead body, on Tilly's back as the killer whale did laps in his tiny cement pool. An autopsy of the body found multiple wounds, contusions, and abrasions, and concluded he may have died from hypothermia and drowning. It also noted "laceration and avulsion of the scrotum and testes". In other words, his nuts were chewed off.

On February 24, 2010 Tilly killed the lead SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. Sea World put a spin on the story released to the media, blaming the Dawn, because she had a pony tail that may have gotten caught in Tilikum's teeth, stating further that the trainer's hair may have also been confused for a toy or a fish because Dawn had been holding a fish previously and may have touched her hair afterwards, leaving the scent. SeaWorld would be innocent, if the trainer was seen to be at fault in the eye of public opinion. Video shows Tilly dragging dawn by the arm. According to the six-page  autopsy report, Dawn's left arm and part of her scalp were ripped off, she suffered spinal cord injuries, her ribs were broken, as were bones in her legs, arms, and face, she had bruises and cuts all over her body, and, ultimately, she was drowned.

Other SeaWorld trainers realized that they could be next, so they went on camera for the Blackfish documentary. One reason Tilly is still in captivity is because his sperm is needed to impregnate the female killer whales. 21 killer whales calves have been born in captivity using his sperm. He is actually masturbated by trainers rather than breed naturally. which violates the court order to keep trainers fron having contact with the killer whale.

Tilikum returned to performing on March 30, 2011 using his fluke everyday to soak the crowds of spectators who pay to see him swim in the tight enclosure. After every performance he is sent to solitary confinement. In the wild his dorsal fin would stand erect as it sliced through open water. He could be part of a social pod that hunted together. These aren't cute plush toys to be exploited. They are killer whales that are majestic in the wild. They may follow orders from their captives to survive captivity but you can only push a killer whale so far before they snap. Any killer whale in captivity has psychological scars. People still pay, perhaps hoping to see the next one snap. Trainers are expendable but a killer whale is a gold mine.

On September 15th, over 50 people showed up for this demonstration standing in the blazing sun in front of the Sea World entrance to dissuade people from going inside. Unfortunately the park had been open for several hours so traffic was on the light side. Passers by honked in support. Others shouted out in anger that they would spend their money as they pleased.

PETA's 5 Reasons to Boycott SeaWorld...
  1. Twenty-four dead killer whales – and counting. Of the 24 killer whales who have died at SeaWorld since 1986, not one died of old age. Many of their deaths were caused by captivity-induced illnesses.
  2. Life in a bathtub drains marine mammals' spirits. Forcing animals who naturally travel up to 100 miles a day in the open ocean to swim in continuous circles in tiny, barren concrete tanks causes stress-related behaviors, including suicide.
  3. SeaWorld tears families apart. In the wild, dolphins spend their entire lives in a pod with their mothers and sisters. Capturing even one dolphin disrupts the entire pod. Dolphins born in captivity are often taken away from their loved ones and shipped to other facilities.
  4. Frustrated animals are dangerous to people. Aside from the trainers killed by angry captive whales, the USDA has cited SeaWorld for several instances in which dolphins injured people in its swim-with-the-dolphins program.
  5. If you don't support the jailing of innocent people, you shouldn't support SeaWorld. Scientists at Emory University mapped the brains of dolphins and concluded that they are second only to humans in intelligence. Captivity is as hard on these sensitive animals as it is on people, but the dolphins are being punished without having committed a crime.

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, October 13, 2013

Orlando Museum of Art

On September 8th, I went to the Orlando Museum of Art (2416 North Mills Ave Orlando, Fl) to see Tall Tales and Huge Hearts: Raúl Colón a show of Children's book illustrations.  Raúl Colón,is a popular award-winning artist who has illustrated more than 30 books for children. Colón created the art for a number of acclaimed picture books, including Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart by Pat Mora, which won the prestigious Pura Belpré Medal; My Mama Had A Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray; and José! Born to Dance: The Story of José Limon by Susanna Reich, winner of the Tomas Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award. Raul's illustrations are, tightly rendered using watercolor and colored pencils. He then rakes the image giving each image a swirling surreal feel. The artwork was hung low on the wall so kids could see his work at eye level. Arranged chronologically, it was interesting to see his style evolve from early watercolors to the much tighter later work. Mark your Calendar! This show in on view through November 3rd. During the first weekend of every month Bank of America and Merrill Lynch card holders receive free gallery admission. Otherwise, admission for adults is $8.

Also on display was the Contemporary American Graphics Collection which includes more than 150 original, signed and numbered lithographs, etchings, silk-screen prints and woodcuts by America’s foremost artists. It is one of the most comprehensive 20th-century contemporary print collections in Florida. The works vary from realism to abstraction, reflecting a variety of techniques and styles that emerged from the revolution in fine art printing that has occurred in the last 55 years. Artists represented in this collection include Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Bryan Hunt, Lesley Dill, Katherine Bowling, and many other American masters. One piece that particularly impressed me was a huge portrait of Leslie done by Chuck Close using just his finger prints.

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, October 12, 2013

Berto Ortega Studio

On August 2nd,  I visited the studio of Berto Ortega at Faith Arts Village Orlando (FAVO) at (221 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando, Florida).  We had a long talk about blogging and marketing artwork by using social media. Berto is the one artist who uses the studio in the former motel full time. Most other artists just come to the market once a month to sell their work and then leave that same night. This was also the one room where the air conditioner worked making it a studio that you would want to linger in since the other studios didn't have air conditioning. He invited me to sketch from inside his studio but I decided to sketch from the balcony outside.

Berto asked friends what was the most beautiful place that they had ever painted. There was some agreement that the Grand Tetons out in Wyoming were gorgeous.  After finishing several painting commissions, he put notes on the paintings, left wet paint on the palette, packed supplies in his pickup truck and headed west to the Grand Tetons.  He did several paintings of the majestic mountain range when he got there. I once bicycled through the Grand Tetons. On that trip I decided to throw away the sketchbook I had at the time feeling ill suited as a student fresh out of art school to capture such beauty.

A September 10th a Jackson Hole newspaper reported, "Grand Teton National Park rangers discovered the body of a 55 year-old Winter Park, Florida man Monday morning.  Alberto Ortega’s body was discovered at Windy Point turnout on the Teton Park Road; apparently the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot to his head. Rangers are conducting an investigation into what appears to be a suicide and an isolated event.  Park Spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says rangers responded at 6:15 am Monday September 9th to a 911 call from passersby when they came upon the unconscious man lying on the ground next to his Toyota pickup truck. Upon arrival, rangers found Ortega already deceased from a head wound and a semi-automatic pistol next to his body. A note left by Ortega was also located at the scene."

This is the second time I have had to report on an Orlando artist taking their own life. This news was gut wrenching since Berto is an artist whose art I admired. Will Benton who runs FAVO allowed me to sketch the artist's studio. A rough cross which was painted white with artist brushes, vines and a tear shaped jewel was mounted on the studio door. Inside, his paintings filled the walls. One painting of a small skiff or life boat pitched in the high seas. In the distance a sign of hope, a large schooner was shrouded in orange ocher mist.

A large portrait was left for Will Benton. It was a portrait of a man that once saved Berto's life. He and a woman were working in a store which was held up by an armed gunman. The husband of the woman grew worried when she didn't return home. He went to the store and managed to save Berto and the woman's life. It is a large painting, stoic and resolved. A note written by Berto was taped to the back of the painting. "Will, to say I'm sorry for all this is furtive, but I'll say it anyway. There have been few people who have extended themselves to me like you have, and I really like you like a brother for that. I can't say enough how I have always appreciated you." I searched the rest of the note, hoping to find some hint of WHY? There were no signs to explain the tragedy. All that remains is an emptiness. A lone chair sat in the corner of the once active artist's studio.

"When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion. Then I go out and paint the stars."
- Vincent Van Gogh

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, October 11, 2013

Weekend Top 6 Picks

Weekend Top 6 Picks
Saturday October 12, 2013
6pm to 8pm Caroline Kole Concert. Free. Leesburg Towne Square 501 W Main Street Leesburg FL. Outdoor concert, bring lawn chairs.

3pm to 10pm 2013 ZombieFest: RESURRECTION. Free Downtown Lakeland. The “ Outbreak Wristbands” will get you  great discounts at various Retail, restaurants and bars around Downtown Lakeland, in addition to special perks during Zombiefest.  Wristbands are $15 and will be sold during the event.

7pm to 9pm  Book Party and Launch: I Will Meet You at the River. Free. Quantum Leap Winery (1312 Wilfred Dr  Orlando, FL).  Come hear Suzannah Gilman read selected poems at the long-anticipated launch of my first chapbook of poetry. Of course, no book launch is complete without wine, so there will be plenty.

Sunday October 13, 2013
10am to 6pm Fashion Square Art Fair. Free. PREMIERE EVENT!! Starting October 13, 2013 on the 2nd Sunday of every month Gallery Fresh Art Markets and Orlando Fashion Square Mall proudly present our "Fashion Square Art Fair." This is an indoor event showcasing 30 to 60 artists and fine crafts persons located throughout Fashion Square Mall.

1pm to 3pm Film Slam. $5 Enzian Theater 1300 S Orlando Ave  Maitland, FL. Originally a project of University of Central Florida's Downtown Media Arts Center, Enzian became the home of FilmSlam when DMAC closed in 2006. Now in its fifth year at Enzian, FilmSlam continues to be a popular outlet for indie and student filmmakers throughout the State of Florida. FilmSlam will usually be held on the second Sunday of each month at 1PM at Enzian.

9pm to 11pm Comedy Open Mic. Free. Austin's Coffee (929 W Fairbanks Ave Winter Park, FL). Free comedy show! Come out & laugh, or give it a try yourself.

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, October 10, 2013

The Hub

On September 18th, I went to the Full Sail building 2 lobby (3300 University Boulevard, Winter Park, Fl) for the return of The HUB (a.k.a. the Digital Arts and Design Gallery). Every other month this space will present a new selection of work by students and faculty. Each showcase will follow a theme. The first exhibition featured art and design inspired by music. All media/styles are welcome. Kim Lomas organized the event and I submitted a sketch of the Brad Catron Quartet. Rather than get the sketch framed, Kim gave me the option of displaying the sketch digitally on a computer screen. I liked the idea of displaying my analog art digitally.

The goal is to showcase projects from every department at Full Sail to demonstrate the rich variety of media, styles, and formats used. A committee of instructors choose the award for the best faculty work, and a committee of students choose the award for the best student work. Thankfully, I missed any award ceremony or speeches.

Faculty had quite a bit of work on display. Hugo Giraud had a painting of "The First Lady of Soul (Ella)" and a painting of "Dizzy G". Leslie Silvia had one of her black paper cut outs (Scherenschnitte) titled "Sparrows and Nightingales." Leslie joked with me as I sketched, saying, "We don't allow sketching in here." It is an ongoing joke among friends that I am so often kicked out of events for sketching. Tony Philippou had paintings of "Bigge", "Andre 300", and "Cee-loo". A student whose work caught my eye was Tyler Christmas who had a painting done on acetate, of a human ribcage with a blue crab on top called "The Protector". I noticed Tom Buzbee and his daughter, Avaryl in the reception crowd, but he wasn't exhibiting any of his large abstract works. I had gotten to the reception late and so, I was still working on the sketch long after everyone had left for 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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lake Eola Sunset

On August 28th I found myself downtown with several hours to spare before going to an artist paint out in front of Loft 55 Gallery and Boutique (55 West Church Street, suite 114, Orlando, Fl). Walking around Lake Eola I was struck by the amazing sunset and decided to do a straight forward landscape sketch. I avoided line much of the time trying to just capture the play of warm and cool colors in the sky and on the buildings. The city has invested in brand new swan peddle boats which must have cost a fortune. Joggers and people walking their dogs circled the lake.

There were several other events I could have been sketching, like an Urban ReThink Town hall meeting and a Social Media Club Meeting.  Sadly, Urban ReThink has had to close its doors, but It will be returning in a new form at the recently refurbished Cameo Theater (1013 E Colonial Drive Orlando, FL). I was playing hookie. It felt good to slow down and take in the sunset.

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, October 8, 2013

Robert Ross Studio #7

The Art and History Museums of Maitland (A&H) offers an Artist-in-Action (AIA) program that reflects the spirit of founder J. André Smith’s Research Studio and the current mission of the institution. This program provides non-residential studio space to an established or emerging artist for the professional practice and research of fine art. This program is an exciting opportunity to interact with A&H’s community of artists and art enthusiasts while working in this uniquely rich and historic environment.

A fixture at the institution for many years, the A&H’s acclaimed Artist-in-Action program takes place at the A&H’s historic Maitland Art Center (originally André Smith’s Research Studio). In Smith’s day, famous artists were invited to live and work at the Research Studio in the winter months, including luminaries Milton Avery and Ralston Crawford. In the recent past, a number of very well-known artists occupied the studios in a non-resident capacity, including the late Anita Wooten, Barbara Tiffany, and Ellie Diez-Massaro.

On September 12th I went to visit Robert Ross one of the 2013 Artists in Action. I got to the studio a bit early, so I considered doing a quick study of the Maitland Art Center's central courtyard.  Unfortunately that sketch was interrupted by a lawn jockey who entered the courtyard with a lawn mower. He isn't permitted to mow a lawn with anyone within 50 feet of him because flying debris could cause injury. He asked me to leave and I erased what I had started. Robert arrived as I exited the courtyard.

His studio doesn't have any windows, but the bathroom window lets light in when the door is left open. A large tree branch was hung on one wall and Robert was working on a life sized sketch which was pinned to the wall directly below the branch. He decided to work on a still life with a cup, jar and seed pod. He quickly assembled his field paint easel. A warm spot light was set up to illuminate his scene. Robert's paintings  have been exhibited in a growing number of venues in Central Florida. He also maintains a studio at McRae Art Studios in Winter Park. He worked quickly on his painting and I tried to maintain the same energy with my sketch by avoiding line in favor of value and color. Robert is a retired graphic designer and he loves the ability to pursue painting full time. He plans to take part in the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival where he can see which pieces sell. He doesn't want to get caught up in chasing the market. I admire Robert's work which is a blend between Edward Hopper and Fairfield Porter.  Many of his pieces show lonely, empty spaces between structures.

Recently he has been doing large painting based on sketches from sketchbooks. He likes having control over color and form which he can experiment with not feeling the need to slavishly recreate every detail. Watching him work made me itch to start attacking large canvases myself.

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